NYC "It was all a dream..."
How does a girl verbalize the feeling of a dream come true that she never even had?! How do you process being given a gift that you would never think to ask for? Well, however you’d describe it is exactly how I felt and still feel about last week’s trip to Brooklyn, NY with the best friend of my dreams, Shavonda Gardner (@sgardnerstyle).
Shavonda was given the INCREDIBLE opportunity to design a room in the Real Simple Idea Home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and the very first thing she asked was if I could do it with her! How many people can you think of in your life that not only cheer you on, but also PUT YOU ON!?!? She is the epitome of LIFT AS YOU CLIMB!!! Shavonda is my biggest supporter and I’m her loudest hype man and the fact that she even thinks to share these kinds of opportunities with me is just mind blowing! The two of us work so well together, but just love being together, so I would’ve gone as her assistant and carried her luggage just to experience NY with her. But, this woman wanted me there as her equal! She wanted my name to be recognized! She wanted to share her light with me!
When it came to designing the space, Shavonda came up with the overall design plan. We came up with a furniture layout to best suit the needs of the faux family we were designing for. We were assigned the 3rd floor office: a space primarily used for the home owner’s design business, but also as her get away meditation space.
My bestie slayed every single finish and selection in that room. It is literal perfection. Moody black walls featuring panel moulding, a gorgeous floral print wallpaper installed on the ceilings, a timeless burl wood desk, which is the centerpiece of the entire space, and oh so much more.
After Shavonda conceptualized and selected finishes for the space, that’s when I step in. My job is to make all the details sing and each finish come alive!
There were a few pieces for the room that didn’t make it before we left for Atlanta, but we were beyond pleased with how things were turning out. We all have to wait until the October issue of Real Simple to see the completed space!
But designing a beautiful space wasn’t all NY brought us! Because Shavonda is who she is, we had the chance to meet some of the most incredible people in not just the world of design, but in the word period!
I was introduced to the world of blogging by none other than Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love. Their blog was the very first blog I’d ever read (over 10 years ago)! They were also a part of designing a room in the Real Simple home and their faces were the first ones we saw when we arrived! Of course, the fangirling commenced immediately! They were so incredibly kind…and even more hilarious! Not to mention, the most gorgeous “secret” son and daughter I’ve ever seen! We got to spend the day working on our rooms and then went to dinner together at the infamous Junior’s.
Transportation in NY for two people who are unfamiliar with the city completely sucked. These 2 stops took us over 4 hours! Actually, to be completely honest…it was the worst part about being in NY. All NY drivers are aggressive AF and getting into an Uber/Lyft was a crap shoot. One driver had me gripping my seat and praying for my life and another almost made me slit my wrists because he drove for 30 minutes while riding his brakes and stopping unnecessarily at every almost yellow light! On top of this, my bestie had a real aversion to taking the subway (I’ll let her explain this one"), so walking and ride share were our only options. But…we prevailed.
Now that I think about it, walking was probably my favorite way to get around. Although it was a billion degrees while we were there, it was the most intimate way to experience the city and the people and places in it. We passed by some of the most amazing brownstones, ate at a quaint authentic Thai restaurant and were surprised to meet some incredibly warm personalities. NY isn’t the city that screams warm and fuzzy, but we loved almost every person we encountered.
Our final day in the city brought on more awesome faces and even more adventure. We were able to link up with Susan and Will Brinson of House of Brinson. They’re another incredible design duo in the world of blogging and beyond! We met them for brunch at a now favorite Brookly spot: Peaches, Shripm & Crab! The food and the company were nothing but superb.
Susan and Will are NYC vets and shared so much about the city with us. It was fascinating to hear how much the city, especially Brooklyn, had changed over the years. It’s one thing to have an idea from shows like, She’s Gotta Have It, but it’s another to hear it straight from a horse’s mouth. We wrapped up brunch and they drove us into the city (Manhattan). I was destined to walk into my favorite furniture retailer and biggest design inspiration, CB2. Susan insisted that we visit Michele Varian, a shop in SoHo. She was right to insist.
On a design high from Michele Varian, we headed to CB2.
My reaction: quite uninspired and disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved every bit of the product. But, the environment was nothing to bat an eye at. There were no special displays, not even at the entrance. I’ve seen better merchandising in a JCPenny. Apparently, we should’ve gone to the flagship location in Eastside, NY. I wish we’d known this on the front end. But. like I said, at least the product was still amazing.
After a disappointing visit to CB2, we meandered around and found ourselves at none other than Le Labo Fragrances. I’d gone almost 8 months without perfume so I thought it was the perfect time to acquire some.
Bestie fell in love with one of their home fragrances, Verveine 32. I left with what I like to call ‘something simple’, Santal 33.
We ended our trip with an amazing dinner at SoCo Brooklyn amongst our community. Five women traveled from all parts of NY to spend time with us. We laughed, shared our Uber horror stories and mentally swapped lifestyles after all of us shared what life was like back home.
Shavonda and I took zero photos on our own devices, but hope to see our pics pop up on the internet soon as the ladies share, but it was the perfect bookend to a perfect trip. Being surrounded by these women reminded me of how important it is to find your tribe. Shavonda is my tribe. She is my person. This trip not only would not have happened with her, it wouldn’t have been the same without her. That trip has imprinted a new perspective upon me. I left feeling as though I hadn’t been thinking big enough. Dreaming big enough. This trip showed me beyond the art of possible and a peek into the life I wanted to live. I wanted to have more experiences like this with my best friend. I wanted us both to be able to have our spouses with us. I wanted us to be able to have more opportunities to make decisions to “pack up and go” without having to be burdened by ‘how?’.
So, friends, let’s just let this post be my stake in the ground. This is the step after ‘getting your shit together’. It’s the next step of ‘what now?’. The step up to ‘what’s next?’ . And I can’t be more excited.