Pattern Inspiration à la Marrakesh

May 19th, 2011 comments 4

Today I’m looking for inspiration in photos from a recent visit to Palais Bahia…

A palace in Marrakesh built for concubines…

Filled with color, texture, and pattern…

Tiled floors…

Painted ceilings…

Geometric masterpieces…

Proud Momma

May 6th, 2011 comments 2

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, I’d like you to meet my amazing daughter!
She’s the creative inspiration behind these fabulous custom silhouette pendants and she’s the best girlfriend and antiquing buddy a Momma could ask for. At thebrocante her eye gravitates to all things small: things she cleverly uses to craft the most incredible jewelry.

This is how she re-purposes antique French drapery rings… necklace, bracelet, christmas ornament…

She’s been featured in numerous publications and boutiques and in case you’re tempted, you can find her through her Etsy shop LuckyMeBeads.
I’m one proud Momma.

Unpacking a Container of Antiques

May 5th, 2011 comments 1

A bit like Christmas in May….

Every box holds a treasure…

Glimpses of a few of the new goodies in the Two Maisons online shop.

Favorite Finds

April 30th, 2011 comments 6

Pottery from the Ardeche…..

And a gorgeous set of 12 lunch and dinner horn handled knives (with serving pieces!)…. in the shop soon.

Finding Our Tribe(s)

April 25th, 2011 comments 6

I’m still relatively new to the blogging world (despite my absence for the last several months). My first post as a blogger was a little over a year ago. Not the quickest girl to the party… In my defense, I’ve lived in a SLOW country. Life, love, food, and the internet are SLOWer in my corner of Provence.

My daughter first introduced me to blogging through her own amazing blogs and then to one of her favorites Superhero Journal. I found and still find incredible wisdom and honesty in Andrea’s words. Through Andrea I was introduced to Brené’s (Extra)Ordinary Courage. A healing place to go and grow. I admire that both women and their sites are out there trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. I blurked for a while. I soaked up the love but I never left a comment. I don’t know why, I guess I didn’t think it would matter. I see differently now.

As I discovered more blogs I read about everything from peak oil to creating my own indigo dyes. Around the time I started my own blog adventure I plugged into a small eddy of design related gems. It was there that I began to find my tribe. Each day offered new food for my visual soul. One of my first discoveries was LeAnn’s beautiful blog Linen & Lavender. Through her images I saw a shared vision and she generously offered to introduce me to her readers. James at Garvinweasel kindly did the same and Greet of Belgian Pearls was always there with a generous word. From there one link led to another.

For many of us our daily blog visits are as treasured as a morning chat with a friend. Technologically speaking the medium may be impersonal but I think it’s anything but! The highly personal view that each blogger brings to a collection of visual images or a well crafted story offers a window into their creative soul and permits us to get to know that unique individual in ways that having a conversation alone cannot.

When my kids were in their elementary years I met mom’s of other young kids at school. Most often the only thing we had in common was a Saturday morning rendezvous on the soccer field. Being a creative type, my basement home studio didn’t facilitate introductions to like minded individuals. Finding friends that share similar interests, visions and ideas isn’t often geographically possible.

The blogging world removes those geographic obstacles and it doesn’t limit us. Thanks to blogs I can easily satisfy my design cravings as well as explore the world of fellow sculptors. Next up TED, then my inner foodie comes calling. At another moment I’m off to visit the math geeks and a few heavy thinkers (Dr. Bartlett’s thoughts on the exponential equation are a personal favorite). All of the random musings of a personality can be entertained with the click of a mouse. It’s a giant smorgasboard and we’re encouraged to sample at whim. Talk about personal choice! I think it’s fantastic.

Not to mention the taste tests… Think you might like writing computer code? Check out a blog or two and see if it rings true. Extreme sports? There’s another world out there. The blogosphere allows us to explore our interests, live vicariously, experiment, and learn in ways that might not otherwise be possible.

We’ve all heard the phrase “grow where you’re planted”. How fortunate we are to be planted in the middle of this time of internet magic. Blogging as I’ve experienced it is all about the sharing of information, ideas and self; finding our tribes and building communities through the relationships we develop and the respect we show for other people and their points of view.

But blogging takes time. And for me that’s been in short supply this last 6 months. I’m hoping that another detour leads me back this way again soon, but until then, I want to thank all of the creative and generous bloggers that I’ve shared cyberspace with and I want to send my heartfelt gratitude to the lovely readers who have chosen to share their time, encouragement and thoughts with me.

Playing for Change

February 11th, 2011 comments 3

It’s been far too long since I’ve found my way to post on this blog. So many changes to share since then. I hope you enjoy:

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

“Quand la nuit tombe et la terre est sombre
Et la lune est la lumière qui brille devant moi;
Je n’aurai pas peur, oh non, je n’aurai pas peur
Tant que tu restes, restes près de moi
Et chérie, chérie reste près de moi, oh reste près de moi
Oh reste, près de moi, près de moi….”

What’s On The Horizon?

August 16th, 2010 comments 12

“if you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’m longing for the immensity of the sea. To me it symbolizes the vastness of potential at the inception of a new creative adventure, the moment where tout est possible -anything’s possible.

Les vacances of August have relaxed me into a state of yearning accompanied by an all too recognizable uneasiness. It usually appears towards the end of a “house project” -of which we’ve had six in our lives. Six times building the boat, so to speak, with six sets of before and after photos. While realizing our house dreams has brought immense satisfaction, oh how I love the open water and the limitless creative possibilities it represents…

What about you? Are you happiest dreaming or doing?

Sales + Shoes = La Mirande

August 6th, 2010 comments 5

les Soldes -the sales – are a twice yearly phenomenon in France,
They’re a much anticipated social event and almost impossible for me to resist. Avignon is on my solde radar every season so yesterday a friend and I braved the August crowds to see what the final markdowns might offer.

Girlfriends, shopping and sales inevitably leads to at least one new pair of shoes. And so it was, with bags of shoes in both hands, we wound our way behind the Palais des Papes for a celebratory afternoon tea at La Mirande.

La Mirande is my dream hotel and the perfect post (or pre) shopping rest stop. There’s a pair of 18th century chairs tucked up to a small table in the corner of the intimate bar; my favorite spot to savor a glass of red wine on a fall day.

In the winter, the sunny atrium is the place we often stop for hot chocolate. Yesterday we popped in for a cup of Gyokuro and an assortment of pastries they offer at tea time. Alone or with a friend if I’m in Avignon, I make my way here.

The hotel’s decoration beautifully blends 18th and 19th century styles. It’s flawless and old world and not the least bit stuffy. The woodwork, the brilliant panes of undulating hand blown glass, the stone pavers, the period antiques, the wall coverings and fabrics. I walk away longing to redecorate my entire life.

They even offer cooking classes and intimate dinners in the kitchen prepared by the chef as you look on. It’s only 45 minutes away from my home but I’m thinking that it just may be this year’s preferred vacation destination!

What Became of the Garage

August 4th, 2010 comments 21

Continuing with the before and after photos of this little Maison de Village

Before...

At the street level entrance to our house we originally had a space that was referred to as a garage. It wasn’t quite big enough for a car and it certainly wasn’t a welcoming entry. “Off with the roof!” we cried, “Let there be light!”

We think it’s much happier as a courtyard.

An old stone puis sat awkwardly in the middle of the vaulted cave; not original to the house, it was a decorative touch the old proprietaire had added. I thought that it could be re-purposed into a lovely fountain and drew a little sketch on the proverbial napkin. Voila! Our skilled stone masons made it so.

New doors crafted by our iron worker enclosed the vaulted stone space.  It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. My antique habit claimed this room early on.

From my desk I look back towards the gate. I love this view. See that little bench under the watering can? It covers all of the not so attractive necessities: the water meter, the drip apparatus….My husband and son made it from old ivy vine twists they collected in the forest. Clever non?

Every time I climb the steps to the front door I smile as I look down on the transformation and I think about the many feet that have worn these treads before me. Better to think of that than the snap crackle pop in my right knee….

What’s Your Color IQ?

July 26th, 2010 comments 6

hue, tint, shade or tone? I lean toward tones – the grayed down version of hue. It’s in the nuances of tone that I become obsessed. Like many, I’ve spent a good amount of time searching for that elusive (perfect) paint color, and I have a jillion quarts of paint to prove it. But I can’t help myself because I know that when the colors are as they should be, an interior space sings. I ran across this Online Color IQ Challenge the other day and according to their test I have perfect color vision. Really? Then why, do tell, is picking a paint color so dang hard!

My favorite book on the subject is called COLOR Natural Palettes for Painted Rooms by Donald Kaufman and Taffy Dahl. It was first published in 1991 but it’s message and photos are timeless.  When I first bought the book – well before we lived in France – I stared endlessly at photos of Nicole de Vesian’s house “La Louve” in Bonnieux.

The book offered a pallet of tones gleaned from the surrounding landscape. I still gravitate to those colors just as I still love the house and garden.

Kaufman offers this advice to those of us who agonize over color:

  • Visualizes spaces as volumes
  • Consider color and space as one
  • Expand the mock up phase
  • Don’t shortcut the execution
  • Forget Trends
  • Credit your individuality and eccentricity
  • Stick to your belief that decoration can be great and still contain your personal expressions
  • Don’t be distracted by the mass market jargon that is masquerading as expert advice
  • Realize the limitations of all advice including mine

On his website he expands on each of these thoughts and it’s well worth the read. The site is inspiring and beautiful and I particularly like the irregular presentation of the color swatches:

Kaufman’s and Dahl’s work as colorists led them to develop a line of paints featuring  over a hundred luscious colors and I’m dying for a chance to use them. Through their eyes it seems so simple.

If any of you have tried or seen the paints in person I’d love to hear about it!