Monday, February 24, 2014

Espana Chest... and my Dorothy Draper wannabe

Oh, wait.   Wrong story!

Let's try it, again. 

Several years ago in House Beautiful, I spied a chest of drawers.   And, it was spectacular!  

Black chest of drawers in David Jimenez's home in Kansas City
Unfortunately, there is that pesky Biblical Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet."  Ok... so I will not covet HIS chest of drawers, I will find one of my own!  Hmmmph.
Sadly, I knew nothing about that lovely piece of furniture.
Time to do some research.
Generally referred to as Dorothy Draper chests, these are officially named Espana Chests.  
Dorothy Draper Espana Chest from 1stDibs
According to Kate Collins, "The Espana Chest was designed by Dorothy Draper by invitation of the Spanish government to design a collection to raise the profile of Spanish design in the International market. Profile raised; this is a classic piece." 
Even though these chests are Spanish in origin, the design style is frequently known as Hollywood Regency. 
Ms. Draper, herself, was an interesting character.   Born to a wealthy family in 1889, she established the first interior design company in the United States, in 1923. 

The original Espana chests were created from cherry wood, lacquered in black or white, the 24 karat gold decorative drawer trim was hand applied, and the drawer pulls were high gloss brass.  They were designed as "bunching chests" since several of them could be used together.   Heritage furniture produced and distributed them starting in 1955. 

Original advertisement, circa 1955

Today, a new Espana chest will cost about $5000.    And, used ones are all over the proverbial price point map... ranging from a $400-8000. 

My buddy, Josie, managed to find a Dorothy Draper-esque chest of drawers in Charlotte and sent a photo to me.   It was promptly purchased because it was CHEAP!

But, there was one small problem.  How was I going to get it from Charlotte to Greenville???? 
Fortunately, Ross Spain to the rescue.  Ross is a friend who owns Acquisitions Limited in Raleigh.  He jokingly claims that he is in the used furniture business.  Actually, he and his business partner, Ben Everett, import European antiques and their Raleigh and Charlotte stores are always stunning.
Ross, generously, transported the chest to Raleigh.  We just won't discuss the therapy bills... the chest had a severe bout of PTSD after riding in a truck filled with pedigreed antiques.  {Wink}

The ancestry-challenged chest was kept in storage until I moved to the Triangle.   Though my initial thought had been to refinish it in black lacquer, low gloss white was chosen.  And, since gold inlay trim and additional drawer pulls might look out of place in this crazy mid century modern house, they were avoided. 

Today, it continues to be a Dorothy Draper Espana Chest wannabe!   But, located in my guest bedroom, I love it.

My Dorothy Draper-inspired Espana Chest

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This is the Story of "The Pig"

No... not a flying pig.   But, the chronicles of a house which my friends affectionately refer to as "The PIG."

So as not to get ahead of myself, a few details must be explained. 

Last year, near the end of June, I decided to relocate my plastic surgery practice to the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area... a region lovingly known as the Triangle.  Moving was a great opportunity to be closer to my friends and extended family.   Getting settled, establishing new hospital privileges, and building the practice have kept me busy for the past few months. 

Anyway, back to The Pig.

In Raleigh, I moved into this crazy mid century modern house.   Perhaps I've neglected to mention... mid century modern is not my aesthetic.  My friends thought that I had completely LOST my mind!

In fact, there were a couple of 'WTH is HE thinking?' comments.  

But, most didn't appreciate the similarity between this house and my life.  I wanted something different!  Previously, my home in Greenville was traditional.   My surgical practice had been classically established.  My work responsibilities were fixed and habitual. 

Though I love plastic surgery, the desire was to reinvent my practice.   My new job was far from ordinary.   The task at hand was to learn to seamless function as the medical director of a plastic surgery cosmetic clinic and spa while simultaneously helping to establish their ability to provide reconstructive procedures.  I needed to learn about the latest and greatest medical devices being used.  The hours were even different... not 8am to 5pm; rather, more 10am to 7pm. 

The house became a metaphor for all of the changes going on in my life.   It was certainly different.

My decision had been made, but The Pig needed some love.

Inside, the first priority was the living room.  

Living room, first visit, August 2013
Looking back at a few of these photos, I NOW understand my friends' concern!
Regardless, the house had reasonable pedigree.   Built in the early 1950s, the home served as the primary residence for its architect and owner, Edward "Terry" Waugh - a professor in the School of Design at NC State University.  
Edward Waugh, AIA
Back to my basic philosophy:  "Do your best, where you are, with what you have."
The house either needed some work... or a wrecking ball.  #hotmess
Cue the window washers.   Paint the ceiling.   Fix some electrical outlets.  Remove the blinds that were no longer in working condition.  Quick cosmetic fixes. 
Today, the results are not final - more of a work in progress.  (Hmmm... just like me?)  Window coverings are still missing, and Santa forgot to bring a couple of area rugs for the room.  The TV has yet to be mounted to the wall; the vintage 1980s tract lighting need to be replaced; and, the list goes on and on.
Considering the following, this room ain't half bad:
  1. No new pieces of furniture were purchased for this room.
  2. No pieces of art were acquired. 
  3. No new tchotchkes were obtained. 
  4. The only new thing in this room is the fern on the dining room table!
For historical reference, this is a photo of the original living room, circa 1950s.
Earlier today, I took a photo... from the same vantage point... of the now combined living room and dining room.  
Wondering why the outside looks overexposed and too bright?????   Snow.
View of the backyard from that large window, this afternoon. 
Here are a few other photos of the room over the past few months.
Late summer, 2013

Thanksgiving, 2013
Christmas, 2013
This house has NOT been decorated in a modern minimalist style.  And, some may completely criticize this simple fact.  
But, I don't believe in ancestor worship!   Heavily collected interiors that are well-edited are my taste. 
Attempting to make MY furniture work in The Pig has actually been great fun. 
A buddy in town provided the nicest compliment.  Brian said, "This IS a crazy old house... but somehow, the interior looks and feels like Joey!" 
So, even though this seems like the story of decorating a wacky living room, it is really the account of staying true to yourself while embracing people, places, and things that are new and different.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hot Mess Express

Guess who"s back?

We've got lots to discuss. 

Been busy.    All good!

Details to follow.   


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sourcing for mom... the dining room edition

My mother, Lois, has a new house in the NC mountains!  And, it is freaking cute.   
I am sooooo thankful that she sold the log cabin.  That silly thing was a maintenance disaster.  And, mom referred to it as the Rice Krispie house -- as the ambient temperature of the of the house changed during the day, the wood would "snap, crackle, and pop."  Good riddance. 
Her new home is only 1400 sq ft.... so McMansion it is NOT.  Fortunately, it is absolutely adorable, and she's done a wonderful job getting it together. 
As you might imagine... {hint hint}.... there are a couple of ideas which could make her little mountain cottage the envy of all of her neighbors.  And, it might just piss off a few family members, too!  That would be like a gift from sweet baby Jesus. 
But, I digress. 
Let's start with the dining room.  The back wall of the dining room can be seen as you walk in the front door.  So, since that is the first sight line in the house, it needs to be amazing.  I know, it needs to be practical, too.  Don't burst my bubble!
Ok... the basics. 
1.  Crown moulding. 
The cost is only about $1 per linear foot installed.  So, that shouldn't completely break the bank.

2.  Back wall.   Options:  textured paint, wallpaper, or grasscloth.

Hmmmm.... that might really be a good thing!  Simple and tasteful.  Me likey.

3.  Light fixture.  Oh, did I mention that the light fixture in the dining room was TINY???  It is awful!   Simple drum shade to the rescue.  Fortunately, my mom is not a Venetian glass chandelier kind of girl... that could get expensive.

...and it is ONLY $100.  Score!
4.  Dining room table.  This is where there may be some gnashing of teeth.  History:  The table is over 100 years old.  Beautiful lines.  But.... it has been beaten all to hell.  Despite multiple attempts to strip, sand, and stain, the top of that little beast still looks dreadful.  Currently, it is hidden under a tablecloth.  Ick.
How about some color?????  Red maybe.  It IS mom's favorite color.
THAT could be....... amazing!!!
Ok, Joseph, focus.
5.  Storage.  Since she is seriously lacking storage, a buffet might be the practical and pretty solution.   And, since that crazy painted table is going to be the center of attention, lets stick to white or natural wood colors.
Reed buffet

Ok, I LOVE that Reed Buffet.  It's perfect.  But.... it is located in AUSTRALIA.  Thanks world wide web!  Grumble.  And, since I've previously shipped a didgeridoo from Sydney, the cost of that little trans-Pacific trip would be insane. 
That Coleman one isn't bad.  Dimensions are 16 x 18 x 62 inches at a cost of $765, with free shipping.   
6.  Lamps.  Need two lamps for the buffet.
Great looking balustrade-inspired lamp from Circa.  Sadly, there are 2 problems.  First, the $630 price point is a tad high.  Second, it is french wired... which means that the cord comes out of the socket.  Personally, french wired lamps are the aesthetic equivalent of nails on a chalk board.  HATE!  But, I do like the idea of that lamp.  Guess that I'll keep looking.  It may be Home Goods to the rescue. 
7.  Chairs.    The current chairs in the room are Queen Anne with upholstered cushions.  They have great lines but the off-white damask on the cushions looks a little too formal for the room. 
Guess that we need to find some fabric.  Something fun and festive...

For some reason, I'll bet that she will pass on the Ikat idea. 
Camel in velvet?

Pebbles in mocha?  I want THIS for me!!!

Vingage floral???

The best option... send her a pile of fabric samples and tell her to pick.
8.  Rug?   The floors are a light oak stain. 
Bold stripe rug???  Not blue.

Graphic pattern?
Simple jute?
She will need to give me some ideas on the rug choice.   But, I suspect that we will steer clear of the imported Turkish varieties from ABC Carpet and Home.   Some of them are not very budget friendly. 
Holy sticker shock, Batman. 
9.  The wall above the buffet.  Oh, I have a great idea which was inspired by this 100(+) year old photo.......
My grandmother, Mollie, and her twin sister. 
What about a gallery mount of family photos?????   Personally, I love the idea and have about 25 black and white picture frames in my closet.  So, it would be cheap.  And, I think that mom would adore it!!!

I think that we have a plan.  Now... I need to talk her into it! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar's Greenroom 2013


In the world of Botox, Spanx, press agents, and red carpet arrivals, Architectural Digest's greenroom for the Academy Awards ceremony is always a coveted design trophy.

And, this year, the winner is.... Madeline Stuart. 

As Stuart described, her goal was "to create a space where comtemporary stars wouldn't be surprised to bump into Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn." 

It IS glitzy and glamorous, and hopefully without a Kardashian in sight!

Job well done, Ms. Stuart. 

Madeline Stuart

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24.... it IS Christmas Eve

Wrapping paper chez Joey
"On call" for Christmas this year.... OK.   But, on call for 5 days over the holidays.... oh sweet Lord.  This holiday season had the potential to completely suck!
Fortunately, Santa was very accommodating, and Christmas came a bit early for this little schizophrenic elf.
From cocktail parties at my house.... suidical Christmas trees and broken ornaments, 

Ruh roh!!!

Dammit. has certainly been a Christmas to remember!

Yes, the tree IS back in the upright position, bolted to the wall, and a Jonathan Adler poodle is on suicide watch.

As you might imagine, a massage was necessary after THAT little incident.  The Umstead in Cary, NC, was amazing, and they had live flowers in their Christmas trees.  {I DID have a bit of tree envy.  Just don't tell Santa.}  Hopefully, their trees went thru a full psychiatric evaluation prior to being decorated.  (Tee hee)
Real amaryllis wired into the trees at the Umstead Hotel and Spa

Pepper berries and pine cones at the Umstead

We even had Piglet, the office's version of Elf on the Shelf, as a stripper and having a spa day!  LOL

It was only then that I realized that the office staff really loved me.  My Christmas gift from Piglet was.........
"Jack Ass Red" wine.  Jack ass, huh?   Hmmmph! 
Actually, I laughed out loud.

Despite the "on call" aggravation and my initial concern that I was in Ho Ho Hell, this Christmas has been absolutely fantastic.... thanks to friends, family, and a fun staff at the office.  And, I haven't even mentioned the drag queens, dinner parties, shopping excursions, new friends {I just need to remember that there is a fine line between admiration and becoming a stalker! ha}, 'dirty Santa' gift exchange, and Christmas traditions with BESTest!

So, have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  Mine has certainly been memorable!  See you next year.