Maison Fleur de Lis

Maison Fleur de Lis
French at Heart ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Creating an Elegant Barn Sale ... In 2009

It all started in late 2009;
"an inspiring article in a home décor magazine". 
I was interested SMITTEN ! What an interesting concept; unique & exciting.
As Owner of Maison Fleur de Lis,
a Vintage Style Home Décor Boutique,
I had been selling my hand painted furniture,
mostly hit & miss MISS:
ebay, craigslist, etsy et cetera. 
They all had their advantages ... & disadvantages.
In 2009, there was a new trend that was brewing in the Midwest, called Occasional Sales. They were generally held a few times a year; creating the urgency & desire to buy quickly as they will not be there next week, and neither will that unique vintage treasure you have been lusting after.
I had to learn more,  this led to further searching in 2009,
turning up inspiring blogs
from Cottage Elements & The French Flea.
A light bulb lightening bolt went off,
NO sale like this had ever been done in upstate New York before.
 So for a year I read, brainstormed
and honed my version of the idea.
But a sale of this magnitude & WOW factor
needed a great location & more muscle .
So in late 2010, I made
"some excited phone calls ".
I cautiously presented my concept to a few guest artisans about the possibility of launching my occasional sale idea in our area,
 the absolute first of many copycat sales to come.
But I first needed to find a name ... AND a location.
The search for the location took alot 
ALOT longer than anticipated.
In the meantime, I wanted a Venue Name
that was easy to identify my original vision,
but unique enough for people to remember its innovation.
I wanted the name to reflect the humbleness & the ornateness  
of the vintage treasures for sale.
Words & word combinations
were tossed around and narrowed down.
 In a final post-meeting brainstorm,
I listed 30 new words on a paper 
 looking for inspiration...
TADA , there it was, as it jumped off the page ...
City Chic Country Charm.

The hardest part was to find a location, preferably a barn ;
something unique, fun &inspiring.
The HUNT was on...
but it took almost 6 months for me to find a Barn
that would welcome my innovative idea within all my criteria.
So it took 
"months of planning "....
After back & forth questions with the barn owner for a month,
I was able to report to my guests artisans that indeed,
I had found a barn !

       And so ... My Idea,  of the first Occasional Sale in Upstate New York,
" City Chic Country Charm, the Elegant Barn Sale
Was born 7 years ago ..." 
A article appeared in the local paper in the Spring of 2011,
just weeks before my first sale highlighting me as the originator
of this local innovative idea.
Sales were held in the Autumn 2011,
Spring 2012 and Spring 2013.
Each of the sales was tweaked and perfected.
I proudly posed for a picture at my  Autumn Barn Sale.
Unfortunately, behind the scenes, issues were not so perfect, nor transparent. In the middle of the Spring Sale 2013, I discovered a major business ethics flaw by one of the guest artisans. Despite the sale being in full force,
having just discovered the deception,
 I wanted to remedy it quickly. 
Within a day, my idea, the one that I had spent a year planning
before I even invited guest artisans,
had been dashed on the rocks.
I had come to a decision tree;
based on personal and business principles.
Do I continue to present this sale
knowing that there is a ethics problem with a guest artisan
 and have it potentially ruin the reputation of my concept idea,
 the sale itself, my personal business & myself ?
Do I cut my losses,
distance myself from the ethics issue with the other guest artisans 
and give up my original idea , to start anew later ? 
I choose the latter.
I choose to start anew.
I quickly closed the venue called
City Chic Country Charm,
The Elegant Barn Sale.
In subsequent years, a advertisement has appeared
 by those same guest artisans with the ethics issues,
implying This City Chic Country Charm Sale was their own idea,
with this tag line...
"An Inspiring article in a magazine,
 some excited phone calls,
months of planning and
City Chic Country Charm, The Elegant Barn Sale
was born 7 years ago..."
BUT... The tag line by those writers has a major  flaw.
It's best that the truth be known...
 Seven years ago, in 2009,
 I found the inspiring magazine article...
 I made the exciting phone calls ...
 I initiated the months planning ...
created the idea of City Chic Country Charm...
I was the "midwife" that gave it birth. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Boutique ... Welcoming the French Spring Equinox

Being an Interior Designer doesn't stop at my Front Door.
It graciously spills pours into every aspect of my life
and most importantly, into my boutique; Maison Fleur de Lis.
Decorating for my retail customers  
has some similarities to home decorating,
but many  very defined & unique differences.
Retail Visual Design is a little more like "theatre" .
 It can, but doesn't have to be practical.
Its motive is to attract, to delight & engage.
Engage to love, buy & take it  home.
You don't have to live in in it daily
(Though it does look so perfect),
Dust it ( I never was a Hazel the Maid))
 Or have pets scratch it (Sorry Angel, the Cat, I still do love you)
The words, Springtime, Vernal Equinox &
Le Printemps in Francaise;
give us a " breath of fresh air ", of nature awakening &
a promise of chirping birds.
I decorate the Boutique in mid-February,
technically a month before Spring arrives on
the flipped page of a calendar.
It's the longing for Spring that prompts
my tad-early transformation.
We know it's just around the corner ...
as crocuses push up their dainty heads &
clear air is punctuated with early birds announcing its arrival.
In the Boutique, a life-size handmade paper Angel
holding lilies & tulips  heralds that Spring is Here,
while a creamy vintage Pram groans under the weight
of a basket laden with moss & sage hydrangeas.
French Springtime style can be manifested in so many ways;
through mood, color, furniture & accessories.
Not that one only buys certain colors or items
in any particular season,
but in retail visual design,
there are recognizable clues that evoke a feeling, emotion
or decorating tone.
It doesn't mean that you can only decorate
with white in the spring,
but the preponderance of light colors conveys that
 French Spring feeling.
Maison Fleur de Lis is known for its elegant use of neutrals.
Besides our signature Fleur de Lis White,
we also present our style in soothing European neutrals,
like Chantilly Crème & French Butter.
Sometimes we even move over to the " wild-side" towards 
 Riviera Spa,  Provencal Sage & Café au Lait Beige.
Embellishments on furniture is another way to convey
" French Spring" .
Maison Fleur de Lis specializes in
hand painted furniture designs.
Hand painted with a tiny " ten-hair" paintbrush
(that sometimes refuses to cooperate, UGH ! )
This painting style creates a shaded stippled drawing,
not a flat-stencil effect.
Usually I use a subtle tone-on-tone color to the drawing
 so that the design is noticeable but with subtlety.
 Delicate & intricate, designs such as 
Birds, Florals, Sheep & Nests 
are some of the universally popular designs that evoke
a French Spring Ambiance.
Accessories are the quintessential French Spring décor
since they are small enough to be grouped together
for a stunning vintage vignette
and also can be changed out on a whim.
From vintage Birdcages & natural Nests,
To hand-sewn Pillows & original Artwork.
From hand-painted Robin's Eggs & dainty Birds,
To sweet Lambs & gentle Bunnies.
And finally ...
From soothing Floral to complementary Spring China.
French Springtime Décor is timeless & elegant,
no matter whether you are decorating a
dramatic City Townhouse or a quaint Country Cottage.
No need to jump the Big Pond
to find your perfect French Spring Treasure...
Just visit the Maison Fleur de Lis Boutique instead.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Design Office ... Creating a French Life at Home

Being an Interior Designer has it drawbacks. It seems I am decorating, editing & moving pieces ... a few inches, a few feet, or even a few rooms away.
It is even made more poignant by the fact that I also run my business,
Maison Fleur de Lis, from  home,
so I decorate  re-re-decorate both personal & business spaces frequently.
That means that my business work spaces are decorated as well. Some people can work in a  behind-the-scenes mess, but I need my organization, my serenity, my beauty; even in those hands-on work areas that no one  may ever see.
But I do.


The main areas of our home are more polished & formal; more Paris Apartment / European Elegant. "Monsieur" loves a contemporary style, as I do,
having grown up in a home full of authentic mid-century masterpieces.
But I also adore traditional,
 so our main rooms are eclectically appointed
in a mix of contemporary & traditional.
Since our circa 1927 cape cod is small, the palette is light & airy :
soft Chantilly White & warm Dove Grey,
with touches of rich French Blue & inky Classic Black...
topped off with burnished Silver Leaf & sparkling Crystal Bling.
Back to my Design Office ...
The palette is the same but softer, feminine & scrolly.
Here the décor is dominated by Country French in a classic cloud-blue toile,
 porcelain cherubs, gold-gilt & curvy French furniture.
 All of the vintage treasures are  guarded by my loyal friends, in white, 
 who quietly wait in a delicate antique & petite version of a gold-gilt chair.
I am a firm believer in creating a beautiful vignette;
 not only to be a  visual feast but a functional one.
 Every loose item is contained in a pretty vintage vessel of one sort or another,
as long as it fits the color & ambiance of my Country French vision.
Blue vintage French books are corralled in a gold  cherub planter,
a vintage saucier holds business cards &
a vintage white  ceramic chamber pot becomes a wastebasket.
The toile-backed Country French armoire  
is full of personal & vintage treasures from my travels to France.
As in, French porcelain cherubs guarding family photographs in gilt frames
or an adorable candy box from the Laduree Patisserie in Paris. 
My desks also have their vintage French touches; 
from the cherub wall sculpture over the technology desk
to a vintage rose chair & heart-shaped topiary at the writing desk.
The desks are decorated with  vintage treasures
 in scrolly white & gold ambiance.
The French postal-box bank , desk accessories that corral pens ,
notepads and to-do lists & a vintage French phone (Paris is calling ...) 
No typical office supplies here.
No office is complete without an office file of never-ending business papers, but why have a typical file cabinet when you can do it in vintage style.
 A toile-backed hutch & commode dresser corral documents & precious treasures while presenting a pretty French style façade.
Vintage sauciers hold business cards & price tags out of sight.

The most important décor in my office is a place to sit, plan & dream.
Overlooking the south-facing French garden I have arranged my sitting area
to  enjoy the sun streaming in between the pin-tuck silk curtains.
My luxurious white chaise lounge is draped in ruffled vintage throws
& a gilt antique swan-armed guest chair from Paris
 is reupholstered in white French matelassé .
The seating creates the perfect nook to quietly bask in the sun,
sip my tea & to dream about my next French decorating move.