Wednesday Style Points: Tole Cache Pots = “LBD” of This Time of Year

Wednesday Style Points: Tole Cache Pots = “LBD” of This Time of Year

We’ve been BUSY these past few days…so I will get right to it!!

(Fact: We have been using Tole Cache Pots all week & so have our clients)

1970’s French Tole. Missed this sale on OKL, but am SURE we could find someone to fabricate something similar with our Couture Chateau “made just for you” on the underside…;)!

tole also tôle  (tl)


A lacquered or enameled metalware, usually gilded and elaborately painted.

[French tôle, sheet metal, variant of table, table, slab, from Old French, from Latin tabula, board.]

So yes….this happens to be an official waste basket, but I have been known to use these for fabulous mini evergreens around this time of year!! I mean, something this pretty should be “up”! Image linked: Pink Palazzo Tole Wastebasket, Taigan

Love it.

Why the “LBD”?

a) it lives in your home all year

b) it fits your home decor all year

c) it can be “dressed up” or “dressed down” = customized per occasion

d) it faithfully pulls through as a design staple

I mean…good enough for Brooke Astor…good enough for me…;)!

These were auctioned off by Sotheby’s from the Estate of Brooke Astor. I can see them bare like this or filled with delightful things!

Later I will show you some of the variations we have scattered throughout my home & my client’s homes. Just yesterday, we received a cell phone shot from a client hosting Thanksgiving. She used wheat. Next month am certain it will hold greens. Lovely!

We found this stack on Hound Hill Design. What I like is that you can literally shop Home Goods to Sotheby’s for the ones that fit your home. Contemporary to traditional. No excuses!

oh, and…..

e) I simply LOVE them empty. Austere. On a clear clean table or chest. Just like that perfect “LBD” it can stand alone!!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Saturday Studio Time: Curating the Calendar, Customizing the Experience

Saturday Studio Time: Curating the Calendar, Customizing the Experience

So, Saturday we try to stay away from the Studio….

especially because it’s in my home

Family Time + Fresh Air = SANITY

However, sometimes, you just need time to curate the calendar

Curate = Look up the original meaning…nice!


1. Beneficial.

Over scheduled + Stress + Deadlines = Mess (Personal & Work)

My work piles = messy. This was the loading section for a shoot a while back. Not lined up, organized, but not “tidy”. I have delightful designer friends who have offices akin to surgical rooms. The Brain God gave me does not naturally bend that way…I have to discipline it into obedience!!…

For me, a naturally messy worker, papers piled high, stuff surrounding my work space…curating transforms my November & December. It is not easy, trust me. So I walk along side you, coffee in hand…and say, I KNOW…it’s hard, but it simply HAS to be done.

2. Goals = Achievable.

We have now taken approximately 3 weeks to prep, install & photograph a Holiday Feature. Whew. If we hadn’t cleared the decks for a bit it never would have happened. And I HAD to eat my words last week, because I hadn’t planned ENOUGH. It’s a process ;)! Always give yourself 3x the hours you think a project will take. Be pleasantly surprised if you finish early!

3. Leaves room for “Custom Life Experiences” to unfold

Each November + December, I crave hedges. Absolutely nothing scheduled. There is something so delightful about finding yourself with enough time to “think + be” instead of rushing out to shop or frantically decorating last minute.

What can you CURATE today to leave room for your “custom” Nov + Dec?

Your Home?

Your Calendar?

Your Family?

Your DIY Projects?

Your SELF?

For me today = my November & December Calendar

“No” is a complete sentence

FORCING myself to leave some blanks

Leaving doors open just because

what is your open door?

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: My Favorite Frugal Lamps to Customize

Frugal Friday: My Favorite Frugal Lamps to Customize

+ 1 really cool chandelier (luv RL)

I love lamps

Problem is most of the ones I really covet are terribly expensive

Here are my tops for go to FRUGAL lamp + lighting and how we custom upscale them

1. Pier One

Fabulous Coral Lamp from Pier One. If you look closely at the Beach House on ABC’s Revenge, you’ll see it there too! At $125 a complete steal.

I own two. Painted Coral? Navy? Yes. Easy to customize with color + shade is nicely constructed. Takes a monogram or transfer nicely.

2. TJ Maxx-Tuesday Morning – Home Goods

Ralph Lauren Perry Chandelier, in Brass, which I found at a TJ Maxx. Granted, knew what I saw when I saw it…but the point is, you CAN find some great things here at this “Family” of stores

What we did: customized with a fabric sleeve to cover the drop. We had to modify the lamp due to a sloped ceiling and thought why not coordinate that with the bed skirt in the room. Almost ready to be photographed, not quite!

3. Target

These are really beautiful lamps from Target. At $194 for two, a real deal. They look so much more expensive than they are.

Why I like these from Target. They are so sleek. I think they’d work in just about any setting. Here I do recommend changing out the shades for a true lux look. Sometimes the “give a way” for a less expensive lamp = standard shade.

4. Home Depot

Home Depot Antler Chandelier $189. Can’t buy the box for that!

Do you remember earlier in the week when I shared the painted antler pic? Can’t say that I would use this without some kind of customization – but will share that we have now used this actual chandelier as a “base” over 7 times. The price simply can’t be beat. All white? Solid Silver? Combination? Bring it on…besides which it gives off fantastic light!

So there you have it. Some of my favorite customizable frugal finds = lamps + lighting.

Have a great day!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: How to DIY Luxury Style, Guest Article

Wednesday Style Points: How to DIY Luxury Style, Guest Article

Today I have the honor of being a guest contributor to our Local Weekly Paper

Live. Love. We are ALL LOCAL!


It’s all about 5 Steps to Make Your DIY Luxury

Support!  Tweet!  Share!  Pin!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My China Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: My China Habit

I hesitate to call this a habit…

yup, have this one…Royal Crown Derby Blue Mikado. My mother’s pattern.

More like a collecting thing…HA! my husband would say…

And this Hutschenreuther pattern which was grandmothers

more like an addiction…

Franciscan Medallion Blue China

Possibly a hoarder?….no…(!)…well…sort of…

And in case you need a moose while at our cabin…

Except I USE them all….and even CUSTOMIZE them when needed with transfers or monograms

I mean don’t you always need 150 white buffet plates just in case :0?! Lordy….I may need to go to confessional after this…

What about when you need BLUE rimmed buffet plates for 150 ??

Really I do…

These match the office carpet…so…we just HAD to have the complete set in case 25 people needed to sit and match the carpet…LOL…OMG I have a prooooblem ;)!

Problem = I LOVE china. All forms, all styles, yup.

Blue Danube China

Anyone out there share my “habit”???

Adelide is fun too!

(two of my sisters and I can impulse set 200 places for sit down 5 course meals)

Calyx Ware :)…yup…this too…

Scary. Blame it on the Hotel Background.

Furio China from Thailand…these look fabulous on vintage tables! The matte black is gorj with food.

And more

Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles also…:) works from Christmas to Valentines Day!

The scary part? This isn’t close to all of them. Doesn’t include the Holiday Patterns, the other Cabin Patterns and several I use when it’s just 6 – 8 ladies for lunch….shhh…..but don’t worry, they aren’t hidden in boxes, I do take care to keep them orderly in the China Cabinet (s)….so that makes it ok, right ;)?….

My mid-western routes. I blame the Hotel thing for my need to be able to serve 200 drop ins 5 courses on china and silver!! 🙂

The upside: If you stop by for a meal, at least the table will be nicely set, JUST for you

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Monday Matters: Realistic Timelines for Custom November Holiday Projects

Monday Matters: Realistic Timelines for Custom November Holiday Projects

We do a lot of custom around here

Custom Fabric

One of our Custom Crewels. All hand over – under woven on ivory velvet. Sumptuous. Spectacular as drapes.

Custom Furniture

Even Custom DIY!

One of the funniest things we deal with are Clients with unrealistic timelines

This past week + weekend do you know who had one?


Rather humorous to see my Assistants just “look” at me when I described the to do list a week ago


So we worked on Saturday (thank you!!)

Asst Project Facilitator Daniel made a glorious mess.

And a bit on Sunday (forgive us Lord)

today = tackle a realistic calendar at the Morning Meeting

4 Things I wish I had remembered about Custom Timelines = take your own advice Ann!

1. Don’t rush custom. It impedes quality.

Last week was filled with custom DIY Type Holiday Projects. I left no margins = mistake. PLAN your time out. Include breaks & walks to clear your head, your Assistants heads AND your skill set!

2. The great custom idea in your head takes TIME to communicate effectively.

This is sneak peek of just one. The time that goes into making a shot is incredible.

Light bulb Design moments = super excited to get them fabricated & photographed. Instead of making sure I had specific instructions I relied on quick sketches & “kind of like this” communication. Thank goodness we are a flex group around here. Some good music in the background and fresh coffee pretty much saved the week. Next time, drawings!

3. CLEAN the mess before you start another one.

We are using this as a jumping off point for a clients custom light fixtures in a cabin project that has NOTHING to do with the Holiday Crush. We have FIVE chandeliers in our small space that need to be prep’d for our artist. They take up a LOT of space…

We have a small Studio Space. At 600 square feet, we r tight. Everything does double duty. Throw in some Client Areas & a delivery of 5 Chandeliers that need to be prep’d and all of a sudden, organization = CRITICAL.

As you watch your home morph into combination spaces: Home + Holiday + Gift Storage + Wrapping Center + Mailing Machine, much like our little studio has over the past week: Holiday + Regular Client Business + DIY, take a few minutes to review the list.

Monday Matters = Starting the week off right

Hope it helps!

Looking forward to sharing these pics with you. Can hardly wait. Maybe that’s the problem…I’m just like a kid at Christmas!

“Live a custom life. There’s only one you.”™

xo Ann

Saturday Studio Time: Custom Holiday Feature

Saturday Studio Time: Custom Holiday Feature

Working today. Grumble? Not exactly….

We are out in front of the Studio doing some retro Holiday Crafty Type Painting

Here’s a sneak peek….stay tuned and have a GREAT weekend

Daniel, our Assistant Project Facilitator and Inventory Chief…working today out in front of our Studio Door.

As soon as we are free to share this feature, we will.


Customizing with Color

Using Recycled Material

Up-Cycling Holiday Basics

Are you working on a Holiday Craft this weekend?

Love this Ikea Blanket. Cozy up on the sofa. Malin Band Throw. $19.99

Let us know! We’re in!!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Semi-Upholstered Walls

Frugal Friday: Semi Upholstered Walls

I love Frugal Friday…it’s the day we quietly slip off Louboutin and put on DSW

Hello classic. Louboutin at Niemans. $700+

you know you have done it…:)

Sweet fun. Marc by Marc Jacobs at DSW. $199 – ish


How to customize your Couture Chateau when you really want fabulous upholstered walls but need that frugal alternative

This Lee Jofa Silk has such a beautiful hand. Found this beautiful picture on ebay of all places…

I blame my training in NYC for this obsession

 Silk Taffeta in a Park Avenue Private Elevator & Entry?

What a way to learn. Divine.

Problem was, I spent the next few years trying to figure out how to DIY it…(sort of)

Here you go:

1) Drywall Panels. The Acoustical Kind. 4 x 8 sheets. Hardware Store or Lumber Yard. Pay for delivery if no big suv = cumbersome & semi-fragile. Have used 1/2″ & 3/4″.

Basically Drywall that is rated for Sound Proofing. Different Texture than regular drywall. Brown or white, available at Lumber Yards. Has a “cottony” texture on the face.

2) Proper Framing/Fir Strips or Attachment for Hanging. We use 3/8″ plywood strips at upper edge & attach cleat hanging systems (metal or wood).

a fir strip is essentially a piece of wood used to stabilize or even out a surface. for our purposes we attach at the leading top edge on the back and use it to strengthen the hanging cleat. if fabric won’t hold with staples into panels, use additional fir strips around the perimeter of the entire panel on the back.

3) Wrap, Upholster (no batting), Install.

4) Trim out with fantastic gimp & nail heads.

We have 10 custom panels in our 600 sq foot Design Studio

Why I like this Custom Alternative (where appropriate):

A) Custom Wall Upholstery is expensive. Very. Especially done right.

B) This = slightly temporary. And easily customized. Can morph from frugal headboard (no batting, no plywood in size) to pin board upholstery in teenagers room to simple wall upholstery. It’s easy to make it “you”.

C) If you have a fabric you love but don’t have $$$$ to purchase the 120+ yards necessary this is a FRUGAL alternative


You know the drill…skill & time. Rush + poor execution = looks cheap!

This is not “cheap Friday”, it’s Frugal Friday….;)


When I “unearthed” this trick, I was a (broke) 20 something designer watching a temporary installation going up. I asked what the set designer was using.


You can learn a LOT from set designers ;).

They are always making custom spaces and places, “couture chateau’s” for peeps.

Have a fantastic weekend. And remember…

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: Curating Your Luxury

Thursday Spotlight: Curating Your Luxury

I had the deep honor of being quoted on Elle Decor’s Luxury Now Feature on their Website

Am I on the other side of this life? In the shadow of the greats. Deeply humbled.

Being in the same company as Elle Decor and those I admire is beyond comprehension

Labored and Learned

The Reading Paintings of New York’s Seymour Joseph Guy (1824-1910)

Humbly acknowledge “the more you know the more you realize how little you know”

Curated Luxury = Your Custom Life

What is it that speaks to you

What is it you value

In the aftermath of life’s “foxes”, stripped down, simply: how do we choose to live

What we keep, what we cherish, what remains….those are my luxuries

A cashmere cape from a husband who knows who I am ‘right now’

As I struggle with “foxes” of weight and loss, the grace of people who know you = luxury


A virtual moment with a friend in the aftermath of Sandy with what little power they have left


A realization that life will never be without issue = stop the worry, embrace the pain

Embracing the pain & loss to move forward today. Image linked.


Filling my Couture Chateau with simple things that speak to me, not by $$$$, but by heart

My kitchen sink…custom…curated…combined


Thank you Elle Decor

(if you do not “know” them, you should)

Luxury Now

“Live a custom life. There is only one you”™

xo Ann