Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
Issue Date:  April 2007
Trends:  Poolside Decor
Title: Decadent Dips

                It is that time of year so many look forward to when our days have just gotten a little longer. Evenings are stretched out as the sun slowly makes its way across a soothing spring sky. An assortment of bare shoulders and bellies begin to mix and mingle poolside in warming climates everywhere. The gravitational pull to the out of doors brings with it the natural instinct to spruce up the place. This enlivening season has offered up yet another excuse for a little interior, or shall I say exterior design.  Spring is the perfect time to go all out and create an exotic poolside destination to be enjoyed for the next six months in your own back yard.

                Begin, as you would the design of any space, with a floor plan. Decide on how much seating will be appropriate for family and friends on any given afternoon. Create vignettes suitable for sizzling in the sun, lounging in the shade and some cozy place perfect for catching up with a dear friend or a good book. For those with an extensive list of parties in the coming months the designation of specific venues such as a poolside bar and kitchen areas are a must!

The definite trend is toward creating outdoor rooms. These home additions, sans walls, are certain to carryout the same color schemes and design found throughout the home itself. For the individual with a monochromatic interior repeat the same shades of taupe, khaki, cream or chocolate in the poolside fabrics. Feel free to accent with punches of color found in the petals of flowers in the surrounding landscape. These same colors are the hottest trends in bold colors and high fashion. Black is the most popular of colors to use outside. It is also the most likely to fade. Keep this in mind when selecting textiles for umbrellas to seat cushions. The Sunbrella line of textiles is a favorite, offering durability and a plethora of styles colors and patterns unmatched in the industry.

                Quality furniture is the prerequisite for stunning settings! Teak is a perennial favorite for its rich tones, sleek finishes and ultimate durability. Another popular choice is cast aluminum that unlike teak’s need for oiling requires little to no maintenance. Start with the pools ledge and create small arrangements consisting of a pair of adjustable lounge chairs situated around a small table. These accent tables offer the perfect opportunity to introduce another texture to the space. A piece featuring soft lines or curves forged in hammered copper showcasing a beautiful Verdi patina will act as a stunning perch for anything from sunscreen to sexy stemmed martini glasses. Next anchor one end of the pool, usually opposite the house, with a wonderful living room like setting. The foundation for any furniture grouping is the use of area rugs. Poolside is no different with wonderful outdoor creations of recycled plastics that have a supple feel underfoot and are rather good-looking. Large sofas, club chairs and the use of a chaise lounge allow for a truly fabulous getaway. Complemented by luxurious cushions and accented with stylish throw pillows a cosmopolitan addition to any home is created for sure!  Make the most of a sultry summer breeze by installing sumptuous outdoor drapes. Used to create a retreat from the sun in the shape of a poolside cabana such fabrics soften the space while creating a luxe atmosphere.

                As a final touch remember to include lighting, accent pieces and accessories. I’m a sucker for candles and as I have often mentioned, the use of candeliers outside adds romance to any setting. If a full on grilling station of stainless steel just is not your style then maybe a fire pit is. Grilling over an open flame will serve any chef well. After the meal is prepared guests may then warm themselves by the smoldering embers as a cool evening breeze floats in. The flickering of flames dancing across azure waters cannot help but to put one in a serene mood. As for those accent pieces, consider adding in antique ironwork, moss covered urns or for a spark of color use apothecary jars in varying sizes filled with sea glass of brilliant blues and celadon greens. For a flirty feel meant to jazz up any party setting drape a chair or two with luxurious throws and layer in a few sequin embellished pillows from inside.

 Whatever color scheme, style or materials you decide to go with at waters edge this year make it memorable. Maintaining the homes design theme further enforces that this is more than just a poolside haven but an extension of the home. With lots of imagination and little effort you’ll find yourself in the lap of luxury taking decadent dips in this backyard oasis!


Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
Accommodations & Shopping Issue
Issue Date:  June 2008
Trends: Wall Galleries
Worth 1000 Words

Artwork in the home takes many forms, from priceless heirlooms to considerable acquisitions from wedding pictures to travel photos from thrift store finds to preschooler masterpieces. Creating galleries from these precious mementos is quite simple to do. From the grandest of spaces to the most coveted places a wall gallery is waiting to be born.

When considering creating a wall gallery most of the time the art itself dictates the look and feel of the layout. Other times the wall or room to feature the gallery has the controlling influence. I like to begin by grouping images according to style, genre, event, medium, subject or artist. And sometimes I mix and mingle whatever I want to create a more avant-garde feel to the space. Modern scenes in oil on canvas juxtaposed with antique etchings of an English countryside. Add to that an African mask and maybe a silk Kimono, arms outstretched, to create a unique ensemble of art and artifact.

                Found in the pages of almost every home catalogue from Pottery Barn to Restoration Hardware is the ever popular layout of black and white photography. This is a look that can be achieved on even the smallest of budgets. Begin by gathering together the pictures that are to be displayed. To achieve a more modern and certainly a cleaner gallery style arrangement consider using all one size picture or frame. When using pictures of varying sizes select uniform sized frames and have photographs matted to fill in the extra space. This gallery style setting was created for a Georgia Traditions condominium. Black and white pictures from local venues were matted and hung in large 24” square custom black frames. The arrangement runs in a straight line across one wall and around the corner greeting guests and drawing them into the residence.  In such a small area where wall space comes at a premium a gallery such as this really creates a lot of bang for the buck. Another way to display black and white photography is collage style on a central wall. Using photographs and frames of varying sizes and orientations create a layout the makes the most of the wall space available going above and below the normal areas for hanging pictures.

                For an edgy art appeal photography can be expressed in more interpretive pieces. Jackson Pollack certainly had a way with paint just imagine what his photographs would have looked like. When taking pictures step outside the box and look for the abstract; the detail of blue jean stitching, the thorns on a rose stem, the dew on a spider’s web, the mud on your Range Rover. Such striking photos become an on the spot art installation, large and in living color, when mounted between two sheets of glass and hung from the ceiling by industrial cabling. For a playful touch in the laundry room, game room or even powder room consider the use of your own budding artist’s work. Children bring home unique and meaningful pieces so often and hiding them away in a drawer is no way to enjoy them. At the end of each school year select your favorites and have them professionally framed and matted ready to take center stage in a room of their own. Or for a less permanent solution, create a wall gallery in the playroom with frames that allow an easy way to change out the artwork when new favorites are brought home. Then sit back and watch as the style of the art work grows and evolves with your child. It will be a conversation piece like no other.

A wall gallery can also be made up of a single piece of art. Something that is exceptionally priceless or maybe sentimental, or rather oversized.  A single piece of art demands a lot of attention when hung alone and in a place of prominence. Be sure to light it and include a bench in front of it for quiet reflection. For the more adventurous and not so faint of heart try creating a collage from an oversized canvas. Many times art is produced as a triptych and has a stunning impact. The idea of cutting the canvas into an assortment of sizes and having them each stretched and hung on the wall to create a slightly skewed version of the original work is provocative.

Finally, there is always the traditional gallery of fine art in heavy frames for a more traditional and formal home. Just remember to interject pieces other than print, such as a Ming vase or Faberge egg to add interest to the gallery. Art is a very personal acquisition. Not only does it speak to the home’s inhabitants but it says volumes about them as well; after all a picture is worth a thousand words.


Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
Leisure Issue
Issue Date: April 2006
Feature Article

lauren elizabeth

It is a beautiful thing being pregnant. Making that decision to start a family with the one you vowed to spend your life with. As the weeks and months slip by you enjoy again and again the new “firsts” that only a pregnancy can bring. The first sonogram, the first time you hear the baby’s heartbeat, the first time you feel that tiny flutter inside you, and yes the first contraction signaling that the wait is over and you are about to meet that precious life you have carried so long. It is an excitement unlike any other…

I was seven months pregnant the first time I stepped into McClure studios. I’ll never forget the moment; I had seen a baby portrait on display and knew I wanted nothing less for my little one. I was warmly welcomed by Lauren, an adorable blonde with startling eyes and an addictive smile; I knew instantly that I was in the right place. She led me into a cozy room offered me a cool beverage and began a relationship that has forever changed the landscape of my dear family.

By the time I was pregnant with my second child Lauren McClure Forrester decided to launch her own line of photography, her namesake, Lauren Elizabeth. With the innate love of photography, a degree from Gwinette Tech and a wealth of knowledge gained from working with the legendary Dan McClure for 10 years she was certainly poised to blaze her own trail in the world of photography. Sensing the need for families to document more than just the birth she set out to create stunning portraiture of mothers and the beauty of being pregnant. She approached me to be one of her first clients and understanding Lauren’s talent I knew she would succeed. Like many mothers may be I was apprehensive at first, not knowing what to expect. It was, after all, a growing trend. Hollywood starlets like Demi Moore were baring bellies with confidence and a sexy allure not always associated with being pregnant so why not me.

Lauren recognizes that every client has individual taste, needs and desires. Before the first photo is shot an intimate meeting is scheduled. Meredith, a McClure Studio representative, takes clients into Lauren’s office, located upstairs in Athen’s own McClure Studio, and discusses all the wonderful options available to them. Somewhat of a gallery in itself the walls are a serene blue trimmed in black with stunning black and white samples of Lauren’s work set for viewing. It is these personal touches that help clients to envision such portraits in their own homes. Perched on the cozy sofa you are free to leaf through sample albums and watch amazing DVDs where you cannot help but gain a glimpse into all that Lauren has in store for you. The hands of a beaming father caress his wife’s round belly, the sweet kisses of a child awaiting their new playmate, the twinkling eyes of a 4 week old in her mother’s arms. It is photojournalism like no other.

We set out as new parents to capture every little detail. Promising that we will never forget all those precious moments in this new beginning we have embarked upon. This is where Lauren steps in to help you capture each aspect of this ever-evolving chapter in your life. The “New Beginnings” line of photography is tailored to meet the needs of the client. The complete line offers a pregnancy session, hospital shoot and the final session including the newborn. You may choose to do one or all. Either way you will be blessed with the art that Lauren produces.

As anyone who comes to Lauren for a session will see no detail is overlooked. The studio is transformed into a tranquil backdrop of flowing fabrics with restful music wafting through the air. Because you have discussed in detail what you wanted from the session Lauren sets to work making you feel comfortable as you move from setting to setting. The longer you are there the more at ease you become. The formality or casualness of the photo shoot is completely up to the client. From sassy denim jeans, to serene wraps to a sexy man’s dress shirt anything is possible. Husbands and siblings are welcomed and encouraged to be a part of the session. Ample time is allotted so that no one is rushed. A tired mom can take a break or a fussy baby can take a nap, it is precious times like this that unforgettable moments are captured.

That 3 am call to your mother that you are headed to the hospital should be followed with a call to Lauren. Unobtrusive she stands ready to capture points in time you would have surely missed. A sleeping father waiting for the doctor’s signal, a teary eyed daddy who has just become a grandfather for the first time, the eyes of a newborn that are the brightest you have ever seen in the few hours after birth. Discreet, polite and attentive Lauren gives you more that you asked for. When you get home and are alone you will look back and see what family members were doing while they waited for the big arrival, pacing the halls, calling friends and family alike, praying for this joyous new life. You will be glad, no, thankful that she was there.

This story would not be complete without an early session including the newest member of the family. Black and white photography is the undisputed choice rich in classic appeal offering a timeless quality. Proud family members gather dressed in black for a photo shoot that lets their new little one shine. Not everything is posed, rather caught in an unexpected time when the lighting falls beautifully across a mothers face or the newborn discovers his thumb for the first time. Pictures that will take your breath away as you see the graceful swirl of your newborns hair about its little head, the fragility of a tiny hand wrapped around daddy’s fingers, the wonder in where those sweet feet will travel.

In a few months they will be crawling, then walking and actively playing. Developing personalities all their own and discovering the world around them. Now is the perfect time to consider giving Lauren another call. Her “Playtime in the Park” sessions offer an out of studio experience. At the venue of your choice be it the local park or in your own back yard the stage is set. Lauren is there to capture ordinary moments in extraordinary ways. The sweet pucker of a child’s lips as they blow on a fuzzy dandelion, the clasped hands of brother and sister, sweet giggles at a ducks walk; seeing such pictures is like discovering the world all over again through the eyes of your child.

If nothing less than personal service, custom created settings and exceptional photography is what you are craving these days Lauren Elizabeth is the answer. Call Lauren or come by the shop and peer inside the world of new families through her creative eyes. Originality and talent combined with an attention to detail result in brilliant photojournalism. Lauren’s work speaks for itself and it will surely speak to you as well!


Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
History Issue
Issue Date:  October 2008
Trends: Hemingway style design
Title:  Everything Ernest

                Interior design elements from fabrics to fixtures and furniture to flooring are born out of inspiration. Some find nature to be their muse, for others it could be a constant color or texture while others still look to history for design stimulation. Even revered authors such as Ernest Hemingway offer up a plethora of motivation when it comes to cultivating a space worthy of the author himself.

                To understand the often understated nuances of Hemingway inspired design you must understand a little about the man. His lifestyle was more than just the books he wrote though they do give an insight into his adventurous existence. And though a happy ending eluded him certainly his pages were filled with love, loss, war and travel that some only read about. Thus comes the inspirations for interiors that are as costal as his carefree Key West, as exotic as his African safaris and as sultry as his Spanish nights.

                Costal interiors are about cool colors, gauzy fabrics and weather worn furnishings. Imagine waking to the sound of the ocean rushing onto sandy shores, white linen dancing on salty breezes and the occasional six toed cat brushing against your calf. Now that you are in that Hemingway state of mind the possibilities are endless. For the bedroom employ dark furniture featuring slatted doors that mimic the look of plantation shutters; hardware in an almost burnished brass. For the bed, something you need a step stool to climb into piled with sumptuous bedding in crisp clean white that smells of the fragrant blossoms wafting in. Walls washed in subtle blues with teak floors much like a sailing vessel. A rattan chair to hold recently shed clothing and simple bedside table to hold a drink. Now all that is missing is the clack, clack, clacking of an old typewriter.

                Maybe the plains of Africa are speaking to your decorating wild side. A gentlemen’s den crafted from paneled walls were a pair of worn leather sofas welcomes the weary traveler. Accent pieces that the British would have certainly carted into huts for more civilized safari accoutrements complete the setting. Cubans are passed around and double old fashions are filled. Leather bound volumes line the bookshelves while a distressed pedestal table holds priceless memorabilia. Accents of distressed silver fill the room from picture frames to antique rifles, nail heads to light fixtures. A final must is the correspondent’s desk from Thomasville’s Hemingway collection. Featuring laurel burl veneers and an embossed leather top begging you to sit, pen in hand, and scrawl down tales from the big hunt.

                Pamplona, bulls running, matadors prancing, the color red enraging. There is no holding back the fire of Spain born in your interiors. Sinuous lines flowing in intricate detail to form a chair back. Luxurious fabrics hugging upholstered chairs. The colors of Spain enliven a room’s atmosphere. A dining room would be a perfect fit for Hemingway’s Spanish influence. Hutches in rich stains featuring elaborate carvings and heavy detail serve to anchor the room. Rich velvety drapes adorned with immense trim echo the matadors cape. An oversized table calls for an abundance of guest to gather round the feast before them. Parties are revived as dancing ensues beneath heavy wrought iron chandeliers and candles flicker from every ledge. Substantial dinnerware in brightly colored patterns is accented by gracious stemware in warming shades of amber. Consider layering in a thick rug, whose colors have faded and, is beautifully worn and lush under bare feet. Creating an envious space that guest hate to leave and hope to be invited back to is a must. Take your inspirations were ever you may find them. Maybe even on your next trip abroad while tracing Hemingway’s legendary steps through history.

No matter what frame of mind you are in there is always room for a little Hemingway inspiration. Rich with colors and styles steeped in worlds of culture that breathe new life and exotic flavors into any home or private destination. Ernest Hemingway once said “Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” The same could be said of our own personal spaces. It is all in the details how we distinguish our own space from someone else’s. Make everything, Ernest!


Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
Festivals & Wine Issue
Issue Date:  September 2006
Trends:  Home Bars
Title: A Toast…To the Bar!
Listen carefully and you can hear the sound of corks softly popping, bottle caps twisting off in a hiss, and the clinking of ice in highballs. Soothing beverages in sparkling golds, full-bodied reds and deep ambers spill into glasses. Sweet aromas envelope you as bubbles tickle your nose. Housed in a local tavern, secluded restaurant or downtown high-rise hotel is a favorite bar that serves up all manner of libations. Drawing you in on special occasions or for a rousing game of Monday night football with ease. It is a place you have come so familiar with that you know it’s curves, well worn ledges, hand carved ornamentation and time worn finish. As days go by so many places once called friend are sold, renovated or even torn down leaving not only a gaping hole in the landscape but in social lives as well. Be steadfast and know that a bar of your own is waiting to be born within the confines of your own four walls. Home bars, like so many other luxurious amenities, are increasingly more prevalent in today’s homes. Again we take a look at the home of the Edwards who have created a sumptuous bar for friends and family to gather around on any given occasion.
Let us now settle in and survey the prime property that our home has to offer. Where would be the logical and most appropriate spot for a home bar? It really depends on how much it will be used. For an occasional drink perched on bar stools with a buddy or two it’s fine to keep it cozy. If you are a social butterfly like myself something on a larger more full-scale design is in order. When beginning any new venture remain true to the homes architecture and overall design for continuity. For example, an Arts-and-Crafts home would seamlessly host a bar inspired by a Charles Rennie Mackintosh piece. Minimalist, clean lines allow the natural beauty of the wood to speak for itself. The right angles of a lattice style wine rack are echoed in decorative square cutouts elsewhere in the bar. A final embellishment would be the use of stained glass. Hung over a mirror or in place of one this art glass will certainly become the focal point in the bar.
Take cues from your favorite bar’s design. The brass foot rails, granite countertops, tile backsplashes, carved corbels and overhead glass racks each offer a distinctive design to the area. If a room with a fireplace is vacant the ambiance created by a roaring fire will add to the cozy atmosphere of a home bar. In keeping with a more traditional home like the Edwards, the use of rich hardwoods and carved accents establish a stunning bar. Areas such as these afford you with the opportunity to use interesting finishes. Exotic woods, striking granite slabs and hand forged metal work will add distinctive character and create a more custom locale. For smaller budgets splurge on faucets and lighting fixtures to give the bar that added pop.
Now that the design is under way, finishes are selected and shelves stocked it is time to accessorize. Ample seating is a must and more than barstools are welcome in the bar area. Sure, the addition of a bar top table is appropriate but consider including intimate settings as well. Low sitting leather club chairs paired up with small tables create an intimate getaway. It’s the perfect place for guests who want a secluded place to get to know one another. These thoughtful vignettes offer privacy while allowing guests to still be a part of the festivities.
It’s all in the details. No matter what projects you undertake remember that it’s all in the details. Never miss an opportunity to add custom touches such as monogrammed backsplashes, mouth blown pendant shades, or etched mirror designs. Scour antique stores and tag sales for those one of a kind unique pieces to add to the room. Vintage taps featuring carved figures and foamy beer steins will be instance conversation pieces. Upon completion this bar will surely become a place to unwind, loosen your tie, kick off your shoes and settle in with a good book, smooth drink and warm companion. A relaxing night by the fire sets the tone as crackling flames flicker across porcelain skin and dance in amber liquid, you can’t do that at your local bar!


Published in Southern Distinction Magazine
Sports Issue
Issue Date:  July 2009
Trends: Tailgating

                 The sizzling summer sun is certainly heating up backyard barbecues and picnics in the park this season. Before you know it students will make their way back to class, the leaves will start to turn, a familiar crispness will be in the air signaling football season. On any given Saturday 92,000 Bulldog faithful trek to Athens, Georgia to sit amidst the sea of red and black and be one with the bulldog nation. In the south football is more of a religion than a pastime and with religion comes certain rituals, one in particular for football is tailgating.

                Before kickoff friends and families alike gather around barbecues, under tents and certainly on a tailgate or two. This year make an effort to treat this party as any that you would host in your home. Start with fabulous table toppers draped on tailgates, tables and more. Use simple toppers for the tailgate where it will be mostly covered by food while the guest tables can be decked out with stunning settings.  Here choose toppers with lots of pizzazz, reversible options give the party a more exciting feel. Sumptuous fabrics and trims in all the season’s best collegiate colors will certainly set the tone of the event. I love these specialty items found all over the southeast and here in the Classic City itself at Heery’s Too but you can also go online at to see even more amazing designs. Though we may discriminate against other collegiate teams you will find there is an abundance of toppers perfect for a house divided.

                Now that you have the foundation for your tailgate time to build up using pedestals, wrapped boxes and glass block from home. This will not only make all your food more visible it will add dimension to the tablescape. Include a variety of serving pieces as well. Platters, bowls, baskets, look to nontraditional items such as a picnic basket to hold dinner rolls or a large urn for fruit.

                Coolers appear in mass at sporting events such as these but are not the perfect addition to party decor by any means. While tailgating this season try employing one of these tips to make those coolers disappear. Bring along an antique washtub and fill with ice and drinks then hide the cooler away under a nearby table only to be pulled out when the tub needs replenishing. Keep a separate decorative bowl out to hold ice for drinks. Use additional tailgate toppers and coordinating pillows to turn coolers into stylish seating for your guests.

                As with a party at home, if space allows try spreading things out and designating a separate venue for the bar. Be it fruit punch or crown and coke that you are serving it is still nice to have a way to keep guest from congregating in one area. If another truck is available then that tailgate will be the bar. If not then bring along an additional table from home. Layer the area with more toppers to coordinate with the food tables then build the bar. Use old dink crates weighted down to serve as shelves to line up bottles of beverages offered. Laminate any recipe cards needed to make drinks put them on a key chain and attach them to one of the crates. Bring along a decorative paper weight for napkins and all the necessary accoutrements for stirring up your friends favorite libations. Situate these items on a tray to keep them organized in a central location for the next guest to use. The bar will be used as much as the food table so it should be just as organized and certainly as lovely.

                Add personality to your tailgate with flowers, custom printed napkins and gifts for your guests. You do not have to spend a lot to make your guests feel extra special. For the adults anything from custom drink koozies to beads and boas or even game day visors. For any children present pom-pom shakers, mini footballs, beads and game day tattoos. Your crowd will be easy to spot making their way through the gates in their beads and boas fresh from the most lavish tailgate they have ever attended all thanks to you. See you between the hedges!

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