Tag: decorating

Hot House: A World Away, in Guilford, Spanish Villa with Courtyard Pool Asks $1.15M


Hot House: 101 Stratford Road, Baltimore, MD 21218

Spanish Colonial Revival house, circa 1925, designed by Laurence Hall Fowler in stucco with Spanish tile roof.  Three bedrooms, 4.5 baths over two stories and 5,089 sq. ft. Partially finished basement. Hardwood floors, nine-foot ceilings, wood-paneled arched entry, crown moldings, three gas fireplaces. Large living and dining rooms, both with fireplace and french doors to private courtyard with swimming pool. Kitchen with butler’s pantry opens to family room. Main-floor library and bedroom with full bath. Large second-floor master suite with fireplace, dressing room, bath with separate tub. Sauna. Central a/c, two-car attached garage. One acre, landscaped grounds with rose garden: $1,150,000

The View from Halcyon Farm: Decorating (or not) for the Holidays


As the headline indicates, this year, it’s more like not decorating for the holidays. Our beloved housekeeper who keeps the house and us whipped into shape, broke her arm a few weeks ago, and is incapacitated until after the New Year. She’s the power behind the throne, so to speak, and we really rely on her to lead the charge on getting the house ready for the festive season, and all its attendant parties, dinners, and most of all decorating.


We have decorated Halcyon House Antiques, but the farm house will be woefully under-decorated this year. For the shop, mainly because of fire regulations, we’ve used faux fir, along with strands of white fairy lights. In the main hallway, we’ve added two of our cheery Santas, as well as two trees made from capiz shells and two tiny glass trees. The gas fire adds a note of warmth.

On The Wall With Renaissance Fine Arts: A Sleek and Vibrant Living Room


Two different viewpoints for a sleek and vibrant living room from our expert consultants that will inspire the way you look at art and the world around you.

Bright and bold hues give this living room lots of energy. The sleek and linear furniture with its simplistic design create a contemporary feel. This open space is thriving with shades of red and orange. Both colors excite and give life but also warm up the space with a pleasant welcome.


I would place Edmunds “Bulls Eye” in this space.  The room is strong in color and “Bulls Eye” just punctuates the drama. The neutral white in the background of the piece gives the eye a chance to rest and the bit of black in the piece ties into the chairs in the adjoining space giving a lovely flow to the entire area. “Bulls Eye” has just the right amount of presence and power to complement the rich color palette.  It is truly the icing on the cake!



“1500 Broadway” by Gbatu is the perfect fit for this ultra modern room. Not only does the painting pull in the primary colors of the space, but heightens the urban sophistication of the space. The technical approach to Gbatu’s work is unlike any other. Each detail and character has a purpose to the story he creates with his paintings. “1500 Broadway” is the focal point that pulls you in to the room, creating interest and complementing the unique vision of the overall atmosphere.




Village of Cross Keys   410.484.8900

Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm  Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun: 12-4pm  Evenings: by appointment


flower magazine Editor Comes to Baltimore


flower magazine march-april 2014

Last week Margot Shaw, founding editor of flower magazine, was the 25th anniversary lecturer during Art Blooms at the Walters Art Museum. She spoke about a year in the life of flower, not a plant, but her magazine. A fellow Hollins graduate, I felt lucky to be included in a dinner with her.

Outgrown Ikea? Head For Arhaus in Harbor East


Welcome to our new column Shop Girl, a bi-weekly post that will review area stores.

Arhaus Furniture

660 Exeter Street, Baltimore 21202

[email protected]

Hours: 10am-9pm Monday-Saturday, 11am-6pm Sunday


Of all the trendy shops in Harbor East, Arhaus Furniture is the largest, its 16,000 square feet occupying nearly half a city block. It’s a confident presence in a neighborhood of repurposed lofts and open-plan condos — full of young buyers looking for furniture that’s a cut above Ikea, but less serious than mom’s dining room table. Arhaus’s southern entrance, on Aliceanna Street, across from South Moon Under, lures shoppers with floor- to-ceiling windows and great-looking room displays.  Next thing you know you’re inside, whether you were really looking for a distressed oak daybed or not.


The shop floor is light and bright, with furniture and accessories on the fashion-forward side of Restoration Hardware. Comparisons between the two are inevitable: quality and pricing is similar, both stores tend toward large scale pieces in solid hardwoods. Both favor neutral-toned fabrics in linen, leather and tweed. Arhaus’ strength is in a brighter and more varied fabric selection (because, really, shades of grey is not decorating) with more one-of-a kind items and a more fun aesthetic.

On the day I was there, customers ranged from fashionable young women, one with decorator in tow, clearly on a buying mission, to couples dreamily putting together a wish list, and even a few wistful-looking single guys.  A pleasant and knowledgeable young man approached me immediately, letting me know about a weekend sale event, and guiding me towards the “statement” armchair I had spotted across the floor ($1,599 down from $2,199 with free fabric upgrade). He wandered off when I wanted to browse, but reappeared, with flawless timing, to answer questions.

arhaus:room2Prices here are not cheap, but not outrageous by any means. Sales and promotions are frequent and varied. There’s a plain linen sofa marked at $809, down from $2700. Beautifully framed butterfly prints at $159 each, down from $349 (would anyone buy them at $349? Probably not.) A giant bed is piled with throw pillows in an pretty assortment of fake fur, bright silks and soft flannels, marked down from the $150 range to the $39 range.Some interesting India patterned cotton lamp shades from $39-$59.

A line of architectural salvage pieces add character. Accessories make use of organic materials — glass, stone and wood. There are interior specialists who will come to your house with highly rated (according to Yelp) advice on choosing colors, styles and mixing new stuff in with the old. They had a number of complaints about delivery and post-sale problem solving, (Yelp again) but so do other interiors stores.

Creativity: B+ good for what it is – a high-end mall store

Service: A+ staff is enthusiastic, relaxed and very informed

Price: $$$  for the level of quality, it’s on the money

Best find: Turquoise painted bombay chest, $599



Pigtown Design Turns Eight!


I started this blog eight years ago this week. I had recently moved back from the UK and was so “homesick” for there that it physically hurt. I was working for my best college friend’s family firm, and his father would yell at me: You! With the dark hair!” and then a pencil would come whizzing my way, with me instead of the dart board. I was living in my parents empty house until I found a place to live and I’d just adopted Connor, the amazing Houdini dog. (Yes, that is Connor with his snout in my boot on our mudroom floor!)

I needed something stable in my life, and something to focus on, other than everything that was swirling around me. I had found Style Court and the Peak of Chic. From there I discovered other blogs, and decided to put some structure in my day by writing a blog. I had been writing for years, but it was mostly fundraising pieces, grant applications and public relations articles. Writing every day would keep me in practice until I returned to fundraising. Writing the blog would also give me a chance to hone my photography skills.2013-01-19_16-19-15_65

Pigtown Design: Design and Decorating Books That Stand the Test of Time


I think that it’s always fascinating when you hear about something new, and then all of a sudden that thing pops up all over the place in your life. I was reminded of this, in a way, when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty section over the weekend. The article (here) talked about vintage design and decorating books which have stood the test of time. Her Holy Grail is the 1938 edition of Dorothy Draper’s “Decorating is Fun“, which I am pretty certain I have (from the Book Thing). Yep, I’ve gotten a few copies.

The author, Gillian Fassel, talks about five essential books that someone interested in vintage design should own to start a collection. First up, of course, was Billy Baldwin Decorates.

And then Terrance Conran’s mid-70’s series of books about the House Book, the Kitchen Book and the Bed & Bath Book.image

Pigtown Design: The House Downtown Redone


My friend Stephanie owns a lovely shop called The House Downtown, and it’s always been one of my favourite places to check out the latest home décor trends. She’s got a marvelous eye and the shop always looks terrific to me.

Stephanie saw flaws where I didn’t, and she just wanted to freshen up the shop.So for the past seven weeks, the shop’s been closed and getting a makeover. I stopped in this afternoon to see it at about 85% complete and it looks fabulous!

A Christmas Perennial: Rutland Beard at Ruxton Station



Okay, this is the year you’re going to be ready for the holidays. You can easily wait to get the tree, but not to start the planning.  A wreath or two? A big statement with greens?  Magnolia branches and fruit, Southern style?  Garlands, ropes of pine, floral centerpieces…whatever it is, Rutland Beard — a family owned florist who’s been at its Ruxton location since 1921 —  has a long history of getting it done, beautifully.

Floral designer Alison Webb. AIFD, who also answers to “Lee,” listens as well as she decorates. “So much of it is understanding what a client wants,” she says. “If they have an idea, we’re happy to collaborate.” And if it happens, as it sometimes does, that a client has really no idea at all? “Never mind,” she laughs, “we have plenty of ideas.”

Ornamental Decisions: How to Deck, Not Wreck, the Halls


Well folks, it’s the most wonderful time of year again. ‘Tis time to deck the halls, trim the tree and untangle the effing lights. For those overachievers who are already done, congratulations! You are annoying! This one is for the rest of you, and no pressure, but you’re a little behind the eight ball. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “’We have all day Saturday, a little Home Depot, a little Valley View and home just in time to crank the Mariah, open a bottle of red and get to work…it’ll be fun.” Please stop lying to yourself. The likely reality is that you will be drunk by 6:45, on the brink of divorce by 7:30 and screaming at your kids — “Mommy Dearest”-style — about ornament placement by 7:45 sharp. Not exactly Norman Rockwell.

On Sunday, panic mode will set in and you’ll begin to exhibit frenetic behavior. The voice in your head that says, “just get it done” will be at full volume and set on repeat. You will no longer concern yourself with “minor details.” You will put a red bow on the Halloween wreath still hanging on the front door. You will forgo all fire safety and plug 12 sets of lights into the same outlet. You will boldly display the faded nylon poinsettias your mother-in-law gave you. Your results will beg the question: why even bother? If you need evidence of this phenomenon, please stop by my neighborhood and see the house where the owners placed just one of those light nets atop a single random shrub and called it a day. Tell me they weren’t just checking the box. 

So how do you avoid becoming a drunken whirling dervish and come up with a result you can actually be proud of? I think it starts with developing a methodical game plan and a strong set of rules. So put down the staple-gun, come down from the ladder and ponder some guidelines to trim by. Hopefully, they will set you on a course for your calmest and most attractive holiday yet.

Rule # 1

Keep the bigger picture in mind.

Your holiday adornment should reflect your home’s style and decor. Traditional stately house? Traditional stately decorations. Sounds simple but it involves restraint. All those store displays of similarly themed decorations can be damn beguiling. For example, I have recently found myself dreaming of a white Christmas…tree. In my mind, it’s flocked and adorned with candy-colored ornaments: peachy pink, Tiffany blue and peridot green. Very late 60‘s-Sharon Stone-“Casino.” I envision completing my vintage holiday look by wearing a hostess gown and using a punch set. Sadly, this is a dream that will have to wait. My house is Cape-Cod-cottagey and all that fabulousness would look incongruous and confused here. If I ever get my hands on this mid-century masterpiece, however, I will do that white tree thing to the nines!


Rule # 2

Be consistent. 

This one is a biggie and the most broken rule of the bunch. As your Aunt Lucille’s house demonstrates, not everything “holiday” goes together. There are dozens of genres and subsections within. A pulled-together decor relies on an understanding of the nuances and displaying like with like. A few examples of holiday “looks” that are popular today:


Vintage: Think Zooey Deschanel, bird motifs, Hampden thrift shops, milk glass, Anthropologie, boxwood and Etsy.

Mod: Think Lady Gaga, graphic shapes, Home on the Harbor, bright white, CB2, lacquer, and the BMA store.

Woodland: Think Snow White, acorns, Irvine Nature Center, birch wood, your yard and Terrain.

Grand Traditional: Think Charlotte Moss, magnolia, Scully & Scully, Sunnyfields, bows and Horchow.

Once you pick your look, consistency is key. If you are going kitsch, then by all means gather your hub caps and flamingos and get to work. If you are going rustic, start gluing your pine cones and moss. Just don’t mix the two! They will cancel each other out and look like one hot holiday mess. Want to incorporate multiple styles under one roof? Keep them in separate rooms. A brightly colored and more casual tree in the family room (put the kids’ macaroni ornaments on that one) and a dressier one in the living room will keep things cohesive.


Rule #3

Purge. Purge. Purge.

It might be time to re-evaluate the following: The “country” snowmen hand towels, the neon tomato-colored velvet ribbon, the teddy bears dressed as angels, the MacKenzie-Childs high-heeled Christmas stockings, the mauve ornaments from the 1987 “Victorian” themed tree, the Krinkles collection figurines, the “I love shopping!” purse ornament, the gold and burgundy tree skirt, the mantle carolers and, obviously, the Christmas sweater!


Rule #4

Think outside of the box.

This just in: Orange and teal are the new red and green! Well, not exactly but holiday decorations today are not as literal as they used to be. It’s less about putting up cliched signs of the season and more about creating an atmosphere of warmth and sparkle. This can be achieved by using colors that complement the room’s existing scheme rather that visually announcing “It’s Christmas!” with gingham bows. This approach also means you can move beyond the mantle. Add lanterns, mirrored objects and metallics throughout the room to create an overall glow. If you still want to to incorporate a bit of tradition, do it in unexpected ways. Instead of evergreen boughs and holly, try a big glass bowl filled with pomegranates and limes. It’ll be just as festive without the cliche.


Rule #5

Less is more.

The final rule addresses the most beloved holiday decorating mistake: going too far. Do not take any of the above advice and apply the if-a-little-is-good-a-lot-must-be-better mindset. Trust me, it’s not. A single lit shrub is bad, but a lighting job that induces permanent retina damage is worse. Likewise, when executing a decorating theme, there is a fine line between pulled-together and overly-enthusiastic-decorator-on-diet-pills. You have been to that house. Every conceivable surface is covered in greenery, hundreds of huge wired bows abound and themed ornaments seem to breed before your eyes. It’s tiring just to look at. When in doubt, do less and do it better, and you will surely add some beauty to the season. Happy holidays!