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. 


22 May, 2019

"SMW Home's Spring Cleaning Sale . . . "


As in most households, Spring weather brings on a flurry of Spring cleaning.  Here at SMW Home . . . we're of the same mood.  Beginning this morning, we have a vast collection of our custom pieces - from furniture to floor coverings to lighting and pillows - marked on sale - and ready to find a new home and make room for our new product.  I have a few examples posted here - but, head over to SMW Home and see what might be perfect for your own wee castle.

Abbotsgrove Luggage Rack - in Yellow Lacquer
Retail Price - $625.00 / Sale Price - $395.00

Retail Price - $2,500.00 / Sale Price - $1495.00

8ft X 10ft Henry Plaid Rug
Retail Price $4200.00 / Sale Price $2500.00 

Pullman Ottoman - in MacLeod Tartan
Retail Price - $2975.00 / Sale Price - $1350.00 

Our St. James Armchair - in Wool Twill/Sky
Retail Price - $5625.00 / Sale Price - $1950.00 

Have a look at the entire selection - marked up to 60% off - starting today at SMW Home


17 May, 2019

"Chinoiserie Starts at Home . . . "


As many of you might know, my father passed away early last year and thus my brother and I inherited the family home where we had spent a good portion of our lives growing up.  He and I spoke regularly about the need to meet back home to sift through the decades of belongings and treasures - and likely some trash - and prepare the house to be sold. 

On one of my trips to Mississippi - I discovered a cache of vintage textiles that my mother had purchased when we lived in the Far East . . . and I knew I wanted to honor her by creating a few new textiles for my own collection based on the things that she had bought.

So honestly - in possibly the 'lowest-tech version' of how this is done - I ended up making copies of a few dozen motifs and then cutting and taping them on butcher paper at the studio.  Endlessly toying with pattern density and negative space - working to find the perfect balance of both.  Once the basic pattern was laid out - off it all went to my artist to create the final design for the pattern . . .

Thus, I'm pleased to introduce you to SMW Home's first chinoiserie toile, Cordelia Park Toile.  Available in 4 colourways (as well as decorative pillows) and boldly printed on a hearty cotton canvas for an amazing sturdy hand.

Mother would love these.


Yes.  There's a story behind the name . . . but, it's kind of a long one - lol - so we'll cover that next time! 

08 May, 2019

"Royal Family Ties - Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor . . . "


It's been an exciting couple of days for my fellow royal family watchers this week.  The Duchess of Sussex went into labour earlier in the week - and seemed to have her first child almost immediately.  And then things started turning ugly.  (well, they've been ugly for quite some time . . . )

Folks complained about the grammar used on the official announcement placed in front of Buckingham Palace.  As though the palace needed feedback from the comment section of FB on how to do their jobs.  When would we see the child?  Why had we not ALREADY seen the child?  What would it be named?  There's also a swarm of nonsense about the couple - and the most nonsensical was the theory that she's never been pregnant - and has been faking these last nine months - and was using a surrogate.  Well . . . that's actually NOT the most ridiculous, but so much of what I have read about HRH Prince Harry's family doesn't bear repeating.

But - I actually want to touch on another topic.  We Americans export such an enormous amount of pop-culture to the rest of the world - we often make the mistake of assuming that other cultures don't have their own points of reference.  So, no.  The newest member of the royal family is not named after either a 1970's cartoon character or noted bigoted television show.   "Archie" is a fine, historic Scottish name . . . and is well-used in the UK these days.  It means 'bold' or 'brave' - and might actually be derived from being one of 'the archers' - who would be the last line of defense for a castle before the enemy breached the walls.  "Harrison" literally means 'son of Harry' - so how much more perfect could that be.  "Mountbatten-Windsor" is the surname of the family for those members who do not have an "HRH" designation.  (It's a bit more complicated than that - but, those are the highlights.)

It will be exciting to see how wee Archie interacts with his famous cousins George, Charlotte, and Louis.  But for the moment - I'm delighted that the birth was uneventful and that the entire family seems well.  The delight I see in his great-grandparent's eyes is a clear signs that he will be surrounded with love.


PS.  Unkind remarks about any member of the Royal Family are not likely to be tolerated here.  That's just the way things are in my little corner of the internet.  

24 April, 2019

"High Point Trunk Show . . . "


It has become a tradition each season during High Point Market that I have a trunk show to debut SMW Home's new textiles and wallpapers.  This year was no different - and I was delighted to be hosted by the lovely team at Currey & Company.  Bright and early Sunday morning - I began to unfurl my new textile collection, and await new friends and old to stop by and see!   

The Currey & Co. Showroom at High Point is somewhat legendary for its endless hospitality and the energetic crowd that it draws every day of market.  Amazing product.  Beautiful showroom.  GREAT music.  And some seriously good food.  I often use it as a hub on long market days - as a place to connect with friends and to be inspired! 

My sweet friend Tobi Fairley stopped by early
on to see what I had been up to - both personally
and  professionally.  Tobi and I have been friends for
over a decade (though neither of us has aged a day!)
and these regular markets always give us a chance
to catch up! 

Jennifer Habley (of noted Hampton's design firm
Habley Handler Interior Design), wanted to see what 
I was working on.  I think a few of our new Chinoiserie and
Summer Tartans might be amazing in one of their projects! 

 I always love meeting new folks at market as well!
And it's the perfect place to share adventures and
struggles with the people who understand

 So many of my new designs are based on
challenging both scale and colour - so being able to
share these designs 'in person' is invaluable.
Our Blackhall Manor Tartan is a wee bit on the
enormous side - and that's just the way I like it!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by - for samples, for 
possible projects, and always for a good laugh!  A grand
'thank you' to Currey and Co. for your gracious hospitality! 
And a special thank you to Beth Tilley Green for your
amazing photographs - and your always charming smile!

Take a look at the new collection - and let me know which one is YOUR favourite.  

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