23 March 2009

A Visit to the (Very) Deep South

You haven't been here.

I can say almost with total confidence that you haven't. That's one of the reasons I love it so, and why it is my touchstone to return to Apalachicola every chance I get. I feel rooted and grounded there. I remember every single street, house, palm tree, building. I exhale in the sea air and the endless vistas of the Gulf of Mexico disappearing at the horizon into a thin strip of shelter islands' land and trees silhouetted far out to sea.

So I make a journey of 8 hours air travel from San Francisco; two hours to my brother's house by car; then drive two more hours to Apalachicola. They call it The Forgotten Coast, and I like that.

a house around the corner from where I lived as a child

Commercial Building, circa 1830

the Oven House, now for sale

a neighbor's house

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, our family church

Cousin Alma's House, directly across the street 
from her sister's house, Cousin Alice's

Cousin Alice's House

the old family home 

I visit the house where I lived in as a little one, built by my great- great- grandfather, and the cemetary where all my relatives dating back to the Civil War are buried. I love to see the Armory with its ballroom and mezzanine, where my mother danced until dawn as a beautiful young woman. I roam the neighborhood houses, all built between 1830 and 1905, that make up this magical, old place called Apalachicola. 

Usually I stop by the Catholic church where my parents were married, my grandmother and brother were buried. I love to visit the old French consulate (of course!), where they still fly the tricolore. I go out to the island and marvel once again that any beach could be more beautiful, or more desolately quiet than this one. 

On this trip I find the new Community Gardens. Raised beds tended by townfolk who like to grow their own organic vegetables and fruit. If you had a garden here, and a crab trap or two, you could eat like a king without spending a dime.

If you do want to spend a dime, spend it on seafood. The local restaurants that have stood the test of time serve the most delectable seafood from right here where the river meets the sea. And have a drink at the old bar where Papa Hemingway would have been right at home.

If you ask me for directions to Apalach, I might hesitate. You really don't need to go there. 

But I do. 


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13 March 2009

An Unapologetically Indulgent Easter Break

The same weekend that the rest of the world will celebrate Easter with eggs, bunnies and chocolate, we will be resurrecting our spirits prowling around the most incredible little village in the Luberon, L'isle sur la Sorgue, for the most delectable flea market and antiques show on the planet (after London and St. Ouen).

prowling the brocante to your heart's content

If you've had just about enough of dreariness and need to breathe new life into your life, this little French provencal village with its eponymous river (La Sorgue) running through it will enchant and refresh. Even the most jaded, world-weary broker, designer, dentist or philanthropist will exhale here.

First, there's the river. It soothes, gurgles and burbles its meandering way while you sit in the sunshine listening to its tales, enjoying un croissant at le cafe as you gather your energy for some serious visual stimulation.

the lovely, lazy Sorgue river

There will be 240 exhibitors with an incredible range of all things French, from period pieces, to antiquities, to mid-century finds, paintings, sculpture, lighting, fabrics, and architectural fragments, you will find it here. And these French dealers are all designers at heart, and display things in amazing juxtaposition, creating harmonious and chic vignettes to delight your view.

mid-20th century landscape of the Var I found at L'isle sur la Sorgue

If you find something you love, make an offer. These are the days to strike a bargain. It'll do your spirit good to buy something old and venerable. And then when your body needs nourishment, you can't miss with incredible Provencal cuisine on every corner.

It's time to resurrect your inner brocanteur!

I think that even the Risen Lord might understand, and I am quite sure Mary would.



Kit Golson Design

for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic

Chic Provence Interior Design

09 March 2009

What Is the Color of Safety?

It's not news today that when a woman is abused by her lover or husband, she needs to leave home quickly and unequivocally. Safe houses keep her and her children hidden from view.

I had the immense privilege to design a home for these women and their children. As you might imagine, the budget was not huge. I immediately went to work creating a place that felt comforting, light, happy. I changed floorplans to create places for older children to study and for younger children to simply bounce off the walls if they need to.

Inspiration was found in these beautiful paintings by Kim Parker, with names like "Garden of Hope" and "Beach Garden". Framed prints will hang on the walls.

I created a "Mother's Chair", with a footstool and lamp in every bedroom, where a weary and frantic woman might put her feet up and exhale for just a little while each day, surrounded by soothing seafoam bluegreen and her things.

countertop accent

transluscent 3-Form resin panel

renewable resource bamboo flooring

I chose natural materials...gorgeous bamboo flooring throughout, recycled glass and ceramic countertops and tiles, transluscent 3-Form panels in painted kitchen cabinets, paints without harmful vapor, and Marmoleum linoleum floors....to keep things healthy for the inhabitants and our Mother Earth. Many of these incredible materials were donated by the local community.

I developed a soothing and joyful palette. The main living areas will have a chair rail painted in a semi-gloss to keep cleanups easy; in the living room, dining room, kitchen and kids' area, joyful and happy upper wall colors will be grounded by the neutral of the chair rail and the trim.

The kitchen cabinets will be painted the beautiful green color above, and upper cabinets will be paneled in the leafy green 3-Form transluscent resin panels, with inner lights to provide a soft glow.

I believe that giving these families a lovely home we will elevate the self-esteem of those who might feel a bit hopeless. I think their spirits will soar when they walk into the light-filled and joyously feminine atmosphere.

Benjamin Moore paint colors

What do you think? If you are interested in donating to this wonderful organization, please click here. Your donation is entirely tax deductible.

You will find yourself on the side of the angels if you do.

**Stay tuned for final pictures of this nurturing and comforting space.
We are nearing completion and hope to occupy by July 1, 2009.**



Kit Golson Design

for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic

Chic Provence Interior Design

The Garden Won This Week

the arch should fill in with scarlet trumpet vines this summer!

The garden begged this interior designer to leave the computer, the drawing table, the eternal email and iPhone and just come outside this week. 

the fence before

And this is where I've been.  All that wonderful recyclable redwood fencing beckoned, I knew it was time to get replace that fence. If I waited much longer, Aida's garden next door would soon be roaming & digging territory for Ollie, our terrier.

So a new fence went up. It hasn't been painted yet. But when we know the rains have ended (this is California, and the rains will end soon!), we'll finish the job. And those redwood boards? They're stacked neatly in the shed waiting for a new life as something different. 

the fence after being replaced but before its painting

the old greenhouse has been standing for 35 years now

The greenhouse needs a LOT of work this year. Hmmmm...time to replace it with a small poolhouse?

Then the plum trees obliged with a snowy show.

I couldn't bear to come back inside until today.

Hello again!


02 March 2009

That "Ball Gown" Look for Your Draperies

You just need a designer to achieve that elegant nonchalance in your draperies. They have to hang just so, and they have to graze the floor just so, and they must have that thick, crunchy feel, like a heavy satin duchesse ball gown. You know they were pressed, but now they look like they might have danced all night long. That's when you know your draperies are perfect!

gorgeous citron draperies in front of twelve-foot French doors

special custom hardware is essential for proper
installation and hanging for draperies

draperies are lined and include wands for
opening and closing

You can't do this yourself. Forget Pottery Barn and what they would like for you to think, and heaven forbid you seek elegant nonchalance at the "I" place (you know...lots of white melamine furniture, bright colors, great swedish meatball lunch counter!)

No, to navigate the calamitous waters of custom draperies, you must have a designer who possesses the wisdom to:

1. know fabric: how yard$ and yard$ of it will look hanging in front of your windows

2. decide just how high to hang your drapery hardware, how wide to hang the draperies, and how long they should be.

3. understand the mood you want in your room

4. never, ever let you hang a big old paisley pattern that will look hideous with your big old floral sofa, no matter what they tell you about mixing patterns in the magazines

That's it!

Oh, and yes, your designer must also know how much fabric and lining you need, how much hardware and where to get it, the style of header you will need and how to install it all. And where to get them made up for you.

You will feel like Cinderella (before midnight) every time you walk into your room!


Kit Golson Design

for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic

Chic Provence Interior Design


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