Backyard Decor Solution

Spring Cleaning can be both cathartic and frustrating. As you spend these next few weekends planning for your outdoor life, don’t get worked up about how you’re going to make your backyard look just right.  If you’ve considered refreshing your exterior decor, you’ve likely realized you’ll spend well into the thousands to do so. But don’t panic, I’ve got a solution for you. In an effort to find the right pieces for my own patio, I have searched high and low to find the right products for reasonable prices. Here’s my selection of eclectic & bohemian, yet classic backyard decor. Clickable links to each product below. Happy Spring!

Meredith McBride Kipp Backyard Decor Savvy Selects

1. Scalamandre Melamine Salad Plates
Set of four $24.50, FRONTGATE

2. Pagoda Umbrella in Maui
$199.95, Pier 1 imports

3. citronella grey candle
$19.95, CB2

4. Capella Island Deluxe Armchair
$379.95, Pier 1 imports

5. OUTDOOR IDRISS PRINT LUMBAR PILLOW
$59.50, Pottery Barn

6. chunky white block planter
$39.95, CB2

7. Classic Beach Fold Chair
$229.00, Navy/Sand, Ballard Designs

8. OUTDOOR LARACHE PRINT PILLOW
$49.50, Pottery Barn

9. Ceylon Whitewash Chaise
$549, Ballard Designs

10. Quinn Garden Stool
$119.95, Pier 1 imports

11. Farmhouse Hammock Cushion
$399, Canopy Stripe Taupe/Sand Sunbrella, Ballard Designs

12. dockside II dining table
$449.00, CB2

Guest Bath Makeover

BeforeAfterBathroom2
Here’s a good weekend project for you to tackle on this Saturday morning:
Breathe new life into that awful bathroom you have been aching to change.
Because I used a few items I already had, I only spent $150 to transform my guest bath in one weekend.

Here were my steps for the Guest Bath Transformation:
1. I removed wallpaper (Supplies: $30)
2. patched, primed, painted walls (I chose a cool grey so it would look nice with the existing green stone countertop. Paint: $50)
3. cabinetry: removed hardware, filled holes, and sanded the cabinets lightly all over
4. rubbed the cabinets with the wall color on a rag & let it dry
5. sanded the cabinets to the desired amount of distressed
6. drilled holes for new hardware and installed (New hardware: $40)
7. got bath mats to mask the flooring that I didn’t replace (New bath mats: $30)
8. hung a reclaimed wood mirror (that used to hang on the porch of my last house) over the existing mirror (you could do this with just a frame as well. Restoration Hardware Mirror: $$)
9. leaned an oversized photograph at the far end of the bath for drama (Garage sale from artist $20)
10. used a freestanding towel rack I already had for a little old world charm (Waterworks Towel Rack $$)

_Photo Apr 16, 3 08 46 PM

_Photo Apr 16, 3 00 23 PM_Photo Apr 16, 3 03 01 PM _Photo Apr 16, 2 59 30 PM_Photo Apr 16, 2 59 53 PMBeforeAfterBathroom4BeforeAfterBathroom3BeforeAfterBathroom

A Proper Old Fashioned

010_drink_051For a proper butler’s pantry, one needs a proper Old Fashioned recipe…
Photography by Laura Moss
Styling by Meredith McBride Kipp

HOW TO MAKE A PROPER OLD FASHIONED
1 sugar cube
1 orange rind or (my husband’s favorite) grapefruit
3 dashes Angostura bitters 
2 ounces bourbon (Small Batch 1792—incredible value) or rye
1 Luxardo Marasca cherry

Place sugar, orange or grapefruit and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Gently muddle until sugar resembles a fine paste. Add the bourbon or rye, along with a large ice cube (we like these cubes), and stir well. DO NOT top with club soda. Garnish with Luxardo cherry.

You had me at Butler’s Pantry…

Photography by Laura Moss
Styling by Meredith McBride Kipp 

When touring old homes (and new), a butler’s pantry is always the highlight for me. It was one of the selling features when my husband and I bought our 1805 farmhouse. Despite the charm of the home, the butler’s pantry lacked the proper character and polish. We believe it was added in the 1950’s, and was in need of a major facelift. First off, the upper cabinets needed to be moved up nearly a foot in order to actually accommodate the height of a bottle.

My husband tackled this project with full steam last year while I worked on our soon-to-arrive baby’s nursery upstairs (I will post that decor story soon). Our thought was that ‘if we’re going to have a child, we’re probably going to need a proper place to mix a cocktail.’ (SEE OLD FASHIONED RECIPE BELOW) So we bumped the project to the top of the list. With that he tackled the powder room and the back stairwell. SEE BEFORES AND AFTERS BELOW

Steps for transforming the BUTLER’S PANTRY:
Removed the overhead soffit and upper cabinets
Rebuilt the upper cabinets using only the existing doors (which we think are original from the home’s first kitchen)
Trimmed out the lower cabinet doors
Painted the whole room a delicious prohibition-era-inspired dark teal
Replaced the painted wood counter with black granite
Tiled the backsplash with 6″x12″ (subway style) hand-cut mirror tiles
Installed art spotlights, under-cabinet lighting, interior-cabinet lighting, and electrical outlets
Hung a beautiful oversized, overhead, brass light fixture
Hung lion-head door knockers for a bit of (Bowie’s) Labyrinth whimsy
Installed sleek brass hardware

Steps for transforming the POWDER ROOM:
Removed toilet, sink and tile floor
Removed wallpaper and light fixture
Installed paneling on walls and repaired, primed and painted walls and trim
wallpapered above paneling
installed Julisk light
installed new miniature sink with custom-designed marble backsplash and counter
Steps for transforming the BACK STAIRWELL:
Stripped the carpet & wallpaper
Caulked and repaired walls, trim and floors
Primed and painted walls, ceiling and stairs
Cut and stapled floor runners to create continuous look
Framed and hung important historical family photos

BEFORES & AFTERS:

BUTLER’S PANTRY CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Brass light fixture
Custom teal paint color: click to see image of scannable barcode for home depot BEHR color
Lion head door knockers are antique, but here are some similar ones 

POWDER ROOM CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Juliska light fixture
Miniature porcelain sink
Marble sink surround and backsplash custom designed by Meredith, cut by Atlas Stone
Marble sink surround and backsplash installed with love by Sebastian Martorana
Rose vase by his talented wife, Amanda Martorana

BACK STAIRS RESOURCES:
Chevron stair runners

 

 

Deck the Halls…

…with tasteful, interesting decorations.

In honor of a curated Christmas season I have made a small run of boho-chic Christmas stockings… to be hung by your fire with care.

They are made of printed vintage cotton (block print and batik) and backed with a gorgeous, dark blue chambray. I dare you to ditch your ratty, old polyester numbers and take it up a notch this season. Don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Here is my store on Etsy (priced $28-$36): www.etsy.com/shop/aMereLife

The Bee’s Knees


As we quickly approach the holidays, you probably need to relax…and want a good, strong cocktail to do so. I’ve just the solution for you. A delightful little drink called The Bee’s Knees: a heavenly blend of fragrant lavender and honey that will calm the nerves and soothe the soul. The recipe is from my mother-in-law, a Vermonter who—as a recent retiree—has mastered the arts of relaxation and laborious cocktails. This one in particular she picked up from the barkeep at a great little restaurant called Starry Night near Charlotte, VT.

Here’s how you make The Bee’s Knees. In a sauce pan steep roughly 1 cup lavender, 4 cups water, and 1/2 cup honey. Adjust/add honey to taste as needed (depending on strength of honey and lavender.) Steep the mixture over low heat (do not boil) until the lavender begins to lose color. You will see it start to turn brown. Stir all the while (about 15 minutes). Drain the mixture through cheese cloth and put the deep mauve liquid in the refrigerator to cool. This will make a little over 1 quart of your lavender/honey mix.



Once the mix has cooled, pour 3 parts lavender mix and 1 part gin into a shaker. We used Bar Hill Gin, a delicious Vermont-born-and-raised gin with notes of raw honey & juniper berry. Add the juice of 1 small lime, roughly a tablespoon of simple syrup (if needed to cut the bitterness: trust your taste buds), a handful of ice, and you’re ready to shake and serve. It will come out the most beautiful shade of pink.

This soothing cocktail is sure to give you the buzz you are looking for. Happy chilling.

Animal Instincts

Now that we are past New York Fashion Week, let’s talk about a real trend-setter with values deeply rooted in the earth, well-being, and humanity.

Before it was popular, Imelda McCain (seen above) opened her all-handmade toy store, Playing Mantis, in Tribecca in with the goal of providing families and children with toys she felt were worthy of—and that she was already making for—her own son, Lucas (seen below). Not only has she been providing smart, wholesome, green toys for local families for the past 8 years, but she has been giving back to craftsmen and their families and communities—around the globe—in the process.

According to Imelda, every toy has to have a story and a passionate creator behind them. With these altruistic standards in mind, Imelda has had many years of success with Playing Mantis as she has watched Lucas, now 14, grow up. She has been making toys out of felted wool (from her own alpaca & sheep farm) and wood since the get go, but this year she has started a new line that I think is particularly fabulous, and Lucas agrees.

So if you are left feeling drained from another overly-commercial Fashion Week, take a peek at these stunning creations of Imelda’s and feel inspired, refreshed, and perhaps a few years younger? Coincidentally—or not—Halloween is just around the corner and so is Playing Mantis where Imelda has all of her homemade, homegrown, felted-wool beauties on display and for sale! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! And if you haven’t been to Imelda’s shop, it’s well worth a visit.

 

Art Southampton 2014

Over the weekend, I went to Art Southampton, the premier international contemporary and modern art fair that took place at the peak of the season in the Hamptons. The show featured more than 75 international art galleries with a strong focus on works from the 20th & 21st  centuries. Contrary to some other large art fairs like this, there was an abundance of really impressive work. Here are some of my favorites from the show. Enjoy!

Jackson Fine Art: Vee Speers (left) an Christian Chaize (right)

Jackson Fine Art: Christian Chaize

amazing flameworked milk glass by Amber Cowan. Made from antique pieces of milk glass and new details an then fuzed together

amazing flameworked milk glass by Amber Cowan. Made from antique pieces of milk glass and new details an then fuzed together

triptych by Lluis Barba: The Cynthia Corbett Gallery

Smoke and graphite piece by Rachael Nee: Cube Gallery

a show-stopping (and huge) painting by Wolf Kahn shown by Birnam Wood Galleries

My favorite of the show. Large painting by Juliane Hundertmark, represented by the artist’s own gallery, Galerie Juliane Hundertmark

These were amazing! Sang-Sik Hong constructed these out of thousands of straws!! They were so beautiful in person. Photos not doing them justice. Gamo Gallery

These were amazing! Sang-Sik Hong constructed these out of thousands of straws!! They were so beautiful in person. Photos not doing them justice. Gamo Gallery

small erie painting by Alexey Terenin at the Mayer Fine Art booth

Absolutely love this set of 12 plates by Damien Hirst. Each one unique from his butterfly grid paintings series

Absolutely love this set of 12 plates by Damien Hirst. Each one unique from his butterfly grid paintings series

Another favorite from the show. This pastel on paper by Kelly Reemtsen (Debuck Gallery) was so fabulous! the artist’s rendering skills are undeniable and the colors and subject matter as so juicy and twisted. Love it!

A detail from a pastel on paper by Kelly Reemtsen (Debuck Gallery) Love how she renders hands. Beautiful form!

Painting by Elaine de Kooning

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. This one with full peacock tail and vibrant feather armor.

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. This one with feather body (think Falcor from Never Ending Story) and hints of periwinkle in the fur

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. These 3 divas were hairy and hilarious!!

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. Details from the 3 divas

Artists & Galleries mentioned above:

Vee Speers & Christian Chaize, Jackson Fine Art
Amber Cowan
Lluis Barba, Cynthia Corbett Gallery
Rachael Nee, Cube Gallery
Wolf Kahn, Birnam Wood Galleries
Juliane Hundertmark
Hong Sang-Sik, Gamo Gallery
Alexey Terenin, Mayer Fine Art
Damien Hirst, ARCHEUS/POST-MODERN
Kelly Reemtsen, De buck Gallery
Enriquez Gomez Demolina, Pan America Art Projects

Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2014

Saturday was Traditional Home’s annual Gala Preview Cocktail Party for the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, benefiting Southampton Hospital. As always, it was a vibrant and summery event with beautiful interiors and an attractive & interesting crowd. I was thrilled to meet Jamie Drake for the first time and gabbed with my favorite charmer Mario Buatta. Below are a mix of some of my favorite rooms and details.. and some I thought you might enjoy!

The Hamptons Designer Showhouse is open daily Monday to Sunday, July 20 through Monday, September 1. Hours: 11AM to 5PM. Admission is $35 and includes a Journal. For more info and directions click here.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services. One of two Slim Aarons photographs above consoles flank the door from the foyer.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services

Kitchen cabinets by Ciuffo Cabinetry

Living room by Lillian August

Details from the living room by Lillian August

A view in the study by Greg McKenzie Design. Note the embroidered wallpaper detail.

Delicious details from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

Detail from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

A playful powder room by Melanie Roy Design

A view in Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

A detail from Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bath. I LOVE this artwork signed “LBall2012″

Details from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

A detail from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

Mabley Handler Interior Design’s striking bedroom

Details from Kate Singer Home’s guest bedroom

A view into the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

Details of the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

A details from Phoebe Howard’s bedroom. I really like this piece.

Punchy master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

More views in the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates (Tobi on left)

A detail from the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

Four watercolors by Mark Humphrey adorn the upstairs hall

A view from the master bedroom balcony onto the back yard where the party was about to pick up (I shot this before most of the crowd showed up)

Wonderful little guesthouse with pergolas on either side (this is the back). Exterior spaces by designer Caleb Anderson Design

Links to the designers shown above:

Mecox Design Services
Ciuffo Cabinetry
Lillian August
Greg McKenzie
Melanie Roy
Henry and Co Design
Katie Leede
Gil Walsh
Mabley Handler Interior Design
Kate Singer
Phoebe Howard
Tobi Fairley
Caleb Anderson