Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Visual Vamp Is Moving!

Ever since my blog was hijacked a few months ago, assigning me a sign in name not of my choosing, I have felt uneasy. So Alberto finally helped me move it. I haven't gone far. I am still with blogspot. I like the format and am very used to it after three years.

I could not use my original blog name because it's taken (by me!). So we just added one crucial word: THE.

So the new blog is: The Visual Vamp

I kept the Follower feature located in the right hand margin. But alas, I could not transfer my followers, so it's like starting all over again. So please follow me if you like.

We also transferred comments that had to become part of the text. If I missed someone, please leave a new comment at the new location. You can also leave it again on any post at the new location.

The new format is a little more colorful, but still very classic.

I will not be posting on this blog site, but it will remain up.

So please follow me to The Visual Vamp!

Thanks for three great years here and for reading nearly 5000 posts!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Million Dollar Look

I can't believe it's the finale tonight of Million Dollar Decorators! It's been fun!

Go over to Houzz and see the collection of things I found to get the look of Mary McDonald's fab glam office HERE

Friday, July 15, 2011


My sister is visiting me! We have not seen each other since Katrina.

I have also been busy with some freelance projects, and some changes for The Visual Vamp blog. which is as they say, "under construction".

New and frequent posts coming soon. Hang in here with me.

As part of the changes, I want to ask you guys how you feel about the "Follower" feature. Is it important to you? I appreciate every reader and follower. How would you feel if I did not include the "Follower" feature on the updated Visual Vamp blog?

PS The sisters in the photo are Lady Gaga with her sister Natali

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hat Stack

Visual Vamp displays hats on a Union Jack Armoire

I love stacks of hats! Stack 'em high on entry hall tables or chests! I stacked these this morning on the Union Jack armoire near our front door. Alberto painted this for me a few months ago HERE, and it has turned out to be so handy, a nifty little "coat" closet and a place to hang Cholo's leash, and for me to stack some of my huge hat collection.

I share a few images with you to inspire you to stack your hats! Send me photos to show everyone.

Debra Shriver stacks her hats in her French Quarter home - photo by Valorie Hart

So very English! Hats, riding boots, bumbershoots, antlers!

Hang 'em high too!

Hats stacked on a chest



So do tell, how to yours stack up?

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Progressive Dinner Party In Three French Quarter Courtyards

French Quarter Courtyard #1 - Before

So I get a Tweet a couple of months asking me if I was up for a styling job. I followed the Tweet to an email that led to phone calls that led to a most interesting job.

The premise was a progressive dinner party to take place in three French Quarter courtyards, a benefit for NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts), in particular for the Culinary School.

Target was the generous sponsor, with the one request to use the Smith & Hawken product they sent for the party and for a photo shoot to be used for their various PR needs.

And send it they did! Over $35,000. of beautiful merchandise that the Target product designer and I chose to fit the personality of each of the three courtyards.

It was a complex and interesting project from receiving and organizing all the product in a hot New Orleans warehouse, to arranging for the home owners' things to be taken away and stored, to dealing with copious amounts of trash that all the packing materials created, and all the regular issues involved in planning a party, with everything done in triplicate!

Target and their PR team in New York were spectacular, the vendors in New Orleans impeccable, the French Quarter hosts stellar, generous, and helpful, and NOCCA was involved in the best possible ways.

It was the beginning of our record breaking heat wave in New Orleans, but that did not stop people from attending the sultry party, with nearly $60,000 raised in one night of fun for NOOCA!

Let's start with courtyard #1.

Courtyard #1 - Before

Small and charming, with the old servant's quarters balcony at my disposal. The home owners are avid collectors, and one of their collections is of copper pots and pieces in their kitchens. Target offered me product from their Smith & Hawken line, and there were many beautiful copper pieces to choose from.

I used Smith & Hawken zinc lanterns in all three homes, starting with this one, where they lined the narrow alley way that is the entrance to the courtyard. I chose to use wax battery operated candles for the whole project.

Smith & Hawken zinc lanterns from Target

Courtyard #1 was used for cocktails and hors d'ouvres. Fifty people were invited, and 58 turned up! Obviously this courtyard is too small for that amount of people, so the house was open to guests as well.

Patio furniture and dinnerware, glasses, flatware, and napkins from Target

I used Smith & Hawken copper rain chains to festoon the balcony rail

Planters and pots and lanterns from Smith & Hawken for Target

A Smith & Hawken hammered copper hose bowl was used for ice on the bar

Colorful fans rest in a Smith & Hawken copper boot tray for guests to take and use - a jazz brass band of student musicians from NOCCA played for the Second Line to accompany guests to the next location - Note the color of the fans...

On to courtyard #2, where dinner was served. The front entrance of each home was decorated with Smith & Hawken accessories from Target.

Wreaths and urns from Target

Courtyard #2 is long, and at first glance very large by French Quarter standards. But where do I put 50 people for dinner? I wanted this to be a seated family style dinner.

Courtyard #2 - before

So of course! I had an acrylic pool cover installed. That's precious real estate!

Acrylic pool cover by Event Rental

I placed Smith & Hawken teak tables on top of the pool! Host chairs are also Smith & Hawken, but I could not use the teak dining chairs to accommodate 58 people, so I rented bamboo folding chairs. I wanted to use a chair with a low top line so the Target product on the table could be seen and featured. I was wearing two hats: Product Stylist and Event Decorator.

Art of the Feast party designed by Valorie Hart

I added oversize tissue paper spheres everywhere! I chose hot spicy colors. The lovely courtyard is muted and monochromatic, and I wanted to inject a feeling of festive Summer fun by using color.

Over size tissue spheres

A garden of tissue spheres

For the table: I chose to leave the tables bare, to show off the gorgeous teak wood finish. I added Thomas O'Brien dinnerware from Target, and tea towels from Dwell Studio for Target for napkins. I love mixing the sophisticated pattern and color Dwell uses. More Smith & Hawken zinc lanterns were used on the tables, and ceramic pots (also S & H) were used for bright bouquets made by Tommy's Flower Shop in the French Quarter (533 Rue St. Louis, 504 522-65630.

Dwell Studio dish towels were used as napkins

Bouquets on the table by Tommy's Flowers

In another part of the courtyard, I replaced the homeowners lounge furniture with a fabulous teak set from Target.

Courtyard #2 - Before

There is an incredible terra cotta stucco wall in the courtyard, that gave me my color cue. I requested rusty orange cushions and umbrella. I mixed in navy blue accessories. I think orange and navy look so sophisticated and fresh together.

Smith & Hawken outdoor living room styled by Valorie Hart

The product designer asked that I incorporate garden tools along with the planters, furniture, and another accessories. Sure thing! I knew there were all these existing metal trellises in the flower beds, so I hung the tools on each of them. I think it made for a very pretty product shot!

Smith & Hawken garden tools styled by Valorie Hart

You can get all these pretty things at Target

A ton of ginormous planters were sent for each courtyard. I didn't have the budget to buy mass amounts of plants for them. So when I could, I popped the home owner's existing plants into the planters. When that wasn't possible, I "made" plants by using a few cases of cut lemon leaves and leather leaf fern stuffed into to Oasis floral foam. These florist fillers are often maligned, but I loved them because they withstood the annihilating heat!!!!

Cut greens were "potted" into oversize Smith & Hawken planters

Let's look at the courtyard again the day I went for the first walk through...

Art of the Feast - Before

And here's the same view on the night of the party. An extra table had to be added at the last moment for extra guests coming. I always go from plan A to Z with a smile. I had to pull a couple of rental tables from other uses, and juggle the seating arrangement. I visually pulled it all together.

Art of the Feast - After

But wait!!!! There's still one more courtyard to go to for dessert!!!! The guests walked two doors down for more fun.

Courtyard #3 - Before

Courtyard #3 belongs to someone many of us bloggers know and love. She's my fellow "New New" as she calls us, someone from New York and New Orleans. Her home was used for dessert. Again this third courtyard is a tiny gem, so a bar was set up there, and some seating for anyone wanting some sultry romantic ambiance. So the dessert buffet done by Sucre was set up on the dining table. Do you recognize it?

Dessert at house #3

I used garden ornaments from Smith & Hawken on the table: peacocks for whimsy, and mini birdbaths to hold macaroons.

Sucre did the macaroon topiary!

Small pastel bouquets were placed around the sitting room...Tommy's did these too (and all the flowers for all three homes).

Here's a total hint of whose house we are in!

Target handed out swell SWAG bags, that were placed all along the stairway

Of course I styled up the coutyard in this house too. The house is very French, so I chose things from Target accordingly.

Just to remind you of courtyard #3 - Before

Strings of copper shaded lights were festooned overhead, like the ones you often see in courtyards, restaurants, and even over narrow streets in Europe. Ceramic garden stools (from Target) took the place of larger furniture (and they have lights in the bottom!). Zinc lanterns were place around the courtyard. As night fell, I wanted the courtyard to twinkle, to be magical.

I had to "borrow" the linen covered table that was supposed to be the bar for the overflow of dinner guests at courtyard #2. So I used the owner's kithcen table as the bar, with a huge Smith & Hawken copper hose bowl for iced bottles of Proseco, and copper boot trays for glasses.

Courtyard #2 - After

Lights strung overhead were magical

French style peacocks, copper pots, zinc lanterns - all from Smith & Hawken

Styled for a product shot, but still cute for the party

Whew! Just reading all this and looking at all the pictures must have worn you out!!!!

I loved every minute of this project, and I hope you enjoyed a little insight into my work world, and I hope you got some good ideas to use for your next party. Do check out Target and get some of these things. The summer sales are in full swing, and there is still alot of summer entertaining to do.

And speaking of summer entertaining, go on over to Eddie Ross and read about his backyard bash. Alberto and I went to it a year ago!!! How fast another summer has rolled along.

All photos of Art of the Feast by Valorie Hart
Except dessert buffet - photo by Sucre
Read more HERE