Saturday, July 12, 2014

Salon Design Reflects Service

Customers get a sense of a business by observing the shop. The salon where I get my hair cut illustrates this phenomenon. For nearly a decade I have driven 45 minutes to have a very talented hair designer cut my hair.  His family's salon in York, Pennsylvania illustrates what they market--beauty.
The outside graphics catches your eye before you enter the front door.
The metal artist who created this sculpture shows his work at the Long's Park Arts & Craft Festival.
The interior design also reinforces the shop's youthful image. Maintaining a current face is important in the industry, because clients are buying a fresh, up-to-date look.

It is also important for a place of business to have an up-beat vibe. After all, who wants to frequent a business that is depressing? At Shortino's, the earth-toned color palate--which began with the colorful print on the upholstered seating--is anything but drab.

Even in winter, the happy-orange feature-wall lifts the gloom.

One especially creative element in the shop's design is the free-form painting on the soft blinds. The artist pulled the colors from the chair fabric and let them spill across the accordion window coverings. The results is pure genius.
Leaving the waiting area and front desk, clients are taken to their stylist's chair. The owner's son, Frank Michael Shortino, cuts my hair. He is the third-generation of hair designers in the family. I not only appreciate his amazing ability to get my straight, baby-fine hair to cooperate, but I appreciate his love for literature and travel. We never run out of interesting topics of conversation.
I found Frank-Michael through my daughter who was living in New York City. At one point, Anna had a disastrous result when she had her hair lightened. I never saw it, but apparently, it was so bad she skipped work to have it repaired at another salon. Frank Michael, who still teaches cut and color internationally, worked his magic so no one ever knew of the oops.

Anna's misfortune became my fortune. Sitting in Frank Michael's chair in the trendy lower east side salon, she found out that he also worked part-time in York, Pennsylvania. On her rave review, I tried the salon, and now for nearly a dozen years, I have been the beneficiary of Frank Michael's talent. I have watched him grow from an artistic young stylist to a confident professional who now is married and lives full-time in Central Pennsylvania where he is being groomed to take over the family business.

Shortino's Salon will continue to thrive, because they keep their services and their environment current.
This memorable mural takes the customer's mind off the crick in their neck.
Believe me, a visit to this well-designed salon will leave a lasting and favorable impression.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tureens: for Soup to Flowers

While visiting Winterthur to see the Downton Abbey exhibit, I took a detour to the Dorrance Gallery to see the Campbell Soup Company's collection of tureens. John T. Dorrance, Jr., company chairman, and W.B. Murphy, president of Campbell's, began to collect tureens in 1966. Over the years, they chose tureens based on craftsmanship, form, and history. By the early 1990's they decided to relocate their treasures to Winterthur.

 Below are photos I took of the amazing display.

Many of the tureens on display at Winterthur are silver. Some are very baroque; others are more contemporary. 

The tureen below was the first one acquired by Dorrance. It displays the coat of arms of George Washington's maternal family. 

In addition to embellishing the bowl of the tureen, silversmiths created elaborate lids. The pair below are topped with flora...

others with fauna. (Click on the picture below to see a larger view of this elaborate finial, a bear surrounded by hounds.)

Handles and feet were also part of the design. Dolphins support this silver tureen which was made in Russia in 1766. 

Although the tureen had humble beginnings as a bowl for serving a one-dish meal, during the reign of Louis XIV in France it evolved into an ornate symbol of wealth.
Each foot of this tureen is resting atop a turtle.                          
Some tureens are presented on a matching tray.

while others were made to stand alone.

How fun would it be to ladle turtle soup out of this tureen?

Beside the shiny silver tureens are many lovely porcelain examples. I loved the whimsical reclining fawn finial on this ceramic piece.

This blue and white masterpiece is topped with a perfect pear.

Somehow a frog found his way to the top of this cabbage.

Here a tiny bird is feasting on fruit and vegetables.

According to Patricia Halfpenny, former collections director at Winterthur, before Louis IV's day, soup was often the primary meal served. In that era, it was sipped communally from a simple bowl with handles. As soup gained popularity as a first course in high society, the tureen evolved into something more elaborate. Can't you imagine a hunting party coming into a castle's banquet hall and being served soup from this boar's head tureen?

As ceramic transfer ware manufacturing became popular the tureen began to be used by the growing middle class.  
Blue-printed pattern on tureen attributed to Joseph Stubbs of Staffordshire, England , circa 1825-30. Photo from Antiques and the Arts Weekly.

My personal favorites are the white, tone-on-tone, tureens.

Which would you choose?  And what would you put in your tureen? 

I conjecture that the tureen of Louis IV's day has evolved once again and is most often used today as a centerpiece, rather than for serving soup. Whatever their use, tureens certainly are lovely containers for anything from soup to flowers.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summertime Patriotic Tablescape

The most common summertime celebrations are patriotic. Summer kicks off on Memorial Day;  is marked in the middle by Fourth of July, and concludes with Labor Day. This week we celebrate our nation's birthday.

For our Fourth of July celebration, I created a new tablescape with a paisley blue and white tablecloth and red accents.
The chinese lanterns provide height for the table without obstructing guests' views. (The rule-of-thumb is to keep the centerpiece under 12 inches high. Another option is to use a clear vase with flowers starting above 24 inches to permit a clear sight line between guests.)

Between my lanterns, I plan to float white magnolia blossoms in a low bowl.

The starfish will be my nod to the stars and stripes.
However you decorate your table, please remember to take a moment to pray for our nation and its leaders. Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Picnics Made Easy

Life and entertaining are easier in the good old summertime. To insure no-fuss I keep supplies in my picnic basket ready at a moment's notice. Then, when the weather cooperates, I can set a summertime table without any hassle. 

Several outdoor tabletop products have resurfaced this summer that you may remember from picnics with your grandmother. I believe that enamelware, melamine, and rattan have come back into vogue, because they contribute to easy entertaining. 

At the core of my summer place-setting is enamelware and cutlery made by The Golden Rabbit. Years ago, I purchased the set because I knew that someday--in the far distant future--the whimsey of the ants crawling across the plates, knives, forks, and spoons would capture the imagination of grandchildren. The far distant future is now, and I was right! The plates and cutlery are favorites of the little people in my life, and they are unbreakable!

Enamelware originated in the mid-1700s in Germany; then it grew in popularity here in the mid-1800s. Do you remember your grandmother's spatterware tea kettle? Well, today, enamelware is manufactured in China and Indonesia, but can be purchased in the United States anywhere from Walmart to Neiman Marcus. 

The Golden Rabbit company no longer makes my pattern, but they have replaced it with a vintage-looking spatterware pattern,

as well as more contemporary patterns. 

A number of companies make enamelware, and the public has jumped back on this bandwagon. No wonder; being shatterproof, it is perfect for outdoor use.  
MacKensie-Childs enamelware available at Neiman Marcus.

A second easy-to-use staple I have added to my picnic basket this summer is melamine.
The Food and Drug Administration has pronounced melamine safe for kitchen use
with the caveat that it should not be microwaved or used for acidic substances.

Neither big kids nor little kids can break these "glasses". However, these aren't your grandmother's melmac dishes. No, they are thinner, have more texture, and come in prettier colors. Actually, they are quite current. I have seen melamine plates and glasses in almost every store carrying summer tableware. Again, this is no surprise. Melamine is light-weight, dish-washer safe, and perfect for easy entertaining.
Rope pattern melamine on sale now at Pottery Barn.

Finally, the last items I added to my picnic basket this summer are rattan chargers. Nothing says summertime quite like wicker and rattan. Let me encourage you to stick woven chargers into your picnic basket. They add a layered dimension to your table without adding to your laundry basket. Ah, the simple life.
The best chargers for quality and cost can be found at World Market. 
They are well-made, sit level, and are reasonably priced. 
So far, on the east coast, summer 2014 has had perfect picnic weather, and my no-fuss picnic supplies have allowed me to easily entertain out-of-doors. Alfresco dining done simply fits the lazy, hazy days of summer!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Tricking-Out" the Garage

What do you give a man who has few wants but is having a BIG birthday?  A garage make-over!  

When one of our garage doors stopped working, we decided it was time to replace them. The old ones were not insulated; one was dented, and they were the low-end, builder's-grade doors from the get-go.

Once we decided to replace the doors, we started looking at various types. We wanted to find doors that would compliment the barn in our backyard. 
We found a wonderful local company, Signal Garage Doors, that sells carriage-style doors with a traditional profile, lots of detail, and a great R-value.

I think these doors
do a great job matching the barn doors.

Next we emptied the garage--no small task as I had a couple of racks of clothing waiting for a garage sale, a number of boxes of photos I had not sorted after our flood displacement, lots of gardening equipment in buckets, and a bookcase stuffed with tools, paint, insect sprays...

What we didn't throw out was taken to the barn until the project's completion. (Full disclosure: My husband moved the boxes of photos to the basement where they still await my attention.)

Next, we swept out the space and had the walls painted Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. 

Then we had another local company, Commonwealth Garage Flooring, epoxy the floor. The topcoat  makes the floor "shine like the top of the Chrysler Building".

Once the walls were mark-free and floors were squeaky clean, we "tricked-out" the space with garage-organizing products. At Walmart, we found oil-catch pans for underneath our cars.
 They turned out to be the perfect size for our garbage cans and recycle bin as well.
Then at Target, I found a tray for keeping our wet snow boots and dirty work shoes.

For Father's Day, I wanted to complete the garage redo by getting my husband a tool cart. After much on-line research and in-person looking, we settled on one from Harbor Freight. At a local store, we spied an un-boxed cart at a huge discount!

Ever the optimist, I was ready to buy it on the spot. My husband, being the practical one, wasn't sure if it would fit in the back of my small station wagon. It took three strong young men and an hydraulic lift to heft it into the car. With the wheels off, it just fit. We headed home feeling quite happy.

Not far down the road, we both began to wonder how were we going to get it out of the car by ourselves. Maybe I would be driving around with a huge, red tool cart in the back of my car until we had some strong and willing guests who could help. Oh dear...

However, once home, my husband came up with a solution: use a heavy piece of plywood as a ramp. So, he carefully nudged the 250-pound cart out of the back of the station wagon and onto the makeshift slide. Then, making sure our feet were clear of the cart in case the whole thing collapsed, we carefully slid the hunkin'-big box down the slope. Fortunately, it made a graceful descent. Finally, we turned it on its end and reattached the wheels. Whew…disaster avoided.
 Lastly, we installed more hangers for rakes and brooms and organized the corner cupboard. What a feeling of accomplishment.

I so enjoyed doing this for my husband. He so faithfully keeps our yard "as neat as a pin." He comes by this clean-gene honestly. His grandma had the cleanest garage in a county known for Dutch-cleanliness. She "wiped-down" the garage walls every spring and fall. Truly, you could eat off her garage floor. Now our garage would rival hers. The real trick will be keeping it this way. ;)