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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Book Friday: Flowers, Friends and Form

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Constance Spry gathered a bunch of Shirley poppies into a white garden hat to make an arrangement for a young girls' party.  Ladylike, indeed.

1 Constance Spry gathered a bunch of Shirley poppies into a white garden hat to make an arrangement for a young girls' party. Ladylike, indeed.

These flowers are distinguished from the rest of its daffodil family by the name

2 These flowers are distinguished from the rest of its daffodil family by the name"Angel's Tears."

An ormolu vase overflows with Félicité et Perpétue roses and honeysuckle blossoms.

3 An ormolu vase overflows with Félicité et Perpétue roses and honeysuckle blossoms.

Swan poppy and godetia in light pink and white pop against the dark backdrop - dramatic and beautiful.

4 Swan poppy and godetia in light pink and white pop against the dark backdrop - dramatic and beautiful.

Spry arranged two types of roses (Variegata de Bolgna and Cardinal de Richelieu) to create a divine combination of colors: plum, dusty pink and evergreen.

5 Spry arranged two types of roses (Variegata de Bolgna and Cardinal de Richelieu) to create a divine combination of colors: plum, dusty pink and evergreen.

Salvaged roses plucked at the end of their season and paired with horse chestnut leaves.  This arrangement leaves me speechless.

6 Salvaged roses plucked at the end of their season and paired with horse chestnut leaves. This arrangement leaves me speechless.

I love the polished silver stand holding these lupine flowers, which are related to bluebonnets.

7 I love the polished silver stand holding these lupine flowers, which are related to bluebonnets.

Constance Spry.  She is engrossed in a book all about flowers, no doubt.

8 Constance Spry. She is engrossed in a book all about flowers, no doubt.

She calls this arrangement, simply: Green Group.

9 She calls this arrangement, simply: Green Group.

Flowers are a huge part of the Martha Stewart culture, so I rarely ever pass up a botanical-themed tome – especially if it has Constance Spry Anthology written on its spine. Mrs. Spry is legendary for her work in the field (literally). Spry’s personal anecdotes on the subject of flowers (many originally published by Country Fair and Harper’s Bazaar) are punctuated by charming illustrations replicating her most celebrated arrangements – a beautiful book from cover to cover.

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Greg Foley is a talented writer and artist - visit www.thankyoubear.com for more information about his work.

1 Greg Foley is a talented writer and artist - visit www.thankyoubear.com for more information about his work.

Bear is utterly charming.

2 Bear is utterly charming.

3 "Sometimes a box is just a box."

The Elephant doesn't think he's too big, he just thinks the box is too tiny.

4 The Elephant doesn't think he's too big, he just thinks the box is too tiny.

I love this illustration of the purple Squirrel peering into the box from atop Bear's head.

5 I love this illustration of the purple Squirrel peering into the box from atop Bear's head.

The ideas and lessons that truly resonate with me are unadorned and simply-put. Such is the message of Greg Foley’s Thank you, Bear. It is an endearing story that is dedicated to "anyone who ever thought they had something great." Bear's chance encounters with acquaintances that fail to share his outlook. After taking blows from Owl, Elephant and Fox (among others), his coup de grâce is nearly reached... and dissolved in the most heartwarming way, the details of which are wholly worth discovering on your own and passing along to a friend.

provide a wonderful lesson about the value of hanging onto your vision

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The entrance to Hacienda Chimay is made even more alluring by the bed of blossoms covering its staircase, which shed off of the canopy of Flamboyant trees above.

1 The entrance to Hacienda Chimay is made even more alluring by the bed of blossoms covering its staircase, which shed off of the canopy of Flamboyant trees above.

A gorgeous collage of exterior shots.

2 A gorgeous collage of exterior shots.

The handsome threshold of Hacienda Sodzil.

3 The handsome threshold of Hacienda Sodzil.

A polished border adds refinement to the concrete tile floor (installed with the original structure).

4 A polished border adds refinement to the concrete tile floor (installed with the original structure).

Mexican concrete tiles come in an array of styles - I couldn't take my eyes of of this particular pattern.

5 Mexican concrete tiles come in an array of styles - I couldn't take my eyes of of this particular pattern.

I love the rustic wood doors and floors coupled with delicately stenciled walls and painted wooden beams at Hacienda Itzincab Camara.

6 I love the rustic wood doors and floors coupled with delicately stenciled walls and painted wooden beams at Hacienda Itzincab Camara.

Rodapiés (i.e. wainscoting) is a great way to boost the size a small space.  Repeating colors in the floor tiles and wall trim further enhances the illusion of space.

7 Rodapiés (i.e. wainscoting) is a great way to boost the size a small space. Repeating colors in the floor tiles and wall trim further enhances the illusion of space.

Here's another variation of wainscot by way of stenciling.

8 Here's another variation of wainscot by way of stenciling.

Polished Talavera tiles in a classic trio of navy, white and yellow.

9 Polished Talavera tiles in a classic trio of navy, white and yellow.

I'd be more likely to do dishes if this were my kitchen sink.

10 I'd be more likely to do dishes if this were my kitchen sink.

Refreshing color and exotic plants decorate the exterior of Casa Neuva.

11 Refreshing color and exotic plants decorate the exterior of Casa Neuva.

Layers of artful detail in the salon of Merimo Nah.

12 Layers of artful detail in the salon of Merimo Nah.

So much to love about this open room - the potted ferns, beautiful hanging lantern, gorgeous outdoor fabric and the antique 'Santo' statue holding court.

13 So much to love about this open room - the potted ferns, beautiful hanging lantern, gorgeous outdoor fabric and the antique 'Santo' statue holding court.

Again, a myriad of gorgeous details - I'd love to get my hands on that collection of antique stoneware displayed on the back wall as well as the beautiful glass centerpiece on the dining table.

14 Again, a myriad of gorgeous details - I'd love to get my hands on that collection of antique stoneware displayed on the back wall as well as the beautiful glass centerpiece on the dining table.

The

15 The "water garden" at Casa de los Artistas.

The arches at Casa Marisol are embellished with original stucco ornamentation.

16 The arches at Casa Marisol are embellished with original stucco ornamentation.

These plants reminded me of the gargantuan Philodendron I placed in my living room.

17 These plants reminded me of the gargantuan Philodendron I placed in my living room.

This looks like the perfect setting for a late-afternoon lunch and a summer cocktail.

18 This looks like the perfect setting for a late-afternoon lunch and a summer cocktail.

Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr, are passionate about Mexican design – perfectly demonstrated within the pages of Hacienda Style, one of eight books they’ve written together about the country’s rough-hewn and romantic style. The photos and attention to detail on every page is no less satisfying than if one were to wake up within the boundaries of Yucatán and Campeche. Now I’m thinking that perhaps a turning the clock back by way of a long weekend in Mexico is precisely what I’d need to cure my jet-lag after nearly a month of travel in destinations hours and hours ahead…

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Comments (1)

  • Kevin,
    Love your posts. Wondering if you could help me...
    I need to find an outside coffee table - and wanted something fabulous and all weather. One option is tile mosaic - kind of Moroccan inspiration- but not sure a great place to find. I live in North Salem,NY - but an willing to search across the country for the perfect piece. Any suggestions???

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