Thank You Notes

IMG_0251My mother insisted that each of her children sit down to write thank you notes. If not, she warned us that our gifts would be taken away. We had 24 hours, and this was before we were in first grade! How can we make it easier to write these notes? Always have many note cards on hand – big ones, small ones, elegant ones, quirky ones…. one to match each mood and need.

IMG_0255 In addition, have many sizes and choices of commemorative stamps on hand and several types of pens that you enjoy writing with – including ones with blue ink, red ink, black ink and maybe even metallic ink. Then there is no excuse. After slowing down and taking time out of your busy schedule to acknowledge the act of giving, you also get the unexpected pleasure of re-living the experience you are thanking the person for.

Mothers really do know best!


It Takes Three

Counter & Bar Stools 039Designer, client, builder.If one of us decides to take on too much of the role of another, then we can’t really be present to perform our function, and the three legged stool will tilt.

I-7 1 Elevations v2012 (3)When my client says “no” I need to listen and shift course, otherwise,  I am trying to be the client as well as the designer. When the client tries to work out a series of details, they are stepping out of their role.

08-08-07 002

When I tell the builder how to build, I have taken my eye off of the design, and when he or she tells me how to design, they have taken their eye off of how to get things done well for the best possible price.

You see, if we work together well, all we have to do is our own job, not one another’s job.




As a ten year old boy in front of an abstract painting by Piet Mondrian, I was drawn to the fine cracks in the surface of the white ground. Were these fissures signs of aging, or were these put there intentionally? Were they adding to the power of the painting, or were they distracting? I decided that they were beautiful delicate reminders that the painting was hand-made and had existed for many years already. I didn’t know the name for this point of view, but now I do – wabi-sabi.


Wabi-Sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional….

architecture 42Collectors of fine sterling do not want it perfect. They want to see the patina of use and of age. Here in San Francisco, one of the most beloved architectural treasures is The Palace of Fine Arts, Bernard Maybeck’s 1915 monument. It was conceived to resemble a decaying, overgrown masterpiece. It has never disappointed the thousands of  people who have visited.

Interior Design by Michael Merrill



I love the mixture of old and new, and I for one love contrasting the perfect with the imperfect.

Recommended reading:
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers ISBN-1-880656-12-4


Experience and a Willingness to Listen

Every space will reveal itself to you , if you just allow it to happen. On an intuitive level , listen to where you want to reside in the space, pay attention to how you feel in the space –  let your emotions begin to outline the structure of the furniture placement.




On a rational level, measure and draft the existing shell, place furniture in logical and functional ways. Then take a deep breath, combine the two approaches together to make a magical rational space. Move through the space, be still in the space, gaze upon the space, gaze from within the space. Each of these steps combined with careful attention to your experience will help you create something unique and wonderful.





Design really does inform our lives, it helps shape  our futures and it certainly soothes the soul.



All About Hinges

Life is full of stress. Sometimes when you really want to swing, you discover movement is more of a squeak or a creak.  At times, remaining level is the goal, but the sense of drooping from the top down takes over.  The floor is often closer than it should be as you drag through the day. Hmmm, how can I make this madness end for good?

Now for the good news – analyzing and gathering vital information: pre-planning, understanding your frame and weight and height as well as intended purpose in life will, at a minimum, delay the above stresses.  If the vital information is well coordinated factoring in the intended purpose, nothing less than a lifetime of carefree movement promises the much sought after longevity always so critically hoped for.

What has been described above is ALL ABOUT HINGES – door hinges!  Boy, can I hear the many sighs of relief!  Call a hardware specialist or consult with your designer (who WILL consult with a hardware specialist.) Remember to not simply assume the correct hinge will be specified automatically. Also know that by calling in a hardware specialist, the “door may be opened” to other possibilities improving usefulness or a better looking design.  Don’t take a hinge for granted!

How could this be… this improving upon design?  A sleek and contemporary design will be enhanced using hidden hinges or pivots.  Too often hinges are not things of beauty, so why not make them disappear?  Period homes are enhanced by adding tips and barrel covers to the hinge. The statement is made! The home truly represents Georgian or
Haussman or a Louis XIV.  A continuous hinges, running from top to bottom of door, will carry the weight of a really large, heavy door. Spring hinges slowly close a door automatically. Some hinges are wired to carry electricity to the handle mechanism. Harmon hinges allow a door to open and rest within a niche on the wall so the opened door lays flush “in” the wall.  Ball bearing vs. plain bearing will carry more weight for smooth operation and on doors with a spring hinge will lessen stress.  And so it goes……………..on and on and on: a paumelle, a parliament, an olive knuckle, a strap, a wide throw, AND ON.

Happy Hanging!       YOUR HARDWARE GURU,

Jill Seime | Door Hardware Specialist (28 years of experience)
Hardware Detailed

About Gallery 925

Guest Contributor: Rachel Prater – Gallery 925

My introduction to Georg Jensen silver came at the age of 11 when my Mother took me to the store on Madison Avenue in New York. My vivid recollection was of me being awestruck over their fantastic unique jewelry, modern sleek lines in silver with bold stones as well as the naturalistic designs of the Arts and Crafts era.  Seeing the hollow ware with its”moonlight” glow just made my eyes glisten with joy.  As we were leaving, my mother said, “This is not just silver to wear, use and enjoy: it is an art form, like fine sculpture.”  How right she was! We always made it a point to visit the store, when going to see the galleries and museums on our sojourns to Manhattan.

In 2004, after 15 years in the wholesale jewelry trade in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to manage a department at the famed specialty store, Gump’s of San Francisco. This department specialized exclusively in vintage and antique Georg Jensen. I was able to buy and sell some of the most exceptional pieces from over 100 years of Georg Jensen silver production. In conjunction with my role at Gump’s, I participated at exclusive antique exhibitions in New York, London and Palm Beach as well as the beloved San Francisco Fall Antique show.  I have participated in a number of designer showcase houses and charity benefits.  I have catalogued and valued major collections. This experience, along with my passion for 20th century design, led me to open my own business, specializing in 20th century silver, featuring Georg Jensen at the head of the collection. I am always happy to respond to any questions you may have regarding Georg Jensen, whether it be to acquire, value a collection or offer advice and options for de-acquisition. I provide exceptional individualized service and maintain long-term relationships with my clients.

Rachel Prater | Purveyor of Georg Jensen and 20th Century Silver
Gallery 925

Lessons From My Childhood

You are not born with good taste – you acquire it. I had the great good fortune to have a mother who was positively dedicated to good taste in interior design , and the ability to acquire it.

I recently was back in touch with a childhood friend who went to visit our website. Her comments ? “There is nothing here that didn’t have its genesis in your childhood home. The only thing missing is something that might have been derived from the speaker in the living room. “

The more I thought about it, the more I knew the total debt owed to my mother. She taught me what the focal point of a room is, how many drawers are in a semanier and what the leading edge of a drapery is – all before age 5. She snuck me into the design center and had me practice selecting the most beautiful fabrics. My mother taught me that an environment can change your mood, your outlook and ultimately your future.

Frequently I am amazed at how history repeats itself. Many years ago I created a very elegant guest bedroom for a showcase. The upholstered canopy that topped the 4 corners of draperies had to be built in-situ. I recalled the tales of the cornice boards for my mother’s living room and bedroom draperies being so long that they had to be moved into the house before the windows were installed or there would be no way to bring them in. History repeating itself.

I recall painting all of the walls in a showcase in the absolute darkest color imaginable – some might think of it as black. My mother had painted the principal hallway in her home absolute jet-black and it was marvelous. History repeating itself.

I have often been asked if I had any negative feelings about my early training. The answer is a resounding no. I was taught a skill that has served me well for many years – and I hope in the process has served my clients equally well.