Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Time... It's Show Time

Each and every summer for the past few years, my visit to the Decorator Show House in York Harbor, Maine has proven to be one of the interior design related high points of the season.

Show houses are always sources of inspiration for interior designers and clients alike. They allow the designers participating in the project to get as creative as the organizers and spaces allow, and show us their up-to-the-minute ideas. The experience can motivate we designers to try new things (a different hue, a mixing of fabrics and patterns, or a different use for an object perhaps?), and home owners to update their own spaces in small or substantial ways.

The York, Maine show houses are always a bit magical. Just driving through the curvy lanes of York Village to the Harbor, where this year’s house is located, you can easily see how this area became a popular summer colony at the turn of the 20th century… and it still is today.

This year's was the 21st Annual Decorator Show House, which is a major fund raiser to benefit the Museums of Old York. The home is called “Twin Cottage” because it is the twin sister to “Mayfair,” the 2007 Show House. The house itself was built in the Shingle Style in 1904 and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and York Harbor Beach. I had not done any research before visiting this year, and the minute I drove up, I thought that the house looked a tad familiar. But once I walked through the front door and into the foyer, I knew that it was related to the neighboring home I had toured a couple of years ago. The layout is similar, but to the participating designers, it was a new canvas... no two design interpretations will be alike, even if the houses might appear to start out that way! (This is a good reminder to those who fear that their home is too 'cookie cutter' to be exceptional!)

Below are a few photos that I snapped of the lovely Shingle Style home… photography was not allowed inside, but once the designers make pictures of their work available, I will pass my favorite spaces on to you.

Approaching "Twin Cottage" from the side

Front view from the garage plaza

Friends & fellow designers Leah, Eileen, Deb & Carol

The Veranda

Ah, here I am...

just wishing I could spend the rest of the day

luxuriating on the veranda!

Friday, August 6, 2010

As Summer Floats By

I think that the most beautiful decorative accessories that you can use in your home are made of glass. And that goes double when it comes to decorating in the summer.

When you have taken down your heavy window treatments (and washed your windows!), when the skies are bright and the sun is shining, what better way to bring some sparkle into your life than with reflective glass objects?

Any time I am placing lighting in front of or near a window, I search out a lamp with a glass base, clear or in a color that coordinates with the space. Rather than block the natural light, the lamp accentuates it and makes it literally shine.

And when accessorizing, I reach for glass candle holders, statues, vases, and jars filled with sea glass (more on that another time!). My personal favorites are an ensemble of clear, green and varied blue glass floats delicately poised on a frosted glass footed bowl soaking up the sunlight near the French doors in my great room.

Their hollow forms allow the sun to pass through from one to the other, melding their hues, and their mottled surfaces echo the suns rays.

This particular collection is special to me beyond its intrinsic visual allure. Here’s the story of their provenance...

The floats belonged to interior designer and lifestyle author Alexandra Stoddard and her husband Peter Megargee Brown. I became a fan of Alexandra many years ago, when I first picked up a copy of one of her earlier books, Living A Beautiful Life. Since then I have read every book she has written. Her beliefs about gracious living are always eloquently put, ring true for me, and I in turn pass them on to my clients. She not only writes about interior design, but about other aspects of celebrating life and interpersonal relationships. Her philosophy is to "Love and Live Happy!" Who doesn’t want to do that?

A few years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend a "Happiness Weekend" hosted by Alexandra and Peter near their village home in Stonington, Connecticut. We, and a small group of devotees, spent the weekend experiencing first hand the gracious living that Alexandra encourages. She and Peter even invited us into their home, which we had only seen in photographs. What a joy and thrill! At the time, they had two homes, their lovely cottage in Stonington, and a ‘primary’ residence on Park Avenue in New York. They shared with us that they were at a point where they wanted to lessen the weight of their acquisitions. As special as the objects were to them, they did not want to be burdened by the volume of things they had accumulated. Each of us was given the opportunity to point out an item that spoke to us, and if we were lucky, it might be something they could part with. I’ll bet you can guess what I had my eye on... those floats! Now, each time I glance at them, I envision them in their original home, where they brought beauty and joy just as they do in mine!

Alexandra, me, David and Peter
If you look carefully, you will see the glass floats
perched on top of the cabinet above Alexandra's shoulder

To learn more about Glass Floats:



For more on Alexandra Stoddard & Peter Megargee Brown:


I hope that this leaves you feeling buoyant!