Saturday, December 26, 2009

ON LOCATION: Traditional Home's Holiday Photo Shoot

Here's a little sneak peek into one of the holiday homes scheduled to appear in the December 2010 issue of Traditional Home magazine.  Magazines typically photograph their holiday picks a year ahead of time.  When I scouted this house, decorated by Sandy Lucas of Lucas/Eilers Interior Design ,  I wasn't thinking about Christmas at all. It was, after all,  either late summer or early fall more than a year ago.  This past summer, editors envisioned how lovely this handsome abode would be transformed into a beautiful holiday setting.  So, hence, the planning began.  I met with Sandy this past October at the house, which is owned by members of a long-time Houston family.  We spent about two hours walking through the house and talking decorations.  Must confess it's kind of challenging to think of Christmas when outdoor temps continue to hover around 90 degrees.  Sandy took our ideas to the homeowners for their approval and input.  They wanted to involve their florist who has hung their seasonal greenery for many years.  (So far, so good. My job as a stylist continues to get easier, I remember thinking.)  Their florist and Sandy were there at the time of the shoot to lend helping hands.  I'm usually the one who arrives with containers and containers -- and even more containers -- of different florals.  And I'm the one who usually needs to scramble to get everything in place.  I usually stock my car with food (such as Paulie's Cookies) , throws, pillows, dishes, furniture -? (sometimes!), vases, moss, rocks, ribbons, scissors, tape and whatever else in large and small.  This time . . . well, Sandy and "the team" had it well organized and decorated.  There's always some amount of tweaking during a photo shoot.  For example, I did ask Sandy's assistant about the possibility of hanging more ornaments as well as added sparkle and color on the tree.  Sometimes more is better.   Werner Straube , the photographer for this assignment, flew in from Chicago and hired a local photographer to help him.  Werner, like all photographers, set up a portable computer that enables all of us to see the photos as they are taken.  I personally look at scale, composition, color balance, continuity, tangent interferences, and to ensure definition of items.  For instance, a ribbon hung from each end of a long iron rod hanging above the kitchen fireplace.  When I saw it on Werner's computer screen, I looked around with a little wonderment. "What is that?" A rhetorical question, for sure, but I set out to make it look like what it's supposed to.  (Lucky for me, the florist was on hand to make bow for that necessary, added definition.)  A lot of people like to place small items on a table.  Then it gets to be about scale.  If you have to guess at what those little trinkets might be or represent, then it's best to remove them.  Otherwise, it just looks junky and un-meaningful.  Bigger is sometimes better, too.  Would you believe that we often spend a lot of time on dining room chair legs?  We don't want them to overlap so it looks like a bunch of three-legged chairs.  We look to make sure other things don't touch at unusual points or line up oddly.  That's what I mean by tangent interference . . . .  The photographer looks at lighting, harsh, fake-like or bright shadows, makes appropriate adjustments, works on composition and such.  Together, the photographer and I try to scrutinize everything.  We want to ensure we're giving the editor and art director what they want.  Each shot typically requires about an hour's prep time -- and sometimes more if people are involved. On this shoot, Candace Manroe, senior home design editor, was on hand to help direct what shots might best complement the story she's writing.  The family was so very accommodating, making us feel both welcome and comfortable.  They just rolled with it all -- which isn't always easy.  Photo shoots are time consuming and a little hectic.  This family just turned it into a party.  After the first day (it was a two-day shoot), one of the homeowners sat at his grand piano and played for us.  His wife uncorked a bottle of red.  Such fun!  So, now . . . Here's to your own fun-filled New Year!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mood Boards That Inspire! Vote....

I would like to invite everyone to vote for their favorite runner-up mood board -- between now and Jan. 7.   I will present something -- a surprise -- to the readers' top pick.  Leave a note as to whom you think should get the runner-up award . . . . Invite your friends, family, fellow bloggers and non-bloggers  to vote.  (Yes, vote for yourself, if you like.)  We'll have a little extra fun, ya?   Just leave your "vote" in the comment section between now and the 7th.  Links and descriptions are bulleted below.  You'll soon understand why I asked Linda Barth, editor of Houston House & Home magazine , to select the top winning three for me.  I loved them all.  I did announce the top winners in the post before last, so check 'em out.  

In the meantime, a great big thank you to everyone who participated in my contest that incorporated one-of-a-kind furniture pieces from The Green Plum !   I also want to thank Timeless Paper , Pewter & Sage , and Comfort & Luxury for posting notices about the contest on their respective blogs.  (Did I get everyone who posted notices?)  I will be sending winners their prizes and a little something in appreciation to those who helped spread the word . . . probably right after the holidays. (I'm still trying to get presents to family and friends out the door. So, thank you for your patience!)

Please enjoy the additional talent we had the privilege of receiving -- and vote for your pick to receive a runner-up award/prize.  I will collect the count on the morning of Jan. 8.

Comfort &Luxury's mood board :  "I've used your settee to design a breakfast nook where, on Christmas day, Mom and Dad are taking a much-deserved coffee break between opening presents with the kids and getting everybody ready for dinner at Grandma's."

Southern Hospitality' mood board:  "I opted to use this pretty settee in a bedroom setting, mixing it's traditional lines with more contemporary pieces for a nice eclectic feel. A little bit of glitz and traditional furniture items, along with the soothing tones of creams, browns, blues would make a wonderful setting for a bedroom. I could live here!" 

Frugal With Flourish:  "I picked the blue/brown settee and used two in the room. I would put
these in a more formal sitting room/study area. I paired the two
chairs with a more modern round glass coffee table to pick up on the
circles in the fabric. The table also follows the tapered leg shape of
the chairs. In my mind, these chairs are facing a fireplace that is
flanked by two large windows. Underneath them, I have put this
fabulous Grey Blue Greek Key style rug. I thought this would look
great in a room with dark wood floors and great molding. I picked out
a slate blue paint color for the walls. The wall that is featured in
my board has a console table and mirror that would reflect the
fireplace into the room. Two tall candlesticks in a classic spindle
shape will flank either side of the mirror. Finally, I have selected
two matching bookcases to go on either side of the console. All of the
other furniture in the room is from Home Decorators Outlet and the
mirror is from Details on my items are featured on

Doxahome's mood board:  "I created a library for a sophisticated, fashion forward woman who understands and appreciates understated luxury.  The settee is meant to be placed in a niche on a wall of painted glossy black bookshelves with the two "bird leg" spot tables floating in front while the chesterfield sofa sits on the facing wall with the lucite waterfall table serving it. " 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Downtown Chic

I have a new book in hand. Love the title of it: "Downtown Chic."  It drew me in before I even got to thumb the pages.  It's written by husband-wife team Robert and Cortney Novogratz, parents of six children under the age of 11. Hard to imagine they have any time to spare, but they do.  R&C gut, renovate and design old buildings (and construct new ones, too, I think I noticed).  More impressively, they're successful at it and rather prolific.  In fact, they say, "the scarier the building looks, the better it is."  Those words alone, I must confess, conjure up images of the Money Pit for me.  Remember the 1986 movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long?  The young in-love characters played by Hanks and Long forge ahead with a large renovation and end up with the most fabulous space.  Well, same goes for Robert and Cortney -- who, by the way, forego the marital drama (unlike their movie counterparts) in lieu of forming a company called Sixx Design.  All this began for R&C 15 years ago when they tackled their first reno project -- their own home (See Chapter One).  Cortney writes that theirs was a condemned building in the heart of Chelsea, a now-trendy neighborhood in Manhattan.  Since then, they have moved on to finalize many more successful projects.  Many of them are featured in this book. They share in editorial form and in quick bulleted lists what they did, what works and what doesn't, who to hire, what to look for, and so forth.  Nice large color photos bleed off many of the 175 pages.  On page 19, they offer such insider tips as: 1. Location is key (everyone has heard this, I know, but R&C think it can't be said enough.)  2. Look to the creative community to find those key locations, buy on the fringe for real deals, or look for signs for up and coming areas (which they talk about further). 3. Buy directly from the owner to save money. 4. Get an engineer's report; if the structure is sound, then "you are golden."  5. Have a plan before starting.   All good advice; some of which you've heard before.  The difference is the detail in which they give it.  Readers also get a peek into their homes and various projects -- all accompanied with worthy editorial, tips on decorating, and how to jump-start your imagination.  Expensive, they say, isn't always better.  Yahoo.  If you need both a cheerleader and type of sherpa all wrapped up in one, the Novogratz team steps up to help -- through this book.  Other chapters:  "Charmless to Charming," "Paris Meets Gotham," "Fun House" and five more.  It's all about designing your dream house, from wreck to ravishing.  For future:  They will have a show on Bravo sometime in late March. Eight one-hour episodes are scheduled to air ... Called "Nine by Design." Their book is available for under $30 via Amazon. Photos here are from parts of their book. I look forward to reading more....COMING UP on my blog:  More contest entry winners and a look behind the scenes at a holiday Traditional Home magazine photo shoot. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winners of the GiveAway Contest!!

I couldn't have done this without the final help of Linda Barth, editor of Houston House & Home magazine.  Not only do I count her as being among my top very favorite people of all time, let me tell ya:  She knows her stuff!  Linda's writing talents and extensive design knowledge make HH&H a worthwhile read. I always look for it at the first of every month, or else I flip the pages online.  What I especially admire is Linda's ability to understand and respect styles that differ from her own personal tastes.  As you know, I had thought about inviting readers to vote as well, but Linda provided such thoughtful commentary that I have reconsidered.  Hope you don't mind.  Besides, I thought it might be good to get this show on the road.  I did momentarily wonder if she knew what she'd be getting or viewing when I asked her to judge.  It was her exclamation point at the end of this sentence that made me think she was very pleasantly surprised:  "You have some talented blog readers!"  (I know. I know!! Again, she's so right!) Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and talents. I appreciate all the interests and comments, too!  I also have learned a thing or two about contests.... ; Easy publishable formats; that's the ticket for next time.  So, maybe we can do it again next year -- ?

So, without further delay, here are the winners, according to Linda: 

1st place.  TIMELESS PAPER (this link connects to her site, mood board and info). "We still have a crush on everything Kelly Wearstler, don’t we? I love Wearstler’s work, though I didn’t like that beige, beige, beige beach house that she designed & got published in Arch Di. Nevertheless, this person’s ideas for incorporating your B&W settee impeccably upholstered in Sunbrella are very chic, very fresh. What a glam office! I love the play of patterns, and the white sconces are unexpected and fun. The silver and white Wearstler-designed wallpaper rocks. If I walked in here to do business, I’d ask for a little more tea to drink & try to linger as long as I could."

2nd place. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES  . "Again, glamour. It got me. Can’t help it. I love that the person did a mix of modern and traditional. It’s soft and sensual, and the blue & cream color palette will surely inspire sweet dreams. Sophisticated choice of light fixtures and end tables. Like the touches of black so the room isn’t too sweet. Bed linens look yummy." (Artie's un-named board and sketch are posted on this blog; he didn't provide a link, but I hope he'll share resources and vision, if you're interested, on his blog.) 

3rd place. ZUNGIA INTERIORS . "I had a tough time choosing between Color Outside the Lines and this one for 2nd place. I love the color palette of this room & how it complements that swell gray almost-moderne wingback chair of yours. I wouldn’t have thought to complement the chair with ginger colors, but the Suzani pillows with gray, ginger and other shades make it work. The leather pouf is fun fun fun. The art is beautiful, but I would vary it a bit and not just have nudes in the sitting room—unless it’s a very, very private sitting room if you catch my drift." (I have asked Michelle to post her entry, too, as I couldn't get her Pdf file to convert to a jpeg or some other form that I could publish on my end. Oh...she just sent to me in a jpeg. Suzani Lounge. Enjoy.)

I will post the other entries another day, later this week.  Hope that's OK . . .  I'm separating them, because I'd like for you "to see" them clearly.  Otherwise, if I do them all now, I'm afraid it might begin to get a little convoluted here, since they arrived in various formats -- and some images will need to be posted here.  PLEASE WINNERS: Do I have your addresses? Please email to me, and I will get your prizes in the mail!)  Thank you again, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

GiveAway Contest

I've glanced at the GiveAway contest entries and can immediately tell it's gonna be hard to pick the winners. All are fabulous!!

But stay tuned. I'm asking a couple of people to help me. Perhaps I should post all and you guys can "vote" as well. What do you think? (The dreamy image is of my dog, Sam, sitting on the window seat of our Galveston home....So sweet, he is.) Yes, you can vote for your entry. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

GiveAway Update

I am extending the deadline to Friday, Dec. 11, for those interested in entering our terrific Give Away contest -- primarily because I'm flying off in a few days to work a 2010 Holiday shoot for Traditional Home magazine. Secondly, I have received a few questions about using the fun free software Polyvore.  Please find directions in the Comment Section in my prior post, in addition to All That You Need to Know about the GiveAway, which also can be found by just scrolling down.  I think you'll find the software pretty user friendly, and one you may want to use often to meet your own needs.  I hope this extra time, during a busy season, will allow more to play.  Your chances of winning --
something -- are good!!  Photos here are of the 3 prizes.  First is a lusciously thick throw by Brahms Mount Textiles. Second is a set of four jute/cotton placemats by Roost.  The wonderful bird (which stands about 6 inches or so) will go to the third winner. Other prizes for those who just share news of the GiveAway on their blog (just let me know).   (I WILL BE TAKING MY camera behind the scenes of the shoot ... hope to share with you sometime after I return.)
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