Sunday, May 27, 2018

romantic country - spring 2018 #204

The other day that purveyor of the past Facebook, reminded me that it had been one year since Fifi O'Neill visited my home for the second time. I had the date wrong in my mind and when I visited this blog to verify, realized I'd never posted about the experience. So, Dear Blog, on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, Fifi O'Neill, along with her longtime photographer Mark Lohman and his son Taylor, arrived at my home around 9 a.m. for a wonderful day of styling, photographing and of course, lobster rolls {her New England must-have}.

Much had changed since Fifi's first visit...

Today the living room is more streamline and open with layers of window treatments removed and a much darker sofa and love seat in grey, and while Fifi suggested that light-colored throws would do the trick for the space to be Romantic Country magazine-ready, I had an alternative plan!

What if the sofa and loveseat were outfitted in a mishmash of floral fabrics, like this image from Pretty Pastel Style by Selina Lake? Over the years, I'd amassed quite a stash from Rachel Ashwell's Simply Shabby Chic line for Target: window panels, shower curtains, pillowcases and more. What if my sewing-enthusiast friend Lorraine would want to realize this vision for me!? Dare I even ask?

I barely got the proposal out of "Would you sew..." and awesome Lorraine replied, "I will!"

Reunited besties from Junior High, Lorraine and I enjoyed working on this project together, just like the old days. She visited my home frequently taking measurements and doing fittings, and somehow following my notes of keeping the patchwork random {more difficult than it seems}.

Meanwhile, I painted furniture (the piece above was given the Saltwash treatment) and purchased textiles like area rugs and throws {which oddly enough, I don't really own}.

Knowing I was doing the whole swathed-in-cotton florals thing, Fifi shipped me this very slipcover used in her Romantic Prairie Style Cookbook and I borrowed a wingback chair from my friend Maureen!

Here we are at the close of a very fun, very busy and unforgettable day!

Fifi remembered the aqua coffee table from her first visit, which was originally in the Girlie Office and had since been in the basement for a few years! She pulled pastel accents from other rooms, like the frames that line the floating shelves. The shade on the floor lamp is actually a skirt of mine! And as always, Fifi arrived with big ol' spackle buckets of fresh flowers!

The Spring 2018 issue of Romantic Country is especially dear to me because while it had a dedicated writer, I provided the text for six projects, and there was also a feature on dollhouse no. 1 noted on the cover.

Sadly this would be the final issue of Romantic Country, a magazine adored by many for years. Print is really taking a beating these days with advertisers directing their money toward mostly digital sources, requiring publishers to pass costs onto the readers (that's why magazines can be priced around $7-9.). If you love a publication and don't want it to go away the best thing you can do is to keep buying it and even subscribe. But I digress...

It was an honor and a pleasure to have my home featured, to have the help and support of so many, the unconditional patience of my family ("Um, Mom, why is there a camera crew in my room?!"), and to have such a special friend in Fifi. If you ever meet Mark and Taylor Lohman, mention The Jam and you'll see big grins across their handsome faces.

If you missed it on the newsstands, Romantic Country is still available for purchase online at

Thank you for visiting!


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

10 questions with rachel ashwell about book 10

When I first learned that Rachel Ashwell’s latest book would be about her adoration of flowers, I gasped. After all, Rachel’s style is inspired by petals at every turn. Whether it’s a salvaged dresser embellished with painted swags, vintage wallpaper with floral motifs, or her own line of fabric with names like Royal Bouquet on Oyster (my favorite), blooms are a signature element of all things Ashwell.

Rachel’s tenth book, My Floral Affair: Whimsical Spaces and Beautiful Florals, is dessert for the eyes. Via photographs by Amy Neunsinger, Rachel leads us from Los Angeles to France, Norway, and England to swoon along at beautiful spaces accented with florals. From the aspirational to the inspirational, you’re sure to be motivated to bring even buttercups inside after leafing through the pages.

Here I am looking quite star-struck in 2014. Well, now that you have a visual of us, let's begin!

1. Hello, Rachel! What was your favorite flower as a child?
Daffodils. As a little girl growing up in England, it was a sign that spring was coming.

2. What is your favorite flower at this moment?
Always bluey-pink David Austin garden roses.

3. What is your favorite object to use as a vase?
I collect pretty shaped clear wine/drink bottles for single stems. I’m also partial to vintage vases and pitchers as often by the time they are deemed vintage their designs are nice and faded. I’ve collected quite a few from flea markets over the years. Occasionally I like something really fancy.

4. What is your favorite flower combination for a summer bouquet?
That’s hard, but probably a selection of pink and white garden roses. There’s just something so classic and nostalgic about a rose.

Second would be wildflowers. I love the casualness and organized chaos of flowers picked from a field.

5: Pick one and why: small floral bouquet or large arrangement?
There is something rather glamorous about a large display.

6. Pick one and why: peonies or roses?
Roses -- the ones in my garden are similar to peonies, but they have an amazing fragrance.

7. Describe your favorite shade of pink:
A bluey pink. Or hot pink. Just not salmon or coral.

8. What is your favorite fresh-flower scent?
I love gardenia and jasmine and lavender -- they emit a wonderful aroma, as well as a fragrant rose. I was once told when ladies walked up a pathway in the old days they would brush along lavender and capture the fragrance in their long skirts and petticoats.

9. Is there any flower you tend to avoid and if yes, what and why?
Bird of paradise. Was once given one by a date and that was it! It’s too orange and pointy.

10. Do you have any favorite floral designers?
I love the Fiore Design girls, Jennifer and Nicole in the US. In the U.K. Toria Britten, both featured in my book. I learned so much about their personalities observing how they would direct their vision with wire and frogs. Creating masterpieces of palette and shape. I consider myself a flowers “plopper” meaning I gather beautiful flowers and just plop them in a vase, trusting they will fall beautifully, different to a proper floral designer.

Thank you to Rachel for contributing to this blog post and to CICO Books for my review copy of My Floral Affair: Whimsical Spaces and Beautiful Florals and connecting us, once again! This beautiful book is brimming with inspiration... and permission to be a complete flower plopper!

Thank you for reading!