Nashville Skyline: a modern point of view

September 5th, 2014

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Last year a young professional athlete came to me in need of design help for a Midtown Nashville penthouse he was in the process of buying. One of Nashville’s swankiest addresses with 180-degree views of the city and purportedly the Nashville base for Taylor Swift, we embarked upon transforming the space from traditional to über modern. Far more befitting a young Swiss transplant.
The apartment had been professionally decorated and done well, just not in my client’s style. Nor mine. A LOT of beige, far too many earth tones and not much personality.
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We began, as I always do, with paint. We repainted the entire apartment, walls, trim and ceilings, and replaced carpeting where it existed. My tried and true Farrow and Ball color, Cornforth White, was used throughout the main part of the apartment which instantly brightened the already sun drenched rooms. We worked with one of my favorite stores in Nashville, Nouveau Classics, on many of the pieces. We chose an Eilersen Tub sofa and ottoman. I cannot convey how much I love this company. Handmade in Denmark with the utmost regard to quality and craftsmanship, they are beautiful and so very comfortable. Tomesella Podio coffee table, Nuevo Living marble side tables, Nuevo Living Conner Chair and my favorite little West Elm white task lamp.
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This area of the apartment was staged as an office, which I doubt was ever used. When presented with the option of a reading corner or bar, my client just rolled his eyes at me and I took my leave to go begin designs for a bar.
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At the time we were selecting art for this project, we were personally buying a few of Gray Malin’s Á la Plage prints. I brought my client hundreds of art options and it was Gray Malin’s Prada Marfa series that he immediately said yes to. It couldn’t be more perfect above the white lacquer bar.
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My client did not want to incur the expense of replacing the backsplash or granite in the kitchen, so we opted to update the seating and pendant lights.
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The smallest changes can have a huge impact. Tom Dixon Mirror Ball pendants and Calligaris New York Swivel counter stools gave the kitchen a much more modern look.
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The previous owner had used a round dining table which was ideal for the space. I campaigned heavily for a round Saarinen marble table but in the end, I lost.
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My client was set on this Restoration Hardware table which I actually ended up loving. I did, however, manage to convince him to use the Knoll Tulip chairs. The light is the Brera Suspension Lamp by Creative Mary, a beautiful custom lighting company based in Portugal.
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My client loved the Warhol gun prints and I ended up just buying them on art.com for next to nothing. We had them framed nicely by Midtown Gallery here in Nashville and they look great.
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The guest room was dark and not at all welcoming.
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We used Farrow and Ball’s Dimpse on the walls and thick linen draperies. We upholstered a Camerich bed in a deep navy with all white linen bedding. Artemide Tolomeo sconces and mod loft nightstands. My favorite is the Brooklyn Bridge mural by Flavor Paper.
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It’s the little details that give a space its personality….
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An aerial view from the second story. All in all, the apartment feels modern, bright and infused with character. Now I just need to figure out which apartment Miss Swift owns and slip my card under her door.
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Ever so many thanks to Brad + Jen of Q Avenue Photography for their beautiful (as always) photos. And to James Wilson and Carrie Crowell for their help on the shoot and throughout the project.

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Balancing Act: Scandinavia by way of the South

June 1st, 2014

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Once in a blue moon a client comes along who possesses impeccable taste, is a joy to work with, trusts you implicitly and you adore them. Two years ago, just those people came into my life. My clients purchased a new build in my favorite neighborhood of Nashville, a mere five minutes from my own house. A dream for those of us that find driving to be the most loathsome task on earth. Without a piece of furniture to their name (they are Scandinavian transplants), we started with a blank slate. Their only real requests were keep it black, white, grey and modern. And off we went. As the interior progressed, they decided to take the design outdoors and we added a pool and outdoor living spaces.The pictures (thanks to Brad + Jen of Q avenue photography) mask the mayhem and bumps that ensued along the way. Nothing showed up when promised, painters were fired, I have 10 yards of of insanely expensive fabric collecting dust in my garage because of my own error, brand new irrigation systems were destroyed by rogue digging equipment and my children’s faith in my abilities was seriously questioned. I took my girls over to the house with me one day so they could see the pool we were putting in. They looked in the backyard, which was a disaster at the time, and my youngest said, “You did this to their house?!?? Mama, you aren’t very good at your job”. This is also the child, who when asked what her mother did for her job, told her class “she has lots of men clients and she goes to their houses for work”. Which might explain the noticeable lack of play date requests. But I digress. Some how it all turned out and these clients have become dear friends of mine. Here are a few photographs of the finished product.
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One of my favorite paint colors is Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White. It is a true grey that does not read brown or blue as many do. I used that and Farrow and Ball’s Blackened throughout a majority of the house. We chose Verellen sofas in organic white linen with Schumacher and Designers Guild fabrics on the pillows. Arteriors marble coffee table and Patterson Flynn and Martin carpet. Painting by the endlessly talented James Wilson.

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This is an old table I found at an antique store in Franklin, TN. We had to alter the legs a bit but it fit in the space perfectly. And the old camp stools from a thrift store are a perfect fit.

crowell_vosswood_0026Everything in the house was brand new so in the interest of frugality we were selective about what to replace. I have a strong personal aversion to granite but this was brand new so we had to work around it. We painted the cabinets a fresher, brighter white and tiled over the builder basic tile with this hexagon marble from Mission Stone & Tile. Just those small changes made a huge difference.

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We painted an accent wall Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore, which has a slight brown undertone and was perfect in the kitchen with the earth toned granite. I found an old farm table at Scott in Atlanta and used white Eames chairs and a sisal rug. Christopher Farr is one of my favorite fabric designers and I love the look of this muted print, Breakwater, in this space.

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These German educational botanical prints were little etsy treasures.

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This shade of grey (Amherst Grey by Benjamin Moore) pulls just slightly purple, which is beautiful with the Bryan Nash Gill wood prints and the Patterson Flynn and Martin rug we designed, which took forever but was so worth it! Arteriors chandelier, Verellen host & hostess chairs, Restoartion Hardware dining table and my favorite Carl Wegner wishbone chairs.
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My client is beautiful and sings like a bird. If she wasn’t so damn sweet, I would hate her. Music is such a pivotal part of both their lives so we turned the front room into a music room and Library. This might be my favorite room. All black and white with the books being the pop of color, it is so bright and fresh and endlessly inspiring. The oversized Amanda Means light bulb prints are stunning.
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I found these chairs in Atlanta at a “Palm Beach” themed flea market booth. They were dirty yellow with fabric I was convinced housed several thousand bedbug families. After serious extermination, we lacquered them black and reupholstered the cushions in Designers Guild fabric. Madeleine Weinrib pillows, a jielde floor lamp and élitis fabric for the draperies.
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I covet their library. COVET.
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The same Kendall Charcoal we used on the kitchen accent wall we also used in the master bedroom. We had the bed custom made and used Restoration Hardware linen bedding with Designers Guild throw pillows. Visual Comfort sconces and bedside tables designed and built by James Wilson.
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My clients and I share a love of Frida Kahlo and as soon as we saw this print, we knew it was a must have.
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Patterson Flynn & Martin carpet, Noir bench, ro-sham-beaux chandelier and Bart Halpern fabrics.
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This is perhaps my favorite furniture piece in the house and the most likely to mysteriously disappear. BDDW Lake oxidized maple credenza and a Bill Rastetter print. swoon.
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Anthropologie bench and painting by James Wilson.
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An office with a view of west Nashville and a jielde table lamp is all you need to persevere through the paying of bills and other monotonous office tasks. My sister asked me if the typewriter sent emails and now that’s all I want in the world.
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Emeco office chair, Restoration Hardware desk, Madeline Weinrib rug. Etsy and Ikea prints on the wall (we spared no expense!)

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This Taylor Scott grey velvet sofa with Madeline Weinrib pillows is about the most comfortable thing on earth. Marimekko fabric for the roman shades and Designers Guild fabric on the benches. Mooi lighting and Nuevo Living foos ball table.

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The lovely and talented Michael DeMay did all of our concrete work.
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I love this Gustavian Bed with Coyuchi bedding and pewter task lamps, both from ABC carpet.

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Cole and Sons Woods wallpaper is one of my favorites. Noir bed, Designers Guild bedding, Visual Comfort sconces and Keith Richards photographs by Ethan Russell.

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We did a very simple white linen roman shades with a black ribbon. West Elm dresser, Noir abacus chair with Designers Guild fabric and 1930’s astronomy illustrations I got for a steal at the Brooklyn Flea market.
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A vintage Parisian hotel sign that is apropos as the entire second floor becomes just that when both families descend at the holidays.
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Green Tolix chairs with a wood and metal table we designed is perfect for a lush Tennessee back yard.
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Acapulco Chairs

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Schumacher outdoor fabric, Mod cement tiles from Mission Stone around the fire pit and custom redwood benches by Michael DeMay.

To see more images or to purchase to the trade furnishings and textiles please visit Crowell + Co. Interiors.

Also, endless thanks to Brad + Jen. Check out their website! Q Avenue Photo

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THE CARROT CAKE.

March 10th, 2014

Cake is simply not allowed in my home. I do not possess one ounce of willpower or restraint when it comes to baked goods and lest I want to buy all new jeans and schedule a consultation with a diabetes specialist, I just have to get all manner of cake out of my house as quickly as possible. That said, I do love baking cakes for others and for just about any occasion. I am not sure if it is because I am such a generous and loving friend or if I am actually a sadistic bitch on a quest to fatten up my friends… Either way, this carrot cake recipe is the best. Given to me by our dearest family friend and cake baking goddess, Kristen deLauer, it is simply delicious. I should know. I ate the better part of the whole thing last time I made it. It had to be forcibly taken from me.
Here’s what you do.

Whisk together:
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil

Mix dry ingredients and stir in:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Add:
20 ounce Unsweetened crushed pineapple
2 cups fine grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped raisins

Pour into two 8” cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes

Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter
2 8 ounces blocks of cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
make sure the butter is completely softened otherwise it won’t blend well. Cream ingredients together and frost cake in layers once completely cooled. You can add chopped walnuts to the top of the cake, some grated coconut or just leave as is.
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Enjoy.

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be mine. now go clean up.

February 5th, 2014

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I would love nothing more than to be the consummate mother who spends afternoons and weekends with her children baking the perfect gluten-free, agave-kissed sweets, sewing tiny, stylish outfits for their cherished American Girl dolls or devoting hours upon hours to creative free time or outdoor activities. However, the reality is I have two children, I constantly fret over my perpetual mess of a home, I have a company to run and I need to devote a minimum of four hours weekly to either watching, thinking about or internet stalking the cast of Downton Abbey (priorities?). So simply, there isn’t time for all that. I do, however, revel in the making of Valentine’s cards and early each February, I turn my home into a Valentine’s DIY sweat shop of sorts. Several years ago I started marbleizing my own paper which involved making rakes out of toothpicks, figuring out just what the hell methyl cellulose is and blocking out the very time I usually reserve for sleep. An art teacher friend of mine told me about marbleizing paper with shaving cream and food coloring which seemed like a much more civilized craft for small children. My dear friend Gina brought her son, wine (do other mothers do art projects without?!?) and our little sweat shop turned out some pretty cute little Valentines if I do say so myself. Below, a how to…

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Kitchen Essentials

September 17th, 2013

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Summertime is basically 10 weeks of madness. My girls are at home wreaking havoc, it’s 4 million degrees outside and we are constantly traveling. So my time in the kitchen is limited at best. Once Fall sets in, I long to be back in the kitchen cooking and baking to make up for all that lost time. In that spirit, I thought I’d round up a number of my kitchen essentials; some I can’t live without, a few that I am still dreaming about and all of which will make your own kitchen efficient, well appointed and all and all, a happy place to be this fall.

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Kitchen Confidential

August 13th, 2013

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We moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 1982 where my parents had purchased a log house outside of town. We had two contractors who did all the work on and around the house, from building dog pens to rewiring electrical sockets. In addition, these two gentleman bore an uncanny resemblance to Daryl Hall and John Oates. So much so, I truly believed they were Hall and Oates and in turn, convinced my first grade class that the two pop stars were indeed under my parents employ as handy men. This proved to ease the typically rough transition every new kid in class endures and in fact seemed to elevate my popularity significantly. My mother then hired the doppelganging duo to renovate our kitchen at a moment in interior design when islands equipped with prep sinks were just becoming en vogue. The fact that they put the prep sink facing into the island, rendering it completely unusable, leads me to think in hindsight that they were not legitimate contractors but rather just two guys with some tools getting by on their collective good looks and the mesmerizing yin yang of their respective hair styles. Watching this process take place (albeit more than a little wonky) is where, I believe, my love of kitchens and their renovations began. I have “Hall and Oates” to thank for that. Not long after this renovation, my mother became obsessed with sponging and pickling and subsequently, we lived in a world of pink, sea foam green and lavender sponge-painted floors, walls, cabinetry and furniture for a number of years hence. It was both insane and amazing though something akin to psychological interior design warfare. My kitchen aesthetic has since progressed from (or directly shaped in opposition to) said pickled and sponged cabinetry of my childhood in the cruel decade that was the 80’s (my mother’s as well, thank god!) and is forever changing and evolving. Throughout my professional career as a designer, I’ve kept an ongoing, ever-growing file on dream kitchens. Here are a few of the ones I’m coveting at the moment.

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