Writing about holiday decor often puts me to sleep. There’s only so much one can say about red, green, silver and gold decor until the desire to punch Rudolph in his crimson sniffer kicks in. Known as somewhat of a Scrooge from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, I wanted this year to be hollier and jollier.
KAZAM! In two shake’s of a non-existent reindeers’ tails, I suddenly found my design side getting into the Christmas spirit.
This is the part where you hypothetically ask yourself, “Well, how did he do that?”
Brian’s Yuletide Challenge
When it comes to choosing holiday gifts for others, sometimes I’m the WORST and sometimes I’m the BEST. Being a creative type, I only get into the gift-giving spirit once inspired by something — or someone. Unfortunately, this usually leads to procrastination, which leads to added stress, which leads to…GIFT CARDS.
Although I always try my hardest to avoid the G-word, some people are just too hard to read; rocking the pocket plastic is both safe and practical. Perhaps that vintage Bionic Woman lunchbox your TV-obsessed boss stalks on ebay is too personal a choice from an employee. Or maybe that jelly/crackers/cheese basket you picked up for the in-laws suddenly seems more fit for the gal that does your nails than the people who watch your kids.
To keep us all from resorting to the G-word, my friend and Casa Sugar editor, Julia Walsh, put together a list of 12 last-minute gifts for design lovers. From the notoriously late party guest to that special lady who loves to entertain, Ms. Walsh has gotcha covered. Unless you’re shopping for someone who prefers gift cards. And if that’s the case, maybe you should just buy them a gift card to the gift card store.
Religion and politics: the worldwide dynamic duo of topics unwelcome at dinner parties. Known amongst my social circle as the designated diplomat, neither subject gets me heated since I see the pros and cons of each. However, bring up beige at my table and you’ll be sent home before supper.
A world without color is like a song without sound; it baffles me that bold, high-energy hues are often perceived as juvenile, garish or over the top. Although I love a muted blue-gray as much as the next guy, I also love me some turquoise.
However, instead of going on and on all about MY particular thoughts on color, I turned to two design bloggers who are just as passionate about haute hues: the UK’s own Will Taylor from Bright.Bazaar and Atlanta’s “oh-no-she-did-not-just-write-that” Jenny Andrews from My Favorite and My Best. Proof that color/colour has no boundaries: both the Atlantan female blogger and European male stylist/blogger have the same favorite room — that’s in New York.
The Great Color Debate
There’s a new gal in town, folks, and although based in small town Arkansas, she’s taking over the design world one shelter magazine, show house, decorating blog and speaking panel at a time. Who’s that girl, you ask? The Natural State’s own Tobi Fairley, a tastemaking interior designer whose crisp, tailored style is knocking the socks off of editors, decorators and designers everywhere.
The southern belle first caught my eye with a cerulean living room she designed which made the cover of House Beautiful (March, 2010: The Color Issue). After reading the article, I was hooked. Next came her blog which hooked me even more.
A few hours later, after clicking up, down and all around the Interwebs, it seemed impossible to choose a favorite Tobi Fairley project. Each space is like a master class in tailoring, color, scale and proportion. Overcome with inspiration, I decided to reach out to the It Girl myself and find out exactly how she does it. From art and upholstery to drapes and accessories, here’s the 411 on all things tailored, all things timeless and all things Tobi.
Tobi or Not Tobi?
You know how Letterman, Leno and Ellen sometimes surprise their celebrity guests by rolling in D-List footage from their pasts from local commercials to tiny parts in disastrous TV pilots? Most of the time the big shots laugh it off, jump in their limos, then chuckle all the way home as drivers deliver them to the front doors of their $25 million mansions. Why should they care, right?
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment
How does this blast-from-the-past situation work in regards to professional decorators and designers? Perhaps earlier, unpolished, shot-with-a-point-and-click images evoke a nostalgic, look-how-far-I’ve-come feeling. Or, on the flipside, maybe they cheapen the refined, respected brand that took years of hard work to create and tens of thousands of dollars to have professionally photographed.
I decided to put myself to the test by sorting through dozens of totally out-of-focus, um-that-angle-is-like-totally-wrong photos. From my first 323 sq ft city apartment to the first paid job, all the way to the first published project, here’s a visual evolution from strapped-for-cash assistant to freelance kids’ room decorator to outdoor living space dude. Are these representative of my work today? Not necessarily. Do I look back and thank my lucky stars I’m not still slurping up ramen noodles and sleeping on a scratchy, second-hand polyester sleeper sofa? Hell yes.
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod? Mine is the 2002 smash hit “Barenaked” by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Not only do I have it, I actually listen to it. In fact, I consider it a pertinent part of my getting-the-house-in-order playlist.
Admitting, as an adult, that you own the same bargain desk or office chair as college freshman worldwide can feel like sharing the most embarrassing song on your iPod. No need to be ashamed, though; ready-made retail done right can be the secret to pulling off an affordable designer space.
While tons of people obsess over certain Hollywood A-Listers, I find myself weak in the knees for the unsung heroes of glamour — shelter magazine photographers. My obsession is somewhat justified, because, unless you’re going to barge into the home of my latest client, you’re most likely going to see my work (and hire me) through the work of these photographers. And interiors shoots are kinda fascinating. Not in an OMG-look-what-Suri-Cruise-is-wearing-on-the-playground type way. More like in a WOW-that’s-how-the-Egyptians-made-the-Pyramids kinda way. So prepare to be amazed, like one of those TV specials, as I reveal…secrets of shelter magazine photographers.
After this post, when looking at interior photos, you’ll not only appreciate the work it took to create them, you’ll — like I do — notice the curious absence of everyday things like corners. And toilets. And if you do see them, you’ll know that someone either made a major faux pas or deliberately embraced the photographer’s “kiss of death.”
I could keep typing, but, instead, I’m going to let the professionals do the talking since (a) I find myself irritating after two paragraphs (b) this is all about photographers anyway (c) I have a photo shoot in an hour, and if I don’t leave now, someone else will snatch the peonies, and I’ll be left with Alstroemeria.
EMILY JENKINS FOLLOWILL Photographer
Foyer: Neely Design Associates, Brian Watford ID | Living Room: Liza Bryan Interiors
Clicky-Click for the Q&As
Everybody say hi to our newest blogger, Brian Patrick Flynn from one of our favorite sites, Decor Demon (which he produces, writes and designs all the original content for).
We hope you’ll tune in this week for his fresh take on helping men and women find balance in gender-blended spaces. Then come back every week for Brian’s bloggings about the intersection of lifestyle and design. (Fair warning: His posts are addictive.)