Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Enduring Landscape

I don't think I've been shy about my indifference toward the outdoors.

But I did like being outside here.

The gardens at Philbrook (then Villa Philbrook) were designed by Kansas City landscape designers Hare and Hare, who planned a great deal of the Country Club District, the Plaza and much of our park systems here in town, as well as many national projects.

I climbed those steps and sat, looking back up at the house, both as a kid and again last week.

My mother did not bring me here, and if I visited with a school group I have no memory of it.  So often we do find what we need.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Irving & Fine Find

In my closet full of shirts from J. Crew and skirts from Old Navy, I have a few things that have a style all their own.

More distinct, with exacting detail.

My tunics from Irving & Fine fall in this later category.  Every single time I wear them people comment.  You can always find them on line here, but if you are New York do stop by the:

Irving & Fine Sale
Indagare Souk
551 Madison Avenue, Ste. 1201
(Enter off 55th East of Madison)

10 - 5
May 30th & 31st

(The last time I went there was amazing jewelry, too.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Passionate Origins

I drove to Tulsa, my hometown, on Saturday.  I have fewer and fewer reasons to go, reunions and funerals mostly, but I had a couple of things to take care of so I made the four-hour drive there and back in a day.

"Why don't you spend the night?  See some people?" encouraged Bill, assuring me that all would be well here.

"I don't really have people there anymore."

I drove through my old neighborhood, by the park where I did "Walk for Mankind" and by the house of the boy who gave me my first kiss.  (The last was coincidental, but the house was pretty terrific, which I did not appreciate at the time.)

And I went to Philbrook, which is one of Tulsa's museums.  It was the old Phillip's estate and I spent some time there in junior high and high school.   I didn't take refuge there nearly as often as I do at the Nelson, but its cool, hushed halls and high ceilings sheltered me on several occasions.  I hadn't realized it before, but the house, on twenty-three acres and with seventy-two rooms, was probably the first grand house that I ever saw and I wondered if it infected my spirit for good.

Villa Philbrook was designed by Kansas City architect Edward Beuhler Delk; the gardens were designed by the Kansas City firm Hare & Hare.  Funny, huh?  You can find a little more on the house itself here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cover Girl

I've been to Zim Loy's house loads of times.  I've been there for large, catered holiday parties and I've been there for small, casual weeknight dinners.

Zim is my editor at Spaces Kansas City magazine and the first time I was in her house I was a new to the line-up.  And I was a little nervous.  For about four minutes.  Four minutes was about as long as it took to point me in the direction of the spot to drop my coat and to put a drink in my hand.  As all good hostesses do, she attracts a lively crowd.

And now you've been invited to Zim's, too.  Her new house is on the cover of the June issue of House Beautiful.  I've shared a few images here, but there is more to see inside and her DIY advice is pretty handy as well.  On newsstands pretty darn soon or hopefully dropping in your mailbox as we speak.

All images courtesy of House Beautiful, June 2012; photography Jonny Valiant.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Of Mice and Men and Me

When I came down to feed the dogs last Thursday, I noticed that a small hole, gnawed by a small creature, had appeared over night.  About an inch away, under the rug, was a piece of dog food.  While I cursed his destruction, I also felt a little sorry that the guy had worked so hard and still gone to bed without supper.

When Bill came down I showed him the evidence and he said, "Looks like we have a mouse."

We've been through this before.  "I don't think we have 'a mouse'.  One.  Do you?"

"Yes, I do.  I'll set a trap tonight."

And he did.  Before we were both settled in bed we heard the snap.  He could not have looked more victorious if he had slain a bison to get us through the winter.  He went to check.

"Do you have a shoebox?"

I looked up from my book, "Well, yes.  Are you going to bury him?"

"No.  It's just.  He's not dead yet."

"There's one in my car."  (No explanation needed I'm sure.)

He returned sheepish and wincing.

"Did you get him?"

"No, he got away."

"Did you reset the trap?"

"Um, no."

"Ick.  Now I'm going to be worried that he's going to be dashing across the kitchen every time I'm in there."

"Don't worry, if you see him in the kitchen he will be running in circles."

"What?  Why?"

"He's missing an eye.  The trap hit him, it just..."

"Stop, stop, stop!" I said, eyes closed, faced turned away.  Killing him brought no qualms; maiming him was unthinkable.

"I still think you should reset the trap."


"Well, I do think he has friends."

"You won't see them tomorrow."

"Why not?"

"They'll all be on a deathbed vigil," he assured me as he snapped off the light.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Off The Rack - Southern Living

I think I have commitment issues.  I have a pile of pictures and swatches and tear sheet sitting on the right corner of my desk. They are right there where I could pick any one of them up at a moment's notice and fire off a purchase order. (Scot Meacham Wood can testify; he's seen them.)

I'm not floundering on selection.  I'm quite firm in what I want.  Even my budget says, "yes, I'd love to, when?" But instead of answering, I put David Hicks Garden Design on the top and pretend the pile is not there.

This is "before."  We even have the same-ish floor.

Lindsey Ellis Beatty offered some counseling in the May issue of Southern Living (though she didn't know it.)  Beatty waited to decorate her sunroom/entry with great results.  I'm crazy about that Jim Thompson Bamboozle fabric at the windows; this is the first time I'd seen it in a project and it is zig-zaggy genius.

Katie Ridder, who is quite comfortable with every hue on the color wheel, is in the issue as well.  (I'm sticking to sunrooms, here, perhaps because that is where I spend most of my time.  Maybe that should be the place to start.)  There are rattan chairs by the dozen out there just waiting for a coat of white paint to make them happy.  Do.

And, best for last, a woman whose to-do list is loads longer than mine and seems to to manage with such aplomb, Erika Powell is featured as well.

The Beatty project is on-line here, the rest are in the book - on newsstands now.  All images from Southern Living, May 2012, all photography by Laurey W. Glenn except Ridder's project which is by Eric Piasecki.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Help Me Help You

Jonah Takagi - Silk Road Collection

You know that really frightful frienemy who might start a conversation, "I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I think you should know...."?  Well, she does want to hurt your feelings, but I am really just trying to help here.  

Lukas Peet, Rudi

I'm going to do a little bit of housekeeping and talk email press releases.  Now, there's going to be someone who is thinking (or commenting - likely anonymously), "You know what?  You're pretty darn lucky to be receiving press releases at all Miss High and Mighty," and, truly, I am.

Lindsey Adelman, Blow (one of my favorite lights ever)

So, I'm not complaining, I'm just pointing out a few things that could help us to partner a little easier.

Jason Nuller, Endless

Mrs. Blandings's Top Five Tips for Email PR

1.  Picture This.  If you are pitching to bloggers, images are essential.  If there is a compelling image in the email - preferably in the top portion that would show in the preview format (as opposed to opening the email) that is best.  The likelihood that I will open the email, or further, click a link to see a picture is very slim.

2.  Either know me or don't.  If you are going to include a name in the salutation of your email, please go over your database.  Years ago someone must have entered "Mrs." in the first name field and "Blandings" in the last name field of a database associated with my email.  It's not that I care or take offense, it's just when I receive an email with "Dear Mrs.," I assume that this is a humongous mailing and I am less likely to read it.  An email or release with no salutation does not bother me in the least.

3.  Party Girl.  I want to go to your event.  I really do.  Unfortunately, few of them happen in Kansas City, so I am forced to regret.  A couple of things here.  New York, is, obviously, the center of the universe. Even so, it's a good idea to put the city on the invitation if you have a national mailing list.  Secondly, I really want to respond.  I don't know the ins and outs of this, but it would be a huge help if the response could be delivered to the sending address (so "reply" would be all that stood between us) or if the reply email on the invite could be hot.  I imagine this is tricky as so many of these invites are really lovely (truly) PDFs, but it would help.  Especially if I'm doing business on my phone in the orthodontist's office.

4.  Know Thyself.  As a fellow blogger said to me the other day, "Everybody has a blog."  The upside of this is that you can hit your target so easily.  If you actually visit the site at least once.  I love sustainable, organic, green products, but that is not my gig.  You can send me your release, but as it's not my focus and it's so unlikely that it will be a good fit.  (Unless, of course, it involves a Greek key or Boxer pups or needlepoint.  Then you're in.)  It's a good idea to take a quick a look and see if the content is a match.

5.  Forgive Me.  I won't begin to tell you that I am any busier than you are, but this is not my job and I don't have a year-end review where someone sits across a desk and says, "Your response rate to blind email is unacceptable."  What I am, really, is scattered.  I have a number of people who expect things from me both big and small.  If I've overlooked a release or request, please forgive me.  If you think it was an oversight, please email me again.

Jonah Takagi, Bluff City

For those of you to whom this is completely irrelevant, I've included some of the lights from Roll and Hill's recent collections because their email newsletter was so appealing.  You can find them at the International Contemporary Furniture at the Javitz Center in New York from May 19th - 22nd and on-line here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


A good friend and her mother were at the house a couple of weeks ago and they mentioned this great cane needlepoint pattern by Louis J. Gartner, Jr.  (You can see a previous post on his books here.  Either cosmically or coincidentally, this is the exact palette of my dining room, though the emphasis is different.) 

It took me almost two years to retrieve my last completed needlepoint project.  I did take a little solace knowing that as it hung on the door to the lavatory it inspired a lot of projects.  Many of us, it seems, take our inspiration where we find it.

My white bamboo desk chair came with a very nice white cushion.  I had thought that I would chose a fabric to cover it, but after the cane conversation it seemed that I need to pick up the needle again.

I enjoyed clicking through the One King's Lane estate sale of Albert Hadley's things.  While there was nothing that I wanted that I could also afford, I treated myself to a copy of Parish Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design.

I had seen most of the images before, but was struck by the stitching.  That crazy green and black and white and red all over pillow that pops up in both the Connecticut sunroom and Hadley's apartment  would make a fantastic seat cover. (And that chair - the white slip with the red ric-rack?  Simple but smart, she would be the most delightful party guest.  I'm sure she would listen to the travails of your tennis game with interest and later make the most subtle reference to Dostoevsky.  I just know that she would.)

But I am enchanted by the over-sized, quilt-inspired geometrics from Mr. and Mrs. William Paley's Kiluna Farm.  Now I just need to decide where to begin.

Image, top, from Needlepoint Design by Louis J. Gartner, Jr., the third image is from Architectural Digest: American Interiors, photography William Steele, the remaining images are from Parish Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design, the image of the Greek key-ish cushion is by Dennis Krukowski; the others are also William Steele.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gibson Girl

Many of you are familiar with San Francisco-based designer Grant Gibson as his apartment and show house rooms tend to show up often on blogs and Pinterest boards.  He recently gave his apartment a spiff and filled me in on the details.  (Hint: inexpensive and vibrant art can take you a long way.) You can see the images of his colorful update at AD here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bottom Dwellers

 We are re-finishing the basement.  It had been finished and had some now-eradicated mold issues and needed to be sheet rocked again.  Bother.  As with basements everywhere, I am less interested (read: not interested at all) and Bill and the boys are very interested.  Mr. B has asked me a million questions, to which my standard reply has been, "I don't care, do what you want, I'm never going down there."  And I meant it.  But now it's time to paint.

I was intrigued by the palettes which came with Phoebe Howard's book.  I did want something neutral but not nothing.  There is no way to tell this, but Cream Fleece and Winter Wheat are both very nice Ben Moore neutrals that look like nothing here, but they are not.  Once the swatches were up I asked the middle, "Which one do you like best?"

"What's going in here?"

"What do you mean?"

"What other furniture?  What colors?  What's going in here?"

"I don't know."

"How can I tell you what I like better when I don't know what's going to be in the rest of the room?"

"That's a good question."  The right question.  The only question.  To which I have no answer.  "Now, go do your homework."

My only real input to date is on keeping the window.  The other opinions ranged from indifferent to "definitely not," and these included my four men and a variety of mold-removal and drywall guys.

There remains a hand-painted mural from the original "bar" that was in the basement.  I think basements have mostly been ruled by men and I feel some kindred spirit to the woman who commissioned this.

Did she yearn to live on an urban, cobblestone street?

To buy flowers from a street vendor and walk her dog on a cool, crisp morning?

Did she say, "What are you looking at?" to her husband as he peered over his shoulder at the hottie in the black hat?  We won't know.  But it does seem that she was trying to instill a bit of something in her bottom dwellers and I refuse to give it up without a fight.  I mean, they made me go to Nebraska Furniture Mart.  I think I deserve this.

Paint color card available with The Joy of Decorating when you order from her site here and enter code MBJOD.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Brilliant Britt

Hey, look what Tom Britt and his associate Valentino Samsonadze did with this house.

They decorated it.  Sure, there is the influence of Brighton, references to Duquette and Groussay, but the result is a simply beautiful home.

Paint.  Fabric.  Interesting things.  (Ok, and a whole lot of talent.)  Find it in the May/June issue of Veranda (including the nine images I didn't share.)  You can find Britt's decorating tips on Veranda's site here.

All images Veranda, May/June 2012; photography Max Kim-Bee, Produced by Carolyn Englefield and Victoria Jones.

Cut and Color

If there was ever a question,

there is no doubt

how much you can change any environment

with color and fabric.

All images from the Hickory Chair showroom in High Point.  Top, Suzanne Kasler's collection enhanced by her fabric from Kravet; Tobi Farley's bold fabrics add dash to this space designed by Rod Fiore, HC Creative Director; this handy little sofa doubles as a pull out bed - while it is practically a twin bed once the back cushions are removed, it actually folds out with a built-in inflatable mattress; the most-photographed chairs at market, these are a perfect example of how you can create something really terrific with a basic piece and a great fabric, this one by Hable Construction as is the charming hand-painted book cover.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shopping Buddy

Scot Meacham Wood (you may know him as Tartanscot) came to my rescue outside the main market building.  "Patricia!" he called from across the street and after a hug hello I begged off from going around with him as I had forgotten my phone charger and was almost out of juice.

"I have a charger, let's go catch up."  So after being in the building for the entire day he went back to sit with me in the press room and recharge.

Lynette Harrison, El Dorado, Kansas 316-371-5087

The good thing about me and Scot is no uneasy silence.  Chat or quiet, it's all good, though we spent the better part of two days together and there was very little quiet.  Once I was back in business we wandered down to the Suites at Market Square and after the back-and-forth back-and-forth of the vendors we skipped up three steps to see the antique dealers.

And we were right at home.  It was a remarkably good antiques show.

Tiffany, Mid-Century, Sterling, Dell Ray and Associates, Atlanta, 678-592-0340

It's always nice to see new dealers' old things.

Did I buy?  I did.  Because the impracticality of taking a piece of celadon from High Point to Atlanta to Kansas City with no room in my overstuffed bag was not enough to stop me.  It was love at first sight.  I fell for every color, every bird, every flower, every butterfly.  As is often the case, her delicate appearance masked an inner strength; she rode home quietly, wrapped in a scarf, with Edie to protect her.

And, I could not resist the silver spoons.  "Iced tea spoons?" supposed the dealer, though we both agreed that they did not seem long enough.  They are cocktail spoons now, standing ready to swish and swirl any summertime drink we care to cook up.  I'm so smitten I might have to have a party so I can introduce them to my friends.