Meet Designer Ashley Rodriguez Reed

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We see thousands of photos a day. Our Instagram feeds are filled with the perfectly polished coffee table and pumpkin spice lattes have made their cameo appearance in every fashion blogger’s ootd. We drool, we scroll, we repeat. It’s not often when we stop to notice something different.

In the overwhelmingly huge Javits Convention Center, I stopped.

This past spring, I flew to New York to get inspired by the National Stationary Show. The work of each vendor was exquisite. Though, after walking aisle by aisle, I began to notice a lot of similarities around me. I could easily spot the top five trends in the stationary biz.

Getting lost in the maze of the convention center, my senior designer and I found ourselves wandering into the SURTEX marketplace. Surtex is the global B2B marketplace for sourcing original art & design—where artists, art agents, licensing agencies and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable.

The first booth I saw was Ashley’s. My senior designer and I both stopped – yes, physically stopped and looked (a rarity at these shows). Ashley Rodriguez Reed had something that the others didn’t. She had flare. Originality. Spunk. Complexity. Her work was captivating.

This summer, I got to know a bit more about Ashley and the inspiration behind her unique patterning. As an artist and designer, Ashley has set her goal on a surface pattern line full of textiles, wall paper, and more. As a teacher, she continues to inspire young artists and designers.

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Tell me about your brand. What do you stand for as an artist?

I started to develop my brand in 2015 when I committed to building a business around surface pattern design. My style is meant for people who love art, color, and fun! I make artwork that is inspired by many different things, but my artistic style of using layering and texture brings a unique element.


I want my artwork to bring joy, inspiration and a sense of play into people’s lives.


I couldn’t agree more! When did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career?

I knew very early on that I wanted to be an artist. In elementary school, art was my favorite subject. It was the only class I could easily focus on. In college, I thought I wanted to do fashion design, but that changed to fine art. I liked the freedom that a BFA would give me. I studied printmaking and textile design before going on to my MFA in Fiber and Material Studies. Now I am a designer, teacher and fine artist.

That sounds like quite the full schedule. What are your day-to-day activities like?

Right now everything has been all over the place due to my move to San Fransisco. When I get back into a routine, my day to day would be teaching art, drawing or painting at my home studio, continuing to build collections, and working on my overall brand. With my fine art practice, finding time to work on art projects varies. If I have a show, I might be in a larger studio space screen printing and building on the weekends. The past 3 years I was teaching undergraduates as an adjunct professor at Tyler School of Art. That was an amazing experience!

This year, I had worked toward SURTEX by building my brand. I’ve always found ways to piece things together and continue to balance work and art making. It can be nerve-racking at times to have a lot of unknowns but it’s also freeing.

How would you describe your style? What inspires you most?

My style is a mixture of geometric + bold meets texture + illustrative. I’ve always gravitated towards pattern, lots of color, and layering. Nature is my favorite place to look. There’s so much interesting beauty in nature. There’s also the relationship we have with nature from how we cultivate it, shape it, and sadly destroy it. I’m interested in cycles in nature, growth, and transformation.

I also love fashion. Fashion is interesting because it changes all the time and it’s a way to express ourselves. I love seeing people take creative risks and wearing bold prints with confidence!

I hear ya! With several creative outlets available at your finger tips, you have to have a favorite. Which medium keeps you loving what you do?

My favorite creative outlet is printing. I love screen-printing without a plan. For example, I might make a few screens and then overlap and layer different patterns and create different compositions from them. I also like to play with different materials and see what they can do. In graduate school, I found that cardboard was in an abundant supply. I decided to work with it and see how I can sculpt with it. It was a challenge but the more I made, the better I understood how to push the material. I like that kind of process.

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You have taken patterning to another level. What is it about patterns that you enjoy?

I’ve always enjoyed how patterns express so much. For example, if you see a certain type of pattern, you may be able to identify the culture and/or time it comes from. It is like another language that can tell us about a person, place, or thing.

Creating pattern is very stimulating. It is mesmerizing as well. Even though surface pattern is so prevalent, there is still a skill to designing a very interesting pattern. I like playing with structure and color. A good pattern has to be considerate of this.

I’m in love with your cod pattern (above pillows)! What made you decide to work animals into your new line?

Thank you! When I first started, I made patterns that were less illustrative, with only abstract shapes and designs. Then I realized how much I love and adore animals and illustration. About halfway through designing my collections, I really began to draw animals because they make me happy! I thought, why not start to draw them and see where it goes. A lot of pattern for children has animals but I wanted to make animal patterns that adults could enjoy just as kids do.

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What goals do you have for your artwork? How would you like it placed in the design world?

I would like to have a line of fabric that people can buy yardage from and make anything they want with it such as bags, pillows, or clothing. I see my work as many types of products and it would be amazing to see what other people do with them. I want the patterns to be used creatively by people who like to make, style, and design themselves.

What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Keep making no matter what! It’s hard to find time when we have other jobs and life obligations. Creating a space that you can work in is also helpful. If you don’t make a place or set aside time, it will slip away. Stay connected to other artists and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something you want to know. It can be scary to put yourself out there but it’s the only way. Don’t be afraid of what other people say. I’ve had many moments where I’m thinking to myself, I must be crazy for making/drawing this. What am I doing? But then, I just keep going. You have to have faith that it will work out through the process if you stick with it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I think I’ll still be living in the Bay Area and probably doing a combination of what I’m doing now. Teaching is a passion of mine and I want to continue to be an artist/designer and educator. In five years, I want to have seen my artwork licensed on a line of textiles and see how people have been inspired to use them. I would love to see my pattern on home interior textiles or wallpaper. I’m excited about where it will go! I’m looking forward to more collaborations with businesses, artists, and students!

The Quick 5!

A musician/band you never get sick of is: Pink Floyd

Your favorite outfit in your closet is a: jersey knit tank dress. So simple and easy!

Coffee or Smoothie? Coffee!

Beach bum or Mountain climber? Climb the mountain to get to a beach.

Role model: My mom


Find Ashley online:

http://www.ashleyrodriguezreed.com

@ashleyrodriguezreed

 

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Getting Personal with Society Social’s Roxy Owens

Let’s face it. If you haven’t dreamt about a piece of furniture yet, you are about to. Every night before I fall asleep, I go over my day’s accomplishments and tomorrow’s to-do list (yes, I’m that type A). I think about all the things I’m thankful for, along with how I forgot to pay my credit card bill and how much I really need a new desk chair for my 5-9 pm blogging gig. I ooo and ahh over Society Social’s Matisse Chair on my iPhone and fall asleep in shades of avocado and orchid twill.

Meet Roxy Owens – owner and head designer of Society Social, a home and lifestyle furniture line featuring bold colors and tropical influences. As a leading tastemaker in the home and entertaining industry, Roxy has received high praises from HGTV, House Beautiful, Southern Living, and Lonny.

Known widely for her renaissance of the bar cart, Roxy has taken the home-decor industry by the horns by inviting bright colors, bold fabrics, and fine-detailed materials into the mix. Getting to know Roxy’s business mottos and career overview was easy – two of my favorite blogs had done the heavy lifting for me. As an aspiring designer, I knew I had to say hello – even if it were only to ask some silly questions of my own (Roxy, can we totally be BFF’s?!).

 

9 Q’s for Roxy O:

You almost single-handedly brought the bar cart back to life. If you could pick one other  furniture or fashion comeback, what would it be?

“That is so sweet! Thank you! I definitely took on a mission to bring the bar cart back and have been so tickled to see it make a spirited resurgence. I would love to see classic rattan in more homes, whether it’s natural or newly refinished in a pop of pink!”

 

Give me a walkthrough of your closet. What items are your staples?

“I don’t like to spend a lot of time getting dressed in the morning because it makes me feel like I’m not focused on getting to work, so my closet is filled with easy, casual go-to’s like breezy dresses, linen tees (love!), and my favorite ripped jeans. After hours, I loved to dress up and have a weakness for glam dresses and caftans so there’s a few of those in there too!

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A good hostess should never run out of ________.

“Champagne.”

 

You are designing a friend’s powder room. Do you splurge for the patterned wallpaper or make a statement with a funky mirror?

“How do I possibly choose? Both!”

 

What book should be on every girl’s reading list? 

“It’s summer so an easy, beach read to be enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. Crazy, Rich Asians is hilarious and fascinating all at once.”

 

Beyonce has offered you her private jet for the day. Where do you go and what do you do? 

“I would pack it full of friends and family and off to Positano we would go!”

 

What item doesn’t belong on your bar cart, but is there anyway?

“I live in a small NYC apartment, so every piece of furniture has to double task. The top of my bar cart is styled as an end table, while the bottom holds all our glassware and booze. I don’t think there are rules in decorating! The most important thing is to make the space your own!”

 

What do you love about the first piece of furniture you created and what do you love about the last? 

“What I love most about the design process is the very end of it, when customers send me images of their home and how they’ve made SS their own.”

 

At the end of the day, what complements your gin and tonic?

“I’ve been known to take a few laps around the room, dancing solo.”


I can’t thank you enough, Roxy! I’ll join your dance party any day.

Find Roxy on Instagram via @societysocial

 

 

 

 

 

 

meet the blush label

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BLANC_TheBlushLabelHow do you define style? Google defines the noun as “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.” But come on, isn’t style way more than that?

Some of us dream of Clueless Cher’s revolving closet of the 90’s – bound forever to fashion forward magazines and the styles found in local boutiques. Others focus on style at home – form, function, and originality. There is an entire multi-million dollar industry focusing on this word. Style. It’s quite overused, wouldn’t you say?

Let’s remix this baby. Redefine style and what do you get? Confidence, originality, trend-setting, unexpected combinations, courage, poise, unique details, and ultimately, a defined design.

As a designer, a pet peeve of mine is to see inspired works overused in the industry (chevron, you poor thing…). Skilled designers are emerging daily, but who’s to decide if they have this newly-defined style or not? I’ll tell you one thing, The Blush Label nailed it.

Meet sisters Christie and Mary, the design duo and creative directors of happy hour and home. The two may not have revolving closets, but they dream of a day when the linens in their homes would be as colorful and lively as the clothes in their closets. Posh patterns and layered color combinations rule the scene in their works. There is a sophisticated chicness that overtakes you into a sea of tropical color combinations.

They have formed a brand that truly embodies style. I spoke with Mary to get the label’s full story: where they started, who they’ve become, and what advice they have for women entrepreneurs.

Try not to drool, okay?

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Tell me about the Blush Label. Who are you as a company? What do you stand for?

“The Blush Label is a home decor and entertaining accessories company based in North and South Carolina. We’ve designed our line to be functional and affordable with a bright color palette. Since we launched our line, it’s been important for us to stay true to our design aesthetic and to our affordable prices.”

How did you start? Who had the “big idea” and when did you know it was time to say “let’s do it.”?

“We were on a trip to Puerto Rico in 2012 when we decided to start the business, but it took us two years of prep work before we even launched. Starting a business doesn’t happen overnight! We launched a blog first (Things That Make Us Blush) to make sure there was a market for what we wanted to do, after that we decided to go for it.”

What challenges did you have in your first year? How much did self doubt play into things, if any?

“There were a lot of challenges and of course, there still are! But the important thing is to always stay true to yourselves and true to your customers. We’ve had glitches in the system and orders take longer than expected, but those issues happen when you’re a small business. The important thing is how you deal with those issues that will set you apart. It’s important to believe in yourself – always. We can’t stress that enough. There are times when we’ve doubted projects or product lines and they’ve ended up being huge for us. The important thing is to try and to not take it personally if a particular product doesn’t do well.”

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You started with cocktail napkins. Why is that?

“We launched our business in phases to ensure that we weren’t overwhelmed when we first started. It was a decision that worked very well for us. If you’re starting a business, test the waters with what you can handle first and then expand from there. Doing that will help you refine your processes in small increments along the way.”

What other product have you designed since the cocktail napkin?

“It wasn’t until High Point Market that we realized how many products we now offer! Decorative pillows, coasters, place-mats, glassware, serving trays and silk scarves.”

What makes you different from the other entertaining retailers?

“What makes us different is our design aesthetic and pricing. We offer quality products at an affordable price in bold color schemes, and we also design everything in-house – you can’t find it anywhere else!

BLANC_TheBlushLabelTell me about your individual styles. How did you merge those? How do each of your strengths play into The Blush Label?

“Christie’s style is more bold like Kelly Wearstler, but mine is a little more classic. I love the classic blue and white scheme with pops of color. One thing we do agree on is our love for gold – we aren’t big on silver finishes. Everything in our line was originally inspired by our father’s native Puerto Rico. The island is oozing beautiful, bright colors and we’ve incorporated those in our products. We also love to travel so while we were in the Amalfi Coast last year, we decided to bring in some of the colors we saw during that trip as well.

We each have different strengths, and we’ve divided those up to help our brand. Christie is the Creative Director so she designs everything and builds our product portfolio. I head up the business side of the company and handle our accounts, finances and PR. We both take on a lot, but we’re very supportive of each other in our areas of the business. We are constantly communicating, which is key for us! We hold FaceTime meetings three times a week to keep us on task.”

What goals have you accomplished as a company or personally at this point. What goals do you have for the future?

“It was our goal originally to make this into a full-time career for both of us and we’ve accomplished that, which is huge for us. Starting a business and working on it while having a full-time job is incredibly hard. There are a lot of late nights and early mornings, but as long as you have the drive and desire to make it happen, you can.

As a company, we’ve grown leaps and bounds within a year of launching. Our product portfolio has grown and we continue to open new accounts with great customers, stores and designers from around the world. We plan to continue growing from here by increasing our presence in the marketplace.”

What advice do you have for young women looking to start their own brand?

“1. Stop doubting yourself and go for it! We’re lucky to have each other to lean on when we hit a rough patch. Some entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of having a business partner (especially one from your family) so it’s important to always stay motivated.

2. Listen to the women who have done it before you. We met the founder of a well-established and fast-growing company the other day and her advice was on point for where we are in this stage of business. They’ve been there before and know what it’s like to be where you are in your stage of business.

3. Use the feedback you receive to improve your product. We did this after our first market and it helped us immensely with one of our product lines. Don’t take the feedback as someone being negative – use the feedback to your advantage to improve your line. This can be difficult since there are some products we’re attached to, but take a step back and really listen to your market.

4. Read! There is so much amazing material out there. Newspapers, blogs, magazines, editorials, etc. – stay informed about what is going on in your community and the marketplace.”

What’s your best seller?

“Coasters and glassware – we can hardly keep them in stock!

What’s your favorite piece?

“We both love the pineapple rocks glasses! The Bombay Scarf is another one of our favorites.”

 


Shop my favorites:


See more of The Blush Label online and on social media:

www.theblushlabel.com

@the_blush_label

Brush Stroke Lamp DIY


blogger’s note: I’ve been getting lots of inquires about the brush stroke lamp I created out of a Goodwill find. This post was originally published as a collaboration with one of my favorite health and style bloggers, Peaches to Pearls. The Jana Bek inspired design is a quick and easy weekend project that makes a statement!


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Hello Peaches to Pearls readers! I am so honored to be guest blogging for Luisa today! Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Tarah. I’m a 24 year old graphic designer from Charleston, South Carolina. When I’m not painting, eating up the holy city (literally… yum!), or sending beach pics to my freezing loved ones in Chicago, I write Blanc – a lifestyle blog for professional newcomers.

Besides being President and Vice Pres. in the 5’2″ and under club, little Miss Luisa and I have a lot in common: we believe a pop of color makes the outfit (or room), a doughnut is better with sprinkles, and that you don’t have to spend big to go big. Oh! and we can’t pass up the J.Crew sale rack.

Today, I want to share with you a little about Blanc. It is my mission to relate: to share my experiences and to tell you the tales of what young 20-somethings could really use in life (or just for fun!), rather than which $59 platter you should buy. Because at some point in our lives, we are all new. We are a clean slate, we are fresh eyes, we have yet to be molded. We are blanc.

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If you’re starting to say say “cut to the chase Tarah – how do I make that damn lamp,” then don’t worry, I got you girl. Today I’m going to share with you a designers hack: my $25 lamp created to mimic one of my favorite interior designers Jana Bek’s (http://janabek.com/the-shop/) legendary beacon.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A lamp (obvs) – pick something with a smooth surface that can easily be painted
  • Spray primer & spray paint (I used Krylon’s 2-in-1)
  • Acryllic paint, color of your choosing
  • An inch and a half wide paint brush
  • Metallic paint pen (optional)
  • Clear acryllic gloss finishing spray

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Step #1: Let’s start with the lamp. I found this show stopper at Goodwill for just $5! Notes on finding the perfect fit: pick a lamp with a large surface area. This allows your pattern to translate easier.

Photo4Step #2: Spray prime and paint your lamp. Be sure to hold your spray can at least 8-inches away from the lamp in order to get an even coat.

Step #3: Let the painting begin. Create a scene of large and small overlapping ovals. There is no proper way to methoidize this step, so just go with the flow! Painters tip: I used an paint brush with hard brissles and mangled them pre-painting. Since the goal is to get a brushed look, I wanted the ends of the brissles to be a little flared.

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Step #4: Accenting the lips. Every girl loves a good stained lip and so will your lamp. I chose to paint my base a metallic gold to add a pop of sophistication. I used a paint pen that I had on hand, but metallic paint will work as well.

Step #5: Seal the deal. Coat your final product with a gloss finishing spray to add dimension.

Step #6: Add the accessories. I topped my designer-look alike off with a geometric lamp shade I found at Target (on sale for $24.99).

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When always looking your best is our #1 priority – let’s face it, we all want Luisa’s closet…SWOON! – we tend to forget to dress other parts of our lives: our home, our creativity, and sometimes our diet. I challenge my fellow Peaches to Pearls followers to do something creative this weekend. Create your own Jana Bek look-alike, organize your closet (see my tips here (http://blanc-blog.com/2015/01/19/team-organization/)) or simply make a Valentines day card for a friend. Share your findings with me on social media via @blancblog and hashtag #boldwithblanc.

Cheers my loves!
xoxo,

Tarah

gallery wall guidelines

Blanc Statement ArtAs I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a sucker for a good piece of art.

Men, that’s easy. I like them confident, cleverly funny, and with a smart head on their shoulders. Classic or new age, screen-printed or hand-painted, black and white or color galore: I have no “type” when it comes to art. In fact, I may or may not have chosen to live in my teensy carriage house based on the fact that it had tall ceilings where I could create a killer gallery wall.

I believe that you have to have an eye for art and that everyone’s eye is different (just like in choosing men). If I was forced to narrow down my style, I would say it is bold and eclectic. I like that no piece matches another and that there is never a theme throughout my collection work (unless of course, it’s accidental!). Today, I’ll be sharing my tips for hanging art, along with designer and blog-guru Erin Gates’ tips from her book, Elements of Style.

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Erin’s tips on ways to hang art :
(in the words of yours truly)

1. The Statement (as shown in my living room above) – Use one piece of art that is large enough to anchor the room and make a lasting impression. Artwork that is too small will get lost on a large wall. This particular piece was DIY-ed after a piece of artwork on one of my favorite blogs. I added the spray painted corner brackets that I found at Ace Hardware.

2. The Leaner – For a more casual look, lean a grouping of artwork on a shelf or mantel up against a wall. Layer the frames over-top one another for a cohesive look.

3. The Gallery Wall (as shown as in the first image above) – You may not know it, but gallery walls are surprisingly simple. The best come from simply winging it with no measurements at all. Erin’s tip: trace all your art on newsprint and arrange them on the wall with painters tape first. Then let the hanging begin.

4. The Grid – Arrange matching frames in a grid for a crisp look (a grid of black and white photos is my fav!). For smaller frame sizes, keep each 1-2 inches between frames. Larger frame sizes can have up to 4 inches between frames.

Adding a Blanc twist:

1. Balance – I like to keep the largest pieces of my gallery wall near the bottom of the grouping. Visually, these pieces carry a lot of weight so you don’t want them “squishing” a smaller piece of art. Balance sizes and colors throughout your wall rather than grouping them. Also keep an eye out for the type of art you are displaying. Balance abstract art, photography, drawings, etc.

2. Think out of the box – Ditch the frame. Adding unframed pieces to your collection can add dimension. Try using metallic animal heads, gold urchins, mirrors, or photo hangers (pictured below, find at Target) to add interest.

3. Stick to a theme when framing – using all the same frame type can give you a unified and tailored look. On the opposite end of the spectrum, using all different types of frames can give you an eclectic feel that will unify itself on the wall.

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Happy Hanging!

Questions on the techniques or images shown? Comment below!

 

springing a green thumb

BlancTulipsWhat’s that I hear on the local news? Seventy degree weather coming up?! Yes, please. Spring has finally arrived ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn’t be more joyous. Peace out winter jackets, 5-o’clock sunsets, and Frozen sing-alongs. In simplest terms, bye Felicia and hello sunshine!

My favorite way to bring spring into my home is with fresh, seasonal flowers. I buy inexpensive flowers at Trader Joe’s and place them into a favorite vase as-is or I create an arrangement of my own (see the how-to here). Flowers are a great way to add color and a hint of freshness to a tired winter apartment. Grab a $3.99 bunch and you have an instant centerpiece.

The trick to the madness is knowing the basics of making your cut or potted flowers last. Let’s discuss the theories:

Theory #1: Spring flowers need lots of sunlight.

False. Spring flowers are cool-weather flowers and should not be placed in direct sunlight. In fact, most flowers will bloom and die quicker in a warm space than a cool one. If you want your flowers to last longer (say, until your guests arrive for the weekend) place them in the refrigerator.

Theory #2: Cut your stems on an angle.

True. Cutting stems on an angle creates a larger surface area, allowing the plant to drink in more water. For thirstier flowers, like hydrangeas, cut up into the stem creating an X and let them drink up!

Theory #3: Add sugar, Asprin, or even a penny to your flower’s water.

Let’s go with a maybe on this one. My best advice is to change the flower’s water and cut the stem-ends every other day. Don’t just top the water off. You can also use the fertilizer packets provided with most grocery store flowers.

Theory #4: Water potted plants everyday.

False. I have killed many succulents in my day… I’ve even killed a cactus. How, you ask? Over watering. The amount of water a plant needs depends on the specific plant. Do your research and take notes on your plant’s behavior. Watering volumes also correlate with amount of sunlight and the constant temperature.

Theory #5: Keep cut flowers away from fruit.

Surprising true. Fruits release a type of gas that causes most cut flowers to age, leading to a quicker wilt.

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Wishing all my followers a lucky green thumb and a happy spring!
xoxo

collecting art

Blanc Blog Art

An knowledgable man once said, “creativity is intelligence having fun.” Good old Albert Einstein predicted the future in not just the world of knowledge, but the creative world as well. Little did he know that creativity would turn into passion. That passion could then turn into the art of collection.

For me, my passion of collection is art (could you have guessed?). I truly believe the art one buys or creates is a direct reflection of their inner self. For example, one of my favorite pieces that I own is my bright yellow ‘Have Mercy’ palm screen print. I bought it at a small, eclectic shop in Asheville, North Carolina for $25. It wasn’t an investment piece. I didn’t research the artist for hours. I didn’t have to ponder for two seconds about whether or not I was going to purchase the 20 x 30 inch poster. I bought it simply because I liked it.

It is graphically bold, it is colorfully bright, and it has a message. It became the focal point of my gallery wall as soon as I got home.

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Accompanying Mr. Have Mercy on my walls are framed illustrations that I ripped out of Communication Arts magazines, an abstract wood panel painting my good friend Natalie Taylor made for me, and vintage posters I’ve found over the years. It’s all collected – all random. Each piece has a significance.


Rule #1: Art should feel collected.


Stay away from the stock pile people! Yes, that means you, Hobby Lobby enthusiasts. A significant collection of art should develop over time. Not every piece needs a dramatic story, but some pieces do. Collected art gives your home a personality. It’s what makes your home different.

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How to Collect the Goods:

  1. Art Fairs & Student Work– Fairs are a great place to find local artists outside of their galleries. Most art fairs will sell unframed art which is usually cheaper than buying it pre-framed. Pair the purchased piece with a painted Goodwill frame and you now have an original piece. Local universities also have art shows throughout the school year. In the case of having creative friends like I do, ask a friend for an original piece and offer to compensate them for it.
  2. Souvenier the right way – Following in my mother’s path, I like to look for new artwork when vacationing. It’s a chance to scope out local artists that are unknown to your home town. Plus, it makes for a better memory than that Mexico coffee mug.
  3. Online – websites like Etsy and Society6 offer loads of original work at a range of prices and sizes.
  4. Look at more than just “art” – Calendars, greeting cards, or even pages of art magazines or books make great framed artwork. I framed Rifle Paper Company‘s Chicago greeting card above my stove for a little piece of home in my kitchen (above).
  5. DIY the art you love – Having a fine art degree, I tell myself “you can make that” a lot. Mimicking art you admire is one way to display personality in your home. The trick is to put your own spin on it. I created the abstract gold circle painting (shown hanging over my couch, above) on an old Hobby Lobby canvas and added spray painted L-brackets I found at Ace Hardware. The piece was inspired by abstract art I found on Pinterest. Note: Be sure to respect the artist’s work and abide by intellectual property laws!
  6. Found art – let me explain below…

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Found art is just as it sounds: found objects that are turned into art. My friend Skipper introduced me to the concept one Saturday afternoon over a bottle of champagne.

“Most of my artwork is found art,” she explained. “My family has always collected art and turned it into new things. My grandmother loves to paint and my mother loves to create art structures out of found items. The bamboo fish on my walls (below, photo #2) are made from bamboo she found in the mountains. The vintage pin up girl posters (above) are advertisement drafts from when my great grandfather worked at an advertising agency long ago. The illustrator actually went on to illustrate for PlayBoy.”

Skipper goes on to explain how she not only inherited the artwork of the role models before her, but she also inherited their love of found art. The distressed gold mantle hanging above her tv was found on the side of the road on King Street.

“It was a piece of a broken frame that I found outside of an art gallery in downtown Charleston. I just loved it.” (shown in below, photo #1)

Blanc Skipper

 

Bottom line? There really are no rules. A piece of drift wood is just as much of art as a painting. What’s important is the self expression and originality behind the art. Make it you – not just a filler piece – and collect away!

Thank you Skipper for letting me photograph your tremendous collection! 
xoxo 

 

proper glassware tips

Blanc Proper Glassware Tips

Since 2011, Toby Keith has hummed his way into Party City stores of America with his oh-so-lovely single, “Red Solo Cup.” Throughout college, it didn’t matter what you were drinking out of, but rather what you are drinking. A red or blue solo cup was the norm. My friends and I would throw in a plastic Lily Pulitzer cup at times just for a little style, but most of the time, no one gave a damn.

Since graduating and working in the events world (and becoming oh-so-much more sophisticated 😉 ), my opinions have changed. It kind-of, sort-of matters what houses those college-mixed drinks. I noticed that it had become a pet peeve of sorts when I went out for a cocktail and had my champs brought out in a wine glass. Nit-picky? Maybe a little, but I knew it was served improper – what a buzz kill, ladies!

So as I pour myself a glass of red wine (a stemless glass, to be specific), I’m going over the importance of the right glass: which pairs with its drink of choice, which to serve to guests, and which will make you look like you know what you’re doing in the drink-making department. A little glass-ology, if you will!

Blanc Proper Glassware tips


 Let’s start with the essentials:
Red vs. White Wine vs. Champagne

Red | Typically red wine glasses will be a bit taller and have a larger bowl than white wine glasses. In general, reds are bigger and bolder wines so they require a larger glass to allow all the aromas and flavors to emerge.

White | Most white wine glasses have smaller bowls and mouths. This reduces the area of contact that the wine has with the air (in scientific terms, reducing the rate of oxidation).

Champagne | Champagne glasses, or flutes, are the most thin of all the wine glasses you will use. Every girl loves her “bubbly,” and this glass, my friends, will keep it there. The less oxidation it gets, the longer your champs will bubble.

Favorites that I have at home:


 Cocktails: Rocks vs. Neat

Let’s get some terminology down here: a neat drink is a single, unmixed liquor, served without being chilled and without any water or other mixer. On the rocks referes to liquor poured over ice. Both can be served in a rocks glass. A drink served neat can also be served in a martini glass.

Where to get the goods:


 Beer

With a new craft beer emerging daily, finding the right glass can be a toughie. The most common glasses you may recognize are the mug, pilsner, or pint glass. Other choices include the snifter, tulip, or weizen, but the list can honestly go on for days. These specialty glasses are a bit harder to collect. I like to keep some Charleston pints and  tall boy (usually pilsner or weizen) glasses on hand in case I’m ever serving beer.

Fan Favorites:


 Frozen Cocktails & Fan Favorites

Here’s where you can have a little fun. I’ve picked out the best specialty mugs, goblets, and frozen-drink favorites. Your Moscow Mule has not been forgotten!

Just for fun:

home buying in your 20’s

It has to be said that I could buy a house tomorrow. Financially, no. Pinterest-dream world, yes. I could tell you every detail that I (already) have planned out from the number of bedrooms to the type of counter tops I would install. Moving from a studio apartment to a (still pretty damn small) carriage house, I have been able to release some of those design endorphins on my current home, and yet, it just never seems to be enough…

Starting this blog, I knew I wanted to explore all kinds of interiors – styling a friend’s reno, refurbishing a co-workers vintage bar cart, capturing the homes of my peers that have a style I different from my own. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing my good friend Sara’s town home.

Sara, 28, is an attorney here in Charleston. I met her when we both lived in studio apartments, a floor apart from each other. Since then, she has dug her feet into the ground and bought her own home. As a more-than knowledgable knower of all things real estate, I sat down with Sara to get the 411 on doing it on your own – buying in your 20’s.

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Tell me about your moving history:

BEFORE: Sara's living area pre-built-ins
BEFORE: Sara’s living area pre-mantel and built-ins

I live in a fee-simple town home, meaning I own the land and structure and manage it without an HOA (home owners association). There are no covenants or restrictions on what I can do to the structure itself. I moved into a blank space – I had no furniture! Then I renovated the entire downstairs.

I can’t imagine. What was the renovation process like?

I added the crown molding though out the entire house (adds instant architectural character). In the kitchen, I knocked down a wall of cabinets, built a breakfast bar, replaced counter tops and added granite (it was 1981 laminate!).  I added a backsplash, 2 pendant lights, and refaced the cabinets. I also added overhead lighting and the built ins in the living room. Lastly, I painted and added a doggy door for my dog, Marley.

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Did you do all of this on your own?

I saved money by painting myself, but for everything else I used a contractor. One of the things I regret is not looking at several contractors. I went with the first one that gave me an estimate. My three pieces of advice for renovating would be:

  1. Ask around for recommendations on contractors and get more than one quote
  2. Get everything in writing
  3. Plan to go over budget

Make sure that you can be at the job site daily. No matter how great the contractor is, things will get messed up. It’s important to go in before its too late to correct things. Even if it’s as simple as centering a light fixture over a table…

What advice do you have for someone thinking about buying a home?

If you’re interested in buying, don’t shrug it off like you can’t afford it. Smaller banks/regional banks are the key. They’ll work with you and they are a huge help. For me, they were the ones to say “if we can get you into a home, we will.” Once you’re in your home, it will feel a lot like paying rent – it becomes clockwork. It’s just that initial process of buying that the difficult part.

One thing to remember is you can’t change location. Don’t write off a house just because its ugly or blank. A 1981 classic can become something great in the right location, but a beautiful house in an awful location can’t be fixed.

Try to pick a place that you can rent out: a 2-bedroom with 2 master suites is a highly desired rental. You’re not buying your forever home. Think of it as your starter home – some place you would love to live.  If you love to live there, others will too.

Also, remember that it’s your first home. The bank will likely tell you you’re approved for an amount far greater than you may want to spend. You’re in your 20’s! You don’t want a large mortgage to prevent you from traveling or going to concerts. If done right, a house can be a huge financial stepping stone and can become a valuable asset.

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What is your favorite part of your home?

It’s small. It’s a great fit for me and Marley. It’s the perfect type of cozy. When I was thinking through designs, I didn’t want it to be so perfect or so fussy that guests couldn’t feel comfortable coming in and kicking off their shoes. I wanted it to look put together, but also very welcoming.

 

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Sara’s kitchen before and after renovation

 

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What is your go-to spot for furniture on a budget?

  1. Craigslist – scope out brands and be patient
  2. Overstock.com
  3. Target is great for smaller things, like a side table.
  4. If at all possible, have one antique (mine is my credenza).  It makes everything – including a Target side table – look more expensive.
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Sara and her handsome pup, Marley

 

 Thank you Sara (and Marley) for hosting me!