Sunday, July 15, 2012

Making it theirs

A client of mine is moving abroad and has just put her gorgeous 6-bedroom house on the market.  At the request of her broker, we have spent the last several weeks pairing down the personal details of the space in order to make it more neutral and "buyer friendly".  This act of stripping your personality out of the house to let someone else imagine theirs in it, is a hard process.  After all, so much effort goes into making a space yours that dumbing it down seems to negate how special you once thought it was, and suddenly your home just becomes a business transaction...
With the house now void of knickknacks and family photographs, I wanted to bring warmth back into the space for the first open house.  Luckily this can be done with a little bit of staging and some simple flower arrangements.  After providing some additional lighting and re-editing the bookshelves, I took a ride over to Winstons (my favorite local florist) to see what I could find.  From their cut flowers, to their incredible selection of orchids, succulents, and outdoor plants, I was able to fill in the gaps and cheer up my client and her space.

Keep your fingers crossed for a quick sell!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the road

Just in case you missed it - my feature with On The Road With Melissa:

Discover how traveling can open up new inspirations you never knew you had.

My recent stop took me to Elizabeth Benedict, owner of Elizabeth Home Décor & Design. Read about how her travels opened up new inspirations she discovered along the way!

What is Elizabeth Home Décor & Design?-Elizabeth Home Décor & Design, Inc. is a full-service residential interior design business based in Chestnut Hill, MA.

What inspired you to start this business?-After I was married, my husband and I moved to Hong Kong. I was very caught up in my career in financial services up until then, so it was quite a culture shock moving to such a culturally different environment. I took a job with a Western bank but my husband was gone most of the week travelling around the region. He’d come back with beautiful souvenirs, fascinating stories, and tales of places that I longed to be. After eight months, I decided to put my career on hold and start travelling with him. We spent the millennium touring around Rajasthan, the Thar desert, exploring India for three weeks. For the first time in my life I was awestruck. I was overwhelmed by the history, the different religions, the weather, the people, the antiques and things that had survived through so much change, the handicrafts, the fabrics, the colors, and the smells. When we returned to Hong Kong, I took a job at a local gallery, continued to travel, and began to acknowledge the right side of my brain.
Elizabeth Benedict, owner of Elizabeth Home Décor & Design, Inc.

How did you get started?-I took a job at a gallery in Hong Kong that specialized in Southeast Asian textiles and Balinese art. The owner of the shop was an interior designer from Australia. She encouraged me to join the Hong Kong Textile Society. From there I designed a line of tablescapes (runners, tablecloths, etc) that I sold in NY while in the States for a visit. When we moved back to the States, my husband enrolled me in an introductory interior design class at New England School of Art and Design as a Christmas gift. He told me to take it as far as I wanted to. I completed the certificate course in just over four years (in between having kids). During my last semester I was approached by a real estate agent in Boston who was working with a developer that was converting apartments to high-end condominiums in Beacon Hill. They needed someone to do the model units and the common spaces. I put in a proposal and was asked to begin the project shortly thereafter. Having a business background, I didn’t want to begin unprepared, so I hired a lawyer, incorporated Elizabeth Home Décor & Design, Inc., and took out an insurance policy. That was 2005.

What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to start a business or is thinking about it?
-Do your research and dive in head first. If you wait for the right time, you’ll put it off and get busy with something else. There’s never a right time for anything, but if you love what you do, you’ll make the time to make it work.
How are you getting the word out?
-My business has always been word of mouth. I was fortunate enough to start Elizabeth Home Décor & Design at a time when my peers were moving out of the city and into the suburbs – my first clients didn’t have big budgets (and many of them still do not). Since I was (and still am) very transparent about how I charge for my services and the products, a sense of trust was established early on, and some of my clients have been with me for three moves! I have a distinct vision in how I design – I believe in cohesive spaces. Since many of my first clients were moving out of small spaces into marginally bigger spaces with hopes of moving onto even bigger spaces, I think that it is important to furnish your home in an overall color palette – that rooms should flow back and forth into one another instead of being so distinctively different – that way, when you do move, or if you feel like moving things around, you don’t have so many parameters. Since I have four kids, I am also always thinking about family friendly spaces. As my clients leave the city and grow as a family, they continue to come back to me to help them grow their spaces.
What do you love about your business or job?-I love that it’s always new with each client. No two people have the exact same taste, so for me, it’s a continuous discovery. With every project, I get to start over.
For more information on Elizabeth Home Décor & Design:
Check out Elizabeth’s blog too:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Missing the East

I know, I know - I've been out of touch.  Summer has begun, and I've already put over 2000 miles on my car with road trips and carpools and getting off the grid...  Today, when I finally sat down to post a post, I realized that it was a significant day, so I scrapped my original "welcome back" content, and opted for this...

A year ago we came home from our big Asian adventure.  It had been ten years since the one before that.  It's a hard anniversary.  I wish that we could have the luxury of returning every year.  Here are some photos from the trip and why it's lingering long after it's over...

For more details, see my past post "In a nutshell"