If you’ve been a client of Huff Harrington’s for several years, and you have a new appreciation for the beauty of your home, featuring art work you forgot you had, a living room that has been flipped to its better side, a husband’s study that even he likes, bookcases that are artfully arranged, children’s art that is masterfully framed and a prominent dog bed that suits its royal highness, chances are you have been “Sammied.” That’s the expression that we’ve developed over the years for those us who have been lucky enough to have our homes zhushed by, in our humble opinion, one of the most talented designers in Atlanta.
When we first met Sam, almost twenty years ago, we’d heard she was a talented designer but we didn’t dare promote her services without “testing” her first ourselves (always a great excuse anyway!). Once we were each happily "Sammied," it was easy to recommend her for dozens of projects both in Atlanta and abroad. Eventually these projects took her to N.Y., London, San Francisco, the South of France and Paris, where she complained incessantly that we worked her so hard, she never got to see the Eiffel Tower! (Which, as you can see, was a flat out fib since all she had to do was look up from her chores and out the window!)
(Admittedly, she had to crane her neck a little, from hemming, pressing and hanging 18 panels of curtains, but to complain? Really, Sam?)
On a return visit to Paris, this time with 53 pillow covers and dozens of accessories that we stuffed into our suitcases for a magnificent hotel project on the Place Dauphine, Sam complained that we kept her from seeing Notre Dame, which again proved to be an exaggeration, since she could see it plainly from the hotel balcony!
It didn't take long for us to figure out that aside from a few demanding little quirks, like seeing iconic landmarks or taking a brief break for lunch and dinner, Sam was one of the hardest working, creative, enormously talented and fun to be with designers we'd ever encountered - who managed to wear many hats in every city we took her to.
Sam, wearing many hats, on a London project
Now, sadly for us, our dear Sam – our jack of all trades, renaissance woman extraordinaire who keeps us both on our toes and entertains us simultaneously -- has decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and return to Florida with her husband, Johnny,
I could easily fill this blog with hysterically funny Sammy’isms; but instead, I’d like to reflect on some of the wisdom that she has imparted to us and thank her for generously sharing her talents with us over the years.
Here are some of Sam’s top ten tips for making every room comfortable, functional and beautiful - with just a couple of my own comments peppered in:
Rethink how you use your rooms and what makes the most sense for your life: e. If you don’t need a dining room, make it a library; or if you really need a study, give up your living room.
Analyze the light you have in day and at night and figure out where you need more light. Then consider the uses of lamps, including floor lamps, art lighting or spotlights to expand upon that light. You can dress up an inexpensive lamp with a great shade. And you can update a traditional room with a modern lamp. (Remember this lamp that we bought at Goodwill in San Francisco? We called it Hermes!)
- Use bookcases to showcase more than books and open up space to make a room look bigger. Think of painting the backs of bookcases slightly darker than the wall color to give it more depth and sculptural quality.
Hang art in unusual places and arrange groupings of disparate paintings to create a larger “tableau” (like the painting you put in the fireplace in your favorite Paris apartment?)
- Redefine art by using unexpected pieces to complement your collection, such as children’s art or found pieces from the outdoors (rock, shells, pine cones) or “non art” as art, such as boxes, household utensils, curtain finials, kids clay sculpture.
One makes the other sing: If you have all wooden traditional pieces in a room, pick one out as a focal point and paint in soft French grey to lighten up the room. (Remember how this table was red marble, before you convinced our clients to let you paint it?)
(And then you made me paint it!)
Mix it up! Put a formal table in a kitchen to dress it up or paint a mirror in French grey if you have a lot of dark wood furniture. Add contemporary art to spark a traditional space (and when the client doesn't have contemporary art, paint it yourself!)
(… like you did for our San Francisco client, with two gorgeous made to order Sam Jones original paintings!)
Create vignettes in every room that put a smile on your face: Combine a painting, a sculptural piece, a lamp, a table and a comfortable chair, with an inviting book next to it. Do it from your existing collections and don’t go out and buy a thing! (Oh thanks, Sam, did you forget we own a home furnishings store?)
Don’t throw out sofas or chairs but recover them in strong neutral colors and use overstuffed down pillows to fluff. (Remember when you were about to throw out your check fabric and then we decided to use it in Provence ....
and there was enough left over to cover a headboard in Paris!
- And finally, a can of paint is your best investment for a quick makeover. Use wonderful neutral colors like Duron’s Tequila or Benjamin Moore’s China White, and let the art pop the color.
Those are just a few of Sam's isms that she has put to use over the years. But if you were to ask her right now, I guarantee she'd spew out another ten!
So what will our lives be like without Sam to bombard us with great ideas and entertain us every day? We will certainly miss this incredibly creative, caring, compassionate, clever and oh so cunning lady --- but something tells me that she has mastered the art of texting, and along with a few jabs here and there, and a suggestion or two about how to make things better, she'll be back in our lives in one way or another, and we'll continue to laugh and learn, for many years to come. (Or that is my hope!)
Cheers, Sammy! Here's to you and your next chapter. We'll miss you terribly but will never forget everything you've taught us … and all the laughs we've had along the way.
P.S. On a personal note, let me just include this special picture you took which warms my heart and says it all ; Johnny at the golf course on the 4th of July, where you, our pet sitter extraordinaire, found a creative and patriotic way to include my (ahem, well our) precious dog! Thank you.