Out & About: Tablescaping at Frontgate With Denise McGaha

Franki Durbin Denise McGaha

If ever a designer lived and breathed her design confidence, it’s Denise McGaha. I’ve long been impressed with her bold interiors and personal style. And while I’ve spent a bit of time with her at various High Point or Dallas showrooms, October provided my first opportunity to see her give a demostration or speak at an event. The ever-popular Frontgate location near my home hosted an evening with Denise showing us how to tablescape like a boss and deck the halls with confidence this season.

Denise McGaha

I can speak for all of us in attendance when I tell you it was well worth the time on a busy weeknight to hear her wise tidbits and decorating strategies. More importantly, she sparked in all of us a renewed sense of confidence and empowerment as we prepared our homes for guests - or even decorated merely for ourselves.

Clearly, the Frontgate team felt the same. Denise now only transformed one table for the event - but four complete table vignettes plus the rear of the store featuring a massive hearth. Suffice it to say she was a hit!

If you’ve ever been to one of these showrooms it’s a wonderland of the prettiest home furnishings & accessories you can imagine. So in the hands of a master designer, the gold place settings, beaded runners & oak tables took on a new life.

But, back to the event…

As Denise toured us around the various scenes, she encouraged us to forget about fussy “rules” or stodgy guidelines for entertaining. Fresh eucalyptus stems in a water pitcher? Of course. Ornaments as place markers? Absolutely. A garden stool as a center piece? You bet. In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

Her ONE rule (if you will): if and when you do use a tablecloth, please ensure it still covers the table once you add the leaf to your dining table. A “too short” tablecloth was her one “no” of the evening. Otherwise, she encouraged us to play, experiment and boldly innovate to create whimsical ways of decorating for entertaining.

Her first table was all about Christmas. Reds, silver, a mix of place settings and - of course - greenery. Right off the bat, she encouraged us to mix reds (yes, even of they were two shades off!) and have fun with differing dishes as well. Stack them, mix them, enjoy them. I love how she used sterling silver vessels for flowers, as sort of a cheeky nod to tradition.

Her next two transformation areas were less about the holidays, and more about infusing your tables - and your home - with classic pieces utilized in unexpected ways. Tall patio lanterns served as centerpieces stacked on a garden stool seemed perfectly chic the way Denise styled them. The lush magnolia branches (a southern favorite!) added a rich, luxurious feel to the scene. On yet another table she used chinoiserie canisters and hurricane candleholders to set the stage for entertaining.

My favorite, however, was her final tablescaping flourish: The GOLD & orange table! Who knew the humble “cutie” could be reimagined as a posh holiday table accent? From clear lucite obelisks (drool-worthy) to luxe gold beaded quatrefoil placemats, this scene had my name written all over it. I love how she played with height for maximum impact and set gold decorative trees on dessert pedestals for even more drama. This was a rulebreaker’s table if there ever was one. And I loved it. Look at those magnolia leaves cradling the spilled fruits? Honestly, girl. You’ve got game!

Who is Denise McGaha?

If you’re not familiar with her interior design work, prepare to be amazed. Here are just a few photos from one of my favorite projects. When I tell you she is a master of design, I am not kidding. I could go on ad nauseum about the architectural & design details in these photos, but her portfolio speaks for itself. Her work has been widely celebrated in the press, with every publication from Traditional Home to Modern Luxury taking notice of her masterful approach to design & living. Visit denisemcgaha.com for more and be sure to follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration.

Photography by the talented Stephen Karlisch.

Denise McGaha

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Out & About: Suzanne Kasler Delights at Hickory Chair Dallas...

Absolutely loved seeing Suzanne Kasler again at the Hickory Chair showroom earlier this week. Here are some of the incredible pieces on I spied (and obviously wanted to take home). New to her collection this season the lovely Regency-inspired bed shown at the top right. I loved the dramatic headboard with beautiful upholstered inset. More to come, as an interview with the designer herself will follow. Until then... ciao bellas!

SHOP THESE GLAMOROUS KASLER CREATIONS





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Out & About: Touring the San Francisco Design District with Zephyr...

We are blessed in Dallas by a dedicated design district, year-round trade showrooms, our own version of High Point Market and unusually chic home decor boutiques open to the public scattered about the city. It is designer heaven if you ask me! The sunny south has spoiled me on many accounts, and ready access to chic home goods & exclusive interior resources barely skin the surface of the riches I've come to love my town. That said, few activities are more tantalizing than the prospect of visiting a different city's creativity sparking stomping grounds.

I'd been to San Francisco before, primarily for touristy shopping at posh Union Square and sightseeing on the Bay. After all, eating seafood on the pier and gasping at Alcatraz is something everyone does at least once. Coming to visit for a more industry-centric visit raised my hopes and promised to inspire current and future projects with a distinct Northern California influence. Known for their contemporary thinking and creative freedom, it came as no surprise that SF's design district was a lively, artisan affair abounding in fresh ideas and innovative thinking. 

My host? Zephyr, maker of some of the swankiest range hoods on the market. The team at this very innovative company invited a select group of designers & design bloggers to their golden city. My fellow squad? A lovely and bright bunch: Arianne Bellizaire of Inspired to Style, Brandon Smith of DCoop Media, designer Courtney Price, Florence von Pelet of Modenus, designer Kelly Morisseau, the lovely Rene Zeig of Cottage & Vine, blogger & designer Sarah Sarna, designer Traci Zeller and moi. (Note: the talented Christian May of Maison21 was slated to join us but was unable to attend. He was missed!) Our mission: to learn more about the Zephyr brand and soak in the design culture of our host city. We did all of this and more during our multi-day stay. 

First, I'll open the topic of Zephyr's products. Selecting fabrics, choosing finishes and custom designing furniture is exciting. Sketching floor plans, dreaming of impossible to find accessories - and then locating them or making them - all thrilling. Who knew that the art of ventilation could also be so enthralling? From our initial presentation to our amazing afternoon with Fu-Tung Cheng, it was eye opening.

Fu-Teng referred to the range hood as "the nose" of the kitchen. Its size, presentation, design and shape hold the power to deeply impact the overall vibe of the entire room. It is the centerpiece of the room. The exclamation point on the statement the elements create together. Why, then, was this essential design element not evolving just as cooking spaces have evolved? The Zephyr design team has challenged convention of the years and continues to reap the rewards of being anything but status quo. From customizable artisan hoods to sleep sculptural forms reminiscent of iPhone bodies to nearly invisible ceiling-mounted vents, I'll never again see cooking ventilation systems again. I've seen the light. 

The passion this team possesses and was able to share with us was remarkable. These are true industry innovators and masters of not just product design but true technological and lifestyle innovation. Disruptors, even. Add in Fu-Tung's passion for artisan details and you have a brand that will continue to make waves in the home solution industry. More on those ranges later, as I have a Zephyr giveaway coming up soon. :) 

Heads overflowing with inspiration and eyes opened to modern ideas, we meandered through the district ready to breathe in the city. Cobblestones, delivery trucks and pretty shop windows: all elements that make for a fun day exploring a new area. We enjoyed a lovely (and FRESH) lunch at Daltile followed by an impromptu craft session with their jewel-like tile products. Did you know that the name stems from their origins as Dallas Tile? From diamond-like elements to Mowhawk carpeting, this stop was a thrill. I loved moving through their showroom from one creative space to the next and feeling inspired by faux bois plank tile, innovative shower solutions and their rich interactive tool for experimenting with designer finishes. 

One special note? They allowed us to make jewelry from a stunning selection of their tiles. Earrings, necklaces, rings, you name it. Even cooler? They open their doors regularly to designers to come to fun craft activities such as this - ALL of the time. This says a lot about the welcoming nature of the team on staff. It also speaks volumes about the overall design culture of San Francisco. How better to nourish your creative soul than by allowing it unrestricted play? 

The crowning jewel on our tour for this upholstery loving girl was the inimitable Coup d'etat, a showroom I'm still dreaming of and will continue to recall for many years. Sexy sectionals, unbelievable art installations and mind-blowing occasional pieces & accessories. Sculptural forms and ridiculously luxe offerings were everywhere you looked. I love this showroom. It was impossible to spend time in Coup d'etat and not feel inspired to rethink everything about your design philosophy, your home, and your possessions. A master creative force was at play here and we were but temporary walk-ons in their grand stage of design. If you go to San Fran, do NOT miss this stop. The aromatic memory of their signature scent (custom blended just for them) still lingers in my mind. Major design crush. 

Where did we stay? None other than the hip Clift Hotel. Near bustling Union Square, the home of the legendary Redwood Room bar is the epitome of old meets new. Our rooms were blissfully illuminated by crisp cream walls & matching floor-to-ceiling drapery panels, soft lavender accents & space-doubling mirrors. It was as if my rom was in the clouds. Downstairs, by contrast, was a dark and intoxicating mix of moody reds, ultra dim lighting and tucked away places to grab a drink and have a deep conversation. The building is rich with history juxtaposed with ultra-modern design. Their signature swank vibe attracts a very international crowd and a decidedly sophisticated late-night flow of beautiful people. If you love staying where the action is, the Clift could be just the spot. 

I can't thank the Zephyr team enough for inviting me to join such a lovely group on an exciting adventure. It was an exciting trip with friends old and new that inspired me to see familiar things in new ways. Mission accomplished! 

And finally... my "walking shoes" that day. Let it be known they stayed in the suitcase after that! Flats from then on out. Cobblestones & stilettos do not good friends make. ;) 

Stay tuned for more on that giveaway and two more related posts... one on Napa & the other on the Traditional Home Napa Valley Showhouse and (fingers crossed) one more that you'll really love. Until then, stay chic & find ways to be inspired every single day! 

xoxo,
Franki

Out & About: (Almost) Meeting Marilyn Monroe...

marilyn

Dallas is always one to host a great event. Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the preview reception for Heritage Auction's Fine & Decorative Arts event happening this weekend. Let me tell you... the items in the auction did NOT disappoint! While I'd been given the opportunity to identify my top 10 of my favorite lots via their online gallery, I was amazed when I arrived to find a collection of rare Marilyn Monroe framed works adorning the walls. This Hollywood beauty remains forever young due to her early departure... but her legacy as an icon and a rare beauty lives on. 

Amidst the passed hors d'oeuvres and gorgeous gilt treasures at the reception I spied not one, not two but four limited edition (read: extremely rare and numbered) "Marilyns" playfully adorning the walls. One was a chromogenic from Something's Gotta Give and was signed as the first of only 35 in existence. It's the image of her with one leg peeking out of the swimming pool. Additionally they had three more stunning framed images of the divine Miss Monroe artfully scattered about the walls. Incredible. 

While there I had the opportunity to try on that megawatt 23 carat diamond & emerald necklace. Hello, fabulous! The look of "wow" on my face says it all. It is a stunner in person. Also under the glass was a bounty of "look at me" moment cocktail rings and other sparkling treasures. There was so much to appreciate in this intimate auction setting. 

Fear not, readers. The bidding doesn't begin until tomorrow and you need not be in Dallas to score some of these treasures. Visit the Heritage Auction's Fine & Decorative Arts online and bid away (feel free to drool over the Marilyn pieces).

I want to personally thank the team at HA for graciously inviting me to paw at the pretty treasures up close. My delight was being given the opportunity to try things on and learn more about the auction process. I could not have had a better time and am so excited about attending future events (and winning a few coveted lots!).

Editor's note: It's also worth mentioning that my eyes were opened to the shopping possibilities. Heritage Auctions sells Chanel. Yes, Chanel. And a lot of it. Gold rings, diamond jewelry and... yes, handbags (including this pink ostrich beauty)! They also boast an exceptionally rare Hermes Birkin with 18K Gold hardware. Wowzers.

With so many "recommerce" options around and the challenges of trusting an unseen/unknown source, I wouldn't hesitate a purchase with a trusted auction house for a moment. Believe me, the next time I look for a previously loved high end bag I know exactly where I'm shopping. And yes.... they even offer "buy it now" options on many items! 

{featured works: BERT STERN (American, 1929-2013). Marilyn with Blue Roses, from The Last Sitting, 1962. // LAWRENCE SCHILLER (American, b. 1936). Marilyn on the set of Something's Got to Give, Page 29, 1962. Chromogenic. // LAWRENCE SCHILLER (American, b. 1936). Marilyn on the set of Something's Got to Give, Page 23 (Roll 14, Frame 17), 1962}

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Out & About: Hickory Chair Book Signing...

Moi, Alexa, Manvi & Crystal. 

Moi, Alexa, Manvi & Crystal. 

Few things are better than a tour through the Hickory Chair showroom at Market. This particular brand offers furniture I swoon over each and every time I visit. The only thing that can top wandering through the spectacular showroom? Having an all-star book signing with the designers themselves in the house. Hello, fabulous!

I've professed my gushing love for Suzanne Kasler again and again. She is an icon for me. Trust me when I tell you that Mariette, Thomas and Alexa are total rockstars. Mariette offers undeniable glamour and innovation in her products and designs, Thomas is (in my opinion) an intellectual force to be reckoned with and Alexa is a powerhouse of energy, with and starpower. Yes, that is me above (far left) with the lovely, lively and glamorous Alexa. Love her!! 

All four are accomplished designers, furniture designers and authors. This fall fans (like moi) are in for a treat as there are books GALORE coming out to be added to my collection. The signing will give you the opportunity to meet these powerhouses and have your hardback copies of their latest volumes signed. Love!

So if you are headed to High Point in just a few short weeks you'd better carve out time on your calendar for what will no doubt be an amazing book signing event. It is not to be missed! 

Musings: On Inspired Living...

I could recap my evening at the Hickory Chair showroom in Dallas... but suffice it to say I am more enamored with Suzanne and her marvelous (new!) collection for the brand than ever. She is gracious, warm and exudes an effortless glamour we can all only hope to achieve. Her furnishings, like the talented designer herself, exude a feminine grace and attention to detail so fine as to go almost unnoticed. But to those with an eye for details (raising hand) there is much to see. I left inspired, enriched and happy. While my list of Kasler items continues to grow, so does my appreciation of how very hard she's worked to arrive at her station.

The recent pandemic of our generation - and entire species -is that we're all looking for the easy score, the quick fix, the fast rise to the top. But without merit and a foundation of excellence it will never have legs. I see a business like Suzanne's - a brand, a business, an empire, really - and I have to pause and appreciate the years of effort she invested in herself and her craft.

My recent move to Dallas has given me time to reflect on my business and my talents. As Suzanne shared details on how she got her start, it became clear I should continue to follow my heart and my true passion. There will always be others looking into your life and telling you what you "should do" or "need to do" - but anytime I've chased someone else's dream and mistaken it for my own I've been unhappy. It's time to distill the idea down to it's purest form and pursue it with fearless fervor.

The great truth of life is that you'll never compromise your way to happiness. The relentless pursuit of your dreams - and really, only YOU know what dreams your heart contains - is what you must focus on. It will drive you to work harder, laugh harder and enjoy the process. 

It's a lot to take from a book signing at a designer showroom, but life is funny that way. You never know where or when your truth will rise to the surface.

If you haven't yet purchased a copy, do yourself a favor and snap up Inspired Interiors. And if Suzanne comes to your area for a signing event, RSVP. Especially if it's at a Hickory Chair showroom. Otherwise, you can purchase a signed copy online.

{Fantastic images above of Suzanne's Atlanta office, featured in May 2010's Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine.}

High Point Market: Wearing my Halo...

Although I spent a disproportionate amount of time at the Hickory Chair showroom (how could I resist with Suzanne Kasler and Alexa Hampton, Thomas O'Brien, Mariette Himes-Gomez and Ron Fiore in the house?), a highlight of my High Point experience was the ultra cool British import Halo. The chic furnishings experience is a bit challenging to describe. It has a hipster loungy vibe by day, with full coffee bar and creative-types milling about, and is quite the VIP magnet at night. Whether you identified yourself with the studied and serious day crowd or the black-clad evening group, one thing was certain: this was the place to be.  

If you haven't been to HIgh Point before, it will help if I set the scene for you. There are a cluster of main buildings. Massive, gleaming, modern structures complete with transportation bays and information desks. Entering those buildings you realize you are entering into a Vegas experience. By that I mean you'll see no clocks, have no concept of hours passing and leave not find your way back to an exit until long after dusk. Along the way you'll see bizarrely beautiful things, cram into packed elevators with strangers, part with lots of hard earned cash and feel the rush that only mingling with massive crowds can deliver. It's an adventure.

Last time I visited Market I spent most of my time in the main buildings. This time... not so much. The place to be, it seemed, was Hamilton Street. Thanks to ideal weather (72 and sunny), this amazing design district drew me in and kept me coming back for more. Hamilton is a sunny and meandering street lined with high end furniture shops and luxury showrooms. Sunlight streaming into tiny little boutiques and breezes blowing on silk draperies: this was designer heaven.  There are plenty of people along Hamilton, but no crowds. Instead you're free to pop in and out of various shops and bask in the warmth of the Carolina sun. The breeze was amazing and you had that "all is right with the world" feeling. It was amazing. Further downhill the showrooms could be found. Hickory Chair, Pearson and others. There were places to grab a drink, live jazz bands playing in plazas and cocktail tables in clusters.

I'm setting the stage for you so you get a sense of the relaxed atmosphere of the district. It was worlds away from the formal experience of the main buildings. Less to see, yes. But I felt I could actually take in the scene and focus on the objects in front of me at my own leisure. A block or two over was Halo. It actually occupies two buildings. Brick two story structures across the street from one another. Each building had it's own personality. Between the floor to ceiling tapestries brandishing the image of The Queen and the well curated mix of repurposed antiques, you got the sense that Bob & Cortney Novogratz pulled from their inventory. The offerings were eclectic and cool, funky and different.  

While I was there I walked upon a photo shoot in the works. Union Jack upholstered chairs and weathered leather tufted ottoman's being pulled together to form a cool vignette. The place just had "cool" written all over it.

A few items I had trouble parting with... an airplane wing repurposed into an executive desk. Mr. Venti has been wanting one for ages (since we saw one in a movie). Now, I can order one for him. It was truly amazing, all that gleaming metal buffed to just the right level of imperfection. Very cool, indeed.

They had a few amazing Louis XVI objects, too. Chairs and ottomans. Gorgeous. But you know that insanely large mirrors are my weakness. The best was an Italian flourish framed beauty that was priced so low I had to catch my breath. Truth be told it's the shipping that kills you on these things, but a girl has to plan for the future. That mirror needs a home in my Texas living room. Badly.

While I was there I met the owner as well as one of the brand managers. He indicated they were looking at expanding their US footprint and were even considering a place down south. With any luck they'll choose the Big D as the site of their next location. Until then, I'll continue refining my list of "must have" items from their fabulous inventory.

Halo... I'm drinking the kool-aid. This Venti girl is a full fledged fan. Keep up the fantastic work.

Tastemakers: Suzanne Kasler's Effortless Glamour...

I've been giving it more thought and come up with a great way to describe the three designers from the Hickory Chair event. Here goes: Thomas O'Brien is the designer you want on your team for Trivial Pursuit. Although I did not quiz him, I'm certain he could regale you with detailed stories of historical events just as easily as he could recite Yeats without a moment's hesitation.

Alexa Hampton is the girl you want on your Pictionary team. She's bold, vivacious and wouldn't think twice about performing in front of a crowd. I adored her energy and her contagious laughter. Alexa is a girl who knows how to enjoy herself, and it shows. Having said that, she, Suzanne and Thomas could go head to head on their exhaustive and comprehensive knowledge of the origins of design and the history of furnishings. Each of them shared such a rich passion for design and the classical references of each piece in their collections at Hickory Chair. It was beyond impressive. (more on Alexa in an upcoming post!)But let's talk about my favorite girl's girl of the bunch: Suzanne Kasler. Where do I begin? Suzanne is a woman blessed with radiant warmth. She's gracious, feminine and absolutely charming. Standing in the midst of her gorgeous collection in the showroom, it was clear that the sheer beauty of the pieces themselves was a direct expression of her inner glamour and her ability to translate that sophistication into three dimensional forms.

So if I'm continuing my theme of games I'd play with each designer, Suzanne would certainly be my partner for a game of dress up - as silly as that sounds. She's so warm and inviting that you immediately feel you could spend a full day weaving through the cobblestone streets of Rome in search of the perfect dress. You'd laugh at yourselves as you tripped on the cobblestone along the Via Condotti. Inevitably, you'd find yourselves losing track of time as the afternoon passed. You've chatted so much and admired cultural surroundings so much you'd nearly forgotten to shop. The two of you would share stories as you sipped your afternoon espressos at Sant'Eustachio (the best espresso in Rome, in my opinion!). And you'd continue the fun through dinner and well after dessert at the most quaint local restaurant, barely noticing the waiters who would no doubt be trying to catch her attention. Yes, she's that approachable and that remarkably beautiful. You meet her.. you feel you've known her for ages. She has a sort of quiet charisma that pulls you in and akes you take notice.If you haven't familiarized yourself with her work, I recommend you take a peek at my post from the springperuse her recent collection for Hickory Chair and most certainly pick up a copy of her latest book, Inspired Interiors. I've still clinging to my signed copy (woohoo!), thinking it might be nice to read over coffee on a quiet afternoon. (Rome, anyone?)

In spring I was overcome by the sheer beauty of her icy blue color palette with gold accents. A chinoiserie inspired look. This season's palette featured an invigorating orange, perfect for fall, but timeless on it's own accord. I can hardly stop thinking about this stunningly simply orange leather chair. It strikes me as the ideal perch from which to write - espeically if paired with one of her sexy desks. Yowza!

As I look back on my experience with Suzanne, I can't help but feel that she has altered my view of the typical successful businesswoman. She embodies a certain quiet confidence and graciousness I haven't often encountered. As I observe all that she has achieved and the body of work she has produced, I realize that never for a moment was she anything less that generous with her time and sincere in her interest of the talents of others. It's that same grace that can be seen in her work. Her furnishings are lovingly designed and exude quiet elegance. They are feminine without being frilly. Warm and approachable without being casual. Elegant and wise without losing that fresh edge. Full of authority without the use of any visible force. Much like the woman herself, the pieces feel inviting, as if they're good friends you can't wait to spend more time around. If you have the opportunity, be sure to go to a Kasler book signing near you. I promise it will be an experience you won't soon forget. You'll meet a fascinating woman and acquire a fabulous book at the same time!

Thank you, Suzanne, for serving as such an inspiration!

Tastemakers: Thomas O'Brien, The Thinking Man's Designer...

Funny how certain people strike you as extraordinary. Persons teeming with so much star quality that they'd have been famous whether they drilled oil or worked in a paper factory. Thomas O'Brien is certainly one of those rare individuals with "change maker" written all over him. He enters the room and the energy shifts. It's a wonderful quality and I found his frenetic energy quite refreshing. 

Last Saturday night I had the rare opportunity to share a meal with Thomas and a small group of other bold-faced names in a private dining room in High Point, North Carolina. (For the record, what he ordered looked far better than my choice.. but I digress...) As you surely know if you've read PalomaHeather or Cassandra's posts, we enjoyed the company of Suzanne Kasler, Ron Fiore and the impossibly fun Alexa Hampton. And while it seemed the entire room was abuzz with conversation, I suspect our table might have been the most rambunctious of the bunch. Between me, Ron, Thomas, Karen (Thomas's PR guru), Keith (Thomas's right hand man) and my husband, I can safely say we were not a quiet bunch! To say that we had a great time would be an understatement! 

The thing about Thomas that stood out to me was how he simultaneously embodied such precision and absolute chaos. Everything about him is a study in contrasts. His perfectly tailored clothing, masterfully tossed on with a devil may care attitude. His mathematically precise furnishings that somehow still ooze laid-back ease and comfort. His freshly cut hair that's haphazardly coiffed - making you suspect he only had moments to fix it, but it looks great regardless. Anyway you look at it, Thomas enjoys the dichotomy of his (and my) Gemini personality. Fully controlled, drawn to precision, a total perfectionist - and yet a total riot and easy to be around. Spend a moment in his company and you'll find yourself laughing hysterically. His quick wit and sheer breadth of knowledge makes him a powerhouse personality. Trust me, you notice when this guy walks into a room. And you'd better be prepared.  

Back to my story... dinner was amazing. The group of us laughed so hard we nearly cried. And the next morning Thomas and the other designers walked us through the Hickory Chair showroom discussing their respective collections. It would be difficult to overstate how well informed Thomas is about design. He understands scale, historical significance, functionality and attention to detail in ways many of us can only dream. Much of his influence comes fro his New England upbringing. He recalls the furnishings of his childhood home and appreciates quality pieces that can be passed down from generation to generation. This all very clearly translates in his work. Each piece easily can stand on its own and could be repurposed in near limitless arrangements in almost any room of the home.
 
Clearly, the collection is beautiful. A classic settee covered in a tweedy menswear fabric was completely modern and fresh in a strangely familiar way. A geometric sectional finished with touchably plush upholstery straddled the line between masculine and feminine design perfectly. It was all absolutely flawless and just slightly "off" in that uniquely TOB way. If you can imagine staying with well-heeled friends in the Hamptons for the weekend in a house that exudes relaxed elegance - that's how every piece of the Thomas O'Brien collection reads. Utterly fabulous and over the top in a completely approachable and familiar way... much like the man himself. Genius. 

Many more tales to come.. stay tuned!

Out & About: Crashing Kasler's Pad...

 One of the most drool worthy moments inside the High Point showroom tour was when we stepped into Suzanne Kasler's gorgeous chinoiserie room at Hickory Chair. It was like stepping into a jewel box. Your eyes could barely stop looking at the impressive center arrangement of quatrefoil chairs beneath a hulking yet appropriately delicate light fixture. The architectural detail of both the space and the furnishings was truly the centerpiece of the showroom for me. Of the many rooms we toured, this one begged to be lingered in more than any other. 
 
Suzanne, the famed interior designer from Atlanta, worked with the brand to create a refined collection of glamorous furnishings. The chair, which Cassandra has written about previously, will is perfectly proportioned. Nothing quite explains how well balanced the design is until you see it in person. It seems so often that when a chair back veers too far from the normal rectangular shape that you lose the comfort of the piece. Nothing could be further from the truth with this chair. It sits like a dream, and that gorgeous decorative back offers just the right *oomph* when seated. I need several of these in my home. Perfection.
 
And everywhere you looked, stacks and stacks of books every girl I know would love to have on her coffee table or bedside. Chanel, Vogue, Louboutin, Jacobs, Dior, Lanvin...a fashionista's dream dream. It was such an exercise in storytelling. That we'd stepped into someone's private dressing room. That somewhere nearby, the woman who lived here had a collection of designer gowns, fun frocks and (surely) an admirable collection of Chanels to accompany these glam pieces of furniture. 
 
And my new BFF Cassandra La Valle of Coco+Kelley and I just couldn't stop swooning over the feminine perfection of the room. At one point we were begging people to take our photo in the space, just so we could remember what it felt like to live - even for a moment - with such design perfection. Umm... yeah, I'd say we got a bit carried away with our personal pix. But can you blame us? Look at the stunning surroundings.

Suzanne Kasler nailed glam with this collection. Honestly, I think we were both overwhelmed by the magnificence of the brand as a whole. But when you entered this room you knew you were in the midst of something tremendous. The lighting, the placement, the slight shimmer on the walls. It was heaven. 
 
You'd just entered a new level of furnishings. The drawer pulls, the curved leg of an ottoman, the added flourish on a divan, the timeless design on a chair back. This was no ordinary designer and these were far from ordinary furnishings.  
 
The furnishings begged to be touched, sat upon, admired and - yes, blogged about. It all just felt so perfect. And just when you thought the room couldn't possibly get more gorgeous, you walked a bit further and found something else that made you stop in your tracks. Honestly, I think we both felt that this room was pitch perfect. Feminine without being frilly. Elegant without a hint of stuffiness. Rich and relaxed. There was just a confident ease to the space you could not possibly ignore. And isn't that what style really is at the end of the day? Ease?
 
So I leave you with these lovely, dreamy photos of the furnishings (and a few silly ones of us living the luxe life for a few moments, imagining this was our home).

Be sure to check out Cassandra's coverage of the tour as well!