Collection Dissection: No More Naked Walls

During an initial walk through of a home with a new clients it isn’t uncommon for me to hear, “We need some art, but…”

It’s their reasoning that pulls me in for more.

This past Friday morning, my friend Galveston Girl and I stepped away from Costco and other pressing duties of the Houston Suburban-set, as in motor vehicle, not location of our homes, to visit Texas Contemporary, an international art fair, dare I compare to Art Basel? Probably not.

Although historically my taste in art does not reflect a modern slant, there is much to be noticed at an event such as Texas Contemporary. It reminded me that continually endeavoring to occupy spaces that bring us joy and to create spaces for others that do just that is a mighty noble cause.

Two years ago today we moved in to a “built new from scratch” home and I began a crying jag that lasted nearly 3 months. My soul ached for our ‘quaint’ 1942 vintage; freezing in the winter, hot in the summer, single pane glass hacienda. One day, as quick as a cricket, my tears dried up and I felt peace wash over me.  Surely you are on the edge of your seat trying to predict what remedied my sadness?

We unpacked and hung our ART. Actually, we have a team we call that does such tasks.They hung it.

That one, simple, action brought our walls to life. The pieces which we have collected over throughout our 100 year marriage were suddenly before me again. Each piece represents a happy event in our lives: a suite of historical botanicals in water gilded frames purchased with my first bonus check from my first job on the trading floor. When we learned we were expecting a pair of hand colored drawings of sheep for the nursery seemed appropriate. Hubs huge nautical charts he employed while circumnavigating Sweden, vacation inspired watercolors created by Hubs mom and grandmother and the works of  Geoff Winningham and Shirley Sheldon capture most of our Houston hacienda wall space.

We are also making room for a new friends work, R Michael Carr. Each summer we seek him out during the Wickford Art Festival  and in hopes of discovering a piece to tuck away for our Someday House. And so a collection begins.

It’s good to be back in the saddle.



P.S. On the scale of 1 to 10, your walls rank where???

The real deal, an old grande dame in England ~Simon Upton~


A new house and clever homeowner tore sketches from an art book ~Lauren Liess~


Charmed, not divided.

Hackerware collection, bought in one day on eBay ~House Beautiful~


~Stephen Knollenberg~


~Alessandra Branca~



Take me on a Rhode Trip!

Summer is nearly upon us and I find myself longing to over-pack my trusty Jeep and begin the 30 hour journey to my adopted summer sneak away spot Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The tiniest state in the US was also the last to join the original 13 colonies. Things in Rhode Island don’t tend to change much from decade to decade. I think that’s why I find it so charming.

A place to stretch your eyes. When we see the bridge, we know that we've arrived!

Happiness is Texas in the rear view mirror. At least for the summer. 

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the fabled stories and summer cottages of America’s earliest tycoons. The Breakers, Marble House and Rosecliff are carefully and lovingly maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County and open to the public almost every day of the year. Before your trip to Newport, consider joining the Preservation Society and supporting their heroic efforts and you’ll be rewarded with a “front of the line” pass for your tour. Newport is a highly coveted summer destination (i.e. CROWDED) and I would nudge you in the direction of a smaller town (Saunderstown, Wickford or Watch Hill) if you have more than a few nights to spend in the area. I’m normally the kind of hotel guest person who drives the front desk manager crazy by switching rooms at least twice before settling in. At The Ocean House and 41° N, I gleefully thank the bellmen and let the merriment begin. However, if you plan to stay a week or more, consider renting a charming coastal cottage. I’ve learned from experience that the only thing that really matters aside from location is cleanliness.

The Ocean House in Watch Hill. RI’s fanciest crash pad.


41N is the poshest hotel on Aquidneck Island. My first visit to 41N I was delighted to find 5 different kinds of ice being served at the bar. Hello happiness!


What you may not know about Rhode Island:

1. Rhode Islanders know where their food comes from. You can visit a Rhode Island Farmer’s Market nearly every day of the week. Farm Fresh RI.

2. Rhode Islanders think ice cream and iced coffee should each be designated a food group.  Ask 5 Rhode Islanders where to get the best ice cream or best iced coffee and you will likely get a slurry of different answers.

3. Rhode Islanders all know each other and they can recognize a tourist in a flash but if you are nice, they will open their circle and make you feel at home.

4. Use your iPhone for directions in RI. Don’t ask the locals. If you do, be prepared for them to say crazy things like, “Follow your nose.” They also give directions based on long ago demolished landmarks. And for added fun, most roads in RI have multiple names.

5.  Be open to the idea of falling in love with Rhode Island and coming back year after year. The housing market is among the slowest to recover in the country and there are plenty of “Someday houses” that you can call your own. View RI Real Estate here. My favorite Ocean State realtor here.


The Famer’s Market is THE social hub in every town. You may see your neighbors, your neighbor’s house guests, the Governor, Taylor Swift if she’s in town and of course, the farmers.

Find your dinner at the Farm!

Dinner found at the Farm.


A rainy day for us entails lunch in Newport and a drive along the ocean. At the end of the day, a stop at Newport Creamery for an Awful Awful, (a milkshake to the rest of the country.)

A rainy day for us includes lunch in Newport and a drive along the ocean. At the end of the day we always stop at Newport Creamery for an Awful Awful. (a milkshake)


Last stop before bed after a long day at the beach.

Last stop before bed after a long day at the beach. We are giddy and punchy and plan to do it all over again tomorrow. 

Where you will find the locals: 


Don’t expect to go anywhere fast on gorgeous days. The beach traffic can be daunting but don’t give up and turn back. This isn’t East Hampton! It usually looks worse than it is.


Sail Newport  offers daily rentals of family friendly boats.

3. SUPPORTING THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY at events like The Willet Free Library Book and Bake Sale, The Church Fair at Chapel of St. John the Divine.

4. Scouring for treasures at YARD SALES. We count the signs every day as we meander down the two lane beach road near our rental house. It’s fairly common to spot a handful of hand lettered signs beckoning us to stop. “Fresh Berries” “Tomatoes” “Bouquets” “Baby items” and the one that assures I stop “Fresh Eggs.”

5. Matunuck Oyster Bar. THE place to eat in Southern RI.


Paddle out to catch a wave, ride it in, and repeat.

Paddle out to catch a wave and ride it in. Repeat.

Kids ages 5 and up can sail in Newport through Sail Newport.

Kids ages 5 and up can learn to sail through Sail Newport.

Three generations on the water is a common sight!

Three generations on race day is a common sight.

After a fun day of club racing. Nobody rushing to get off the water!

After a fun day of club racing nobody rushes to get off the water.

If you've never slept on a boat, you haven't lived!

Napping is important too. If you’ve never slept on a boat, you simply must.

Fleet racing. A common theme on Wednesday nights.

Fleet racing is a common theme across RI on Wednesday nights.

The Newport "Harbor Tour" is the equivalent of a Sunday drive.

The Newport “Harbor Tour” is the equivalent of a Sunday drive.

Photo credits: All photos by Lisa Hough for The Hough Post except:  2. Ocean House 3. Forty-one North 4. Farm Fresh RI


Sometimes you have to put aside the routine and invest in yourself despite the obstacles and second thoughts that get in the way. Last week, I made an unforgettable investment in my design business. I hopped a plane to LA to preview the fantastic design community event LEGENDS and to meet a handful of amazing artisans I knew only by phone. What a treat to be invited into their workshops and showrooms.

Today, a few highlights…

Marjorie Skouras design empire is admired by many and glorified by every shelter magazine in the US. Her ever growing line of luxury home products including mirrors, tables, seating, hardware, rugs and lighting are immediately recognizable. Her Empire chandelier is my all time favorite and it was a thrill to see the first one ever created hanging in Marjorie’s hot pink living room.


Majorie Skouras at home in the Hollywood hills.

Darby, Marjorie's Senior Designer and me

Darby, Marjorie’s senior designer and me outside Marjorie’s home under the Hollywood sign.

I never considered LA to be a walking city and was quite happy to discover most of the shops and showrooms on my list are on two streets (La Cienega and Melrose Ave) that intersect.

Good news: I could walk from one shop to the next.

Bad news: I wasn’t wearing walking shoes.

My hubby treated me to a walk on the beach in Santa Monica at the end of every day. A dip into the icy water helped my little sausages immensely.

Toes in the Pacific.

Toes in the Pacific.

Me and Million Dollar Decorator star Nathan Turner at his store on Melrose Ave.

Me and Million Dollar Decorator Nathan Turner at his store on Melrose Ave.

Be well!


Photo credits: 1. Marjorie Skouras   2.-6. Lisa Hough


Have you visited Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog Goop? It was here that GP and Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling.” While I’ve never been much of a Coldplay fan or GP movie fan, I am insanely concerned about what will happen to their chic LA abode decorated by Windsor Smith once they are splittsville.


Goop has a knack for uncovering meaningful establishments that promote healthy living. I was overjoyed last week when I learned that Beautycounter received the Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsement.  Beautycounter is a line of chemical free, gorgeous skincare and cosmetics founded by Miss Porter’s School Ancient and self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur Gregg Renfrew. Gregg’s first claim to fame was The Wedding List, a bridal registry which was acquired by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2001.

Gwyneth’s team at Goop also offers cool city guides for New York, London and LA. I’m perusing the Goop city guide  for LA as we speak. While not endorsed by Goop, In-N-Out Burger will be my first stop upon arrival in the City of Angels. Last year at the conclusion of my week at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, it didn’t seem appropriate to dive into a burger joint after a week of no meat, no dairy, no caffeine, and no sugar. My brain told me my stomach might likely reject the delicacy served at this LA landmark.


Also while I am in LA, I’m hoping Google Maps will lead me to: Hollywood at Home, JF Chen, Dragonette, Jasper and the others located in the La Cienega Design Quarter. After some deliberation, I reserved a rental car. My hubby says I am “not exactly a world traveler” and he doesn’t want me driving in LA, but really…I traversed Europe for 8 weeks, crossed 12 countries on 50 trains, with $2000 cash. Doesn’t that make me qualified to drive in LA with an iPhone and a VISA?


Photo credits: 1 & 2 Veranda 3 Ranch at Live Oak 4



I used to be a shelter magazine devotee and I mourned when my favorites like House and Garden, Metropolitan Home and Cottage Living folded as a direct result of fewer ad purchases during the recession. But I have moved on…and so have the publishers. Everyone affiliated with these magazines is celebrating the double digits increase in ad pages sales. Have you taken a good look at how thick the magazines are lately?

Four years ago a friend invited me to join a social website where I could create a visual bulletin board of recipes, quotes and photos. Poppycosh, I muttered to myself, who would use that?

Hello Pinterest!

—-Here are some stats you might want to gnaw on—-

Total # Pinterest users: 70 million

Total # Pinterest pins 30 billion (4/24/14)

Percentage of Female Pinterest users 80%

Funding for Pinterest $564 million

Valuation of Pinterest $3.8 billion (10/13)

# of Pinterest employees 140

Number of times Pinterest has overhauled its “CodeBase” … zero

Most repined pin on Pinterest Cheesy Bread, 105K times



Looking back at my migration to Pinterest, the only problem I have is shutting it off. Occasionally I glide through my pins and check for themes. Most of the time I see how a color has captured my imagination and it inspires me to suggest something off the wall to a client like a glossy dark blue office. Currently my theme review points in the direction that I am missing the outdoors. No, I am not planning a camping trip. Rather, I am bringing an element from the wilder side to my inner sanctum. I seem to have a serious infatuation with the long, dark, and handsome indoor tree known as a Fiddle Leaf Fig. This hardy variety of ficus features huge, heavily veined and violin-shaped, dark green leaves. Although they are native to the tropics and thrive in very warm and wet conditions, these tough guys can withstand neglect for a fairly long time. That’s good news for my new tree. I don’t have a lot of extra time to sit around with her and gab.

Over the Easter weekend a very stylish friend posted a photo on Facebook. She had stumbled upon a Fiddle Leaf Fig while weekending in Galveston. Her photo propelled me to finally track one down to call my own. My friend, who reminds me of the Oscar PR girl, named her tree and encouraged me to do the same. I am pleased to introduce you to Fern Louise in the second photo below. Isn’t she a beauty? Fern Louise will be coming to the house this week via delivery van. I was terrified I could break one of her gorgeous limbs by stuffing her into the back of the Silver Bullet. No more broken anything around our house , if you please.



What is happening at your house as you zoom through Spring? Any themes or projects you care to dish about?

Keep in touch.


Photo credits: 1 House and Garden, 2 Pinterest 3 Ken Fulk 4 LRH 5& 7 Elle Decor 6 Grant K. Gibson



The Grand Tour

Last week was my daughter’s birthday and she asked to have a few friends over to celebrate. It was just the push I needed to move things around and freshen up the house after practically ignoring it since my accident.

Normally our dining room table is covered in tall stacks of books. As I moved and dusted books and collections during the party prep, it occurred to me that I didn’t really know anything about my collections of Intaglios. I bought them for beauty. The dealer told me they were common souvenirs from “The Grand Tour,” but what was The Grand Tour?

Turns out, TGT was a popular travel itinerary for the young British nobility (men only) from 1650-1900. This educational rite of passage lasting months to years, provided exposure to the arts, languages and comprehensive history of Western culture. Imagine life before “the SOAK,” Source of All Knowledge, i.e. the internet. Those noble boys took servants, sherpas and cooks across continents to enhance their education. Weary travelers returned home with crates of art, sculpture and items of culture that were symbols of their wealth and freedom. No wonder the English are known for the layered look!

Carolyne Roehm (pronounced “Caroline Rome”) is a master of refining spaces and brining a sense of history to homes without making them imposing or artificial.

Carolyne Roehm’s gorgeous living room with obelisks from The Grand Tour.

Carolyne Roehm’s NYC apt. Brown velvet walls, simple sisal from Stark and loads of classical charm.

Carolyne Roehm’s gorgeous Library in NY.

Plaster intaglios are most commonly found in round, oval or octagonal shapes and depict portraits, events or some kind of object or style. The process involves incising an image onto the surface of the material chosen; commonly plaster or stone. New Intaglios are commonly available on eBay and finer more rare specimens come up occasionally on 1st Dibs and through the better auction houses.

Sweet collection of Intaglios.


Intaglios at auction at Christie’s

Intaglios of fine pedigree. Each image on the Intaglio represents a historically significant person or place.

Emil Brack, “Planning The Grand Tour”

Is there something you’d like to know more about? Hop onto the SOAK and find some answers!

My best,



Rosemary Beach, located in the Florida Panhandle, is one of my all time favorite beach towns. It’s a sun-soaked family centered community conceived in 1995 by The Rosemary Beach Land Company and it’s President Patrick Bienvenue. This gulf front town boasts 107 acres on which to live, work and play. While the pedestrian friendly layout reminds me of  a small 1950’s town, the houses at RB are anything but bland. Many celebrated decorators, including John Salidino, have put their mark on Rosemary Beach houses.

Recipe for Romance in Rosemary Beach:

One Beach Front Estate conceived, built, and furnished down to the toothbrushes by husband/wife team  Stan Benecki and Melanie Turner.

One dozen skilled masons, plasterers and roofers.

Numerous baths, a generously sized laundry room with double washer dryers for all the towels and a 6 bed bunk room for kiddos.

A family with keen appreciation for craftsmanship, quality and longevity.


In March 2013, the homeowners of the lovely Rosemary Beach abode purchased a historic home in Atlanta saving a huge piece of southern history from demolition. I will be sure to write another post when this beauty wakes up and shines again.

Atlanta’s Craigie House

Rosemary Beach photos courtesy of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle.
Atlanta Craigie House photos courtesy of Atlanta Business Journal.


Happy Weekend!

My Best,


True Intentions

Bye-bye bread. Cheerio Coke.

Goodbye dear friend Mr. Bread. I’ll miss you and Mrs. Jam.

Normally, I’m a planner so I laughed out loud when I looked down at the scale and saw the shocking number staring up at me. Those (%#@*&) extra pounds were not part of my plan. When did I stop weighing myself each day? That simple technique recommended to me by well known nutritionist Catherine Kruppa would have provided the red flag I needed to curb my caloric intake before the extra pounds had a chance to multiply.

After a serious talk with myself and revisiting a couple of inspirational books in our kitchen library (Wheat Belly and Grain Brain) I began a simple detox. Over the last week, I’ve eliminated bread, Coke, and M&M’s because I know they negatively impact my energy level and digestion. My daughter, with raised eyebrows and incredulous tone, asked me if I could really break up with the love of my life; Mr. Sugar. Her reaction was confirmation that drastic change was indeed a necessity.


I’m feeling warm and fuzzy at the thought of healthier eating.

Sometimes it take a negative event to bring our true intentions into focus. I am rejoicing the privilege to focus on my diet.

Is there something in your life you’d like to bring back into focus? The miracle of Easter is upon us and today is THE day to politely sidestep the self-imposed roadblocks and move closer to your true intentions. 

I wish you inner peace and happiness. There is much to be celebrate!

My best,


Enticing Entry’s

I’ll be honest, I am TIRED. We arrived home late Sunday night from the picture perfect island of Nevis, a teensy tiny spec of land just barely southeast of the D.R. I feel a little guilty that I didn’t provide any content last week, but will justify it by saying my hands were always covered with sunscreen or full of cards.

While thinking about where to start, the words to my favorite Sound of Music song came to mind. Does that ever happen to you? All of a sudden Julie Andrews takes over?

“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi
Do-re-mi, do-re-mi
The first three notes just happen to be
Do-re-mi, do-re-mi”

Not wanting or needing to recreate the wheel, I hopped over to my Pinterest boards and decided the best place to start was the beginning, i.e., the Entry. Go ahead, snoop on our “Entry” board on Pinterest, username Lille Bird.



Making any kind of decorating decision requires a quick consideration of the practical use of the space. In an Entry I prefer a table large enough for lamps, so that I never have to flip on an overhead light, a spot to toss keys and mail, stacks of my favorite decorating books, something organic like a gorgeous maiden hair fern and maybe a pair of chairs or stools to give me another resting spot my Lindy bag and anything else that came in the door. A curated Entry provides instant relief from the hustle and bustle it took to make it home. This glam interior by Windsor Smith eloquently combines black interior doors, a monumental old venetian mirror, worn marble pavers, mossy green ferns and a huge dash of the unexpected. Look closely at the deep black room off to the right. Is it a dining room? Nope, not anymore it’s not. The family decided they’d rather have a place to play Ping Pong so they hauled out the dining room table and had a chic modern game table installed instead.

LA Entry by Windsor Smith.

On the other end of the fancy scale is this simple and serene entry in Seaside Florida. I can absolutely see myself walking through the door after a long day in the sun and sand and instantly feeling cool and calm. The airiness provided by the high ceilings and the texture gained by gorgeous millwork give the house context. You probably could have accurately guessed the location of this home and the one below it. Letting your collections and sensibilities spill into the Entry of your home is vital to conveying who you are to those who come to call.

Seaside, Florida. Interiors by Pizitz Home & Cottage.

UK Farmhouse, Interior Decoration by Robert Couturier.

Ralph Lauren Home, via Veranda.

Marvelous gift to homeowner by her husband…A new home and Bunny Williams to decorate, via Veranda.

A favorite image of mine because forever ago, I kept a collection of English saddles in our entry hall underneath very industrial metal stairs in our loft. Image via JAM.

“Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.”

Charles M. Schulz

My best,


Finding inspiration comes easier for me with every birthday. Maybe my other organs will wear out with age, but my heart seems to keep opening wider.

Sometime last year I discovered Podcasts on Itunes. If you are not familiar with Podcasts, the vast collection of short talks given by experts spans almost every interest group. They are great for a plane ride or a car trip and especially while waiting for carpool to begin at school. I subscribe to quite a few.

One of my favorites Podcasters is communications expert Lisa B Marshall. I find her series “The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Imroving Your Communication Skills” strangely enthralling. If Rotary Club ever asks me to speak, I will be ready. Her eight minute miracle “Secret of Charisma” (1/24/13) altered the course of my life.

Here’s a tidbit…”We experience approximately 20,000 moments each day  and the quality of our day is determined by how our brains recognize and interpret these moments. Our brains track each moment and classifies them into three categories.

1. positive 2.negative 3. neutral

Our mood is defined by the ratio of positive to negative experiences over the course of the day.”

For me, the revelation came when I realized I could turn almost any situation into something enjoyable for me and maybe the other person too. I say maybe because when I get cut off in traffic, I’ll offer a friendly wave and act like it was my idea. Maybe they are happy that I let them in without honking, I don’t know. More broadly and quite plainly, I began making my own magic. A recent example: During my epic airport adventure/massive flight delay last week Jiminy Cricket warned me that heading down the pathetic path of protest would diminish my chance of obtaining a scarce seat that day. What could I do?

I decided to spread a little sunshine and saddled up to a grumpy group of folks bellyaching about the flight cancelations and offered up the boxes of Girl Scout cookies I had packed for the flight crew. Can you imagine the mood change? I honestly could see the tension melt off their faces. Three hours later I was seated in the one and only standby seat available on the last flight of the night to Atlanta. Let me come clean. Tucking Girl Scout cookies into my bag is a tested and proven method for me. Last time I used it, we garnered three first class standby seats to Paris…Imagine, 20 boxes of GS cookies=3 reclining seats on an overnight flight.

My takeaway from the “Charisma” episode: Spread joy at every opportunity and carry Girl Scout cookies whenever possible. 

My best,