Aside from the fact that I pretty much run all of my own purchases/ house tweaks by Nicole, the Fleurir chocolate shop is the first time we've officially worked on a design project together. And it's awesome. Both the project and the working together part.
Time was short and the budget was tight, and I knew that Nicole--who is total creative rockstar--could make the most of both. Thankfully, she agreed to come on board and work her magic. All those years of developing my skills of persuasion as her little sister paid off afterall :)
It had to be fresh and whimsical and organic... and huge. And basically free.
Think branches, tennis balls, black beans, clothes pins, and wax paper. Oh yeah, and golf tees.
What? You can't picture it?
Ok here's an in progress peek....
Since the shot, a few more buds have bloomed on the branches, but you get the idea. At night the shadows are incredible!
When Nicole isn't whipping up last minute sculptures out of nothing, she's in her studio painting masterpieces (check out a few on her website)....
I love, love cage lights, but I haven't managed to sell Rich on the idea, and I can understand. Y'all probably understand the appeal, but I think that most normal people (of course I'm sure some of you are that too :) don't really get the draw of exposed bulbs. They're a hard sell because getting them to look just right, not too harsh can be tricky.
Well, I had nearly convinced Rich that a cluster of cage lights would look awesome near my reading chair. It was going to be my birthday present...
but before I could fully convince myself, i changed my mind when I stepped outside one day to study the sad state of our back yard, and looked up:
there it was, our neglected planter that we hadn't even bothered to take down. My mind started racing, and I dropped everything that I was supposed to be doing, and set out to work. That's the trouble with free projects, they always, always seem like a good idea, and at least for me, they always assume a frantic type of urgency that may or may not cause at least a tinge of temporary insanity. Thankfully I have an understanding (or maybe it's worn down?) husband and patient kids who like to humor me.
The shape reminded me of this cage light pendant that I had seen at mothology:
I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with mine, until I found a great lamp base at Target that I couldn't find a good shade for. So I decided to combine the cage light concept with a regular lamp base rather a pendant light since that's what I needed for my reading corner.
• Select a hanging planter basket with a crossed bottom (as opposed to a solid disk)
• remove filling and hanging chains from the basket (most chains are simply attached with easy to remove clips)
• Place piece of paper on the outside of basket and trace the lines of the basket onto the paper (I used a falling apart book of Bob Dylan music as an inside joke with Rich…I've loved Bob since I was 12 and spent high school covering an entire walk in closet with his pictures, but Rich can't stand him :)
• Cut out the strip of paper and use as a template for cutting out remaining strips. Note: You can be less meticulous about cutting out the strips to perfectly match the width of the bars, or you could simple cut out random strips to create a paper mache effect. I wanted the light to distribute evenly when turned on, so I cut the strips to correspond exactly to the width of the wire bars.
• Brush mod podge or acrylic gel medium onto the strips of paper and place them on the inside of the basket wires, pressing them lightly into the bars so that they stick to the wire bars as well as to the other sheets of paper. Repeat until you've covered the inside. Note: the key is pressing lightly, so that the paper doesn't loose its shape or warp.
• Let dry for several hours. Reapply mod podge in any areas that look weak. (After it was completely dry, I brushed the entire inside with mod podge to make sure it kept its form.
• Cut the top third off a wine cork and cut off about 1/2 inch
• Using a drill or knife (I used a paring knife) create a hole that's slightly smaller than the width of the harp's finial screw
• On the other side of the cork, slice a cross (I used a serrated bread knife for this part as it cuts through cork very easily)
• Screw the hole side of the cork onto the harp's finial screw
• Place the cross at the bottom of the hanging basket through the slices in the top of the cork
I have had one guest ask me if my daughter made it (she's 5 :) and a few others who have eyed it questioningly, but I really like it, and smile whenever I take the time to read some of the lyrics.
The last 6 weeks may have been the busiest of my life. Lots of client projects, lots of meetings, plus sick kids and lots of doctor appointments. All on top of homeschooling and the usual home projects. Oh, and I'm now officially nine months pregnant--crazy!!! So it's been insane. But it's funny, because even with all the craziness I've been my happiest. Wanting to rest and slow down, but excited to be doing what I have been, and feeling a sort of balance even while juggling a lot.
Plus there has been a ton of sweetness along the way, one of the best being a visit to Angelique's home.
I met Angelique in January when I visited Chartreuse and Co., the wonderful monthly barn sale that takes place in Buckeystown, MD about an hour outside DC. It was a frigidly cold day, and I didn't last long at the barn. So after snagging a few things for this new baby's nursery, we (went with Alissa and Margaret, two awesome friends with great taste), and headed into Frederick where we sought warmth in Silk & Burlap...which just happened to be the shop that Angelique owns with her friend Saule. I had spotted some of their great stuff at the barn sale, and was blown away by some of the great things in their shop. Most of all I was blown away by Angelique, who must be one of the very sweetest most down-to-earth, strongest women I've met. I instantly loved her, and was only too delighted to have another opportunity to see her aesthetic genius at work during my tour of her house.
It's a 100 year old home, and she's preserved almost all of the original details and woodwork while putting her own unique spin on it.
It's the type of home that you don't want to leave. Balanced and well-laid out and warm and welcoming. The floorplan and proportions themselves are great--big open kitchen/dining area, but still lots of separate rooms for lounging and reading and playing, but it doesn't feel to big or too spread out. And Angelique has made the most of every corner.
I stayed for a long time, and still didn't want to leave! You can check out the rest of her house in the tour that I wrote and photographed for Apartment Therapy. Her beautiful daughters are some lucky little girls!
I had every intention of posting this a month ago when I put up a how-to for apartment therapy, but for some slow-to-bloom-trees, as in our kwanzan cherry tree or our dogwood, which won't blossom naturally for at least few weeks, this trick still works.
Branches are my favorite types of blooms to have in my home because generally they last a long time and have that whimsical sculptural presence that it's hard to get with many common vase flowers.
Forcing them is super easy too:
• For high, select branches that are at least 12 inches long and that have a lot of buds
• Cut branches from the tree or bush with pruning shears or scissors and trim the ends, removing any smaller twigs and buds toward the bottom 6 inches of the branch (or any part that will be under water once in a vase and will rot)
• Using sharp scissors or kitchen shears, carefully slit the branches at the end in several directions. The slits should be about ¼ to ½ inch long.
• Mash the slit ends into a hard surface so the ends splay out slightly to encourage the branch to absorb water (I used the concrete sidewalk as my hard surface, pressing the ends in and scraping back and forth a few times).
• Completely submerge the branches in a container of cool to lukewarm water so that not parts are sticking out (a bathtub or utility sink are good places for longer branches) and leave to soak over night.
• Place the branches upright in a bucket or their vases and move to a room or area that doesn't get a lot of natural light (I use the hall closet, you can just go ahead and pretend it's sparkling clean ;), and leave for a week or until the buds begin to show little signs of color. Usually I get impatient and skip this step entirely or only let them sit i the closet for a few days, but I've heard it's best to let them wait. During this time add water as needed.
• Move to their permanent location, and enjoy the blooms! Depending on the type of branch, the flowers will take between 1 and 3 weeks to reach full bloom, and may last for several additional weeks. (My dogwood branches usually last for a month at full bloom!)
There have been a few factors contributing to the delay of Fleurir's opening, but I'm grateful for a little extra time on the design end! It continues to be an awesome project, and I'm going to be so sad when it ends. Dabbling in retail design has been a fabulous creative compliment to the residential projects that I normally take on, and I couldn't ask for better people to work for. Ashley and Robert, Fleurir's awesome owners, are a total treat--super creative, a dream to work with and basically just fun.
Yesterday I snapped a few pictures in hopes of sharing progress with you, but then proceeded to leave my camera case and connection chord in the shop, so I only have a couple of little phone shots to share today, but they should give you an idea of the whimsical natural vibe we're creating....
In real life, the shop is a lot lighter and airier and less gray than it appears in the photo, but you get the idea.
So far, we've done all the work ourselves, which has been super rewarding at least for bossy me who has done a little more directing than refinishing/installing than either of them or their wonderful helpful friends. With design, it's awesome having a team to do all the work for you, but it's easy to feel a bit out of touch with the actual process, which is what I tend to really enjoy. I love working with hands, and experimenting a bit, so this has been the perfect excuse. And of course, I'm still doling out a fair amount of bossy directions to a very capable team of workers--Team Fleurir aka Robert and Ashley--so it's been a happy balance :)
The dangerous part is all the chocolate I've been privy to sampling lately...not such a safe idea for this 9 month pregnant lady who has already reached max capacity!
Ok friends, I'll share more when I get my camera chord back. Happy Wednesday!
Working with them has been pure delight. I was already in love with them, but this has sealed the deal--they're awesome! It's a blast to be able to throw out wild ideas and have someone(s) really get it. They're creative visionaries, and it's wildly fun to be a part of it. It's the definitely the type of project that energizes rather than drains...which is why I have to force myself not to think about it too close to bed time or sleep won't happen.
Ashley and Robert snagged the fantastic location after a few heartbreaks with other spaces that fell through, but this one is totally perfect. It's small and it's in pristine condition, which we needed because we have a total of three weeks (as in 1, 2, 3) to turn it into the sweet oasis that it's intended to become. Oh, and they're doing the work themselves. Impressive is an understatement.
"Fleurir" (which I still can't pronounce despite asking them how to every time I see them) means to bloom, and the the shop's aesthetic is meant to build on that idea. Like their chocolates, we want the shop to be a fresh interpretation of a rustic whimsical garden. In my mind, the above photo taken by the insanely talented Christina Bernales and styled by lovely Ashley served as the spring board for the design. And thankfully, my very talented sister and artist Nicole agreed to work her sculptural magic for the main installation. After showing her a quick sketch of what I had in mind and loosely describing my idea she had already come up with an incredible plan for a wall relief completely made out of found materials. She's pretty awesome.
We're now entering the third week, and most of the work will be completed (fingers crossed) by the end of the weekend, so hopefully I'll have a few good pictures to share. In the meantime you can check out their blog for updates.
In other news, next week is the installation for another project, one that's a long time coming, followed by another one the next week, so wish me luck (and sleep) friends. And I'm banking on this baby staying put.....