Saturday, February 26, 2011


I finally got around to washing the tea towels I bought from Jonathan Adler a while ago.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Small & Chic in HomeStyle

Back in December, my condo, along with the home of Gillian (of Dried Figs and Wooden Spools), was featured in an article in a local magazine called HomeStyle. I saw the article online, but never got a hard copy. Today, the charming lady who delivers the mail at my office gave me the magazine. Isn't that sweet?

The photo shoot took place before my kitchen counters were upgraded...

The photographer was so early that I didn't have make up on in this picture!

The kitchen paint color looks much better now that the counters are done, huh?
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 Charlottesville Design House Designer Profile: Ami Smith

Today is the first installment of a series about the designers contributing to the 2011 Charlottesville Design House, which benefits the Shelter for Help in Emergency. Between now and the opening of the house in May, I'll be interviewing designers and sharing photos of some of their work.

Special thanks goes to Chris Scott of Chris D. Scott Photography (here's his blog) for donating his time to this project. He graciously offered to photograph designers and newly completed spaces so I could share their newest projects, which might not have made it into their portfolios yet.

First up, meet designer (and blogger!) Ami Smith of Embellish Interiors...

S&C: Where are you from originally? What brought you to Charlottesville? How did you get interested in interior design?

AS: I grew up in Morgantown, WV, met my husband there
(in high school!), went to college at West Virginia University and then to grad school. I have two "Multidisciplinary Studies" undergraduate degrees; one with a concentration in dance and Japanese and another in allied health. I got my Master of Occupational Therapy degree in 2000. We targeted Charlottesville when I finished my master's program. Being from a college town, we were drawn to that atmosphere and then fell in love with the rest.

Obviously, my interests are all over the place, but I have always loved the concept of home and making it stylish. I always helped friends and family with their decorating dilemmas and was always giving advice for their interiors. When a friend of mine moved from here, she called me to tell me she was now paying someone to do what I always did for her and encouraged me to give it a try. I am an HGTV junkie and felt confident that I had the skills to create interiors like those featured on the shows I watched despite lacking a formal education in design.

I also think it's important to show my daughter that it's a good thing to pursue your passions and not to be too fearful of failure to try.

S&C: You created Embellish Interiors recently, after working at another firm for some time. What was that transition like? What advice do you have for designers who are thinking of striking out on their own?

AS: I was co-owner of Room for Change and truly I think we were just so pleasantly surprised that there was such an interest in our work that we didn't iron out the logistics of the actual business. I think most people who are drawn to design are not equally drawn to the bookkeeping and numbers necessary to run a business. My advice to anyone who is wanting to start their own design business is not to ignore the business aspect. My primary interest is design, but I have to be able to manage the business to be a successful designer. I am truly enjoying being able to see my own concepts come to fruition and being responsible for my own work.

S&C: How would you describe your design aesthetic? How has it evolved over time?

AS: It's funny, I spend so much of my time working on determining what my clients' aesthetics are, I am all over the board with my own. I am drawn to more dramatic, bold looks. I love things that are sparkly and shiny and a bit opulent. That being said, I am a mom with a limited decorating budget and I have modified my likes to fit my needs in my own home.

When you start the design process, what elements have you most excited?

AS: I'm a total fabric person. It's something that can be used for any budget and can really create a "feel" in the space.

S&C: What is your favorite design resource in Charlottesville?

AS: My favorite places for inspiration are often the fabric stores here. We have quite a few great ones and I find myself basing a lot of my rooms on a pattern or color from fabrics.

S&C: What is your favorite design resources outside of Charlottesville?

AS: Is it a cop-out to say just the internet in general? I spend so much time reading about what others have done and looking at photos of projects to get inspiration. I also do a lot of on-line shopping and find it handy to be able to look for a piece without having to jump in the car. The possibilities are limitless too! Having family responsibilities, it is so convenient to get inspiration here in my own home.

S&C: Who are some of your favorite designers and why do you like their work?

AS: My all-time favorite is Candice Olson. I truly have never seen anything of hers that I have not liked. I love how Candice is able to create modern, clean spaces, but still make them user-friendly.

I had the opportunity to go to a resort in Anguilla designed by Kelly Wearstler and I really enjoy her work as well. I like how some of her interiors are so organic and use such natural materials while others are almost synthetic but all showcase her unique sense of style - a bit quirky but not uncomfortable or too serious.

S&C: Is there anything you've been hoping to use in a client's home?

AS: I try not to come into a project with my own ideas so that I can truly create what my client wants. However, I would LOVE to incorporate more slick, shiny surfaces in my designs. I'm really into lacquered furniture and patent leather. Not only do they look really cool, they are practical to put in a family home.

S&C: What was the last thing you bought for you home?

AS: What comes to mind first is shelving to organize my basement -- not so fun! The last exciting purchase for our home was a mirrored console for the dining room.

S&C: Any hints about your plans for your room in the 2011 Charlottesville Design House?

AS: I am hoping to inject a little whimsy in the house this year. I'm not afraid to have a little fun with my space and I hope those who come out to see it will find it pleasurable as well.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Scrapped

One of the first entries I made when I started these Wedding Wednesday posts was about my color scheme. I was in love with the idea of using teals and blues in my wedding decor and even wanted colored shoes.

Then I started seeing teal weddings everywhere. Teal was deemed to be one of the most popular colors for weddings in 2012. Colored shoes are downright common right now, too. At times, it seems as though most brides on the wedding blogs and message boards are wearing shoes that aren't white.

Remember just a few days ago when I wrote about trends? The comments seemed to show that I'm not alone in getting tired of something when it becomes trendy. Well, I'm starting to think that the teal needs to go.

This is where my favorite new website comes into play. I looked at the inspiration boards I created on Pinterest (here's a quick video tutorial I made about using Pinterest, if you're curious) and started seeing a theme. As I've been clipping images from around the web for the last few weeks, I haven't been clipping weddings full of teal.

I was pretty surprised. Perhaps these more neutral, classic palettes are more in line with my taste?

You can probably see were my interest in succulents and collecting some silver bowls came from!

I've always loved hydrangea, so it's no surprise that I've been clipping images that include the flower.

There's going to be a point where I have to just commit to a color scheme and go with it. I think I'd still like some of that peacock blue or teal incorporated in the wedding decor, but I think I'm going to go for a lot of neutral colors, too.

My shoe options just opened up a bit...this is going to be fun!
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A few more thrifty finds

Every now and then, I mention my shopping wing man on this blog. My fiance, Marc, is an eagle eye when it comes to shopping. If I tell him I'm looking for something at a store, he'll find it. Wait. He won't just find it. He'll find 1o items that fit the description of "it."

When I told him that I've been to most of the antique and thrift stores in town looking for silver plate bowls and trophies to use as planters, he suggested we head to a few antique stores in a town just north of Charlottesville to do some looking. At the first stop, we found some large goblets that would be great for flowers and succulents. They weren't engraved and needed to be shined, but they were cheap.

We also found the "big brother" to the Virginia cup I bought last weekend. I consider the fact that the bigger cup was engraved to be a bonus.

We made three stops without making a purchase, though we spotted a few Jefferson cups at stop #3. They didn't have any engraving and they were marked $7.50 each. I was averaging about $6 per piece at that point and decided $7.50 was just too much. Never mind the fact that I've bought brand new Jefferson cups to give as gifts for $30.

The last stop was the most fun. There's a huge antique mall with some beautiful pieces. Most were out of reach, but my wing man found a stack of engraved Jefferson cups that were marked $6 and the entire stall was 20% off. Score! I picked out two that were consolation trophies from tennis tournaments in the 80s.

As I was heading to the register, Marc found one more item that I could resist. A medium sized bowl from the 60s that matched the bowls I found at the SPCA Rummage sale last weekend.

I spent a little bit more than I wanted, but I thought the engraving was interesting and decided to splurge. I think I'm going to take a break from collecting at this point. My little collection grew a bit more quickly than I anticipated!

I never thought of myself as a collector of anything before this. After finding that last stack of Jefferson cups, I understand why some people amass huge collections. We had a lot of fun hunting for these pieces this weekend.

So, now I have to ask...what do you collect? Do you hunt routinely or just once in a while?
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Leftover Luxuries 2011

Short term consignment sales have become pretty popular around here. We have the Divine Consign (first covered by my friend Dana at Cville Fashion), the Lollipop Shop for children's items, and there's Leftover Luxuries. Leftover Luxuries features home items, with some women's clothing and accessories mixed in. When I first went to one of these sales last spring, there were some sale items from a few stores in town as well.

Here's a look at some of the items I saw at this year's sale. I'm happy to report that Sharon Manering at Quince told me that a portion of the proceeds from the sale are being donated to the SPCA!

The accessories selection seemed bigger than in the past. I didn't check prices on these.

I wanted to do some merchandising...these pillows would have looked cute lined up on a three seat sofa.

I could see one of these on a gallery wall. I think they were being sold as a set.

I think this was going for $165.
The chairs on either side (which you can see in the cow print picture) were $250 for the pair.

There was a huge rack full of beautiful dresses for little girls.

These must have come from a store. That navy dress with the orange trim is perfect for a little Wahoo (those are University of Virginia's colors, for those reading from afar).

I sort of liked this funky light fixture.
It wouldn't work in my place, but it could be cool in a more eclectic home.

Not my color, but those chairs look so comfy, don't they?

Since I've been doing a little collecting of silver lately and because my mother has a bit, I found this item especially interesting. The price surprised me, though.

This light weight tea set (maybe "tea duo" is more appropriate?) was marked sterling and was going for $700 (in my head, I thought it was $200, but the tag is pretty clear in the picture). I thought that price was a bit optimistic for a consignment sale. There are a few vendors who specialize in sterling in the area who have shops within one of the nicer antique malls and I've seen some gorgeous, expensive pieces in their cases, but they usually feel pretty substantial. What do you think?

I thought these mirrors were the best things at the sale. I'd be surprised if someone didn't snap them up!

If you want to check out the sale, Leftover Luxuries is open from 10 AM until 6 PM this week and is located in the Seminole Square Shopping Center (where MacGregor Antiques used to be). If you went to the J. Crew Warehouse Sale, you know the space.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

How do you feel about trends?

I was chatting with Charlottesville interior designer Ami Smith yesterday and we got to talking a little bit about trends. I started thinking about how the design blog world has affected my willingness to embrace trends, but also caused me to feel the need to drop them as soon as they go mainstream.

I'm not saying I redecorate often. I try to be pretty careful with my condo since I want to sell it one day. But I do spend a bit of time collecting inspiration pictures and what I collect has changed as styles have gone mainstream.

From Restoration Hardware's website

A couple years ago, a lot of blogs were showing natural woods, grayed out fabrics, and accessories like pillows made out of vintage grain sacks. When Restoration Hardware picked up on the look, I decided it was over. When Pottery Barn went in the same direction, I actually started to dislike it. Is it still aesthetically pleasing? Of course. There's something about the idea of everyone adopting a look, though, that has me looking for something else to get excited about.

From Pottery Barn's website

What do you think of design trends? Are there some you've adopted that you've dropped? Are there some you liked and never let go of?

I have to admit that this is creeping into my wedding plans. I thought my shoe idea was cool and charming, but now that it seems as though everyone has colored shoes, I'm not so fixated on it anymore.

While I was writing this, I couldn't help but think about the "That's over!" skit from Portlandia.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Design House Thursday: We have designers!

The big update from Charlottesville Design House land is that we have designers! Happily, more designers than expected showed interest in being involved in the Design House this year. Designers were able to tour the house last week and request a room to make over.

Over the new few weeks, I hope to profile each designer who is involved and show you some pictures of their past work. Charlottesville photographer Chris D. Scott is helping me in this project. Chris is a pretty amazing photographer and his work with interiors is fantastic. I'm pretty stoked to be working with him! Chris is also a social media type (here's his blog, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumbler pages) and he's taught me a think or two in the last few weeks.

By the way the Charlottesville Design House is also looking for volunteers! If you're in the Cville area and would be interested in working at the house, please let me know in the comments. I'll pass your name along to the volunteer coordinator. I spent about 20 hours in the house as a volunteer last year, greeting guests and answering their questions. It was a lot of fun and I'll be doing it again this year. The volunteer shifts will fit any schedule (weekday, weekend, morning, afternoon, or early evening).
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Venue update

I haven't mentioned Pippin Hill, our wedding venue since I first wrote about the place last month. The pictures I shared then showed the roof going on the main part of the building. A lot has happened since!

From Pippin Hill's Facebook page, I believe these were taken by Jack Looney

The roof is complete on the Granary, the part of the building that will be used for weddings and events. The rows on the right side of the picture are where vines will be planted once the weather is a little nicer.

The concrete area perpendicular to the event space is where the cellar and tasting room will be. A lot of the area below the building will be terraced eventually. That's where our ceremony and cocktail hour will take place.

Here are some images taken on the ground...

Amazingly, in the time I've been writing this entry, new pictures have been posted on the Pippin Hill Facebook page! The floor of the tasting room looks almost complete and there are pictures taken from the second floor of the Granary.

A company called Geobarns is building this place. The founder, George Abetti, has been blogging throughout the project. His updates are interesting, often funny, and full of pictures.

This might sound silly, but signing on to this place before it even had a roof has me feeling pretty connected to it. I celebrate each new picture the Pippin Hill team posts on the blog. I get excited for a little news coverage when they get it.

I often hear the word "bride" attached to a bridal salon or a designer (as in, "she's a Kleinfeld bride" or "she's a Priscilla bride"). I always thought it was a little silly, but I actually felt special when someone called me a Pippin Hill bride the other day. There aren't too many of us at this point! I wonder if there are other women getting married at Pippin Hill who are following the developments as enthusiastically as I am.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CSN giveaway winner!

I finally had a chance to plug some numbers into so a winner for my CSN giveaway could be picked. The winner is...

Gabe's Mom! I'll be emailing your shortly with your code to use on any of the 200+ CSN store websites. Congratulations!
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Thrift shop finds

I am not a regular thrift store shopper, but I was somehow drawn to the SPCA Rummage Sale store this weekend, on my way home from an errand. I've been looking for some silver bowls to be used as containers for a few succulents that I plan to buy in the spring. When I thought about the type of bowl I wanted, I decided than an old trophy might be the perfect shape and size.

There were shelves and bins full of old silver items. Most were tarnished, but not beyond rescue. I quickly dug up a Virginia cup by Camelot Pewter. It was $2, which was pretty good in light of the $30 price tag I found on Camelot Pewter's website.

I was pretty sure that was the only item I would find that day. However, while I was wandering around the "table boutique" section (this is where similar items are merchandised a little bit), I saw two identical bowls that were trophies from golf tournaments. The trophies were from 1978 and 1981, but the bowls were shiny and in great condition.

The large one was 8 inches across, marked $24, and the smaller one was 5 inches across, marked $8. I wasn't sure if those prices were good, but a quick call to my mother confirmed that they were marked pretty reasonably. I still wasn't sure, but at my mother's encouragement, I took them to the register.

I wasn't convinced that the prices were all that good, but when the cashier told me the trophies were both 50% off, I was much, much happier. As I wrote above, I'm not a thrift store shopper, but I read the blogs of women who are and they always seem to find things for a dollar or two. I wound up getting all three of my finds for $18, which I thought was pretty good.

When I got home, I googled the marks on the bottom of the trophies. I found the larger bowl selling for $148 and the smaller one selling for $76. Obviously, the engraving drops the value dramatically for some people, but I especially like that they were trophies that probably sat in someone's bookcase for a couple decades before coming home with me.

Tell me, thrift store shoppers, do you think I got a good deal?
Did you score anything interesting over the weekend?
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