Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hello Summer


"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."

I welcome the summer solstice with open arms and embrace all that is summer. Elongated days filled with sunshine, oh how shall I embrace thee...

with just a little more time and the warm summer sunshine I just might...


find the perfect reading spot and get lost in a good book. 



Please share... I would love to hear about the book you couldn't put down.



I'd like to runaway to a private backyard with a cool outdoor shower




or spend my days in an outdoor 'living' room 



I plan to eat outside, alfresco, as often as I can, and enjoy the warm sunshine and long summer nights.


What i would do with my own little spa, like this, nestled in the garden!


I want to make a rope swing for my porch...


I am growing my own vegetables and look forward to the days of harvest.



I plan to try my hand {again} at painting en plein air.

"Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time"
Pablo Picasso


{DIY secretary makeover by Eddie Ross}

I might even attempt a spectacular DIY project.


"Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual." 
~ Ernest Hemingway



How do you plan to spend your summer?



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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Language of Shutters




I often drift off while walking the dog on my daily trek around the neighbor and imagine what a difference custom shutters would make to some of the houses I pass.


Take classic architecture with good bones and add interesting shutters, curb appeal is as simple as that. I might also add pretty landscaping but you get the picture. 

Homes with interesting shutters stand out from their peers. 

Shutters loaded with authentic details are like the jewelry of architecture. 

They are like the stylish accessories that compliment 'the little black dress.' 

I thought it might warrant a post on the different types of shutters available and some great examples of shutters done right.


I love receiving comments from my readers and wanted to share with you my favorite comment of all time from a designer I respect and admire ~ Penelope Bianchi. Her comment is so colorful and highlights my biggest pet peeve - fake shutters.



"I absolutely love shutters that work! I cannot stand shutters that do not work; do not look like they could cover the window, and are nailed onto the house! That makes a HUGE difference to me! "Falsies" Don't like fake things. I just don't. Better no shutters, than fake ones. Love these images of authentic houses!!!"
Interior Designer, Penelope Bianchi


The picture above is the renovated fisherman's cottage on Sag Harbor of Interior Designer, Steven Gambrel. He shares my passion for authentic, working shutters. He gave this simple cottage a quick facelift by enlarging the windows, adding working shutters and a Dutch door. In his words, these small gestures made the cottage look like it had "been there for generations."

Here's another quote from Gambrel about a house he renovated for a friend that was featured many years ago in Elle Decor (hint: I couldn't get the pictures to show you.)

"The first step was to beef up the anemic architecture, so the designer {Steven Gambrel}, a history-minded graduate of the University of Virginia Architectural School, nimbly outfitted the house with made-to-order extras like working plank shutters painted classic seaside blue."
Interior Designer, Steven Gambrel



This French shutter from the photo above is from a blog I enjoy reading My French Country Home. I love looking at the pictures the author takes of the french homes and landscape. Gorgeous french shutters are everywhere! This window features a variation on the board and batten shutter with a 'z' pattern for the structural brace.


This is a beautiful stone house in my neighborhood that I walk past almost everyday. I only recently noticed that they have chosen two different styles of shutters for the first and second stories of the house and painted them in different colors...so interesting!




{Birmingham Home of David Ringelstein, featured in the March 2012 Southern Living}

I enjoyed the recent feature article in Southern Living that focused on the view from the curb especially this cottage in Brimingham that was updated by architect, Jeremy Corkern. 

Here's a comment and a few tips from Jeremy about exterior shutters:

"The houses original shutters were simply cosmetic - a pet peeve to many architects. You can spot them from a mile away. They're thin, nailed on, and sometimes don't match the size of the opening they're supposed to cover. David's shutters, including the set on the upstairs dormers, are fully functional. The width, length, hinges, thickness, and louvre style of the shutter should be proportionate to the window it adorns."
Architect - Jeremy Corkern, Bates Corkern Studio


Who among us is not in love with this great coastal home and its working shutters? 

I love shutters on dormers, big working shutters around the front door and the plantation shutters that give this front porch amazing curb appeal and privacy. I could sit on that front porch and drink sweet tea for days.


In historic old Southern towns like Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans, it is not uncommon to find the front door to the house located off of a side porch. The entrance to the side porch often had shutters that could be closed for privacy and still allow for cross ventilation. 

The New Orleans home of Karina Gentinetta is a good example of this style of architecture.

Karina lost her home to Katrina and went to great lengths to build a new home that captured the patina of the old home she lost. She distressed the floor on the front porch to produce the beautiful decrepitude she once admired in her old home and searched the New Orleans salvage market for the old shutters that now frame the front entrance to the classic New Orleans side porch. Her home has been featured both in Southern Living and The New York Times.



The Bermuda or awning shutters in the picture above taken by Brooke Giannetti  are from Lars Bolander's home. Bermuda shutters are hinged at the top and held open with support rods. They originated in the tropics and were designed to capture ocean breezes and provide shade from the relenting sun.


The exterior of Lars Bolander's Palm Beach home from the WSJ.



Sometimes when I am on Pinterest pinning images of inspiring old world architecture from far way European destinations I wonder how these 18th century aesthetics are going to transfer to modern architecture. The classic good looks of the architecture above prove that it can be done. 

Note the simple, hand wrought hardware on the shutter.



I love the look of board and batten shutters especially custom made shutters that highlight a small accent window. Look closely and you will see that these shutters have a small band of copper on the top edge to help prevent decay. The shutters above and below are from Timberlane.


A good friend in Charlotte found a picture of board and batten shutters and went to her local home improvement store, ordered the lumber and made them herself. I love the creative spirit I see everywhere these days. I found this tutorial on Pinterest with the how-to's:





On a final note, I really love to see the front door accentuated with a spectacular pair of exterior shutters. Architect Bobby McAlpine does this with great flair. I love the cottage front door {above} and its shutters and their varying shades of brown...so sophisticated and warm. Visit McApine Tankersley on Pinterest.


Italian Courtyard Door from McAlpine Tankersley. I love the pop of color the shutters bring to the warm, natural palette of the architecture.


English Georgian Entrance from McAlpine Tankersley. 

I like seeing how shutters are used at the entrance for a variety of distinctly different architectural styles. You might also enjoy reading their new blog: Finding Home.


The front door {below} is from a local Winston-Salem home:





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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inspiring People: Tom Verellen



There's something about the Verellen showroom that makes you feel good.

A fire burns in the wood stove; light streams through the rustic, barnwood shutters; the showroom is restful with simple and interesting styling; but most importantly, the Verellen line beacons you to sit and stay awhile. The Belgian linen and incredibly soft leather slipcovers insist that you reach out and touch. Even the customers that seek out the Verellen aesthetic seem to be a part of the muse. They are the kind of people you might photograph on the street for their simple, chic style.

You might say the Verellen Home Collection has charisma.


At market, I had the privilege of sitting down and talking with Tom Verellen, the visionary behind the line, and learning more about the Verellen philosophy. 

I enjoy learning from creative people.

How they got their start? 
Where they find inspiration? 
What they see on the design horizon? 

I am so grateful to Tom for taking the time away from his busy schedule to share his story. 

The one word that comes to mind when I think about Tom Verellen is "authentic" and it's that authenticity that translates into furniture that has charisma. It's like you want to take everything in your home and start over and run away with Verellen. It's not just me; Others who visit the showroom feel the same way! 




 I learned that every piece of furniture in the Verellen line is essentially custom and made not only in North Carolina but just down the road at his High Point offices. Originally the line was made in Belgium and then in Conover, NC and now it is made exclusively in High Point. Tom brought the manufacturing to his home in High Point so he could personally oversee the process.

He drew a square with his finger on the showroom floor to show me just how small his first 'plant' in High Point was. Initially, only a couple of frames were built each day and the slipcovers were made through out the night. Tom enjoyed being able to be there and see each piece as it was being made.

I also learned that Tom Verellen renovated the old fire station at 212 North Wrenn when the collection debuted. It's a really neat old building that is now occupied by HALO.

Here's more, in Tom's own words...



“You want me to tell you our secrets?"

"What makes Verellen special is really a lot of things working in harmony.  
My wife and I were born in Belgium and there’s a way of living at home that’s luxurious and casual at the same time; it’s also modern, but with a great sense of history and provenance. 
Belgium is a unique point of inspiration for us. 

All Verellen styles are designed and made here in High Point, North Carolina. We pay attention to details, from the inside out. We use only the best materials, including authentic Belgian linen.
 
We never had to ‘think’ about being Green. It is the right thing to do, so we respect the Earth in materials and process selection.  
About customizations…there is a Verellen ‘lineup,’ but we don’t force customers into what’s right for us; we want to do things their way. We really love to customize. We know how to do it. It doesn’t scare us! That’s why designers love Verellen.”

Tom Verellen

The styling in the Verellen showroom is perfection ~ rustic and sophisticated at the same time. I asked Tom more about the warm vibe in the showroom and the impeccable styling. 

Here is what he had to say:
“The showroom is our chance to tell the Verellen story more completely – to let designers and retailers really experience Verellen. It’s a sensory experience. My wife and partner Sabine is actually the showroom stylist. She intuitively understands the brand and expresses it beautifully in the space – it feels organic, comfortable and beautiful. ‘Verellen’ is an aesthetic we understand inside out and it’s a great pleasure to share it during Market.”
~ Tom Verellen 

I met Sabine while I was in the showroom and their young son who was just in from a tennis lesson. She was very warm, down-to-earth and quite charming. It is so refreshing to see a husband and wife team working together.

I did a little research around the blogsphere to see what other designers thought of the Verellen aesthetic and like me, they were captivated by the warm atmosphere of the showroom.

Here are a few noteworthy comments:

 "With one foot in the door I knew this would be a one-of-a-kind feast for the senses. I was greeted by a wood burning stove and the sweet smell of candles burning. What seemed quite rustic at first, quickly morphed into a chic and sophisticated environment, the likes of which I had never experienced before…seducing me with a sensory overload"

"they created a lifestyle…a place where you could imagine yourself living…an oasis of calm and beauty…" ~ Danielle Boudrot

"The best way to end a long day in High Point is to stop in the Verellen showroom. You walk in and feel an overwhelming sense of relief."
 ~ Circa Interiors
"We got there late in the day, just as the sun was setting, pulled into the white pea gravel lot, walked through a beautiful enfilade of small trees in planters, and into the most interesting loft showroom space.  I wanted to move right in.  The lighting was perfect, the music was hip but soothing, the concrete floors had a great patina, the windows were covered in the most interesting large, rustic shutters, and there was a great bar area surrounded by their barstools." 
"Finishing the day in the Verellen showroom was a wonderful denouement. Just like finishing a great novel, you wish it wasn't over yet." ~ Bronwyn Ford







Verellen is known for its innovative new products and couture dress maker detailing.








A chair featuring Verellen's incredibly soft leather with inside-out stitching...



Verellen is known for its gorgeous organic Belgian linen, luxurious leathers and rich suedes and hides.



From the second you walk in the door, you feel the Verellen aesthetic. It's intoxicating...



In April, Verellen introduced a new line of outdoor furniture. 

“We had an idea for a collection to express luxurious, but real and authentic living in exterior spaces – we said ‘let’s do it.’The pieces at the April Market were our first showing. The outdoor collection is fully customizable…available by the inch. It’s all made here in High Point out of SFC certified white oak."
Tom Verellen 




"We love to innovate. Maybe we get bored easily, but we don’t like to repeat ourselves. We’re interested in what’s next.”
I encourage you to see what's next for yourself. Verellen is a destination showroom...a little off the beaten path. It's a good thing. The showroom is located at 515 South Hamilton Street.

Here are a few of my favorite Pinterest images featuring great Verellen pieces:


A sophisticated sitting room designed by Patrick Lewis and Catherine Walters of Circa Interiors for the 2010 Symphony Guild of Charlotte Designer House at Met Terraces.

featuring the Julien chair by Verellen.



Here's my favorite chair again in one of my favorite rooms designed by Rachel Halvorson


Verellen fills this rustic modern home featured in Garden & Gun; Interior Design by Rachel Halvorson.


Verellen Isabella chairs surround the dining table in this chic gray and green dining room by Interior Designer Kay Douglass.

 This room was selected as one of Vernada Magazine's most memorable rooms to celebrate Veranda's 25th year,  according to Veranda ~ "the rooms that stole our hearts and still make us swoon."