What We're Talking About

Telling a Story January 25 2016, 0 Comments

Opal at Home had a new venue last week: the Americasmart Home and Gift Market, in Atlanta! We met some wonderful people, with incredible businesses, none more so than a delightful woman from Rochester, NY, who shared with us her thoughts about business, about design, and about ways she creates a welcoming retail environment that invites a customer to tell her story through her home.

I thought she beautifully articulated what we are about as a business, and what I personally strive for as an interior designer; providing inspiration, authenticity, and a seasoned eye to our customers and clients in defining and interpreting their own stories, and curating homes that reflect that. I don't think this needs to mean a home that is all family photos, or a museum of activities, or that every piece of art needs to have some concrete relevance beyond sheer beauty or emotional resonance, but rather a home full of interesting corners and restful spaces that reference the occupant's experiences and dreams.

Our Midcentury Travelogue pillows are made from my own family's photography, from our time there 1959-63. What is it about the collection that resonates so strongly with people? (I am told that it does.) Is it a place they visited in another time? Is it a dream of such a time and place? Is it a representation of who they would have been, had they been around back then? (I am at a point that many of my clients simply were NOT, but they still have some sort of cool connection that makes these images work for them, and express something in their homes that is meaningful and real.)

So this week I'm thinking about stories, as told in our homes. What makes them work? What makes them fascinating and beautiful, as well as expressive of the occupants?

What stories do YOU tell?

Some Favorite Shopkeepers At Home.....(and their favorite pillows!) April 29 2015, 0 Comments

We often, on our Opal at Home Facebook page, show "spotted in the wild" photos--usually pictures of Opal pillows in the wonderful shops that carry them. It's always exciting to see how these visionary retailers integrate our designs into their beautiful stores.

But once in awhile, something more remarkable happens, and we find photos of Opal pillows placed in the actual homes of designers and tastemakers. I love seeing the way designers live, and seeing our pillows in their homes is at once humbling and thrilling!

Jewel Murphy is owner and soul of Passionflower Design in Eugene, Oregon. Her shop, and blog, are amazing places to visit, full of flowers and plants, artistically curated and displayed crafts, jewelry, accessories, gifts from the world over. Whenever I need a special gift, Passionflower is the first place I go. So honored that our Opal pillows have a home there! And even more so that Jewel's home has our Gia pillow displayed in a favorite chair. Like me, Jewel has a thing for cool chairs, and what could be more perfect for one of them than a pillow?

Ted Kennedy Watson is owner and curator (has that term been overused? Well, I don't know a better one to describe what Ted does in his remarkable shops!) of Watson Kennedy in Seattle. You simply cannot enter his magical stores and fail to take away something very wonderful. Lovely objects and vessels and foodstuffs of all kinds--things to entertain all the senses, and bring a civilized luxury to any home. Imagine my excitement to see one of our pillows at Ted's vintage home in upstate New York! So honored!!

Whitney Edman Stanford is one of the three Edman sisters who recently opened their newest home store in Eugene: 110 Bungalow. 110 is a beautiful shop full of furnishings, art and vintage finds, and a full service design firm as well. Impeccably curated (there's that word again!!), it's a wonderful place to visit and revisit...always something new, something fresh, something you've never seen before.

A gifted designer and inspired shopkeeper, Whitney's home reflects her warm, effervescent personality. How excited were we to see several Opal pillows there!?

Our Mediterranean map pillow......

...and our Paris painter and Martini pillows!!

If you come to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to visit these stellar small businesses. Worth a special trip!

They say time flies..... October 18 2014, 1 Comment

It has been a year now since Opal at Home took it's first tottering steps out into the world!


Hard to believe.

We've created some hundred new pillow designs, shown them to buyers from all around the country (and even around the world!), and found them homes in beautiful shops from our home base in Eugene, Oregon, to Philadelphia, to Jackson Hole, to Costa Mesa, to Little Rock, to Austin, to Olympia, to Nantucket.....and too many other places to name.

So today is a day to think a minute, say a thank you to the people who have supported this little company, and understood it, and made it part of their own businesses or their own homes. We are eternally committed to the idea that home is more than a place, and that meaningful objects that reflect their owner's dreams, interests, desires are the only kind worth owning.

If you will keep coming back, and seeing what we do, we will keep doing our best to give you special pillows with beautiful, resonant images, to grace your own artful home!

So, Who Lives Here? February 07 2014, 0 Comments

A couple of years ago I was visiting a client with whom I had just recently started working. We were doing a bathroom remodel, specifically, but as we got to know each other, she wondered what I thought about her home. What wasn't working. I had to think about it. Coming to an answer required some thought; a home may not be to my personal taste, but that doesn't make anything wrong with it--not at all! But I needed my answer to be constructive, and something to build on.

"When I come here, I always think it's nicely decorated, but honestly--I don't know who lives here."

This is a woman with a rich, colorful cultural background, an active family life, a husband with an interesting career (and similarly interesting ancestry), a couple of grown, accomplished kids and a new grandchild. She has taste, and an eye, and is a warm, vibrant, interesting woman and yet, to go into her home, I had no sense of any of that.

We are working to fix that, and it's a really exciting project! But it has me thinking about home, and decoration, and how we can go about making our homes places that are expressive and alive with things that communicate who we are, not just what is in style, or the 'color of the year', or the latest chain store introduction. 



Europe, As We Saw It January 02 2014, 0 Comments

Our Opal Travelogue/Midcentury collection was taken from a huge collection of slides, taken by our family from 1959-63. In fact, those old photos were much of the inspiration behind Opal at Home! Two of my brothers have been family archivists, scanning and culling and printing for albums and framed art. There are amazing images there--surely the iconic places of Europe, but also people, cars, clothes.....there is such richness and, well, cool in them! (It doesn't hurt that my parents, who took them, were people who found beauty everywhere, had a sense of humor, and really made the most of 4 years living overseas. Such is the stuff of cool photos!) So I, the family interior decorator, thought they needed to be out there, somehow.

Pillows it is!!

Printed on white linen, we really do get amazing resolution, but a little softer, dreamier effect than the original photo.

Some other shots I'm feeling kind of inspired by right now:

How fabulously cool is THIS?? Sputnik lights and modern art in a Baroque setting. Love that every photo from this era and place has men in suits, women in dresses and heels.....Madmen Euro style!

A Russian cathedral, in Germany.

A guard at the Vatican....a woman at a shrine (I need to look up where)....a Venice canal...

That blur on the left is me, with my brother, playing amidst the art.

Kind of like now.

Better go make some pillows....

Happy New Year to all!


bespoke [bɪˈspəʊk] adj, Chiefly Brit December 16 2013, 0 Comments

Ever notice how a word pops up, you hear it once and suddenly you hear it EVERYWHERE?

I have one: 'bespoke'.

My stepdaughter, then living in London, talked about Opal at Home and called it our 'bespoke pillow line'. I confess ignorance!! Had NO idea what bespoke meant, only that it seemed like such a quaint, charming, British kind of word. (Especially so when said with a British accent, but then what ISN'T quaint and charming when so spoken?)

So I looked it up. Custom, made to order, sewn. It refers to the real artisans and craftspeople in the garment trades, who design and sew beautiful, unique tailored garments for their customers. Now, bespoke is used in tech, in design--even in cocktails!!

And, thanks to my lovely and well-traveled stepdaughter, Opal at Home's artisan crafted pillows!

We are in good company. Check out some really amazing companies, who love the concept too:

http://www.bespokeglobal.com/  Gorgeous goods!

http://bespokedesign.ca/  A wonderful design studio in one of the world's most delightful places, Victoria, BC.....and their offerings will soon include Opal pillows!

http://www.bespokeinnovations.com/content/gallery  We REALLY dig this! Custom designed prosthetics. Amazing!

And, for visual example, a bespoke pillow--appropriately enough, featuring a vintage map of London:

Bespoke!! Use it today; you'll be in fine company.

What is in a Name November 05 2013, 0 Comments

So many people have asked the significance of our name. One woman asked me, 'So you must be Opal, right?'


Nope. (I do have a Scottish Terrier named Ruby, but that's as close as I come!)


Opal at Home is named after Opal Whiteley, who was something of a naturalist prodigy here in Oregon in the early part of the 20th century, actually only a few miles from where we make Opal at Home pillows. She wrote a childhood diary of her days in the Oregon woods, and dreamed of some alternate life of European parentage.


She was an enigma about whom there have been many controversies (see this piece to read about her bigger story), but what we have always loved is the poetry of Opal's childhood diary. (You can read the original diary here.) Some suspect it was written later, but who cares? Whenever she wrote the diary--as a little child or young woman-- Opal was a charming, insightful observer of the natural world, and a poet of considerable grace and eloquence.


Her writing, and compelling story, made us think of our own penchant for looking for the beauty in the ordinary,  and the ways we want to meld the two in creating lovely things for the home.


The oddest moment of serendipity; when we thought of embroidering our new company monogram on the back of each of our pillows, and we realized that it was 'oh'--that exclamation of discovery and delight we want all who receive an Opal pillow to feel.



A Color Story October 26 2013, 0 Comments

So it's a tree. A trunk, to be more precise. Juxtaposed with that natural, bright, sharp, reason-for-living green of fresh fir needles.....the essence of nature...

I walk by that tree every day of my life, and it's always a moment.

How do I bring it home--that is, how do I bring that feeling I get when I pass it on my daily walk into my home, without hammering a literal photograph of tree bark onto my wall?

Love the silvery-earthy-greeny elements, that reference the color of the tree, and the texture of the pheasant's plumage that suggests the rugged surface of tree bark.

(This image was culled from a collection of antique fabric labels--little pieces of handcolored art on paper, used in the 1850s to mark rolls of yardage. Some, like this one, are true works of art, and rare to find. Believe it or not, the original label was just a very few inches in size. An amazing little treasure, become a bigger one here.)

An even less literal interpretation, the poignant lines and furrows in this elder Native American man's face echo the aged character of that tree. The texture and color of old photography enhance that further. There is some unspoken wisdom in my neighborhood tree, and this old Indian man.

I think, if I had to have some of that life affirming green, (and I think I would), I'd place a living plant. (That is a good rule: a bit of life in every room. People, plants, pets. Not necessarily in that order!)

Who would think that an image of urban Paris, circa 1961, could have any relevance to that grizzled tree??

But I think it does. The murky, complex, evocative colors of a gray day, midcentury, in that city......there is great beauty in both places--natural and industrial.


Illustrating a point, perhaps. Art needn't (and maybe SHOULDN'T) be too literal, and a great room can reference wonderful places and things without being too wed to literal schemes.




This could be the start of something...... October 07 2013, 0 Comments

 What in the world leads someone to start a line of pillows?


People who know me well--clients, friends, family--know that collecting, assembling,

decorating has been part of my life for about as long as I've breathed. 


My years of collecting ephemera, vintage art, old graphics, mementos--

tokens of a ton of other people's (and sometimes my own!) lives well lived--

left me with a lot of stuff. ("Treasures" I call it.) Technology offered a way to

design and print those wonderful, evocative elements on European linen; superb

craftsmanship and honest, high end materials (the same workmanship and

materials I used for design clients for many years: the same seamstresses,

the same Made in America down fills, the same care and craft) make them

into luxurious, artisan pillows.


So I guess it was meant to be! Rick, my husband, has run his own wholesale

house for many years, and was ready for another challenge. Or perhaps he

just wanted to keep me happy......well, no matter, Opal at Home has breathed

her first.


Thanks for joining us for the ride!!