Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Well, just in time for the first official day of Summer, I have finally done my Spring cleaning! No, I am not talking about washing my windows, or taking fleece blankets off my bed… what I am referring to is sharing with you some of the wonderful things that I took part in within the design world this spring!

This is basically four blog posts in one... so you might want to grab an iced coffee and a cookie to enjoy while following me through Spring! (Fyi... images are mine unless otherwise noted.)

“Charlotte Moss Decorates”

On Tuesday, May 3rd, infamous interior designer Charlotte Moss brought her exhilarating and luxurious sense of style to the Boston Design Center. Through her seminar “The Art of Creating Elegant & Inspired Rooms: Where Do You Begin?” she offered insight behind where she summons up her inimitable panache. Charlotte is a very well-traveled, well-read designer with a spirited appreciation for her southern heritage, and of the women who preceded her in the design profession. As she spoke about how she begins each design project and where she finds her inspiration, I discovered that although her decorating style is unique to her, she and I speak a similar language in our approaches.

I was delighted when she said that “you have to see the magic in places and things.” She described heading out to explore on her own during visits to places near and far, cities, towns, grand houses and gardens. She spends hours photographing details that affect her… often singling out particular elements, such as doors, to compare and contrast. She actually documents much of what she sees through photography, and the pictures frequently become her design muse. She combines photos, color swatches and other materials to create collages, and even makes books of collages, which are actually gorgeous works of art in their own right… and indeed tell a design story. Charlotte also takes photographs to record what works, what combines well, and so forth. Examples that she gave included photographing table settings as a reminder of the mismatched layers of china pieces, linens, etc., to make­ them easier to recreate should appropriate events arise, and the fact that she takes a picture of every floral arrangement she creates. These revelations reminded me so much of what I am inclined to do, but always wondered if I was alone. As it turns out, I am in very good company!

So, although I would describe Charlotte’s photographic records, collages and projects as being a bit more sophisticated than mine, I definitely felt a kind of kinship with someone who sees the value in soaking up her surroundings much in the same way that I do. So much so, that I couldn’t resist acquiring a copy of her latest book “Charlotte Moss Decorates: The Art of Creating Elegant & Inspired Rooms” at the reception held in the Ralph Lauren showroom, for my design library!

Charlotte at her book signing

Charlotte & me

“Not Just Surviving, Thriving”

May 12th brought me back to the Design Center for a very special event in the “ASID Distinguished Speaker Series.” The workshop, entitled “Not Just Surviving, Thriving,” was held in the Janus et Cie showroom and was presented by ASID president Michael Thomas, FASID. One of the fun surprises for me was learning that Michael has just recently relocated from Florida, where he had a business for many years, to Arizona where he has re-envisioned his firm, the Design Collective Group, with an emphasis on aging in place, and a to-the-trade design showroom in Scottsdale. I really enjoyed my conversation with him about our mutual love of the desert Southwest, where I had also lived for 14 years prior to moving to New England.

Michael related the challenges that he and his firm have faced throughout the recent economic downturn as an example of why we need to be proactive in our approach to moving ourselves forward. He invited the group to share our concerns as well, and there were many varied issues brought up. His thoughtful comments and the discussions among the group got everyone thinking about ways to reenergize and in some cases reinvent their approach to the business of interior design.

Some of Michaels’ suggested survival skills were conceptual, such as becoming more knowledgeable about important directions like green design and aging in place. Other recommendations revolved around learning particular skills, improving technological knowledge and even the joys and benefits of blogging!

After the seminar, Michael was joined by current President of ASID New England Barbara Bradlee, Past President ASIDNE Lynda Onthank, and Christine Oliver, President of MIDC, for an open discussion of the state of the organization, on both a national and regional level, in relation to the industry in general. I think that everyone in attendance felt a sense of lightness in their step as they headed out to revisit their business approach… I know that I experienced a feeling of empowerment and optimism.

Michael Thomas, Lynda Onthank, Barbara Bradlee & Christine Oliver

Michael & me

Michael's book, coauthored with Drue Lawlor, FASID

ASID image

“North Shore Design Show – Favorite Spaces”

A favorite annual fund-raising event at the Wenham Museum, the North Shore Design Show brings together many talented interior designers who create spaces that celebrate life on the North Shore. With only an approximately 8’ by 8’ area to work with, each of the thirteen designers transformed their little space into a creative vignette inspired by North Shore life past and present.

I visited the show on May 15th, a rainy Sunday (there were a lot of those come to think of it!), but when I stepped inside the rain and gray skies were replaced by beautiful and creative spaces, including a gorgeous dining space featuring a chic Art Deco bar cart by Wilson Kelsey, an ultra elegant dining room by Honey Collins, peaceful Garden of the Five Senses by Northeast Nursery, and a charming Farmhouse Chic dining space by Yvonne Blacker. As a designer myself, I always find myself inspired by other designers’ interpretations of spaces, and can’t help wonder to myself… what would I have done?

Wenham Museum image

Chic dining by Wilson Kelsey; Wilson Kelsey image

Elegant dining by Honey Collins

Farmhouse Chic dining by Yvonne Blacker

& Garden of the Five Senses by Northeast Nursery

“Kips Bay Decorator Show House”

Another major fund-raising event is the most illustrious designer show house in the country… the infamous Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City. I first had the chance to visit a Kips Bay house in 1998 when I made a trip from Arizona to New York with a group of fellow interior designers (yes, the “Twin Towers” were still there and we dined even on top at “Windows On The World”). We were thrilled to see the top notch work of such notable, leading edge designers as Clodagh, T. Keller Donovan, Bunny Williams, and Matthew Patrick Smyth.

This year, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in New York City, and lucky for me, it was the last week that the 39th annual Show House was open for tours! We spent a leisurely Saturday afternoon… May 21st (the only day the entire time that we were in NYC that it didn’t rain!) wandering from space to space & enjoying the varied and beautiful spaces. Matthew Patrick Smyth was back with a formal yet serene dining room. My favorite spaces included Celerie Kemble’s “Ladies Lounge" with it's fun, fuchsia double settee, Barbara Ostrom’s lush French inspired guest room, Campion Platt’s "Ode To Jock" Whitney men’s club room, and on the fourth floor, the ultra-hip Stereo Lounge by Brad Ford and terraces with restful lounginf pots and landscaping by Robert Stilin and Gunn Landscape Architecture.

Kips Bay Decorator Show House

I can't wait to go in!

Matthew Patrick Smyth's formal dining space; Surroundings image

Campion Platt's "Ode to Jock"; House Beautiful image

Celerie Kemble's ladies library; Kemble Interiors image

Barbara Ostrom's French guest room; Elle Decor image

Brad Ford's Stereo Lounge; Elle Decor image

Robert Stillin & Gunn Landscape Architecture' back terrace; Elle Decor image

Considering there was so much fabulous design to take in this Spring, no wonder I am just getting around to cleaning up all of the mementos from my activities! Wow, I am exhausted! Have you finished all of your Spring cleaning to make room for your own Summer adventures?


  1. Love your posts! Even though I couldn't make the Boston events, I felt like I was there! Hopefully I can join you for the next event!!

  2. Hi Kat,

    Wow what a great post! You certainly did a lot of 'Spring Cleaning'! I had fun with you touring the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in NYC as well as the North Shore Design Show – Favorite Spaces at the Wenham Museum. Plenty of great design ideas everywhere!

    Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next post... Will it be 'Summer' perhaps?


  3. Now you have the Old York Decorator Show House to look forward to! I know how you like a seaside retreat! Thanks for visiting my space at the Wenham Museum and thank you for contributing your "Seaside Serenity" article to the summer issue of New England Finery!


Please share your thoughts on my post...