12 November, 2019

"Very Ralph . . . "


Ok y'all.  We're just under 12 hours away from the debut of the new HBO documentary "Very Ralph" - which 'drops' tonight, November 12th at 9pm.  Check with your cable provider for all the details.

It's certain to be an inspirational 2 hours!


07 November, 2019

"The Crown . . . "


With the time change over this last weekend, the most important details is to now remember that we're an hour further away from the first episode of "The Crown" - coming on November 17th.

This first episode of the third season is going to represent a paradigm shift for the series.  As was announced years ago before the first episode of the first season aired, the plan has always been to have a significant time jump between seasons 2 and 3 (and again between seasons 4 and 5) which would necessitate a complete re-casting of the show!  So we have an entirely new collection of delicious British actors awash with corgis and velvet ceremonial robes!  If it helps, just pretend that all the members of the royal family are like James Bond.  We get a fresh one of those fairly regularly too!

Let's see who is up first;

Olivia Colman (as HM Queen Elizabeth) 

Olivia is making a habit of portraying members of the royal family.  She just won her first Oscar last season for her manically unhinged Queen Anne in "The Favourite."  But she's been around forever - I first became aware of her from the early days of Matt Smith in "Doctor Who!"  But - her biggest break was being cast as the downtrodden detective on "Broadchurch." Once it was announced that she was taking over the role from Claire Foy, I was completely excited.  She's going to be amazing!

Tobias Menzies (as HRH Prince Philip)

Yes, Black Jack Randall is going to portray HRH Prince Philip.  Tobias, like many of his fellow British actors, has been kicking around for years and years.  I'm excited to see what he might bring to the role of Her Majesty's husband!

Helena Bonham Carter (as HRH Princess Margaret)

We're getting into the good stuff with Princess Margaret!  At this point, she's still married to Tony Armstrong-Jones (though their relationship was endlessly stormy and dramatic!)  Helena has been a long-standing member of the British acting community . . . as far back as "A Room with a View" when she was the very definition of an English ingenue.  She's definitely going to bring a good deal of 'edge' to a very sassy role.

Josh O'Connor (as HRH Prince Charles)

If you've been distressed since the last episode of "The Durrells of Corfu" aired last week - you're in luck!  Lawrence Durrell is now Prince Charles.  I've seen a bit of Josh's work over the last few years - and he looks to be a perfect casting for a young Charles.  We'll get Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales in this season - and what looks like the beginning of his relationship with Camilla.  

What part of the story are YOU most looking forward to?


05 November, 2019

"Thank You One Kings Lane . . . "


It's almost that time of year when we all break out the good china!  Thank you to One Kings Lane for including us in their "Complete Guide to Holiday Entertaining!


01 November, 2019

"Irreplaceable . . . "


One of the highlights of last week's adventures in High Point North Carolina took a decidedly tabletop point of view!  Replacements had been gracious enough to provide the table service for our Dining Room at the Junior League Showcase House - and we were offered a private tour of their facility in Greensboro to see where all the magic happens . . .

So . . . away we go . . .  

Ok y'all.  This is one aisle.  In one warehouse.  And we kept making Indiana Jones jokes for almost the entire time we were there.  I did honestly ask if there was a monorail system to help get everyone around . . . lol.  

Alas no.  But, I was awestruck none the less!  As a huge proponent of dressing one's table to its best advantage - this was a marvelous experience.  China from the 50's.  And the 1850's.  All stacked and organized and ready to ship to your table for the holidays!

Of course, there was an 'exit through the gift shop' . . . and I stumbled across some Spode pieces that I had never even seen before.  Some serious shopping is clearly going to be in my immediate future! 

 If you have specific queries - they have a fully-staffed call center to help find what you're looking for!  Just give them a call and let them know what you need! 

And then off they go . . . just on the left past the Ark of the Covenent . . . and off it will ship to your own table.  Indiana Jones will be billed separately. 


05 October, 2019

"A Bankside Picnic . . . "


Is there anything as deliciously romantic as a hearty picnic on the grassy banks by the river?  We think not!  It seemed to be the perfect way of celebrating the new chill in the air . . . 

And, of course, you're invited . . .    

 glorious place to rest and enjoy the fruits (and berries)
of our picnic!

A vintage pitcher and glasses holds a bracing selection
of ales and lemonades.

First things first - our new Beryl Park Tartan Throw
(freshly arrived from Scotland) was a perfect layer
to begin spreading the bounty of our picnic.

Our classic Stag Head DOF glasses held a variety of
Scotches for a late afternoon scotch tasting.

All in all . . . a marvelous afternoon!


28 September, 2019

"A Touch of Toile . . . "


I've always been a firm believer that practically every room could use a wee bit of exotic toile to make it come alive.  The mystery of these beautiful patterns was set into my mind whilst I was living in the Far East as a youngster.  Mother and I would often strike off together on Saturday mornings to the local (and sometimes not so local) markets to shop for textiles and trinkets . . . and some unpronounceable new food for our dinner.

So as we began our journey towards of new collection of textiles - clearly a signature toile was a requirement!  I had searched through mom's cache of vintage fabrics - finding my favourite motif and design - and we began weaving together those patterns into Cordelia Park Toile.

She's now available as a dramatic wallcovering.

We've designed some classic decorative pillows

We've even upholstered our classic Charlotte Settee!

And to keep things interesting, we even
created a lushly-coloured version too!  

Toile for Fall -

04 September, 2019

"SMW Home, Autumn 2019 - Along the Silk Road . . . "

China Through the Looking Glass
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Like a great many of you, when I was in New York City a few years ago I spent an amazing summer afternoon wandering through the Metropolitan Museum of Art during their "China Through the Looking Glass" exhibition.  Having spent part of my childhood in Korea and Japan - the culture has always fascinated me.  As we began designing the Autumn 2019 Collection for SMW Home, those beautiful patterns and motifs continued to intrigue me.  Added to that was the endless vintage textiles that I discovered at my parents home as we began the process of preparing it for sale . . . and suddenly - I was awash in inspiration for my new collection.  

 The Production of Turandot 
designed by David Hockney

I wanted dramatic, over-sized toiles in lush saturated colours.  I wanted export-inspired patterns filled with mystery and romance.  And I wanted to be able to add in a few tartans here and there within the same colour palette - lol.

 The Hockney designed window
at Westminster Abbey

So meet me back here in this Autumn and see where this mysterious journey has brought me - and YOU - as we travel along The Silk Road with SMW Home.  In the meantime - enjoy our current collection of amazing textiles.


30 August, 2019

"Meanwhile, Back at The Abbey - Lady Edith . . . "


A bit of a confession, Lady Edith might be my favourite.  Admittedly - in the early seasons - she was a bit of a comic villain - quietly twirling her mustache making certain that her older sister life would be ruinous.  She ratted out her sister Mary to the Turkish government - when all she had done is have premarital sex with their ambassador - and then have him die in Mary's bed.  She had a brief fling with the farmer Mr Drake - where she also learned to drive a tractor!  Her next beau, Micheal Gregson, both got her pregnant and THEN was killed by the Nazis . . . !  She was swept away to 'the continent' for just about 9 months . . . and returned with her 'ward.'  She brought Marigold into the nursery at the house . . . and seemed to decide that she had a life of spinsterhood ahead of her.  And somewhere in there, she was also left at the altar by a aged bounder.

The last season brought the incredibly kind Bertie Pelham - who turns out to be The Marquess of Hexham.  Who wouldn't immediately marry any gentleman who says, "Would you believe me if I said I couldn't live without you?"

Who could have guessed that Edith would be the lady who outrank all the other members of her family . . . !


Be sure to see "Downton Abbey" coming to theaters on September 20th. 

21 August, 2019

“SMW Home Autumn 2019 - A Highland Romance . . . “


Every time we've worked on a new textile collection . . . once my inspiration gears begin spinning there's no telling quite where we sometimes end up!  Everything inspires me.  An old textile.  A picture from my parents house.  Even a musty, old movie.  Once I decide to open those gates - it never ceases to amazing me what comes flooding through.

For Autumn of 2019, I became fascinated by romance.  Especially those slightly star-crossed lovers who might not look like the best match as the story begins.  Heathcliffe and Cathy.  Mr. Rochester and Jane.  Darcy and Elizabeth.

I started toying with the idea of bringing a collection of dark, broody highland tartans together with a softer (but, still very headstrong) feminine linen floral.  We worked with an interesting pallete of navy, chestnut, and ochre . . . and began plotting out a little narrative that our textiles could take part in.  Patterns that clearly belong together . . . but, also stand on their own as individuals.  Like any good marriage, I wanted to create strong personalities (and strong patterns) that clearly enhance each other. 

So meet us back here in October as we debut SMW Home's "A Highland Romance" collection of textiles and wallcoverings.  I guarantee some drama  . . . with a proper dose of romance.

In the meantime - check out our exciting colourful collection from this Spring! 


16 August, 2019

"Meanwhile, Back at The Abbey - Lady Mary . . . "


With the possible exception of Edith, it always seemed to me that Mary had one of the most electrifying character arcs in the entire series.  When we first met her - well - she was a bit of a haughty bitch.  She's had a lover die 'in flagrante delicto.'  (honestly, for the next several seasons, Drew and I kept a running tally of who 'did' and 'did not' know how the Turkish Ambassador had died!)  After surviving that horrid incident - or maybe because of it - she was a bit of a haughty bitch again - lol.  She fell in with the VERY wrong man (what WAS that wretched newspaper man's name !?!?!?!).  Blessedly, she was soon single again.  She finally admitted to her true love.  She had the perfect 'holiday snow globe' proposal scene.  And she married the 'right' guy.   She had a child and became a widow - all in the same weekend.  As a widow, she was a bit of a haughty bitch again.  But now - now she's back in love with her charming new husband. And she's expecting their first child.

Frankly, she's been a shockingly beautiful character - but, also one who has been often unsympathetic.  I don't think there is a single character in the show that she has not been dismissive to.  Except maybe for Anna.  No.  Wait.  Didn't she ask Anna to get birth control for her - and then have that action cause friction within Anna's own marriage? 

Anyhoo . . . I'm certain Lady Mary will regally descend the staircase at Downton Abbey within the first ten minutes of the film . . . quietly expecting someone to get her something - lol.

Next we turn our eyes to Edith . . . my favourite!


14 August, 2019

“Royal Family Ties - The Corgis . . . “


Let's take a moment to celebrate that most royal of dog breeds - the Corgi! 

Three Fabulous Corgi Facts . . . 

1)  there are actually two quite distinct breeds of Corgis -
There is the Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Cardigan Welsh corgi.  They are considered two entirely different breeds as they come from differing ancestors.  Their remarkable resemblance is a result of crossbreeding in the early 19th century! 

2)  According to Welsh legend, fairies as known to ride them!
Some say that the corgi is an "enchanted dog" favoured by fairies and elves.  At night, the magical creatures would use the dogs to pull their carriages and be their steeds in battle!  According to legend, the markings on the corgi's coat suggest the faint outline of a saddle and harness.
3) Corgi means "dwarf dog" in Welsh -
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, cor means dwarf and gi means dog.

Even our four-footed family members deserve some recognition every now and again.  Maybe they need a new water bowl. Or a jaunty tartan collar or leash.  Check out all of our wee treasures for your puppy at SMW Home!


09 August, 2019

"Meanwhile, Back at The Abbey - Matthew . . . "


Matthew died several seasons ago.  And is still dead.   If you're hoping to see him again . . . you're fighting an uphill battle that has already been lost.

When the film was first announced a year ago . . . there was this hilarious comment stream about how they should have Matthew be part of the movie.  Nope.  He's dead.  And his lovely widow has remarried.  And they're expecting their first child.  And also, Matthew died.  On screen.  

Those are just the facts.   


07 August, 2019

"A Highland Portrait . . . "


Sometimes you just need a quick trip to the highlands.  If your travel plans don't include a trip to Scotland in the near future, perhaps SMW Home's Highland Portrait could help tide you over. 

The scale is dramatic.  The colouration is saturated.  And the highlands are practically palpable.  Scottish vistas gathered into a gallery wall printed on heavy-weight cotton/linen that is certain to create a powerful impact in your home.  The pattern itself is based on several iPhone images that I took whilst traveling in Scotland that were then re-created by an amazing watercolour artist who helped us to imagine this beautiful textile.

 SMW Home's Highland Portrait as
draperies here in our studio in San Francisco. 

Highland Portrait joins so many of our custom and classic wool tartans that we import from the Scottish highlands.  Take a look at the entire collection . . . 


06 August, 2019

"Meanwhile, Back at The Abbey . . . "


As you might well know, Downton Abbey is returning into our lives this fall with what looks to be a completely delicious proper film coming to a cinema near you on September 20th.   

As an exercise to prepare myself to leap back into a very complicated plot line - I planned on doing a bit a background investigating into some of the various characters - just to make sure I was 'up the speed' on all the goings on both upstairs and downstairs at the grand house.

So . . . I thought I would invite you to come along with me on my adventure.  Look for posts every few days focusing on one particular character - as we attempt to get ALL these balls back in the air in time for the new film. 

Even the dog.  


18 July, 2019

"Neutral Territory . . . "


As many of you know - I'm a sucker for a brightly patterned textile or a lushly layered room . . . but, don't make the mistake of thinking that that is all we do here at SMW Design.  I love working on projects that (at times) that at times restrain my flashier impulses and play in the sandbox of a tight colour story.

Often, all one needs is a couple of miles of
ivory linen and a gloriously placed
antique dining table surrounded on 
three sides with the most lovely
antique paned windows.  A simple colour palette
and some dramatic flowers can make an
afternoon brunch amazing.

'Project Persimmon' became this home's
nickname very early in the process.
It was an amazing shade - and the client
REALLY responded every time I brought
something over in the dramatic hue.
This charming little entryway shows the 
colour off SO well!

More Persimmon. More Ikat.
The perfect floorcovering.
All combined to make the 
most amazing living room - stylish,
but super comfortable and sturdy.
Sometimes, a giant leather chesterfield
is just the right answer - even in a space 
that doesn't feel masculine.

Just such a great combination of influences
here.  American, Italian, British, and French
antiques all sitting comfortably together.

Lordy, but don't I love this little
moment in the living room.  I actually
clapped with delight as we began to layout out
these pieces and hang artwork.

Sometimes it ALL just comes together.
Click here to see more


06 June, 2019

"How 'To Tea' . . . "


Let's talk about another very British topic (that's not the Royal Family) - and take a wee break from my ramblings about textile and toiles.  Proper tea is equal parts ceremony, tradition, and much-needed hydration.  And sometimes a snack.  And sometimes a meal.  Let's examine a few facts . . . a few legends . . . and a few of my personal preferences and rituals.

Let's talk tea . . . 

 High Tea or Afternoon Tea?

Many fine folks use these terms as though they were interchangeable - though, in fact, each has a very specific meaning.  The term 'afternoon tea' refers to a mid-afternoon snack comprised of tea and light nibbles.  It is usually served at 4pm and serves as a snack between proper lunch and usually mid-evening dinner.  Scones are the perfect fit for afternoon tea - as well as simple sandwiches and cakes.    Now 'high tea' was traditionally used a substitute for the evening meal - and thus usually had a selection of much heartier dishes for the meal.  So though 'high tea' sounds like a fancier version - usually 'afternoon tea' was used as a snack by the upper class - and 'high tea' by the working class as their evening meal.

Shop our collection of antique hotel silver 
at SMW Home.

Milk First or Tea First?
Now this one gets serious.  In our household, it is ALWAYS tea first - whether I'm brewing a cup or a pot.  The tale I was told was that as tea became a tradition in English society during the Victorian era, tea service began to be produced for working-class households . . . and those service pieces were mass-produced and usually of a lower quality.  For that reason, the milk was added first - to temper the tea and keep the cups from breaking.  I also (personally) find that adding the milk to tea helps manage both the colour and temperature of my tea.
 Shop our collection of tea service
English Breakfast or Earl Grey?

English Breakfast.  Stop, the end.  Only and forever.  Seriously.  With some Scottish Breakfast for
a wee bit of variety.

Pot or Cup?

This really depends on my day.  My usual tradition is to make a huge pot of tea if I'm going to be at the house all day - and I'll work my way through it in a hour or so.  But, a quick turnaround almost always mean a cup (or frankly, more likely a mug) of tea with breakfast. 

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