Sunday, August 3, 2014

In London

 London in bloom

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to London working on a house project for a client. This was a great but stressful experience as I have never worked so fast from my client's first phone call to installation. I had two months to come up with floorplans, design and procure furniture, lighting , window treatments for a house in London. I will mention that the house was designed sight unseen, from not very precise floorplans and measurements taken by my client during her visits to the house. The painting schedule was done from New York as well with the english paint company Farrow and Ball.

  Living Room before...freshly painted

With such a short amount of time, I resorted to source all furniture from the US and ship everything via a container to the UK. My alarm clock was set at 4am every morning, weekends included as sourcing requires a great deal of time. The concept for the house came to me really quickly and was immediately approved by the client. Budgets were set to a bare minimum because the house will only be lived in for a few years. 

I first looked at my Showroom inventory for the key pieces, Living Room sofa, dining table, armchair and chandelier. Every weekend was spent going through antique markets to get some great textured pieces, such as an antique mirror, a console and various accessories. Budget and time in mind, I resorted to online resources and great high end companies established in North Carolina that carried some real-time inventory. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking as we had a set date for the container to be dispatched. My massive Excel spreadsheet was my survival tool. Every detail of the job was entered, vendor purchases, payments, lead time, cost of shipping.... The project was organized by room to make it easier to control. Each room would have very detailed purchases with photo including furniture, fabrics, upholsterer, labor, lighting, UL costs, accessories, planters, bedding, etc.

 Every week,  I would check status of deliveries with our warehouse receiver. Then came the expected problems of damaged merchandise to be replaced in minimum time. Container was loaded and left on the scheduled date of dispatch. I relaxed by the pool all weekend and then back to sourcing for still missing items, especially lighting. By now, I know the ins and out of!

Then came the time to hop on a plane. I arrived on  a Monday morning, met my client and off we went to look for missing antiques and accessories. The week went by at full speed, all furniture arrived, we only lost a console which was left behind in New York and air shipped later. The house was installed, decorated, orchids throughout, paintings hung, lighting installed, candles lit. This is my favorite moment, the moment that makes you forget the stress, the fears, the exhaustion as you watch your client's reaction when they step into their home for the first time.

 Living Room after (still missing custom rug)

I stayed at the delightful Marylebon Hotel but did not see much of London and am planning to return and check out the transformations to my old student days neighborhood of Kensington, where I lived for two years. However, the days are long in London and I would walk along the streets of Marylebone, eating a light dinner with a glass of wine in one of the many outdoor restaurants. London had changed so much since I lived there. The streets are vibrant, the city is in bloom, people are shopping, restaurants are packed and I heard a lot of laughter.

Can't wait to return and yes indeed, I will pay a visit to the Tate!

 Beautiful Nursery

A Bientot,



  1. Bravo Francine, beautifully done! Of course I would love to see more of your clients home and the magic you worked. I have been to London only once; however loved it and would be thrilled to go back again!

    The Arts by Karena

  2. My darling friend, I love what you've done here. Every single item is wonderful, including the etagere
    between the windows. You must show us the room once again when the rug is laid down. You client knew you would make it wonderful and trusted you completely. She was right! xx's

  3. WOW Francine ….. I'm worn out just reading about it !!!!! What a wonderful before and after. With absolutely no disrespect to you { you know that I love your work } but, I just wondered why someone would go to the expense of using a New York designer and the cost of shipping those wonderful pieces to London ? Was it because she wanted you and only you, to have the commission ? I want to reitterate that I only say that because you said that she was on a budget as they would only live there part of the year…..just wondered !!!!!
    …..and, doesn't London look amazing at the moment…..I am very biased as I've lived just outside of London all of my life and it is my most favourite city in the whole wide world !!! XXXX

  4. Wow. Having just begun the voyage into understanding how to furbish a house, I am awestruck at what you accomplished.

  5. That's an under the gun project, you did it really well and what a great idea to ship it.
    Why did that street have zigzag white lines? Never have seen that. Glad I was not driving.
    Rest up, you need it. Great post, thanks.


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