My Mother: An Inspiration

My mother is someone very special in my life: a strong and creative woman, a nurturing figure, a source of inspiration and laughter.

My mother and IMy mother and I

These past few months have been difficult for me on a personal level. Raising a son who has special needs can be exhausting, and I can thank my mother for being there for me as my husband and I battle the system to help our son reach his full potential and be happy. Some of you may wonder why I have not blogged as much: I have been focusing on my youngest son and my design business. I put the blog on the backburner…

As long as I can remember, I lived in a creative home. In fact, I learned to sew and draw at a very young age, modeling after my mother’s creative energy. I remember falling asleep to the sound of the sharp blade of a pair of sewing scissors, gliding along confidently on the hardwood floor, as my mom cut large slabs of fabric pinned to patterns to make dresses for us (at midnight!).

Fabric was a soothing and happy word in my household.

As a little girl, I saw my mother become a Montessori student and then a teacher. I would go to her classroom to help on my days off school, and hold the colorful beads, cherishing the colors and shapes. I would position the pink tower blocks carefully one above the other or arrange the little trays with the small pitcher and cup on their shelves.

Our house accumulated oriental rugs my parents shopped for; I remember we could spend a whole weekend driving around the country searching for the perfect antique corner cupboard. My mother would take an antique quilt and repurpose it as a curtain between two rooms, or she would make a patch work art piece for my younger sister’s bedroom, using scraps of fabric.

Color, texture, beauty, in infinite details of objects or in a carefully cared for garden, continue to inspire my mother to this day:

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s collection of antique chess pieces. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s assortiment of little boxes and “chinoiseiries”. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza Books and picture in my mother’s living room and below, her wingchair- Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

GH-wingchair

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s glass menagerie Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaHer silver cups…

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaA fun vignette, I love the stool with the embroidered seat under the English table…Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother has style everywhere, including in her garden! Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaDid I mention she is a painter nowadays? Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAnd to top things off, my mother takes me to strange and totally cool stores when I visit, like this escapade we made to Vermont, just to check out this quirky shop, The Owl’s Nest. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 I’d say my passion for interior design and the creative process was inspired, day in and day out, by my mother.

Interior Design, after all, is about the loving juxtaposition of items, gathered together to create beauty and comfort.

 

4-The Wonderful World of New Orleans Designers and Antiques

On our first day in New Orleans with BlogtourNOLA, we were treated to a visite guidée* of renowned Magazine Street by local interior designer Shaun Smith, a gracious and most talented young man.

Shaun Smith on magazine Street. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Shaun Smith walks us through the shops on Magazine Street. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Shaun proceeded to take us into upscale antique shop Antiquités d’Europe, owned by Petricia Thompson, an antique shop owner for the past 13 years. Petricia has quite a collection of 18th and 19th Century European antiques. The prices are steep but I recommend you stop by this one. Here are a few snapshots:

Antiquités d'Europe - Photo Drecit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAntiquités d’Europe – Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAntiquités d’Europe- 19th Century French Tole Bed Corona Canopy – Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Antiquités d'Europe- Phot  Credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAntiquités d’Europe- 18th Century Spanish Dining chairs – Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAntiquités d’Europe- Vase of April, A French creation, one of my favorites, even if more contemporary.  Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Next stop was Empire Antiques:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaContinuing on Magazine Street we passed Julie Neill‘s Designs, as Julie herself greeted us in front of her storefront. Unfortunately we were headed to another destination, but I could not resist taking a few snapshots of her stylish vitrines**:

Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaJulie Neill’s unusual storefront window with the street reflection- Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaJulie Neill’s unusual storefront window with the street and myself reflected- Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Malachite Home was a big favorite with our group: Shaun Smith introduced us to the designer and her fabulous shop, filled with unusual juxtapositions and brimming with art and sculpture:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMalachite’s. Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaBunny Williams Table with turned legs and assortment of candy colored glassware. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 My personal favorites:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMalachite Home unusual mid century sculptures- Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 Gorgeous dragons and floral details enhance these gilded sconces- Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Shaun Smith then invited us in his own shop and regaled us with little canapés of goat cheese decorated with fresh strawberries and other canapés topped with charcuteries***. We welcomed the break and admired his elegant and whimsical style:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Religious symbols abound in New Orleans, a town with a strong Catholic history and culture. One has to keep in mind Louisiana is the only state to be  divided into Parishes rather than Counties.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaThese chairs might be the ones that belonged to my French grandparents. In fact, they are so eerily similar I am a bit taken aback. Chairs on which grandchildren sat to eat tartines de pain de campagne au miel**** dipped in hot chocolate. Chairs on which my family sat next to the free standing 1950’s first fridge and played bridge. Photo credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAnd then there is this Louis Philippe commode*****. Surely this has to be the one that was in the guest bedroom in my grandparents’ home?! Feelings like this overcome me throughout my trip in new Orleans. It’s as if the city lends itself to travel into time and pulls me back to Europe…Photo credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Next stop was Gerrie Bremermann’s fantastic shop with Gerrie herself! Gerrie is a lovely and energetic octogenarian interior designer who left her career as a seamstress to become an interior designer in her 40’s. She was voted Vogue Magazine’s top interior designers in 2004. Her boutique/office is refined and personalized. Gerrie is also represented on 1st Dibs.

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaSoothing palette for this ethereal and elegant bedroom by Gerrie Bremermann. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaFun fact: Gerrie says because the ceilings are so tall in her offices, she selects very tall staff, as she herself is quite petite. Note the stunning -I assume- Italian Murano glass chandelier. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Art holds a big place in Gerrie Bremermann’s designs. I can see why! Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaWith Gerrie :-) We had a good laugh at how New Orleans affected our hair!!!  I so enjoyed my visit with her!

We finish our street tour at Ecru, a tasteful antique shop owned by a darling mother and daughter team:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaIf you love whites, greys and greiges, this is the shop for you! Photo: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

The day ended at the Ogden Museum with a presentation and book signing with interior designer Miles Redd, author of a book called The Big Book of Chic:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaTwo design legends, Gerrie Bremermann and Miles Redd enjoy a quick chat minutes before the book signing. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

*French for guided tour
**French for storefront windows
***French for prepared meats usually made of pork, using methods such as curing or smoking, which were methods developed to preserve meat in times when refrigeration was not an option (jambon, saucisson, etc)
****French for buttered peasant bread slices with honey
*****French for chest of drawers

Oh, the Bliss of Vacation!

I know, I know, I disappeared for a bit.

We should all do that once in a while!

I took some time off with my family and went to the Berkshires. I turned off Twitter, Facebook, disconnected myself from work including designing and blogging. I had a lovely time. Picked raspberries on a farm (we were instructed to bark here and there to ward off bears, seriously). Ate outside every day. Watched the sunset. Went to a 4th of July parade. Gobbled ice cream with my children. And, yes, went antiquing with my mom in delicious little spots where you need to carefully sift for treasures.

I thought I’d share a few interesting photos of Sweets and Beans, a most wonderful confiserie/ice cream shop/expresso bar I found in Williamstown, MA :

Williamstown, MA New Venue: Sweets and Beans

They offer great design and sweets all in one. I loved their hazelnut ice cream and the seating was relaxed and inviting to both adults and kiddos.

Magnificent ice cream flavors and colors at Sweets and Beans.
Smart summer seating at Sweets and Beans.
Cool ceiling fixture and assorted candy hanging from ceiling at sweets and Beans.

 

Candy lover’s delight.
Jars and jars of tantalizing candy at Sweets and Beans.

While antiquing, I fell in love with this 60s Madmen set of luncheon matching cups and plates:

In the 60s, you would drink and eat from these standing up, a little circular ridge on the plate holds the plate.
A close-up of their design. I passed on these. I took them home. They make great breakfast plates and tea cups!

Just for the fun, had to take a photo of these:

Collection of parfumerie and soap accessories and containers.

The night before we left, the sky was as festive as can be:

Breathtaking sky. Photo by my son, Julien Herpers.

I came back to find my collection cherished hemerocallis had bloomed. A treat….

I hope all of you get to take a few days off this summer :-)

A bientôt!

 

 

Travels to the Famous Brimfield Show (A Neophyte’s Telling) – Part 3

And here is the final chapter of my adventure at Brimfield, which I better post today as I have tons of news to share with you next, from my latest trip to New York, where I attended the Blogfest 2012 event.

Pandora de Balthazár offered a gigantic tent, with a beautiful display of European Antique bedding and textiles, body creams, as well as fluffy Hungarian down filled pillows and inviting bedding. Here are a few snapshots:

Pandora de Balthazar Linens and pillows.
Embroidered pillows at Pandora de Balthazar.
Gilded antique chair and embroidery in front of lace curtain.

Some items for sale at Brimfield could be found positioned randomly on tables and sheets spread out on the grass. However, some vignettes could be truly inspiring and it boiled down to presentation. Nicely displayed items make a world’s difference:

Now, for the big question: Did I purchase anything???? Yes, I did! I fell in love with these botanical prints :

And this 1810 Carl Linnaeus Illustration of corals just had to come home with me :-)

Travels to the Famous Brimfield Show (A Neophyte’s Telling) – Part 2

And now for Part 2 of my exhilarating adventure at the Brimfield Show!

I saw a lot of Americana or Folk Antiques, such as these quality pieces by Quiet Corner Antiques:

Early 18th Century American Chair in excellent condition. As seen at Quiet Corner Antiques‘s tent.
Antique wooden utensiles and containers offered by Quiet Corner Antiques
Early 19th Century Plates

Other vendors offered every day items which have now entered the vintage realm:

Oil Bottles
Milk jugs…Remember those?
Old signs and cycles. Signs were hot and selling like baguettes in a French bakery!
Metal furniture and anything industrial was coveted, such as this little crisscross table.

I enjoyed this iron twin bed at Ornament Home‘s tent:

A sweet iron bed.

 

Reclaimed grain sacks make fun decorative elements at Ornament Home.

Then I visited Pascal’s tent. A Frenchman based in GA, his furniture offers very appealing lines:

I fell hard for this beautifully designed bed by Pascal Home.
Lovely sofa in lush grape colored velvet.
These white plastic chairs were already tagged “SOLD” on Friday.

Then there was the Waltham, MA Darby Road vendor who had a nice selection of items:

Beautiful vignette showing a slice of wood on stand and a glimpse of a great carved sign with gold lettering in background.
I thought the painted lozenges contrasted nicely with the rounded body of this armoire piece.

I leave for Blogfest2012 this weekend and will be back with the final chapter of this Brimfield Series next week!

Have a r-el-a-x-i-n-g weekend!

 

Travels to the Famous Brimfield Show (A Neophyte’s Telling) – Part 1

I had the immense pleasure of traveling to the Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show these past few days. The outdoors show first launched in the 1950’s, and has grown to  be known as a “must-see” by all Antique aficionados, a gigantic spread of dealers over about a 1/2 mile strip along Route 20 in Brimfield, MA. If you add to that description the fact that the dealers extend back from the highway about a good 500 foot stretch, well, you do the math!

As an interior designer who blogs and has a strong social media presence on Twitter, I was lucky to be invited to a Brimfield “tweet-up” and meet my colleagues IRL (In Real Life) in an inviting tent, decorated by the talented and very kind Shane Inman, designer at The Inman Company with the help of a lovely young woman named Jen.

The Brimfield tweet-up was hosted by two hard working and very talented women, Gretchen Aubuchon, founder and editor in chief of Fashion and Decor, and Cynthia Bogart, creator and editor of The Daily Basics, an online “magazine” reuniting a community of lifestyle bloggers. They hosted a fabulous event!

Without further ado, I take you on my journey, inside the tent and on the field, as I push my shopping cart on gravel and stop to take some photos.

Brimfield Tent decorated by Interior Designer Shane Inman. Bar constructed with Benjamin Moore paint cans! Benjamin Moore, along with Robert Allen Design, Aubuchon Hardware and Company C were some of the event’s sponsors. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Designers Laurie Gorelick and Elizabeth Benedict eager to start shopping with the Brimfield Tweet Up Cart! 
Brimfield Tweet Up Cart TAG detail. Note the clever ribbons and lost and found ID info!!!

 

Paintings at Brimfield. I really enjoyed these. Unfortunately the vendor could not tell me the name of artist. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Van Briggle Vase. A superb specimen for collectors. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
European Linen sold by the yard at Brimfield. The vendor is Austrian and travels all over Europe to bring these back. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
European Linens by the same vendor. I just loved how she organized her cutting area with all the mini bolts. The fabric can be used to make runners, cover chairs, dishtowels, etc. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.

Fabrics were in and I saw lovely vintage fabrics:

Vintage Table Linens at Brimfield. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
More vintage linens.

I found myself drawn to groupings of objects:

Collection of Tartan napkin rings and other small objects sold by vendor Craig Ringstad. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Colored glass containers artfully displayed by Cobalt Turtle Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Sand dollars on a silver platter arranged by the talented South Porch Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
South Porch Antiques interesting arrangement of little treasures. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Another favorite: collection of wooden dumbbells offered by South Porch Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Stunning Swedish antique clocks by Lone Ranger Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Gorgeous Swedish secrétaire by Lone Ranger antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Detail of the same piece. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.

I could resist the humor of this shot:

Swedish chairs wearing red plastic cup booties in lieu of rain boots!

More armoires and secrétaires by the same vendor:

Swedish Antique Armoire. Lone Ranger Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.

 

Swedish Antique Secrétaire. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.

 

Rolling Pins at Lone Ranger Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Detail of rolling pins texture. Loved these! Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.
Dried pressed flower art at Lone Ranger Antiques. Photo Elza B. Design, Inc.

More to come, but it is time for me to go to bed!!!! Take this in, and the next batch will be ready before you know it :-) Enjoy a fabulous weekend!