5th Graders Go Green With Blue Jean Drive

Grayson, daughter of Clayton Gray Home's Wendy Garraty, teamed up with her fifth grade classmate and cross country running parter, Melanie, to start a denim jeans drive as a service project for the middle school students at St. John's Episcopal School in Tampa.

Grayson heard about National Geographic Kids challenge to help set a Guinness World Record while helping others through this drive, sponsored by COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN. The company recycles old, denim jeans into UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation used to help build houses in areas damaged by natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.

About 500 pairs of recycled jeans can insulate one home. Plus, these clothing items stay out of landfills, helping the environment.

Grayson and Melanie saw an opportunity to help and they got to work by first asking their school principal for permission for students to participate in the Denim Drive. Then they brought in a collection container to school and conducted their own PR campaign to raise awareness about the drive through announcements, signs, and flyers.
The results: the girls collected and donated 21 pounds of denim, and shipping costs were sponsored by Clayton Gray Home. Congratulations, girls, on making a difference for our environment and the lives of people recovering from natural disasters!



Garden Variety Stools - Elle Decor Magazine

With summer in full swing, designers find themselves looking for a special accessory that will really add some personality. Those of us in the industry know exactly where to turn for such a piece. The Garden Stool!
Shown above in Elle Decor magazine is their round up of the latest looks for the garden stool. Now don't be fooled, these handy ceramic pieces also make sturdy side tables.
Clayton Gray Home offers a few of the designs shown in the Elle Decor magazine article, plus a few other colors for selection. The Lotus Garden Stool features a fluted effect in it's Jade Green glaze, but can also be found in white for an easy add to any room. Place 4 of these around a dining table for a striking alternative to the traditional chair.
Perhaps you'd like a more international attitude. Elle Decor also included the Medallion Garden Stool featuring red intertwined dragons. The turn of the century Chinese design can be found at Clayton Gray Home in other colors like Lake Teal, Jade Crackle and Brown Black. All are bright and glossy and can be used indoors or outdoors. Flank a sofa with 2 of these and you have a spot to place your glass or book.

Not included in Elle Decor, but still noteworthy is the Bamboo Garden Stool shown above. Simple and classic, this seat is perfect for those just entering into the "garden seat" world. Add the white stool anywhere really. Living room, bedroom or bathroom vanity, it's easy to work white into any color scheme and the knotched look suggests your intent was effortless.

Once you discover how multifunctional these accessories actually are, you'll find them everywhere you look. I'm a big fan of the Square Lattice Garden Stool (above) with it's open fretwork design. With the choice of colors, you can surely find one that fits your look. Making it easier for Clayton Gray Home shoppers, you can receive an even bigger discount for purchasing these stools in pairs. Since shipping is free on all orders at Clayton Gray Home, shopping for your very own "garden stool" just became summer fun!



An Interview with Mayura Kona: Changing the World One Thread at a Time

Mayura Kona, designer and founder of One Thread Fair Trade, created her business of handmade, Indian silk pillows to help make our world a better place. Her beautiful designs not only enhance the homes and businesses of her customers, they improve the lives of her female artisans, who have overcome difficult circumstances of abuse and poverty to develop their crafts and earn livings to support their families.

Clayton Gray Home now carries One Thread's Silk Leaf Pillows in five bold colors, handcrafted and signed by the courageous artisans who made them.

Each pillow's signed label tells the buyer who made it, along with her core belief as she looks to a hopeful future. You'll find the complete stories of these amazing artisans on the One Thread Fair Trade web site.

We recently asked Mayura a series of questions about her business, design, and inspiration. In reading her answers, we hope you are as inspired as all of us at Clayton Gray Home are.

Who or what inspired you to start your One Thread Fair Trade business?

The plight of battered and disadvantaged women is an issue that has deeply concerned me since adolescence. During my visits to India over the course of my childhood, I have witnessed the horrors that women in my native country face, from being beaten by their husbands to being sold off as sex workers. I saw many women who worked in my relatives’ houses, women I knew personally, go through experiences such as these. To read about these stories in the paper is one thing. To see it happen to women you care about is a staggering, painful experience that changes you forever.

Three years ago, I was inspired to take action against this reality when I met Sandhya. She ran an non-profit, Vijay Foundation Trust (VFT), and an orphanage in my mother’s hometown, a small town called Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, India. Upon finding a severely beaten woman left for the dead in a field near her home, Sandhya began to take in destitute women and training them in textile arts. I saw the immense potential in combining my design skills with the women’s tailoring skills to both improve their lives and create a successful business. I had been working as an Art Director at a major apparel licensing company and although I loved my job, I did not feel fulfilled. I simply did not feel that I was using my education, privilege, and design skills to do something good for humanity, to improve the world in which we all live in. It was from my encounter with Sandhya that the idea was born. I have spent the last two years developing the fair trade unit in Kadapa and now, the organization has finally reached the launch stage.

What is your education, design, and family background?

My family is from India and my mother is actually from the Kadapa District, where our current artisans reside. I grew up in Upland, CA with my parents and older sister (and our dogs). I have a BA in Design/Media Arts from UCLA and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. After design school, I worked as the Art Director for a major licensing company creating graphics and patterns for apparel. It was a fantastic job that gave me a lot of exposure to textiles, printing, and pattern designing.

Describe the design inspiration for your silk leaf pillow collection?

As a designer, my eye has always been attracted to patterns. I observe and am inspired by patterns everywhere around us, whether it is the arrangement of roof tiles on a house or the veins in a maple leaf. The inspiration behind our launch line is leaves. I believe that nature is the one thing that all human beings find to be universally beautiful, and I wanted to design a collection that captured that beauty in a modern way. Every pattern in the leaf collection represents different views of a leaf. For example, the Linear design is clearly based off the basic shape of a leaf. The Leaf design is a closer view of a leaf, highlighting the veins within a leaf. The Jewels design is an even more magnified view of a leaf, highlighting the actual cells that make up the leaf’s texture. My designs start as ink drawings in my sketchbook. The drawings are later scanned into the computer and vectorized for screenprinting. There is an intangible quality that you achieve when you begin the design process with your own hand drawings, without any use of technology. I find that initial stage of creation imperative to achieve authentic design.

What are the benefits of hand-crafted Indian silk and hand loom weaving?

The benefits of using hand loom silks are many. First, hand loom weaving is vastly better for the environment than power loom weaving. Basically, a power loom is a huge machine that automates the weaving process and requires little human labor. Therefore, power loom fabrics require less labor and emit a significant amount of pollution. Hand loom weaving is all done by human hands and involves no machinery. As a result, handloom fabrics produce ZERO carbon emissions versus power loom fabrics that contribute large amounts of emissions into our environment. One job on a power loom sucks up as much energy as 20 vacuum cleaners running all day. Second, hand loom weaving supports up to 9 times more families as all of the work is done by hand. In India, there are hundreds of villages that survive on the art of hand loom weaving alone and many of these villages are facing dire poverty as the demand for hand loom fabrics has dropped significantly in the shadow of the quicker, cheaper power loom option. We are trying to support these hand loom weaving villages and their dying art, as well as have a better effect on our environment.

How did you choose the colors for your pillows?

I wanted our launch collection to be bright and striking. Therefore, I chose bright colors that are not only eye-catching but are also very common colors found in India. India is a very colorful country and the people themselves are adorned in brilliant colors daily. I wanted our colors to reflect that vibrancy and energy. I believe a good throw pillow must add life to a room and I think our colors do just that!

Why is it important for consumers to support the global community?

Now, more than ever, consumers need to be conscious of their purchasing power. There are many options when you shop but it is important to think about where the product is coming from and how it was made. Sweatshop and child labor is still highly prevalent in the developing world and by ignoring this truth, we are only perpetuating the practice. Consumers should try, to as much as their situations can permit, to be conscious of what they buy and understand the real world ramifications of their purchases.

How did you recruit your female artisans?

Currently, we are working specifically with the women in the Kadapa District in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. This was chosen as our flagship community simply because of the extreme atrocities these women face in their daily lives. According to the World Bank, rural women in Andhra Pradesh live in a state of extreme destitution, with 6.2 million women living below $1.25/day. Moreover, it is estimated that 70% of married rural women in A.P. are victims of battery, rape, or coerced sex. These statistics are simply jarring and unacceptable. Beyond domestic violence and extreme poverty, young rural women in India (estimated 20 million) are being forced to enter the flesh trade, which in many cases leads to the contraction of AIDS and early deaths. For all of the above reasons and more, we have chosen this community to empower. In the future, we would like to extend our reach to communities who are need all over the world. We focus on females as they are the center of the family unit and therefore, have the most influence over the next generation. If the mother is empowered, her children also tend to adopt the same level of self-confidence and will. Tending to the next generation is one of the most important parts of breaking through poverty.

We appreciate the time Mayura put into answering our questions, and we wish her the best with her growing business that can change the world for the better. You can help support her efforts by visiting Clayton Gray Home and choosing your favorite colored Silk Leaf pillow to purchase. Enjoy Free Shipping on all orders.



Jacqui Tea Table in Real Simple Magazine

Decorating with Green is all the rage right now. A recent feature in Real Simple magazine (below) shows an entire room with green accents.
From a green sofa and throw pillows to a green rug and lamp, the standout "green" in this living room is the Jacqui Side Table from Bungalow 5. Shown in the foreground with curving lines, the spring green color makes the room fresh and alive.
With an ideal side table height of 18", the light and slick accent piece works well in any room of the home. Move around to suit your needs with this easy to clean, unique design.
Your choices in color are not limited. View the array of shades that span from white, brown, black, red, green and now orange.Since color is the best way to set a mood, the Jacqui Side Table is your canvas to begin setting the stage for "happy". Shop for them at Clayton Gray Home and enjoy Free Shipping on all orders. Purchase a pair of the Jacqui Tea Tables for the best of $605.00 or single at $335.



Fall Paint Colors from Benjamin Moore

Holly Becker of decor8blog forecasts neutrals paired with vibrant colors for autumn 2009. She says to look for a gray/brown color, often referred to as "iron." Olive could be another "it" look for the fall, especially when paired with blues, greens, voilets, and reds.

Benjamin Moore paint offers some great colors for the look Holly mentions. Here's a great tip for iphone users: the Ben® Color Capture™ app. With this new iphone app, when you see a color you like, snap a photo on your iphone, and tap the match key to find out what Benjamin Moore color is the closest. Then shake your phone and it will give you four colors to coordinate. This is an incredible new design tool!

Clayton Gray Home's fresh mix of products features many nice fall color combos. Check out the Trina Turk pillows, Christina lamps, and Coachella Rug, to name a few.

These items really do a nice job of combining neutrals and bolds to create a warm, welcoming look to your space. Be on the lookout for great, new colors that will complete your autumn interior look for your home or business.

Next time you're shopping at the mall, find the perfect Tory Burch tunic with colors that make you happy, and take a photo of them. Or pick the perfect shade of Kate Spade Purse, like the colors shown here.



Holly's Hot Picks: Interview with Holly Becker of Decor8

Holly Becker, Founder/Editor of decor8blog, offers her 10 top picks for June from Clayton Gray Home. With about 25,000 visitors a day, Decor8 has become a must-see for designers, decorators, and consumers who want to stay on top of new and upcoming trends. Holly splits her time between her homes in New Hampshire and Germany, giving her an interesting perspective on emerging design movements in both Europe and the U.S.

Here's our recent Q&A with Holly, who offers her fresh, innovative views on current design trends and Clayton Gray Home products.

Why do you think the cane look has been around so long? Do you have anything in your home with the cane design?

Whether it's real or stylized, cane calls to mind my childhood — I had a white cane bedroom set growing up and still recall picking it out with my parents in Pawley's Island, South Carolina. I kept that set until I was 14 years old, and I loved it. My mother also was very fond of cane, she had cane wallpaper in the living room when I was a child and a cane mirror over a credenza for most of my life — she only recently sold it. For me personally, it reminds me of coastal southern living, but of course, that's not why it's a popular trend. To learn about that, I wrote an article for HGTV that you can read here: http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/trend-spotter-cane/index.html

What does your desk look like?

I have a parsons desk in white lacquer from West Elm with a sheet of glass custom cut for the top, beneath which I switch out a different sheet of wrapping paper or fabric to give it a customized look every season and keep me from getting bored with it. I love the clean lines, but would rather have a desk with a bit more flexibility because I've wanted to paint this desk a hundred times since purchasing it and I really can't. The Clayton Gray Home Cain Wooden Desk appeals to me because it's wood, so I could change out the color whenever I like. I also love the subtle detailing.

Why is the Moroccan-international look so popular and do you see it continuing into 2010?

The exotic Moorish patterns and colors allow us to create a more laid back exotic look in the home, plus it's fresh and unique since designers are interpreting what they see there in modern ways. With so many in America putting travel plans on hold (at least for foreign, more expensive destinations), infusing some accents that evoke travel and freedom can make a big difference in how one feels at home. You can create your own travel destination — on the

patio or in the bedroom — so you can stay home in your very own oasis. That's a trend now in America: making your home feel unique and special, but also creating spots within it for relaxation and escape. It's using what you have and learning to enjoy staying home a little more and appreciating your space for what it is.

Do you think there are other uses for unique, hand-painted containers like the Zebra Waste Basket?

Yes, definitely! You can drill (or cut depending on the material) the trash can, flip it upside down, and transform it into a pendant light. Plastic bins with patterns work best for this sort of hack.

You can also use a new trash can, never used, to store rolls of gift wrap. This is exactly what I do with one that I have in my office area — it's loaded with gift wrap from stores like Paper Source. That way, the paper is out and not hidden in a closet, but it's kept tidy in a pretty bin.

In general, are you drawn to circles or squares in design?

Circles, definitely. Circles represent the cycles in life that exist all around us, particularly in nature, but even in friendships and work relationships. I truly believe "what comes around goes around," and applying this in how I deal with others tends to keep me out of trouble. When I've slipped up, I've paid for my mistakes. The circle reminds me of this precious cycle and how we have to respect it in order for things to come back to us in a positive way.

What are your guidelines for choosing design accents for your home?

I don't buy things because of what they represent on a broad scale or even because they are trendy — most of the time it's all about feeling a connection to something emotionally when I spot it and also whether it is something I can use or enjoy in my own home. If I don't love something these days, I don't buy it. Love it or leave it!

You chose a lot of items with some shade of blue. Is blue your favorite color?

Yes, I love blue. I would have to say it's one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of the ocean, which is my favorite place on earth to be. Blue, in all of its tones, is such a relaxing color in my opinion and really goes with so many other colors — the versatility is great.

What colors do you think will be big in design for the fall?

I think for Autumn '09 it's all about pairing neutrals with strong, vibrant colors, and I heard that gray/brown will be in — the industry refers to the color as "iron". I think the color palette will include olive most likely, which is a great color to pair with blues, greens, violets, reds ... it adds a lot of warmth.

Is there a color or color combination that you think people are tired of seeing?

I think people are tired of, at least in America, chocolate brown combined with robin's egg blue. Or at least I am!

What drew you to the look of Clayton Gray Home?

I think Wendy has a great eye and her look is very fresh and coastal. Plus, she is a fantastic business person — she really cares about her customers and goes above and beyond to make them happy.

What are your three main goals for your decor8 design blog?

To be approachable, friendly and supportive — always. I desire to promote art and design worldwide while sticking to what I'm passionate about and what falls within my own aesthetic. I want to be consistent, encouraging, honest and authentic to who I am and what I enjoy.

Are there any European design movements you see coming to the U.S., or vice versa?

I see the handmade movement growing into a huge trend in Europe — more and more, some of your more "practical" cultures have some great designers emerging as young people start to shake things up a bit and make real progress thanks to the internet, but also due to sites like DaWanda and other online marketplaces rising up. People finally have a place to sell their goods outside of America. Also, handmade markets are popping up in Europe, which is exciting because it really helps to expose the designers in a particular region who, before going to a market, may not have been known. I also see a trend with blogging in Europe and more bilingual or English blogs in order to attract a global audience. In America, I see the green trend growing, but sometimes for the wrong reasons — people who don't care about the planet are jumping on the bandwagon simply because they hope to be profitable because of it. I think, because America is such a huge consumer nation, that green will not be as much of a trend, but a way of life in the future, and this will certainly challenge designers here who currently are not concerned about it or who are getting involved for the wrong reasons.

When is your next trip to Europe and where will you go?

In August I will go to London and then onto Germany where I'll go to Hannover where I live but also Berlin and Hamburg for day trips since they're close to where I'm based over there. I'm also hoping to get to Paris for a week in September and in October I want to go back to England and spend a long weekend, or possibly Denmark.

Holly Becker chose the following Clayton Gray Home products as her June Picks:

Clayton Gray Home appreciates her design expertise and support!



Gym Shelf in Real Simple Magazine

Check out the May issue of Real Simple magazine to see a product we love here at Clayton Gray Home. The Gym Wall Shelf appears in their "outdoor organizing" section - see below
(1) in the photo above shows the galvanized-metal storage piece that can be used for multiple purposes in and outside of the home.
Backpacks, shoes, lunch boxes - you name it - these bins are just what every home needs to keep things off of the floor. Cool hooks below can help out coats, jackets and sports equipment.
Need a little more help? Simply choose the option with 4 bins. These vintage industrial designs have been repurposed from their original metal origin and reinterpreted into a useful accessory. Tip - make life easier with this organize solution that is smart and economical.



Gorgeous Shiny Things-All About Design

Thank you to Danika Herrick for the recent mention on her blog, Gorgeous Shiny Things. Danika is a color consultant and interior designer in Boston, Massachusetts who has a passion for mid-century design and funky light fixtures.

Curious about her picks from Clayton Gray Home? See below for what Danika "wants" and "needs".

Bubbles Glass Chandelier and Dandelion Light - both sparkling and definitely funky.