Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meanwhile, in Mark's Garden; October 2013

Meanwhile, in Mark's Garden, October 2013 

Fall is my FAVOURITE time of year,....pumpkins, mums, leaves a-changin', crisp, cool air, cloudless, blue skies.  My gardens seem to be at their best in the Autumn, what with new growth over the Spring/Summer, and,....when I (or in this particular month, Dan Cleveland's crew) pull out all the weeds, trim the boxwoods, and plant those wonderful pansies that bloom all Winter here in Atlanta.

Here's a few photos of some of my gardens, taken on a beautiful Sunday morning in October:

Bachus.      And moi.
18th Century stone/pebble water trough

2 of my Japanese Maples

1920's French faux-bois with pansies in antique Majolica

Freshly-trimmed boxwoods

Healthy ferns

My goldfish fountain

Pansies in windowboxes for the winter

Yellow mums coming back in front garden....

As good as I am as an Interior Designer, my work (and any of our work) pales by comparison to what God does outside.  Next time you have a chance,.....go out and "play in the dirt!" 
Keep Calm And Plant A Perennial!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tears of Joy

Recently, I was invited to my clients' (and friends') Lake House in Hiawasee, Georgia. We've been talking about me coming up for over a year; for the last 2 years, I helped renovate and decorate their wonderful home in Marietta.  I had met Larry at Scott Antique Market, and after a brief chat, he took one of my cards and went home to talk to his wife about hiring me to help with some renovation work.  He seemed to like my portfolio on my website,, and called me to schedule a complimentary first-visit to their home. 

I arrived a few days after his call, met his wife, Cheryl, and I knew early-on that they were going to be fun to work with.  They both have an innate sense of style, good taste, and are very intelligent.  Larry has a tendency to buy something EVERY time he goes to Scott's; that was evident when I walked their home for the first time.  They have the largest collection of antique American Eastlake furniture I've ever seen!   

We scheduled their Renovation in two Phases, based on both timing and budget.  Fast forward to 18 months later, when their 1990s home was decorated "The Mark Way," fresh paint colours (Farrow and Ball), furniture re-arranged, some new draperies, and additions from Mark Sunderland Antiques.  I must say, it turned-out pretty-nicely, and they were pleased. 

Sooooooo,....on to the LAKE!!! 

Within minutes of arriving on a Saturday afternoon, the cog wheels in my brain were a-turnin', ....and I immediately started doing my "thang.". I cannot move furniture (lower-back), but Cheryl and Larry were eager to help, and they did (I think we all lost 10 pounds in 3 days,.....Cheryl called it the "Mark Sunderland Boot Camp.").   

As I often do, I forgot to take "Before" pictures.  Suffice it to say that just-about 90% of the furniture you see in these photos was originally in a different place.  

On the third morning, as I was decorating Larry's Über-Cool huge country-store glass-doored cabinet, Cheryl came up to me, touched my arm, and said, "Mark, I can't tell you how happy you've made me and Larry.". She cried.  I cried.  Larry didn't cry; he was labouring in the Guest Bedroom, installing a huge antique shutter headboard!!!....... Maybe he cried later.

Folks, this is what Decorating is ALL ABOUT.  It is SO rewarding receiving positive-feedback, and tears of joy are just-about the highest form of gratitude.  This was certainly one of my highest moments in decorating in the last 20 years.  This Designer, following his passion, becomes even-more energized with feedback like this.  
So, without further adieu, here is their re-decorated Lake House:

Billy Bob

Dog Hall of Fame

Downstairs TV Room

Ducks Unlimited

Better wall for this beautiful Elk Oil Painting

Family Heirlooms; LOVED Grandmama's squirrel!

Gone Fishin'

This Hoosier cabinet just HAD to move upstairs to Cheryl's kitchen

Larry collects antique sportsmen calendars (among other things!!!!!)

Sorry, don't get to hang an elk painting over this beautiul lead-glass window!

My "Ralph-inspired" Living Room

Reeled In
Son's bedroom


Upstairs Children's Bedroom
Max was my "Design Assistant." He followed me everywhere....guess I tuckered him out!

Last Look at Lake...

It's okay to Cry Here
Did you shed a tear or two? Probably not, but I did, and, most importantly, my client did. Thank You, Cheryl and Larry, for yet another opportunity to feature your wonderful things you have collected in all the years you've been married.



Monday, October 14, 2013

"Number One"

Check THIS out, Folks!  My "Number One," Deborah Porter, recently wrote a term-paper for her college course in Operations Management.  Imagine my surprise when I opened THIS email!  I was truly touched.  Deborah and I go way back; she's worked for me over 10 years.  I consider her not only a friend, but a member of my family.   

I am so proud of Deborah and her accomplishments.  She presently handles my bookkeeping and pre-tax financials, but after her graduation in May (and, I would imagine passing a hard TEST), she'll be a full-fledged ACCOUNTANT! 

In 2007, when I was audited, and my accountant, Morray and I went Downtown for our meeting, the IRS agent said, "I don't know who your bookkeeper is, but I've NEVER seen such organization!" ....Such a nice thing to hear, ESPECIALLY given the source. 

I would imagine that Deborah gets a good grade on this fact, I'll let her tell you herself.  As of October 12, Deborah is taking on my Internet posting duties (e-blasts, blogs, and some magical way that my Internet Awareness increases for both my Design business and Antique business).  

Junior DeBarros, my current Internet Guy, is following his PASSION in the Music Industry.  I'm so happy for Junior; his shoes will certainly be hard to fill, but I'm confident that my "Number One" will take the torch and keep me in the race. 

So, without further adieu, here's Deborah's paper on moi:

Mark Sunderland Interiors, Inc. began in 2003 in Atlanta, GA with a focus on high-end homes in Metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Senior Designer, Mark Sunderland has been an ASID member since 1998, which allows him benefits that include networking, seminars and education on products and services in the design industry as well as access to the leading sources of information and research, sponsorship and marketing.

A design center in the heart of Atlanta that consists of the industry’s finest product lines including furniture, fabric, rugs, lighting, accessories, art, flooring, kitchen/bath and home theater products just to name a few. ADAC is open to the trade only but consumers may accompany their designers while shopping for product.

Mr. Sunderland specializes in four major design areas; antiques, draperies, framing and furniture. Mark Sunderland Interiors, Inc. incorporates key elements of the design process as it relates to operations management. Whether it is a client who simply wants to recover their old sofa or a client who wants new furniture for a living room or their whole house, Mr. Sunderland starts with a concept then designs the product and lastly it is delivered and he services the customer’s needs.

Mr. Sunderland once said “The right drapery and window treatments often make the difference between a nice room and an interior with intrinsic value and integrity” (Sunderland, M.). Mr. Sunderland uses his understanding and knowledge of fabrics, textures and colors to create looks for every home. Mr. Sunderland believes that trends come and go but furniture will retain elegance and value over decades. He knows where to go to get the best timeless pieces that ensure exceptional beauty, durability and value.

When hunting for antiques, Mr. Sunderland travels to places like Pennsylvania, England, France as well as local areas in Georgia to find unique and popular items that consumers are seeking to update their home décor. Currently, Mr. Sunderland has three separate locations at different antique markets who all sell his antiques; Scott’s Antique Market, Historic Roswell Antique Market and Westside Antique Market.

Mr. Sunderland meets with the client to find out what their ideas are including a theme, style, color, fabric texture and budget. He creates his vision using CAD drawings and work boards with color and fabric samples, which is then presented to the client. Once the client chooses the design the product is ordered.

A typical installation day consists of Mr. Sunderland spending all day at the client’s home placing the new product and he also brings other accessories, including lamps, pillows, home décor, sometimes antiques from his inventory, to try and sell and coordinate with the home. Most clients are over-come when they see Mr. Sunderland’s creation and his master-technique of placement. Upon completion of the install, Mr. Sunderland presents his clients with a gorgeous hand-made floral arrangement, courtesy of Mark Sunderland Interiors, Inc.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our top-selling leather chair!!!!

(Mark Sunderland FOR Home Fashion Interiors)

Fall is in the air, dontcha feel it?  The Economy has finally eased up in our Industry.  Furniture stores usually follow the real estate market, and, from what I hear, most of the forclosures are bought-up, and new-home building is BACK!  Now THAT's A Good Thing!

I started at Home Fashion Interiors a month ago, and boy, TIME FLIES when you're Über-Busy!  Each and every day, dozens of people visit our store, ....some for the first time.  I've met some great clients.  Some LOVE the fact that 95% of our 18,000 square feet of Showroom is AVAILABLE for IMMEDIATE delivery (we usually deliver within the week).  I simply cannot understand how some stores just won't sell their floor samples, ESPECIALLY in this New World Economy.  Each week, we sell about 15 sofas "off the floor," and within a day or two, Jim, the owner, brings new ones from his 10,0000 square foot warehouse in the back.  Last Sunday, I personally sold 7 items of furniture off the floor.  Why? The client didn't want to wait.  He's moving into his NEW house in Brookhaven September 27 and wanted that "feel good,...immediate" rush of happiness that comes with NEW FURNITURE!  BTW: we deliver his things Saturday, September 28!  Win-Win!


Our TOP-SELLING leather chair,...we're sold-out today, BUT: we left 2 on the floor for y'all to come in and sit on, because we have 48 on-order,....arriving at our warehouse early-October.  How's THAT for inventory-back-up?!!!!  As Jim has made this uber-big order, he's received not only the EXCLUSIVE on this chair, but received a better price which we're sharing with our clients.  How's $1599/chair sound? Henredon.  Leather. $1599.  Who wouldn't?

I've already "pre-sold FOUR for a client for a "chat room" in her home.  So that leaves 44.........all of the designers are calling their clients with this great promotion, so we expect to sell-out by the end of the month.

So pull the trigger, jot me a note, and order the most supple leather in that gorgeous colour, chamois (the colour of your chamois cloth that you dry your car with, BUT: the leather is tanned in a most-luxurious smooth, finish ("feels just like 'BUTTAH'.......").

AND, if you're eyeing that WONDERFUL dining table, it's from Theo and Alexander; the "Bromwich Castle Collection."  All antique wood planks hand-planed and hand waxed for that antique-look.  This is a long table; there's about 30 more sizes available: round, rectangle, oval, and, if you haven't seen it yet, several sizes of dining tables that start at one size, ...and,....after moving the "pie-pieces" out, then opening up these Über-Cool self-storing leaf-extensions, becomes a LARGER table within 4 minutes!  Here's one we have in a smaller size (there's several larger versions):

These tables are SOOOOO cool; an engineering marvel!

THANKSGIVING is fast-approaching, Folks!  These tables are in-stock and READILY-AVAILABLE.  Prices upon request,....let me know what size fits in Your World.

We expect our BEST Fall Season EVER!  The Economy is getting better, and we're seeing lots of people shopping for furniture that haven't done so for the past 3 years.  Good Thing, This!

Enjoy that cool nip in the air and:

Keep Calm and Order Some Great Furniture
from Home Fashion Interiors!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How To Decorate A China Cabinet

One of my strengths as an Interior Designer is "space-planning," be it a floor plan or in today's case, how to place things in a China Cabinet.  For 20 years, EVERY time I sell someone a china cabinet (or "Breakfront........the ones that have a "break" in the wood in the front of the cabinet), I offer to come after the piece is delivered and I DECORATE their china cabinet as only I can do (haha.....).

Here are some of my "secrets" to this somewhat overwhelming process for certain people.

THIS China Cabinet I found at an Estate Sale of Helen Deasey's. (Turnage Place Estate Sales, Atlanta).  It's made in the USA from E.J. Victor, in fact, it's from the Newport Mansion series (the ORIGINAL is sitting in one of those beautiful old homes in Newport, Rhode Island).  I had sold 2 of these years ago, at a price of, GET THIS: $22,800.00!!!  Really.

I went to Helen's sale and bought this China Cabinet, a Karges sideboard, and several Baker items.  I told my clients to go visit it at my booths at Historic Roswell Antique Market.  They did; they loved it.  My price: $3400!  Win-Win.

I digress; I often digress.  To START the decorating process, make sure that the cabinet is level, that it's plugged in behind the piece, AND: make sure that all the shelves are placed WITH THE PLATE GROOVES FACING UP AND IN THE BACK, after that, get out your Windex and clean the shelves better than your cleaning-lady.  Spic and Span, clean, shiny.

Now: you should have ALL your things (china pattern, chargers, Grandma's Sterling, crystal stemware,.......have MORE than you'll need to select from your STAGING AREA, which is usually your dining table (with a table pad or towels so your glassware and dishes will not scratch your table).

Ellen, my client, did a great job preparing for my arrival by STAGING her things on her dining table.  Since this was a new cabinet, I wanted to decorate it in a different way than she had had before.  When I arrived, I asked to see her china pattern.  She obliged by bringing out plates, cups, saucers, the works.  Her beautiful china had been her mothers, which is: A Good Thing!  She also rounded up some of her favourite art-glass pieces, and I had both Sterling and silver plate to choose from.  Crystal and cut glass are derigeure to get that sparkle effect.  Some of the glass had belonged to Ellen's Grandmother, another Good Thing.

Assess your treasures and start placing!  I like to put crystal and coloured-glass on the top shelf, as the light from the canned lights does beautiful things inside the cabinet.  I knew I wasn't going to use ALL of Ellen's china pattern, fact, in this case, I think I only used 3 plates.  If you don't have a lot of crystal or colourful glass vases, it's AOK to use more of your china.  Just DON'T put all 12 plates in the back, as your cabinet will look like the ones at the department stores.

Bring out that bling (wedding gifts that have never seen the light of day) and have fun with this.  Experiment, trying different configurations (think of the faces of dice,....that works sometimes) and don't be afraid to start over if it's not "blowing air up your skirt," an 'Ellenism' I've added to my vernacular.

My client, Ellen's crystal stemware was already doing its "thang" in a glass-fronted corner-kitchen-cabinet, so we didn't put stemware inside her China Cabinet.  BUT: if you want to use glassware, here's what to do:

Place tallest glasses in the far corners (perhaps Champagne flutes).  Then, to the right, put the next-tallest (water glasses), and finish a triangle with a pretty wine glass.  Remember: far corners of the shelves; it's a nice, orderly look.  You would START with stemware in these cases.

If your cabinet does not have plate grooves, you would have had to get: 12 medium BLACK plate stands and 12 large BLACK plate stands.  You won't use all of them; you can return the ones that you do not use.......

After about an hour or two, I've played, changing this, replacing that and VOILA:

Mission Accomplished!

So whaddya think?  Pretty phenomenal, eh?  (I strive for phenomenal).  Oh, and another thing: TAKE PHOTOS OF THE FINISHED PLACEMENT.  Print it out in colour and put in one of the top drawers.  THAT WAY, your cleaning lady will get it right when they dust.  And TRUST ME, they NEVER get it right without a photo.

If the china cabinet has glass sides (and they usually do,...keep in mind what the SIDE VIEW looks like:

It's important to consider the SIDE VIEW of the cabinet; 
my clients and their guest see this view from their Living Room

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.  Feel free to jot me a note with any questions you have.  Interior Designers are HAPPY to come to your house and DECORATE.  It's what we do.  Although my deal is complimentary-decorating every time I sell a china cabinet, expect to pay your designer by the hour with a 2-hour minimum.  You're entitled to your opinions, but, if you hire someone, let him/her do their thing.......we're professionals.  We're good at this.  And it's important.

Send me photos of your newly-decorated China Cabinets.  I'll pick the best one around October 15, and post it on a blog.  Hell, I'll buy a nice candle to send to the winner.  A nice candle,...get it?

Happy Decorating!  I hope that you've learned something that you didn't know.  And remember:



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Traffic Court: It's NOT "A Good Thing!"

Last Tuesday, I had to go to traffic court. Many of you know the accident I had, when I swerved to avoid killing a squirrel, and scratched my neighbor's car. I was raised to do the right thing, so I had to pull over to report this minor accident to the owner of a VW Passat. I WANTED to pull right in front of my neighbor's car, but alas, I could not, as there was a fire hydrant there. So I circled my own block (15+ minutes) and returned, parking BEHIND said Passat.

While I was waiting for the police to arrive (again, doing the right thing) a HUGE 20' dead tree-limb came CRASHING down on top of my 2002 Range Rover!  I found out one week later that State Farm deemed my vehicle: TOTALED.   This story, by the way, was featured in the Atlanta Jounal-Constitution August 22.  Really.

But I digress.  Back to Tuesday; back to traffic court.

As a true Sunderland, I arrived early for my 3 pm court appearance (Courtroom  6A, City of Atlanta Court), and gave up my seat in the hall outside to a woman who arrived after me.  At 2:55 pm, the pleasant, yet stern, security-guard asked for all for 6A to "gather.". As 20+ people remained seated, Mr. Officer grumbled, then eventually all stood around him, like cattle going to slaughter.  He opened the locked double doors, after warning us of the strict rules and regulations we were to expect inside the courtroom.  Well, THAT was a sign of things to come........

We were directed to form a line single-file and wait to check in with the Court clerks.  Several were reprimanded for not following instructions, and an eerie silence pervaded the Courtroom.  Her Honour sat above in the right corner of the Court.  She was tailored, well-kempt, and sported a festive, sparkly hair accessory.  We all soon knew that this judge meant business, as she multi-tasked filing papers, entering things on her computer, calling each attorney who sat at the front-left of the court, among other things.

Her Honour wasted no time requesting Mr. Officer to REMOVE the mothers with the crying babies (who were in an antechamber WAY in the back.....behind a closed door!) to the outside hall where we had convened before 3.  This was simply "unacceptable" in her courtroom.  Then, she barked something stating that we would NOT start the proceedings until more people arrived.  It was 3:14 and she was visibly agitated for these latecomers (who after 3:21, were herded into a 18th century New England-like penalty box where they later suffered the Wrath of The Judge).  This lady HAD to have been a German Catholic nun schoolteacher in a former career; she had everything but a blood-stained ruler.  She had, of course, her gavel, and she used it!

My favourite part of waiting for "my day in court" was the procedure of Judge Hilda calling the names (and, unbelievably to moi) of MANY.........25+ sad sacks who were no-shows. Well!  She would speak into her microphone each name.  "Catherine Conrad?" ......VERY QUIET,....although it was difficult getting much more quiet than had already been established.    There was a three-second pause, then: "NOT PRESENT IN THE COURT; SUMMON A WARRANT FOR ARREST!" and THAT was immediately followed by the Court Clerk shouting, "YES, YOUR HONOUR!". This continued for fifteen minutes, and my armpits soaked my t-shirt under my blue French-cuff shirt (shoulda worn white!!!) as I dreaded spending the night in a jail cell downstairs.

After the non-attending Losers were summoned (with gusto), the Judge proceeded to the cases of those who had brought an attorney.  It was clear to me that these folks had done more than swerve from a scampering squirrel.  I heard amounts like, "$800, $1200, etc.," and the several attorney'd-up violators happily agreed to pay their high fines (to avoid the salt mines, I guess!) and get the heck out of Dodge.

Finally, it was "our turn," i.e. those who were pleading guilty or lobo or loco or whatever that Latin phrase is.  Note: My attorney-friend, Steve Lore, who volunteers with me at Shepherd Center, had advised me to plead, "Guilty With An Explanation.". I even asked the nice Prosecutor when it was my turn to submit my guilty plea signed paper if I could ask him a question (God forbid doing ANYTHING without asking permission in THIS Courtroom), he said, "Of course!". I said, I have been advised to plead guilty with an explanation.  He reached for my signed paper, turned it back over, and entered something in his computer.  I THOUGHT I'd have a chance to explain to the Judge my sad story of The Squirrel and The Dead Limb.

WRONG!!!  As the three people in front of me told the Judge they could not pay today, they were escorted to the New England Penalty Box to await jail, I guess.  They were sad.  They were poor.  I was sad for them. I've been poor.   As I approached the podium with my own microphone, I practiced in my mind what I was going to say, and how I would say it.  Calmly, Collectively.  Waiting, I stared at my yellow ticket from August 1st and panicked that my iPad, which I had turned off, I know, would erupt in a blink-blink into the mike, ruining my chances of finishing the day a free man.

The Judge was brief and succinct.  "Mr. Sunderland, your fine is .......(I'm fading away, knowing that my opportunity to say something has just vanished into the silence of the lambs.........) blah-blah-blah, plus court costs for a total of $215.25; can you pay this amount TODAY, Mr. Sunderland?"

"Yes, Your Honour, I can." Gavel down,.....I grabbed my leather-covered iPad, yellow ticket and RAN (well, not really) out of her sight, heading downstairs to pay the cashier.

Oh, ....and another thing: she mentioned at the End: "If you do not pay your fine downstairs today, Mr. Sunderland, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.". No Shit, Sherlock!  Got it.  Loud and Clear.  Over and Out.  Actually, I cannot remember my spectator-clad feet hitting the ground until I was downstairs on Floor 2.  I must have been so thankful that I left her courtroom unscathed, no bleeding or vomiting (and I expect one of those things happened amongst the 80+ traffic criminals  who followed me that day).

I have NEVER witnessed such a strict disciplinarian; Hitler and Attila The Hun have nuttin' on this broad!  (no letters, please!).   In my opinion, she should run the entire school-system in the United States.  Within 2 years, crime would go down, children would learn more,....the World Would Be A Better Place!  Of this, I am sure.

Traffic court needs good people, I suppose.  I'm telling you, this Lady churned and burned it.  The name, Taskmaster, just wouldn't make it as her moniker.  I welcome names that might be worthy of this Public Servant.

Now, I must relax, enjoy my evening, and hope that I can sleep through the night,...happily on my Ralph Lauren sheets, not a flea-infested cushion hanging from a pair of thick chains.

As always: Keep Calm and RESPECT THE LAW!!!