Monday, June 20, 2011

The silk road is calling

In just a few days, we will be embarking on the family adventure of a lifetime; a whirlwind trip to southeast Asia with the whole gang in tow.  As it draws closer, I am overwhelmed with excitement for our homecoming back to Hong Kong - the birthplace of my creative side, and the influence behind most of designwork.  It's been a long time since I had thought our time there...

When we left our flat in the Mid-Levels ten years ago, life dealt us a completely different hand of cards.  Within months of being back in the States, we were parents and finding our place in a new city.  The life that we had in the Far East was quickly a memory tucked away behind the busy days of diapers and going back to school.  Then after a new career took off and the kids became grade-schoolers, that exotic life was completely compartmentalized into that section of your brain that doesn't like to remember what life was like without responsibility.

But lately in anticipation of the trip and in casual conversation with friends about the itinerary, I've opened up Pandora's box, and the memories have started to come out of hiding.  The places where we travelled are becoming vivid again, and the experiences that we had there are now on the forefront of my mind.  In fact, what I uncovered (a decade later) was that living abroad was the single most influential thing that I have done in my life.  Aside from the obvious effect that it had on my career path, the experience exposed me to things that I didn't realize I was missing.  It took me out from my shelter and taught me to be open about the rest of the world.  It is the reason that I want my children to be travellers and to welcome culture.  It is the reason that we continue to live in a city instead of the suburbs.  And it is the reason that I like my lumpy Lombok pot.

So with that said, I'll be out of touch for awhile - busy hiking up Victoria Peak and taking the double-decker bus over to Stanley in search of a good bargain and a beer at Smugglers - but I will look for inspiration along the way, take lots of photographs, and remember to keep the box open when I return.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I love a little feminine desk in a bedroom.  Every girl needs a place to stash her love letters...


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A little chair in a big world

One of my favorite aspects of design is repurposing what you already have.   Or, finding something used and making it new.  I am constantly searching craigslist and consignment stores for classic little chairs and footstools to reinvent in the 21st century.  Believe me, I know that there is a lot of junk out there that doesn't need to be redone, but why bother buying something new of lesser quality if what you already have is of a higher standard?  And, hence below you'll find my new BFF.

My client had a demure, baby blue, occasional chair (that I wish I took a before picture of) that was so old it actually rocked in every direction when you sat in it.  It went from her husband's grandmother's house, to her own bedroom, to her daughter's room, and still couldn't find a comfortable resting place.  A little nook in her music room was waiting for seat, so I suggested moving it down there.  I had my favorite, and most talented, upholsterer sure up the frame, and we put a BIG, BOLD graphic pattern on it.  Now it's the highlight of the space.

Another element to point out here is how small frames don't necessarily need small patterns.  We are making a big statement in a small place by using a large scale print in an unexpected way.  The best part about it is how the pattern is matched up from the seat back, down the seat, and onto the skirt.  Where the pattern couldn't be matched, we simply pleated the corners and gave the eye a distraction; this is why you need a trustworthy upholstered who knows what they're doing (and mine is Olger).

Here is the chair up for inspection in the workroom:

Here it is in the music room:

Here is the footstool I had made to go with it:

Or with the chair in the neighboring room (my idea of cohesive design from a past post):


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rooms without walls

When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I didn't go through the "nesting" phase, but rather, the "fly the coop" phase in search of more space.  Having a husband who could feel settled on his futon in our first studio apartment in NYC made every transition thereafter a process of give and take.  Getting him to give up our cozy three bedroom house in search of the "forever" home that would accommodate our growing family was certain to be a huge challenge, so before he could say NO I had to find a house that he could fall in love with without even stepping inside.

Driving down Commonwealth Avenue on a Thursday morning, I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  The Hammond Residential realtor was hammering in the sign into the ground for the broker's open house happening that very day.  Taking note of the stately brick colonial overlooking Boston College, I made it a point to come back promptly at 1:00.

Owned by an academic family for over 20 years, the walls were barren and white.  The house seemed tired and felt close to its age of 96.  A little disappointed, I turned for the front door - only to be struck by the view of BC's campus across the street.  I felt smart just looking at it.  I focused in and saw the stadium.  Football within walking distance; a home worthy of moving again...

Now 5 years later, and another kid in the mix, I am getting the itch again.  Not that I really want to move, but I think that it's time to open things up and make use of our entire property.  I'm starting to put together images of outdoor spaces and to think about creative ways to spread out our livable area.  I'll run it by the big man once I have a good sell and can work in the outdoor flatscreen.