Bar carts and table settings you do not want to miss!

Wow, the past two weeks have been a whirl wind for me. Nine days in Berlin, home, three hours sleep then off to the Boston Design Center for the next five days to install, style and participate in Boston’s first Designer fundraiser for the charity Heading Home To Dinner.This first of it’s kind event was a HUGE success with both a cocktail party and gala selling out. There were many designers on the planning committee but three need to be singled out for their vision and planning that lead to such a successful event; Mally Skok, Elizabeth Benedict and Kristen Rivoli.

The charity Heading Home to Dinner is Boston based and it’s mission is “to end homelessness in greater Boston by providing a supported pathway to self-sufficiency that begins with a home, together with critical services such as life skills, financial literacy, and job training”. 

The event was held at the Boston Design Center in a huge open space with cement floors and huge windows that let in tons of light over looking Boston harbor. The tables were arranged in the middle of the room and the bar carts were lined up against the windowless wall. The room looked beautiful but it was somewhat of a photographer’s nightmare. I did my absolute best shooting the tables and carts (with my iphone) but with the sun streaming in on two sides, many tables had harsh back lighting and there was poor lighting against the wall where the carts were. To complicate the photography even more there was always something distracting in the background or someone was in the background.  I did my best though so in no particular order, feast your eyes on some very creative, beautiful and “no two alike” tables and bar carts.

Elizabeth Benedict, Safari Style

I love that Elizabeth used two floor hides as table runners. The binoculars and blankets on each chair also are a wonderful touch….and the FLOWERS!!!

Kristen Rivoli: Hygge under the stars

Kristen Rivoli used the Danish word Hygee as her theme. Her table celebrates the simple pleasure of dinning with friends at home or out.

Mally Skok: California Dreaming Lunch Party

Mally Skok’s table wowed me with lot’s of plants and blue glassware. I heard she designed and then had the plates made in Africa. They are gorgeous!

Kathryn Pearce: Cerulean Serendipity

This table by Kathryn Pearce was such a pretty table. I loved those turquoise goblets and pink flowers.

Pamela Copeman: Claude Monet at Giverny

This is the table that I was lucky enough to be seated at for the gala. It was magical dinning under the twinkling flower gazebo. The designer, Pamela Copeman, is an accomplished artist besides a well known designer and the fabric on the chairs as well as the table topper were custom made from an origional oil painting she created just for the event.

Kristin Paton: Let them eat cake

This one had lot’s to look at as well and was so much fun!

Megan Pesce: The artist collaboration

Megan Pesce partnered with her artist friend who painted a custom canvas table runner. I loved the way Megan accessorized with paint tubs and brushes.

Renee Rucci and Julie Wood

This table designed by Renee Rucci and Julie Wood had so many thoughtful little details it needed to be carefully studied so as to not miss anything. Julie took the opportunity to showcase her new fabric line featuring maps of coastal New England.

Dennis Duffy: Alice’s Acid Tea party

Crystal dishes of “Quaaludes” added some humor to this colorful table.

The bar carts were equally as varied.

Holly Joe design

Holly Joe’s theme was Cocktails in Shangri-La

Rachel Reider

Rachel Reider partner with Dunes and Duchess and styled “an Enchanted Evening” with this new bar cart that was just introduced as part of their new line.

Kim Macumber

Kim Macumber’s Summer Cart is perfectly styled for summer cocktails on the front porch. 

Justine Sterling: Modern Island

Justine Sterling mixed colonial, modern and tropical elements for her backyard bar cart.

Michelle Cortizo: New years Champagne

Michelle Cortizo styled a new Years Eve bar cart that I would love to ring in the New Years with.

Kelly Rogers

Kelly Rogers styled her bar cart for a Tanglewood picnic for two. Don’t you just love that fox pillow?

Rachel Dunham

This retro bar cart was filled with all sorts of cool things but I especially liked the vintage glassware.

Lastly, here is my Nantucket brunch in the garden bar cart.

Linda Holt: Nantucket Brunch in the Garden

This was the very first time I have ever done anything like this. I will be honest it was a little a scary because there were some very big names and design firms involved. I had more than one sleepless night worrying I was in over my head. It all turned out great though and I had a wonderful time. I also learned how stressful it can be when things don’t go as planned. Let me just give you a hint with the word “leakage” and you might be able to guess to what happened.

I’d love to hear from you. Which is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

Jazzing up our white box apartment

If you’ve been following me through this blog you know that my husband and I recently downsized from our big suburban home to a very small urban apartment. It’s hard to believe but we have been here almost four months now. For the most part we love our new small care free life style. The apartment is the perfect location for us but being a rental we are forbidden from making any changes and that includes painting the walls.

Side note* If we owned this place the very first thing I would do is rip out those short little 26″ kitchen cabinets and bring those babies right to the ceiling!

white room dark floor no windowsNot being able to paint the walls has been tough for someone like me who loves color. The long wall to the right of the photo is where we have our sofa and I have covered it with art work so for now I have made peace with that wall. The wall that continued to bothered me though was that back wall. I was desperate to add a pop of color there to add some life and visual interest.

I looked at removable wall decals and temporary wallpaper options but I didn’t see anything that really excited me. I envisioned something really bold that would pop against my marine blue lacquered dresser that was against that wall. I had more or less given up until Spring High Point Market when I discovered product designer Jill Seale. I first spotted Jill’s fabrics from across the room and made a beeline right to her booth.

Jill Seale fabrics: Linda Holt Photo

Her fabrics are a riot of color and pattern and I when I found out she designed wallpaper and that it could be had in a removable option I was sold. Well…kind of. I was so worried about doing anything to the walls and loosing a very hefty security deposit that I made Jill send me a sample that I left on the wall for a few weeks to see how easy it was to remove. It was just as advertised, easy on, easy off and it left absolutely no residue or stickiness on the walls. 

This past weekend my husband helped me put it up and other than getting on a rickety ladder to reach the nine foot ceiling it was SO easy. It took less than an hour from start to finish. I chose Jill’s green Algae paper.

I am so thrilled with the result! It adds so much life to that dark back wall and when we move out of the apartment I will simply peal it off and no one will ever know my secret!

Here is the “after”.

Linda Holt Photo

The crowning touch is the fabulous mixed media painting by my good friend Susan Siefer. This painting was inspired by her trips to Morocco and the blues in the painting were made with pigments she brought back from Morocco.

accent wall with blue chest

Linda Holt Photo

I know you all want to see the rest of the apartment but I am not quite “there yet” for a full photo reveal. I’m working on it though and will soon (I promise). This accent back wall though has made such a difference in my happiness level.

I would love to hear what you think!

To find out more about Jill Seale and Susan Siefer you can check them out below.

 Jill Seale at www.jillseale.com 

Susan Siefer at www.susansiefer.com or IG : @susansiefer-art

One last thing, I will be taking a couple weeks off from blogging because on Saturday I leave for Berlin for ten days. I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram because I will be sharing lot’s of images and iphone photo tips while there.

 

How to train your eye to take better photos

There is a common saying among photographers that the best technical skills in the world will not make a bad photo good. Getting a good photo is more than simply understanding the features of your camera and a knowledge of lighting, exposure, and editing. So the question is, how does one train their eye for “seeing” great photo opportunities? It is the simple practice of shooting as much as possible. Training your eye to “see” photo worthy images is no different than training your muscles for sports, or your brain for higher thinking. Professionals shoot almost daily and each day their “photo eye” gets stronger and better. I call this “photo radar”. I have observed that most amateurs don’t shoot very often, instead they wait until they are on vacation or see something extraordinary like a rainbow or beautiful sun set. 

Once you start to shoot on a regular basis though you will strengthen your photo radar and start seeing photos where you never did before. Since I have been shooting for so long I occasionally have turn off my “photo radar” because I can be so easily distracted with seeing images. Remember that famous line from the movie The Sixth Sense, ” I see dead people”? Well, I see photos…pretty much everywhere. For example, I can see three or four different photo opportunities while walking to the apartment dumpster to throw away the trash! 

Rusting dumpster with rivets: Linda Holt Photo

It certainly wasn’t always like that though. When I first started photography school I used to struggle to find subjects to shoot for my assignments. I’d walk around Boston for hours looking for interesting things to shoot when in reality everything around me was an opportunity to create something interesting. It wasn’t until my photo eye became more developed that it became easier for me to see photos where most don’t.

 In order to train your eye my advice is to shoot everyday. Don’t think you can do that? Challenge yourself to try it for thirty days. Remember, your photos don’t have to be subjects of extraordinary beauty. Sometimes the most mundane things can make interesting photos. Think in terms of creating a photo rather than taking a photo.

One idea is to pick a different theme each day and try and find as many photos that fit into that theme as possible. For example, one day challenge yourself to only shot things that have texture. Another day only shoot things that are in your yard or limit your photos to shoot only subjects that have bright color. These are just suggestions but you get the idea. If you narrow down your “photo radar” to search for something specific it is much easier to find things to photograph. Try and come up with different assignments for yourself. No one will be judging your photos and only you need to see them.  

As I was halfway through writing this post I had to make a quick trip to Whole Foods. I realized it was a perfect opportunity to challenge myself and share my WF store images with you. I didn’t have much time (about 15 mins) but I wanted to find as many photos as I could while also grabbing food for dinner and a Birthday card for a friend. Side note* All these photos were taken with my iphone.

I started off super easy and snapped a few flower shots from the floral section on my way into the store.

Flowers at Whole Foods:Linda Holt Photo

I think it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo of flowers. Just get in close and fill the frame with the color and shapes.

Whole Foods Flowers:Linda Holt Photo

I then grabbed a cart, looked down and noticed the dramatic lighting and grid pattern that was created from the sun coming through the side window.

Whole foods cart:Linda Holt Photo

Onward to the veggie isle. 

Radishes: Linda Holt Photo

I feel the same way about beautiful fresh vegetables as I do flowers. It’s pretty easy to get a great photo as nature has done all the work already.

Then it got a little more challenging because I wanted to find more unexpected images than flowers and veggies. I spotted this display of wine bottles and liked how the back window light was coming through the wine and also the repetitive shapes of the bottles.

Whole foods wine bottles:Linda Holt Photo

I also liked the texture and simple graceful lines of this cropped in tight image of flip flops. What really makes the photo interesting is the string.

Whole Foods flip flops:Linda Holt Photo

My few minutes were up and I thought I was done but then on the way out I saw one last image and it is my favorite one from my self assignment. A bright orange metal chair tucked under a multi colored stained wood table.

Orange metal chair:Linda Holt Photo

Simply by changing the camera’s perspective and shooting down on the chair it became much more interesting than if I had photographed it from straight on. Plus, there were customers sitting at the table eating and they would have been too distracting. Piece of advice… simple is often better.

So I hope you take up my challenge and spend thirty days photographing every single day. I guarantee you will strengthen your photo eye and improve your photo radar. Please let me know if you are up for the challenge or have any questions or comments. Good luck!!

 

A master class in window treatments from three Summer show houses

Now that Summer is behind us and the kids are back at school I have been getting phone calls from new clients wanting to get their home ready for the upcoming holidays. The number one thing on their wish lists are new window treatments. Having just returned from visiting three different show houses I have to say, window treatments are taking on a main role in decorating. No more wimpy thin drapery panels that I remember from some of the show houses even just a few years back. Instead, I saw room after room of full luxurious panels and roman shades and the one thing they all had in common was some kind of embellishment. 

The Coastal Living Idea House  that I blogged about HERE was designed by Mark Sikes and although I loved his use of blue of white and the many layering of patterns, my favorite design element in the home were his window treatments.

blue drapery with leading edge trim

Linda Holt Photo

Gorgeous wide trim on the leading edge was on every panel and most had top banding or trim as well.

Roman shades with trim

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Sikes also layered his windows with natural fiber shades which added texture but also helps protect the fabric from the harsh sun.

blue and white floral drapes

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Luxurious pattern matched blue and white panels had trim along the top that coordinated with fabric trim running under the molding. The home has so many amazing details like this in every room. Speaking of details, Sikes even covered his drapery pull wand with matching fabric. Now that is something you don’t see very often…if ever!

fabric covered drapery pull

Mark Sikes:Linda Holt Photo

Natural fiber shades and a wide band of decorative trim added to the charm.

drapery panel with trim

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Last week I visited the Hampton Designer Show House and this year there were two homes to tour. Each was very different in look and feel but the one commonality were statement window treatments in every room. Even the bathrooms were adorned with statement drapes!

Linda Holt Photo

Unless you are looking at the above photo on a large screen you won’t be able to see but pink pompom trim runs down the leading edge of the panels.

These sweet roman shades were trimmed with little crystal beads. They were so pretty glistening in the sunlight.

roman shades with crystal trim

Linda Holt Photo

I love the way these shears mimicked the lines of the layered custom molding that was throughout the home.

White shears with black trim

Linda Holt Photo

Eddie Ross trimmed the Roman shades in his room with a contrasting nail head tape.

Roman shades with nail head trim

Eddie Ross design: Linda Holt Photo

Rather than a sewn on tape, these panels in Rajni Alex’s room had a geometric design embroidered directly onto the edge of the fabric. (notice the rug is also embellished on the banding cloth).

orange drapes with embroidery edge

Rajni Alex Design:Linda Holt Photo

When you add trim to a drapery panel you need to decide where it should be placed. Some designers like to put it right at the leading edge of the fabric but others prefer it inset a few inches like this drape below.

winow panels with decorative trim

Linda Holt Photo

I did notice that Mark Sikes placed his trims right at the leading edge of the fabric on all his panels.

patterned drapes with decorative trim

Mark Sikes design:Linda Holt Photo

The one thing I should point out is that these beautiful trims and tapes add considerably to the cost of the drapery. In some cases the trim is even more expensive than the fabric. It does make for a beautiful statement piece in the room though and often times that makes it all worth it.

Lastly, I want to share one more trend with you that I have been seeing in both magazines and spotted at all three show houses I visited. The table skirt is back!!

blue and white table skirt

Mark Sikes:Linda Holt Photo

The one above was in a bedroom at the Coastal Living Idea House and the one below is from the Hampton Show House.

table skirt

Linda Holt Photo

I had this exact same style of table skirt in my own home back in the early 90’s. It’s a great way to add some color and pattern and also doubles as storage underneath. One thing I will leave you with is that sparse rooms and minimalism seems to be on the way out and layered rooms with “more is more” is making a comeback.

After just having downsized and donating 70% of our belongings I am very conflicted about this trend. Personally, I am loving me new very edited small living….however those window treatments are beyond beautiful!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on embellished window treatments but also what do you think about table skirts making a comeback? Do you like the more is more look?

 

 

 

 

Coastal Living Idea House: Blue and White all over

Last week I visited the Coastal Living Idea House in Newport RI to see the house that Mark did. Designer Mark D. Sikes that is. It was everything I could have imagined and it came as no surprise to hear that the house has been sold along with most of the furniture, drapes and decor. The lucky new owner scored big and will take possession of a blue and white dream house.

Mark Sikes is known for both his love of blue and white and his use of stripes and the idea house has it all wrapped up in one beautifully designed coastal home. I took lots of photos on my iphone and in a few cases the lighting was not optimal (as in really terrible) but I think you can still see the rooms fairly well.

Blue and white cabinets: Linda Holt Photo

My friend and I started our tour in the kitchen and loved the on trend two toned painted cabinets in blue and white. Bright white quartz counter tops on the perimeter kept the kitchen light while the oak stained island brought in some warmth and an organic touch.

Kitchen: Linda Holt Photo

There were thoughtful custom details throughout the house such as the pleated fabric shade on the kitchen chandelier.

custom lamp shade: Linda Holt Photo

and fabulous white pompom trim on the buffalo checked drapes.

kitchen window seat: Linda Holt Photo

Every detail was carefully thought out.

drapery detail

The living room is open to the kitchen and was designed with casual entertaining in mind. White sofas with blue welting and plenty of blue and white pillows signaled to sit down and relax.

great room: Linda Holt Photo

The patio and pool is just off the living room.

Linda Holt Photo

The hallways were decked out in navy blue and white stripes and iron lanterns.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

All the bedrooms were chock full of personality with lot’s of prints, patterns and gorgeous window treatments. Just like the kitchen and living room, they were all done in blue and white. 

Linda Holt Photo

Decorating a room with lots of odd angles and eves can be challenging. I loved that Sikes embraced the sharp angles and wrapped blue and white buffalo check fabric all around.

Linda Holt Photo

The girl’s bedroom was equally as energetic with navy and white trellis wallpaper and a roomful of blue and white botanicals.

Linda Holt Photo

I understand that all this pattern might be too much for some, but for a second home like a beach house I think it’s a lot of fun.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The bathrooms were also blue and white and again, had interesting details. The stripes on the floral window fabric became inspiration for outlining the ceiling, walls, and even the tile floor with a matching blue stripe.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The basement is all set for game night and the fabric  upholstered walls made it so cozy.

Linda Holt Photo

The landing between the second floor bedrooms was probably my favorite space in the house. It looked out directly to the ocean and between the art work, the sofa and the carpet it hit all the high notes for me.

Linda Holt Photo

It really is an amazing home and if you are local I urge you to check it out and see it before the new owners take possession.

How about you? What is your favorite room?

 

 

 

Coming clean about the ugly truth of downsizing

Now that we have downsized from our big home into a small urban apartment it seems that’s all anyone wants to talk about. All my baby boomer clients, anyone that follows my blog and all my friends tell me they are so impressed with what we have accomplished. They say they too want to downsize within the next couple of years but get overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Since it is (mostly) behind us, I can sum up the process of downsizing in two words…downsizing sucks! It’s a TON of work and seriously, the single most difficult thing I have ever done and that includes chemo. The process is obviously different for everyone, but for me, a collector of all things beautiful and meaningful, getting rid of things was at times downright painful. Imagine lining up all your friends and saying, “okay, I love you all but there is no longer room in my life to stay in contact with all of you so I am going to choose ten of you to remain in my life. To the rest… “it’s been nice knowing you..sayonara!”

Downsizing is different for everyone and to some it’s moving from 5000 sq ft to 2800 sq ft. What my husband and I did though I would call extreme downsizing. We are now living in less than 30% of our previous space, just over 1000 sq ft. The biggest lesson I learned is that downsizing is definitely a process and the more time you give yourself for the transition the less traumatic it will be. We also found there are three distinct phases in the downsizing process.

The first phase of downsizing is relatively easy. It feels great to get rid of old junk and to sell or donate household items, dated furniture, old sports equipment, linens and no longer worn clothes. Trip after trip to drop off items to various charities made me feel happy and lighter every time. 

The second phase of downsizing is harder (much harder). A baby bassinet that had been in our family for over a hundred years (tossed, no one wanted it), antique furniture passed down from my parents and my husband’s parents (donated or sold for pennies on the dollar), my husband’s prized collection of over 600 record albums including many rare live recordings (sold for next to nothing), ceramics and artwork dating back to daycare years with my children’s hand prints and handwritten sentiments like “best mommy in the world” (tossed…sorry kids) it all went. It is true what everyone says, once it’s gone you really don’t miss it but it’s hard to let it go none the less. 

Now for the ugly truth:

The third phase of downsizing is where we have stalled (failed). This phase involves getting rid of the most “valuable” or meaningful items you own, mainly, the family heirlooms. In our case it’s things like my grandfather’s World War I medical kit (he was a doctor during the war and served on the front lines). It’s oil paintings done by my artist grandmother, it’s a large sextant that was used to navigate the boat that brought my great grandfather from Scotland to Prince Edward Island, it’s family photo albums from the turn of the century and antique blue and white china from my husband’s grandmother….the list goes on and on. Over the years my husband and I have become the caretakers of all these family heirlooms.

old world master style oil painting of little girl at desk.

This is a portrait of my mother when she was three years old painted by her uncle. I have the bracelet she is wearing with the three pearls on it. My grandfather added a new pearl for each birthday until she turned seven when the great depression hit and he lost all his money. It’s desperately needs to be cleaned and is not our style but I also can’t imagine getting rid of it.

Treasures are different for everyone but I guarantee when you downsize you will have items you simply aren’t ready to let go of. These treasures have huge value to us but sadly little to no value to anyone else. We tried out an online auction site and gave them a $700 signed vintage art print that we gifted ourselves on our tenth wedding anniversary. Here is a photo of the commission check.

EBTH commission check

My EBTH commission check

In case you can’t read that number on the check it is sixty cents! Yup, our much loved framed and signed art print sold for one dollar. 

So I’m coming clean to everyone who says how impressed they are with what we did. My dirty little secret is that we have not one but TWO storage lockers full of family heirlooms and things we simply don’t know what to do with. My kids might want some of it someday but they have no interest in it now and no space in their tiny Boston apartments. Now in fairness to us, one of the units is very small and almost empty and we have given ourselves a deadline of Sept to clear it out completely. The second one though seems like there is no clean out date in sight. There has to be an end though because everyday with these units feels like a loudly ticking clock and every month the storage fees are equal to a new car payment. As much as it’s causing me stress to store these items I am equally as stressed and conflicted about getting rid of these family memories. Sadly, there are no other family members to give them to beyond our immediate family.

So now that I’ve shared my ugly secret I would love to hear from you. Have you downsized? if so, was it easy or challenging. What did you do with your family heirlooms? 

(side note: I’ve read Marie Kondo’s books about “tidying up” and many more downsizing articles so I am well aware of what the experts say so please don’t tell me to take a photo of it and “thank it” for being in my life).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matisse and his “actors” of inspiration

Don’t you often wonder when you look at a beautifully designed room or a stunning piece of art, what the inspiration was behind the creation? “What inspires you?” has to be one of the most asked questions of any creative. The answers vary but often times it’s things like art, travel, nature or even other creatives. 

So it was great anticipation that I made my way to the Matisse exhibit at the Boston MFA just before I left on vacation. The paintings were curated around the objects that inspired Matisse. He referred to his favorite objects as “actors” and used them over and over again in his work. 

“The object is an actor. A good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures” Matisse

I have had a love affair with Matisse since high school. In fact, this framed poster below has hung in every apartment and house I have lived in since college. I have had it for close to 40 years and although it has little to no monetary value, I just couldn’t bring myself to part with it during the downsizing purge. 

Some of the more interesting “actors” used by Matisse were African figures and ethnic textiles.

 Matisse was intrigued with the simplicity of the sculpture and the fact that it was stripped down to just the visual essentials.

Preliminary sketch for portrait below.

Matisse also was inspired by textiles, especially those from Northern Africa and Islamic cultures. He loved the rich saturated colors and the patterns of the hand made cloth. This Egyptian cloth in the exhibit hung in his studio and was used over and over again in his work.

Here it is on the right side of the painting.

The exotic Islamic culture fascinated Matisse and became a favorite subject to paint.

This is a detail shot of another antique textile from his collection.

Matisse used it for his inspiration in the painting below.

One of the more interesting facts I learned at the show was that it was these Islamic textiles that became the inspiration for Matisse’s cut outs which he is so well know for.

He studied the play of light on the mirrored glass inserts and the “movement” it gave to the pattern.

African Kuba cloth which is so on trend today was also a favorite of Matisse.

He collected samples from many different tribes and was taken by the fact that the pattern seemed to have no beginning and no end. The painting below shows his Kuba cloth interpretation in the background. Notice how the pattern climbs out the window seemingly going on forever.

Later in his career Matisse became captivated by Chinese calligraphy and collected samples that he hung in his studio.

The fluid movement of the characters inspired this work called The Acrobat.

He also collected Chinese pottery

Which became inspiration for the tree painting below. 

I found the exhibit so fascinating because it was almost like being inside Matisse’s head. I could look at the object and then see how it inspired him to create his work. 

It also got me thinking about what inspires me. It’s probably cliche but for the most part it’s travel and nature. We were on vacation last week in the white mountains of New Hampshire. The vibrant greens of the forest against the beige/taupe colored rocks became inspiration for a color palette for a new space I am working on.

Here are a few images of what I was surrounded by last week.

White Mountains NH

Linda Holt Photo

Galehead trail NH mountains

Linda Holt Photo

river stream in White Mountains

Linda Holt Photo

This is my color palette inspired by the mountains.

My mountain inspired color palette: Linda Holt photo

Inspiration is different for everyone. I would love to hear what inspires you?

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