i have been intensely aware during these last weeks of the incredible changes our little shop has gone through in the last few years.  there is a great awareness in my days of the endings and beginnings that we all go through-- over and over again-- in our daily lives.  a shop is no different-- not really-- we keep moving forward and we keep, therefore, going through comings and goings-- leavings and arrivals.

we are literally on the verge of our 're-branding'-- the name change that will mean that 'the claw foot tub' (technically speaking) will no longer exist-- it will be re-born as 'home and homme'.  the sign guy is coming this very afternoon to pick up our big sign and take it away to re-paint it with our new name and tag-line 'local, handmade, vintage'.  i am not sad-- in fact very little is changing in terms of what we do and how we do it-- but we will no longer be 'the 'tub' and that change marks both an ending and a beginning like any other.

and at the same time the heart of this place-- the people who work here-- are also undergoing  major transitions.  kate-- much loved kate--who worked with me for many years and since then has continued to be my friend and confident-- packed up her life last weekend with her beloved and moved to chicago to study under a well known pastry chef.  and molly-- much cherished molly-- who has worked with me for as many years as kate plus some more-- has graduated from her masters program and taken on the very big life task of a 'real job'.  these fine young women are on grand adventures of which i could not be more proud and i bestow enormous blessings on both of them.

the days are a little bit quieter around here without them.

dean works away on taking beautiful photographs of all our new products-- chipping away at this enormous task we are undertaking of putting everything online in our new webstore (homeandhomme.com-- coming soon!).  he is calm and industrious.  i, however,  feel like the ground under my very feet is shifting and i am excited and flighty and having an incredibly difficult time focussing on any one thing.   i have not been writing-- i am caught between the grief over the past and the excitement of the future-- and unable to decide which moment to capture on 'paper'.   i have been working on my house and the houses of clients, and i have been ordering new products that will bring 'home and homme' closer than ever to the vision i have had for my shop from the beginning.  and at some soon point i will land-- firmly and happily-- in what is now only the future.

that will be good.


before and after-- bedroom hall

these photos are a great example of what a little bit of construction and a whole lot of paint can do for a space.  a long hallway created to gain access from one side of the upstairs through to the new master bedroom addition could have been pretty drab.  solar-tube skylights, and a lot of gloss and semi-gloss white paint do the trick!

ahhhh-- the joys of renovation.


brimfield antique show

this week we will be at the brimfield antique show-- considered to be the fourth largest flea market in the world.  we, along with about 5,000 other vendors will be selling our wares to tourists, passers-by, and other dealers.  holy cow!!

the preparation has been intense-- collecting all that stuff, planning how to pack it, transport it, and then display it; pricing everything; and then bringing all the other accoutrements of selling things-- including our little square register so we can take credit cards through our phones!  we were supposed to have a 20 X 20 foot tent and then found out last week that we only have a 10 x 20 foot tent.  hmmm.  but as we set up yesterday we decided that our little 10 x 20 is going to live very large this week-- and be just fine.

today will be another long day of preparations-- including what we have been told is a very busy traffic in sales among vendors-- and then tomorrow at dawn the market opens to the public!

come visit us this week!

sturdevant's north, #30 main street, brimfield.


decorating rules are meant to be broken

note:  i took this photo from pinterest to illustrate my point.

today on my facebook newsfeed this article appeared:  '12 deadly decorating sins' by decorator kurt cyr.    well-- okay.  everyone likes these lists and design blogs of all kinds use them to raise readership.  HOWEVER...  lists like this strike me as narrow minded and bordering on mean.  it would have been a much better list had he slanted it slightly-- neglect of any space COULD be considered a sin,  but a built-in refrigerator or a look that is monotone look could not.  perhaps suggesting that people look at their spaces with intention-- with an awareness of what is looking unkempt or dated might have been a better approach?

in any case...

there has to be room in design for diversity-- for the fact that we are not all the same person and the same things do not make us all happy.

'12 deadly sins' suggests that if i don't paint my rooms in lots of different bright colors i will not be happy.   hmmmm--  the author has clearly not heard the hour long rhapsodies that my friend pat and i can get into over a new shade of white that one of us has discovered!  and while i love color of all kinds-- who is to say that it is not the monochromatic rooms that really make my heart sing?

and while dining rooms may be in poor demand these days in many homes-- who is to say that mine needs to have multiple uses?  perhaps my family eats there three times a day and we don't need the room for anything else?

and the 12th sin-- which cyr says is the most deadly:  'lack of wit'.  i am assuming the man means individuality, fun, play-- the sense that the space is made personal by its occupants rather than simply looking like a pottery barn catalog.  but really-- wit?  not all of us want our homes to be clever or funny.

just saying.

happy saturday!!



the new house

we made it through the move of our home.

now....  let the work begin.

i always tell clients it takes at least a year after a move or major construction to re-establish one's material world in a new location.

and we are no different-- it will be a long haul of renovating, unpacking, and figuring out how to use our new space.  AND-- dean and i are now a 'blended family'.  there will be as many as 6 of us at any given time in our new home!  figuring out those relationships and that space is sure to take more than a year!

many, many photos to follow.


moving again

i move a lot.  it just seems to happen.

perhaps it is my love of houses-- my interest in saving the unwanted, neglected homes-- perhaps it is just simply wanderlust.  but it happens.  every three to five years we find ourselves in the process of packing up and moving again.

a few weeks ago we started the process again-- making our little house sparkle as we got it ready to put it on the market;  culling our possessions-- making sure we are bringing only those items we truly love with us to our new home;  and planning renovations and necessary changes for our new house-- getting it ready for our arrival-- creating home.

moving seems to be easier for me than for most people.  i like the process-- i like giving our home one final big gift of love-- making it look the very best it can look before we pass it on to the next owners.  i like packing-- going through everything we own and getting rid of those things that are no longer useful or meaningful.  and i love imagining our lives in our new home-- thinking about where we will need to put new towel rods (i always manage to buy houses that don't have any towel rods!) and where we will put our clothes.  i would not want to move more often than i do-- i am very much a home-body and the process of nesting and settling in does not happen overnight for me.  but every few years feels comfortable.

plus there are all the before and after photos!  such fun!

this photo was taken in one of my earlier homes-- in the days AFTER we had moved out and left our home staged and on the market.  it was beautiful, wasn't it?

happy wednesday.



the big reveal

i often consult with people starting new retail businesses.  we talk about how to choose and order product, how to navigate town ordinances and commercial leases;  we talk about marketing and shop locations;  we talk-- sometimes more briefly than others-- about how to keep records so that filing business taxes is easy and straight forward.

all the same things i needed help with when we first started.

but really the truth is that we all learn best from experience-- and over time there are things we learn that there is no way to have known at the beginning.  life changes, there are ebbs and flows, and we adjust or change course as necessary.

8 years ago i began the process of creating 'the claw foot tub'.  my business partner was my lovely friend ariana-- and we worked tirelessly to create the look and feel of this place.  we were both in love with the name, the logo, the indian cabinets that held our fair-trade and local homewares.  we spent hours finding the best candles, glasses, quilts, and table runners we could find.  we laughed hysterically on road trips to visit our new vendors--  an amazing and wonderful journey in friendship and shop keeping.

eventually ariana had baby james and decided to be home with him full-time.  i adjusted-- i threw myself full-time into the business of making a living in retail during the early years of the recession, and life continued on-- and i gained the experience and knowledge that i now pass on to others.

now?  another round of change.   my very talented boyfriend has joined and added to the mix of what is now OUR little shop.  dean brings with him an eye for interesting vintage items-- antiques of the useful and re-purposed order and many more items geared towards 'man'-- beard oil and old printing presses and industrial stools.  we continue to spend hours finding what we think are the best mugs, duvet covers, and shaving accoutrements out there.  and we laugh-- hysterically-- driving all over looking for vintage finds.

the more things change the more they stay the same!

BUT this time around it has seemed appropriate to change the name of the shop to match the internal changes.


THIS is our new name, and our new logo.  over the next few weeks we are having our signs re-painted, new business cards made, and i have been hard at work on our new webstore.  ALL will be finished over the next month, but in the meantime be patient with our process.  some sites will keep the name 'the claw foot tub' a bit longer while some will switch to 'home and homme' almost immediately.

the shop itself?  essentially unchanged-- just added to.  there is more here, more to love, but still the same old 'tub underneath.

i like that.



man products

until last year i had never thought about the products we sell as being 'for women' or 'for men'.  our customers have been overwhelmingly female-- and i have been aware of that fact-- but i did not feel that we were being gender biased in our buying.  the homewares i sell have, in fact, been intentionally gender-neutral.

in recent months, however, we have waded into the gendered product world by buying products specifically geared towards men.  we have aftershave, beard oil, beautiful german-made safety razors, and vintage items of all kinds that seem like what you might find in a 'man shop'.

the interesting part to me is that all the items meant to invite more men into the shop-- while being thoroughly enjoyed and exclaimed over by the men who do wander in-- have been purchased almost exclusively by women.  whether the women are buying for men or for themselves-- we don't always know-- but it is a sociological puzzle that raises some questions.

are women really the shoppers in our culture as the stereotypes suggest?  are women more comfortable buying 'man' products for men than buying gender-neutral products for men?  are women actually as interested in buying 'man' products for themselves as any other products?  can we actually think of products for the body or home as gendered?

when i was in college i got into the habit (which has continued into my adulthood) of wearing men's cologne just simply because i liked the scent.  i got so clear about which scents i preferred that i no longer even looked at the colognes meant for women.  i assume that i am not alone in this gender-product cross-over.

so-- a more pointed question for me:

is having products that we think of as 'for women' or 'for men' just about like painting little girls' rooms pink and little boys' rooms blue?


happy friday!


HOME for sale... OURS!!

yup, we're moving.  just around the corner, but moving is still moving.

this house has been a wonderful little refuge for us.  sunny and bright, warm and cozy-- with gorgeous conservation land behind and within walking distance of both schools and the shop-- it has been a great place to live.  but our lives have changed and we need more room-- and an opportunity i could not pass-up has landed in our laps.

i never buy the houses that other people want.  i buy the lonely houses, the neglected and forlorn.  this house was no different when we bought it-- it had been on the market for nearly a year, looked kind of sad and forgotten, and was oddly chopped up inside without even a place for a refrigerator to go.  yet i knew we wanted it before we even stepped inside.

we bought it and set to work.  now it is a lovely little place-- bright sunny rooms that flow well from one to the next, AND a good place for the fridge.

after a beautiful five years, it is time to go!

the new house?  a place in infinite need of imagination and love!  pictures, of course, to follow.

happy saturday, people.


weekend project: painting the basement

in the last several years i have been in a number of basements that have been painted.  they are unfinished, regular old basements-- but the floors, walls, and sometimes the ceilings (really the structural system holding up the house) are all painted.  generally i have been seeing white walls with grey floors-- simple and clean and nice to be in.  these basements are not 'BASEMENT-Y'-- they are fresh and clean-- and feel like an extension of the living space.  i have even been looking at the kitchens and servant areas of tv shows like 'downton abbey'-- now THAT's a painted basement for you!

i have been thinking about this painted-basement idea.  most of us don't want to take the time (or we have too much stuff) to paint space that we are rarely in.  most of us don't think it is worth it.

well-- until just recently i would have agreed.  i loved the painted basements of my clients but didn't think it worth it to do in my own house.  but-- this weekend all of that changed!  after having a fair amount of work done in my basement in the last couple of years-- work that doesn't really show but that cost a fair amount of money-- i wanted that space to SHINE!!   i spent two days down there rolling paint on all the walls and on the floor-- and what a difference it made!!

we started by moving everything to the center of one side of the basement.  fortunately we don't have that much stuff so this part was fairly easy-- but it would have been worth it to move a whole lot of stuff if that is what we needed to do.  we took the opportunity to take a number of items to the salvation army or the dump-- things that i had meant to get rid of a while ago but hadn't gotten to.

then we cleaned.  and i mean cleaned.  wear a mask and gloves when you do this-- they will help.  we vacuumed and scrubbed-- making sure that we had dust-free surfaces to apply the new paint to.

for those who will want to know:  we used 'dry-lock' brand paint which is meant for masonry.  it is thick-- almost like chocolate pudding (except white for the walls and grey for the floors)-- and we had to really work it in to the concrete of the basement.  it looks great!

happy tuesday!


kristin and robin are engaged!

i love stories.

people live amazingly interesting lives.  no matter how ordinary we all look from the outside-- we all have moments of wisdom, heartbreak, and incredible bravery that make the world the interesting place that it is.  i am not talking about sensationalist voyeurism-- i mean real people living real lives doing real every day things-- and telling their own stories.  good stories there.

kristin and robin are a young couple who have been coming to the shop once every week or two for a very long time.  both friendly and interested in what we do around here-- we have had many conversations over the years about our products, and where they come from and where they end up in their home. lots of stories!

kristin and robin also each have interesting personal stories-- stories of triumph and love where there might have been bitterness and defeat.  and together they are the sweetest, most earnestly good couple i know.  they always seem to see the bright side of any situation.  one day they bought a dining table-- a big round heavy table-- and carried it (by hand) home a distance of many blocks.  they were in such good humor and happiness to have found the right table there was no trepidation about the journey!

and as regulars to the shop over the last bunch of years they have seen us at our best AND our worst.  during our hardest moments they have been supportive-- steady in coming to the shop, steady in bringing family and friends to visit us.  i have felt so well cared for by this young couple!

so when kristin and robin came to the shop to tell me that they are engaged....  such merriment!

thanks for including me in your story, guys!

next up?  the wedding registry!!


ancient housewares

as a child i thought that museums were full of these-- glass and ceramic pieces made two thousand (and more) years ago.  as my parents wandered the galleries and my brother and i followed behind it felt like an endless parade of old stuff.  beautiful old stuff, but anything endless just seems like too much!

these days i see this differently.  look at those pitchers and bowls-- two (plus) thousand year old GLASS.  imagine how fragile glass is.  imagine any of our pitchers and bowls being around in two thousand years!

i think about what it has taken for these items to survive this long.  they were made by hand thousands of years before machinery could replicate the hand.  they were individual pieces-- hand and mouth blown to the artist's idea of perfection.  i imagine that people treated their things more carefully than we do when things were not so easily replicated and replaced.  i imagine the vessels of daily life were treated with as much care as the food and water they carried.

what would our world be like today if all our household goods were still made by hand?


changes ahead...

i took this photo sometime in our first summer.  fairly early by the size of the plants in the window box. it has been nearly seven years since-- and there has been a lot of learning, a lot of growth, and a whole lot of change in that time.

and now-- more change is on its way!  the big changes have already been happening in the shop itself-- we have new product lines, a whole lot more vintage, and a definite concentration in some areas on "man product".  online we have started our new etsy vintage site "home and homme"-- the name chosen because it seemed to best reflect what we are doing.  the story of 'home and homme' from our etsy site:

in the dead of winter 2006 mary-moore opened her brick and mortar shop 'the claw foot tub' as a way to source the home products she loved most for her clients without running all over creation to do it. for years she sold ethically sourced housewares-- local, handmade, vintage, and fair trade. she sold block-printed quilts, hand-made pottery, beeswax candles, wooden kitchen utensils, white enamel cookware, and vintage furniture of all kinds. you never knew what you might find at 'the claw foot tub'.

and then mary-moore met dean-- an artist and photographer-- and jack-of-all-trades dreamer of good things. dean had been dreaming of a 'man shop' where he would sell vintage typewriters, just the right amount of taxidermy, wallets, flasks-- and beautiful german-made razors for shaving. a shop for men selling man things. he imagined it would be called 'claw'-- and be next door to 'the tub'-- a perfect compliment in style and substance.

and now-- we present 'home and homme'. still local, still handmade, still vintage, and still fair trade-- but with a perfect dose of 'man' thrown in for good measure.

stay tuned for more of this story... we are developing a whole new way of thinking about what we do-- a new website, new signs for the shop, and a new location for this blog.  fun stuff for the spring!

home and homme.


before and after

this before and after is of the beautiful living room of a very busy young family.  they had been living in the house for five years when they called me-- long enough to settle in but not long enough to have figured out what to do with the pink marble fireplace surround and long blank wall of fairly narrow room.

but my clients have an amazing art collection-- unbelievably beautiful things from all over the world-- that made the direction to go in incredibly easy.  feature the art, downplay the stuff.  we built an enormous bookcase/ storage cabinet into the long wall-- it is 9 feet long by nearly 9 feet tall-- to hold many beautiful things AND hide many things that are useful but not so beautiful.  the cabinet needed to act as structural support for a major load-bearing wall holding up the second floor-- but we turned this into a design opportunity by creating strong vertical columns within the bookcases.

the room is still a comfortable family space-- but it is restful to the eyes and to the heart.

a good thing.


best of the best...

it is that time of year again.  the time that in this area we start asking all our customers and friends to vote for us in the 'valley advocate's' reader's poll.  we very much appreciate your votes in "material world" (THE CLAW FOOT TUB) and "at your service" (marymoore DESIGN).

and a few thoughts...

i am always grateful for peoples' votes-- getting in those top three slots means a lot of publicity and potentially a LOT more business during the year-- the reason we all work so hard to get those votes!  and yet i am not a competitive person-- the more the merrier is always my motto-- and i believe strongly that together we will provide better product and better service than any of us in this valley can on our own.    

at THE CLAW FOOT TUB we specialize in local, handmade, and vintage items for the home (and homme!).  we have an eclectic, ever-changing mix of furniture, bedding, pottery, and table linens-- and items for 'HIM'.  and though we never think of ourselves as a gift shop-- people certainly come to us to buy presents for their friends and family.  in our design business, marymoore DESIGN, we work hard to make homes feel cozy and comfortable.  my design is all about light and air, form AND function-- and it tends to be very earthy and touchable.

and while i think we do a very good job in our particular niches-- we are not going to appeal to everyone.   i am aware that there are plenty of others in our field who do amazing work in their own niche-- and with whom we are not in competition but actually working together to provide the best products and services possible.  

so-- this year rather than plugging simply our own business i am going to plug a number of businesses that i think do really, really good work.  these are MY favorites-- but of course there are many more.  please check them all out-- and then vote for as many of them as you think appropriate.

jena, at PINCH,  offers gorgeous hand-picked, hand-made items for gift and home.  cathie, at THE BLUE MARBLE, has beautiful jewelry and fun colorful gifts for all ages.  in both williamsburg and lenox, kay, at B. MANGO AND BIRD, has an amazing collection of gifts and items for the home-- including beautiful furniture pieces from india.   louise, at THE TRADING POST  in south amherst, has the very best in vintage furniture finds.   bettina at BETTINA ARCHER INTERIORS  offers brilliant full-service design services for traditional/ transitional homes.  AMY WOOLF COLOR CONSULTING  provides top quality color consultations for walls, furniture, and more.  and rachael of NOVA DESIGN STUDIOS is the architect and furniture/lighting designer i choose every time.

each of us who own shops and work in the design fields offer something unique and wonderful to our customers and clients-- and together we offer a beautifully wide range of products and services that make us together infinitely better than any of us on our own.

so really-- it doesn't matter who you vote for-- just VOTE!


the year of fun

2014 has arrived and around here it has been dubbed 'the year of fun'.

most retailers are not big fans of january. a far cry from the excitement and merriment in the just- passed peak of our retail year! we are paying off whatever bills remained at the end of the last year, looking at the mountain of paperwork that accumulated during the busy fourth quarter, and spending our days in near silence in our quiet and somewhat forlorn post-holiday shops.  our biggest trade show is at the beginning of february-- so we are generally not even ordering much in january-- waiting to see what's new at the show. it is a little like waking up and surveying the house the morning after a huge party-- there is happiness that the party went so well, but man.... the mess!

for me?  january happens to be one of my favorite months in the shopkeeping year-- BECAUSE it is so  quiet.  i have time to re-arrange, to re-assess, to look at how we did last year and think about where we are going.  as an introvert and a naturally shy person i may not always be suited to the hustle and bustle of the busy retail seasons. i have learned how to adapt, how to thrive in all those wonderful holiday visits from old friends and new customers-- but january is the month i feel most happy and most myself.  i snuggle in with my tea and run numbers-- last year's sales and this year's projections-- getting the taxes done and organizing the design paperwork.  i love having the time to get behind everything in the shop  and clean.  i plan for new projects (i ordered the most beautiful handkerchief linen samples this week to see how it works for duvet covers!), and i just settle back in to my quiet shop keeping life.

how about you?  how is january treating you?

happy new year...


learning from our mistakes

as we enter the weekend before christmas i am aware that we are near the end of our shop year.  every year at this time i assess where we are-- did i meet my goals financially and creatively?  did the shop grow in ways that both increased sales and increased my happiness?  do i still like doing this whole shop thing?

this was our first full year in our 'new' location and i worked harder than i ever have before.  i love the space the shop has now, love our landlord, and i really want this thing to work.  it has been, in many ways, a truly great year.  HOWEVER--  if i am really honest i think i took on more than i really could handle.  there were too many tasks done without enough focus, too many follow-up phone calls not made-- in essence too many balls were dropped.

i am okay with admitting i am not perfect.  i do my best but at times i do take on too much, or i don't communicate well enough, or i just get too wrapped up in one project and neglect another.  this year, as i begin my annual looking back over the state of things around here i will take some particular time to look at those places where i was not as good as i could have been.

it is hard to look at the places that i have fallen short.  i do not beat myself up-- not much good in that-- but it is through being open to my shortcomings that i hope to make change that will make next year better.


good to be home

this time of year i am more aware than ever of my community.  the customers, clients, and friends-- the people who make it possible for me to do what i do every day-- stop by the shop to do their holiday shopping, or just to wish us 'happy holidays'.   friends who work in other local establishments-- the restaurants, the clothing shops, the local pub-- come to buy presents for their families-- and it is the one time of the year that i routinely get to wait on them rather than them waiting on me.  my daughters take on extra tasks in the shop-- making linen tea towels or taking photographs of products to put on the webstore.  molly and i drink lots of chai and knock out paperwork and sweep the floor between visitors-- and it is all very festive and nice.

we are a family business, a community based business, and-- as always-- we are centered on home. 

thanks, all.



it has always been part of our vision to carry vintage and antique items in the shop.  some years we do better at this than others-- benches, old tables, little beautiful chairs-- always a part of our shop landscape.  but one-of-a-kind vintage items like these fire hose nozzles that we have turned into candlesticks are a rare and beautiful find.

watch for more items like this-- in the shop, on the blog, and in our new 'vintage' collection on the web store.

happy sunday!


honor among thieves

small, local retailers have a code of honor like any other group.  a set of unwritten rules that help us to treat each other with respect, kindness, and generosity.  at the very least we do our best not to carry the same things, not to undercut each other in our pricing, and we recommend each other to our customers.  

the very best retailers are those who are most generous with each other-- those who recognize that we are not in competition with each other, that we are-- in fact-- all in this together.  we support each other-- checking in with each other about everything from a local shoplifter to a change in vendor pricing to how to negotiate with our landlords.  we coach each other on how to handle tricky situations, how to juggle the bills, and how to keep track of everything for our taxes. we cheer each other on in our successes, and are there to help during times of crisis.

today a special thank you to cathie, jena, liz, louise, matthew, emily, cathy, genie, karna-- all of whom have contributed to my shopkeeping quality of life at some point or another in very positive ways...



shop girl

my nieces and nephew, who are six and eight, were very excited to be BEHIND the counter at the shop this weekend.  my daughter, of course, is an old hand.

happy holiday shopping!


minimal is good

i will admit to being a minimalist.  if given the choice-- i generally think that less is more.

this has not always been the case.  in my early years of home-making i loved layering-- colors, textiles-- and i loved the play of objects with each other.  in the last decade of shop keeping, however, i get plenty of play with objects at work-- which causes me to crave simplicity and peace at home.

how about you?


still ethically sourced... after all these years

it has been almost five years since we made the decision to only sell products that are local, fair trade, and environmentally friendly.   that decision came at the start of the worst recession our country (and planet) has ever seen.  we recognized that, as retailers selling products for the home, we had a responsibility to change the way we did business- and to suggest that our customers change the way they buy-- so that we could be part of changing the corporate/ consumer tide that created this recession to begin with.  as the recession deepened, we became more committed than ever to selling products that supported our neighbors, our friends-- companies doing the right thing for the earth and her people-- and ultimately ourselves.

this week we are proud to add CHEMEX to our list of vendors-- a small company in pittsfield, ma, also committed to supporting their local economy by keeping their manufacturing in massachusetts, using exclusively environmentally friendly materials to produce absolutely gorgeous coffee making equipment-- just as they have for nearly seventy years.

shop local.  shop fair trade.  put your money where your heart is.


renovating bathrooms

yesterday a client was pretty excited when i said that we could save the cabinets in his kitchen-- with paint and new knobs make them feel like brand-new.

so many times we think we need to pull everything out of a bathroom or kitchen to renovate, update, and make them feel new.  and yet there are so many reasons not to do so!  the cost to the environment of adding to the landfill, buying and shipping new cabinets, etc....  enormous.  the cost to our wallets of replacing everything in a bathroom or kitchen... enormous.  AND  so much of the time the cabinets, at least, that we are moved to remove are actually better quality than what is made now and therefore infinitely better to save them!

this bathroom is a great example:  1972 original bathroom updated with tile floor, new vanity top to replace peeling vinyl, simple new low-flush toilet, new light fixture, new mirror, new faucet-- but original cabinet, simply sanded down and refinished to look like new!

good save.


pre-holiday house keeping

thanksgiving is coming quite late this year, and we are already having visits from holiday shoppers.  every year at this time i am busy getting the shop ready for its busiest season of the year-- cleaning behind the scenes, getting in plenty of bags and tissue for wrapping, checking with the people who work with me about their availability around the big weekends.  and-- of course-- i have been ordering product for this time of year since late august.

i would like to suggest that our homes could use some attention at this time of year as well.

take a breath before the busy season is really upon us to look at the state of your bathroom cabinet, your mudroom closet, your kitchen pantry.  are things in order?  are there gooey messes where the contact lens fluid spilled months ago?  can you find the things that you will need for cooking holiday meals or are they buried beneath barbeque equipment?  are your mittens paired and your hats accessible?

take a little time now to make your life easier and less hectic over the next couple of months.  you will be glad, i promise.


'wade in the water'

there is a song by SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, 'wade in the water'.  in her introduction to this song bernice johnson reagon, civil rights activist and founder of the group, will often say some version of...

"And when there is a promise of a storm, if you want change in your life, walk into it. If you get on the other side you will be different. And if you want change in your life and you're avoiding the trouble....you can forget it. So Harriet would say, wade on in the water; it's gonna really be troubled water."

we all face hard moments in life-- moments of indecision, moments when we have to look at ourselves and our lives in ways that are just not that comfortable.

last year at the shop we went through a moment of indecision-- a period where it was unclear what the future would hold, where we would move to, and if the shop would even continue.  in that most painful moment we found courage to keep going, to look hard at what really mattered to us-- and ultimately to find a place to move to, and to find people who would support us in that change.  now-- as i look around my very full and very happy shop-- it all seems very clear that it was worth it.

today i want to encourage all of us to take courage-- find a way to wade in the water so that there can be hope of reaching the other side.


the work of artists

on the first thursday of the month we participate in amherst's ART WALK.  each month or two we show the work of another artist-- or sometimes more than one artist-- and then host the opening party as part of the ART WALK.

i like the ritual of working with artists to put on their shows-- the hanging of the pictures, the arranging of the sculptures, the tag making, the marketing-- and on the day of the ART WALK there is a lot of anticipation.  just as there is for any party around here!

this month we have the paintings of ann mcneal and the drawings (on vintage and antique boxes!) of dean brown.

come see!

tonight-- 5-8.


blending old and new

in the house i grew up in my parents blended antiques and modern furniture seamlessly.  they would have in mind the piece of furniture they wanted for the living room, or the dining room, and they would watch and wait until they found just the right thing.  i watched them mix inherited oriental rugs with purchased glass and chrome modern icons-- and i learned.

my own style is much simpler than that of my parents,  but i still mix old and new.  i like the feel of smooth matte pottery juxtaposed against a rustic little painted bench.  and-- in the shop-- i have always carried both vintage and new-- because it just makes it feel more like home.

how about you?

happy tuesday....



sunlight in the afternoon flooding in over beautifully arranged bookshelves.



the shop-- close up and in the dark

thanks, isabel!



i have been looking at this month's 'house beautiful'-- and, i will tell you-- color is back in style.

and though- these days-- i am a girl of a severely limited palette-- i am glad.

look how beautiful it is!

happy thursday--


bathroom design

bathrooms are not easy to design.  they need to feel spacious-- and yet too spacious and they do not feel like a room to get naked in (designers don't often say that out loud, but we all know it to be true).  they need to have 'work stations' just like a kitchen-- one or more sinks, a place to bathe, a toilet.  they need to have quite a bit of a particular kind of storage-- a place for electric toothbrushes to be stored AND plugged in, for example.

i tend, when there is room, to design bathrooms that have little alcoves for various activities.  i want a sense of space, and enough room for multiple people to use the room at once, but i also want each space to feel enclosed and safe.  i want there to be as much natural light in the room as we can get.  and i tend to choose visual and physical texture over strong colors in the permanent materials-- and put more color into the textiles that decorate the room.

and most of all i want a bathroom that will stand the test of time and not look dated in ten years.  this bathroom is ten years old....  can you tell?


settling in to a space

after a move-- or a major renovation-- there is a lot of settling in to do.  the major pieces of furniture have to be put in place, the books placed in the bookcases, the lamps put where they are most useful.

but once everything is put away again it takes a long time for everything to really find its place.  all the little pieces have to be sifted through-- and maybe the sofa would actually be better on THAT end of the living room-- and lived with until it all feels right.

i tell my clients to expect it to take at least a year for their space to feel like home.

in the shop this is no different.  after a major re-arranging of furniture and product it takes weeks for things to all find their places and for the shop to 'feel right' again.  but when it is right it is really, really right-- like today!

come visit.


small houses

i have a small house.  in 1941 its 1,400 square feet would have been a little larger than average for a new home built at the same time.  the rooms are nicely proportioned, but all of them are small.  and-- by current american standards-- the closets are tiny.

in 1941 the average american did not have very much stuff.  consumer goods had not yet become disposable.  we had 4-8 outfits, 3 pairs of shoes, one or two pieces of outerwear-- total.  we did not need big closets in 1941.  the one item we might have had a lot of at that time were books.  and even then, for the average american family, a lot of books were measured in dozens rather than hundreds.

in my little home stuff does not accumulate.  there just isn't room.  we are aware of every piece of clothing or household item that is brought in.  it is a good reminder for us not to buy more than we need-- of anything.  in this house there is not even a place to put extra food-- so we tend to buy what we will eat over the course of a week and then shop again-- very little is wasted.

the average house size being built in the united states this year is over 2,400 square feet-- almost twice the size of my home but still not enormous compared with the 10,000- 30,000 foot homes built in the wealthiest communities.  but what has become enormous in every new american home is the amount of space given over to 'storage'.  closets are, on average, twenty times larger than they were in new homes built 60 years ago.  we live beyond our means-- however affluent we are-- in order to continue to buy more and more stuff.  we fill our basements and our attics and our garages-- and ultimately our landfills-- with the pieces of our material world that no longer work for us.

my thoughts?  we need to learn to buy less stuff.  buying less stuff will be good for the environment in a decrease in manufacturing, shipping, and in the growth of landfills.  buying less stuff will allow us more time-- more time to be with our families and friends, more time to be in our communities, more time to listen to ourselves and find what makes us whole.  buying less stuff will create in us a sense of the value of our material goods-- we will have more money to buy better quality, more local, more hand made items.

this photograph is of a prime example of a small mudroom that packs a powerfully efficient punch.  it provides what is needed-- space to enter the house, a floor that can handle new england winters, a nice deep closet for boots and coats, and a few hooks for bags or jackets-- it is plenty big enough for a family of four-- as long as they don't have ten coats and twenty pairs of shoes each.

think about it.



you know those wonderful, often trite, sometimes too-often-repeated quotes that go around on facebook?  well-- this morning my wonderful friend denyse posted this one and-- since it is essentially my life's philosophy-- i had to share:

"be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"

we never truly know what is going on with another person, no matter how close we are to them.  perhaps they are having an extremely anxious day, perhaps they are not sure if they will have enough money to pay the electric bill, perhaps they are on the verge of divorce but haven't gone public yet,  perhaps their child is ill,  perhaps they are feeling totally overwhelmed by life in general.

a little kindness never hurts.

happy wednesday!


the food that we eat

i once heard a buddhist bread baker say that we should 'treat our food as we do our eyesight'.   i will admit that i wrestled with this.  while i agree that what we eat is as important as our ability to see-- both are basic to our lives and health-- to our ability to function well in the world-- our modern world makes food into a much more throw-away part of daily life than our eyesight.  the idea of taking that much care over my food seemed daunting-- time consuming, expensive, and hard to fit in to my busy life.

and yet recently-- for health reasons-- i have been cooking everything that we eat from scratch.  the main meals, the vegetables-- even the condiments-- we bring into the house as raw vegetables, fruits, and meats-- and slowly turn them into the food that we consume.

what i have found is that it does not take so very long to make 'slow food'.  it takes a little re-arranging of my time, and a slightly different way of thinking (i make large batches of 'sauces'-- tomato paste, for example-- that i store for when we need them).  some nights i don't cook at all-- i just pull something that i made a day or two before out of the refrigerator and heat it up-- while some entire afternoons are spent cooking.

this new way of cooking (and thinking)  is a rhythm that i am finding to be very restful.   i don't change the recipe for tomato paste very much between batches-- and so it is a nice, easy, memory-based-project.  while my body finds its routine my mind is free to wander-- to partly be minding whatever pots are on the stove while i think about a new chapter for my book, or a way to communicate better with my teenaged daughter.

my family and i notice things we didn't before.  if we simply opened a jar of apple sauce, we were not aware of what kind of apples made that particular jar.  now-- apple season here in new england-- we are very much aware of which apples are the most flavorful when boiled or baked for a long time.  we are aware of the season, of the best place to buy the best apples-- we have all commented on feeling more grounded and settled in general.

we feel whole.

the food that we eat is central to our experience of life.  treat it as you would your eyesight.


the best mugs

the glaze on these is just perfect.  don't you agree?

so creamy and delicious.


inspiring young women

over the years i have had a number of young women work for me-- women in their twenties who have been interested in design or architecture, women who have been just trying to make ends meet while they were in school, women who have been interested in fair trade or going into business for themselves someday.

while they work for me we talk-- we get to know each other-- i get to hear their stories.  i hear about their hopes, their uncertainties, and- of course- their love lives.  often they ask me questions about my life and my work-- questions ranging from the very professional about working with clients or why i wanted to own my own business-- to the very personal questions about how i knew that my husband was the man i should marry (i just knew), and does the fact that we are now divorced suggest that i made a mistake (which it doesn't).  they want to know how i got where i am-- they cannot imagine the twenty-something 'me' that i describe.  i was shy and introverted-- confident in my own abilities but severely uncertain about my place in the world.  we laugh, we work-- getting the tasks associated with running my businesses done every day-- in a companionable female-centered space.  they bring creative energy to my world, ideas and skills that i don't have.  they bring the freshness of new love, or of being in the early stages of whatever their chosen careers.  they are nice people to be around.

they go on to be architects and designers,  artists, librarians, bartenders, pastry chefs, social media geniuses, students of public health, marketing experts, social entrepreneurs, textile artists-- all creators of great things.

what they don't know-- though i try to tell them often-- is how much they inspire me.  they are at the beginning of their adult lives.  they are exploring who they will become and how they will get there.  they are learning that life is a process and a cycle and a never-ending battle for being one's self.  they are succeeding at being who they want to be.  they are beautiful and human and very much appreciated by me.

to kate, sarah, molly, marcella, christina, haley, and cara-- thank you.  thank you for inspiring me to be better at what i do every day.

much, much love....


happy shop

i have said it before:  my shop is alive.  it may not be breathing,  it may not be a carbon-based life-form.  but it has a soul.  it has energy and atmosphere.  it has feelings.

most often it takes on my moods.  when i am happy, the shop feels happy.  when i am low in energy,  the shop feels lackluster and blue.  when i am stressed and overworked-- the shop can take on an edge that i really would prefer would never happen.  

today there is a happiness that is deep and peaceful.  and i am glad.

happy tuesday!


small bathrooms

a new bathroom built into the eaves of an old farmhouse.  a perfect use of space!

salvaged tub, and vanity made from salvaged parts.  both with new faucets.

happy friday!


before and after: kitchen

three layers of vinyl tile, fake brick backsplash, and cabinets that were pretty well termite-eaten...  this kitchen was in need of some serious TLC.

a complete renovation-- gutted down to the studs (or brick, in this case), new cabinets, new counters, new floors, new shelves, new faucet and a salvaged sink.

peaceful and beautiful.

hope you are, too.


collecting bathroom ideas

putting together a design for a bathroom means collecting materials.  a red birch cabinet,  ming green and carrera marble,  watery ceramic tile,  green river stones....

beautiful fun.


living simply

i sell beautiful things but it is not my aesthetics that drive what i do in the world.  these days my politics are at the core-- every day.

my issue-- of course-- is about the ways in which our north american consumer culture drives the 'ills' of our world: the environmental damage we are causing to our planet; the exploitation of large numbers of people for the benefit of others;  the wars based on control of natural resources (the resources that power our computers and iphones, for example) that ravage whole nations of people; and the emptiness and lack of community we feel as individuals on a daily basis-- all of these are the result of our current consumer culture.

amazingly this can all be solved fairly simply:  think about your 'footprint'.

in north america most of our footprints-- the amount of our planet's resources it takes to power a person's lifestyle-- are much larger than our planet can support.  we live in houses that need enormous amounts of natural resources;  we buy food that comes from other parts of the globe, that is made of genetically modified plants, and that is filled with chemicals (antibiotics, pesticides) that cause us and the planet to be sick;  and we buy consumer goods in such quantities that we are forced to buy bigger houses, rent storage units, and ultimately to fill landfills with all our stuff.

we are killing ourselves and our planet with this way of life.

the only answer that will save us is if we learn to reduce our individual footprints:   we have to learn to live with less.  we have to learn to buy our food locally and to be okay with not eating food that is out of season or cannot be grown in our region.  we have to learn to buy only the household items and clothing that we really need-- and then to buy as sustainably as possible.  we have to learn that just because we can afford to buy the latest computer gadget does not mean that we actually have to go out and buy it.

because each purchase that we make-- no matter how small-- has an impact on our planet and its people.  each purchase that we make has an impact on us.

think about it.


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