June 24, 2013

Luxurious Living with Carter & Company

I could not be more excited to have opened this month’s issue of Traditional Home and find a double page spread of our Boston Junior League Show House Sitting Room from last October. So much has happened since the wonderful opening party but this amazing photograph by Eric Roth brings the memories back instantly.  It also reminds me of all the hard work and all the helping hands that pulled this room together the very same week that Lynn Dayton and I opened Carter Dayton Home in Wellesley – such a heady time for us all!  If you missed seeing our space in person take a look below then pick up a copy of Traditional Home magazine where you’ll find us in the company of some amazingly talented design firms from across the country.

October 26, 2012

And the Award Goes To...

The opening night party for this years Junior League of Boston's Decorator Show House was made extra special when I was presented with this year's Pineapple Award.  The party was hosted by Carter Dayton Home, New England Home Magazine, Max Ultimate Food and The Junior League of Boston.

I join an amazing list of New England designers who have been honored with this award for their support of the Show House and the Jr League. 

Douglas Truesdale, Michael Carter, Lynn Dayton, Justine Dusenbery
Jim Swan, Marcia Smith, Kelly Stebbins, Tess Olson

It was great to have the staff of both Carter and Company and Carter Dayton Home present to help me celebrate this achievement. None of the great work we do could happen without the whole team's support and amazing talent.

If you haven't already done so stop by The Jr. League Show House (The Potter Estate, 71 Walnut Park Newton, MA 02458)  and enjoy the talents of New England's finest design professionals. When you're done there swing by Carter Dayton Home (276 Washington Street Wellesley Massachusetts 02481 www.carterdaytonhome.com) and see what all the excitement is about.

And be sure to check out the mention of Carter & Co and Carter Dayton Home in today's Wellesley Townsman! 

July 26, 2012

All Things Furniture

Where does it come from? 
That’s a question I find myself asking more and more these days.   From the food on my table to the clothes on my back, I’ve become increasingly interested in knowing the details of the myriad of consumer goods that we find ourselves involved with in our fast-moving culture.  There often seems to be an intentional veil of mystery regarding many of the objects in our lives, because if we truly knew where it came from, how it was produced we most likely wouldn’t buy it.  Things can be awfully enticing in their final form – beautifully packaged, deliciously presented, but how are we to know that there’s ethical and humane treatment of workers involved?  Or that there’s true quality and craftsmanship in what we see?   Case in point – furniture.   We spend our entire lives surrounded by, working on, sitting on and looking at furniture.   The company I want to tell you about here does it the right way in every way in response to “where does it come from?”  That company is Hickory Chair.

On Monday of last week I joined my colleagues Lynn Dayton and Jim Swan for a trek to North Carolina, to the heart of American furniture manufacturing, the small town of Hickory.  Our purpose – to attend Hickory Chair University.   Our three day interactive with the amazing, highly customizable furniture produced by this 100 year old company was only bettered by an unprecedented look at one of our industry’s most successful businesses. Thinking back on our time at Hickory Chair University (HCU) I’m hard pressed to decide which was more impressive; their incredible furniture collection or their business structure and systems. Thankfully I don’t have to choose.

When it comes to quality and custom options no one I know, manufacturing furniture today, offers the range which Hickory Chair offers. From 19 wood finishes, 24 paint finishes (plus they’ll apply any Benjamin Moore color to any piece) in weathered, vintage or rustic techniques; 12 special painted finishes (gold and gold leaf...etc.); one-of-a-kind, hand painted work by an in-house artist; antique or solid striping; hardware in antique brass, antique bronze, antique silver or Customer’s Own Hardware (a program pioneered by Hickory Chair and one which they’ve copy written); 8 different skirt options; monogramming of initials, motifs or crests and literally dozens of trim, nail head, gimp and ribbon options. Oh and there’s over 800 fabrics to choose from or you can send in your customer’s own fabrics. This doesn’t begin to touch on the fully customizable Silhouettes program where you can select from arm styles, legs, custom depth and height, skirt or no skirt, casters or no casters..etc.  The options are limited only by your imagination. Really!


None of this would be possible had a decision not been made 10 years ago to switch their manufacturing philosophy to “lean manufacturing” which “calls for a series of adjacent workstations, balanced and synchronized to leave no inventory between stations.”  Even more important to the company’s success is their empowering of each employee to be a messenger of improvement and change. The culture of continuous improvement is known to Hickory employee’s as EDGE – Employees Dedicated to Growth and Excellence. And after touring the factories and meeting the people constructing each piece of furniture; allow me to tell you their system works.

Rather than ramble on and on allow me to invite you to meet Hickory Chair furniture in person. Starting 01 October 2012, when Carter Dayton HOME (our new retail store located in Wellesley Massachusetts) opens its doors, I invite you to come in and witness for yourself the quality, beauty and wide range of options available. I’m proud to say that Hickory Chair is a core part of our new business venture. 

July 17, 2012

Inspired Interiors

Like a splash in the deep pool of American design a fresh spin on interiors gets people’s attention. It was a few years ago that I first saw the shimmer of a Suzanne Kasler room and it’s been a delight for me to watch her professional presence expand ever sense.  And from the images in her book and recently published projects I’ll admit to a bit of professional jealousy. For the scale of the homes in which she works is a designer’s dream; not to mention the classical architecture which provide such perfect backgrounds for her colorful, elegant work.

Of particular delight have been the times when our paths have crossed and I’ve had the pleasure of time spent with Ms. Kasler. What I’ve discovered is that, whether at a book signing for her Rizzoli published tome “Inspired Interiors”,

an industry event for her Hickory Chair furniture collection or the launch of her fabric collection for Lee Jofa Suzanne’s great wit and expansive knowledge have impressed me to no end.

When I last saw her, during the High Point Furniture Fair earlier this year,

her fresh take on modern living was on display in a series of Hickory Chair showrooms. Bold colors, dressmaker details and a unique mix of antique inspirations and modern sensibilities marked these galleries as unique; spinning a stylish cosmopolitan story that seemed popular to everyone who entered.

Suzanne’s hearty laugh could be heard echoing around these artfully crafted spaces. And between photographs, compliments and generous hugs I got to hear about all the great things happening to of one of my favorite designers working today. Suffice it so say we’ve only just begun to see the depth, range and reach of my talented friend; Suzanne Kasler.

Enjoy this look at some of her recent work and be certain to check out her website @ http://suzannekasler.com

June 27, 2012

A Very Pheasant Affair

Last November, Carter and Company was honored with the prestigious Bulfinch Award presented at the Massachusetts State House for excellence in Classical Interior Design.  This award is presented yearly by the New England Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art and is given to architects, artists and designers for work embracing the principals of and passion for classical design.

Here I am with the staff of Carter & Company having received the Bullfinch Award.

Classical design has been at the heart of my work since boyhood when I would sketch for hours the fa├žade of Monticello or other great Southern plantations with their strong Greek and Roman influences.   Even today, when left solely to my own devices, as opposed to the desires and wishes of a client, my aesthetic instinctively pulls me in the classical direction.

I am convinced that I must have had several past lives surrounded by the splendors of the ancient world!

In that vein, I was extremely pleased and delighted to suddenly find myself swimming in a sea of neo-classicism at the Spring Furniture Market in High Point.  I was with colleagues Jim Swan and Lynn Dayton and we were viewing the new collections at Baker (which is always the highlight of the trip I must confess).   And next thing I knew we were having a lively chat with the legendary interior designer Thomas Pheasant, who was there to showcase his anniversary collection of furniture for Baker (10 years hardly seems possible) all heavily inspired by classical design.   

We were especially impressed by a series of monumental photographs which were displayed as art for the collection.  What we were seeing, we learned from Thomas, were in fact photos taken by Thomas Pheasant himself.  

These large scale images featured unusual perspectives on architectural details. Their cool black and whiteness and bold scale seemed a perfect foil for the elegant furniture but also stood well on their own.   They beautifully reflected his life-long love of classical architecture.   And it’s this reverence for all things architectural that comes through in the furniture collections. The graceful line, nuanced curve and the attention to the smallest details make the furniture, like his work for private clients, a joy to behold. 

June 19, 2012

Keeping it in the Family

I came across a book in my library this morning that featured the work of Parish-Hadley. The sudden reality that our industry has now lost both these design legends gave me pause. That sense of loss continued as I looked across the length of that particular shelf and realized that so many of the legendary designers I grew up admiring and learning from – Billy Baldwin, David Hicks, Nancy Lancaster --have passed from this world.  One of those giants is of course Mark Hampton.  I just treasure my copy of his 1989 Mark Hampton on Decorating which features his own watercolors of rooms he decorated during his illustrious career. And I carry with me, as if looking at it today, the wonderful memory being in Mr. Hampton’s NYC apartment in the 1990’s with his small foyer done in faux limestone blocks.  And since imitation is the highest form of flattery,  for my next house (which I’m planning right now!), I plan to use as inspiration his famous chocolate brown living room with its crisp white details, lush upholstery and elegant antiques.

Mr. Hampton's inspiring Living Room.

 It’s a fine and fitting addition to the landscape of American interior design, that Mark Hampton’s legacy is continued today by his stylish, beautiful and intelligent daughter Alexa. It has been my delight, on a number of occasions, to meet Alexa and observe how she has continued to expand on the work established by her father while giving it her own personalized stamp.

Me with the ever fabulous Alexa Hampton at High Point earlier this year.
Her collections for Hickory Chair, Kravet Fabric, Stark Carpet and Visual Comfort have injected into the marketplace that classic styling we’ve come to expect from the Hampton name.  And her latest foray into publishing has added a new volume to my library (and I suggest the same for you) with the completely modern, yet respectfully Hampton-esque  “Alexa Hampton; The Language of Interior Design” (Crown Publishing Group). 

Her spirit of fun combined with an extensive knowledge of design and architecture makes every interaction a delight.

A Modern Living Room by Alexa Hampton; as timeless and comfortable as those of her father.

As timeless a bedroom as one might want, thanks to Ms. Hampton.

As I prepare with my business partner Lynn Dayton to open Carter Dayton HOME this fall in Wellesley, I look forward to inviting the uber-friendly, always charming and often naughty Alexa Hampton to venture up to Boston for the unveiling.  Featuring some of Alexa Hampton’s own product designs, Carter Dayton HOME is slated to be Boston’s premier luxury home furnishings store.  Watch for news on the store and all the exciting lines we’ll be carrying along with an amazing roster today’s design legends who will certainly add to all the excitement.

In the meantime pick up a copy of Alexa’s new book (http://is.gd/TVqBH5) and make your world a bit more beautiful.

May 29, 2012

The Ease of Green

With Summer 2012 officially off the ground those with aesthetic inclinations are eager for new and interesting ways to introduce the essence of the season into their home.  While entertaining takes on a more relaxed tone during these sun-drenched months attention to detail and a freshly attended environment are never out of fashion. Having witnessed firsthand the dazzling colors being offered up by the design industry during this spring’s High Point Furniture Market I’m embracing (and suggesting) green in all its varied shades and tones  as an important player in our living and entertaining environments this summer. Whether you’re updating your wardrobe, refreshing a living room (dazzle with a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore Perennial #405) or looking for a new accessory to interject a shot of color; green is where it’s at this summer.  I can’t wait to see how you use green in your home this summer.  Snap a picture and share it; I’ll be doing the same thing as the summer rolls along. Here are a few images to stir your imagination.

Shades of Green Dresses by Frances McLaughlin-Gill for the April 1952 Glamour, courtesy Vogue/Conde Nast

Green pillows and glasses add punch for summer entertaining

Benjamin Moore, Perennial #405

A snappy vignette from Century Furniture

So many shades of green……

Green Vases from Global View