Spring House Projects

I always get asked how the house is coming along. "Are you all done?" As much as I'd like to be, am I ever done? I find there's always something to do. This spring I continued to add to my garden, as well as, get to some other projects I've been meaning to do for months.

New Paint For The Front Door

I painted our front door, finally! One of those things that was bothering me, but never got to until now...I'm getting a black screen door as well. Will keep you posted.

The front door looks much better painted black! Now I have to paint the door frame white! (See? Always creating more work for myself...)

 

A Trellis For My Climbing Rose Bush

I designed the north bed of our back yard garden with a climbing rose as a centerpiece and anchor. This week I installed a 15' wide trellis behind it. It will be pretty spectacular when the rose spreads and fills it up with blooms!

Ernesto at Finkle's Hardware helped me out with the pipes and the airplane wire!

 

I planted this rose (Rosa 'ZLEEltonStrack') last year and it's really growing in just fine. I designed the trellis using industrial galvanized pipes and airplane wire. It has an overall length of 15' with one pipe in the center and one at each end. Pre-drilled holes are fitted with the airplane wire.

 

Another view of the trellis.

 

Airplane wire gives the trellis a great, industrial look.

 

The Front Garden Is In!

After living in the house for 3 years and having just a patch of dirt in front, I finally have a garden!

A few weeks ago I bought the plants I would need and placed them where I wanted them to grow and spread. A lilac and a hedge of Cherry Laurel will give the garden structure. 

 

The front garden planted and mulched! Eventually the Echinacea purpurea and Black-eyed Susans will spread. I will also fill it in with some Forget-Me-Not seeds and some Lychnis Coronaria, which is one of my favorite plants.

 

 

A David Austen English tea rose Young Lycidas will be a highlight of this garden.

 

Well, here's hoping you are all having a great spring! How are your house projects going? Hope to see you soon in the store or around town. Ciao!

 

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She's The First

Here at Blue Raccoon we are passionate about supporting causes that make a real difference in our world. Whether it be supporting the environment by selling sustainable furniture in our stores to backing policies allowing all people to love each other equally.

Sometimes, our customers make us aware of something wonderful that we can throw our support behind and we’ve done just that for an amazing group here in Lambertville.

The organization is called She's the First, a 501C(3) non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships for girls in low-income countries with the goal of graduating high school. Most often the scholars are The First to graduate from their family and/or community. 

 

Tomas Kerns, board member of STF, speaks to the gathering.

Tomas Kerns, board member of STF, speaks to the gathering.

 

Since 2013, an amazing group of women from Lambertville including Leigh McKay, Sharon Dietrich, Naomi Drew, Shirley Kessler, Jane Wesby, and Joan Millsaps to name a few, wanted to do something to improve the lives of girls, particularly those in developing countries who struggle against impossible odds.

They all joined forces and host an annual May Day Fundraising Luncheon to support the efforts of She’s the First. This year they raised raised over $12,000 and will send at least 10 girls to school in Nepal, India and Gambia. 

Leigh McKay, a favorite customer of Blue Raccoon, talks about how each donation can make a difference in a young girl’s life.

 

Its truly amazing what a group of determined women can do to support each other and young women throughout the world. We love how our customers expand our horizons and we're equally thrilled to support She's The First in expanding the horizons of girls throughout the world!

 

If you want to donate to help support young girls to get an education you may go to She's The First.

 

 

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Pillow Talk

Let's talk pillows...

Anyone who's walked through the store knows that I don't shy away from colors and patterns. I believe that, as long as you have a firm design base, layering colors and textures becomes easy. In fact, I feel strongly that a room needs all the pop it deserves. Usually the base in a living/family room, for me, is the upholstery. I start with a sofa and, maybe, a pair of chairs in warm neutral fabrics. Then I layer on pillows, throws, rugs, etc. that add color, pattern and texture.  

 

At home I used orange as an accent, but I found some beautiful pillows in one of my favorite stores in Key West and thought that these would give me that mix and match, yet, coordinated pillow collection that I always love. It's easy, breezy decorating style... Don't fret. Just have fun with patterns and colors. The blue block print pillow has a beautiful orange whip-stitched edge. The little kidney pillow is actually block printed with metallic gold and silver. It all works!

 

Number one rule for me with pillows is don't be afraid of pattern. This picture shows a simple start. A big ticking stripe coordinates beautifully with this gorgeous, colorful Indian block print pillow.

 

There's definitely more happening here. A mass of different patterns mix and match, creating a bold design of patterns in similar colors. 

 

A neutral gray sofa is dressed up with a chenille throw and 3 different patterned pillows.

 

 Using fabric swatches (Why not get custom pillows made?), I've created a rich collection of colors and patterns, as well as, textures. A rich gray velvet (lower left) is paired with a taupey gray Shantung silk (right) and a bold modern pattern. The addition of the unexpected "acid green" linen weave gives it all zing!

 

 A big bold pattern is offset by the rich green velvet (right) and a striped chenille. Love it.

 

I could go on. It's easy for me to play with patterns, colors, textures, as I love doing it. I think you get the idea...Let's talk about your home. Need any fun accessories, pillows, throws? We love helping our customers "put it all together". Hope to see you soon.

 

Until next week. Ciao!

 

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High Point Spring Market 2017

I'm back from the spring furniture market. All of our vendors worked hard to create a new collection of comfy, functional furniture that embrace great style. Our rug and lighting companies also had some great new things! Most of what I ordered is for our fall 2017 collection, which starts arriving in August, but I got some great accessories and wall art for the summer. These will start arriving the end of May.

I am happy to say that, Google Maps directions aside, my drive went very smoothly. This is a picture of last markets drive down. I was stuck for about 45 minutes until they cleared this burning truck. Luckily, no one was hurt.

 

After the long drive down, I checked into my hotel in Greensboro. After unpacking and freshening up, I walked over to Bonefish Grill for dinner at the bar. I struck up a conversation with a nice woman sitting next to me. She happened to know Blue Raccoon. She is a NJ sales rep. for the rug line Jaunty. We ate dinner and talked about business. 

This is one of the things about these trade shows...Sure, I get to see what's new and it allows me to plan the new season. I have to attend these shows if I want to create a vital, exciting retail experience. But, talking to the attendees about business, whether it's a sales rep. or another retailer, has a value that can't be measured in dollars and cents. And here's the thing...every day I was there I spoke to retailers and reps. from across the country and we were all on the same page about the state of the US economy. 2017 is filled with consumer uncertainty. I don't want to get too political, but the new administration is not creating an environment that bolsters consumer spending. We all seemed determined to get through this and make our stores and businesses more dynamic.

Our first stop at market is Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. (Here I am with Mitchell and their beautiful dog Zola.) Their showroom is always an inspiration. What we see here and what we decide to bring into the store from their new collection dictates what Blue Raccoon will look like the next season. I choose pillows, rugs, lighting and other accessories based on our new MB+BW assortment. 

 

At Universal I was blown away by Alexander Julian's new collection of case goods. Here I am with Alex (as they all called him...teehee!). Note the wall decor. I am always looking at the visual merchandising when I am at these shows. The showroom's creative merchandiser made an argyle pattern on the walls using nails and yarn. Whaaaat?!

 



 The Alexander Julian collection at Universal was a huge hit. Notice the faux tortoise shell inlays on the apron and drawer knobs on this sideboard. Stunning!

 

Loloi had some wonderful new rug designs!

 

 

So, my dinner mate from Thursday evening introduced me to Jaunty, a great line of hand-made rugs. I love textiles and was delighted to be able to bring in this line of area rugs. All three patterns (two above and one below) will be in the store this fall.

 

 

I also enjoy seeing all of the creativity that goes into the displays. This guy was weaving wooden popsicle sticks into an elaborate hanging sculpture. Hmm...I might have to try that!

 

The bonsai trees at Curry and Company are drool-worthy...

 

All this focus on next fall! Well, back to spring! We hope to see you in the store over the next few months. Until next time...ciao!

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To Market, To Market

 

 

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