Inspired to Finally Get Transforming a Piece or Two of the Home

     Lately, inspiration has been everywhere.  It started at the Designed for a Cure event for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  There a panel of Williams & Sherrill design experts, including Kevin Malone, shared their design viewpoints.   Then through Annie Selke‘s luncheon presentation, I learned that my design style is “Everyday Exuberance”.  This perfectly apt and succinct description can now guide me and give me confidence in my color choices.

     The next week one of my design blogger heroines, Tobi Fairley, delighted an IFDA luncheon crowd as she showed how her design aesthetic and her design projects have evolved over the last decade of her very successful career.  She shared a lot of advice with the audience of mostly local designers, but I am going to take some of it as well, starting with taking pictures of the rooms of my house to locate decor problems.  Following the IFDA luncheon where Tobi spoke, our posse toured the Richmond Symphony Designer House, which was filled with amazing rooms produced by local talent like Malone and Kat Liebschwager of Ruth & Ollie (I hear Kat’s fabulous dinner room there was photographed for a future issue of Traditional Home).

     The following week, I had the great pleasure to have coffee with one of my other design blogger heroines, Laura Trevey of Bright Bold & Beautiful.  Introduced through a mutual friend after I won a BB&B Bliss giveaway, Laura truly lives up to the name of her blog.  By the end of our coffee, she felt like an old friend.  Laura has got such exciting things happening on her blog (you really should subscribe here to find out), and she left me completely energized.

Energetic and enthusiastic, Laura Trevey takes her own advise and gets in the picture with her kids and the dog.

     Finally, over the past month I have had the pleasure of a couple of day trips to the Rivah with friends.  While their fabulous homes demanded attention, on both trips we stopped by the delightfully French design shop, Brocante, in Irvington, as well as browse the local antique and consignment stores.  Brocante carries the Annie Sloan chalk paint line and is filled with examples of furniture that Brocante’s helpful owner, Rachel Pugliese, has transformed with the AS paint.  Each time I visit Brocante, I have to buy some Annie Sloan thing, which ends up in a closet while I fantasize about what boring brown piece of furniture in our house can be spiced up with the magic contained in one of her cans.

     Not this time, though.  With all of this inspiration and the realization that I could not buy another orphan piece of furniture until I made progress on what we already have, I have finally gotten out the sandpaper, wood-putty and paint brushes and started making a few transformations of my own.  I can’t wait to show you the results of my inspiration to transformation pieces.  In the meantime, maybe these inspirations will nudge you to transform your home fantasies into reality.

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Bright, Bold, and Beautiful’s Bliss Home & Design Giveaway

But I Never Win Anything!

     You can only imagine my surprise early yesterday as I was enjoying my coffee while reading my morning emails, which always include posts from a few of my favorite bloggers.  When I got to this Bright, Bold, and Beautiful post, I almost spilled the hot java.  Laura Trevey had announced that Avad Fan was the winner of her fabulous blog’s $75 gift certificate to Bliss Home & Design.

     I spent the next hour perusing Bliss Home & Design‘s gorgeous site trying to decide what I could get with help from my windfall.

Eye-catching coral from the site’s ever-changing selection.

Dransfield and Ross pillows that would look perfect in our master.

Crazy for this Arteriors Zanadoo chandy, but the Hub would think that I had lost my mind.

Anything bamboo, really, but the dining rooms is calling for a pair of these buffet lamps.

This 21.5″ mirror just takes my breath away.

The contrast between polish and texture creates a timeless treasure.

My orchids could use an upgrade from their terra-cotta pots.

Bliss Home’s large selection of decorative accessories includes this peacock that stands over five feet tall.

Lots of shimmery John-Richard eglomise furnishings like this buffet.

Surely there is a place in our home for this Italian beauty.

And what home couldn’t use a piece of jewelry like any of Bliss Home’s large selection of minerals?

     So many choices!  It may take me a while, but how thrilling to get to decide.  Thanks so much to Laura Trevey,

the beautiful and talented Richmond artist behind the wildly popular Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog.  I am so excited to bring a little Bliss into my home.


National Designers Dish at Richmond Fundraisers

Annie Selke Shares her Design Success for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

     Last Friday, I attended the inaugural Designed for a Cure held at The Country Club of Virginia.  Spearheaded by Avad Fan follower, Ellen Vance, and Sondra Washburn, the morning began with three workshops presented by the creative talents at Williams and Sherrill.  Guests could choose to learn about approaches to feng sui, “Making a Big Splash” or design trends.

Designed for a Cure

     Close to 200 people attended this unique fundraiser in support of Richmond’s active local chapter of the Cystic Fybrosis Foundation and were treated to a post-lunch presentation by the amazing Annie Selke, the inimitable creator of Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert Rug Company (named after two of her dogs) and her fabric collection, Annie Selke Home.  She described her varied career that brought her to product design and her ever growing business that she runs from the Berkshire hills of west Massachusetts.  Passionate about design, she has finally found the time to write a bright and beautiful book called Fresh American Spaces, in which she breaks down home design approaches into five subcategories.  Listening to her presentation, I immediately knew that my own design approach falls into her category, “Everyday Exuberance”, and that section of her book offers ideas for bringing bright design together to create a happy home.

Annie Selke chatting with attendees as she signs her book, Fresh American Spaces.

     Delightful and down-to-earth, Ms. Selke enchanted her audience throughout her presentation and the question and answer session, as well as during her book-signing.  Her spirit helped launch this Designed for a Cure event into a new annual happening.  As our table discussed at the lunch, most Richmonders are so tired of the auction-style fundraisers that have become the standard for non-profits around town, so we welcomed this refreshing format.   As word of its success spreads, next year’s Designed for a Cure should raise even more funds to be used to finally find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

Next Up:  Tobi Fairley Headlines the IFDA Day of Design at the Richmond Symphony Designer House

     I am so looking forward to hearing my favorite design star, Tobi Fairley, speak at the IFDA Day of Design at the Richmond Symphony Orchestra League 2012 Designer House on Thursday, September 27, 2012.  Tobi’s Blog arrives in my inbox every morning, and pictures of her creations are scattered throughout my Pinterest boards.  Like Ms. Selke, Ms. Fairley does not shy away from color, and I cannot wait to be inspired by her, as well as the Show House, Pinifer Park, which opened last week.

     At the last Designer Show House two years ago, Tobi designed the front entrance hall (above).  Featured in the April 2012 issue of Traditional Home magazine, pictures of that stunning space continue to pop up throughout the internet.  If Tobi speaks anything like she writes and creates, her Richmond audience is in for a treat.

     Even if you can’t get to the IFDA luncheon, you’ll want to visit the Designer House and Garden.  I hear the house is filled with great designs in small spaces.  Only open through October 8th, this show house provides a beautiful way to support the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.


Ending Procrastination With the Help of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

     My daughter’s room has always been the space for expressing my inner Lilly girl.  While the Hub has very traditional ideas about the rest of our home, he has given me carte blanche in our girl’s room.  As I did as a teenager in my own room, I live my designer fantasies by constantly rearranging her space, and she rarely seems to mind.

     While I love to try new furniture arrangements, painting her furniture even when it is absolutely necessary has always stymied me.  As a result, she still has a desk that is too ugly to even show here.  The desk needs so much TLC that I have procrastinated in doing anything to it for more years than I care to admit.  As we were preparing for her to head off to college last summer, I resolved to finally get that desk painted in conjunction with having the new Lilly Pulitzer curtains made.  Well, she comes home from college for the summer in a couple of weeks, and I still haven’t done anything with that desk.

     One of my favorite bloggers, Centsational Girl,  is always refurbishing thrift store finds with a can of paint and a paint brush.  Often she uses Zinsser primer, but she has let her avid readers like this Avad Fan in on a little secret:  not all paint requires a primer base, specifically Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.  Kate, the woman behind Centsational Girl, has used this chalk paint several times over the past year, and her sensational results have convinced me to try it.

     Because Annie Sloan is based in Oxford, England, finding her chalk paint in the States is not always easy.  The closest and as far as I can tell only distributor in Virginia is the fabulous French design store, Brocante Home, located in of all places Irvington, Virginia.  Fortunately, I have some friends with homes at the Rivah so was able to combine my shopping trips with a couple of girls weekends this winter.

     Having done a bit of research in advance, I had my shopping list ready and am now own an assortment of Annie Sloan products.

I have done two quick and relatively easy paint jobs since acquiring these paints.  First up was an old pair of painted wood chairs that my friend J and I reclaimed in a day in a combination of Greek Blue, Louis Blue and Pure White for her Rivah kitchen.  So sorry that I didn’t get pictures of those.

     Second was a rewhitening of this chest that had a blue stencil on the drawers from the days in my daughter’s nursery.  Again, no before picture.  Even with sanding down the stencil, I still had to paint the drawer fronts three times to keep the stencil from showing through the Pure White.  I changed out the handles on this chest to some favorite old MacKenzie-Childs knobs, which required drilling new screw holes and filling in the old ones.  That part of the project worked out well, and you can’t see the old nail holes.

     While the paint goes on easily, I still have not perfected the wax technique that provides the finishing touch and keeps the paint from getting scuffed up.  Maybe it is just that the wax takes some time to set.  Despite my wax issues, the forgiving soft finish of the chalk paint makes so much sense for imperfect furniture like my daughter’s desk.  I have yet to try the distressing techniques that Annie Sloan and Brocante Home advocate, and, as I like a clean look to complement the Lilly Pulitzer style of this room, I will probably wait to try distressing in another part of the house.

     Now that you know my plan, I have to execute it or answer to you.  So no more procrastination.  Stay tuned for pictures of a new and improved desk in the next two weeks.

Photos by Avad Fan.


Touring the Big Flea with the Master: Eddie Ross

      Sunday turned out to be a fabulous treat.  J and I headed up to Chantilly, Virginia for the D.C. Big Flea Market.  Not your ordinary dirty and dusty flea market, this one bills itself as the “largest antique market in the Mid-Atlantic”.  I wouldn’t doubt that, but we weren’t there for the size.  We were there to learn from the master, Eddie Ross, how to navigate through fleas, thrift shops and estate and tag sales to find the good and unique that can be repurposed into something modern and wonderful.

Eddie Ross in action.

      A former stylist for Martha Stewart, current columnist for Southern Living and Women’s Day and designer extrordinaire, Eddie, along with his partner, Jaithan Kochar, organize trips like these a few times a year at different shows and sales throughout the country.  This coming weekend they will be leading a tour through Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta, one of my dream destinations.

      Eddie and Jaithan are truly delightful, and Eddie has so much knowledge about all things decorative.  He is also very practical and cost-conscious, talking about the value of beautiful older pieces and the thrill of collecting over time as one’s budget allows.  Our group of 20± stopped at about 12 booths as Eddie described how to look for value, use decorative items in every day life and style them chic-ly.

Eddie Ross describing the beauty of the glassware by Fenton, which went out of business in the 1950s.

      A master table designer, Eddie focused much of his tour on silver, glassware and linens.  He advised alternating sets and mixing an older froufrou item like a damask tablecloth with sharper lines to avoid a dated table.  He has so much creativity coursing through his veins.  He could just look at an item and suggest an innovative way to use it in your home.

      Ever the gracious gentleman, Eddie charmed the vendors whom we visited.  His sincere flattery disarmed them, and he developed an immediate rapport with those whom he had never met.  His passion and interest were so genuine that these vendors were delighted to drop their prices for him.

J scored a few fabulous prints for her river house here. A couple of unmatted ones cost only $5 a piece.

      I am obviously a huge fan.  Ever since first meeting Eddie at the Ivy Market last May, I have been inspired by his approach to living and designing.  He is lucky to have found his life’s work in the field that he loves, and he truly delights in sharing his passion for design with others.  Thanks to his many tips, I won’t be “shopping blind” anymore.

      If you ever have the opportunity to take one of Eddie’s tours, just do it.  It will be an afternoon well-spent, and you will be inspired to look at your own things in a new and beautiful light.  Subscribe to his blog here to receive notice when he is offering more tours.

All iPhone photos by Avad Fan.


Floraspirations, Week 3: Chinese New Year

With help from pixlr.com

     In honor of the Chinese New Year celebrated this past week, I thought you’d enjoy this creation made by members of the Richmond Children’s Hospital Junior Board for its annual Ball in 2004.

Welcome to the Year of the Water Dragon!

     This visual image is still as fresh to me today as it was seven years ago when I watched fellow board members create this masterpiece, and I really wanted to share it with you.  Unfortunately the only photo that I had of it was taken in the afternoon with a very glare-y background through the tent which looks much better at night.  My daughter was in it, too.

Original is definitely not a blog-worthy photo.

     As luck would have it, though, just this week Kate of Centsational Girl wrote a lengthy post about a new on-line photo editor that she has found to replace Picnik, which Google is retiring on April 19th.  I have used Picnik for a few editing jobs, but I really hadn’t taken the time to figure it all out.  It has been on my to-do list, along with at least a hundred other things, and fortunately I never bought the premium Picnik service, which I had seriously considered.

     On Kate’s recommendation, I clicked over to pixlr.com.  Since then I have been spending my free time listening to all of the tutorials and playing with this original photo.  A Scandanavian man narrates the tutorials, which makes for an especially interesting exercise.

     I have finally figured out how some of my favorite bloggers, including Centsational Girl, create such great photos and graphics.  In the middle picture, I have blurred my daughter’s face, and in the photo above, the background is painted with the contrasting blue.  The background for the first photo was erased, and I added the text from the wide selection of fonts included with pixlr.  Though I have yet to reach the professional standards of many bloggers, I am now looking forward to bringing you more interesting content through photos.

     While pixlr.com is not perfect (a couple of my editing attempts just disappeared), it really is a fun on-line program for enhancing any photos.  You don’t need to be a blogger to try it.  The bonus:  it’s free!

Photos by Avad Fan.


Welcome to the Blogosphere, Ellegram

     My dear friend eBf took the plunge this week and sent her first post for Ellegram out into the online universe.  Her thoughtful remarks in “Tis the Season for Thank You Notes” immediately inspired me to dig out my stationery, make my list and start writing my long-overdue words of holiday gratitude.  Any blogger who can get me out of my “stationary” position in front of the computer at 5 a.m. surely is on to something.

(Spotted yesterday at

the Shops at 5807.)

      I have known eBf for over 30 years after we met on a double date in college.  The beaus didn’t pan out, but that fraternity party marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship.  A remarkable woman of beauty, grace and practicality, eBf never ceases to impress me with her loving and spiritual substance.  I am so looking forward to her future posts on Ellegram, which will no doubt be full of sensible and creative ideas for all.

      In the meantime, let me send out this universal 

(etsy.com via Claire on Pinterest)

to each person who has read any of my sporadic posts on Avad Fan.  I get such a charge every time you click on one of them.  While I work on my New Year’s resolution to Lighten Up, I hope to bring you more fabulous finds this year that will provide just the spark you need much like Ellegram’s first post has motivated me.