Category Archives: They Made Their Mark

Contributors to the world of design.

Christopher Lowell at Smith+Noble

Filed under Design Principles, Look What I Found!, They Made Their Mark, Windows

Christopher Lowell on the Smith+Noble website

Christopher Lowell has created four “lifestyles” for Smith+Noble.  From the website:

 America’s leading resource for window treatments teams with America’s most trusted designer to bring you an exhilarating new way to decorate your home. With easy, beautiful, premier quality window coverings and décor accents personally selected by Christopher Lowell. Achieve top-notch designer results in any room with materials pre-coordinated to harmonize beautifully with four universally appealing lifestyles: TOWN, COUNTRY, CITY & SHORE Each lifestyle covers a world of design influences from global destinations visited by Christopher Lowell.

I have two of Christopher Lowell’s books.  I was introduced to him by a friend about 10 years ago who had checked out of the library Seven Layers of Design and used his advice to paint her family room.  EXACTLY as he listed in the book.  At that very moment, I knew I needed to write a business plan.

(I purchased that very book the day I registered my business license.  If ministers and nuns have a higher calling, than this was mine.  All those lost souls using a color palette out of a book…when millions exist in nature…)

I spent a little time perusing  the site and thus far the lifestyles consist of exactly the same products.  Perhaps the release came before the website was ready??

Order now for free standard shipping.  Just don’t expect pre-coodinated universally appealing lifestyles.

The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center

Filed under Look What I Found!, They Made Their Mark

The Hotel Roanoke

Being a straight and narrow beach lover, I usually am not too impressed with the mountains. But this weekend Mother Nature did her best to impress me.

My family enjoyed a stay at the historic Hotel Roanoke, nestled perfectly in the on-fire-with-fall-color Blue Ridge Mountains.  The drive to Roanoke from Northern Virginia was shockingly amazing. And the hotel was just as impressive. 

The Hotel Roanoke is 125 years old. She was built in the height of the railroad area. Entering the grand lobby, with its soaring paneled walls, is a trip in a time machine. I was instantly reminded of another historic hotel from the same era, the Athenaeum in the Chautauqua Institution, where worked for three blissful summers in my college days.

After being closed for years, a major renovation created the current state of the art Conference Center. The guest rooms have been more recently upgraded. Designed by Jillian Van Dresser, originally from Blacksburg, the new décor perfectly blends a traditional atmosphere with the contemporary aesthetic expected in what is now a Hilton Hotel.

Spa services, excellent dining and impeccable service, The Hotel Roanoke is an affordable luxury and within a few gorgeous hours from DC.

The Hotel Roanoke historic emblem graces the hall carpets.

The first lobby.

The emblem graces the wonderful beds.

The room was well appointed and very comfortable.

A hand painted cabinet and granite in the bath was a perfect setting for a spa like shower.

All photos from website.


Gilbert Rohde

Filed under They Made Their Mark

Image of Rodhe's East India Laurel cabinet from Architonic

Furniture behemoth Herman Miller owes its success to one man. 

Gilbert Rodhe was a cartoonist and department store illustrator before he began to design a new breed of furniture.  Herman Miller was gasping for breath, an almost casualty of the Great Depression.  Rohde convinced Herman Miller’s founder,  D. J. De Pree, that sectional furniture would resonate with Americans living in cramped, overcrowded homes. 

Rohde was right. Currently Herman Miller is one of the largest manufacturers of office furniture and owns the rights to produce many great American classics. 

Sectional sofas are common with my clients to this day.  Now, however, they are usually the answer to filling enormous rooms rather than their intended purpose of space economy. 

To my knowledge none of his groundbreaking designs are being manufactured.  Authentic pieces sell in the thousands.  Perhaps our current economic conditions will spur a revival.

2nd April Galerie

Filed under They Made Their Mark

My lifelong friend Brennis Booth has an art gallery in my hometown of Canton, Ohio.  Located downtown and a few blocks from the church we grew up in, visiting last week made me realize how very proud I am of him. 

Brennis and his partner Todd run a first class organization.  They moved to this fantastic larger space about a year ago.  The building, once a small manufacturing plant, is Art Deco.  Permanent smaller galleries look down into the main space from the second floor.  The basement has just been converted to a small theater.

The art is displayed perfectly.  The calendar is filled with children’s art classes and other events.  Live music is a part of the  First Friday Gallery Walk. 

Did I mention the coffee bar?

2nd April Galerie

2nd April Galerie

2nd April Galerie

2nd April Galerie

2nd April Galerie

More on FLW

Filed under They Made Their Mark

Image from

The more I drive by the Frank Lloyd Wright homes here in Canton, the more I fall in love with his work.  My style, if I admit that I have a style, tends toward clean linear lines, and Wright was a  master at geometry.

At the convention I attended last week I learned of Unity Temple, a Untarian Universalist Church designed by Wright in 1906.  This Chicago area congregation is still rejoicing in their building.  They  have an excellent website.  I have this terrible urge to get in my car right now and head out to Chicago.

Frank Lloyd Wright in Canton

Filed under They Made Their Mark

I took this from the street.  Not bad for me!  If this house ever goes on the market, I hope I am in a position to buy.  It is located EXACTLY between my mother's and my sister's homes.

Frank Lloyd Wright built three homes in my hometown of Canton, Ohio. They are known as the Nathan Rubins House (1951), the John J Dobkins House (1953), and the Ellis Feiman House (1954).

The Dobkins house is a few yards from my sister’s house. Anthony McCue writes in his blog that the owners told him that Wright specified 14 pin oaks to be planted in perfect relation to the structure. Having grown up worshiping this house, the trees have always been an integral part of my admiration.

I have passed by the Rubins House thousands of times in my life as it is on the way to the grocery store from my childhood home that my mother still owns. I can, in all honesty, say that it too captured my attention on most drivebys.

A friend of a friend once owed the Feiman house. They sold it to build their own design.  I was lucky enough to be invited to their new home once. They had incorporated many Wright features such as custom tile and heavy use of wood trim.
For better pictures that I could ever take click here.

I LOVE even the street marker, weeds and all!!!

A Mouse in the House

Filed under They Made Their Mark

From Drexel Heritage

Disney is EVERYWHERE.  Certainly my market must be one of the last frontiers for them, no?

My friend and client, Rebecca was BORN with mouse ears on her head.  She harasses me (lovingly) all the time because as a fundamental contrarian, I refuse to visit Disneyworld.  She won’t admit it, but I just know she considers it child abuse.  She sent me an email yesterday, with just a picture of a beautiful room to tease me.  Guess what?  The room is from The Walt Disney Signature Collection from Drexel Heritage and the stuff is gorgeous! 

Drexel Heritage is an upscale manufacturer of fine furniture.  They paired with Disney to bring this “non-character, adult high end line…of over fifty pieces”. The fabrics are styled after Walt’s personal clothing.  The collection has been described as relaxed glamour or casual elegance, which apparently WAS the signature style of Walt himself.   

This line is meant get grab those couple of stragglers (like me) who try to avoid worshiping the Princess Goddesses and Animated Angels with my cash.  Pam Lifford, from Disney Home, admits this in the promotional video, “It is a chance for us to create an everyday approach to home décor and it allows a family to experience it in a way in which they would not have experienced the Walt Disney Company.”

IT IS WORKING.  Check out these pictures:

Park Occasional Chair $949

Park Occasional Chair 

Legacy Hall Chest $1,799

 Legacy Hall Chest

Holmby Chair $1275

 Holmby Chair

Walt’s Signature Desk $3,449

Walt's Signature Desk 

Mario Buatta

Filed under They Made Their Mark

Picture from

Today’s Post ran an interesting article on one of the greats.  Mario Buatta is the “King of Chintz” now and at 72, forever.  I love the idea of holding on to a signature style long after the fashion is over. 

Personally, I never cared too much for chintz.  You know what it is: that sort of shiny fabric with big huge floral patterns.  Think cabbage roses on black background.  Even in the 80s its tendency to squeak annoyed me.

Still I appreciate remaining true to your taste.  Because if you love it, it is in fashion for you.

Textiles Too

Filed under Look What I Found!, They Made Their Mark

 Esty ad from Decor8, bedding from Kohls and rug from WestElm.

To continue from Friday:

Check out this website.  Volksfaden is a German site.  Linda Gaylord left thirty years in the world of theater to import fabric from the US and Japan.  The graphics in the web design alone is worth the click. 

Isn’t it wonderful how the incredible vastness of the web makes it so easy to find sites/people/businesses who share connections?  Volksfaden:  I found it in one click, and it covers Friday’s topic.  I happen to have a German heritage.  My family life and non-work time is all theater all the time.  (We saw a show last night.  I won’t say what it was because it was not good.)  I drive a Volkswagen.  Are these Coincidences?  No, just Dedicated Web Surfing.

I digress.  Our plugged-in world accelerates trends.  In today’s Kohl’s circular, the back page shows bedding quilted in the trademark Orla Kiely style of continuous upward graphic petals on a stem.  Etsy uses it in its ad.  WestElm tries to change it up by adding beans.

What’s next?

Adirondack Chairs

Filed under They Made Their Mark

World Market's version.  In a color from Friday's entry.

Today’s World Market ad featured colorful Adirondack Chairs. Flipping through the paper, I wondered if that is a proper name turned descriptive, like Kleenex for tissue or Xerox for copy. 

With just a little net research, it turns out that the original name was Westport Chair, after the town in New York where they were created.  A regular guy, Thomas Lee, designed them for his family vacation home.  The slated seat made sitting on hilly land more comfortable.  He showed his final chair to a local carpenter, Harry Bunnell, who promptly got a patent on it and made it famous.  With friends like that…

Classic Westport Chairs were only brown or green.  Their backs had only one slat.  In fact, the entire thing was made with only 11 pieces of wood.   I would love to see one of the originals. I imagine there are not many left.