Looking Ahead to 2011

The year is coming to a close and I want to thank everyone who reads, comments, emails, follows, and subscribes to my blog all year long.  Having a blog is great fun and I've enjoyed getting to know new people and fellow bloggers near and far.  Thank you all for your support and friendship. 

And lest I carry on like Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars, I'll move on now to a few of my plans for 2011. Nothing strenuous or exciting like climbing K2, but it's good to get even the little things down on paper:

1) Spend more on fresh flowers and less on imported cheese

Sure, I love French cheese (who doesn't), but it would be best to eat it less often. Sometimes I balk at the bunches of fresh flowers at Whole Foods, thinking do I really need to spend $12 on flowers? But then I get home and while putting away the groceries realize that in three days the flowers will look better than a half-eaten $9 wedge of St. Andre and I regret not buying the flowers.

2) Consider drapes for the living room and bedroom

I have lived in my house for ten years and never considered myself a drapery kind of person. They always seemed too fussy and too puffy for my taste. Shutters have been my window treatment of choice since there is not much privacy in the city and shutters allow light to come in while shielding views from the neighbors.  But the idea of adding drapes is growing on me.  Drapes to bring warmth, coziness, pattern, and color to my rooms.  Yes, these are definitely on the list for 2011 and I've recently become smitten with these crisp chocolate brown checked drapes.

Interior design by Pamela Pierce. Southern Accents Magazine, Nov/Dec 2003. Photography by Tria Giovan

3) Finish painting the walls upstairs

This is self-explanatory.  I changed the colors of my walls from taupe to white this summer and am very happy with the change, except that I haven't finished the rest of the house yet.

4)  Post a photo of myself on my blog

I have been reluctant to put my face "out there" on the web.  I have a "day" job and wonder what will happen if a colleague or client discovers my blog. Will they think it's frivolous, silly, or unprofessional?  One of the benefits of having a blog is getting to know other bloggers.  I enjoy seeing photos of bloggers and putting a name with a face and sometimes even a voice with a face.  People like to know who they're communicating with, right?  So, I resolve to post a photo of myself on my blog profile and leave it up. For at least for a month anyway.

5) Buy or make a Christmas tree skirt

For years I have deluded myself into thinking that a Christmas tree skirt is unnecessary and it's just not so.  The tree looks fine with a few nicely wrapped gifts under it, but after Christmas when the boxes are unwrapped and the gifts are put away, one is left with a bare, cold, metal stand that just doesn't look good.  A piece of burlap or leftover fabric draped around the tree would be better than nothing.  Enough said.

6) Post more of my own photos

I will make it a point to never leave home without my camera this year and will attempt to post more photos of my home. Even if it's a simple grouping of items lying around the kitchen, like the first photo above,  taking my own photos is a way to express creativity and originality.

7) Plant the paper whites earlier next year

The purchase of the bulbs took a back seat to the purchase of everything else this holiday season and I did not plant my paper whites until just before Christmas.  I almost can't bear to look at these little stubs everyday and part of my morning routine is to rotate the pots to maximize sun exposure and then stare at the bulbs for a few minutes, silently imploring them to grow. Faster. Please. 

8) Add more plants outside

My outdoor space is only about 300 square feet and oddly shaped, but it could use more plants next spring.  More boxwood, more flowers, more everything.  This white garden will be my inspiration.

Photo of Loi Thai's garden by Jennifer Sergent of DC by Design Blog

9) Invest in outdoor furniture

Even if it's just a a few French style folding chairs like this one from Wisteria and a metal table, dining outside once a week will be a priority next summer. The two feet of snow on the patio should be gone by then.

10) Take a painting class

I love to visit museums and when it's not too crowded, I like to get up close to a painting and study the brush strokes, the blending of paint, the highlights and the shadows.  Oil painting, in particular, fascinates me and I am determined to take a beginners painting class this year.  I'm no Sarah Lamb when it comes to painting, but I'm looking forward to giving it a go.

So as 2010 comes to a close, I thank you again for your readership and your friendship and wish you all a very happy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year.

Snowed In

We are expecting a blizzard today in Boston so the after-Christmas sales will have to wait, but several hours of guilt-free interior design web and blog browsing lie ahead.  Fun! Then some shoveling ahead. Not so fun.  And although Christmas 2010 is over, it's still "the holidays" which means that my ongoing interest in Christmas decorating is justified.  It's never too soon to plan (although I use the term loosely) for next year.

This room was designed by Pam Pierce of Houston and the photos were featured in the Houston Chronicle, December 2009.

I like the use of pears, surrounding an olive tree in a French terra cotta pot.  What a clever, inexpensive way to bring some natural color and texture into holiday decorating. 


White roses, more pears, and branches decorate the dinner table.

Here's a view of the entire roomThe greenery above the curtain rods is another pretty and inexpensive way to liven up rooms for the holidays.

To view the entire article in the Houston Chronicle, click here and to view Pam Pierce's website for extensive photos of her interiors, click here.

If you are in New England, hunker down for the storm and stay warm!

Six Days Until Christmas

Do not attempt to adjust your monitor.  My photo was blurry so I added the painting effect using Paint Shop Pro . 

Still shopping, wrapping, working, writing Christmas cards (take a breath), and not yet baking with only six days until Christmas.  Somewhere along the way, I misplaced my plan to be "more prepared than ever this year" for the holidays and I can't seem to find it.

If you're in the throes of holiday preparations, I hope you're having a productive weekend.  And to those who are done with everything they needed to do, savor the fruits of your labor.

Before and After: The Christmas Tree

The tree is up and in the stand and decorated for Christmas 2010.  This always  seems like a major accomplishment at Christmas-time, since it's a busy time with year-end issues at work, shopping for gifts, and a few holiday parties in between. 

Here's the "before" photo of the tree.  We cut our own tree, as we have for the past few years and always on the Friday after Thanksgiving week when there are no crowds.  I'm sure if there were more people at the farm, I'd get some odd looks for photographing pictures of bare, soon to be cut trees. 

I was concerned with getting a tree that wouldn't be too tall for the living room, thinking that we needed a tree less than eight feet tall.  As it turns out, nearly all the remaining trees were no more than seven feet tall and we were hard pressed to find a tree tall enough!  We went home with a six-footer. The owner informed us that 250 people descended on the farm the day after Thanksgiving, which was why there were so few tall trees left.  Apparently it's better to brave the crowds during Thanksgiving week than risk having a Lilliputian-sized Christmas tree.

So here it is in all its glory and waiting for a few wrapped gifts.  Most of the ornaments are vintage mercury glass from my childhood along with many that I've been collecting on eBay. 


And lastly, thanks to Brooke Gianetti for the sweet Christmas ornament that I won during a give-away on her beautiful blog Velvet & Linen.  I've hung it on a boxwood wreath which hangs over a mirror.  It's difficult to see here, but the ornament is made from a vintage silver spoon and is stamped with "Happy Holidays".

So with only thirteen days left until Christmas, I hope you're having a festive holiday season!

Beacon Hill Decorates for Christmas

The nearby neighborhood of Beacon Hill in Boston is charming anytime of year, but I especially like to walk there during the holidays.  Many of the doors and window boxes of these historic homes are beautifully adorned for the holidays and a walk around the neighborhood is a good opportunity for inspiration and ideas.

This pale blue door is my favorite. Most of the doors on Beacon Hill are painted glossy black.  The blue is a nice change and really sets off the evergreen wreath and miniature trees.

This striking facade with a statue of a reclining woman is very unexpected.  The soft greens and grays of the plants in the window box complement the gray trim of the window frame.  She looks to me like she is waiting for someone to return.

Here's a window box filled with a classic combination of evergreen, ivy, pine cones and red berries.

An unusual, but pretty yellow door with traditional swag and wreath.  A classic gas light is just to the left, with an equally classic Boston "no parking" sign.

Another black door. This time with a contemporary container and traditional window box fillers arranged in a modern style. 

A pretty window box filled with a variety of greenery

A vibrant cherry-red door

I was taken with this gray brick house with gray shutters and a bare tree.  It's difficult to see, but the homeowner has hung gilded wreaths on the windows inside the home.

Plantings don't have to be elaborate.  Here, simple boxwood and variegated ivy in black containers are all that's needed to enhance this simple entry way.

A closer view

This box has leathery magnolia leaves tucked behind miniature evergreens. The magnolia leaves provide an interesting contrast to the lacy ornamental kale at the front of the box.  I like the variety of textures used here.

Another simple and striking arrangement.  Evergreens and ornamental kale with pink highlights.

This entryway caught my attention from down the street.  A beautiful stained (instead of painted) door is paired with tall copper planters and small concrete containers.  I'm not sure what the green vine-like plant is, but it's a nice alternative to evergreens.

A closer view of the copper planter

Colorful fall gourds and kale.  They still look fresh, even in December.

I hope this post has given you some ideas for decorating the exterior of your home for the holidays.   Even if you don't have an elaborate home or your own gardener (I have neither!), a little greenery and color can go a long way to brighten the outside of your home during the winter months.

All photos by me and my trusty Olympus D-520 Zoom camera

Blue and White for Christmas

Interior Design by Lisa Luby Ryan, Veranda Magazine, Nov - Dec 2010. Photography by Erica George Dines

Here's an alternative to the traditional red and green Christmas decorations.  Lisa Luby Ryan's interior design for this home in Dallas, Texas features holiday decorations in a Tiffany-like blue accented with white and the natural textures of raffia, burlap, and fresh greenery.  Not everyone may appreciate a gift wrapped in burlap (i.e. my mother), no matter how trendy it is, but who wouldn't like to receive a gift that looks like a box from Tiffany's?

The gift-wrapped boxes also give me another idea.  I still haven't found a reasonably priced Christmas tree skirt that I like and don't want to tackle sewing my own.  Throughout the year, I've been saving cardboard boxes and plan to wrap the empty boxes and place them under the tree along with the gifts.  We're not big gift-givers at my house anyway, so the wrapped boxes will hide the tree stand and keep it from looking so bare. 

So, what do you think?  Has anyone else tried this look before?

Happy Thanksgiving

19th Century Carved Wood Turkey. This proves my theory that one can find absolutely anything on 1stdibs.

We are trying something new this year and treating ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner at The Taj Boston, since we've been eating out less often lately. No worrying about my Thanksgiving turkey being as dry as this one (although I've not had this problem in the past). I love to cook, but preparing the feast takes hours and it's over in about fifteen minutes. We thought it best to let someone else to do the cooking so we can savor the meal and the day at a leisurely pace.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday and long weekend. Here's to the official start of the holiday season! I've vowed to be more prepared than ever this year.

Free Ride

 American Weathervane from the Art of Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
I don't have more details about the piece as I was more focused on making sure that the flash on my camera was disabled than I was about recording what I photographed. 

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is offering free admission today from 10:00 am to 4:45 pm to celebrate the grand opening of the new Art of the Americas Wing, which has been under construction for quite some time.  It's sure to be a full house, but it's a great way to spend an afternoon, even if you have to wait in line for an hour or so.  I usually don't have the patience to stand in line, but do make exceptions now and then. 

Bright Ideas


Continuing on from my last post about the bedside tables, it's time to consider some new lamps for the tables. I've chosen three options and any of them could work as they're all about 27" tall.

The first candidates are--do you believe this?--old cast iron bathtub feet made into lamps. I'm surprised I'm considering these and willing to admit so publicly. Usually when I see something like this, I tell myself: Gee, I could make these for a fraction of the price. But do I have time to scour antique and salvage shops for old bathtub feet with just the right amount of patina (okay, rust), have them mounted onto bases and then find the perfect shades to match? I think not. I do love the lampshades. Perhaps more so than the feet.

Next up is a pair of crystal French balustrade lamps. Not only are they beautiful, but also elegant and classic, which means I'd have them forever. They do seem a tad predictable though as these lamps are everywhere lately. I still like the quirkiness of the bathtub feet lamps. 

My last choice is a pair of silver-plated candlestick lamps. They are the least expensive of the three options, however, there are no shades, which means I'd have to shop for just the right ones. They are pretty with an old-world look, but they could be somewhat small in scale for the tables.

So, there you have it.  This is what I think about when riding the bus home from work.  Really.

All opinions welcome if you'd like to leave a comment.

What a Difference a Glaze Makes

I know this is not an exciting post packed with photos of gorgeous interiors, but I'm redoing my bedroom and decided to paint and glaze my bedside tables and wanted to share my triumph.  Mind you, these are made of inexpensive pine and were purchased years ago at an unfinished furniture store.  They have been painted two or three times before, but are handy since the draws hold the flotsam of my bedtime preparations--hand cream, lip balm,  television remote control.  You get the idea.

(Phew, no dust bunnies).  My long history of painting furniture has not been fruitful.  Everything ends up looking like, well, a piece of furniture with a fresh coat of paint on it.  Better than it was perhaps and yes, smooth, perfect and even. But too even and too one dimensional.  Behold the power of glaze.

Both tables have been painted a light gray and the one of the right has been treated to a dark brown glaze, achieved by tinting the glaze with artists acrylics.  I applied the glaze and after a few minutes, wiped it off with a rag.  The intended effect was a Swedish-antique look and I think they turned out pretty well.  Glazing is messy, but water soluble so easy to clean up.

So there you have it.  Special thanks to Stephanie at Mrs. Jones Painted Finishes for the tips and encouragement.  If you haven't seen Stephanie's blog be sure to visit for DIY inspiration.  Her skill with a paint brush is remarkable.


Kellie of the blog "Running the Race" is the winner, chosen randomly, of a Ramsign house number or address sign of her choice.

Thanks to all for participating in the giveaway!

Last Day for the Giveaway

Just a reminder that the Ramsign giveaway with your choice of either a house number or a name sign ends tonight at 10:00 pm EST.  To enter, visit Ramsign and then leave a comment about your favorite house number or name sign in the original post below.  The name of the winner will be posted here.

Good luck!

A Giveaway: French Style House Numbers

While many of us reading and writing design blogs are focused on interiors, sometimes the outside of our homes (including mine) could use a special touch too. Changing or updating your exterior house or apartment number is an easy solution. Ramsign, a Danish company manufacturing enameled house numbers and name plates, is sponsoring a give away. Their products remind me of the charming building numbers seen throughout Paris.  Here's an opportunity to enhance the entry of your home or apartment with little time and effort.

Ramsign will give away either a custom house number or a name plate of the winner's choice. Here are some options from Ramsign's website.

The house numbers look great on contemporary-style homes too.

Gorgeous blue and white enamel.

You can even attach house numbers to a fence post.

These would be great for an apartment door.

Or, you can chose a name sign.

To enter the give away, visit Ramsign's website and then leave a comment here with your choice by Tuesday, November 9, 10:00 pm EST and I will randomly choose a winner.

Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so I can contact the winner.

Good luck and happy browsing!

And thank you Ramsign, for the generous give away.

The Highlight of My Week

We went to Ina Garten's book signing at Williams Sonoma yesterday for How Easy is That?, her latest cookbook.  We cheerfully waited in line for two hours to see Ina and let me tell you, I've never waited two hours in line for anything.  Ina Garten was just as I imagined. She was genuine and gracious, even after signing about 900 books with another 400 to go.

 I was a little star struck so all I could say was thank you as she signed my book, smiled warmly, thanked me for waiting and said she hoped I'd enjoy the book.  I couldn't muster the courage to say that her mushroom lasagna is one of my favorites and that her show is the best.  If you gave the nice people at Williams Sonoma your camera, they would snap a photo while you stood at the table and Ina signed your book. Unfortunately, the photo on my Blackberry didn't do Ina or me justice, so I've posted her book cover instead. 

If you're an Ina fan, visit her website  for details about the book tour.  It was a fun (and easy!) experience. 

How Easy is That? published by Clarkson Potter.  Photo by Quentin Bacon.