Interior Decorating by Elaine Burns

Filtering by Tag: travel

Pistachio in Peru!

Like most people, I spend the first week of a new year crafting goals for the upcoming months, compiling a list of things I’d like to accomplish.
One (big) goal I had for 2017 was to do a solo adventure vacation.

I spent several weeks researching and considering what sorts of day-trips and tours I’d like to do on my own, ultimately booking a week-long trip to Cusco, Peru! I worked with the tour company Elite Travel to help plan a customized itinerary. It was the perfect solution for a first-time solo female traveler.

The focus of my trip was on exploring and immersing myself in the weaving culture and traditions of the region. Inspired by my ‘textile kick’ from last fall, it felt like the perfect way to utilize this solo trip; I could spend as much time as I wanted (read: a majority of my stay) on a design-oriented exploration.

On the first day of my trip, my guide took me to the Awana Kancha living museum - an alpaca farm and weaving community. It was a great introduction to the different alpaca species in the region and I learned about different yarn dying practices/materials. I made the decision right there on the spot that my favorite type of alpaca was the Suri (they look like friendly mops!!).

We then drove down to the valley of Pisac where I had a serious test of my Spanish in the textile market. First order of business: pick up an alpaca blanket and some yarn for my knitting-extraordinaire of a sister.

The next leg of my trip was focused on visiting Aguas Calientes - the town of Machu Picchu. After the hectic prior days of village-hopping, altitude-acclimating, and touring, some downtime was just what I needed. The town is small, so it only took me a couple of hours to wander the streets and get the lay of the land. I focused mainly on eating stellar local specialties and bargaining in the local textile market...again (added another alpaca blanket to my collection!).

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Machu Picchu and the surrounding landscape were truly as incredible as everyone says. The ruins were impressive, and learning about the ancient Incans that lived there was fascinating. But soaking up the views and surroundings was what I spent most of my time doing once my tour group dispersed. Another bonus of solo travel: ample time for reflection and relaxation.

Next came my absolute favorite part of the trip: a visit to the Patacancha community as part of a tour with the Awamaki organization. Awamaki is a group that works with women in local Andean villages to support their weaving traditions by empowering these women to start their own small businesses selling their pieces. It is a wonderful organization to support if you are looking for sustainable tourism activities; I highly recommend.
The women were so gracious in demonstrating their techniques and I was able to complete a project along with them (!!!). I felt so honored to be welcomed into their community, meet their families, and ultimately their home over a home-cooked meal.

My final days of the trip were spent in the city of Cusco, but not before visiting another weaving cooperative - Paqari Wasi - along the way. This community is unique in that they weave patterns on the edges of their work - often related to stories mapped out in the patterns of their larger pieces.

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I returned feeling refreshed and excited to have been so immersed in the culture and crafts of the Cusco communities. Doing this trip solo turned out to be the perfect way for me to experience the region - I was able to talk and work with my tour guides and hostesses in a more personal way by interacting one-on-one.

I loved the independance, time for reflection, and full control of my schedule. And! Now I have so many Peruvian textiles to share with my family, friends, and integrate into a new project I will be announcing later this week...  


Travel Momentos

This summer has been jam-packed. I have been doing a little more traveling than in the past - visiting new friends and old, spending time with my family, fitting in a few trips with my boyfriend - and have plenty of pictures to prove it.

Scrolling through photos on our phones has become the new default for sharing favorite vacation memories, but for me, leaving them in digital form only assures that they will get lost in the black hole of the ‘Photos’ folder of my laptop. So, I prefer to do something a little more meaningful with those special snapshots.

Incorporating photos into a gallery wall is always an easy way to update an already existing collection of images and allows for a really careful selection of your favorite, most important shots.

And while I love the idea of creating a photo album to keep out on the coffee table (there are so many online resources now that makes doing this super easy!), I am more drawn to having a simple bowl of prints, polaroids, and photobooth strips that my guests and I can comb through whenever we are lounging in the living room.

Another simple and elegant solution is the wood block + prints set from Artifact Uprising. I purchased this as a gift for my boyfriend and was so pleased with how we were able to preserve our favorite moments from our trip to Charleston while having an understated, far-from-tacky display.

Summer Escape

Like most city-dwellers, I look forward to summer weekends as a chance to escape the sweltering streets for a mini-getaway.
A few weeks ago, I traveled up north to Vermont where my family stayed this fall in our favorite farmhouse. The house was just as wonderful now as it is during prime leaf-peeping season. We spent an afternoon in Brattleboro, fit in a hike one morning, and mostly just soaked up as much of the long days as we could playing lawn games until the early evening. We, of course, managed to fit in a few styling shoots as well; the space (and lighting!) is such an inspiration.

Below are examples of vignettes I helped design for some of Early Bird Design’s newest work. Be sure to visit her website and Instagram for more updates of upcoming new work.

The Makerie & Design Boards with Matthew Robbins

A few weeks ago, my Mom and I made our way down to Philadelphia for the Sweet Paul Makerie retreat weekend.

We had done another Makerie trip a few years ago in Boulder, CO and were blown away by the event. So when the workshops were announced for the retreat weekend this year, hosted at the URBN corporate campus, we signed up immediately.

The retreat is a 2 day event of workshops in a variety of creative disciplines. Workshops are sandwiched between amazing meals and visits from notable guests (I was honored to meet Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge!). It really is an amazing opportunity to revive your creative energy and get inspired by the talent and ideas from other creatives.

My favorite workshop was hosted by designer Matthew Robbins. He has created the most beautiful weddings and events. In his class we discussed and practiced building design boards as a foundation for the color, texture, and overall mood of a design – whether for an interior space, tablescape, or larger event. 

The exercise was so useful and inspirational for future projects, that I already put my skills into use for an upcoming project with Taproot Flowers – more details on that to come soon!

PS - Check out these posts of the weekend as well!
Link 1 / Link 2 / Link 3

A Walking Tour of Charleston, SC

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I spent a long weekend together in Charleston, SC. I read up on the must-see's and must-do’s pretty thoroughly - some of my favorite recaps here, here, and here - and the trip turned out to be as wonderful as I expected.

A highlight of the weekend (and my #1 recommendation for everyone that has asked since we got back) was our walking tour of the historic district of the city. There are dozens of tour companies, but we used Oyster Point and loved it.

Not surprisingly, I couldn’t get enough of the colorful homes and unique design details that lined the small streets.

My absolute favorite part of the tour was learning about the history and purpose behind the most common style of home design seen around the city; the Charleston Single House. These homes are a single room wide from the street and have multiple porticoes that extend the length of the house, allowing for coastal breezes and light. Because the porticoes are so large (nearly identical in size to the rest of the house), they feel especially grand and luxurious, but also completely practical.

Very different from the seaside cottages that I am used to seeing along the east coast, this design inspired my token souvenir - a small wooden replica of my favorite (pink!) single house (photo evidence below…).

London Streets

About a week ago I visited a very generous friend in beautiful Londontown. A couple more posts to follow on my trip, but for now I wanted to focus on one of my favorite points of inspiration  - the architecture.

I stayed in the neighborhood of Marylebone - equally close to the hustle and bustle of Regent Street shopping and the serene Regent’s Park - Marylebone streets are lined with well-preserved historic buildings. While exploring, I focused on capturing buildings with striking door or window details. It was not super evident to me at the time, but as I was combing through my photos from the trip, it was clear that I was especially drawn to rounded frames that juxtaposed the grid structure of the streets.

I, of course, had to sneak in a few pictures from an afternoon spent in Notting Hill too....the colored townhouses were gorgeous!

Mrs. Meyers Home Maker

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day is sponsoring a hunt to find the first ever Mrs. Meyers homemaker.
How. Awesome. Is. That!?

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that while I was up in VT for Columbus Day weekend (see previous post!), I filmed a short video as my entry.

I designed a whimsical fall tablescape; the farmhouse and barn that we stayed in was the perfect rustic backdrop for filming. Wanting to keep the table casual, I used brown craft paper as a runner and hand-lettered everyone’s name in place of name cards.

Early Bird Designs generously loaned some pieces - woodland animal plates and faux bois vases that I combined with some vintage tinware we found in the house (score!). My sister helped collect some ferns and foliage from the yard to use a part of the centerpiece and place settings.

In addition to my actual entry - watch here & be sure to like the post on Instagram [pistachiobyelaine] here, I have a few extra videos to share of the table coming together.
Fingers Crossed!

Me and my videographer (thanks, Laura!)

Me and my videographer (thanks, Laura!)