Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Un Noël Chanel

After our first Christmas in Arizona, I decided that our trusty 8” tree seemed a bit, well. . .diminutive, considering our 12’ tall ceilings. Just before our second Christmas here, I apparently had a moment of insanity and purchased a 10’ flocked, pre-lit tree for our Living Room. I guess this was one of those “emotional purchases” and was not at all well thought out.

My hubby is Jewish and although he is open minded about the Christmas tree, seems truly befuddled about the extravagance of all things Christmas. Suffice to say, he wants no part of helping install the tree except on occasion - perhaps adding an ornament or two.

What was I thinking when I purchased that flocked monster?? It takes a team of movers to bring the tree from the air-conditioned storage unit (flocked trees will yellow if left in an Arizona summer 1000 degree garage) to our home and 2 men to set it up (= $$$$) and me climbing up to the tippy top of the 8” ladder to reach the ornaments and treetop angel! Because of the logistics and cost of setting- it up, the flocked monster has only been used for 3 years. Although it is stunningly beautiful and reminds me of New England, it just seems to be far too much trouble and expense.

Last year, I was diagnosed with a torn tendon in my elbow so the huge flocked tree was truly out of the question. I found a darling little white boa-feather tree that could easily be set up and decorated without re-injuring my elbow. Last year, the little boa tree was decorated with delicate vintage ornaments in pastel colors and really looked very quaint and charming.

"Un Noël Chanel" Tree

This year I decided to change it up a bit (that’s the beauty of a smaller tree – fewer ornaments and expense for those of us that like to try out new creative ideas). With tons of “decorating ideas” dancing in my head for the Kitchen/Family room renovation, I decided to only use items that were already on hand to keep the expense down. Voila – the “Un Noël Chanel” tree was born!

A simple tree as a tribute to Chanel – my little 4ft. boa feather tree consists of only items that I had on hand from previous design projects. The black quilted table skirt, blush pink tweed “tree skirt” and creamy white Chanel camellias with their iconic black bows were from a tablescaping event I did 3 years ago. The black urn was originally purchased as a pair for my jewelry booth display at Scottsdale Fashion Week. And lastly, the frosted pink ornaments and jumbo pearl garlands were from previous Christmas trees many, many years ago.

I think Ms. Coco would approve!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Designing in Chaos – Priorities

After living with the utter bedlam of a kitchen renovation for the past three months, most people (I’m feeling very certain of this) would want to get their kitchen up and running as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even though I am probably 90% completed – I am back in a holding pattern. The plumber has to come back after getting some special type of washers for the kitchen faucet and of course, since he will return whenever he feels like it – I am back in Limbo. Strangely enough, after reading Linda Merrill’s account of her kitchen re-do (we started at about the same time) – I’m not feeling quite so bad.

Bonbon Earrings for IFDA Tableau Gift Bags

In any event, truthfully - I should be making up the remaining 75 or so Bonbon Earrings for the IFDA Tableau event gift bags as promised. Or. . . trying to clean up some of the renovation flotsam & jetsam and reorganizing the kitchen drawers and cabinets – now that is what a sensible person in my shoes would do! Sensible, no way – instead of hunkering down for either of those two tasks, I elected to go to the gem show this week-end to buy more jewelry goodies that I probably don’t even need! Clearly this is going to have to be a very short posting – I need to get my priorities straight!

Top Row: Lepidolite, Green Toumaline in Quartz, Pink Calcite
Middle Row: Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Cavansite w/ Apophyllite, Pink Cobalto Calcite
Bottom Row: Staurolite (Crosses of Stone)

Ginormous Swiss Blue Topaz & Rock Crystal Briolettes

L to R: Green Kyanite (2), Fluorite, Moss Aquamarine (2), Tourmaline Carved Leaves & Rutilated Quartz

I just wanted you all to see some of the luscious gemstones and pendants I found over the week-end. Now that I have purchased these gorgeous items and they are just waiting for me to make them up – it might be just what I needed to spur me on to finish the Bonbon earrings (or start organizing the kitchen) – we’ll see!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Designing In Chaos – Okay, I Admit It – I Cheated!

If Mohammed cannot go to the mountain then the mountain must go to Mohammed!
Interior rebuild for exhaust fan completed.
Oven stack is finally installed after the electrical box is moved up 3".
In the continuing saga of the kitchen re-do – about a week ago, after a false start – the appliances were finally installed. Our previous attempt failed because the electrical box for the oven had to be moved up 3”. Understand. . .the spec sheet had absolutely zero information on where it should be. Additionally, the exhaust fan for the hood was too far off the cooktop to work properly and lowering the hood was not an option. A quick SOS to John, who has been doing all the rough carpentry, provided him with hours of problem solving. In order to make the exhaust fan lower, he would have to rebuild the side inserts of the French hood and locate a fabricator to cut and bend stainless steel panels. Man of action that he is – it all got done the same day. When the appliance installers returned – everything was as it should be and the install was a success.

Seedy glass is a directional glass - how did the installers not see the hinges!
You can still see the remnants of the previous ruby red paint in the AC vent!

Meanwhile, Tim our painter and his son, John (really, too many John’s on this project!) were continuing to obliterate the ruby red walls from our starting point and cover them with a lovely soft dove gray color. Additionally, they were hanging the upper glass doors (seedy glass inserts), adjusting some of the doors and drawers and adding the drawer pulls. Of course as luck would have it, two of the glass doors had the glass installed in the wrong direction so back to the glass company with those for a redo!

There it is - the induction cooktop that keeps calling my name!

At the end of the week, the first coat of paint was on the walls, the new induction cooktop and oven stack were installed and Tim & son even cleaned up some of the supplies and clutter from the worksite so we could see our vision! Hubby came home that night and gave me the thumbs up! Yeah! Of course, he promptly asked me, “What’s for dinner”? That is when we made the pact – even though I could now use the new cooktop and oven – we would wait until everything was finished.

Hubby has been in PA for the past week so it has been pretty easy for me to find something to eat. I wish I could say I am a food snob, but the truth is, I am happy with a bag of popcorn for dinner! The night hubby was due to come home (on a very late flight), I decided I did not want to go out foraging for food and located a tiny bundle of angel hair pasta and a jar of marinara sauce – good enough. Of course, boiling the water for the tiny bundle of pasta on my hotplate took about 25 minutes and 5 minutes to cook!

Why the food industry has yet to understand that not every consumer is feeding a family of six has always struck me as odd. You get the picture. . .I had a HUGE jar of marinara sauce left over. After a trip to the store for more pasta, tonight’s dinner was decided – left over marinara sauce and pasta!

The thought of waiting 45 minutes for the water to boil on the little hotplate was really just too much for me to bear! I really wanted to see if spending twice as much for the induction cooktop was worth it. I was as if that cooktop was calling my name and I was completely helpless to resist!

At 7:47PM I placed the water on the stove to boil. By 7:52 the water was at full throttle! Halleluiah! 5 minutes vs. 45 minutes – who can blame me! I am totally smitten with this new toy – it’s almost as good as getting a new car!

Assorted Bonbon Earrings for the IFDA Tableau gift bags

Like delectable confections - Bonbon Earrings

With hubby away for the week and the IFDA Tableau-Designing, Dining & Gaming event only about 3 weeks away, it was time for me to get serious about making up my donation for the Tableau gift bags. Every evening after dinner, I was free to sit down and create my little Bonbon Earrings for the gift bags while watching the wonderfully trashy Real Housewives of Atlanta and the equally compelling Flipping Out.

This is my third year to help coordinate the Tableau event and the second year we have raised money for Ryan House. Ryan House is a pediatric respite and palliative care facility that is the first of its kind being built in Phoenix. The nexus of their mission is to provide not only the necessary medical care for children with life-limiting conditions but also support and bereavement counseling for the families of these precious family members.

Dinner at Versaille - Most Elegant
Karen Wirrig of Karen Cole Designs

Venetian Carnival - Most Hollywood Glam
Dana George of Cielo Interiors

Soir Extraordinaire - Most Entertaining
Leslie Colvin of Room for a View

Glimpse of Peace - Best Use of Materials
Christine Norris of Your Home - Your Sanctuary
Karin Crawford of God's Garden Treasures
Let Them Eat Cake! - Most Creative
Celia Schauble of In The Pursuit of WOW!

Kaleidoscope - Best Use of Color
Adrienne Hart & Maggie Anderson
of H2Originals
By day, the general public can kick off the holiday season by viewing and voting on extraordinary “fantasy” tablescapes. By night, attendees will literally become part of a dining fantasy. Guests will dine with interior designers at truly unique and breathtaking tables, then travel – at least for a few hours – to Monte Carlo for casino-style gaming and the chance to win fabulous prizes.

If you happen to be reading this blog and live in the Phoenix area or perhaps just visiting, I encourage you to attend. More information and the link for ticket sales is available on the website –
www.ifdatableau.com. Please join us for this very fun, elegant and worthwhile event – and don’t forget your gift bag with the Bonbon Earrings!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Designing Jewelry in Chaos – A Girl Can Dream

I don’t want you to think that my kitchen renovation has come to a complete standstill – it has not! I am behind in my postings because it has been such a busy month for me – preparing for a jewelry trunk show, organizing the IFDA Tableau fundraising event for Ryan House, traveling and playing the "corporate wife" seemed to take up all my time recently.

The last time I took photos of the kitchen progress was about a month ago so; I want to make certain that these photos are documented. Sadly, just like everyone that tackles this type of renovation I have been no exception to delays during the project. Trying to make some type of dinner (or foraging for takeout meals) every night for almost 3 months has taken its toll. I am really ready for this to all be over – the novelty has definitely worn off!

Before the project started – I thought it would be easier than our kitchen renovation in Boston had been because: (a.) we were not tearing down to the studs (b.) we were keeping our cabinets – just replacing the doors and re-facing (c.) we were not replacing the floors at this time – that will be phase two (because I am certain what I want will be ridiculously expensive and hubby is not in the mood for spending – who can blame him!) and last but not least (d.) we have a fairly large laundry with counter space, cabinets and a sink. Piece of cake – right!

We moved the microwave, toaster oven, a hotplate (found in storage from my office in Boston), and a few (very few) necessities for cooking into the laundry room just as the hammers began to swing during demo. Our extra garage refrigerator (just outside the laundry room door) has become much more important than I had ever anticipated. You try to make dinner with only a 3’ long section of counter space! It is a wonder hubby and I have not murdered each other – talk about too many cooks in the kitchen! Even Barbie’s dream kitchen makes our laundry room kitchen seem spacious. You would be amazed at how handy the top of the washing machine can be when you are trying to make a salad!

In the midst of all the dust and construction in the kitchen as well as the cramped reheating of take out food in our laundry room– I found the kitchen of my dreams. Obviously this Beverly Ellsley kitchen is an East Coast kitchen, which is where my head belongs even though my body is living in the Southwest. If I still lived on the East Coast, this kitchen has some of the most delicious elements I could imagine. I adore the idea of the parquet island top with the metal banded edge and also the magnificent refrigerator doors that look like French carved panels. The limestone floors, delicate appliqué details on the glass door panels and the beautiful over mantle just speak to me – this is the most elegant kitchen I could imagine. Some of us look best in blue jeans and a t-shirt and others look best in a ball gown! I fall into the latter category – I LOVE formal – and that applies to my interior design preferences as well. You better believe a girl can dream!

Back to reality. . . about a month ago, this is where we were. The upper cabinet boxes have now been installed and the walls of the island are up. Let’s not forget the upper cabinet lighting and the under cabinet lights are also installed and blaring! These photos were taken just before my kitchen took on the appearance of a spray booth for the lacquer finish of the cabinets. Actually that was probably the worst part of the entire process so far (and no photos of that little mess) – the dust was unimaginable even though Tim, our painter of five years, brilliantly constructed an exhaust system for the fumes and dust. It was a wonder my housekeeper, Blanca, did not resign on the spot!

In the family room, a very large hole had to be cut into the drywall in order to check the vent after the fireplace was put back into position. Once the vent was checked and secured, the large chunk of drywall was put back into place, taped, floated & textured. At least that was quick and fairly painless (except for the expense) and we will now have a quasi-real fireplace rather than the “fairy tale” fireplace that the original owners had installed.

Somehow through all the mess, I was able to get a few new jewelry designs for the Fall ready to go and just in time for the Trunk Show at Do me a Favor. Unfortunately, several of the newest designs, sold at the Trunk Show, were completed just days before the show and I simply ran out of time for photographing. Not to worry, I have lots of new ideas for Fall/Winter that still remain to be made up – so keep checking the web site. New designs are being listed as they are completed.

We are now in the home stretch for the kitchen renovation so. . . perhaps the next posting (following shortly) will begin to look a bit more like a kitchen and less like a mess!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Forget: Karen Sugarman Designs Trunk Show at Do Me a Favor This Thursday

Karen Sugarman Designs will be one of the featured artisans at Do Me a Favor in Phoenix for their highly anticipated Fabulous Finds Trunk Show this Thursday, October 1, 2009 from 10AM – 6PM.

I fell in love with this store within 30 seconds of walking in the door – everything just felt right and the staff could not have been lovelier. Even in the chaos of preparing for an event the next day, I knew this was the perfect place for my jewelry designs. It has now become “home” to my creations and the Fabulous Finds Trunk Show will feature my newest Fall ’09 necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Do Me a Favor – an exquisite gift shop with the most impeccable array of gifts for your friends, your home, your baby, and yourself is the destination atelier in Phoenix for savvy gift-giving mavens of impeccable style.

In addition to their thoughtful gift suggestions and gracious customer service – Do Me a Favor offers the most ingenious, creative and delicious gift wraps you have ever encountered. Seriously . . . the gift inside almost becomes secondary to the stunning gift wrap!

Do yourself a favor and be certain to attend this wonderful Fabulous Finds Trunk Show event!

Do Me a Favor
835 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Designing Jewelry in Chaos – Who Moved My Island?

Someone mentioned to me recently that they were reading my blog to see the progress of my kitchen renovation, but wanted to see what the project looked like in the “before” photos. Of course they also mentioned that it was a “unique” concept for a blog – interior designs as inspiration for jewelry design. Well, I am afraid to say. . . it is a strange combination - but it is my life. I was an interior designer for 25+ years until I moved to Arizona and decided to try my hand at jewelry design. This of course, is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened.

Kitchen Before All The Mayhem Started

As it turns out, I actually had taken some photos of the kitchen and family room before we began this little odyssey. The last two weeks have really been about moving plumbing & running electrical lines in addition to more demo.

Family Room Fireplace Before

We bought this home from the original owners who apparently thought “outside the box” on some of their ideas. Such was the case with the fireplace. When we moved into the house, much to my chagrin, we were dealing with an electric fake fireplace that was truly an eyesore. It was not until the painter was changing the color from a very unappealing flesh color to riotous red, when he discovered what appeared to be a wood burning fireplace unit that had been pushed back into the recesses of the corner with the electric fireplace taking center stage! The entire concept was unimaginable to me! Who in their right mind would prefer fake logs to the real deal? I had to go outside to check if we actually had a chimney. Eureka – we did!

Family Room Fireplace After "Mantle", "Crown" And Electric Fireplace Are Removed

Suffice to say the idea of hooking up the original fireplace and getting rid of the ridiculous “mantle” that was apparently installed by someone with a severe case of vertigo and also removing the equally absurd decorative “Santa Fe” crown – was like finding a stash of diamonds for me! This idea has been stewing around in my head for several years, but I had no idea what might be involved in correcting this little horror or how much it might cost. Since the kitchen and family room are visually one space and we were making a mess anyway – it seemed like a good idea to rip everything out. More demo – more dust!

Kitchen Island Moved 6" - A New Wall & Base Cabinets Installed

There was a light at the end of that dusty tunnel. When the house was built, I suspect the crew must have been working on a Monday after a hard week-end of partying. The lines for the plumbing in the island were much too far away from the rest of the kitchen – 57” to be exact. As a result, the island made for a space planning nightmare! I made the decision to move the island back 6” to give us a smidge more room around the table. This little folly is pretty much like fixing a gunshot wound with a ban-aid – but it’s the best we can do! In any event, the island was torn down, the plumbing moved, a wall constructed and base cabinet boxes installed. The jury is still out on this idea.

My Favorite - Calcutta Oro Marble

Today the crew will begin the process of making the templates for the marble and I am so thrilled. My hubby knows that I have a radar for choosing the most expensive items in the showroom and this marble was no exception. Once I got a look at the Calcutta marble slabs – nothing else would do. Of course, that means we are already very much over budget. The truth is that even though I will take the blame for this budgetary disaster, hubby really liked the Calcutta as well and it became the inspiration point for the kitchen.

Somehow (and I don’t really even understand this myself), I have been a very busy bee making up jewelry for custom orders in the midst of all this confusion. Beading must be much more therapeutic than even I realized!
Densely Embedded Tourmilated Straws Create A Very Dramatic Feature Bead

Merlot Colored Pearls And Softly Cupped Petal Pearls Create A Dramatic Cluster

Since red is the color for fall - I decided to make up some earrings with some intriguing tourmilated quartz beads falling from a cluster of merlot red pearls. I loved the way they turned out and will probably make up a necklace using the same colors to add to the “Flora Collection". These colors remind me of the velvety deep red found in Celosia or Cockscomb. So, here I am again, designing jewelry in the midst of chaos!