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?

Aviva Stanoff: My latest designer crush

I recently meet a designer who’s creativity and innovative work is so inspiring I wanted to share her designs with you. Her name is Aviva Stanoff and her back  story is as interesting as her one of a kind designs. Aviva grew up in California, in a small town nestled between the beach and old growth redwoods and then spent Summers tending flowers in her grandfather’s Buddhist Temple in Japan. These two dramatically different worlds became the “best of both worlds” and developed within her a deep reverence for nature.

Below is a photo I took while at High Point market last Spring in Aviva’s showroom.

Aviva Stanoff showroom: Linda Holt Photo

Aviva works a lot with crystals and has some spectacular lighting that she created for Currey and Company, one of which is hanging above the bed. The photo below is from Aviva and shows her painting the 700 lbs of Selenite wands she hand fitted together to make that one of a kind head board. Can you imagine??? It totally blew me away.

Aviva Stanoff High Point market

Besides lighting design, Aviva’s signature is pressing real objects into fabric. Sea fans, corals, minerals, lemon leaves, and crystals are among the many objects she uses. Aviva’s fabrics celebrate nature’s imperfections and things like bug bites on the plants become a cherished component of the final product. 

Aviva Stanoff : Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

Minerals and crystals are pressed into the pillow fabrics below.

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

 Each pillow is unique and a work of both art and science.

Aviva Stanoff:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff Design:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva has a lot going on and just recently introduced a line of outdoor pillows using her same signature process of pressing objects into fabric. 

I am totally smitten with her and if you want to see more of her work you can check out her website Here. 

Of course one of my first questions was “how do you do this?” but her lips are sealed and I can understand why.

What do you think? Aren’t her designs amazing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downsizing update and how to use Instagram like Pinterest

It’s over. We have now officially downsized and are living in our new apartment. The location is fabulous and we love being so close to everything. I had hoped to post before now but frankly, I have been a bit overwhelmed. There have also been internet problems…as in we had it, lost it, had it, lost it (you get the point).

Looking back, it’s really been a wild six months. It was January 1st that we made the radical decision to sell our large family home and move into a 1,100 sq. ft apartment that is within walking distance to my husband’s job. Thirty five years worth of collecting, inheriting and accumulating had to be dealt with in less than four months. 

We are far from settled and we still have a full storage locker to deal with, but right now I am focusing on trying to make our small white box feel like home. There are so many challenges, one of which is that our furniture is really not appropriate for the space. It’s the wrong scale and when your living room, dining room and kitchen are all one room, things need to work together and what we currently own falls short. Buying all new is not an option so I am doing my best to figure it all out creatively. I will share photos of our new space as soon as it gets out of the “hot mess” state.

Having finally arrived on the other side of the downsizing process I can report that we are slowly adjusting to our “new normal” and I can once again focus on my blog and design business.

Today I want to share with you a new feature that Instagram recently implemented. IG has now made it easy to save photos and keep them in inspiration folders similar to Pinterest and Houzz. This is how it works.

OPTION #1. If you want to save a photo, simply tap your finger on the inverted flag on the bottom right of the photo you wish to save. 

House Beautiful IG photo

The image will then be saved into a collection of all other images you choose to save. They will be saved in the order in which you saved them. To see all your saved photos simply go to your own profile page and touch the inverted flag.

My saved images on my Instagram

OPTION #2. If you would rather be more organized and have your saved photos in style specific folders then you can do that too. Simply hold your finger on the same upside down flag for 2-3 seconds.  A window will appear with a Plus symbol in the upper right. Just hit the + symbol and give your folder any name you choose. 

My Folders on Instagram

You can set up as many folders as you like and save the image in the appropriate folder. This is so handy for finding inspiration photos later. I have only recently started saving images now that the craziness of the move is behind me. I need to start a folder for small living because once we are a bit more organized it’s time to start getting creative with design.

 I hope you found this helpful. Did you know about this new IG feature?

 

 

I want this to be over with!

Three more days. Three more days till we say goodbye to our big beautiful home forever. We are 90% packed and now it’s more or less waiting around until the movers come. I can’t seem to get anything done work wise but I guess that’s understandable because my office looks like this

and my studio looks like this

It is almost soul crushing to be in the house this last week with everything packed up for the move. I fluctuate between depression and anxiety about leaving and excitement and optimism about what lies ahead. Today it is cold and rainy and I am feeling somewhat melancholy that our house will soon no longer be ours. 

I honestly didn’t think I would be this emotional, after all it was my idea to downsize. I think it’s not so much about selling the house but the fact that this long chapter of our parenting life is over. Our kids are grown and living on their own and never again will we have the big beautiful family home. I know new and exciting things are ahead but there is still a sadness to moving on and letting go of so many once treasured possessions and memories. I know it’s just “stuff” but it’s the memories behind the stuff that makes it hard to let go. Bottom line, downsizing is emotional and anyone that tells you it’s not, is lying.

Our dining room which had so many happy family dinners is now filled with boxes ready to go. The memories are still there but having to see it all stripped bare is tough.

I will be taking some time off next week from blogging in order to get settled in our new apartment.  I hope to report back that all this stress of downsizing and all the sadness of purging and letting go of so many our possessions was all worth it. I’m looking forward to walking down the street to get a cup of coffee and sitting outside at a local restaurant with a Summer cocktail. I’m looking forward to feeling free and I’m looking forward to living with less but doing more living.

For all of you who have told me you are planning to downsize within the next couple of years, I have one word of advice..Start now! In hind sight we needed six more months…more about that later. In the mean time, I wish all my US friends a great long weekend. I’ll be spending the weekend doing my best to make our new little white box a home. Follow me on IG for photo updates.

Design trends in photos from High Point Market: part 2

Hi everyone, I hope you have enjoyed my first two posts about the color and design trends I spotted this Spring at High Point Market. If you missed my color trend report you can catch up HERE if you missed the first four trends you can catch up HERE.  Today I have the last four trends I spotted at 2017 High Point Spring Market. 

Tribal Inspired

Touchy Feely

One of a Kind

Downsize Me

5. Tribal Inspired: We have seen lot’s of Moroccan inspired textiles and patterns over the past couple of years but tribal Africa is the latest craze. African textiles like Kuba cloth and Mud cloth had a strong presence in many of the showrooms. 

African tribal inspired lamp shade

Linda Holt Photo

African inspired patterns and design stood out as being an emerging trend.

African inspired textiles at Noir Furniture

Noir: Linda Holt Photo

Tribal inspired pillows were abundant all over market.

Black and Yellow African inspired pillows at Classic Home

Classic Home: Linda Holt Photo

These baskets, hand made in Africa were a big hit among show goers.

African hand made baskets

ALL Across Africa:Linda Holt Photo

6. Touchy Feely: Texture is an important element in almost all home decor right now. Everything from furniture to pillows, throws and accessories are shouting out “touch me”!This sculptural, faceted console from Vertuu is a perfect example as is the brown armoire from Noir in the second image above.

Faceted textured wood on console

Vertuu: Linda Holt Photo

Large scale chunky throws like this one below from Aviva Stanoff are very on trend.

Large scale knit throw

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

Artwork was very textural at Market with thick painterly brush strokes seen on paintings and more sculptural work like this piece from Palecek.

Organics and texture at Palecek

Palecek: Linda Holt Photo

This new collection of pottery from Continental Home made quite the textural statement.

textured pottery

Continental Home: Linda Holt Photo

Even pillows that generally don’t have a whole lot of texture were adorned with crystals, feathers, thick embroidery and all sorts of tactile delights.

pink jewel encrusted pillow

Nourison: Linda Holt Photo

Obviously, these textural couture pillows are more art for the sofa and not so much for weekend napping.

Gold metallic pillows

Linda Holt Photo

Textured carpets and shag rugs are making a comeback as well. This was a wall hanging at Loloi but I think it is also a rug.

Loloi: Linda Holt Photo

7. One of a Kind: Similar to the old Burger King commercial, today’s homeowner wants it their way. Manufactures have taken note and furniture is now available in a multitude of fabric and finish options. Not only for high end custom furniture but even the big box stores are offering more choices than ever before.

finish choices at Wesley Hall

Wesley Hall: Linda Holt Photo

On another note, I believe the tide has turned and individual artistry is once again in high demand. We have grown weary of filling our homes with “made in China” soul-less junk. Everyone seems to be on the decluttering band wagon and getting rid of all the useless “stuff”.  Going forward we are focusing on owning less but surrounding ourselves with unique items that speak to us and have meaning. High Point Market was full of so many creative artists and designers producing beautiful bespoke items for the home.

Custom lighting from Lousie Gaskill is a perfect example. Each piece is made from vintage glass and lighting pieces so no two are alike. 

custom blue and gold chandelier from Louise Gaskill

Louise Gaskill: Linda Holt Photo

Textile and lighting designer Aviva Stanoff presses plants, crystals, felt, corals, and all sorts of organics into fabric to create glorious pillows of which no two are alike. 

Ginkgo pressed pillow fabric

Ginkgo pillow by Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

8. Downsize Me: This final trend was on my radar as we get ready to move from a large house in the country to a small, more urban apartment. Housing studies continue to show that babyboomers are downsizing in huge numbers and millennials are forgoing the big house in the burbs to remain in the city. The vendors have taken notice and I spotted more modular and smaller scale pieces than ever before.

Ambella Home had quite a few options for smaller modular pieces that are flexible depending on individual needs. I especially like the pie shaped upholstery pieces that doubles as a table or seating depending on the homeowners needs.

modular furniture

Ambella Home: Linda Holt Photo

These small fun accent pieces from Berhardt can be used individually or grouped together and arranged at will. 

stone chess-like pieces for tables

Bernhardt Furniture: Linda Holt Photo

These small tables from Highland House can be used separably as side tables or grouped together for a custom sized, colored and shaped cocktail table.

modular hexagon tables

Highland House: Linda Holt Photo

More modular seating from Ambella home works equally well for seating, as an ottoman or with a tray as additional table space.

yellow green ottomans with contrast welt

Ambella Home: Linda Holt Photo

So there you have it! The eight trends I saw at Spring Market. I hope you enjoyed my pictorial report. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below which trends you like or dislike. 

 

Photos of four trends from High Point Market

Today I am back with part two of my High Point Market trend report. Last week I shared the color trends I saw at Market and today I have the first four of eight trends I spotted at Market. As always, this report is light on text but heavy on photos because I would rather show you what I saw than tell you what I saw. The first four trends I saw are:

  1. Fresh Traditional
  2. Fashionable Furniture
  3. Metallics
  4. 70’s are the new mid century

1. Fresh Traditional. Maybe it’s a reaction to our increasingly frightening world and a desire to return to what we know and grew up with, but traditional furniture is making a come back. Even brown furniture that has been so badly maligned by designers for the past ten years or so is back on the scene. 

Jonathan Charles: Linda Holt Photo

Today’s traditional however is not your grandmother’s traditional but a fresher version that fits today’s life style and aesthetics. At Jonathan Charles, a traditional settee (above) is given an unexpected twist with a large scale polka dot fabric and on trend throw pillows. Below, traditional wing back chairs are upholstered in fun bright fabrics with a “racing stripe” running down the back.

C.R.Laine updated wing chairs :Linda Holt Photo

Dana Gibson’s new collection for the M.T. Company featured a traditional settee updated with chalky white paint and a bright pink family friendly crypton fabric.

Dana Gibson settee: Linda Holt Photo

This traditional looking ottoman from Bunny William’s Home is updated with interesting non traditional feet.

Bunny William’s Home: Linda Holt Photo

Thibaut mixed a very traditional damask covered love seat with on trend wallpaper, animal print pillows and then paired it with a modern fabric on the ottoman.

Thibaut Home: Linda Holt Photo

2. Fashionable Furniture: Furniture and fashion have always been closely aligned but many new furniture introductions this Market seemed to really embrace some of the hottest fashion trends. This blush pink fringe chair for example.

LEE: Linda Holt Photo

Dress making details such as pleats and channel backs were spotted on many of the new introductions.

Linda Holt Photo

The new coffee table below from Dana Gibson was sporting a Chanel like tweed fabric.

Linda Holt Photo

Not only did furniture get in on the fashion trends but this voluptuous ruffled mirror was right on trend.

Linda Holt Photo

Gold feet, tufting, pleats and buttons all reference couture fashion at Christopher Guy’s newly opened showroom.

Christopher Guy: Linda Holt Photo

Speaking of gold feet, furniture with gold legs was a huge trend this Spring. Even large sectionals were perched on gold, sexy, stiletto like legs. This one below from Julian Chichester was stunning.

The Amalfi sofa from Julian Chichester: Linda Holt Photo

Even if not super thin, gold metal legs out numbered wooden legs on the new Spring upholstery introductions.

I happen to catch a Prada runway show on the internet a few weeks ago and noticed belts were prominently featured on most of the models. Leave it to Mary McDonald to be right on trend with her red belted chair for Chaddock Home.

Mary McDonald for Chaddock Home: Linda Holt Photo

3. Metallics: Similar to last Market, metallics are still big and brass (gold) is still king. Lot’s of gold was spotted in lighting, artwork, accessories and as I already pointed out on furniture legs. I saw very little rose gold so I assume that trend is over or else never caught on.

Linda Holt Photo

Metals incorporated in the design of the furniture is a trend that I saw last year but even more so this Spring.

Handley Drive for Codarus: Linda Holt Photo

Although not as prevalent as gold I did spot some silver used as a decorative element in furniture as well.

Ambella Home: Linda Holt Photo

At Vanguard I spotted brass mixed with walnut with a brass support base.

Vanguard: Linda Holt Photo

More metal, this time used as a decorative element on a dinning table.

Vanguard: Linda Holt Photo

Although it’s a little hard to see by this image, brass is used as a detail around the fabric channels of the head board as well as around the foot board.

Bernhardt: Linda Holt Photo

Gold and silver together for this console chest. Quick side note: Ginkgo is the new palm leaf. I saw it in so many showrooms that I determined it is the botanical “du jour”.

Bernhardt: Linda Holt Photo

Metal with a glass top makes for a unique statement piece.

silver metal pod table with glass top

Thom Filicia for vanguard: Linda Holt Photo

Brass is used to show off this menswear inspired side chair. Probably not too child friendly as I see some sharp edges.

Linda Holt Photo

4. 70’s are the new mid century: The 70’s are back! Wicker, macrame, hanging plants, beads, and funky furniture. Yup, move over mid century because I think the 70’s are edging you out.

Selamat: Linda Holt Photo

I swear I had this exact textile wall hanging in my college dorm room in the 70’s. Notice the on trend blush as well.

Selamat: Linda Holt Photo

Woven organic fibers and textiles were spotted all over Market. Hanging plants were popular as well.

Linda Holt Photo

Even lighting is getting it’s 70’s on with wicker or woven pendants and shades.

white wicker hanging pendants

Selamat:Linda Holt Photo

Although not a favorite of mine, muted earthy colors of the 70’s seemed to slowly be creeping into the home. These pillows in green, harvest gold and orange are spot on for the 70’s. The geometric patterns are classic 70’s as well. If you remember from my color report last week I saw terracotta used in more than one showroom. 

1970's inspired pillows

Tom Porter: Linda Holt Photo

Some of the artwork had a 70’s vibe as well, in both color and pattern.

70's inspired artwork

Linda Holt Photo

Olive green, gold legs and leather…all trending this Spring and all right out of the 70’s.

olive green leather chair

Julian Chichester: Linda Holt Photo

The 70’s were also known for funky and unique furniture designs. This chair below is a good representation. Again, I hate to be a broken record but don’t miss the brass legs.

Christopher Guy: Linda Holt Photo

This is a new introduction from Noir furniture.

Linda Holt Photo

Lastly, what started in the 60’s as Psychedelics and the explosion of Day-Glo colors further evolved in the 70’s resulting in  interesting color combinations and fanciful patterns. This was reflected in both wallpaper and fabrics at market.

Mitchell Black: Linda Holt Photo

Peace out.

Laura Park: Linda Holt Photo

So that wraps up part one. Next week I will have the final four trends so be sure to check back. If you missed the color trend report you can catch up here.

Which trend do you love/hate? Please let me know.

 

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