Friday, January 30, 2009

For Victoria...

A very dear friend of mine has suffered a great loss this week. It reminds me that we should try to appreciate every minute of every day and to embrace the beauty that surrounds us and not to take anything for granted.
I think that all of us in our small blogging world understand this as is shown daily in your posts. Some may say what we do is frivolous - and I strongly disagree and believe we are all fortunate to have this passion that allows us to see the beauty around us, hopefully even in our darkest moments.

This is what I see today as the Hamptons rests in its winter serenity. I hope my friend is able to see this soon also.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Journey Begins...

Hello and welcome to my blog!
This first post has been written to follow the journey from opening my first shop in the Hamptons three years ago until today. Please continue viewing through Older Posts to see all three years of trials and tribulations!
Click on any photo for detail.

While still working for Ralph Lauren I spot a small building and fall in love with it for my first shop on a dreary December day. After some thought (not much!) I go back to have another look and decide on taking two buildings for the new shop!
The main building is the first floor only - but has a nice sunny front room, and nice space in the other three rooms. Note interesting furniture left from previous shop owner! I see the potential and am already designing the rooms before the lease is signed.
Lesson: Only wrap your heart around a building for your new store after you have negotiated the lease!

While we prepare the shop with wallpapers I start producing and buying for the shop. Notice throw pillows directly inspired from my time spent at Ralph Lauren. Blue and white is a given when you live on the coast!
The first room starts to take shape - and about time - the shop must open now for the summer season.

Lesson: Sign your lease, move in, and open within one month!

Another room comes together. Looking back the shop started out very English and traditional!
The small building is shown as a garden room. The custom table skirt is made from fabric and bullion fringe trim from Cowtan & Tout. The floral arrangement is silk and was custom made for this vignette. I just used these white majolica plates for my Christmas table on tartan place mats - timeless!

This is the front room of the main building. Note the beautiful French inspired dining table with the heavy wrought iron base. This table found a home in my client's wine cellar next to an antique wine barrel that I also sold to him. These dog prints are favorites of mine - I think they work equally well in traditional or transitional rooms. The curtains are hanging over the chair waiting to be hung.

The shop started out sort of sparse - but as you can see it rapidly started filling up.

Lesson: Interior design for the home is very different than for a store: more is much better!

A sweet vignette in front of the small building. The set of four plates have a different beehive scene on each plate. Nice for a ladies luncheon or brunch.
The shop has great exposure being located directly on the main road running through the Hamptons. Hard work displaying this everyday.

A very nice spot for lunch! Note the beautifully aged columns in the background.
Dog lovers will appreciate how wonderful these large dog prints are. Look at the expression in their eyes. These have somehow found there way into my own home flanking the fireplace!

These are our custom built huge cedar birdhouses. My talented friend who builds them is busy assembling one at a client's house. It is quite a bit of work as the birdhouse measures four feet high. He never looks very happy during the ordeal - but the end result is well worth the effort.

I start thinking about Christmas displays for the shop. You wouldn't think what is shown in this photo would amount to much! But it actually is how an idea starts - by falling in love with something - a fabric, a new piece of merchandise, a trim, pillow, or a rug. In this case it was this beautiful apple green velvet and a luxurious trim from Houles.
Merchandise starts arriving for the Christmas vignettes. Look how far they have come with the artificial greenery! (Required by fire codes)

And then we put it all together in a couple of long nights just in time for the holidays! Many of my favorites are shown here: I kept a set of these antique gilded quails for myself. Very reasonably priced at $25-$45 and I use them all year round. Also look at the beautiful set of Limoge plates - love the hand painted rim on the chargers. I like to think the table setting helped sell the dining table -which sold the next week.

All Christmas packages are wrapped like this for the holiday season. I love the combination of woody rustic with gilded anything!

Lesson: Don't become too attached to your store vignettes - they hopefully sell and then you start all over again!
My dear friend and major design buddy, Victoria Petersen over at Victoria Petersen Interior Design - has discovered the design blogs and introduces them to me. I am hooked immediately! Through our favorite blogger Peak of Chic - - I discover Absolutely Beautiful Things - and her Christmas Competition. What fun! I enter my photo and am thrilled to win the first round!! And from then on I am a devoted reader of the bloggers.

Now the holidays are over I turn my attention to developing a website for Hound Hill Design and new vignettes for the store. Ideas are taking shape for a vignette: fabrics, accessories, furnishings, and tabletop. And then the final store display. These are my first experimental shots for the website. I am determined to do my own styling and photography for the site. It took me three months!

Lesson: Learn to delegate!
I adore this pitcher with the hound handle. I bought them thinking I would own them for a long time due to the controversial hunt motif. But I did sell them to another whippet lover. Note the timeless Scalamandre "Edwin's Covey" fabric used as a back drop.
A beautiful nautilus shell encased with sterling silver mount and handle. This piece found a very nice home with a lady who walked into the shop right before closing and went right to it. I asked her if it was a present and she replied "yes - for me!" I thought that was very nice that she was treating herself to something really special. Lots of hard work but I hope you will all agree it was worth the effort. Please have a look:

Time to do my favorite task: shopping for the store! Tired feet, bad food, but you end up very excited and inspired by what you see. You can begin to see with my merchandise selection that I start to lean towards a cleaner, lighter look and veering away from the strict traditional English style I have loved for so long. My favorite is this antique Belgian antler chandelier that has carved wood bobeche and carved dog head horn finial.

Store displays:

First photo shows some of the new purchases in all neutrals. The pair of antique French chairs sold immediately - so charming!

Second photo shows mix of vintage, antique and reproduction pieces against the GJ & Baker "Poppies" wallpaper in my favorite muted grey and white tones.

Third photo showing transition from English traditional to Belgian inspired. I like mixing dark wood pieces with neutral tones.

And a few months later after deliveries, dumpsters full of irritating packing materials, and quickly moving pieces out of the sun and rain and into the shop this is what the customer sees. Beautiful raw oak table with carved lion paw feet. This table is unique in that it is very long but quite narrow. It can be used as a dining table or as a console. Even though it is large scale it feels intimate because of the narrow width when only two are dining. Love these heavy stone lamps and the weathered elm root chairs.

Lesson: Selling is much easier when you truly like your merchandise!

Everyday something new happens at the shop. Today we are preparing a display to donate to the Hamptons Cottages & Gardens table at the Super Saturday charity event held every summer in the Hamptons. Designers are asked to donate items to benefit The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.