Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Me

Upon receiving the Stylish Blogger Award, it was my turn select ten bloggers to bestow the award on, which I did in my last post (see "Older Post" at the bottom of this one if you missed it and are curious!). Now I am responsible for sharing seven things with you that you might not already know about me. I suspect that some of you will know some of the things, but not all of you will know all of the things! Anyway, here goes… you might be surprised to know that…

My husband Dave is not only the love of my life and soul mate… he is also my unofficial collaborator in the interior design business! He has amazing style and an innate sense of what works in any space and which areas need improvement. When I first met him, I was initially taken with how handsome, well-dressed, smart, funny and nice he was. Then when he had me over to his place for dinner, I couldn’t believe this great guy also set a fabulous table! It turns out that after receiving a marketing degree and working in a retail buying office, he became manager of a high end china, silver and glass department. He’s great with color, pattern and lighting, and has the uncanny ability to analyze the flow of a space (be it a store, restaurant or home) and to suggest immediate ways to enhance the functionality. It’s no surprise that he thrives in his Quality Assurance role at work! Needless to say, whenever I am in a conundrum about elements of a design project and need a keen and critical eye, I simply walk down the hall from my office to his!

I am originally from Michigan, in the northwest suburbs of Detroit. I absolutely loved growing up in Michigan. It is a beautiful state with gorgeous lakes, forests, and towns in the Lower Peninsula, Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island in between. The four seasons are wonderful, which is where I developed my love of celebrating and decorating the changes. My family had a cottage “Up North” that we ‘weekended’ at all year and spent even more time during school vacation… boating in the summer, leaf peeping in the autumn, snowmobiling in the winter, watching fawns drinking in the pond in the spring. Unfortunately, in recent years the economy has been very cruel to the Michigan, and to the auto industry that used to thrive there. But I believe that the state, its industries, and consequently residents, are more victims of the narcissistic direction of business and government leaders in the U.S. than they are villains. I suspect that anyone who has anything bad to say about Michigan has probably never been there. Most of the people that I talk with who have visited or lived there say that they were surprised at how lovely it is and how nice the people are. I am a proud “Michigander.”

My avocations in historic preservation and interior design combined beautifully with the chance to relocate from Michigan to Northern Virginia, right outside Washington, D.C. It was in Old Town Alexandria that I met Dave; we had our rehearsal dinner at Mount Vernon & our wedding at the historic Oxon Hill Manor, in Maryland along the banks of the Potomac River. Could it get any better? After the big shindig, we were off on our honeymoon to Arizona. We wanted to go someplace beautiful, warm & sunny, but where we could also drink the water & eat the food! We spent time in Phoenix & Scottsdale, as well as drove up through the red rocks of Sedona and toured the amazing Grand Canyon. We were captivated by the never-ending, beautiful, blue skies, constant sunshine, gorgeous vistas and great people in Arizona. Right then & there, before we even got on the plane to go home, we decided that we had to move to this paradise! With true pioneering spirit, we sold our home, quit our jobs, and headed out west, and my parents followed shortly afterward. We all thrived there & absolutely loved it… it was truly the best of times for us all!

Taliesin West; Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation image

One of the most fulfilling things that I had the opportunity to do while living in Arizona (& ever, for that matter!) career-wise was to teach interior design courses at Scottsdale Community College. I had taken courses in the program, to keep myself fresh & up-to-date with the design industry. When I received one of my final projects back at the end of the semester, my professor Gera King, who was also the program director, had written in it: “Katherine, you know this material so well, you could teach the course!” I took this seriously and was thrilled by the prospect, because as much as I love interior design, I love sharing it with others even more. And having been involved with training staff at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village (now known as "The Henry Ford") earlier in my career I remembered how much I enjoyed the educational process. With my additional background in historic preservation, I stepped right into teaching “20th Century Architecture & Furniture” (especially fun in the shadows of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West) and “History of Decorative Arts.” I felt such joy at the end of the semester, when students would come up to express how much they got out of my classes. I couldn’t wait for the next semester to start!

I have written in a journal practically every day since freshman year of high school. I have always been very organized and methodical… part of being a Capricorn I guess. Anyway, when I started high school, my dad gave me a very professional looking bound journal like he and his colleagues used at work to keep track of their projects. I felt very sophisticated to have such a grown up tool to stay on top of my schedule, assignments and budding social life. I just loved keeping track of everything that was happening in my world. I didn’t generally use this book as a diary to jot my feelings in as some teens might have; it was more to plan future responsibilities and document events that were complete. It’s funny that I was drawn to Historic Preservation for graduate work and to a position in Interpretive Training at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, where documentation was definitely the name of the game! Anyway, to this day, no matter what happens, writing it down (& sometimes attaching a keepsake ticket stub, etc.) always brings me some degree of closure, and I am not finished with any day until it has been archived in my ‘book.’ If a friend ever asks me for the name of the restaurant that I dined at on vacation, or which teams played in a hockey game that I attended in college (why I would need to know that, I have no idea:), I know just where to look to find out!

By now you know that I am very organized and that I love decorating for and celebrating the seasons. So it probably won’t come as much of a surprise that I really enjoy making seasonal and holiday meals. I have put all of this together in the form of my very own cookbook that I call “Recipes For All Seasons.” I have spent years developing and recording the traditions, rituals, and menus involved in celebrating the holidays and special occasions that come up as the calendar pages turn and the seasons change. I love the planning part… flipping though cookbooks, magazines & even watching Food Network, to gather inspiration for all of the elements that will lead to a festive holiday or special occasion meal. I enjoy ‘cooking up’ the menu including beverages and desserts, finalizing the recipes, & creating the tablescapes. The longer I do this, the more I discover that something special can be reveled in every day… some days just call for more pomp and circumstance!

I love blue. I love green. I call the blue and green color palette in our home “Sea Glass.” I’ve seen some shelter magazines also refer to a “Sea Glass” color scheme or paint color… it’s pretty popular these days… but I can’t help but wonder how many of the editors or designers affiliated with those articles have actually collected the real thing. Beachcombing for sea glass and pottery shards is a hobby that Dave & I share with excitement and near obsession. As a matter of fact, the tides were so exceptional this past weekend that we hit the beaches for five days in a row… and yes, here in New England the temperatures were only in the 30’s! The joy of sea glass collecting is multifaceted. It is so relaxing to wander up and down the beach, clearing your head, soaking up the fresh air, taking in the beauty of the sand, sea, and views. Then there is the thrill of anticipating what you might find… and once you find something, pondering its provenance. Each little glass treasure has its own autobiography… its color may give a clue to what object it was originally a part of (such as a cobalt blue from a Noxema jar.) The thickness or pattern of a pottery shard may give a suggestion of its age (Canton ware from the early 1800’s.) Because the harbors in our area were so active very early in our country’s history, we have actually found glass, a clay pipe and china shards that date back to the 1700’s. Dave said something the other day that really brought the awe-inspiring element of this activity to life… “each one tells a story... weird to think that some pieces, especially the china and pipe, were once used, held by people that have long since passed on, many years previous most likely... a connection with the past...”

As I have been writing these details about my life so that you will get to know me better, I am all of a sudden amazed at how much sense everything makes… I guess that doing this has allowed me to get to know myself a little better too! I can’t help but marvel at how we human beings are truly mosaics of our upbringing, experiences, interpersonal relationships, education, and so much more. Does any part of these seven things about me surprise you? If you want to see yourself with greater clarity, you might want to give this little exercise a try too!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Even before my very first “Design 4 Seasons” post on July 14, 2010, I discovered that the design blogging world is filled with amazing, delightful, enthusiastic and inspiring people. They are all not only extremely insightful about the field of interior design, but they are also willing to generously share their knowledge about both design and social media.

A few days ago, I was honored to receive the Stylish Blogger Award from my friend and fellow blogger Rosanne Palazola of Focus On Design. I am very flattered Rosanne… thank you very much! Rosanne had received the award from another friend, Yvonne Blacker of Design Vignettes who had received it from Tricia Mitchell of Swedish Antiques. The recipient of the Stylish Blogger Award is tasked with “paying it forward” by passing the honor on to ten bloggers that they find inspiring. The fun thing about visiting design related blogs is the discovery of the multitude of imaginative ways designers approach their realm. No two are the same even if they happen to touch on the same event or elements.

The Top Ten blogs that I can’t resist visiting frequently receive My Stylish Blogger Awards...

Etched Crystals image

Focus on Design – Rosanne Palazola

Rosanne really knows interior design, but what makes her blog so fun to read is that she is so genuine in whatever it is she is discussing… from the mystique of Oriental rugs to the special ingredients involved in making a special cake for the holidays… you feel like you are sitting at a café with her as she shares her revelations. I always have a smile on my face when visiting the Focus On Design! I first met Rosanne at the Boston Design Center where we discovered that we live and work in the same area and were in similar points with our businesses. We chatted about how the design industry was changing as it related to the impact of social media. We both felt that the prospect of getting involved was exciting but didn’t quite know how to approach it. Soon after that, Rosanne learned of a series of upcoming seminars on Social Networking sponsored by the IFDA and asked if I wanted to join her. We were both so glad that we did! Those workshops were led by Linda Merrill, an interior designer with lots of experience in the social networking arena to share. Rosanne and I left the seminars anxious to join the design blogosphere, and Rosanne got hers up and running just a little bit before I did.

Surroundings and Silver Screen Surroundings – Linda Merrill

Linda was an early adopter of the newfangled blogging trend that was moving into the interior design genre, and saw the value of facebook and twitter as well. She always has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world of interior design in New England as well as the entire nation, and shares it on Surroundings, her e-newsletter and podcasts. Linda is genuinely interested in helping those of us in the design industry to thrive during these changing times, and she has been very available to those of us who have sought her advice and assistance on all things social media. Thanks Linda! (oh… and Linda’s blog dedicated to the sets and venues featured in movies… Silver Screen Surroundings… offers insight down to the last accessory… if you loved Downton Abbey on PBS, get the inside scoop – outside too- on Silver Screen Surroundings!)

Design Vignettes – Yvonne Blacker

Yvonne attended Linda’s seminars as well, but she had already started her blog, Design Vignettes, so she was already on her way to being an exemplary blogger. Since meeting Yvonne, who is a designer, stylist and graphic artist, I have noticed that she is not someone who sticks with the status quo, but is always moving forward toward something new and exciting. Her latest project is an on-line magazine New England Finery done in collaboration with Linda Smith of New England Fine Living. On Design Vignettes, Yvonne shares her own projects as well as lets us know great things that colleagues are doing and events about town. I always look to Yvonne for her up-to-the-minute take on events, products and venues.

Rachel Hazelton

Rachel is a very dynamic designer with a bold sense of style that is reflected in her blog. I had the chance to meet Rachel when she participated in “Social Media 101” as part of the “Design Boston” event held at the Boston Design Center last September. I was appreciative of her openness and willingness to share her thoughts on blogging, and found her enthusiasm contagious. It was no surprise to me to discover that Rachel had lived & worked in California… having lived in Arizona & spent a great deal of time in California, I think that Rachel & I share a bit of the West Coast spirit. Rachel’s blog is always exciting, with a hip vibe that exemplifies whatever she’s working on, thinking about or influenced by at the time.

Create Girl – Julieann Covino

Over the course of several events at “Design Boston” in September, including “Social Media 101,” I had the chance to talk with Julieann about getting my new blog going. I was so grateful for the information that she shared with me as well as her offer of ongoing input if I needed it. Julieanne is such a warm person and her blog is always full of new design ideas and sources which she shares as if we are all her best friends or clients. Julieanne is also a frequent guest blogger on blogs such as New England Home, and whenever I see her name out there, I can’t wait to see what she is writing about.

New England Home

Having only premiered in September of 2005, New England Home magazine is by far one of the strongest and best design publications in the country, featuring the region’s exceptional interior design and architecture. On January 10th of this year, the magazine and website were joined by a blog to the thrill of those of us who otherwise anxiously awaited the upcoming issue. NEH’s daily posts rotate from What, When & Where on Mondays, Guest Bloggers on Tuesdays (including Linda Merrill, Julieann Covino, and Sally Wilson, who recently did an amazing feature on Living a Colorful Life), Style with Homes Editor Stacy Kunstel (who also has her own delightful Blog Stacystyle) on Wednesdays, Previews of Upcoming Issues on Thursdays, and Friday Favorites featuring the editor’s favorite picks. A highlight has been the insights from Stacy Kunstel and Editor-in-Chief Kyle Hoepner, who represented New England Home, the sponsor of the Design Bloggers Conference, held in Los Angeles last week.

Completely Coastal – Maya

Although I didn’t grow up in New England, I definitely love the coast… and so does Maya of Completely Coastal! The more time I can spend at the beach, soaking up the sun, sea glass hunting, eating seafood and ice cream, the happier I am. The variety of architecture is amazing and the design sensibilities are wonderful. No one captures all things coastal better than Maya… each day I can’t wait to see what she has to share… whether it is photographs of gorgeous nautical-inspired bedrooms, coastal crafts, coastal cakes, or even coastal Christmas trees… the examples are always amazing. My communication with Maya has only been over the internet, but she feels like a friend!

House of Turquoise – Erin

As you have probably figured out by my blog, posts, or conversations, I love the cool, serene, coastal colors of blues, greens and purples. As a matter of fact, my favorite color palette coincides with one of my hobbies and collections… sea glass. So, it didn’t take me long to find the House of Turquoise, where Erin professes to be “obsessed with the color turquoise (and teal, robin’s egg blue, sky blue, sea foam green, and ocean blue”). Erin manages to find the most magnificent cool toned spaces and design elements out there. And to give fair time to other hues, she also compiles on-line shopping options in other colors and combinations in her Décor By Color blogs… so useful for finding just the right home accessory in that perfect shade!

The Inspired Room – Melissa

Although I’ve never met Melissa, I feel like I know her well! The Inspired Home is a long-standing, very widely visited blog… big numbers! Hers was the first interior design related blog that I ever visited and I found it rather unintentionally. I have been a fan of designer and lifestyle author Alexandra Stoddard for quite some time. I have read all of her books on gracious living, attended book signings, and even a “Happiness Weekend” hosted by Alexandra and her husband Peter Brown at their cottage in Stonington, Connecticut. Although I had frequented Alexandra’s website, for some reason, I was doing an internet search for her… and The Inspired Room came up. It turns out that Melissa also admires Alexandra; they had conversed, and Melissa shared the experience on her blog. Since then I have continued to visit The Inspired Room to find out what new design projects Melissa is undertaking in her home, as well as ponder the questions that she asks her audience to get them thinking about living genuinely.

Fran Rees

Fran’s blog is the only one that I have given my Stylish Blogger Award to that is not specifically related to interior design. But it is indeed very stylish, as Fran is a gifted collage and fine artist. Fran and I became friends many years ago in Arizona. We met at an Alexandra Stoddard book signing as we were both fans of Alexandra’s love of gracious living. Isn’t it funny how we gravitate toward people with like-minded philosophies, and these threads of consistency run through various aspects of our lives? Fran indeed lives her life graciously and with great style, and in spite of having a very busy life of family and work, she always makes time to express herself with her art, whether it be on paper, in her home or kitchen.

Thanks again Rosanne, for considering me a Stylish Blogger. We definitely share a lot of mutual admiration!

Oh, and another obligation of receiving the Stylish Blogger Award is to share seven things about myself that you might not already know... look for that next time!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter Warmers… Take The Chill Off

What does “Winter Warmer” mean to you?

If you are a beer enthusiast…

"Winter Warmer"

Harpoon Brewery, Boston, Massachusetts

If you are a fashionista...

Winter scarves; google images

If you are a design aficionado…

Horchow glamourous Dansfield & Ross

silk & rayon velvety gray throw with pom pom trim

One of my favorite accessories for the home is something that can make a big design statement while also proving to be quite useful... the throw. I am a devotee of throws as decorative accessories all year round, but winter is an especially good time to toss a stylish and cozy blanket across your sofa or bed. It is wonderful to snuggle up under a plush, warm throw while watching the snow fall outside of your window (I know, many of you in colder climates are tired of the white stuff by now, so maybe “wonderful” is pushing it a little!), or while you read a book, watch a movie, or just enjoy a tasty hot beverage.

Here are some especially lovely throws that I have come across in my explorations…

Horchow understated quilted coverlets & cable knit throws by Ann Gish

Horchow Sofia super soft cabled cashmere throws woven with heathered yarns

Gracious Home simple but chic Capri cashmere throws with ribbed border

Gracious Home Matouk Arcadia elegant throws with Greek key design

(also love the paint color in the vignette!)

Gracious Home Matouk Torino throws in classic two-tone chevron weave

West Elm bold & textural chunky tassel throw

Pottery Barn casual hand-knit chunky cable throws

Bliss Living Home Temi plush throw in Whisper Blue is covered & edged with pom poms

(how fun is this?)

Throws have such a warming effect that these last few even give me the feeling that Spring is just around the corner! What about you you?