A Good Weekend To Read and Celebrate Hard Working Women:





What a weekend this will be!  Amazon has been wonderful to me today!  I received two new, long awaited books delivered to my front door – no hassles, no bothers, no long lines, no gas guzzling, no red lights.   Ah, the beauty of Amazon, my most faithful love.  These days I order almost everything from Amazon, not just books.   I have ordered light bulbs, shoes, a microphone (for the Skirted Roundtable) and even a new laptop!  And if you just  happen to need one – you can order a chandelier from Amazon.   I’m not aware of anything you can’t buy from this fantastic company.   Alas, they make it too easy to spend money.  They keep your credit card on file and you just have to hit –SEND – and it’s delivered, usually the next day.  Amazing.  Just amazing.   I had preordered these two books and had no idea when they would be released,  so it was a complete and delightful surprise that they arrived just in time for this long weekend.    And, at first glance, they are both winners.    The first book is Rachel Ashwell’s – the Queen of slipcovers, pink, turquoise, and crystal –  her newest effort is Shabby Chic Interiors HERE.  The cover is so beautiful,   I could stare at it all day – the pink, the gilt, the settee, the crystal, the peonies.  And  there is Rachel, as always, looking ravishing in her favorite low waisted jeans.   Oh, Rachel, it makes me sad to think about your current financial woes!   How disappointing it all must be for you!   Hopefully, this book will be a new start for her company, certainly she has no place to go but up at this point, it’s all such an awful shame.   The book certainly looks promising – perhaps her best effort since this one:   




The Shabby Chic Home (HERE) is almost ten years old now (!) and it remains a favorite of mine.  I love books that tell the story of one house – from its run down, unattractive beginnings to its perfectly furnished and remodeled finish.   Both this book and the new one are certainly my kind of design books.    If you have never read The Shabby Chic Home, it makes a perfect companion to Rachel’s newest book, which is very similar:  the story of her latest house – room by room, just like her fans like.  The pictures in Shabby Chic Interiors - by Ashwell’s favorite photographer Amy Neunsinger - are gorgeous and worth the price alone. 




I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll just show you a few vignette pictures from Rachel’s newest book Shabby Chic Interiors.   Here, the kitchen with its charming wall mounted faucet – I love this!   Only Rachel can make washing dishes look romantic.



image Pink, green, and blue- Rachel’s palette. 



imageHer bedroom is my favorite room in the new house, the curtains are a luscious silk taffeta in a very, very pale amethyst.  




White marble and English styled faucet.  Notice the old fashioned drain stopper - so Rachel.



imageRachel has a wood cart just like the one in my office!  She calls hers a shoe cart, I call mine a wine bottle cart.  Who’s right I wonder? 





The other book Mr. Amazon Man delivered today was Kathryn Ireland’s second, Creating a Home (HERE.)    I wrote about this book a few months ago HERE when it was available for preorder only.   But, it’s out now and it looks beautiful!   The photography is bright and bold – all of her newest fabrics look tempting.   It’s a book for me, that’s for sure – the story of a dilapidated old ranch in Ojai California that Ireland takes under her wing and transforms into a fantasy country estate – although, in the end -  she couldn’t afford its rehab and had to sell.   My favorite series of pictures are of Ireland, dressed in a ball gown, posed around the swimming pool with her three teenaged sons.   Her middle son decides he is through with the photo shoot and the look on her face as she bribes him, scolds him, pleads with him is priceless!    What those pictures say about the manipulation of the family members during those “fun” totally uncandid photographs speaks volumes.   It made me think of all  that Martha Stewart’s daughter must have had to endure as a child – after all, Martha’s husband bolted from that media storm as soon as he could. 




Some of the pictures have been seen before in a few magazines, but the majority are new.   I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Ireland to sell something she had poured her heart and soul into.  She writes that she bought the ranch thinking she and her boys would live there fulltime – the only way she could truly afford it.   Her boys resisted – they had no wish to move from Santa Monica - dashing all of Ireland’s hopes and dreams. 




The master bedroom suite, separated from the main house.  I love how the three flooring surfaces come together here: tile, wood, and seagrass.


Both Ashwell’s and Ireland’s books are remarkable for this:  they tell the story of two highly independent women, both from England, who came to America on a lark and penniless.   But, through hard work and gritty determination, they both reinvented themselves and became international successes.    Ireland and Ashwell share so much biographic history – it truly is uncanny.   And what better weekend than Labor Day to celebrate what hard work and toil can bring to you – regardless of where you are from, and how little you have to start with.    And though Ashwell is currently suffering through this  economic downturn, I have no doubt that she will rise again, like a Phoenix.   Hopefully, just like Ani DiFranco, another true American success story, says here:


Thirty-Two Flavors:

And god help you if you are an ugly girl
'Course too pretty is also your doom
Cuz everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room
And god help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
While you are just flying past


From our house to yours - I hope you all have a safe and healthy Labor Day Weekend.

The Skirted Roundtable: Home Offices



image Ah, yes, what a nice, organized home office!   If only it really looked this way. 


This week on the Skirted Roundtable (HERE), Linda, Megan and I take the discussion on home offices that started  last week with Vicente Wolf a step further.  Renowned interior designer Wolf thinks a home office is a terrible idea and that one should look for a “real” office, not matter how small it might be.   His opinion on home offices elicited a lot of comments from listeners and provoked much thought on our part  - you see, all three of us have home offices ourselves!





My pride and joy:  an antique map of Rome glued onto a board that weighs about 1,000 pounds!   I had to hire three moving men just to get it upstairs.  Yes, upstairs.   You see – besides having a home office, mine is actually located upstairs in one of our extra bedrooms.   Do you understand now why I mostly see clients at their own house?   





I am thinking of remodeling Webb Design’s office and putting up a wall of bookcases where the red cabinet is, which truly needs to be painted black anyway.  I have no idea why I bought it in red, but that was years ago during my English Country Manor phase and I had many red accents in my house.   It came from a store in the Rice Village called The El Paso Import Company.    If I do put the bookcase there, the map would need to go and I’d have to call those three men again and have them lug it back down the stairs to my real office – the garage!     My desk is actually a small dining room table that I bought from Pier One.  The  big tin box on top of the desk holds all the office necessities like staplers and scissors and rulers – since I don’t have drawers.    For some reason, desks are much more expensive than dining tables so I often recommend that clients look for a table at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, etc. instead of trying to find a reasonably priced desk.  In addition – table tops are usually bigger than desktops which is wonderful to spread out papers and computers and furniture catalogues.     The lamps all came from Tar-ge’ as did the window shades.  The antique bamboo chair is from my friend, Mindy Brown’s childhood bedroom!  Hi Mindy!   I’m not sure how I ended up with that one!




On one side of my office I have this antique work cart that I bought from Chateau Domingue.   It holds all my clippings folders and furniture catalogues which I really never use anymore.   Most companies are online now and the days of catalogues and binders are slowly going away.  I truly never open a binder anymore.   It all comes from the internet. 




I redid the closet in my office to make it into a sample room.   The entire closet is filled with baskets of samples and the closet floor is piled with bags filled with more fabric samples.  These are the ones I don’t even use.  The more current samples are in my other office, you know, the garage.   Hundreds of sample books are piled against the wall of the closet and the newer ones are, you know where.    I have run out of space in my office – perhaps Vicente Wolf has a point after all.   I really need either more space or I need to throw things out.    I recently got a flyer at my from door from Green Junk.  You hire these people to come to your house and they clean it out and take it all away and recycle it!   They take away things like old appliances, electronics, computers ( I have my fair share of old computers!), papers, boxes, fabric samples, binders of obsolete furniture companies – they come in and haul it all away.  I am seriously thinking of calling them because what always stops me cold from reorganizing my office myself is the thought of lugging all the trash down the stairs – to put it where?  On the curb?   Green Junk may be the perfect answer for me.    Maybe I should just call that communist Van Jones and ask his advice on Green Junk. 



image What is really looks like when it’s not cleaned up for the pictures!  Hey, I actually look like a busy interior designer here!           


Be sure to listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable where we discuss home offices AND what goes on during our first meetings with clients.   To listen, go HERE.