Happy 2016!

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Happy 2016, everyone! I have big hopes for this year. I am turning 30 next month, and even though it’s really just another birthday, it feels like a big transition that I am excited about. I also hope 2016 has great things in store for all of you, and as always, thanks for checking in here! I’ll be back later this week with updates from Biscuit’s lookbook shoots!

This is 30.

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Not for me! GOD no. I’m still in my twenties for two more months.

Monday was Pete’s 30th Birthday, and I am still so dorky excited that I can’t even wait a few chill days to post about it. I never had after-wedding-blues or anything. I loved wedding planning but really just wanted to be married, so I wasn’t sad it was over. But I think I am having post-pete-bday-blues. Continue reading “This is 30.”

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Merry Merry, everyone!

I have to tell you, I am finding this whole Christmas thing to be a lot of responsibility! I had sort of assumed kids came installed with the abiding knowledge and love of Christmas. They would naturally be all about the Christmas, and we would make their Christmas dreams come true. But they totally don’t! They have no idea what Christmas is all about, and when you try to tell them, they aren’t like, “Ohhh, that makes sense!” They have questions, and it’s fun to watch G’s thought process- she’s so smart and growing up to be such a thoughtful little lady! But it also feels weird to be actively misleading her, ya know?

But I’m not actually a Grinch! I am also loving getting to experience the magic of Christmas with kids that can fully participate this year. And! It’s our first year in our new house, which has me inspired to make it extra-special and start new traditions for our family.

One thing that made Christmas extra not-special in years past were the disagreements Pete and I had over our tree. I am a die-hard real tree lady- but I am also an enemy to the Christmas tree. I have killed almost every tree I have had, each year in unique and disasterous ways. Last year I don’t even know how I did it, one day the tree was fine, the next all of the branches were laying flat downward against the trunk and our ornaments were intermittently falling off it. The needles weren’t dried out, they were still green and fresh and perky. It was more like how I look in Barre class doing arms when they are like “just one more transition, you’re stronger than you know, the shaking is how you change your body, 90 more seconds…” and I am like WHA!? 90 seconds!? Not happening as I drop my arms and slump my shoulders in shame. That was our tree last year, our tree gave up. It was sad.

Pete does not care for Christmas trees. And he definitely doesn’t care for their removal process, which he usually decides needs to happen like the second the presents are unwrapped. And I can’t blame him, who wants a dead droopy tree in their living room? So he has- probably wisely- been campaigning for a fake tree for years. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around it- until last year I saw Bradley’s post on their flocked Christmas tree. It reminded me of my favorite artist, Will Cottons, candy landscapes and I was obsessed with it. So Pete and I made a Christmas-Compromise- he would get his fake tree, and I would flock-it-up!

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I did a lot of research on the best “artificial” (that’s the PC way to refer to them, fake is a little disrespectful- don’t you think?) Christmas trees and finally decided on the Fraser Fir from Balsam Hill. I also did a lot of research on flocking techniques, and settled on Sno-Flock, promptly ordered my supplies, pictured below, and got to work!
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Our tree arrived last week- and guys- I was so so wrong about the fake tree. I am obsessed with ours. I have actually not found it much more “convenient” than a real tree. At least this go around having to go through and open each individual branch and fluff them up was a pretty big pain. But according to the literature, that’s just what you have to do when it is brand new out of the box, and next year it won’t be so bad. But our tree came in this smart storage bag, on wheels, with a smaller second bag for the top piece. I unpacked it, wheeled it into place, and activated the “SMART FLIP” technology where you just push down this handle and it flips over branches splayed. OMG guys. I felt like Inspector Gadget. Wham Bam instant tree! I spent a goodly while going through branch by branch unsmooshing and opening up them up, and then once it assumed a pleasing shape, I got to work on the flocking.
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There are tons of you-tubes and guides, and I watched a lot of them, but it was really very easy. You just take your little squeeze bottle of water and spray down your area, and then sprinkle your sno-flock over it which dries/sets pretty quickly. The real next level technique is to spray the branch, then do your dusting, and then as the powder is falling try to use the squeeze bottle to spray the airborne powder towards the tree in mid-air. That method created the most “realistic” clumps.

I kept my flocking pretty conservative. Pete wasn’t initially 100% sold on the look, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I tried to give it a good even dusting all over, and I love how it looks- and most importantly so does Pete! Well really most importantly, so do the kids. Grace thinks I am a legit sorcerer who made it snow on our tree. I’m very pleased, though next year I might hit it with another layer to build up the snowdrift a bit.

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Another thing I think made Bradley’s tree such a star is that they really went for it on the look with the exclusively pink ornaments- and the way the whole styling of the tree compliments the overall vibe of their house. I knew I couldn’t do something quite so disciplined, but our living room also has a pretty specific vibe, and I wanted our tree to look like it fit with the design of the room. I decided to only use ornaments that fit with the color palette of the room, which meant a lot of pumped up pastels. I went through the ornaments we already had and sorted them separating out the ones that worked with the palette.

I filled another box with “Texas” and western themed ornaments to take out for our little tree at The Shmamptons. Other special ornaments, especially ones I have made with the kids, went into another pile. The other part of our fake-tree-compromise is that Grace gets her own real tiny tree for her room that we go pick out as a family- and Harry will get one next year too. This arrangement satisfied my need for the family tradition of going to the Christmas tree lot, it’s manageable for Pete, and Grace is enchanted. She was even more pleased that so many of her ornaments were ones she made, and she has been busy art directing me to craft even more snowflakes and paper chains to get the tree to her exacting standards.
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While the majority of our ornaments did work with the newly established palette- my Grandmother and I collected Wizard of Oz ornaments together for years which were particularly perect, we still looked a little sparse. So I went on Etsy and loaded up on mercury-glass balls in sky blue, pink, lilac, and yellow to fill in the holes. I thought it might be a little (unnecessarily) stressful working within my self-imposed constraints- but I have actually found it liberating. There are just so many Christmas things out there, and having some guidelines has actually helped me focus and choose better pieces to add to our holiday decor collection.

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We finished everything off with our Biscuit tree skirt, and the whole situation is just delightful to me. It’s fun and whimsical and oozes Christmas-y magic, but still feels like it could sort of live in the room year-round. I am going to be genuinely sad to take the tree down this year. But hopefully, since I can’t kill it, Pete will let us keep it around a little longer. I mean, you never know, maybe we will become one of those families who leave our tree up year round! Super normal stuff! 😉

Images by Molly Miller for Peppermint Bliss

Who will help me bake the Biscuits?

You know that old “Little Red Hen” thing? The “Who will help me sew the seeds, to grow the wheat, to grind the flour, to bake the bread…” Well the first few years of running Biscuit were a lot like that. I came up with the themes and inspiration behind the seasons, worked on the actual designs with textile designers, oversaw production, managed warehouse & inventory, bought coordinating merchandise, worked the sales floor, shipped orders, all the etc’s…

Which is great to learn a business inside and out, fantastic if you want completely burn oneself out- but not such an effective way to grow- both for me personally and the business. Especially if I am your little red hen and am pretty good at a few of those tasks, and really really bad at others (ahem inventory management). However, in all of this baking of the bread, the one thing I didn’t have much time to do is showcase it the way I had imagined when I was first conceiving of the collection. Which is arguably the part of the whole operation I am the most qualified for.

Luckily in the past year or two I have been able to bring on some farmyard friends who more than share the load, and things are really cooking now. So! No more inventory management for me- we are all better off. And, since taking a break from traditional client work, I have been able to focus on designing spaces that highlight the bedding line that I have really put my heart and soul into over the past few years. We produced our first catalog and lookbook for our debut at NY Gift Market in August, and have been hard at work over the past few months designing and shooting beautiful rooms with beautiful bedding for our next edition out in January.

Some of the rooms are shot in our studio at Biscuit, some are actual clients homes, and some are carved out creatively from various spaces as they become available to us from time-to-time. I want to share more about my work at Biscuit, and while some parts of it are probably of zero interest to anyone but me, I think seeing some of the lookbook setups might at least be an occasional pretty treat.

Hopefully it will be worthwhile to see the difference in the approach to designing for our lookbook vs. clients- or in the case where we are using a client space for the lookbook how the styling differs. Or, seeing how the design of a room can be inspired by ones bedding. I have especially enjoyed the process of creating spaces that bring out the best in our bedding, and show the prints how I always imagined they should be seen.

I thought I would kick things off with the first two rooms we shot for our previous catalog.

We shot both spaces when Leslee Mitchell was mentoring Molly for a week. The Boone, which was a print we had debuted a month earlier, was shot in our studio. The other shot was of a client space I had recently completed featuring our Katie dot in taupe.

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[Bed from West Elm // Bedding from Biscuit // Side tables from Urban Outfitters // Hermes art Desire Obtain Cherish // Vintage Rug]

The Boone as a print is one of my favorites, and a bit of a departure for Biscuit. We have another abstract painterly print, one of our bestsellers the “Austin“, but the Boone is a little edgier and I imagined a different client than our usual base. I wanted to come up with a space that felt more masculine, laid back, thrown together and cool. We had fun with the styling, bringing in props and even some art from my house. I love how strong a statement the bedding makes here, keeping everything else more simple and eclectic. So many times people want their bedding to blend, but I figure you have to have bedding on your bed, and especially when you are just starting out on your own, having to buy most things from scratch, why not make the things you have to have pack a punch instead of having to rely on superfluous decorative accents.

This is exactly the sort of space I imagined for the Boone when I was designing it. But the beauty of this print- and hopefully our whole line- is that it can work in so many different spaces, and I am currently working on a client bedroom that is completely different than this also using the Boone that we will be shooting for the next lookbook.

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[Wallpaper by Fromental // Bedding from Biscuit // Custom Bed // Bunny Williams Lamps // Mirrored Side Tables]

Katie was a print from our first season which we offered in a black and multi. She’s a good-ol-reliable crowd pleaser and since then we have rolled out quite a few color ways to go with other prints in our collection. This room is so fancy shmancy. It’s one of my favorite spaces I have ever done. It is difficult to capture how magical it is in photographs. That wallpaper almost sparkles- yet is dark and calming and cozy. It’s like floating through space, but not terrifying.

I had originally sourced some plain white bedding with an embroidered blue border for the room- I love using Biscuit in my designs but I don’t ever want to force it on a client and ultimately am there to source what is best for the room. Our client actually suggested our Katie dot in taupe because she wanted something with a little pattern, and to bring out the gold/champagne tones in the wallpaper & curtains without going too Liberace.

As a designer, the Katie seemed a little casual and preppy for the room initially, but seeing it on the bed, it gives a perfect subtle depth that works in the room without overpowering the rest of the design. To make sure it had enough sophistication for such a posh space, we accented with a lumbar pillow in a shimmery silk texture, and a silk Kumi Kookoon throw both in coordinating colors.

I love how prints from our line can work in two such completely different spaces. While some creative companies study market trends in their product design research, our line is inspired by traditional interiors and textile design. It has been so satisfying to bring to life some of the spaces that inspired the bedding prints themselves, and now on our second shooting cycle- to remix that initial inspiration and see the prints in a new context as well.

Images by Leslee Mitchell // Styling by Molly Miller for Peppermint Bliss

Confessions of a Mag-a-Holic

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We moved into the house my Mom still lives in when I was 5, and my Mom spent the next 20 or so years lovingly restoring it. I grew up surrounded by decorating books, and pages torn out of magazines, all flagged with yellow sticky notes adorned with my moms perfect cursive handwriting. We used to go to the book store all the time. Normally I would get the latest Nancy Drew while my Mom stocked up on her monthly mag haul. One day, I remember asking my mom if I could buy my first YM Magazine- side note, does YM still exist?

Anyway, it had, like, a shirtless Devon Sawa or someone on the cover and my mom thought “YM” must stand for “Young Men” and was mortified. I explained that no, in fact it stood for “Young and Modern” which I guess I had decided I was, and that it was a very important periodical pertaining to my interests, and through some convincing she bought it for me. That year, I asked for a YM subscription for Christmas, and my obsession with magazines began.

I didn’t just read magazines, I savored them. I still do. I first go through them back to front, reading only the headlines and evaluating which features are of the most interest. I then go through and read articles in order of least-interesting-but-still-interested-to-read saving the best for last. Then I look at the pictures and tag pages of interest. I revisit the issue, front to back, back to front, eventually getting to the articles that weren’t appealing enough to be read on my first pass through. If the issue is especially juicy, I buy a second one so that I can tear from the first and still have a pristine copy for the archives. And then, when I am finished, I put them in little magazine organizers and save them forever because- let’s be honest, I am never really finished with them. I mean how could you be? They are invaluable resources!

Like for instance, in 1999 when Reese Witherspoon married Ryan Philippe I suddenly remembered a few years earlier when she was included in YM’s list of New Hollywood Starlets they asked her who her Hollywood crush was she said Ryan Philippe. And luckily, since I had saved the issue, I found the article and sure enough, there it was! And they had spelled his name wrong! Madness! Unfortunately no one I showed the issue to was as impressed with the whole thing as I was. When I left for college I was finally forced to throw out the YM’s, but that was fine because by that time I had moved on to shelter mags which I was finding much more enriching.

My “Decorating Binders” from college are full of pages torn from House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Domino and the like because there was no room in my tiny dorm room to hold onto full issues- space efficiency and all. I still have these binders, they sit on the shelves in my office along with my complete set of original Dominos, 1960’s House Beautifuls, and all of the other usual favorites.

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The cover of one of my “Decorating Binders”- the front sleeve is a photocopy of a page I found in one of my moms design books when I was in highschool. When I was 10 my mom found a sticky-note I had marked in the book, which she then wrote a note to herself about, which I then found 8 years later. I come by all this nonsense honestly.

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Inside one of the binders…aka Peppermint Bliss beta version.

When I first started decorating I never even imagined I would be published. When HGTV reached out about publishing our Austin house I am not ashamed to say I cried actual wet tears of joy. I was going to be in a real-life magazine I could go buy at the book store! Just like Devon Sawa! Except with my shirt on! And I could hold it in my hands and read it back to front, and then front to back, and save it on my shelves forever with the rest of my beloved magazines. When I got my copy of the issue I couldn’t even open it for a few minutes because I was so excited my body spazzed and I couldn’t make my hands work.

I have been lucky enough to have had that experience a few times since over the years, and it is never any less exciting. I still go to the bookstore every month to stock up, and I still read them back to front. I really tickle myself when I can tell by the pictures who did the design before I get to the headline page- and I really feel smug when I can identify the photographer. I follow the careers of my favorite editors as they move through the industry, and love noticing how each magazine evolves under different directors.

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Beyond being a huge fan, I am creatively inspired by the work of my design idols, and I spend hours studying images of their published work and trying to learn something new about how to trim a window treatment, arrange furniture in an oversized room, or read about the process behind the design. Pinterest makes it easier for me to file, and refer back to, these images but nothing could replace the physical copy. I love how much inspiration is available online. Having different avenues for publication has opened it up and allowed fresh talent to get exposure- I would be nowhere without Rue and Matchbook and this blog for that matter- and I have discovered so many of my favorite designers whose work I might not have otherwise seen online.

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At the same time, I feel sad that the internet has challenged the print industry, and I hope that it never gets to the point where it’s not worth it or financially viable for magazines to produce monthly print issues. The internet is great for a lot of things. Like exposing new talent. Also, online publications and websites can produce spreads with squillions of pictures showing several angles and details in a room without having to consider the cost of visual real estate on a printed page. On that note- Magazines, I know you can’t include every shot and angle but if you are going to spend a paragraph describing the gorgeousness of a paint finish PLEASE include that image. It’s honestly just rude to tease a girl.

For all of the reasons the internet is great, magazines (to me) are inversely valuable. I like that editors have to, well, edit their pages discerningly. With all the noise of the internet, I like having a resource that is more filtered, that has a clear perspective, that was put together and re-worked and touched by many different people over a period of time. I love their permanence- you can always go back and delete a controversial image online or delete posts that eventually feel off-brand- but physical magazines are little time capsules. I collect vintage magazines as well, and I love to see not only the designs, but the ads and letters to the editor and the whole context of the issue. It means something to me that now that some of my designs have been published, my work gets to exist in the same way.

So now that I have revealed myself as a probable Magazine-Fetishist (whatever, it’s fine, if the internet has taught me anything it’s that we are never alone in our weirdness and I expect at least ONE of you is in this with me) you can imagine how much it meant to me to have Biscuit included on House Beautiful‘s list of their Top Trends for 2016.

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They asked us to send them samples of some of our prints a few months back, but I had no idea it was going to be…that. I don’t have good words to adequately express the gratitude, but it’s lots and lots. All of the Thank You’s.

Also- all of the Thank You’s to those of you who have come back to read what I am writing here these days. And to those who have asked about seeing the new house, I’m sorry if the glimpses have felt like a tease. Trust me, as I mentioned above, I am not into that feeling at all. BUT I also don’t want to rush to have everything “photo ready” like I have in the past. I am growing up and trying my hand at the long game. And, honestly, I hope it will be published somewhere and I want to keep that option open when the time comes. SO! I hope that’s cool, y’all are so cool to have come here again, and I truly appreciate all of the welcoming feedback.

images by Molly Miller for Peppermint Bliss