Decorating for Christmas with SheKnows.com …

I know I am a lucky boy to have a garage (aka ample storage) in the city.  Walls lined with shelving is what helps me to keep my hoarding…errr collecting tendencies in check.  It also allows me to keep a nice little stash of holiday and other seasonal decor at my finger tips.  However, what happens when storage is at a premium and the thought of sacrificing precious closet space for Christmas ornaments is too much to bear?

Well that is exactly what we are talking about this month for my SheKnows.com column…..

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Matter of fact, what would you say if I said with some smart shopping, thoughtful planning and upcycling your year-round home decor, you could fit everything you need for Christmas into one box, including the a tree? Honest!  To get everything to fit into a box, think outside the box…..

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And what if I told you to forget about holiday florals?  Don’t want to waste the money on temporary arrangements?  I am all about ditching the poinsettia for something more hip and perhaps even permanent…..

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So are you tempted to learn more about my Christmas decorating secrets?  Well go visit SheKnows.com to find out how you can have a fabulously decorated Christmas that won’t burst your bank or leave you bursting at the seams!

[photo credit: photo by adza//art direction & styling: courtney lake ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Cleaning Out The Prop Closet…

There comes a time in every designer’s life when you simply have too much stuff.  Actually I used the other “s” word to describe my predicament.  Between keeping a ready supply of goodies for client installs and styling shoots for clients, I found myself with a storage unit full of lamps, accessories and odds-and-ends that simply were not being used.  I am as much a hoarder as the next person, but sitting on these beauties seemed foolish and honestly a tad selfish.

Being the giving person I am, I partnered up with a fab local company called Previously Owned By a Gay Man or as I like to call them POBAGM to sell my little treasures.  While the company has a funny name, it has an awesome concept; work with local designers and taste makers to cull their closets/storage units and curate collections of gently used home decor and accessories to sell to the general public at fair prices.  When the owners approached me for a sale, I initially shuttered at the idea of saying goodbye to any of my pieces.  However, I had to remind myself that it does no good having a beautiful things in boxes on a shelf…..they are meant to be shared, appreciated and make friends jealous of your superior decorating skills (wink).  So I am parting ways with all these great things and more …..

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1) Vintage Leather Trunk:  I am second-guessing selling this piece because it’s so beautiful.  The leather is perfectly aged and would make a great coffee table or a piece at a foot of a bed….

2) Thai Sundial:  I love things on a stand or pedestal – they instantly have presence.  I have used this piece repeatedly in shoots to fill console tables or shelving.  It’s the perfect object d’art …..

3) Tortoise Shell Floor Lamp:  This sucker is heavy and crazy beautiful when lit.  Tucked into a corner, it provides the perfect ambient glow for reading or pipe smoking….

4) Mirror w/ Nailhead Trim:  Masculine and oh so cool, I loved this mirror and used it in a shoot in a gentleman’s bedroom.  Hang by your front door to give yourself the once over before heading out……

5) Megaphone Pendants:  I was so bummed the client opted not to use these in their kitchen.  I loved their simplicity and geometric quality.

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6) Octagon Mirror:  It’s a big geometric beauty that I wish fit in my home.  Faceted mirror on all sides and angles that reflect light beautifully.  I am tempted to redesign our master bath just to keep this…

7) Persian Rug:  It’s a slightly larger than 5×8 wool antique Persian rug for cheaper than what you can get a synthetic bath mat.  I was smitten with the purples and red in the piece – dark, mood and dramatic….

8) Vintage Boy Portrait:  I like portraits.  Blame Emily Henderson…or thank her.  Regardless, I used his brother as inspiration for Christmas but couldn’t find a home for him.  So don’t let him be an orphan this holiday season.

9) Trio of Brass Cage Pendants:  Sometimes you buy stuff and think about it later.  Well it’s now later.  I bought these on a whim thinking that the right client would emerge.  They never did to my chagrin.  Brass plated with red wire and brass ceiling mount, these would rock on a bathroom or as bedside lighting for the more adventurous.  Can be purchased individually as well.

10) Pair of Silver Lamps:  Art Deco in feel but with a jute/linen shade….it’s like the Beverly Hillbillies!  These were used as desk & bedside table lamps and now they can serve you!

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11) White Shield Mirror:  I love this mirror – it a class shape and the white makes it so fresh.  It wanted to use this in a bedroom but got nixed.  Sadly it never found a home after that…..

12) Brass Urn Lamp:  I call this lamp Earl.  I don’t know why but when I found it at an estate auction, I was instantly smitten with its massive side and grandeur.  This could look “hotel-y” in the wrong room, but i would center it on a console in a hallway and flanked with piles of books, everyone would call you the Earl of Cool….

13) Jonathan Adler Sconce:  Funny story about this sconce….actually not that funny because I bought the wrong thing for a client.  Somehow I bought the sconce when we needed the pendant.  So my stupid mistake is your gain.

14) Tripod Floor Lamp:  So this lived in my home for many years and eventually it found itself in the garage along with numerous other lamp casualties.  It’s a great lamp with a telescoping base but as with all things in life, my style changed and the lamp needs a new home…

15) Seascape Painting:  I initially bought this piece for the frame but the oil painting grew on me.  This would be great as part of a larger gallery wall or simply hung by itself.  The frame gives this piece such presence as I could see it as part of a simple but striking vignette with the brass urn lamp….

16)  Silver Urn:  This has been an umbrella stand, end table and planter in different photo shoots.  Translation – this little guy is versatile!  

I am adding more items as things sell, so check back to see what other goodies I weed out.  I wonder if doing all this sharing can get me off Santa’s naughty list because y’all know I need all the help I can get!  Now quit reading and start shopping!

[photo credit: michele hofherr]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Talking Out Loud With Janet Kain …..

There has been an explosion of entrepreneurs that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of intrepid business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  ”Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

I was introduced to pillows and soft goods of Janet Kain by a mutual friend and business colleague.  I am always excited when I meet individuals who find their passion a little later in life as I truly believe that it is that time we spend “marinating” that allows us so many distinct advantages in filling a market need.  Janet and her business partner, Sarin, sat down with me to talk pillows and what it takes to make the ultimate place to rest a weary head……

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With all the various home décor products you could design, why pillows?

(Janet) While I was decorating my own home, I found that it was very hard to find high quality pillows that made a statement – bold colors and graphics, without having them custom made.   I realized there was a gap in the marketplace for people who wanted fabulous high quality pillows without waiting months and meeting fabric minimums to have them custom made.  Pillows are the one home décor product that has the ability to transform a room and can easily be changed whenever you or your room needs a pick me up!

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What makes a “good pillow”?  What are the three key things consumers should look for when purchasing a pillow? 

(Sarin) What we think consumers should look for is not just a good pillow, but a great pillow!  The first thing to notice is the quality of the sewing (things such as pattern match up, high quality threads and invisible zippers).  Next, great pillows should have the same high quality fabric on both sides of the pillow, not a less expensive fabric on the back.  Last but not least, look for generously stuffed inserts made of feathers and down.

(J) I jokingly say that if a fabric doesn’t scream “touch me” as I walk by, it is left on the bolt.  When selecting a fabric, what things are you looking for?

(J) Excitement of colors is the first thing that catches my eye, bold colorful graphics that make a statement.   Linens, woven cottons, silks.  Coolness to the touch for summer fabrics, plushness and luxury in heavier fabrics for winter and year round.  When looking at neutrals we are drawn to dimension such as cotton velour on top of linen ground – those definitely call out to be touched!

Decorative pillows are what I call the “crown jewels” of a finished room.  What are 2-3 other things you think complete a room.

(J) We fully agree with that!  I always say pillows to home décor are the equivalent of dazzling accessories to a little black dress.  A coordinating throw and a fabulous tray are two other finishing touches that tie a room together and complete the look.

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All of your pillows are made in upstate New York.  Why was it important to you to have your products manufactured stateside?

(S) Quality.  To ensure the craftsmanship lives up to our high standards, we feel it is important to have the sewing done in the States to maintain the quality control.  It costs more, but it is worth it for quality.  We are also proud to be able to do our part in keeping jobs here in the USA.

You opened the business in 2008, right before the recession, but weathered the storm.  What did that time frame teach you being a small business owner?  Any words of wisdom you would share?

(S) What we found is that even when you’re not able to spend the money to redecorate an entire room, changing pillows is a great way to transform the room and freshen up your existing furniture.  For this reason, our pillows sold very well during the recession.  Starting a small business is tough in any economy, but as long as you don’t cut corners on quality, you can hopefully ride out the hard times.  A great tip we can pass along that we have learned is when budgets are tight, social media is an inexpensive way to get the word out about your brand, so don’t underestimate the power of that medium!

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Many designers dream about launching a signature line of home décor and accessories but you did.  What do you think was the one thing you would share with someone contemplating a similar move?

(J) Stay true to your vision and don’t deviate from your look.  Select items that complement your main product and fit within that aesthetic.

You have several collections on the web site.  What goes into creating a collection?  What can we expect from future collections?  What’s on the horizon?

(J) Pattern themes, colors that work well in certain settings and where we envision them being used.  We always stay ahead of the curve on home design trends.  Right now, plum and charcoal are hot, which we had in our fall collection and we see that continuing through the winter.  We watch fashion trends closely because of the strong tie between fashion and home décor.  Not ready to give up our secrets yet on what’s next, but you can sign up for our email updates to see what we have in store for next spring!

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Life, like pillows, often gets tossed around, so as the final question, what would you say is your “recipe” for being on course and not letting the things that life tosses at you get in the way?

(J & S) The partnership between Sarin and me really helps keep us on track and focused.  We have very different skill sets and backgrounds and are able to bring both to the table to complement each other perfectly.  Having passion for what you do, setting priorities and a great partnership is the recipe that has led to success for us!

Thank you Janet and Sarin!  Check out all the beautiful pillows and soft goods on the Janet Kain website!  I have my eye on a pair of the Criss Cross Pillows and the cognac leather tray for a client…..and perhaps the  Sea Breeze Hourglass throw for me if I am a good boy come the holidays!

[photo credit: Janet Kain]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.