A few weeks ago we had a series of crazy thunderstorms in Monroe, one of which broke an entire ligustrum (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong) in half. I am currently in the midst of the non-stop spring cleaning/decorating/styling binge that happens to me and my house every year. This venture includes trolling my yard -- in a robe and slip flops, shut up -- for suitable vegetation to bring into the house. I don't really care what it is as long as it is big. So above, you see parts of the destroyed shrub, along with some of my beloved lantana, and the Carolina jessamine that threatens to take over my yard on a yearly basis. I would like, here, to give thanks for the product known as Oasis, for allowing me to basically cut everything up and shove the branches haphazardly into this concrete urn.

It's been long established that Maggie's favorite decorating style is what she describes as celebratory decay. I love the idea of that: something lovely and old, just waiting to be found and reclaimed, its very antiquity informing its beauty. My decorating style, which I'm not sure I've shared before, is what I like to call rich old grandmother: a ridiculous mix of old, new, high, low, modern, antique, masculine, feminine, a little bit Southern, and just the right amount of batty. So this beat-down old bush is giving me some celebratory rich old grandmother decay feelings. 

This week, I'm at the beach on the east coast. I have never been to the beach on the east coast, having been raised visiting the Emerald Coast of Florida, also known as the Redneck Riviera. Anyway, the first night here I came across this enormous horseshoe crab, a creature I'd never seen before. It's basically an old-timey helmet with a tail. It was really dead and smelled like it, so of course I picked it up and took it back to the beach house with me.

Per the instructions I found on the internet, I soaked the crab -- henceforth to be known as Horace H. Horcrab, PhD Horticulture, Horvard University -- in alcohol for 48 hours. Then I cut out Horace's, um, soft parts with kitchen scissors. Please do not tell the owners of this beach house. Horace then took a long soak in a tub full of bleach, and is now resting peacefully in the sun, drying to a golden crisp. Later, I will spray Horace down with a few coats of lacquer and use him as decoration. 

Horace has been my project all week, and is making me happier than an old dead crab should make someone. And that, my friends, is some celebratory decay. BOOM. 


I have returned from the mighty Mighty Summit, where I spent three glorious days bonding with girls and drinking wine. And as you can see, there was a lot of stuff waiting for me on my arrival home. Including a) Target Missoni for days (I ordered everything I could that morning, for clients.), and b) these incredibly awesome Carter Kustera silhouettes, one for Mad and one for Hank. They will soon hang over my desk.

I am enjoying using my house as a model for the Missoni stuff. It really is very good quality, and I do not want to give some of it up. "For clients," hmph.

Stay tuned for a Dewit later this week. Dewit, I said.

AuthorAB Chao
Categorieschao camp
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Y'all remember my kitchen, right? It's all white? I painted all of it myself? I feel pretty awesome about that, two years later? Here's a refresher:

Photo by Lori Andrews

Those arrows you see represent my problem: I am finally ready to put something on the windows. I have filled the shelves, I have bought a rug, I have removed the table in anticipation of the banquette that someone will build me soon. And yet: the windows. The one over the sink becomes a black hole of scariness at night, and the one with the bamboo shades makes me say profanity every day that I have to roll those assholes up and down.

But the reason it has taken me so long to decide what to do is that I had no IDEA what I wanted. I see pictures of gorgeous interiors and fabrics on a daily basis, and I still couldn't pick out anything I really loved. So one day, I just thought, EFF THIS, I am going to pick something out. And while I...didn't, I was able to narrow it down.

I went to just one fabric website, chose a few swatches I liked, and pasted them into Photoshop. When I was done, I was left with something like this:

All fabrics by Quadrille

I learned several things from this exercise, most of which will be obvious to you:

1. I am still not over Ikat;

2. For this project, I favor large patterns over small;

3. I want a blowsy floral or toile as opposed to a rigid geometric design; and

4. Whatever I choose, it better have pink or orange in it.

So, even though I haven't made a decision yet, I now have a general direction. And that, lovers, is better than no direction at all.

If you have any favorite fabrics to recommend that meet these criteria, I'm all ears.

AuthorAB Chao
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I have nothing new to show you yet, Internet, but I will tomorrow! The password is: TILE. In the meantime, please enjoy this photograph of Ed, our amazing foreman on the job. He is super sweet and a genius and we need his hands on everything. PS. Miss Mad is home from the hospital and doing GREAT. Thank you for all of your good wishes!
AuthorAB Chao
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You guys, I'm no hero. I'm just an ordinary citizen who is adding a bathroom to her house while her teenage daughter has been in the hospital with a kidney infection for 2 days. Wait, I am TOTALLY a hero. Workmen wait for no one, not even people who have to spend the night on hospital cots. The improvements continue apace. To wit: 1. Here is the original closet (check that wallpaper!). The other closet is behind the wall they knocked out to make the whole bathroom. img_0615 2. Yesterday (please note plumber's butt). img_0628 3. And this morning. img_0633 4. A shot of the new closet that's being built to replace the original closet(s). Y'all, they are making me CUSTOM METAL HANDLES for the doors. Can you EVEN? img_0625 This one's for Erin, who needed some proof that I am not a decorating superhero. Our dining room. It has looked like this all week. Today, it looks worse. You're welcome. img_0631 Thank you for all of your kind words on Twitter and elsewhere. The patient is feeling much better today, and I think we'll all be home by Sunday. Hooray!
This morning, Mad's room looked like this: img_0609 and now it looks like this: img_0619 and our guest/TV room looked like this (with all the furniture removed, please ignore the purple walls that are going away ASAP): img_0612 and now it looks like this: img_0617 ...and that big hole was once two adjacent closets -- one in the guest room, and one in Madeleine's room -- that will soon be a second bathroom. One we've been waiting for and wanting for a long, long time. Ever since Sars came to visit and our one bathroom flooded. Over the weekend. On a Sunday. PS. It's Sars's birthday today. Happy birthday, Sars! We got you a new bathroom. I'll keep you updated on the progress as it happens. Our contractor has told us it should take 3 to 4 weeks but things are moving so fast I think it will be done sooner. I may or may not be able to show you after pictures, depending on whether a) I've died from the stress of half our belongings being in the dining room or b) I fall into a hole or c) contractual obligations. What the hell am I talking about? I'll tell you later. Yay!
AuthorAB Chao
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1. Decorating for Christmas. But not too much. I still have to put up the tree/wrap presents/make teacher gifts/discard teacher gifts due to burning/make more teacher gifts/lose my mind. But: all of my gifts have been bought. Boughten. This is a miraculous and beautiful thing.

Is it annoying to use images I uploaded to Flickr weeks ago? I apologize. Not enough to stop doing it, but just know that I feel bad about it.

The delicious sunburst mirror came from a local store, so I am sorry to say I can't tell you where to get one of your own. Also, the cute white stockings came from Walmart, so judge me as you must.

2. Making curtains out of drop cloths. I mean, come on. Have you ever seen a cooler idea? I got it from the Internet. Here's what you do: Go to Lowe's (or Home Depot, or your local hardware store, but I checked all of my options and Lowe's had the best quality fabric). Buy 2 drop cloths. Wash, wash, wash and dry the drop cloths. Now, wash them again. I hope you have a big washer. Cut and hem the bottom edge (I bought 12' x 15' drop cloths, because my windows are 120" wide and my ceilings are 10' tall. I stitched the long side to about 10', and hung them at 9.5' or so. (The ones I bought were already finished on all sides, with a shirttail hem.)). Hang. THE END.

3. Furiously searching for and downloading pictures of bathrooms for the addition we're planning in the new year. I don't know if you can tell what I like from this randomly chosen set of inspiration photos. They are all so different. We are very excited about this project -- it's been on our list of things to do basically since we moved into our house 6 years ago. And there is a teenager I know who is super happy about not having to share with her parents anymore. Hey, kid: THE FEELING IS MUTUAL.

[gallery link="file"] 4. In an unexpected development, I've taken on a real, live, paying decorating client. I am scared and nervous and exhilarated. It is kind of a trial run. The fun starts after the holidays. More details as they come. The excitement makes me write in little sentences. I'll not reveal the identity of my client, but they are closely connected to this person:

Obviously, I've written several private meetings into our contract. Consultations, if you will. For art.