A New Orleans Vibe Giveaway!

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Valorie Hart, The Visual Vamp, in her New Orleans house.

 

One of my favorite blogs is The Visual Vamp – written by Valorie Hart.  Valorie has been writing her blog almost as long as I have and through the years we’ve had some good times commiserating.  Valorie is an effervescent red head – though sometimes her hair is actually lilac!  We are about the same age and I’ve always been in awe of her energy and her ability to tirelessly write.  I like to call her Zelig, named after the famous Woody Allen character who turns up during every important historic event.  Valorie is like that – while she now lives in New Orleans, she previously lived in New York where she either knew everyone from the 70s and 80s or she had worked with them.  Her list of friends and co-workers is nothing if not amazing!!

At times besides interior designing, Valorie was a famous party planner, she was in a rock and roll band, and she was a floral designer – among other vocations.  Oh yes, and she and husband, Alberto Paz are also world famous tango dancers – who give lessons in their shotgun NOLA house when they aren’t competing on the international stage.  WHEW! 

 

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A party that Valorie designed and planned back in her NYC days.

 

So, it was no surprise when Valorie told me she had written a book that was recently published AND she was currently already writing the second one!!!  The first book is called House Proud, which features houses from Louisiana.  The new book will showcase houses in Texas. 

 

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The cover of Valorie’s book – with photographs by Sara Essex Bradley and published by Glitterati, Inc.

 

The book is fun.  It’s filled with beautiful houses and cute houses, large houses and small houses.  There’s something for everyone and every budget.  And there’s something to take home from the book  - at the end of every chapter Valorie writes a list of “takeaways” – ideas from the house for you to use in  your own.

While most houses featured in House Proud aren’t decorated by Valorie- there is a healthy dose that are – including a spread on Valorie’s own house. 

 

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One of my favorite houses in the book is this one in New Orleans designed by Valorie!  I love it – from the persimmon taffeta curtains to the crystal chandelier – it’s so beautiful.

 

 

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And the dining room – with its tree truck table – which she mixed with vintage chairs and a Kelly Wearstler fabric. 

 

 

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The living room – where Valorie mixed in antique furniture with mid century chairs.

 

 

 

 

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This house is another favorite from the book – which was designed by Evelyne Clinton.  What an entry hall with an antique French daybed covered in lilac velvet.  To die for!

 

 

 

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And this dining room is from Evelyne Clinton’s own house, also featured in the book.

 

 

 

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Two matching crystal chandeliers – hang in this New Orleans house.

 

 

Reading the book made me want to show you more of what Valorie has been up to lately.   Her portfolio is loaded with design projects she’s recently finished and articles she’s written – busy as ever!

 

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Valerie recently updated this house – recovering furniture and painting cabinets to bring the décor a bit more up to date for its owners.  Love the Ikat fabric she used on the chairs and pillows.

 

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On either side of the fireplace she had the brown stained cabinets painted a more trendy gray.  And she replaced a large armoire with a bench and mirror.

 

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And I love this runner she used on the stairs, behind the sofa.

 

 

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No one changes their house décor more than Valorie.  Over the years, her house has been redecorated so many times, I couldn’t even begin to count them!  Here is how her dining room recently looked, which I really liked – and figured she would keep it like this for awhile.  But no……

 

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She recently had this brainstorm (after living in the house for years and years) to move the table to the right of the room - which is rather skinny.  With the furniture off centered this way, you can walk around the table, rather than into it!   Instead of chairs – she put upholstered banquettes along the wall and added a wonderful large paper light fixture which really gives the room a sparse, almost Oriental vibe.

 

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Looking down at the banquettes with the pillows placed at the corner.  Love the cowhide on the table – which is a great way to disguise a wood table with a stain you don’t love.

 

AND, to see designer Susannah Salk recreate Valorie’s living room using all Ballard Design products- watch this video – HERE.  Very interesting! 

 

 

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And finally, since I don’t get to decorate for Christmas – I’m excited to show you how Valorie did this year!  She used a Tiffany blue color mixed with orange accents that match her velvet chairs.

 

 

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Here, the tree is set up in her dance studio – which is right outside her living room.  I love the blue theme!

 

 

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In her living room – she wrapped blue pillows like presents 

 

 

 

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And another pillow, wrapped like a present.  Decorating tip: instead of white linen or cotton – Valorie uses white pleather which is very easy to keep pristine.

 

 

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And on her coffee table, along with reindeer and a tiny wreath, she displays spools of velvet ribbon that matches the turquoise tree and presents. 

 

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Last year’s decorations – I love this picture mainly to see how much the room has changed in one year’s time. 

Here’s hoping Valerie and her husband and all our readers have a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Years!

 

The Giveaway!

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For the giveaway, Valorie has graciously allowed there to be TWO winners!!!  Each winner will win one copy of her book, “House Proud.”  To enter the contest – all you have to do is go to House Proud’s facebook page HERE and “Like” it!

Then come back to this blog and leave me a comment saying you want to enter.  Be sure to leave your email address if you are anonymous!

That’s all!

The contest lasts from now until Friday night, December 13th at 11:59 pm.

The book makes great Christmas gifts – to order the book, just click on the picture below:

 

To read The Visual Vamp blog, go HERE.

A huge thank to Valorie Hart for sponsoring this giveaway!!!

 

FABULOUS HOUSTON HOME TOUR–INCLUDES A FORMER GINGER BARBER HOUSE!

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The Southampton/Museum District Home Tour “Cool Classics” is always the best home tour of the year.  The houses are always exceptional.   The tour is this coming Sunday – December 8th – from 12-4 pm.
Cathy Blum, who is in charge of putting the tour together said this:   “I just saw the best house I have ever seen in my 35 years of seeing tons of houses and my heart is 
still pounding. It brought tears to my eyes like when you see an incredible
work of art. This is not a house to be missed. It was a total renovation of
a wonderful old Southampton home on the Boulevard and was loving in restored by
the owner (a two year project).”

 


 


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The house that Cathy Blum loves is located at 2241 Sunset Blvd. and +was totally renovated by Martha Baxter Finger and Blake Winston. 


 


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Here’s a peek at what the house used to look like – beautiful, but in need of updating.  The brick was cleaned of the ivy and painted a trendy white.  A new fireplace becomes a focal point on the front façade.  Martha Baxter Finger is an interior designer working out of Houston.  Her own house was recently featured in Paper City Magazine.  Her house is a mix of mid century modern and fabulous antiques.


 


Here’s a look at her work, first her own house as seen in Paper City:


 


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The living room is a mix of modern art and more traditional furnishings.  I love the green plaster walls and green silk curtains.  The French chairs are Jansen.  Baxter worked with architect Michael Landrum on remodeling the house.  Her husband had  owned it, but the house needed to be enlarged to make space for their blended family.  And while Baxter was used to living with beige, neutral colored interiors, her husband insisted on color in their newly designed home. 


 


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The plaster walls continue into the dining room – furnished with a skirted table and a set of Jansen chairs. 


 


 


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The entry staircase with the fabulous bronze railing.


 


 


 


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The family room with fireplace and built in shelf. 


 


 


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The family room – looking out towards the back.  A French table sits behind the sofa.


 


 


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The office is painted dark – and has a beautiful antique desk that is juxtaposed against the more contemporary ceiling.


 


 


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The powder room walls are mirrored.   Mercury glass sink.


 


 


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Room off the kitchen features a sectional designed by Baxter.


 


 


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The master bedroom brings more of the green in with the tufted velvet headboard and curtained canopy.


 


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In the master bedroom there is a Mexican day bed in front of the window.


 


 


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I love the master bathroom!  It was inspired by Jean Michael Frank.  The marble drawers are spectacular! Just gorgeous.


 


In addition to Baxter’s own house, this house is featured on Jeffrey Alan Mark’s web site – with the interiors credited by both Marks and Martha Baxter Finger.  The house is located in Austin, Texas.


 


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The Austin, Texas house designed by both Jeffrey Marks and Martha Baxter.  The walls are gray stucco, covered in ivy. 


 


 


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Beautiful property and landscaping.


 


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Walking into the house – the floors are black Morocco styled tile, and the stair treads are also black tile.  Love the zebra against the black floors and stark white walls.


 


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The entry is two story with a wood ceiling.  Fabulous space.


 


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The living room is incredible!  Dark wood floors and ceiling with a large stone mantel, topped with carved wood.  The steel windows and door are fabulous.  Beautiful ceiling and oval window. Love the antique table against the windows.  Just beautiful.


 


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The library with a large antique rug and fabulous stone fireplace.  I love how they painted the shelves black against the white walls.


 


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Off the entry is the dining room with slipcovered chairs and dramatic wood table.


 


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The kitchen is exotic with wire chairs and lanterns and wood floors and ceiling.  


 


 


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The wine room is most fabulous – especially with the luxury of each chair having its own Hermes blanket. 


Seeing this house that Martha Baxter designed with Jeffrey Alan Marks and her house in Houston – makes me so excited to see the house she designed that is on the Cool Classics tour.  AND after hearing what Cathy Blum said about it – it sounds like this house will be the star of the tour.


To see the Austin house on Jeffrey Alan Marks’ web site, go HERE.


 


 


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Another house on the tour is this one located at 2027 Bolsolver which was recently purchased by its current owners.  I had seen it when it was for sale and I’m excited to see what it looks like now.


 


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Here is how it looked when it was sold – the house was so perfect, I can’t imagine it being improved on!


 


 



And then there is this house on the tour –located on Albans.   This is how it looked when it was sold several years ago.  It is located on Albans and has the distinction of being owned by Ginger Barber – many, many years ago!  This house was featured in several magazines, including Country Home and a now out of print Houston magazine.


Actually it was this house in 1994 that introduced Ginger to the public.  I remember being so in love with this house and studying every picture, every fabric, every accessory and trying to emulate her style – something I still do today, almost twenty years later! 


I found the old magazine from 1994 and scanned in some pictures of that house.  Many of you will probably recognize them.  It will be so interesting to tour this house, all these years later and see how it has been changed and remodeled over the years!  Here’s how it looked+-------------------------


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all those years ago:


 


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It’s so interesting to look back on how Ginger decorated all those years ago.  She used antiques and slipcovers back then, just as she does today.  Also, she used lots of English bamboo – like this antique hall tree.   The dining room is through the opening.  Of course there is a paisley shawl – a must have accessory back then.  And baskets.


 


 


 


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The same view from a different magazine shows more of the dining room.   Surprisingly, the dining room is more contemporary than the Ginger of later times with its glass topped table.


 


 


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This carving has stayed with Ginger through all her moves.  This was a great buy, something she has hung onto longer than most of her other possessions.


 


 


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The living room had slipcovered furniture and an English cricket table.  Two wonderful wicker chairs sit in the front window.  This look is somewhat similar to her look today -  but this is much more cluttered.  Today, Ginger’s interiors are edited and toned down.  They aren’t nearly as busy as this room was.


 


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In another magazine – you can see this English piece that Ginger has used in almost every house since.  It’s a great piece and she accessorized it with antiques and books.


 


 


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Here’s a close up of the piece – back then.


 


 


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The kitchen had terra cotta tile floors and a diamond patterned backsplash.  It will be interesting to see how the kitchen has been changed.  Of course – today Ginger’s styling is quieter.  But back then, the more cluttered the kitchen, the better!  Imagine photographs on a refrigerator shown in a magazine today!


 


 


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The family room was added on – the pine mantel is so Ginger.  I still love the striped chair in the corner.


 


 


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Wow - her son is now full grown!  Time flies.   The barley twist gate leg table is still a fabulous touch.  I wonder if Ginger has kept those lamps – but with white shades?


 


If you are in Houston this Sunday, be sure to take the Cool Classics Home Tour!


 


































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