Holiday Magic with Scraps!

Have you heard about our Custom Workroom Chats on Twitter, aka #customwrkrmchat? Every Monday at 9:30am EST professional workrooms, along with decorators, designers and installers, "chat" on Twitter for an hour. It is our time of networking, collaborating and educating one another - experiences range from new-to-the-trade, young entreprenuers to those with more than 20 years under their belt. These conversations have ranged from, Pillows - details, design and what contributes to their cost- to the importance of the workorder, understanding how to estimate costs, to where professional workrooms get their training.

 Pillows fabricated by Kristen's Kurtains ; Designer, Eddie Ross

Last week we talked about deadlines, timelines and organization around the holidays. The point was to share ideas with one another that would keep us on schedule and less stressed. The holidays can be hectic for everyone - whether you have a workroom or not and we all need to find ways to stay sane so we ENJOY them. Along those lines, tomorrow we are going to have a little fun and WE INVITE ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US! Tomorrow, our topic is: HOLIDAY MAGIC WITH SCRAPS!
Pillow Ornaments by Storibook Designs
As custom workrooms, we are inundated with scrap fabrics and trims, and well, yeah, we're a bit creative! So tomorrow, we are going to share with you some fun, festive and fabulous ideas for using scrap fabrics around the holidays.

You have great ideas too but you're not a workroom? That's ok, we are inviting every creative to join us. Take some pictures, share a video or tutorial. The more the merrier, so please, bring it!

Maybe you've had this idea rolling around your head for a while but you've never let it get beyond the idea stage. Well guess what? There is no time like the present! I ADD A CHALLENGE.

I want everyone to go in to your workroom, sewing room or fabric stash and grab a chunk of scraps... doesn't matter how big...and then tonight, while watching TV - [preferably while drinking a glass of wine or beverage of choice] - or working quietly somewhere:

Create something fun you can use in your holiday decor.
  • It can be something serious.
  • It can be something off-the-wall.
  • It can be a craft that would be great to do with kids, or
  • It can be a treasure, sweet enough to pass down for generations.
Have fun with it!! Take pictures or even a quick little video and share during #customwrkrmchat tomorrow am!

Ready, set ....... GO!!

To join the chat, I recommend logging in to tomorrow am with your Twitter ID. Then enter the hashtag #customwrkrmchat to join the conversation. Everything you post will automatically be posted then with the hashtag automatically so everyone can follow in on the conversation.

Not on Twitter? It's easy to sign-up, here are a few videos to show you how:
Not on Twitter and not sure you want to join at this time? You can still share you Holiday Magic with Scraps creations. You can send me a note with a link to your Pinterest, Flickr or Facebook pages [or whereever you might have images loaded] and I will share your links with the group.

As always, you will have a transcript of this call available, thanks to the wonderful CurateDe. This will allow you to revisit the conversation and links/photos/videos that will have been shared.

Thanks for joining in! Looking forward to your magical creations!

~ Sarah

Fabric 101: Consider Repeats for Calculating and Cutting

Continuing our discussion [video] from yesterday, now that you know what a repeat is, here is a short video on how to apply it.

Why is it so important to calculate and cut based on the repeat

If you were simply going by the cut length and not paying attention to the repeat, every additional cut you make will be at a different point in the pattern. 

If you calculate and cut according to the repeat, then every cut will be at the exact same point of the pattern.

Next up.... drop repeats. Oooh, now that can be a tricky one! Thanks for stopping by, please share if this has been helpful for you!

Until next time.....

Fabrics 101: Repeat vs. Scale

Repeat? What the heck is that?

Have you ever tried to figure out how much fabric you need to make drapes and had someone say, "well what's the repeat?" 

Umm, hello... what the heck is a repeat!?

The repeat simply refers to the distance measurement equal to where a pattern occurs on to the point at which it repeats itself again. It is critical to know for calculating yardage, so that you can plan to have the same pattern show up in the same place on multiple treatments, centered across the back of a sofa, or throughout multiple widths or treatments throughout a room.  
We recently had a contest on our Facebook page, and the following photo was submitted in a plea for help.  This is probably one of the best pictures that I can show you to illustrate the disasterous results that can occur when you fail to consider the size of the pattern repeat when planning your project.  [Note: not only does the pattern not line itself up next to the other pattern, I believe one of the bouquets is even upside down.]
We had a lively "chat" about this on Twitter the other day. During that discussion - because we were moving so quickly in our conversation - I felt there may have been some confusion relative to repeat vs. scale.  Scale refers to the overall size and proportion of the fabric pattern, whereas repeat, as stated above, is a distinct measurement, used primarily for the purposes of calculating yardage and planning placement. When considering a printed fabric, scale is one of the most important elements to consider. The scale of the pattern design within the room, for example, will play into decisions on what other fabrics, trims and furnishings to mix with each other.

Still unclear? Hopefully, this quick little video will drive the point home!

Let me know if this "lesson" helped. I love to hear your feedback or comments and am more than happy to answer any additional questions you might have too!

Until next time,

Hi, I’m Susi, a writer for Design Shuffle, a fabulous online community of design lovers and design professionals, where you can search for inspiration and even upload your own images. And we find our inspiration in places like this; I love visiting StoriBook Designs to see what Sarah is showing or working on.

Sarah asked me to visit today and write about using pillows and throws in interior design. Easy, peasy, I love both! Both add style and comfort to a space. So here are some of lovely ways of using pillows and throws in décor.

Pair Them!
A throw and a pillow can transform a plain cream wingback chair. Layer them. Love them. Love the two throws over the back of the chair.
Pillows and Throws

Strive for Striking &Sensible!
Pillows bring a bed to life. You don't want to get too carried away (it's easy to do) and over-fill a bed with cute and colorful pillows. You want a striking, yet sensible, mix of pairs and singles [odd numbers work great], like the fabulous Meredith Heron did in this fabulous bedroom design.[and, can I add, the headboard... I drool!]

Pillows and Throws

Indulge in Trends!
Throws and pillows are great ways to bring a hot design trend into your décor. These chevron blankets are so chic and could work in a bedroom or living room.

Pillows and Throws

Spice it Up!
A mix of colorful patterned throw pillows can change the look and feeling of a room. Invest in neutral upholstered pieces and spice them up with clever decorating ideas like pillows and throws.
Pillows and Throws
Make it Pop!
Pillows and throws add color, pattern and texture to neutral spaces, like a white bedroom. Pick a throw or pillows in contrasting colors or bold patterns to add some pop to a bed or sofa.

Pillows and Throws
Renew, Recycle, Refresh!
Look for pillows made from interesting and unexpected materials for added interest. These pillows are made from recycled Kilim rugs.
Pillows and Throws
Seasonal Splash!
Throws can be used to bring a seasonal accent to a room. Fall colors and patterns are perfect for now. Plus a throw is a must on a chilly evening, no matter what time of year.
Pillows and Throws
Texture & Pattern Play!
As in this bedroom design, the well-made bed dressed with patterned pillows and a fur throw add color, depth and warmth. Play around and mix it up for a chic look.
Pillows and Throws

Can't find what you need? Work with Sarah and she'll surely help you design and fabricate fabulous pillows and throws to liven up your space! Enjoy!
Thank you Susie for this guest post and thank you readers for stopping by. Please visit Susie over at Design Shuffle, where you can browse tens of thousands of design projects for inspiration and show off your latest project.

Twitter Twextations.... do you have them?

Do you have Twextations?

Twitter is an interesting tool, as many of you may know I’m a pretty avid proponent of social media and social media tools as marketing agents for a small business, Twitter being one of them. I have to admit though that as of late, Twitter is one that has caused me to pause, because I’m intrigued - and sometimes shake my head a bit - by what I see in terms of social norms and expectations, something I have termed as Twextations.

There are many ways to interact on Twitter and many reasons why a person may want to interact through the blue bird. For example, I personally love Twitter for its immediacy, for the ability to reach an incredibly large number of people at one time with a question or a query, when I find myself in a situation where other view points and experience will be helpful to me. I love the open collaborative nature of Twitter, whether using it for informal friendly conversation or to maintain discussions and dialog during specific events, conferences, and/or meetings.

Some people are using Twitter in place of instant messaging/texting. That being said, I’ll share a little bit of my Twitter expectations (yup, I admit it, I've got a few of my own). Here goes...@mouthneverstops and @alwaystalksback – when it goes beyond 16 tweets each, yes, sometimes I get annoyed. I don’t care if your going to the beach, I mean, I get it and good for you, but do I want to be watching that conversation bounced back and forth in the middle of my stream? No. Take it offline; dare to go beyond 140 characters! For the love of all things that are right in this world, please know when it’s time to switch to email or text! 


                                         Source: Licensed, via

Here's another one for you... "Big-man on campus" tweets. It happens quite a bit and sometimes I just laugh at its obnoxiousness as an attempt to show friends – ahem, tweeps – that one is “tight” with someone perceived as impressive. Ah yes, the search for social status in the Twittosphere. In my social media classes and writing, I do emphasize as one of the benefits of Twitter and social media is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with those you would never have a chance to before, but when you start bantering about simply to show you can carry a convo with them...spare me, please. And if you won't spare me, I guess I'll spare myself because Twitter has a great little tool....... BLOCK.

The real deal is this though: people can do what they want! Twitter is fast and furious and fun. If some tweets annoy me, I can just move past those tweets, laughing at their ridiculousness as I zoom by. There are a lot of rule-makers on Twitter though and groups among which social norms have developed. With these groups, many adopt an “unwritten” set of expectations as to how they think others should be interacting. And this not only applies to content, but also - which I find really amazing - to the amount of time a person and/or business should be spending on Twitter. Have you seen that? What’s your thought? Pushed you away or drew you in?

I was never one to take well to forced expectations. Case in point: there wasn’t a chance I was ever going to start a Sunday dinner ritual with the family – not that I don't love them - but if I did, I knew that after only a few consecutive Sunday’s that could easily run the risk of being translated as a tradition aka - in my mind - expectation, and I'd never be able to plan anything new on a Sunday ever again. I was raised to believe that you value the time, knowledge, and the interaction that you have with people when you’re with them, but that you don’t force an expectation translated to rules and obligations as a way of measuring their value. So for me, seeing this crop up among groups pushes me away. I have enough obligations and expectations in my daily life, I simply can not burden myself with more.

There are so many ways to interact on Twitter, there are chats, many of which occur with weekly consistency. There are informal groups that meet every day for breakfast or for wine at 5pm, and then there are those who simply use the tool at scheduled times during their day. Despite what the self-proclaimed "rule-makers" may dictate or tell you, there is no right or wrong way; it’s what works for you and what works for your business. Everyone has a different goal and a different reason for what that will be, whether it is personal or professional.

Not that long ago a received an email from someone because I was inappropriately using a Hashtag. Seriously? I was astonished. That was a pivotal moment for me, and since that time caused me to look at Twitter and the social interactions taking place in an entirely different way . It began to feel glaring to me; the number of people who held expectations beyond the basic rules of add value, interact and be social. I started to feel it was too much.

Many groups, in my perception, are beginning to subconsciously (or would it be subliminally?) enforce Twextations. That is a turn off to me. I will never post 37 tweets in an hour, 25 tweets per hour and I unfortunately can never promise that I will be online every morning at 5:30 am to have coffee with my Tweeps – though it is fun when I can. I’m usually out walking at that hour, enjoying the limited time of my day that is full of fresh air and enjoying some real-life conversation with my niece. In the same vein, yes, it is true, I unfortunately cannot participate in every Twitter chat that takes place. It’s too bad, because there are many that provide really valuable insight and information [#blogchat, #intdesignerchat, #designtv and the soon-to-launch #customwrkrmchat] .

Does this mean I don’t add value? Does it mean that I'm breaking the rules, or that I’m letting people down?

I’ve had some interesting feedback from people saying “you disappeared”, “ where are you?”, “we expect you to be here?”. I have a business, a husband, a dog, a family, daily responsibilities and obligations that are my here and now, and where I need to be present. If I’m not drinking my morning coffee with you on Twitter, it’s probably because I’m sitting across the table having it with my husband or I’m out walking with my niece. If I’m not on an evening chat it’s probably because I’m on an appointment, having dinner or I’m sleeping. If I’m not tweeting every minute of every hour of every day its simply because I’m working, living, and spending time with the people who are right next to me or in front of me. So I’m sorry if I’ve let you down, I’m just trying to live my life in balance. Please, don’t take it personally.

I think it's just the natural progression of anything new - that lead me to step back and look at Twitter from a different lens. It's hard to avoid being overly involved with social media when you first begin, but as time goes on you have to reevaluate and see how to fit it into your life with the best balance.

I have made some incredible contacts and have expanded my network of business colleagues, all of whom I value greatly; but at the same time I've had to step back from Twitter to reevaluate and strive for greater balance. Honestly, it has been since receiving that email relative to hashtag use, and seeing so many comments/feedback about what people should and shouldn’t do relative to the amount of time they spend on Twitter, that initiated the change. I come from such a huge family, I have many interests and I work A LOT!  Having so many people in my life and always so much going on, I’ve always found it necessary to have time by myself, with no noise, interruptions; without need to be in constant dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk (ask my husband), and I love to meet new people, but I require limits on my time – both online and offline. 

We all only have so many hours in the day. If I’m sitting at the dinner table and tweeting while my husband, friends or guests are sitting across the table, what kind of value am I’m providing to the most important relationships in my life?

So let me ask you, is social media playing the role that it’s supposed to be playing in your life? Are you being successful at setting boundaries and maintaining limits? I’m really curious and would love to hear your feedback.

I still love Twitter and I am working toward new goals that will keep me focused on the areas I am passionate about, while at the same time keeping things in balance for me. So I encourage you, while I also caution you, if you are new to Twitter, be aware you may experience Twextations, from others, as well as yourself. Don't give up though, step back and reevaluate. It's a great tool with great people and tremendous value.

You may want to think of it like a new exercise program. Take it slow if you need to and know that balance may not be immediate, but can be strived for!

Teaching Textiles at CHFA: are you joining me?

Have you signed up for an-almost-end of summer get-a-way? Before becoming immersed in the hustle and bustle of a busy school year, how about treating yourself to a few days at the CHF Academy?

I've got my flight booked, bags packed and I can't wait! On August 3 - 5, I'll be teaching Textiles and Fabric Coordination. We are going to have a ball! No more color, pattern and textile dilemmas ~ with your new knowledge and way of looking at things you will create design boards that will WOW. And you'll know exactly what fabric is the right choice [beyond aesthetics] for function it will play.

Chatting at CHFA with Melanie Macha Henry 
[Designs by Melanie, Houston, TX]
This class will give you knowledge, skills and confidence that will help you create design boards and vignettes that are spot-on and you will be able to do it faster! No more agonizing and wasting infinite hours to put a collection together. It will also arm you with the language and understanding to better educate your clients putting an end to "the wrong fabric for the job" that causes you stress, frustration and lost time - [and let's face it, we all know time is money] - from additional labor hours.

After this class, fabric selection and coordination just may become the favorite part of your job!! That's how enjoyable it really is! :-)

So who will be joining me? It's not to late to sign up.

Fabulous Fretwork!

I hope you'll enjoy today's guest post, put together by our friends over at the Arcadian Lighting Blog. I love Fretwork myself and think they did a great job putting this post together for our readers. Hope you enjoy!

Seems the design world is having a mad love affair with fretwork. But what exactly is it? Fretwork is a design element characterized by interlaced designs that range from simple, straight lines to elaborately curved and ornamental motifs.  Traditionally, fretwork was seen in metal and wood designs where it was cutout using a saw like a jigsaw or fretsaw.  Thomas Chippendale, the famous 18th century English cabinetmaker, popularized fretwork in his furniture designs, which were distributed and copied throughout England and America.  Inspired by Chinese metalwork and woodwork, these designs are often called Chinese Chippendale.  In metal and wood there are two types of fretwork: open and blind. Open has an open space between the carving; blind is raised but is solid and not pierced.

Today's designers have embraced the fabulousness of fretwork. It can be found on furnishings, fabrics, light fixtures, rugs and home décor accessories in both bold and subtle colorways and patterns.

Circawho (via)
These antique illustrations of Chippendale chairs show a variety of fretwork patterns on the backs and legs. A combination of straight lines, interlocking elements and curves have inspired countless fretwork patterns throughout the years.

Designed to the Nines (via)
Fretwork and glass cabinet doors have been around since the mid 18th century. This is a modern interpretation in white that feels anything but antique especially with the recessed lights illuminating the beautiful pattern.

House Fabric (via)

This Chippendale fretwork pattern is a simple graphic patterned fabric that would be great on upholstered furniture, curtains, linens or pillows. Pair this with a chandelier to highlight the beautiful pattern of this fretwork.

Simplified Bee (via)

Love the subtle fretwork pattern on this tile. The elegant geometric pattern is sophisticated without being bold.

Crafting a Green World (via)

The elaborate fretwork pattern on this green and white area fabric recalls Victorian ironwork.

Simplified Bee (via)

Like the tile above, tonal wallpaper with a fretwork pattern feels sophisticated. There are so many variations of fretwork patterns.

Nesting Newbies (via)

Love this fretwork rug by Emily Todhunter for The Rug Company. Like all fretwork patterns it has an interlocking geometry.

The Light Archive (via)

Gorgeous fretwork patterned tile from Popham designs. This patterned tile would look amazing in an entry or bathroom.
Content provided by Arcadian Lighting, a site that specializes in top quality lighting fixtures at extremely affordable prices. Come visit us today!

Decorative Trims: Beaded Bedazzlements

Can you tell I had trouble coming up with a great title for this post? Got you this far though, so I guess I did pretty well. Now, the trick is to have you keep reading. Please, let me bedazzle you with a bit about beads.

Is it just me or do you agree, that beads add something special and have a way of captivating the eye? Wherever you find them, beaded trims add softness and feminine, elegant appeal. I had a young client in not long ago and she immediately walked over to a treatment and said, "I really love this... is that tacky?" Absolutely not! Another very young client was too cute, as I showed her fabrics she kept turning around and looking behind her in the studio. Finally, after I was done she said, "can I have one of those with the beads on it?" From the minute she walked in, it had captured her attention.

If you've been following the blog, you already know that yes, I love trim, and in that category is beaded trim. If you go through my shop, you'll see many, but in case you have not I pulled some pretties on over here.

When done up to the nines on grand scale, beading can be flashy and glamorous. Lucky for you, you don't have to don the beading and fringe a la 1920s fashion if it's not your thing. Your home is a great place to take some risks -- small or large -- and try out some jewelry-like design elements to suit your style, that can be anywhere from quiet to ostentatious, you decide.

The trim on these pillows fits the "quiet" appeal, I think, especially so as done in subtle tonal hues. They create such a soft, almost ethereal, and definitely feminine look. They'd be pretty plain-Jane without the trim, don't you agree?

Samuel & Sons (Lori Weitzner)

I love, love, love beaded trim on the lead-edge of drapes [yes, that is the lingo for the edge of the drapery that faces the center of the window... lead edge]! They provide an excellent contrast to the visual weight of the tassel tieback and add a little brightness and lightness. This photo is another image from one of the most delightful showrooms in New York: Samuel and Sons. For you non-sewing readers, their showroom brings to me, the equivalent of a "kid in a candy store" feeling! Take away the trim changes the whole feel, in my opinion, immediately making the drapes more masculine and weighty. And I am absolutely in love with the trim that the Canadian, Studio La Beaute used on the ivory panel below. Elegance defined!

I can hear your "Wowww" over here, as you scroll your eyes over this next image. It's fantastic, isn't it? I can immediately think of about seven clients who are going crazy over this right now. It's a fabulous creation from Sonya Hamilton Interiors. The flat braid trim paired with the beading adds the perfect complement to the fabric [awesome on its own; beyond awesome with the contrast!]. This wouldn't work as well if it weren't for the solid chocolate fabric above the trim. What feels whimsical and fun would probably feel a lot busier with all pattern.

Here's a space designed by Phoebe Howard in a waterfront home. I love the addition of wooden bead trim on the bottom edge of the valance to add an earthy appeal. I know its difficult to see it clearly, but I think you can tell enough that the trim is just enough to break all that pattern.

So what do you think? Is it high time we bedazzle some goodies in your home with beaded trim? Is it something you'd like to try? The great thing about beading is that it can added to treatments or pillows you already have, whether custom or ready-made, creating a truly unique look. Let's go for it! I'd love to help you jazz things up a bit!

Get a group of your friends together to see trims up close and personal, by hosting one of our Wine & Design Events. We can focus your W&D event specifically on "transformations with trim", if you so desire. Send me a note, or call me at 978-230-2239, and we can set a date!

Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House

Day one of Blogfest 2011 finished with a sneak peek of the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House. What is that exactly? Located at 540 West 28th Street in Manhattan, the Modern Life Concept House features designs by five of Elle Decor's designers to watch from last year, as well as five who were recently announced for this year. Each designer paired with a leading brand to design modern indoor and outdoor spaces for two condo units. And while you know my personal aesthetic leans to the more traditional (I am a New Englander, after all), these spaces were downright amazing.

Image: Elle Decor

To get your own sneak peek, take a tour of the house by Editor in Chief, Michael Boodro.

First let me start by saying that this is New York, readers, so it should come as no surprise that the spaces were small. With about 100 of us milling about saying "Excuse me, excuse me" on a particularly and unusually humid day in May, I couldn't possibly take it all in. And as a result, there's no way this post can even do justice to these incredible spaces. This is definitely not meant to be a comprehensive overview, but rather a "big picture" look. You can bet I'd love to visit again on a less crowded (and hot!) day.

That being said, I was still able to take in enough to leave me thoroughly impressed with the designers' ability to maximize the space. Each room used every ounce of space and the eye was never left without something to occupy its attention.

When I think back to my visit, one thing above all comes to mind -- texture... from the draperies to the Venetian plaster, what brought each space alive for me was the dramatic use of textures and finishes. Sara Story of Sara Story Design (who partnered with The New Traditionalists) "really wanted to do a woman's salon." While I can't exactly bring you to see it, I did find this video featuring the room on NBC New York. Check it out!

This rich, hand-painted door opens right into the room. This does not even come close to doing this justice and shame, shame on me that I did not get a closeup of the draperies in this room because they were to die for. Talk about making a grand statement to set the tone for an elegant space!

Image: Mochatini

Image: Attic Mag

If you watched the video, you know that Sara started the project by adding Venetian plaster to the walls and the ceiling, which, in her own words, adds texture and reflective qualities that - in a small space - will create a larger feeling to the room. The walls were literally the first thing that caught my gaze; they were unreal. The effect was like that of lacquer -- shiny and sleek. And the hand-painted work? Amazing. I was not able to get any great photos of my own, but fortunately, others attending did. I share these with you now and hope that you will take the time to visit their amazing blogs as well.

Image: Attic Mag

Is this nothing short of incredible?

Here's a great close-up of the gorgeous bedding. Again, I love the richness! A mix of pattern and texture adds playfulness, too. I also love the geometric repetition in the circles and squares in the fabric, decorative finishes, light fixture, and tables. They're subtle and really unify the room.

Image: Mochatini

Speaking of playful, note the portrait of Sara herself above the vanity! And take note of all of the details - both under and on the desk and chair. Each room was designed and styled so that it really seemed like someone was living there. In this photo, you can also catch the tiniest of glimpses at one of my hands-down favorite elements in this room. I'll give you one guess.

Yup. The drapes. The fabric and body were amazing -- construction perfect. It was truly love at first sight! It was brushed with gold - if my memory serves me correctly, the fabric was Italian - and were finished with a beautiful weight lining and interlining. I have yet to see a photo that truly captures their beauty, so my words and these images will have to do.

Image: Attic Mag

One thing is entirely obvious to me as I share this highlight with you: I would so love to go back! I wish I lived closer to New York! To really appreciate this space -- and all of the spaces in the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House -- I'd love to just sit in the center of the room and soak it all in. Only then could I truly give these spaces the attention they so rightly deserve. And what an honor to have been a part of this preview!

Thank you to Quintessence [an incredible journalist ~ I promise you will love her blog] and Mochatini [who I had the pleasure of sitting next to during the panel discussions ~ so sweet and talented], for taking such great photos. Please be sure to pop over to their blogs and read about - and see - more of what caught their eye at the MLC House.

Can you believe these first two posts were just of my first day at Blogfest? Me neither! My next post on the Kips Bay Decorator Show House kicks off day two! Hope you'll join me!

The Child in Me: Blogfest 2011 Day One!

You can't help but be struck by the incredible architecture of the Hearst Tower in Manhattan, home of the Hearst publications, including Town & Country, Veranda, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor (a few of my favorite things)! Isn't it amazing? How'd you like to show up to work here every morning?

It's a little hard for me to believe that this is where I showed up for work (well, sort of) on Monday, May 16th to participate in Blogfest 2011. To say it was a whirlwind experience is an understatement. What an opportunity I feel so fortunate to have been a part of! And I'm just as excited to share my experience with you! With such a packed agenda, Blogfest can't be summed up right here, so you can look forward to a several posts in the weeks ahead.

Our first day started with a luncheon hosted by House Beautiful on the 44th floor. Check out this view!

 View of Central Park from the 44th floor
Image courtesy of: Mike Lee via flickr

Okay, I confess. It was totally foggy and we couldn't see a thing. I have to look on the bright side (no pun intended), though, because if we had views like this, I don't know how easy it would've been to pay attention!

About the "child in me" reference in my title. Do you remember how you felt on your first day of grade school? Overwhelmed...excited...inquisitive...awe-filled? Who do I talk to first? Where do I sit? Yup. That was me. There I was on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower surrounded by all these people I've heard about, read about, seen on blogs, twitter, and facebook -- amazingly talented people I was meeting in real life! Add the editorial staff and key members of the Kravet team. It took me right back to those feelings from first grade; a little bit overwhelming.

From L to R: Ann Feldstein, Cary Kravet, Jennifer Powell, Beth Greene [Kravet]
and Newell Turner [House Beautiful]
Photo Courtesy of Kravet

One of the first people I saw and wanted to say hello to was Linda Merrill from Surroundings. Although we're both in Massachusetts, it took a trip to New York for us to meet up in person! I also had the opportunity to speak with Ellen Kravet -- I laughingly admit, I thought I was speaking with Ellen from Kravet, not Ellen Kravet - as in owner of the company, Kravet - who I found to be welcoming and down-to-earth!  And I found that to be true of all the Kravets I met - like long-time friends. [A highlight for me during Blogfest was meeting Uta Kravet, mother to the fourth-generation Kravet's that now head the company -- but more on that in a later post!]

Beth Greene, VP of Communications and Marketing at Kravet, welcomed us. She was really the reason any of us were there in the first place. Beth conceived of Blogfest-- it's her "baby" as you'll hear in the video -- and brought her idea to the magazines;all of them immediately jumping on board.
Watch live streaming video from blogfest2011 at

In her welcome, Beth said, "As bloggers, you are quickly being recognized as tastemakers and trendsetters. The group gathered here represents the brightest stars and the best of the best in the design blogging world. You have the creativity, passion, and talent that will usher our industry into a new era." I must say, I was so honored to be among the small audience to whom these words were spoken.  [We all enjoy a little pat on the back now and then, right?].

A panel discussion, "The Importance of Blogs to the Print Magazine Today," with the Hearst editors followed lunch, as well as inside looks at Veranda and House Beautiful from their respective editors. One message that came across loud and clear (and one that made me oh-so-happy) is that print magazines are here to stay! In case you may have been fooled to think otherwise, they're not going anywhere. For those of us who love to turn the page - many of my customers falling to this category - we don't have to say goodbye.

From L to R: Mark Rozzo, Newell Turner, Dara Caponigro

I have to say that throughout the day, I was incredibly impressed with the level of respect these consummate professionals had for each other. I enjoyed meeting their teams and hearing about their individual journeys. It was evident that they are clearly working toward the same vision and we are a part of that vision! For me, I left the panel discussions feeling inspired, validated and respected. Working as a solo-entreprenuer, it was incredibly rewarding to hear from these "big players" that they recognize, watch and read the content that we produce. "You, bloggers, are our beat reporters; you are our eyes and ears to seeing what's going on about the country."

And for my readers who are also bloggers, you will be interested to hear some of the advice that was given. Talking about what makes for a great blog, the editors seemed in agreement. Having and staying true to your own point of view is key, as is writing well and holding yourself to the level of a journalist. And a point that really rang true for me was: Have a mission! Know who you're writing for and stay focused on them. In my case, Storibook Designs Open Studio is for my customers. I aim to educate and serve as a resource for what the decorating and design world has to offer so you, my clients and readers, can make the best decisions for your home.

My mission mirrors something that Dara Caponigro (Editor in Chief at Veranda) said when describing her magazine: "Our emphasis is on beauty and quality. 'Buy less and buy well.' So many people are so quick to buy things just to buy them." Yes! I love that! That's exactly what I strive for when working with clients. I strive to provide answers to the questions, here on my blog, that I am asked so often in order to guide my clients in "buying well".

Each of the panelists shared so much with us, from their respective missions and vision to what they have planned for the future. From magazines to brands, they are reaching out and finding new ways to bring us their content. In addition to the beautiful glossy print magazines we're accustomed to, we will continue to find many new ways to read, search and experience their content. Just one example -- Architectural Digest just released an app called AD Amazing Kitchens available for download on iTunes, which will soon be followed by others. House Beautiful will also be launching apps, putting fun, interactive design literally at our fingertips.

Image: iTunes

There is so much more for me to share with you, too much for this one post, so I hope you'll continue to join me as I share my Blogfest experiences!

My highlights of the 3-day tour include a "meet-the-designers" event at Mayo Studios, a delightful afternoon with Barbara Barry, exclusive tour of the Kravet Design Studios and so much more!

Decorative Trims: Strike a Cord!

Next on our tour of trims comes decorative cord. (I'm starting to feel like a tour guide. Someone get me a bus and a microphone!) Cord trim is...well...a cord. I've pulled small samples from the Storibook Designs gallery to show you the interesting patterns that can be created, from traditional to funky!

I pretty much always use some type of cord trim, because it finishes the treatment and emphasizes its shape. But as you surely know, these trims aren't just for window treatments, so let's strike a cord and take a look at some other possibilities!

In this image, the trim perfectly accents a chair cushion, giving it a polished, finished look. You do want to be careful when using in this fashion if it is a piece that will get a lot of use. A corded edge on a cushion if you have a cat, for instance, can sometimes be an irresistible invitation for play.

Michael Whaley Interiors via Samuel & Sons

But if gentleness is the use your piece will be cared with, its a look I highly recommend. In this bathroom designed by Charlotte Moss, I love the cord trim on the chair cushion because it frames the boxing detail so nicely. Of course, the room itself gives much for the eye to land on (chandelier over your tub, anyone?)!
 Charlotte Moss via Veranda

Can you say, Wow! I love using contrast trim in upholstery and this shows you exactly why! This banquette in the showroom of Lora Piana Interiors is a total stunner. How lifeless it would be without cord trim. It is the perfect example of using cord trim to emphasize shape and/or add drama to an otherwise simple silhouette!
 Loro Piana Interiors via Veranda
In this room by Phoebe Howard, the scalloped valance trimmed with welting (custom-made cord covered with fabric) finishes the look and provides just enough of a break from all the blue. I bet you're not surprised to learn that this space is in a waterfront home!

Layering trims is always an interesting option too. This combination of trims -- two rows of bobble fringe with cording between -- adds amazing dimension and texture to these draperies.


Well, that's the stop on this leg of the tour. Oh...and don't worry -- there won't be a quiz on trims at the end of the road. So as your planning your next design project, I hope this travel through trims will cause you to consider adding some fabulous details when you're working on your next project. 

Next up? Beading! Hope you'll come along! Before that though, I'm going to give you a break from trims and take you on another journey. Look forward to tomorrow when I share my first post with you about my 3-day Inspired Design Tour -- Blogfest 2011, sponsored by Kravet and Lee Jofa.
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