Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Every heart comes home for the holidays

Or do they?

Knowing I love all things French, a client and dear friend sent me this article (reproduced courtesy of the Telegraph Media Group).

Parisian flat containing a €2.1 million painting remained untouched for 70 years
Mrs. de Florian never returned to her Paris flat after the war and died at the age of 91
Behind the door, under a thick layer of dust lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects including a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.

The woman who owned the flat had left for the South of France before the Second World War and never returned.

But when she died recently, experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions in a flat in Paris....for the full article please click on - Parisian flat untouched for 70 years

I couldn't believe what I was reading. Of course the first question that came to mind was how could an apartment go untouched for 70 years without something going wrong with it? Was there never a plumbing leak? A  broken window? Birds nesting in the chimney? Pesky critters? I can't imagine 70 years of deferred maintenance on my own home....it would truly be uninhabitable!

But then my mind wondered to the apartment and what an amazing sight it must have been. The mystery behind the occupant and the possessions within. I would love to know the full story - what would have possessed this lady of high society to leave and never come back, it's not like the South of France is all that far from Paris! There were children - why didn't they know about the apartment? What was she hiding? Maybe she wasn't! Like all good mysteries, I don't think we will ever know.

As a child I spent my days exploring the great outdoors of my home town, Lake Oswego. One summer I stumbled across an abandoned "cottage" on the other side of the railroad tracks. The cottage was buried under mile high blackberry bushes and was barely intact. I spent that summer wondering about that small house - who had lived there, when was it built, why and when was it abandoned? I made up stories about the hypothetical family who lived there. I even named the cottage, Blackburn, from my maiden name Black. I had so much fun!

The article on the Parisian flat brought me back to those memories. Merci Lisa!

Homes have a unique way of pulling us in and allowing us to weave a story so great in our heads that our hearts soar. Perhaps this is one more reason I love residential real estate!

Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Set with style

Call me crazy, but I love to host my family's Thanksgiving feast every year. It is always changing-some years our crowd is small and intimate, other years we need to bring in a second table and rent chairs. But whatever the size and number of tables, I make sure that my guests know how much we appreciate them by investing thought in not only the menu but how the table looks.

This week, as I thought about the special touches I wanted to add to our table, my mind wondered to my clients and their beautiful, charming, retro, traditional, modern, or romantic homes. With so many different styles, I thought about what their tables might look like this year.

Formal                                Rustic                                A little bit Country?

Here are some tablescapes that reflect the varied styles of homes and their inhabitants. 

A contemporary look to a table is one that is not bound by traditional shape or design. It is usually simple and pared down, relying on carefully chosen pieces put together with care.

For some people it may be traditional, for others, rather modern - but there will always be a certain discipline in the way that the formal table is arranged and the food presented. Nothing is too over-the-top. Everything has its own beauty, which can be appreciated as long as each aspect of the whole is balanced out - the rich with the simple, the fragile with the sturdy. Even the old with the new.


Retro and Vintage
Difficult to define in strict terms, retro style is, in essence, a combination of things that have gone before as well as the new, mixed together in a manner that is both appealing and sometimes eccentric. 

Country style is not just confined to a rural setting. It is defined by an authenticity, a lack of excessive decoration and a concentration of color and simple design.

Global style is everywhere around us, and nowhere is it more evident nor more successful than when employed at the table. The treasures and colors of other cultures can all be used and enjoyed. 

Romantic style is a question of texture and tone; a romantic table is never hard or edgy, and will always have an aura of loveliness, sometimes understated, sometimes more overt. Plenty of flowers and pretty napkins are de rigueur

However you decide to bring together your table and chairs, linen, china, cutlery, glassware, lighting, and flowers, I know it will be spectacular and will reflect your personal style and that which is important to you. And as you sit down with friends and family this year, I wish you much joy and a very blessed Thanksgiving. 

If you would like to share your Thanksgiving table with me (I would love to see them), please send a photo or two to darcy@windermere.com. Until next week, here's to

la chasse au bonheur

photo credits: Bryan E. McCay, Annie Schlecter

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Papered over

I moved into my home in 1999 and I have been waiting to remodel my main floor bath ever since. Originally the only bath in the house, this dated room was outfitted with a plastic corner shower that made no sense whatsoever. Finally a broken sewer line (you heard it 'cha ching') created an opportunity to change the plumbing (more 'cha ching'). "No sense in stopping there", I said....walls were moved, eighties tile taken up, noisy fan disassembled. Finally, I had it! My blank canvas of a powder room.

My goal was to take this new found space and create a jewel box. A talented designer I work with suggested wallpaper. Now, I am with you-I thought the same thing. The first home I purchased in Seattle had wallpaper everywhere and when I say everywhere, I mean it....walls, ceilings, closets. Weeks of steaming, scraping, peeling and gallons of Dif turned me off to the idea of placing a glued piece of flowery paper on any wall. Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant to jump in to wallpapering any room in my home. But one look at some of the amazing designs on the market today (good bye chintz, hello gorgeous) and my head and heart turned right around.
Wallpaper on the ceiling, walls, even in the closets - a big no.
I chose a sunny botanical print that blended with the interior of my house, but pumped it up just a notch - lemon yellow and gold chrysanthemums floating in harmony with shiny gold leaves (sounds gaudy I know, but it's spectacular). This wallpaper transformed my small space into an oasis of happiness!

My sunny wallpaper...
...transforming my powder room
There is no question concerns abound...like making sure you choose the right design, or the headache of removing it down the road when your tastes change, and of course there is the expense of it all...good wallpaper is not cheap. This definitely gives one cause to pause.

But tackling a small space like a powder room is ideal for a wallpapering experiment, oh I mean project!

Powder rooms can be approached from a slightly different direction than other areas of the home. They present an opportunity to be more creative than in a larger, more prominent room. After selecting the wallpaper design unique lighting, mirrors, vanities, and hardware can build on its style to create a gorgeously layered and simply fabulous room.
I love the classic bold graphics of this paper.
It is difficult to see in the photo, but this grass paper has a lovely silvery shimmer to it. The mirror, sconces, and counter top (also with a bit of shimmer) build on the style.
Really, how sunny and sweet is this?

Oh how I love green and gold together, softened with cream and the Capiz light fixture, lovely!
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, or have a room that you wish to transform, wallpaper can be a great vehicle to get you there.

I love the wallpaper in this dining room by designer Thad Hayes
The pearlescence of this simple paper adds light to the dining room. Chairs were removed on one side and a banquette upholstered grey velvet added.
A ho hum guest room is transformed with this orange and white design paper.
I hope you enjoyed this week's blog posting. Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur!

In all my postings, my goal is to provide inspiration and insight into home ownership, real estate, and to provide valuable resources.

Paper Hanger (the best)
Elgie Gibson, Wallcovering
206-334-7632, or 425-485-3211

DIY wallpaper removal site