Interview with Kristen Hay, Winner of the Ad Space Competition.

Kristen Hay was the winner of our Spring 2012 Ad Contest giveaway for "The Beacham Series" magazine.  Have you seen her ad?  It turned out beautifully! Unknown

She got the most votes of any entry in any contest we've ever had!  I was amazed when the votes came in on the blog and Facebook.  Clearly people love her calligraphy, and I can see why!


Isn't that beautiful?  She is clearly very talented, so I wanted to do an interview with her and learn more about the woman behind the handwriting.


BB: Hi Kristen!  Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

KH:  It is such an honor to be chosen for this contest!  I want to thank Beacham and Co. for the opportunity.  I also want to thank each kind person who took a moment to vote-I have the dearest friends!  The most important thing about me is that I love the Lord with all of my heart—without Jesus, I am nothing, so I am eternally grateful for all of the blessings that He bestows on my life.  I would change “His” to “the” unless there is some reason not to.

I was born and reared in the small east Texas town of Lufkin.  I grew up in a very supportive family and have three siblings--an older sister and brother and a younger brother.  My parents home schooled us, which I feel has been helpful to each of us in so many ways.

One of the main ways home schooling benefited each of us is that it allowed my parents to really study our strengths and talents and direct us in the way that we should go.  My parents encouraged each of us to be entrepreneurs at early ages, and I hope to do the same with my children.

Believe it or not,  I've actually never really had a formal interview before this because I have always worked for myself. So this is a first for me and it honestly seems kind of strange and exciting!

I have always been interested in design.  As a child, I used to spend hours making and decorating elaborate playhouses and “shops” in our attic room or out on the covered porch. My parents were good sports about me “taking over” these spaces and they encouraged my creativity!

My calligraphic journey began when I was a young girl of 12.  My mother signed me up for a basic Italic calligraphy class and a floral arranging class at our local junior college.   Those two classes spurred on a love for both floral arranging and calligraphy. I continued to practice calligraphy and became involved with a local calligraphy guild.  Through the guild, I met a sweet lady who offered to teach me Copperplate calligraphy, which is written with a pointed pen that is dipped in ink as one writes.

At 13, I opened up a gift shop in the front room of my Dad’s real estate office in downtown Lufkin. There, I sold flowers that I arranged and gift items.  My mom and I would go the World Trade Center in Dallas to purchase the gift items for the shop.  I always enjoyed seeing the vendors’ faces when I wrote them checks for large sums of money for the inventory we ordered for my shop--they stared in disbelief that they were supposed to take a check from a 13 year old!

We named the shop “The Merry Heart Shoppe” after the scripture verse that says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:23.  My dad and I made a large wooden sign to hang under his real estate office sign.  He cut out the wood and I wrote the name of the shop in my calligraphy, then painted it.  I also set up booths to sell my wares around the state of Texas at Junior League shows, church bazaars and such.

In addition to the gift shop, I owned and operated a florist business out of my parents’ home. We purchased a large covered trailer to house and transport my florist and shop supplies and we had a huge commercial floral cooler on the back porch.  My specialty was custom wedding flowers and I did my first wedding when I was 15. It was not an uncommon sight to come into our kitchen and see thousands of flowers waiting to be arranged.

I continued to do custom wedding flowers until I was about 22.  Once I got married and we had our first child, I quickly realized that flowers and babies don’t mix very well. I had already had a rich experience and enjoyed it for so many years, so it was not that big of a deal at that point to give it up.

Since I was home schooled, I was able to have the flexibility to run multiple businesses while continuing my education. Another side business that I had was a bread baking business. I grew up grinding grain and making and baking large batches of 8 loaves of whole grain bread for my family on a regular basis.  When others tasted it, they asked if I would bake bread that they could buy, so I did.  I even shipped some to people.

Also, I taught tennis lessons for a while.  Tennis was a sport that my older siblings and I really enjoyed, and we routinely participated in tennis tournaments all across the state of Texas.

Other things that I love are interior design, antiques, pearls, monogrammed items, blue and white china, crystal, and all things old fashioned and formal.  I am all about the details in life that make things special and extraordinary.

I enjoy writing letters, especially thank you letters. I estimate that I have probably written well over a thousand thank you letters since my youth.  This is a dying art of gratitude that I hope to instill in my children as they grow up.

Photography is also a big part of my every day life.  I have a passion for lovely photographs, so I enjoy documenting our family life in this way.  I have a professional camera and lenses; however, I rarely do photography as a business because of the time involved.  I choose to focus more of my attention on my family and calligraphy instead.

One of the other large parts of my life is cooking for my family and friends.  I enjoy entertaining, so my husband and I have dinner parties and friends over as often as we can. I enjoy cooking from scratch and I LOVE gourmet food and unique flavors!  That is why I recently decided to have a cookbook printed with over 100 of our family’s favorite recipes. People had been asking me for years to put a cookbook together, so I finally did, and it has sold better than I dared to hope.  I have had to have it printed four times already!  I describe the cookbook as eclectic because it has a variety of recipes from ultra healthful (the ones that I try to make most often) to moderately healthful, to decadent and terrible for you (you know—those recipes that you save to make when company comes or for parties and special occasions).  The cookbook really has a little bit of something for everyone.  I incorporated my calligraphy into the cookbook on the front cover and inside as the title page for each section.  The picture on the front of the cookbook is of Strawberry Cream Crepes that my husband made me one Mother’s Day and little pink wild roses that my kids picked for me.  It is a special picture to me, so I just added the calligraphy and it worked out beautifully! DSC_0189web



My favorite part about my life is my family--I am married to the most wonderful man in the world and he is such a devoted husband and father.   We are blessed to have six sweet children who keep me on my toes every day!



BB:  You have a beautiful family!  What's your favorite thing about your children?  What do they do that makes you laugh/smile?


Thank you!  My kids are such wonderful blessings in my life!  I truly enjoy being a mommy, teaching them and watching them grow and develop. I am absolutely crazy about babies. I love everything about them (well, maybe not the sleep deprivation that comes from having them =), but they definitely make me smile and I love how they bring JOY to the entire house.  Everyone is happier when there is a baby to love on and talk to. I enjoy seeing each of my children get so excited about spending time with each other, and the smiles that it brings to their faces make me smile!

I am homeschooling my children, and this has been a great joy (and a challenge at times) to me.  I enjoy seeing their love of learning and watching them flourish in the things that they do.  Reading to my kids is probably one of my favorite activities, and they love it as well.

I love the sweet hugs that I get each day from my kids and I love watching them grow into loving children who have a heart for the Lord.  It makes me smile in my heart when I hear a good report on their behavior when they have been away from me with trusted friends or family They have their moments of disobedience, for sure, but it is nice to know that all of the hard work we put into training them really is making a difference!

The little ritual of tucking my kids into bed is one of my favorite times.  I relish the moments I have nursing and rocking my baby boy to sleep each night and rubbing my big boys’ backs while they are lying in bed. My girls ask me to sing certain songs to them and tickle them.  I love hearing them sing with me and laugh when they are tickled!  What a fleeting and precious time this is!

BB: I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my fiance (I know… I know…), and people really seem to be interested in relationships.  How did you meet your husband, and how long have you been married.


Kyle and I have been married for almost 12 years now and he is truly such a blessing in my life.  Here’s our love story, in a nutshell…When I was 16 my sister commented to me one day at a family gathering that she knew who I could marry.  Not taking her very seriously, I asked, “Who?”.  To which, she replied, “You can marry Kyle!”  When I asked who Kyle was, she responded that he was a great new guy that worked at the same company where she and her husband worked.  We all laughed it off, but inside I was secretly intrigued to meet this fellow!

Well, the day came not too long after that I got my chance. My family was attending the annual Rotary Club Waffle Supper (romantic setting, I know! =), and there, my sister and brother-in-law introduced me to Kyle.  He sat with my family and we got to interact with him briefly that night.  I observed that he was gentlemanly, polite, joyful and awfully cute, too!

Alas, nothing happened because, after all, he was 23 and I had only just turned 17 at the time.  We found out that he attended our church, so we began regularly seeing him there.  My mother took the proactive approach on behalf of her daughter and began inviting him over for Sunday dinner and he also became a regular at all of our family birthday parties, etc…He called himself “Zeke Flournoy”, since we all came to see him as a brother.  He never showed interest in me until about 2 ½ years later when I turned 19.  It was like a light switch went on with him and all of a sudden I wasn’t looking so much like a little sister to him any more!

My parents and I began to notice his strange behavior—all of a sudden he just couldn’t wait to get me a chair or open a door for me, and such.  At that point, I began praying that if something were to happen between us that the Lord would show me.  Shortly after this change, he asked if he could take me to dinner after we played tennis with friends one evening.  He expressed his interest in me and wanted to know if I was interested in pursuing a serious relationship.  Of course, I was definitely interested, and told him that I had actually been praying about this for some time.  He then went the following Sunday to my parents to ask permission to begin courting me.  Nineteen days later he proposed on Easter weekend and four months later we were married!  We shared our first kiss at the altar at our wedding and it was truly a dream come true for me.  The Lord had brought this wonderful man to me in a small, out of the way town, and I am so grateful to the Lord for His provision.  It has been the best 12 years of my life!


BB: Your calligraphy is beautiful!  How did you learn to do it/how long have you been doing it?


I have been doing calligraphy for almost 20 years now!  I took my first basic calligraphy class at our local junior college when I was 12 and I learned the pointed pen script when I was about 16. Since then, I have honed my skill and taught myself through ridiculous hours of practice and trial and error.  I would study books and penmanship samples that I admired and try to re-create them until I got the desired look that I was trying to achieve.

I am a member of the IAMPETH (International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting) and, only last year did I get much formal training, at  the annual IAMPETH calligraphy convention. I had the privilege of being taught there by multiple Whitehouse calligraphers and master penmen.

BB:  Does anyone else in your family do calligraphy?


Yes, actually my sister-in-law, Sara, has a highly successful calligraphy business as well.   Because of calligraphy, we connected through a friend on Facebook.  It is kind of a really neat side story actually, that I will briefly share.

Sara was single and living in Chicago.  My brother, Jordan, was single and recently graduated from law school, so he was back in Texas. Despite the vast geographical differences, I saw the potential there for each of them and connected them through Facebook.  They clicked right away, and Jordan began keeping Kyle and me posted on the budding “relationship.”  Even though he had yet to meet Sara in person, the more he talked to her, the more he began really thinking that she might be “the one.”  Two weeks later, the next thing I hear is that he is flying to Chicago to meet her and her family.   Kyle, spontaneous chap that he is, suggested that if he thought she was “the one,” he should take advantage of this trip and go ahead and propose to her while he is there.  Amazingly, he thought this was a good idea, too, so he took Kyle’s advice, bought a lovely engagement ring, and off he flew to Chicago.  Things went really well in person, so he asked her parents’ permission for her hand in marriage the day after he arrived. Then he asked her to marry him the next day on the beach.  This took place a whole two days after they had met in person!  She said yes to his proposal and they were married six weeks later in a lovely ceremony in Chicago.  They now live in Dallas and have an adorable baby girl.  Sara likes to do envelopes, so I refer my clients to her for the envelopes and I like to do the rest, so it is a win/win situation!


BB:  It seems to me that you would have to be very creative to do calligraphy, but also very meticulous.  Is that right?



I have always had a creative bent, but I think the meticulous part of me has come more with age.  I am very meticulous in most areas of my life, which can be a good and bad thing.  It is a good thing for my clients because they know that I will take the utmost care in the details of their calligraphy, as it is extremely exacting work.  I have extremely high standards, so if you ask me to do something, be it calligraphy, cooking a meal, decorating a house, or doing photography, I will try to do my very best, and you can be assured that details are addressed!  The lengths that I go to make things special and unique may not be appreciated by all, because lets face it, I can be very much a perfectionist at times. This attribute is a benefit to my customers because they can be assured that I will take the greatest care and thought to make sure their pieces are done well.

In areas other than calligraphy, it is easy to slip into being too particular about certain things. Sometimes I unnecessarily put these high expectations on others that I love. Everyone is different and not everyone cares about the details in life and that is perfectly okay.  I constantly have to remind myself of this to avoid unrealistic expectations and disappointment.

I have to pick and choose what to be meticulous about as well.  With six children at home with me every day, I have had to let my standards slide a bit in certain areas.  My house does not stay as perfectly organized as I would like.  It is hard for me to let this go, but it is one area that I am working on not stressing about as much.  It is more important that my children have me interacting with them than for me to be always cleaning 24/7. If you drop in on us at any given moment there will likely be loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded, counters needing to be cleaned (since my children and I love to cook together a lot), and toys strewn about the house.

Also, I try to be more lax in ways when it comes to my kids.  For sure, I am strict on many things regarding them, such as eating healthfully and obeying, etc.., but I want my kids to be kids.  I try not to put stringent and unnecessary rules and pressure on them regarding every activity that they do.  I want them to try hard and do their best, but not be stressed because they are not living up to unrealistic expectations.


BB: If you were doing 100 wedding invitations, how long would that take you?



I don’t typically do each invitation by hand.  Most of my clients prefer that I do one master invitation. That master calligraphy is then taken to a local printer that I have been working with for years to be printed on the paper and style of invitation of their choosing.  The company that I work with makes each invitation custom to the bride and groom’s specifications.  They have multiple exquisite paper choices and can make almost any size or style of invitation.  It is also surprisingly affordable to have the custom invitations made and printed this way, plus the bride and groom can have a unique wedding invitation like no other!

BB:  How do you find time to be a mother and do all your work?


That is definitely a challenge with having six young children in the house with me all day!  Since I don’t have huge chunks of uninterrupted time, I tell my clients to allow one month for their calligraphy job so that I can work on it here and there.  I work on it during the kid’s naptimes and sometimes I hire a home school teenager to come over to my house for a few hours so that I can do calligraphy.


BB: It looks like you do a lot of different types of calligraphy.  What is your favorite thing to do?


My calligraphy really has its own style now.  I scribe many different font styles, but I call my main two fonts  “Flourished Italic” and “Copperplate/Spencerian.”  I have taken my favorite aspects from different fonts to crate my own distinct look.

As for my favorite things to scribe, that would definitely be wedding invitations and all that goes along with that.  The only thing that I do not do any more is address wedding envelopes.  This is due to  a previous hand injury and the stress that the long hours of addressing can put on my hand.  I stick to  doing the wedding invitation ensemble only, so I can take more breaks and not overly stress my hand.  I do enjoy scribing the return addresses that are printed on the back flap of  the outer envelopes, as well as the printed address for the response cards.

BB: What is your favorite project you've ever done?


My favorite project would definitely have to be my own wedding.  I enjoyed custom designing and writing the invitations, programs and flower cones in calligraphy.  We had them custom made and we added special touches to each piece. They had a special wrap that was the inner envelope, and a vellum overlay. We put ribbon and a gold wax seal with a custom monogram on each piece.  They were simply stunning.  Of course, I could not have done all of that without my family and Kyle helping me.  Kyle really loved me a LOT to do all that he did—he and my family carefully dripped hot wax for the seals onto 850 invitations, programs, and flower cones.

In addition to doing the calligraphy for the wedding, I did the wedding flowers (with the help of sweet friends I had trained through the years at floral arranging seminars in Dallas).  We arranged almost 3,000 white roses into huge topiary trees that lined  the church aisle.  We also made bouquets, greenery and other flower arrangements.

I also designed my silk Dupioni wedding dress and had it custom made by a seamstress.  Our wedding day was the best day and I loved every minute of it, from the planning out all the details to marrying my love!


BB: And finally, how did you get so many votes in "The Beacham Series" contest?  You obviously have a ton of people who love you and your work!


I have been extremely blessed with a host of wonderful and caring friends, family, and clients who voted for me!  It is very touching to think that all those people took a few minutes out of their day to vote—what a blessed gal I am!?!

BB:  Thank you so much Kristen!  Your story is amazing.  I can't believe you are so talented!  Florist, baker, calligrapher and educator!  How impressive.  If you ever come to Atlanta please let me know.  I would love to meet you.


To become a fan of this blog on Facebook, click here.

To receive this blog by email, click here.

To follow me on twitter click here.

To follow me on Pinterest click here. 

To follow me on Tumblr click here.


Best Interview Ever: Lauren Staley Morrow of The Whiskey Gentry

Hi everyone.  So, as most of you know I have a new(ish) boyfriend named Jimmy.  He's amazing, and one of the things I enjoy most about him is his love for music.  I have never met anyone who cares or thinks about music the same way he does.  You may have picked up on this through my past posts about all the Phish shows and going to the Gorge.  On our 4th date he asked me to go to Summerfest in Virginia Highland with him because some of his friends were playing.   He took me to see a band called The Whiskey Gentry...  

They were amazing as a band, but I was immediately taken with the talent and style of the lead singer, Lauren Staley Morrow.  She has such a uniquely beautiful voice, and she has an amazing look.  To put it bluntly, LAUREN'S JUST COOL.

(Lauren at Summerfest in Virginia Highland)

The next time I saw Lauren was at their CD release party at Smith's Olde Bar.  It was a high pressure weekend for me.  Jimmy's sister, Mimi, was coming in town, and I was meeting her for the first time (NERVE RACKING!!!)... going to the shows was so much fun, and it was a great way to get to know Mimi.  The shows are fun because they are a little bluegrass/country/rock and roll all in one.  We actually went to both shows that weekend, which were the CD release party for their new album "Please Make Welcome."  (Let me brag on them!!!  They sold out Smiths!!!!)

It was during those shows that I noticed the very real and special love connection between Lauren and her husband, Jason, who is also in the band... and to steal a quote from my good friend Ginny Branch, "I LOVE love!"  I love seeing people in love, I love hearing their stories, I love seeing them interact... and you didn't have to be a love expert to tell that Lauren and Jason had it!

(Cd release party night 1.  From left to right: Mimi, Kyle, Elise, Me, Ben and Jimmy)

By the next show I went to at Park Tavern, I think Jimmy had heard enough of me saying things like "Lauren is so cool... Lauren is so stylish... Lauren and Jason are so on love.... I wonder how the met... I wonder where she got those boots... I wonder if she wants to be my friend..."  At the end of the show he marched me right over to Lauren saying, "you're going to meet her, and you're going to write about her on your blog."  Well, the rest is history I guess.  I came up with an interview asking her all the questions I wanted answered: love, style, music, and love... again.

The bad news is that I have yet to hang out with her in person, but the GREAT NEWS is that I somehow convinced her and Jason to play at "The Beacham Series" party on October 18th!  I know!!!!  I am so excited!!!  They are really going to make the party, and I am so flattered she ever considered doing it, let alone actually playing!

I can't wait to see her, and I can't wait to her her and Jason play.  I am more excited about this party than I have been about any other!

And now (FINALLY) on to the interview :)  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Blayne: The first time I ever saw you guys play was at Summerfest in Virginia Highland.  I loved your hat so much.  That's what really got me interested in your style, and it's been fun to watch it during the other shows (both nights at Smiths, Park Tavern and the Piedmont Arts Festival)  I love your dress choices mixed with the jewelry and sweaters and boots.  It seems so effortless.  Is that true?  

Lauren: I'm so glad to hear someone say it seems "effortless," because it really is not! I freak out all the time about what I am wearing for shows. I start thinking about it days before we're supposed to play, but I always end up finding something in which I feel relatively confident and comfortable.

Blayne: I totally know that feeling!  In my closet there is a huge pile of clothes that I thought were going to look great before I tried them on...  I think (or at least I hope) all girls are like that.  At least you always come up with something fabulous!  

Lauren: Finding an outfit is a like the Battle of Gettysburg between my closet and my brain. I have never been the type of girl who could just throw on anything and feel okay wearing it. I've always been a more self-conscious person, so finding an outfit takes time and work for me. I have had countless melt-downs before gigs trying to find an outfit. So much so that my husband has had to come check on me to make sure I hadn't destroyed the closet or anything else within a 5 foot radius. (Do I sound like a complete psychopath?)


Blayne: Ha ha!  No, not at all!  I am sure we ALL know that feeling :)  You do always end up ins something great though!  I love the way your outfits relate to the music.  I am the queen of over-thinking things, but to me your music is eclectic with traditional southern/bluegrass roots and a unique modern edge (I also don't know a ton about music, so that is a very uneducated idea).  Anyway, I think that could also be used to describe your style.  What do you think?  Do you see a relationship between your style and the music?  

Lauren: I try and keep my style and the music connected on some level. But most of the time, I am just looking for something that will present well on stage without looking like I stepped off the set of "Hee-Haw." Also, your description of the music is pretty spot-on. You'd be surprised at how many people (who actually work in the music industry!) have no idea how to describe us....ourselves included! 

 Blayne: What words would you use to describe your style?

Lauren: Caught in an identity crisis between the country and the city. Comfortable. Flattering. 

Blayne: That's perfect!  I think I annoy my boyfriend, Jimmy, during all of your shows.  He is trying to listen to the music, and I spend the whole time pointing out the connection between you and your husband Jason on stage.  It is palpable.  How did you guys meet?  Was it before or after you started Whiskey Gentry?


(Lauren and Jason when they were dating... aren't they cute?!?!)

 Lauren: Haha well Jason and I do have a pretty great connection on stage and off. We met through some friends at The Local on trivia night (our team won!). We dated on and off for about a year until we finally settled down with one another. Shortly there after, we started The Whiskey Gentry, and it quickly became a solidifying source of our relationship. In fact, in almost three years of being in this band together, we have never once argued about it. We'll argue about how much milk to put in Kraft Mac and Cheese (he puts way too much), but not about the band. We are both very passionate about its success and we want the best for ourselves and everyone else involved. I couldn't think of a better person to share this band and my life with. :)

Blayne:  I know this is a strange question, but you guys reference your wedding a lot.  Can you tell me about it?  Did you guys play at your wedding?  Did your friends play for you?

(Lauren and Jason at their wedding last September)

Lauren: Jason and I just had our one year anniversary -- we got married on September 18th, 2010 at the Roswell River Landing. We had an amazing wedding, and I had a really great time planning it. It was so important to me for everyone to have a blast at our wedding -- to feel like they were at a huge party. Nothing too formal. I wanted it to be warm and inviting without being flashy or pretentious. My bridesmaids wore cowboy boots. The groomsmen wore pink suspenders. We had flower arrangements in Bell jars, ate delicious BBQ, and drank rum punches and sweet tea vodka. Everyone told us afterwards that it was the best wedding they had ever attended, which is such a wonderful compliment. Our friends Have Gun Will Travel (look them up if you don't know them!!) played for us, and then our band played "Queen of My Heart" for Jason's grandpa, who actually wrote the song. It was the first time he had ever heard us play it, so it was a special moment. 

Blayne:  I love that!  And I love that you had your friends play for you at the wedding!  That is so special, especially since music is so important to both of you!  How much did sharing the connection of the music and the band foster your relationship?

Lauren: The first time Jason and I opened our mouths to speak to one another it was about music. One of the trivia questions the night we met was, "What 90's band covered the Simon & Garfunkel song 'Mrs. Robinson'?" At the exact same time, we answered, "THE LEMONHEADS!" and then we just kept talking about music. He and I were in different bands at the time, but we knew were shared a common bond with country and roots music (Jason grew up in Tennessee in a family of musicians). Once we got serious with our relationship, then the collaboration just came naturally. 

Blayne:  You're killing me!  You're story is just so perfect for you!  You couldn't have written a better one.  Speaking of stories,  I love the story you told at your last show about the song "Alone on a Saturday Night."  It's so beautiful.  When did you write it?  

Lauren: I really have no idea where the story came from -- I just pictured a woman, maybe mid 40s, who lived in a huge house all alone in the middle of nowhere. Out across her front yard, which was basically a huge field, there was one, lone, dirt road that lead into town. I just pictured her sitting on her porch at dusk and watching the road... waiting for something (someone?) that never comes. The rest of the story just spawned off of that one mental image. We were in the midst of recording "Please Make Welcome," in fact, we were almost done with recording. I wrote the song on a Tuesday night. By Thursday, it was recorded and on the new record. That's how strongly we felt about the song.

Blayne: It is so beautiful!  I played it for my best friend when we were coming back from our Highlands trip (which you can read about here) on a Wednesday....  I saw her the next day and she knew every word to every song on Please Make Welcome!  

Blayne: How many songs did you bring to the band when it formed?  How about other members?  Are most of the songs collaborations, or one person's idea?

Lauren:  I only brought two songs with me from my previous band. Even though I wrote all the songs for that band, it was important to me to start fresh. I took "Four Horsemen" and "Dime Short of a Dollar Bill" -- both songs I felt were too good to let die. Normally, either Jason or I will come to the rest of the band with an idea for a song. Sometimes the song is fully developed (ie. "Alone on a Saturday Night"). Other times we are collaborating as group, throwing around ideas. Chesley brought us "Comrade" a while back, and we are in love with that song. It's hands down our most well received live tune. People love it.

Blayne: I am so glad you brought "Dime Short of a Dollar Bill."  It's my favorite song.  100%.  I don't know any girl alive that couldn't relate to that.  I am so glad you mentioned Chesley.  He is awesome, and he's a new dad!  My boyfriend's roommate, Mac, used to work with Chesley, which is how any of us even know about you guys... and yes, "Comrade" is amazing live!

(I love this picture because if you look in the top left corner you can see me!  This was such an awesome show at park tavern.  They have an 11 o'clock curfew, so during the song "Wagon Wheel" they pulled the plug on the sound.  TWG fans are so awesome they finished the song with a huge crowd sing-along!)

Blayne: Do you and Jason write many of the songs together?

 Lauren: Yes, Jason and I primarily write everything as a team now. This worked out great for both of us because we each have our strengths and weaknesses. Jason is incredibly musically talented. He can play just about anything he puts his mind to, and he understands the theory behind music so much more than myself. This is great, because he helps me figure out the best places for chord changes and progressions. I, on the other hand, am more skilled with words and lyrics (I was an English major at GSU), so I can help him figure out different phrasings and word choices. So, it works for both of us.

Blayne: Yes!  it obviously does :)  It works so well, in fact, that Jimmy was telling me that John Keane worked with you on your album.  Jimmy is a huge Widespread Panic fan and would be so upset if I didn't ask you. ..  How did you like working with him?  What major suggestions/influence did he bring to your new album (which is amazing, by the way)?

Lauren: Working with John was really great. "Please Make Welcome" was our first full length record, but also our first time working in a real studio. Our previous EPs were done locally and in warehouses or basements, so being with John was a welcomed reprieve. John is incredibly proficient and has amazing time management skills. We didn't have a lot of time to get this record completed, and all of our schedules were insane at the time, John's included. We basically recorded whenever there was time, which meant we had to make the most of every second. John really let us take the reign on this record. Jason did most of the production, while we always looked to John for encouragement and advice ("Does this chord sound okay here? What do you think about this melody line?"). John is not the type of guy who jumps off his seat in excitement, exclaiming, "YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING! GREAT WORK HERE, EVERYBODY!" But he definitely lets you know when he is pleased and when he is not pleased, and those were comments we welcomed.

Blayne: It's so cool that he sits in with you guys so often!  He must really believe in you and believe that what you are doing is special.  Do you plan on working with him more in the future?

Lauren: Towards the end of the recording process, we could definitely tell that John thought we were on to something with the record. Like I said, he's not a man of many words, but I know he wouldn't waste his time coming to play local shows with us if he didn't believe in what we were doing. It was important to us to be able to capture the energy of our live shows on a recorded CD, and I think that John did a fantastic job of this on "Please Make Welcome." We couldn't be happier with the way it turned out, and I think we've started a wonderful relationship with him.

Blayne: And one more question for Jimmy.  How did you guys decide to start covering Africa?  We love when you guys play it.

Lauren: Ha! Well, I've always loved the song. My dad is from South Africa and loves prog-rock, so it was a tune I heard a lot in my childhood. One day, I was listening to it and I started hearing all the instrumentation but picturing it with bluegrass instruments. My brain went crazy, and I immediately called Jason to tell him about this amazing idea I had to cover a Toto song. As you can imagine, the boys were less than thrilled: after all, how does a bluegrass/country band cover Toto? I just kept telling them to trust me and that I knew it would be great, so we worked on it for weeks (much to their dismay). The first time we ever played it live was at The Buckhead Theatre last December for our annual Christmas show. The crowd went BANANAS. I'd never heard people singing back lyrics so loud. I know it's become a crowd favorite, and it's one of the band's favorite songs to play as well. But no matter how many times we play it, I will always laugh when I sing the line, "as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti." WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.



Lauren, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  I loved getting to know you better through your answers!  It's so obvious you were an English major!  You express yourself so well.

P.S.  Lauren writes a blog.  READ IT :) 

If you would like your chance to hear Lauren and Jason LIVE October 18th at the cover home of the latest issue of "The Beacham Series" and Beacham & Company's 5th anniversary party, please feel free to come!  All you need to do is e-mail me at [email protected] and let me know you would like to be there, and we would love to have you!


Date: October 18th, 2011

Time: 5:30-8

Address: 3958 Tuxedo Road Atlanta, GA 30342

RSVP: [email protected]om


An Interview with Nancy Duffey

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.25.55 PM

Nancy Duffey of Scout for the Home won our ad space competition for this issue of "The Beacham Series."

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.30.52 PM

We think her ad looked beautiful, don't you?

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.32.07 PM

I wanted to ask Nancy a few questions about her background, and she was so great to answer. I loved learning more about her story.

So... here we go :)

Blayne: How long have you been interested in Interior Design? Were you one of those kids who always moved the furniture around in their rooms, or did your interest come later?

Nancy: I have been interested in Design my whole life. I can remember in 5 grade getting to design my own room for the first time. Of course I choose a Laura Ashley bedding set which I can still visualize. I would often change around the furniture arrangement of my room. I think its something about being ADD, ha. My mom is just like me, always moving furniture around, so I grew up with someone that loved her home and her things and wanted them to be fresh and look beautiful. Also my godmother was a huge influence, Carolyn Malone. She would let me work for her some summers and that was probably my first start. I would say that was late high school into college though.

B: What did you major in? How has it impacted your career?

N: Unfortunately when I decided to go to Ole Miss they had just taken away the Interior Design major. I wanted to go there so bad so I went into Art History major instead. I think it was a great thing for me but I do miss some of the things that I would have gained from majoring in Interior Design. I think I got to choose what my taste was and find myself in design. I of course love art and got to experience so many different periods while in my major. Its interesting to go to college and none of your friends are taking the same major. Most of my friends were in business so I would always be off to these random buildings for hours at a time. I think I gained some confidence there because I didn't have anyone to lean on.

B: What was your first job out of college?

N: Ha, my first job was an internship with Dan Carithers. Not unlike a lot of my other girlfriends here. I went from there to helping Susan Bozeman a little bit then I landed a job with Keith. It was a new start up interior design firm and it was very exciting at that time.

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.45.14 PM

B. Why did you decide to open Scout for the Home?

N. I thought about opening Scout about 1 1/2 before I actually did. It was a real leap for me. I always knew I would love my own interior design firm but I began to think how hard it would be to just start. So of course this is no original idea but I decided that if I had a store then it would kind of round out my firm. I was also engaged to Ryan whom also worked at Keith's office and thought it would be nice to have separate jobs before we came back together at some point in our careers.

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.48.05 PM

B: How did you decide on the name "Scout For The Home?"

N: I struggled with names a lot. Then someone said "why don't you name it Scout". I was like well that is perfect but it has to have something else right. So my mom came up with the "For the Home". My dog is named Scout. She is named after my favorite book "To Kill a Mockingbird". I liked the play on words. It's not original as I have come to find out but it makes me happy.

B: I know you recently renovated your own home. How did that go? Are you pleased with the renovation?

N: I LOVE our home. My husband worked so hard on that renovation. He did such a good job.
Nancy 4
This is the house before it was renovated.

nancy 3
We really transformed the whole front of the house.
Nancy 2
I have lived there for 5 years now and renovated twice, so I think this is the last time for that at this location, ha.
I will say we added a fireplace and screened porch and those are my two favorite things.

B: How did you go about designing your own home? Was it different that designing for a client? How?
Nancy 1
N: Well that process is definitely not over. I have a very hard time doing my own home because I see new cool things all the time so I change my mind constantly. I am just not like that with clients, ha. Now my house is very neutral white, flax, brown, and grays. The downstairs is all one room so it has to flow well. I love the palette because it is so calming.

B: What are your plans for the future?
N: That’s an interesting question right now. As me in 6 months, ha. We are planning to live in our home for another 4 or 5 years then I am sure we will move and redo another house. I can see in our lifetime having many moves. Both Ryan and I love to redo and change so that makes for an interesting set of homes. I think that I will expand the store at some point, but never huge. I would just like a little more space. I love designing and have some fabulous clients right now so hopefully I will be lucky enough to keep doing that. This has been a very interesting first year but so much fun and worth every second. I love what I do so hopefully I will be able to continue it!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Nancy! I have loved getting to work with you through this whole ad competition. I love your store and everything you plan to do! I can't wait to see all you do.

To Learn more about Nancy please check out her website and her blog.

Thanks everyone for reading! COme back tomorrow to learn about the two FANTASTIC sales that have happened at Beacham & Company in the past week!!

Keith Summerour, An Interview

As many of you who read this blog regularly know, I am a huge fan of Keith Summerour's. Click here to see the post. The earlier post gives some background information on this amazing architect. He designed many of my favorite homes in Atlanta, including this Glennis Beacham listings.

5229 Riverview Road
Architect: Keith Summerour
Builder: Benecki Fine Homes
Landscape Architect: Joe Gayle
6 Bedrooms
7 Full, 1 Half Bath
Carriage House
More Than 3 Gated Acres

It has been featured on the cover of "The Beacham Series."

Beacham Series Cover
Beacham Series Back
Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 2.24.35 PM
Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 4.29.28 PM

After listening to The Skirted Roundtable podcast the other day when they interviewed Grant K. Gibson, I got inspired to to interview someone myself. I wrote Keith Summerour an e-mail and asked him some questions about the house. He was so kind to respond.

riverview front
rv front

Blayne: Since I do not have a background in architecture, it is sometimes hard for me to figure out exactly what style a house is. I have gone back and forth with this particular style, because I feel like it is something more than just “European.” I have settled on mission revival style. Am I close?

Keith:"The style is English, influenced by the work of Charles Voysey. He was an English Architect and furniture designer who also designed wall papers and fabrics."

Don't worry guys, I went ahead and did the research for you...

According to Wikipedia, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857–1941) was an English architect and furniture and textile designer. Voysey's early work was as a designer of wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings in a simple Arts and Crafts style, but he is renowned as the architect of a number of notable country houses. He was one of the first people to understand and appreciate the significance of industrial design. He has been considered one of the pioneers of Modern Architecture, a notion which he rejected. His English domestic architecture draws heavily on vernacular rather than academic tradition, influenced by the ideas of Herbert Tudor Buckland (1869–1951) and Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812–1852). Voysey designed every detail of his houses, including the furniture. His houses were inspired by English vernacular sources of the 16th and early 17th centuries, featuring white roughcast walls with horizontal ribbon windows and huge pitched roofs, and used rough plaster, slate and other materials typical of English farmhouses.

Here are some example of Voysey's work...

Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 4.45.28 PM
Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 4.45.40 PM
Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 4.48.33 PM
Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 4.48.57 PM

I can absolutely see the influence! Can't you? I think the very first picture is the best match to 5229 Riverview. What do you think?
Back to the interview...

Blayne:What was your inspiration for the courtyard in front of the home? I am not sure I have ever been inside a home where I have to walk by the pool to the front door. I love it! It’s such a secluded space, and the spa area with the fireplace is just amazing. Have you done that on any of your other homes?

RV from pool
rv back courtyard
Spa and Fireplace

Kieth: "I am not sure where the idea for the pool came from, it was the only place for a pool on the property so I thought that the intimacy of the water seemed the right thing to do."

I absolutely agree with his decision. This pool area is so private, and it really sets the scene and mood as you walk into the home. Here is the view from the pool courtyard.

riverview out

I could look out at that, couldn't you?

Blayne:The front door of this home is amazing. I noticed it is very similar to the doors you used in your personal home featured in Garden and Gun. Are the doors the same?

Keith: "The doors are the same as the ones I used at my tower."

Here is a picture of Keith's tower from the Garden and Gun article...

Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 5.00.01 PM

And here is a photo of the door from Riverview Road.

Riverview Front Door

Blayne:Every time I write about this house I lead with the stairway. Even though I try to change it up, I always settle with something like, “the three-level, wrought iron suspended stairway is truly the heart of this home.” It is! Did you design the rest of the home around this central staircase.

rv stairs
Top of Stairs

Keith:"I did design the home around that stair case. It was the core idea and it actually made the house efficient to layout."

I just want to say thank you to Keith Summerour one more time! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions.

Before I leave you guys, I wanted to give you a quick tour through the rest of the home.

Riverview fountian

This is the Bronze fountain you see before you walk into the courtyard.

Riverview Arch white

This is the view walking through the front door. You can see the dining room through the doors and then the staircase beyond.

Living Room

Dining Room. You could go to the right here and go into the formal living room, or take a left and go into the family room and kitchen.

Riverview keeping rm
Riverview Living room

The family room.

riverview kitchen

And the kitchen. You can see the breakfast room through the kitchen.


If you took a left you would go down the back hall.


There is an office space directly to the left of where I'm standing, and a guest room to the right.

Main Level Guest Room

Guest Room.

Let's go back to the Living Room.

Riverview real LR
Fireplace Detail

And finally we will go up and see the master.

rv master

Now back outside...

rv yard

Joe Gayle did an unbelievable job on the landscape architecture. Hope you enjoyed the tour through the home!

Please be sure to check out Keith Summerour's book.



For those of you interested in the photography aspect, these images were not taken with HDR.  If you go back to my last post and look at the images, can you tell a difference?

Question, did you enjoy the interview?  Did you think it helped you understand the house?  What questions would you have asked?  Is this a feature we should try again?