Free at last!

Have you ever wanted to run through your favorite department store when it was closed, and just pull everything you love together?  No?  Just me?  Well, perhaps it’s my 20 plus year background in Visual Merchandising (aka doing exactly that in the dark of night, while normal people sleep, and malls are dark and empty….), or my love of mixing up different styles and palettes in my Interior Design business that brought me to my second installment at the Bloomingdale’s Bergen County Interior Design Series.

The first time around, I showed potential clients how to re-imagine the same seating area throughout the different phases of their lives, hoping to inspire folks to invest in quality pieces that last a literal lifetime.  When I was asked to return this fall, I wanted to take one of Bloomingdale’s best known departments (bedding) and turn it on its head.

The talented folks at department stores who create those impossibly wrinkle free and puffier than puffy faux beds are bound by a fun thing called vendor compliance.  This means that each company agrees to sell their wares in Bloomingdale’s, but they must display them as the vendor sees fit.  Like with like, Ralph Lauren with Ralph Lauren, and so on.  Some of the display guidelines are so strict that there are visual plan-o-grams instructing the employees to “knife chop” the 74  pillows on a bed just so, and ensure certain items are featured for specific lengths of time.  The result can be stunning and inspiring, but rarely how people shop and live.  Although the infamous “bed in a bag” concept, not unlike garanimals, can make putting stylish bed together very simple for the style challenged, what happens when the sheets are in the wash?  Or the third pillow from the left gets eaten by the puppy?  Or the comforter cover wears out sooner than the shams?  What then, I ask? Design paralysis typically ensues.  Many a client has called for a bedroom makeover with some elements of their “bed in a bag” type ensemble gone missing.  I say, free the bed.  Free you mind, and the rest will follow! Mix up your patterns, your colors, your textures and for the love of all things holy, mix up your VENDORS!

What I created at Bloomingdale’s will be on display through the month of October 2015.  I began the entire process after I was told which bed I was allowed to use, a lovely wood frame with cream-colored upholstered head-board.  I went to the store in the wee hours and must have done about 100 laps around the bedding department, pulling and running and throwing different combinations together. Clients always ask me what my inspirations are, and this time it was an incredible patterned pillow with metallic medallions.  After I chose the pillow, I went over to the enormous rug department and dug through about 100 potential choices.  Once the rug was in place, I chose the paint color and went back to the bedding marathon running.  After about 2 hours of duvet and quilt combos, I came back to implement my design.

Just like in life, sometimes your choices are sold out.  One of the pieces that anchored the look had been sold, and as I watched the painters finish their work and the rug come in place, I had to think quickly on my feet and pull together a second iteration of my look using the same pillow I loved so much in the beginning.  As is usually tthe case, I love my second look more than my first.  A little serendipity and some bad luck always seems to get the best out of me.  Perhaps that’s why my success has always been in the use what you have arena, I like limitations in design.  To me, it’s more real.  And authenticity makes wonderful a bedfellow.

I called my look Modern-Meets-Boho, with a touch of glam.  A flokati fur covered chair, a gold vanity table with accessories, and a modern monrovian star light complete the incredible textures of raffia, fur, silk and beading on the bed.  I mixed Vera Wang with Bloomingdale’s own Hudson Park brand, a little Ralph Lauren & Donna Karan just for kicks, and my beloved pillow by John Robshaw.  Now, if only after running around Bloomies for 4 hours at 6am allowed me to collapse on that bed afterwards in a cashmere robe from the next department over……

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