Several months ago, a darling client came to me to do a few updates. It happens, you know! She had an entire office full of traditional office furniture with all the necessary file storage, function and visual display options needed for the home office she and her executive husband share. But it looked dated and average, at best, in the pecan stain finish we found it in.
A fresh coat of paint to the room was the beginning. Sherwin Williams Wordly Gray brought things current and was the perfect backdrop for the Amy Howard Paint (we carry a complete line of colors) we used to reinvent all of the casegood pieces in the room!
You will find both classes on how to reinvent your own pieces, or our service of a professional to come to your home and do it for you through the retail store, Black-eyed Susan. We call this service Black-eyed Susan Painted Style! My trained and skilled staff member, Betsy Both, went on site for this office project and in a matter of days, we had the room restored, reinvented, and ready for my magic touch to place the final details. It’s a complete change!
My client’s husband is a big fan and collector of vintage vinyls. His collection is extensive and this is where I took my inspiration from to begin to put the personality into this room. You’ll see below the beginning of the a small bookcase, painted in a two-tone finish to spotlight generational photos, vintage books and the vinyl record jackets I selected.
I don’t mind telling you, I would love to adopt that hairdo Madonna is sporting!
Below is the finished bookcase. Note the smaller 45’s stacked pancake style on one shelf and one hanging above the two jackets to give just the right scale in height. My client’s husband was thrilled that his prized collection was used! It seemed the perfect way to personalize this office and add a unique theme to the room.
I used large plate hangers for these covers, selecting some favorites by taking color, interest and drama in consideration. (It helped that I’m a big James Taylor fan!) Tiny potted succulents, leather bound books and several personal sculptural pieces completed the work space.
Not shown is the current, stylishly hip and comfortable leather office chair, executive desk and new draperies in a gray and chartreuse ikat pattern. If you watch my Instagram account, I’ll post a photo of these elements soon!
A small lateral file was one of the pieces included in the painting project. I added a stylish and manly oil rubbed bronze lamp, several accessories and a darling baby photo of a now grown son to keep things personal and tender. I had the traditional frame painted in our Amy Howard Paint as well, to bring it into the here and now of the new room.
The re-invention of this home office was strikingly dramatic! It’s amazing what a few days of labor and this Amy Howard Paint can do. Come see for yourself and join us for a class to learn your own techniques for making changes in your own home. Everything old is new again!
Summer entertaining is as easy as taking as few hints from the master, Susan Taylor of Black-eyed Susan! Get the party ambiance every host craves with her expert tips.
1. Start with lighting
Let’s face it, any party speaks the language of style when it begins with lights! Any season of the year lends itself to outdoor patio lights, Christmas lights…lights! You name it, put lights as your number one item to begin with.
2. Add color
I little trick that I have used for many years is water colored with food coloring. I am beginning with this…ONE drop of blue food coloring in a pitcher of water…yes, just one. It creates the most magical color!
Here, I have taken a collection of assorted glass cylinders and stacked them inside each other. Small within larger, and occassionally a taller one within a shorter one — as seen on the right, second from the end. Choose your sizes carefully for a varied look. Then, fill each outer container with water in a range of heights. (You can see the slight tint to the water. Too much is garish. ONE drop!)
If your glass containers are not flat on the bottom, use Kosher salt to level the candle. It’s also quite pretty! I used our very popular Luminara candles in varying sizes to create my magic. Think buffet table, poolside, front porch, mantel. This is always a delightful way to add instant atmosphere. Try pink for a toddler girl’s birthday, blue for summer pool parties, and green or yellow for summer graduation parties!
3. Raid your garden
Vintage containers filled with garden cuttings are quick and easy party decorations too! Float an abundance of David Austen rose heads for a beautiful effect. Now, go raid your garden…or a neighbor’s!
4. Cascading centerpieces
I gathered this collection of themed glass and candleholders from my store inventory. Black-eyed Susan speaks the language of party style! Note the assorted sizes and they are all connected by the silver bands and chrome finishes. Fill these with candles and flowers…succulents, simple ferns or hostas. You will find three sizes of the chrome and glass candlesticks and three sizes of the glass vases. A series of assorted sizes spread down your island or dining table will create pure drama!
Here’s a closeup of the vases I used…they look gold, but it must have been the light of day! Pure silver. Just fabulous and I’m saying these won’t last long! Think spring, summer, or even the holidays….totally versatile!
5. Use vintage plates
Nothing says party and festive like pulling out your vintage china to celebrate! I love this lovely petal pink set I recently uncovered while unpacking my new house! I. Love. Pink. This set is bound to make anyone feel special. Party on.
This is another of my vintage sets that I love to pull out for dinner parties, birthday parties and cake tastings! Chartreuse laurel wreaths say it all….pure style! Try serving dessert in a tea cup! Chocolate mousse, ice cream….it tastes divine in these beauties!
6. Save cake for breakfast
One last hint…when the party’s over and the cleanup complete, I look forward to this little bit of heaven. Yes, eat cake for breakfast! (I always try to stash a piece away in hiding to reward myself the next morning). I recommend it! It’s all about me and the motto on my Kate Spade mug the next morning!
7. Hire the professionals
Of course, you can’t host a room full of guests and still enjoy the party if you’re stuck prepping hors d’oeuvres or collecting dishes. That’s why we’ve partnered with Party Host Helpers to present our clients with an exciting giveaway: a $160 gift certificate, redeemable for one helper for up to four hours at your next event! All it takes is one LIKE on the giveaway post from our Facebook page to win. Get an extra entry when you leave a comment about an upcoming party you’re planning! The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. on June 13. A randomly selected winner will be announced on June 14.
Party Host Helpers provides staff for any occasion, big or small. They work in homes or event spaces and allow you to enjoy your own party. Their job is to make you, the host, look good while eliminating your stress. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more stylish than hosting a stress-free party!
Lights + candles + silver + glass + vintage plates + cake for breakfast + bringing in the pros = Black-eyed Susan Style! Party on.
With each trip to our new home in North Carolina, more editing is completed, a few more backorders have arrived, and it begins to feel more like home. I partnered with Bernhardt for the most part in the great room, for chairs, sofas and tables. This trip, I was able to replace the mis-sized art with the oversized pieces (40×60) on either side of the fireplace. This abstract art brings the accent color of hot pink into focus, along with some navy, white and citrus colors. After searching several major markets for the perfect art, I took this custom piece and had one framed in the opposite direction, giving the impression of a coordinating pair. It’s a great trick.
I also decided on the final mix of pillows, including hot pink linen, white tibetan lamb and a fabulous dip-dyed ombre pink and white. The sofas are extra long (106″) and a bit deep for my almost 5′ stature, so loads of pillows give the comfort I need. I love the exaggerated profile of the two wing chairs, and the profile is what greats guests as they enter the room. The 10×14 rug gives comfort to the room. White, soft and striated with gray threads, it is the perfect contrast to the 7″ hand scraped chocolate/gray floors that run throughout the first floor.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like home. *sigh*
Over the last few trips, I’ve tried several different mantle designs. While I am often retained to design mantle-scapes, this one presented its own set of challenges: 1. Wide screen TV; 2. Very important (!) sound bar; 3. Only 8″ or so for height.
The design I finalized on is this one: The theme of white vessels, assorted sizes. I arranged them with some unpredictability in depth, clustered some, and then added single stem blooms of my contrast color. hot pink, as well as a few simple stems of greenery. As a last layer, I added tiny mercury vases with succulents. I. Love. Succulents. I’m pleased with the end result on all accounts!
In this shot, you can also take in one if my favorite pendants, Robert Abbey’s Penelope. I choose the high gloss white paper shade with an interior liner of chrome finished paper. It’s a keeper. Eventually, I plan to have the room painted in a high gloss white lacquer. I’m still looking for the right painter to do the job.
Here’s just another shot, showing the Penelope pendant, along with one of my preferred fabric choices from Kravet Fabrics. I used a 2″ highly polished nickle rod with beautiful rings to hang these panels with a unique top pleat. Next visit, I should have window screens installed that will allow the view, yet protect from sun glare and give UV protection. I’ll keep you posted!
In this screen shot from my phone camera, you can see that I am making progress in the master bedroom! I’ve decided on this metallic grasscloth for an accent wall behind the bed. The mirrors will be hung once the paper is installed. I’m a complete convert to my phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I can annotate on a screen shot to make notes for future use, for contractor notes, or to help with any market search for myself or a client! I’m a big fan. Here, I have recorded the size of the back wall so that my skilled paper hanger in Bucks County will be able to quote roll counts for me to order.
We hung this large-scale favorite piece of art this trip! Soft gray/blues, and a street scene that reminds us of some of our favorite European trips. It’s soothing and commanding at the same time. Love.
You’ll also note another Robert Abbey favorite, the largest Bling chandelier. Three tiers and close to 36″ in diameter, this beauty took Sneelock more than a day to dress in lead crystals! The Bling comes in assorted finishes and sizes, including a flush mount. It works in powder rooms, master bathroom, hallways…many places!
I’m really in love with my acrylic legged Tibetan lamb bench too! It adds texture, glamour and function to the room.
After several months of sourcing a third fabric for a pillow for the master bedroom bedding ensemble. I used several high end Schumacher beauties (above) and have reveled in the luxury of the fabrics, never sorrowing over the expense! I’ve finally found the winner. This textured, open weave, metallic accented choice will complete the bedding. Can’t wait.
My last High Market yielded this rare pale gray hide rug. I love the size and subtle shading. Here’s a “Susan Tip”: Always try to find an angled placement for hides. Unexpected, classic, hip. And that’s how we design!
I’ve had this authentic French bergere chair for many years. I loved it in my last master bathroom, and it fits perfectly in the large master bath of our new home as well. But, the leopard fur doesn’t do justice to the carrara marble coloring of the countertops and floor. I’ve decided to paint it with our new Paint Couture Paint, in high gloss white or maybe even silver.
If you look closely on the tub, you’ll see a fabulously chic Pindler fabric, white with metallic silver animal print. I’ve had this on my “want to use” list for a year, and I think this is the perfect application for it! I’m excited to proceed, and, I’ve demonstrated once again in the following photo, the use of my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 android phone. I’ve taken the measurements that will be sent to my upholsterer to make quoting yardage from afar a piece of cake!
Another place I made progress was in the master hall. Although I have family photos framed in the original old world style (some vintage ones too!), they will bring joy to me each time I pass. Never mind these boys are nearly grown men now.
I suggest laying your grouping out on a nearby floor. Use masking tape or a tape measure like I did to identify your limitations in space. Now begin to play. Sometimes symmetry is pleasing; sometimes something a bit unexpected and unique is better. As you begin to play, you’ll settle on the right thing that makes you happy for the space. If you aren’t a convert to my phone by now, take a photo on your phone, print it and record the measurements. Then, it is ready for your installer to begin. If the installer is you, you’ll be happy about the prep work too! Sometimes, I have to leave a project and come back to it later. At any rate, these notes are invaluable to complete the project.
I’ve Instagrammed this wall of my silver platter collection previously, but this is an example of change and revolution of design. I had hung a favorite portrait of my daughter here the first go around. I decided this time to use her in another generational photo gallery, and additionally, I was having trouble finding the perfect placement for this important and tender favorite. I’m liking the change so far…we’ll see if it becomes permanent.
THIS is the project I will tackle next! Ok, I love the small hide rug. Love. I installed that simple and horrid pedestal sink as a temporary measure to enable me time to design and ponder. I’ve got some ideas…floating vanity….tiled accent wall…and a favorite lucite radial mirror.
You’ll have to stay tuned for that one! Come see the magic. I won’t disappoint.
There’s no one who is more of a succulent fan than myself! About five years ago, succulents came into the design radar for me. Fabulous, right?! I’m not even tired of them….but, I have been keeping my eye open the last few markets for that “next big thing” — the “next succulent,” if you will.
Don’t misunderstand, I am still in love with succulents, and find myself mixing them with just about everything in my accessory calls and when I put the finishing details into completed projects. But this is what I’ve been bringing in the last few weeks and they have been flying out the door just about as fast as they arrive!
Flowers made of a foam-like substance…bright white or spectacular colors like orange, coral and vibrant pink. Oh. My. These beauties make my heart sing!
Shown here is our large 50″ tray brimming with pink magnolias, local cuts of sycamore logs and dramatic white magnolia-like blooms. These are just spectacular! Think dining room centerpiece, foyer drama, or island statement.
Here’s a closeup of some spikey orange tinies…they come four on a stem, and I cut them short to creative individuals that I could dress these tiny vessels in. Perfect for those difficult spaces beneath your wall mounted TV above the mantle. That’s a tough request I often am faced with for client’s family rooms. I think I’ve got one answer!
Just another shot of the same darlings! Love.
John, my retail manager, put this dramatic statement together during our last “late shift” night…Wednesday nights are the nights we create magic in the store, revealing new arrivals, fresh ideas and inspirations for new color palettes. Furniture, art, and mirrors are shuffled around to create a whole new look. Thursdays should definitely be your go-to day to come in and be lifted and delighted! And John or myself will be around to help fill your centerpiece and accent needs.
The next three images are some of the same types of statement flowers that I’ve used in my new North Carolina home. I find white to be a strong contrast and naturally, perfect with any color palette. I loaded the same long tray I mentioned in the first photo with mossy spheres, succulents, bulbs, log cuts and fern fronds. Then I popped just a handful of the large white blooms (heads only), to put that pop into it. I’m loving it. Organic, lively, striking. It’s just the ticket I was looking for!
This striking bloom had me at the color! I’ve added hot pink into my gray and white mix, along with a little high gloss navy. (You can see that hot pink coral/lucite statement in the background). Combined with one of our large botanical leaves, this oversized bloom just pops out of the top of a favorite bamboo vessel. Pure style!
On the coffee table, I have accented an oversized foam succulent (!) with several of the same white heads cut from their stems to rest atop this organic-inspired, delightful metal bowl, sculptural in nature. Use vessels that can be re-invented during different seasons…fall, holiday, spring. I often have classes in the evenings to show how this is done. Watch our event listings for this!
I love the contrast between the lively lime green and the brilliant white!
All in all, I’m in love with these new additions to the world of succulents! Assorted colors, heights, sizes, and styles. Come in and see for yourself. I think you’ll fall in love.
This time of year, as the Derby season approaches, I am always filled with fond memories of the hat line I created and sold to Nordstrom nationwide and Barney’s NYC. It was a busy time of year and these are some of my all time favorite custom creations. I still own most of my first prototypes and sales samples.
My designs were modeled (and enhanced !) by this darling friend, Lisa. And who wouldn’t want to wear a hat if they looked like this?!
I purchased my ribbons and trims from France and Japan, some of the finest sources for beautiful ribbons. My hats were made in a factory in Philadelphia. There, I would select hat blocks and assorted straws and felts to be blocked into styles I designed. Each season I designed new styles, a spring and fall collection, each with my own woven label stitched into the bands. (I could seriously wallpaper a room with the labels I still have stockpiled!)
Each hat was named, and each hat was available in 3-5 colors. This favorite classic was named “Pretty Woman” (pictured above). Obviously, the well-known film of the 90’s influenced my thought process as I selected this tafetta coin dot ribbon. My bow tying skills, learned from my sweet mother’s hands, came in handy for my millinery designs!
Oversized parchment flowers were a staple in my designs. I also was on a constant search for vintage millinery grade flowers, of which I still possess at least a case of!
And what’s not to love about this dramatic oversized sunning hat?! Floppy brim with a wide French organdy ribbon to tie under the chin?! Oh. My. Again, an oversized parchment hydrangea crowns the brim. This really should have made the big screen, right?!
This Derby style was popular for sure. Rolled brim, multiple colors, and totally chic. Each hat was carefully trimmed by me personally, packed in tissue to preserve the bows and loops, labeled and shipped to Nordstroms across the country and several other high end New York boutique stores.
What fun it was not long ago, during my organizing to move, to find my creations and reminisce the developing of each hat design, about 25 per season. Four years later, my first home decor retail store opened on Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield, and this proved to be the end of my millinery career. I traded it in for my first 400 square foot store!
Twenty-three years later, I’m still fond and happy to call these Susan Taylor creations some of my very favorites. Every time I move the hat boxes and tenderly peer inside, I remember late-night completion deadlines and find the results are still dear to my heart. Creating is such a blessing. A bounty of ideas, city resources, and a factory manager to teach me the ropes were daily events for which I will long remember.
I’m thinking that I’ll gather my samples (maybe keeping a select few for my grandchildren) and have a “Susan Sale.” I think they would be great for costumes, stage, dressups…stay tuned for the date and we’ll have a ball trying them on and taking selfies.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost been two months since this day … deliveries from Bucks County storage, and deliveries from a North Carolina receiver with an entire household of new furnishings! Below is my bare great room with the simple beginnings of two sofas and two booked coffee tables. As exciting as the move is, after several months and several trips for a week at a time and a 24/7 effort with hard work as a team with my supportive and hard working husband, It’s really just plain hard work! (I guess my run-on sentence is a pretty good description of how I feel!)
For months, this miniature floor plan traveled with me almost everywhere! I made legends with multiple options for furniture placement, anticipating our deliveries. I pondered measurements, heights, widths and overall style of my favorite pieces of furniture, most collected over years of several homes.
As the deliveries began to come in, changes were made more than several times! Stacks of boxes dressed every corner of the house, and my joyful anticipation quickly turned to frustration and exhaustion. Let’s face it, I own a lot! I’ve been a collector for 30 years…dishes, vintage linens, art, vintage silver, books, books, and more books.
Where to put my valued treasures? Each day seemed to bring renewed challenges and the need to edit.
I will admit, it was delightful to reconnect with favorites like this vintage china set and box after box of vintage silver that has been stored for the last 9 months. How pleasing indeed!
I’m documenting this space as an empty beginning in order to show you the progress I have made in the last several months. It actually does make me feel better to recall the house in this state of affairs! Even now, each time we visit, I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and it is difficult to imagine a time when our most anticipated North Carolina retreat becomes just that!
I’ll be going down again in a few weeks, and I’ll give you an update that should prove interesting. Lots has been done and lots yet to do!
And so, I’ll say it one more time…moving is hard. *sigh*
These darling trinket plates have stolen my heart. That’s all. I really want one of each. Mother’s Day…Father’s Day…a friend who is sick or down in the dumps. Yep, I’ll take one of each.
Anyone have a boss or a co-worker who needs this?! Oh. My.
These tiny ceramic vases are the perfect thing for so many places…powder room, side table or sick tray. Add my real touch tiny tulips available in several colors, and wow!
I’ve had lots of requests of late to refill my AJ Morgan readers, and this collection will not disappoint! Oh, and please take a look at these fabulously stylish sunglasses! Great prices starting at $13.00. Oh. Such. Style! #ohsosusan
I’m afraid I took one of each…I have a problem with sunglasses!
These little bunnies below are going fast…I always hate it when my favorite displays start to fade from purchases. I guess that’s the life of a retailer. Hurry in before they are all gone. *sigh*
These tiny hand blown vases imported from Poland are the perfect accents to scatter on an accent table, master bathroom, or kitchen sill. 6 assorted sizes, each delicately made to hold the tiniest of my secret succulents!
Who wouldn’t delight in these tiny dwarf tulip bouquets?! Yellow is the happiest color! And that sheep sculpture is just calling my name. Add the trophy cup, and I call it an instant winner. What’s not to love?
When I saw these slender white vases with contrast silver linings, I knew they would speak my language of style perfectly. Yellow spring daffodils will make you think your first grader raided the flower beds! Use these in multiples for the most impact. To give to a friend or keep for your own treasure!
I’m pretty much in love with this giant succulent. This new medium for artificial flowers is interesting and arresting. Very stylized and fresh! Come see my array of colors…pink, white and green. They are incredibily versatile and new. Note to self….”get mine before they are gone”.
These bright pink and orange spray roses command attention in front of this fun peice of art…bold colors and a rooster…sure to make anyone’s kitchen the center of attention. These will make a beautiful accent for the powder room, guest room,or hall table .
These favorites in mass really take my breath away! Group them together for the most impact and combine varieties of my miniatures together for the glory of spring. Ahhhhhh!
So much to see. So much to love. It’s all here for the first takers! Get in on the fun.
Spring really is here…at least at Black-eyed Susan! I hope to see you soon.
The most adorable, happy accents have been hiding in my stockroom for weeks…but as of last Wednesday, they have come out from the stockroom shelves and are ready to make every heart sing with spring!
Colorful blooms, miniature bouquets, love-themed trinkets…they’re all here for you to bask in and find that hidden smile that comes alive in the spring. The whole showroom just makes me happy!
Pop a handful of cheerful daffodils and narcissus in a cheerful container and find the perfect spot to bring cheer and glee. This cold, cold weather can be a real spirit breaker. These will bring a smile to your heart!
A row of bunnies, small and smaller, is just the thing to find a home for on a prime windowsill or small mantle ledge like this. Popular tiny collectibles won’t stay around long. (Note to self: save some for Susan!)
What is it about polka dots?! Add a vintage-inspired chick and this beautiful French tea service…and, perhaps a framed phrase of vintage flash cards for instant personality on a kitchen shelf or sill.
Tiny orange blooms spring forth to bring the bold contrast of color in all sorts of places throughout the store. See how many different uses you can spot and get inspired to take a happy bunch home. I seated these pale alliums in an almost ombre-looking pairing of colored glass. Available in several colors and hues. Oh so Susan!
The store is filled with inspirations and the pure joy of spring! Come in and take in the view, and find your own look for a happy home.
The Black-eyed Susan team proved successful and ever-creative in another lovely home in Princeton Junction, NJ today! Splitting into 3 teams, we spread merriment throughout the house from a beautiful walk-in closet to the majestic foyer with curving staircase. Each room in this large home was trimmed, draped and decked with holly.
Yours could be next!
White pine garland+icy maple leaves+white tipped sugar cones+white stag horns+Luminara candles = Pure Style!
And that’s what you’ll find happens with the BES team making merriment in your home!
What can I say…this friend was found among the specialty ornament collection. May the force be with you…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Two more Christmas setups tomorrow! Come see the magic.