I've just returned from spending the month of May in France. My time there was divided between hosting The Academy, visiting friends, and taking a solo French road trip to see new places and have a little creative down time. What I'm always struck by, no matter where I may be in the country, is how authentic the French live. You won't see homes filled with shiny new items from a big box store or mass produced wares delivered to their doorstep. Homes are collected, well lived in, and speak purely to those who inhabit them. They are unique and imperfect. They are nurturing to the senses and welcoming to all who enter their doors. I had the privilege of photographing one such home belonging to my friend, antique dealer Lou O'Leary. His home encourages me to approach my own decor with a sense of authenticity and meaning. My hope is that it does the same for you.
Finally, I've begun to tackle a design project that, quite literally, looms over me every single day - finishing my studio space at Grove House. More specifically, the lounge seating area. You know how the saying goes - the cobbler's children have no shoes. That's me, in a nutshell. The "busy" excuse has been used frequently in an effort to ease my slight guilt over not getting my act together with the project. But enough already, the time has come to mark this one off my to-do list. Step One - Share my design plan with the internet.
As a stylist, there are certain props I pull for every single photoshoot. Pillows and throws are two of those items. Even if the home appears to be filled to the brim with choices I still bring options and always include a mix of neutrals. They're sort of a secret weapon in styling. Neutrals add a soft, quiet background layer that enables more colorful pieces to pop on camera. It would work the same in your home as well. I promise.
Having spent years immersed in residential and commercial design (which subsequently transitioned to my current career of editorial styling) I've decided to utilize my expertise and help you learn the styling techniques I employ in my work through a new series of posts - Styling 101. Here's what you can expect and our first lesson!
Generally speaking, January is bleak. Much of our nation is covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice while others (like those of us in California) have been experiencing catastrophic mudslides as a result of massive fires and torrential rainstorms. Winter has been a doozy. But in the midst of dreary weather and gloomy days we're given a welcome relief in the form of our sunniest fruit; citrus!
Last week we began harvesting our front section of trees at Grove House. They were so overloaded many limbs were brushing the ground and branches were splitting right off unable to bear the weight. The record setting orange tipped the scale at 1.9lbs! A portion of this harvest, about 8,000 pounds, was sold to a farmstand just down the road. It makes me supremely happy when I drive by and see them all piled up like jewels.
If there's one thing I've learned through my years of design and styling work it's this: Design your home for the people that actually live there. It doesn't matter what so-and-so may think, or what your friends, family, and neighbors feel would look best, or what your readers and followers like or don't like - none of them live there. You do. What's more important is that when you step inside, it feels like home. For some that may mean a riot of color for others a white box. Modern or mid century, country or contemporary, whatever your drawn to, it should embrace you like a warm hug. Regardless of whether or not it pleases the masses or is on-trend. Because let's face it - they're both fickle.
When we started designing and building Grove House, my husband and I had many long conversations about what type of architecture and design we liked, how we wanted to live in the space, even how we cooked together in the kitchen. From those meetings over dinner and long walks we began working on a home that represented both of us. It would be simple, with clean modern lines and warm rustic touches. In other words, home.
Recently I was able to hit the flea market with my neighbor. She's new at the treasure hunting game but has certainly caught the bug. It's nice to have someone close by who will also get up at o'dawn hundred to make the trek with the only guarantee being hot coffee. Because as we all know it can be hit or miss at the flea.
One of the items I found was this metal vase with perfect patina for our guest room. Fortunately my neighbor also let me pick flowers since our gardens are pitiful right now. I've actually been buying vases whenever they catch my eye because it's the one prop item I'm constantly having to source or ship from my inventory. So I'm happily stocking up in that department. Here are the other finds that came home with me....