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November/December 2010

Decor * Events * Travel * Trends * Ideas

Issue #3



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::Surroundings:: Magazine for Decorative Living | ŠLinda Merrill | 781-585-0275 |

Sunday brunching it with my niece

Sweet Treats! One of my annual holiday traditions is to bake up several batches of decorated sugar cookies. And not just any old cookie - Martha Stewart's sugar cookies. Sugar Cookie Recipe - makes 16 large cookies 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter - I tend to use salted. 2 cups sugar 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract - I eyeball it with a heavy hand. 1. Sift together all dry ingredients. 2. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs. I highly recommend using a stand mixer. This recipe burnt out a hand mixer. 3. Add flour mixture a cup at a time. I’ve found it’s best to cover bowl with a dish towel while mixing because the flour can go flying! Mix in vanilla. Separate dough into 2 or 3 balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I’ve left the dough in the fridge for up to a day with no adverse effects. 4. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough ball on floured surface and cut into preferred shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes (I never do this). Bake for 8-10 minutes (large cookies take upwards of 11-12 minutes, but watch ‘em!). Edges should start to turn brown. Cool and decorate. Royal Icing - makes about 2-1/2 cups 2 large egg whites, or use meringue powder 4 cups confectioners sugar drops of water as needed 1. Mix together in a stand mixer for at least fifteen minutes. Add water or glycerine (which I don’t like) for the right glossy consistency.


November/December 2010 IN THIS ISSUE Sweet Treats!

My favorite sugar cookie recipe

Happy Holidays!

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Surroundings. Finds. Style. :

I don’t know about you, but I am shocked that Thanksgiving is just next week! December is around the corner and with it the mad rush of the December holidays and New Year’s. Is it just me, or do the years keep going faster and faster?? In this issue of ::Surroundings::, I have gathered for you a collection of stylish gift ideas from $5 to $500 - there is always something great to be found at all price points! I also asked some of my most stylish design friends to offer their best tips for holiday entertaining, gift-giving and personal traditions - I’m sure you will love what they all have to say. On the design front, I am showcasing a new project - a bachelor pied-a-terre PLUS an article I wrote recently on Bachelor Decorating. In it are great tips for the single man on how to make a home with style. So, if you have bachelor friend, or son, pass it along!

15 Stylish Finds from $5-$500

Holiday Entertaining with Style:

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Gorgeous books on interiors & décor

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Tastemakers offer their BEST tips

Bachelor Decor: A Guide: Creating a Home with Style

Linda’s Coffee Table: On My Drawing Board: New Project: A Bachelor Pied-a-Terre

Credits and Contacts Who, What, Where & When

ON THE COVER Red Barn in Lincoln, MA by Folan Contracting Services Photo by: Michael J. Lee



Join me

Meanwhile, I wish you all the best during the holidays and into the New Years! Facebook





Surroundings. Finds. Style. A curated collection of 15 stylish finds from $5-$500


$5 and under $50 and under $500 and under






1. Handmade Gift Tags 8 tags for $5.00. 2 Bella Mini Hurricane votive, Crate & Barrel, $2.95 on sale. 3. Cranberry Joy Soap , The Body Shop $5. 4. Lacquer Nut Bowl, West Elm $4.00. 5. Damask Mug with Spoon, Pier 1, $5.






1. Petit Pomegranate Plate, Max Cooper Design, $18 2 Caterer’s Candle Set, Pottery Barn, $39 3. Python Trays, The Zhush, $30-$50.

4. Flora & Fauna Magnet Set, Joy Newton Design, $28.50. 5. Baroness von Neumann “Fete” soy candle, Candle

Emporium, $38.50






1.Large Platter, Maiolica on Etsy, $165 2 Studio Essentials Light Set, Restoration Hardware, $149 3. Manzanita Branch Candelabra, West Elm $99. 4. Dorsey Cashmere Throw, Sferra, $445.00 5.Mauviel Hammered Copper Champagne Bucket , Williams Somona, $299.


Holiday Entertaining With Style! Tips from some of the design world’s most stylish tastemakers. I asked some of my favorite designer, stylist and blogger friends to share their best tips for holiday entertaining, gift giving and their own personal traditions. What follows is an inspiring collection of ideas and products for a stylish holiday season!


EDDIE ROSS: Easy Entertaining! You don’t have to serve everything homemade! Save time by ordering hors d’oeuvres and desserts from your favorite gourmet grocer. To make them look homemade, ditch the wrapping and put them in something pretty. Keep your guests guessing, “Wow! How did they do it all?” Eddie Ross is a stylist, interior designer and speaker.

STACY KUNSTEL: Elegant Hostess Gifts: I typically have a lot of plants and flowers around the house so I'll make a bouquet for the host or hostess or I will wrap a pair of my favorite Tatine cathedral candles as a gift. Stacy Kuntsel is a stylist,

GREET LEFEVRE: Personalized Hostess Gift: For a great hostess gift idea, Holly Houses makes custom order rubber stamps. So unique! You can take a picture of the house and then you send it in and they made a stamp of it! You can use it for all your wishcards you have to send. Or you can order something totally different as ... a christmas tree stamp, or a stamp of your dog, etc etc. Whatever you want! Greet LeFevre is a Belgian interior designer and blogger.

writer and magazine editor.

GRANT K. GIBSON: The thoughtful guest: I like sending flowers the day before or after a party. I don't like to show up with something that then requires someone to have to look for a vase or bother them from a party. I am big into thank you notes as well. I use cards from Wild Ink Press. Grant K. Gibson is an interior designer and one of Elle Decor’s “5 Designers to Watch”.

MEGAN ARQUETTE: Creative Ambiance: I don't have a fireplace and so I create the ambience by pairing two candles: Feu de Bois by Dyptique + Rigaud's Green candle. The result is a warm, smoky, elegant aroma. With low lighting, it creates the perfect Holiday environment. Megan Arquette is a decorator, blogger and co-host of The Skirted Roundtable.


VICKI ARCHER: Color Cues: Each year I choose one colour or a combination and the house decorations – the tree, the wreaths, the garlands, the fresh flowers – and the gifts for my family and for others all relate. Apart from being a fan of a consistent decorating theme throughout the home it makes it very easy to remember the years.... Australian Vicki Archer is the

author of “My French Life” and “French Essence” and lives in London and Provence. photo credit: Cara Coulson

MONIKA CLASSEN: Special Treats: During the winter holidays I open the doors to my Swedish 18th c. secretaire and turn it into a "candy store". A tradition both the family and our guests love! Monika Classen is a decorator and blogger.

GINA MILNE: Family Heirlooms: On Holidays, I break out my antique china that’s been in my family for three generations! Even though it’s quite formal for my Swedish style dining room, it’s my way of keeping the memories of my loved ones that have passed close by during the holidays. Gina Milne is a decorator and blogger.

TRISH ALLEN: The handmade touch: I try to balance some of the business of the holiday season by pulling out my bin of scraps from leftover projects, or future projects, and make simple items like sachets that I fill with that years dried lavender. Great to ribbon together in sets of 3 or 4 and have on hand for hostess gifts. Trish Allen’s blog is

JONI WEBB: To me, a key is NOT having the kitchen become a guest at the party! Whatever happened to houses where the kitchen was hidden? What's so glamorous about dirty dishes and a hot stove? I don't understand why we abandoned the separation of dining and cooking in our homes. Joni Webb is an interior designer, blogger and co-host of The Skirted Roundtable.

SCOT MEACHAM WOOD: Setting a Romantic Glow: No one looks better than when lit by candlelight. Fill the house with candles (unscented when dining, please) and turn the lighting down - or better yet, turn them off. Candlelight adds a romantic mystery to the entire occasion.


Scot Meacham Wood is an interior designer and blogger. photo credit: Nicolas Smith


Bachelor Decor: A Guide to Making a Home Single men, a.k.a. bachelors, have long been left out of the design world. The stereotype is that they don’t care where or how they live. Is that really true? Historically, people got married shortly after high school or college and most went from their parents house, or fraternity house, to their own

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings

home where their new wife was charged with setting up the house. Today, adults are waiting longer to get married or cohabitate and single men are more and more in charge of their own design planning. Divorced and separated men who are transitioning back into single life are also creating their own homes where children might be part of the mix. So, getting back to the stereotype, do men really not care, or do they simply need help navigating the minefields of furniture stores and decorators? I submit that most simply need a little support, encouragement and guidance. A couple of years ago, I worked with a single professional man in Boston on the gut rehab of a penthouse condo. He already had a decent collection of furnishings and art, but needed help with a few additional key furniture pieces and the kitchen design. What this client did understand was that he needed to establish his vision for how he wanted to live and to keep true to this vision. And that’s my #1 tip: establish how you would like to live, the style that supports that vision and make your decisions accordingly.

This client prefers a transitional style-one that is generally traditional but is slightly minimalist in execution-and needed to keep this in mind. He prefers clean lines without embellishment which meant that his cabinetry needed to be flat (slab) front with no visible hardware, save for simple pulls. His counters and back splash were to be the same material and the flooring should blend in nicely with the cabinetry. Throughout the apartment, the walls and windows were treated very minimally and the furnishings supported this modern, clean lined view. Where we shopped for this project was based around his design “view”, not simply budget. And that’s my #2 tip: budget is important, but be sure that you’re not making decisions simply based on a sale price. If you prefer modern minimalism don’t shop in a more traditional furniture store just because there is a sale and if you prefer a more traditional ornate style, Ikea may not be the right choice. Never buy on sale what you wouldn’t be tempted to pay full price for. Likewise, freebies and hand-medowns may save on the budget, but if they don’t fit in with your vision or taste, then don’t accept them. Style is about edited choices and can be achieved with careful consideration. My #3 tip is about your search for style. Not sure what you like? Flip through shelter magazines and blogs, pay attention to movies and television shows and the houses the characters live in, look at the style of ads in GQ or Maxim. If you pay attention, you’ll soon discover what appeals to you.


Rebecca Wilson of RW Interiors recently designed a condo for a newly divorced professional father. Says Wilson “My client wanted a home that was Design: RW Interiors|Photo: Jean Donohue comfortable for him alone but also for his daughters who spent part of every week with him; masculine but not overly so. He wanted to be able to invite his friends over, but also for his girls to hang out with him instead of always heading for their bedrooms. He was looking for a casual, comfortable elegance overall and a home where he could relax and regenerate after his busy work life.” Here was a man who knew what he wanted, how he wanted to live and how he wanted his home to work for him: comfortable for friends and daughters. He trusted his designer and was open to suggestions. Rebecca offered a list of do’s and don’t for single men, based on her experience working with this client and several others: Rebecca Wilson’s 6 Tips to try: • Make your home warm and hospitable to friends and family by thinking about what will make them feel at home. • Create conversation areas with your furniture and pay attention to balance in the room when placing your furniture. • Hang a mirror in your entryway so people can check their appearance going in and out. • Do some exploring of galleries and artists' open studios to find art that you love and hang it on your walls. It's details like this that make a house a home. • Even in the TV room, if there's a fireplace or other area of particular architectural or artistic interest, don't ignore it when arranging your furniture. • While you don't want clutter, a few pillows on the sofa and family photos on a table and maybe some books you love add personality to the space and bring it to life. California designer Scot Meacham Wood of SMW Design is a single gentleman who lives what he preaches when it comes to design. His aesthetic is strongly masculine, traditional yet comfortable. Wood notes that men are generally very budget and value focused when it comes to design but that “everyone’s private space is so unique to them, it should feel like a natural extension of themselves.”

Scot Meacham Wood’s tips for Bachelor Décor: • Go Big. Now, I said ‘big’ and not ‘huge.‘ There is an important difference. Really look at the space you’re working with and find the largest sofa/chair/table that fits into the space. So many people, and not just you single guys, try to cut corners-and cut prices-by shopping at a particular price point and not for the size that’s correct. Invest the money and get something that has some ‘presence’ in the room. There is little sadder than a tiny area rug in a large room. So, buy what fits-not just what’s on sale. • Stick with Neutrals. Remember, however, that ‘neutral’ is not just ‘beige.’ When choosing those first few pieces, keep a simple color palette in mind, perhaps charcoal or chocolate brown. Large furnishings are a long-term investment. You can always keep things interesting with great lighting and accessories, but neutral furnishings will be less likely to bore you down the road and are therefore a good investment. • Art. As with furnishings, I would recommend going ‘big.’ There are tons of Design: SMW Design|Photo: Nicolas Smith online resources for artwork-maybe even try Spend some time searching for things that you love: travel, black and white photography, whatever appeals. Get some artwork on those walls; it will make all the difference. Linda’s tips: Generally speaking, it’s not that hard to put together an attractive space that speaks to who you are, is comfortable and stylish. Focus on: [list] • Furnishings, including rugs and tables, that fill the space, are comfortable for you and guests, are neutral enough to be flexible and offer opportunities for conversation. • Artwork and accessories bring life and personality to a home. • Budget is important, but should not be the sole determining factor when making purchasing decisions. • Love what you buy. Don’t buy what you don’t love. Text reprinted with permission from


Linda’s Coffee Table

Boo k’s mak grea e t gi fts !




The World of Madeleine Castaing by Emily Evans Eerdmans

The Soul of a House by Chris Madden

Timeless Elegance by David Easton

An exquisite portrait of French decorator extraordinaire Madeleine Castaing - her personal history, inspirations and work. A great book for lovers of French design and style.

A beautiful glossy portrait of designer Chris Madden’s own home in upstate New York. Filled with beautiful images and homey touches from table to garden.

Selected projects and inside stories from design & architecture icon David Easton’s long career. Beautiful, classic spaces and that will make you sigh!




The Allure of Style by Mary McDonald

Cottages in the Sun by Margaret Bach

Colors, Pattern and Space by Tricia Guild

Glamourous California decorator Mary McDonald’s first book is filled with sumptuous images that will make the girly-girl swoon!

This New Englander is always enamored by the year round indoor/outdoor lifestyles of southern California. The sweet bungalows of Venice, CA are a vacation without the airfare.

Fabric and pattern designer Tricia Guild is known for her sumptuous palettes and detail. This colorful book will certainly be a pick-me-up on a cold winter day.


ON MY DRAWING BOARD Horizon’s Collection Dining Table





Ethan Allen

The client: The program:

A Professional Bachelor Create a comfortable and stylish

pied-a-terre in the city.

The design: A mix of contemporary and traditional elements that maximizes space and comfort. Make use of the client’s existing Folio Dining Chair in


collection of Middle Eastern and Asian rugs and modern art.

Leather from C&B




le Pa

Visit Linda’s website for information about services and completed projects.



::E:: zine f o r Dec orat ive L iving



:: Portfolio :: Design Services :: Virtual Decorating :: Press :: Bio

:: Jr. League of Boston on Decorating “Secret Splurges” :: Boston Society of Architects RDC show on Social Networking

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:: Perspective - digital magazine :: :: Divine Caroline

CREDITS PRESS :: ShelterPop :: The Boston Globe Style :: The Boston Globe Magazine :: Alluminaire :: The Decorating Diva

:: Newsletter written by Linda Merrill :: All photography, except where noted, by Linda Merrill

CONTACT Linda Merrill Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings PO Box 1206 Duxbury, MA 02331 781-585-0275

Photo of Jason Wu Fashion Show

::Surroundings:: Magazine for Decorative Living | ©Linda Merrill | 781-585-0275 |


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