Motherly Love

1985 Ever the Hostess.

1985 Ever the Hostess.

I apologize for the grainy 1985 photograph of my mother. She was hosting a Bridal Shower in our home for my cousin Sharon.

Rita Claire Patricia Higgins Gallagher (1928-1994) was polished, glamorous and knew everything about style and manners. Her mother Nora Cecilia Moclair Higgins (1887-1957) came to America from Aughrim, County Galway, Ireland on board the Majestic arriving from Queenstown May 27, 1909 at Ellis Island, NY. My Grandmother was a live-in Domestic - a Baby Nurse for more than one wealthy family in Manhattan - before marrying Sigfried Higgins - moving New Jersey to start their family. Nora’s name is inscribed on panel 192 on the permanent American Immigrant Wall of Honor erected in 1993 on Ellis Island, NY.

1952

1952

1953

1953

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday - I wanted to share where I got my spark for design and I simply can’t chat about Rita without saying that all she knew she learned from her mother.

My Mother was a fashion model. She shared one fun story about being in New York City and being pulled on stage to participate in a live game show - during which she was asked to dinner by a celebrity - she demurred - instead heading back home to Verona, NJ on the train.

Staying at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico 1953.

Staying at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico 1953.

1966

1966

1974 sporting her Jackie O sunglasses with her sister Marion left and her sister in law Gladys.

1974 sporting her Jackie O sunglasses with her sister Marion left and her sister in law Gladys.

1981 - I love this tanned relaxed image of her in Bermuda - She and Daddy Were traveling with her brother Bob and her sister in law Gladys and they had a Blast! For the rest of her life she spoke fondly of this trip.

1981 - I love this tanned relaxed image of her in Bermuda - She and Daddy Were traveling with her brother Bob and her sister in law Gladys and they had a Blast! For the rest of her life she spoke fondly of this trip.

1981 I’m throwing this in because the story’s priceless - look at my Dad - During that trip different workers went on Strike - the guests served there own meals and I don’t think they had very much maid service - the buses weren’t running - so my parents rode mopeds! I would have paid money to hear the conversation between Jim and Rita about being on a moped together! (Bermuda was originally a British Territory and they drive on the left.)

1981 I’m throwing this in because the story’s priceless - look at my Dad - During that trip different workers went on Strike - the guests served there own meals and I don’t think they had very much maid service - the buses weren’t running - so my parents rode mopeds! I would have paid money to hear the conversation between Jim and Rita about being on a moped together! (Bermuda was originally a British Territory and they drive on the left.)

1985 Ireland. Look at how stylish she was in her cashmere and wool!

1985 Ireland. Look at how stylish she was in her cashmere and wool!

1993

1993

Rita inspired me not only by how she dressed - she loved clothing - but, her accessories. My love of bracelets, pins and scarves is no accident my friends - it’s been bred into me!

Our home was lovely. Beautiful wall color, wonderful textiles. My mother never shied away from recovering a chair - adding a new pillow. I learned about gallery walls from her - we had two walls covered with family photos in our paneled Den. We had the most gorgeous octagon table that held picture frames en masse in our livingroom. My mother didn’t have many shelter magazine subscriptions but, she always read House Beautiful and Town and Country. I would leaf through them and read articles - gosh I wish I had a kept a few!

I always new as a child my home possessed a quality that was hard pressed to be duplicated. So many of my precious heirlooms were passed down to my Mother and I’m so lucky to have them in the Chalet - I cherish my 3 chairs - the Blue Bergere, the Beige Wooden Arm and the Pale Blue.

Although she will be gone 25 years next week - I never set a table without thinking of her and how we dined every night at 6:30 in our formal diningroom. My mother’s entertaining was always effortless - Sunday Dinners, Drinks, Lunches, her Bridge Group, Bridal Showers, Baby Showers, Christmas Eve - She loved to be with people - and our home was large enough to accommodate whomever could come.

Entertain: to keep a person or a group of people interested or amused.
— Cambridge Dictionary

This ease of entertaining started me thinking about how I could certainly carve out an hour or two - to spend with people - we all should! So now, I’ve started issuing invitations to the Chalet - for some it’s the first time, for others they’ve been coming over for years - but, I’m choosing to set aside dedicated time and hope they are able to as well. I’m thrilled to extend my hospitality. My mother instilled in me a love of home that has grown and continues to inspire me.

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I so wish I had more photos of her. These were the days before cell phone and the constant snapping of images. She was my everything. I miss her every day. She does let me know she’s around - by the time on the clock. My eye is drawn to 11 minutes after any hour and I give her an audible greeting. Even Liam knows and calls out “Hi Noni!”


Til next time! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there!

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Artistic Artery

I ‘m SO very happy with the design changes we made to the Chalet’s Hall.

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Let’s remember what the space looked like… We enjoyed the Benjamin Moore Hawthorn Yellow for 10 years but, it was time for a change.

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Everyone who views this understands why my signature tag on IG is SayNoToEmptyWalls and my second IG feed bears that same handle @saynotoemptywalls.

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Pink was first used as a color name in the late 17th century. It is the color most often associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, childhood, femininity and romance.

Although this was my project everyone got involved. Liam helped from the first trip to Home Depot for swatches to the final paint purchase Pink Prism and you can see he even did a bit of painting! After I spent two weeks cutting in around all the windows and many doors - Steven took pity on me and rolled the paint.

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This lovely Egyptian Lady was the first piece I rehung. If you don’t think light plays with wall color… just look - it reads as two different shades. From here I moved around the space towards the stairs - rehanging the local history images and for the main stair wall I decided on a portrait gallery.

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I was restrained as I worked my way around. I was determined to have it be purposeful and not hodgepodge. The Man With The Golden Helmet - a copy on canvas of the Rembrandt is always a focal point and he went right back on the same nail he was hung on before.

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If you’re not familiar with the Chalet’s architecture - we have a center chimney which means we have two hallways upstairs around that chimney. The first has entrances to the bath, linen closet and L’s room - and here on this side we have this hall to the master. I left this space blank for a few weeks. I mean come on .. I am sooo in love with this color and I also needed to give myself time to map out the installation.

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I knew this fine lady Camille (Camille Doncieux (1847 - 1879) the first wife of Claude Monet and the subject of - La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume) 1876, was coming out of storage to be placed in the center and that everything would radiate from her. - The original work is on display in Lorna and Robert Rosenberg Gallery #252 in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. A dear friend was there recently and sent me a picture of the original. (thanks so much Alison!)

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Again, I was taking my time - Mrs. Monet sat here alone for well over a week… I had to feel what it would be. It had to evolve. I didn’t want to rush the process and be unhappy in the end.

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I LOVE how it turned out. What seemed like such a large area was quickly filled but, I’ve managed to squeeze in 2 small pieces since this image was taken.

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Til next time - go grab a hammer and hang up some art or paint a space something unexpected!

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Dear Diane

This lady is definitely dear… a dear friend, lady, Momma and designer - I love everything she does and it’s time for an introduction!

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Meet Diane Rath the visionary behind The Rath Project. She never intended to pursue design as a career; she studied English and Pre-Law but, thankfully for us she did!

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DR:Having an English major actually got me started as a learning specialist. I began working in a learning center immediately after college, focusing on techniques that helped children and adults with learning challenges - Dyslexia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Executive Functioning Skills and eventually branched out on my own adding clients who also had behavioral challenges - Autism, ADD, ADHD… My practice quickly grew (I loved every single minute of it) and before I knew it, I was almost 10 years into my career.”

Rath Family Room

Rath Family Room

Look at Dian’s family room her attention to detail - the color and pattern play!

Client’s Master Bedroom

Client’s Master Bedroom

Here are some more facts about this riotous red-head! She’s 35, married to Niles, they have a son Balthazar who just turned 4, another baby boy due in July and live in Fairfield, CT. by way of Manhattan. DR: I grew up in upstate NY but, always wanted to start my adult life in the city, as so many young dreamers do!”

How did you get into Design?

DR: “I officially got into design when we decided to move out of the city - just after Zar was born. I knew that it was time for me to take my passion and turn it into my newest venture and why not take all the risks at once! New baby, New house, New state, New business! Until then, I had helped friends who liked my aesthetic and I remodeled our own homes: a condo we flipped in Bronxville and our Catskills get-away which was our escape while living in busy NYC - we also rented it out on Home Away and VRBO and everyone loved the decor. I had decorated all of our rentals - when you live in the city, it’s typical to move around to chase better rents as well as outdoor space.”

Did you have the decorated bug as a child?

DR: “Growing up I, of course, redecorated my mother’s living room so many times, she never knew what she’d be coming home to after work! At a young age, I was also very aware of small budgets and how to creatively get a new look for less - money was extremely tight when I was a kid since my mother was a single parent who was much older (she adopted me at birth when she was 55 years old) and was also running her own business.  I learned how to take my babysitting money, often just 10 or 15 dollars and stretch it at Walmart or the local hardware store. With a couple new pieces or a d.i.y. project and a new furniture layout, I was able to accomplish giving our home a brand new look. I had always admired the homes of friends whose parents were well off, so when I went to their houses, I remember taking mental notes and trying to get similar looks for a lot less. I still do this today even though money isn’t so terribly tight - it’s a principal that I’ve stuck to - if you can achieve something beautiful without spending a fortune, then why spend a fortune?!?”

Rath Livingroom

Rath Livingroom

DR: “I didn’t realize until I was older how much my mother’s mid century furniture had an impact on me. While growing up, I was sometimes hesitant to bring friends over because the pieces appeared dated as compared to what was in their parent’s homes, little did I know that I would be so drawn to them as an adult. My mom was also very proud of her things and didn’t feel the need  (and at that point didn’t have the financial ability) to be like everyone else - she had a penchant for choosing and showcasing quality and if it was a quality piece and you took care of it, then why swap it out for what’s trendy - and I couldn’t agree with this more! Be you, design for you, avoid the trends, buy quality for less (by thrifting, frequenting garage sales and flea markets but, know your pieces, styles and history) and take pride in your home, whatever your situation is.”

Tell us a bit about your transition-

DR: “My friends and family were huge supporters and a source of encouragement. I owe it all to them - they pushed me to take my passion and apply it to a design business and I was very lucky to get a big project right away (just a couple weeks after leaving my practice as a learning specialist). A home in Westchester, NY that was a complete Blank Slate! My mother in law’s friend had children who were moving out of a small Brooklyn apartment, into a 5 bedroom colonial and they hired me to decorate all of it! This along with getting my blog started right away helped launch my new design business - I feel like you have to jump in with both feet and just start swimming! Be a risk taker!”

Burr Mansion

Burr Mansion

DR: “I’ve had great opportunities - to work on Decorator Show Houses, host a “Setting Your Tablescape” holiday entertaining workshop at Black Rock Interiors , to assist with decorating rooms for families at the Amos House. My love of design has led to many great experiences.”

Client’s Daughter’s Bedroom

Client’s Daughter’s Bedroom

Tell us how you and Niles decided to start Flipping homes-

DR: “After flipping the Bronxville Condo (it sold in a weekend) and getting high praise from the realtors and every potential buyer that walked through, we had an inkling that this may be something that we should try to do as a business in the future. And my mother in law was paying attention! She was completely aware that Niles and I would love to make this happen at some point. As she witnessed my design business grow, my blog and Instagram become recognized by brands and locals (she was with me one night at the grocery store when 2 separate parties approached me to tell me how much they loved “The Rath Project” on social media - lol!) and our own CT home transform before her eyes, she decided that she’d like to invest in this new business venture. With an influx of capital from her; we made our first flip purchase. It’s definitely tricky because there’s a line that I have to tow between great design and profitability but, I refuse to put any product out there that doesn’t meet my personal standards. This is where my high design at low cost comes into play! I search thrift stores for decorative vanity mirrors, source the hell out of my trade sites for impactful lighting for less, and try to get creative using simple things like tile and paint in ways that pack a punch.”

Ferncliff Kitchen

Ferncliff Kitchen

DR: “Ferncliff was our first Flip. I swapped the Kitchen and Diningroom in this house. I love to look at a space and think how would I live here?”

Ferncliff LivingRoom

Ferncliff LivingRoom

Ferncliff Master Bath

Ferncliff Master Bath

How does the rest of 2019 look for you?

DR: “Finish our current project the University Flip by June and get a for sale sign on the lawn immediately! Have this baby and take a 2-3 month break to just be with family! Also, find another property during that period so that come September/October we have another project lined up to start. Complete my 5th (?) One Room Challenge, contribute to my blog more regularly and finish up 3 client projects I’m working on before baby Rexford gets here!

Rath Hallway

Rath Hallway

What are your future hopes for your brand?

DR: “Just keep growing on all accounts - business and personal - and have fun while doing it!”

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Thank you Diane for your time. Go follow Diane over on IG and check out her Blog!

Til next time friends!

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