Wed 8th, Sep, 2010

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Sorry about the website problem y’day, I hope it is now fixed…thanks for all the emails…oh and yep the fridge is a working, second fridge…so that means it has champagne in it mostly…oh and of course, cold beer..

Now, BCer’s have I got a treat for you today…I have a little inside scoop on the very very hard-working lady behind furniture store Russell & Mackenna…the kinda grass roots success story I just lurve to hear…

Oh and best thing is there’s a $400 Giveaway from Russell & Mackenna attached to this post, as ever all ya gotta do is comment to enter…

So here’s my chat with Lauren…and a behind-the-scenes peek at her gorgeous beachy home…


I just love to hear a success story of a good family company built on hard work, craftmanship and all that comes with that…can you describe what it was like in the early days of Russell & Mackenna creating your goods in a one car garage?  It reminds me of my garage full of vintage furniture..was it all a bit of a crazy? 

It was crazy in the beginning, but fun crazy. We were only three months old when Coastal Living magazine featured our Wave Hall Table. I remember the editor asked if I was sure I wanted them to print my home phone number as contact information. (We didn’t have a toll free number at that point.) When that magazine hit the newsstand the rollercoaster took off. We took dozens of orders for that table, and back then there were just three of us and Kevin was the only one who could actually build furniture! That was a wild month. We had Wave Hall Tables all over our house. Kevin was building from dusk to dawn day after day. We recruited everyone we could to help us paint them. It was a blast, we were giddy the entire time and just so excited that people liked what we were making.


So to answer your question, yes, it was a bit crazy!

Goodness, how wonderful and manic….maybe I should be selling my treasures ;-)


How did it move on from that operation to the success that it is today and do you find that has been an amazing ride?

Russell & Mackenna is 6 years old now. We outgrew my one car garage quickly and then outgrew the next space we rented and then the next space. I don’t know that there was one magical ingredient you could say propelled our growth. But I would say the most important thing we have going for us is our team. Get three people together who believe with all there heart that they can do what seems impossible and watch out. I’m just an artist with an undergraduate degree, Russell & Mackenna has taught me how to take a passion for art and turn it into a viable business. We have really grown up into a real company that has Shareholders, a Board of Directors and an Executive Committee. I have a saying that the harder you work the luckier you get…it’s actually printed on the spine of our catalog. So yes, it has been am amazing ride and an emotional one too. I am currently working on our business plan for the next 5 years, so right now I am looking ahead and feel like the ride is just beginning.

Hey I love that saying…working hard makes you luckier…as Mr BC says there ain’t no such thing as luck huh?

As a busy mum of three, how do you keep everything ticking smoothly…that same old question about balance…there’s a joke ’round here that kiddos with busy mummy’s get tied to trees…

Kiddos tied to trees, hmmm, that’s not a bad idea! I am on what seems like an eternal quest for life balance. Finally, in my thirties, I have become pretty good at delegating and asking for help. Early on I tried to do it all myself because I felt like I needed to be Super Woman. The family nearly had to send me to the funny farm because of it.

wow!  you nearly went to the same farm as me…unbelievable…;-)
Kevin and I also realized that we couldn’t both be trail blazers at Russell & Mackenna full time if we wanted the balance of a happy family! After trying a few different solutions, we landed on Kevin stepping out of the day-to-day business and being a full time dad. My girls obviously adore their Daddy and were thrilled with that decision.
goodness, kudos to you guys to have found a solution that works, ummmm with Mr BC recently starting his own business and being very busy working crazy crazy hours and the BC Store and book around the corner, oh and keeping up with it all…we are still tieing kids to trees...


Another thing I learned in the last few years…the importance of excercise and a healthy lifestyle. In the early days at I developed horrible eating habits to cope with the stressers of being such a busy mom and I put myself dead last on the priority list. After packing on a lot of weight..and I’m talking a whole lot..I woke up one day and knew I needed a serious change. My dear friend Lee Kriel (who also happens to be our photographer and is the gorgeous woman sitting on the back of the Hinkley Picnic Boat) knew I needed help in this area and encouraged me to do early morning bootcamp with her. Thank you Lee! I’ve been going that now for three years now. Simply encorporating the discipline of an excercise routine has changed my life. I have so much more energy to better handle the stress that comes along with being a working mom – not to mention all the weight I have lost. Putting my own well being higher on the priority list has made a big difference.
Holding my hands up to ya, good for you…dunno if you’ve heard about the BC walks and 350′s…certainly my therapy and boy do we all know when Mrs BC aint been a-walkin…..what an amazing story, I love how you say exercise has changed your life…all jokin’ aside I feel the same…just sooooo important for us women to get movin’…

So I hear you are the creative one at your place…where’d you get your inspiration and how do you translate that to your wares?

Yup, I am the creative one here…well let me rephrase that. I was the first creative one here and I lead the creative direction but now I have 2 designers who give lots of input too. At this point we design product (wooden furniture, accessories, upholstered furniture and fabrics) as well as catalogs and a website not to mention the interior spaces we create for our clients all over the country.
So the great thing about my job is working in so many mediums, both 2 and 3-dimensional to tell a cohesive coastal lifestyle story that is continually evolving but needs always to stay fresh and uplifting. Inspiration comes from all of the things I’m exposed to in my own life…the magazines and blogs I read, the people I meet, the homes visit and places I travel. My brain sucks it all up like a sponge.
And I have to tell you that your blog has been on my radar for quite awhile. I love the way you live and the simplicity of your style…that inspires me.

Really !  Oh!

Blushing here Lauren, thanks for saying you love my style….too kind!  

Hmmm how funny that you’ve been reading my blog…fancy our tatty old beach cottage has inspired you..

oh yeah I’m pretty free for styling & a little trip Stateside in the next few months ;-)  I am particularly good at sitting on the back of boats, with beer and rolled-up jeans and flags…and taking photographs…



Ok what about day-to-day…what’s a day in your life like? 

Alarm goes off at 4:15. I have coffee a bannana and check my email and the Russell & Mackenna sales and web analytics for the previous day. Go to bootcamp at 5:30 where I endure verbal abuse from a trainer for one hour (love you BGood)… running, push-ups, squats and sit ups.
errrm, hold it right there!  You get up at 4.15, you mean like a.m.??  Phew.  This is one impressed BCer! Tho’ I am quite fancying the sound of endurance…sometimes one needs a bit o’ verbal to get one pumping…
Go back home, carrot juice for me and breakfast for my girls. I talk to them about what they have planned for their day. I like to give them all one thing to try and accomplish in a given day. Sometimes it is simply brush your teeth (I like to keep it very basic for my 3 year old) and other times it’s much more ambitious like make a scrapbook today. I do this for two reasons. I think kids need purpose and praise. So I set them off with a task I think they can successfully handle then when we regroup at the end of the day I can praise them if it was done. I want my girls to feel accomplished and proud. But now I am digressing…back to my day. After a chat with them then it is off to the shower and work. I carpool with my father every morning at 8:30. He lives just down the street and we use the 30 minute drive to talk about business stuff..mostly brainstorming. Then my days tend to be filled with various vendor, client and employee meetings all revolving around brand strategy and design work. Occasionally I’ll have a fantastical day that stands out from all the others…for instance if a celebrity calls to place an order, or we sign a big contract with a Hotel chain. I love days like that, although those are sadly few and far between. I usually get back home around 7 PM just in time for dinner with everyone (hubby does all the shopping and cooking) before we wind down and get ready for bed. About once a week I make a point to leave work at 5 so that I can get home early enough to walk down to our community beach with the girls, grill out or go shopping…generally just some sort of QT with family. Right now, my husband is training for a marathon, so he tends to run while we eat dinner. I sort of miss him lately but I’m so dang proud of him that I am being supportive.

Well you girlie have one busy old life heh?  Sounds like fun for sure.  Though not the carrot juice.  Your hubby…do you rent him out?Gosh, now that I think about it, it probably sounds pretty boring. But really it’s not. The people I interact with every day (family included here) are so creative, colorful and fun that it makes the days fly by. The challenges we set for ourselves, the accomplishments we achieve and all the laughing along the way are what make my life and job so wonderful.

And when everything is done at the end of the day what do you do to kick back and relax?

It does’t take much. I really like wearing flip flops and sunglasses and just hanging out at our beach with hubby, a pitcher of Malibu and pinapple and a pound of steamed shrimp. I am all about keeping it ultra simple. I live in a small community of cottages north of Annapolis, Maryland just off the Chesapeke Bay. Our neighborhood beach has a great big grassy area where all the neighborhood kids play made up games. There is a beautifiul pier and sailboats everywhere. Like you, I am so fortunate to live near the water. I just love it. Attached a photo of my oldest singing a song at the talent show put on by our community’s co-opperative summer beach camp. So cute.
Oh yeah, digging the cute!  Hey, do you need a house guest to share a Malibu and pineapple with you?   I’m good at steaming shrimp…
And last, but not least, Lauren, how did we get all the way to the end of this girl-chat, talking about the beach, talking about furniture, talking about carrot juice and bootcamps and not mention….your big brother????…hmm…. ;-)

Grab yourself then a Malibu, put your feet up & go head for a little bit of ice-cream colour, seaside inspiration at Lauren’s place Russell & Mackenna …I’m lovin the hutch here this fabric makes my heart skip a skippity beat, oh & yep I could just rock it with this hall table
That’s all folks
…leave a comment to win…tell me how you kick back and relax, or keep it all together as a mummy or you could p’haps just comment on Lauren’s big brother…so very easy
hit that button people to enter for a
See you drunken sailors layta
*giveaway open til close of play 10/09/10, tweet/facebook to double up*
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  1. Jennifer says:

    I enjoy a nice glass of red wine to unwind and relax. A good book works wonders too!

  2. Bev says:

    A walk with my dog and the kids is how I unwind!

  3. Sharyn says:

    Oh goodness – what a wonderful and refreshing interview! Great photo’s too. SO inspiring. That beach and simple style sounds perfect relaxation material to me.

  4. a hot bath, glass of wine and a good book.

  5. Kelly says:

    Relaxing on the deck or sun porch is my style! Add an adult beverage and my favorite people and I’m even happier!

  6. Valerie says:

    I like a walk on Manly Beach with the husband… perfect way to unwind!

  7. Betty Jo says:

    What an incredible interview! I’m off now to see more of the Russell & Mackenna site and all their b-u-t-ful things.

  8. Melissa says:

    what a brilliantly inspiring story!!
    what life balance!!

    ok…first things first…..that brother is pretty easy of the eye….read the code in that!

    a glass of wine in the sun- yep its still here in ol’blighty and i’m going to milk every moment of it!!

    their site is gorgeous…love the chairs….

    will see you on facebook!!

    melissa x

  9. Great giveaway!! :) I am not sure I do keep it together as a mom but I sure as heck try! I recently made a custom calendar to carry with me to try and not be such an airhead! :)

  10. Brigid says:

    I love a good book to ‘Calgon take me away’!

  11. kristan says:

    My way to relax is to look at the beach and smell the salt in the air. The most relaxing thing ever.

  12. Lori H says:

    Reading is my relaxing escape! Thanks for sharing this inspiring interview. Lauren’s story is wonderful.

  13. Kirsten says:

    This is an amazing story, thanks for sharing it Sarah. I would love some of those blue bottles, I just can’t find them here :(

  14. Laura says:

    I take the dog a walk along the beach… it’s the only time of the day I get to think of nothing… enjoy the silence… not hearing my own voice… I let my brain just flat line…………………………… Reading all these crazy success stories though, makes me think that I must spend too much time relaxing! Lx

  15. What an amazing giveaway. I have not heard of this company and I just spent 30 minutes looking at their website and found some awesome things (there’s a chair and a stool with my name on it). So, back to the drawing, how do I like to relax? I like to do one of two things: either curl up with a great magazine (or laptop for online ones) and a glass of tea and look at all the inspirational ideas OR go junkin with my best pal, Jen. Either one is perfect for me. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

  16. A number of options 1. Walk the dog,listen to the river, the kookaburras say hi to the tawny frog mouths and kangaroos. If at home, put my slippers on, warm cup of herbal tea and read a cooking book. Lye in the hammock sock up the sprint time sun and chat to my husband and son.

  17. Definitely, a long walk in the woods…. reflect… gain compaosure and life goes on. I’d love to win….I’m a quilter and I’d get a piece to hold quilt fabric. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Alison Gibbs says:

    Can’t beat a walk on the beach for the perfect relaxation

  19. Elizabeth says:

    so in love with this post and I would love to win a giveaway, hasn’t happen yet. But hey it has given me the good fortune of meeting and seeing blogs and folks from all over the world.
    Take Care, Good Memories,

  20. freda says:

    I want to win! I’m working on my lake cottage.

  21. alikaye says:

    I think the most relaxed I have ever felt was sitting alone on the top of a sand dune in the middle of the Simpson Desert last year…not like I can do that everyday though…so the usual way would be hanging outside in our yard with a beer watching my hubby and young son fixing or making something together…or sitting in a great county pub somewhere having a pot with good friends!

    Thanks Sarah…

  22. lucy says:

    he’s definitely a hunk!

  23. tammy says:

    Long hot bubble baths!

  24. Charlotte says:

    I have finally retired and am enjoying moving at a slower pace and actually having the luxury of deciding what I am going to do with my day. It was a looooong time coming, but boy is it fun. I am most relaxed in an uncluttered home. Clean is nice, but uncluttered is essential. I love the clean lines of the furniture in today’s post. I would love to win!

  25. Amy Cornwell says:

    Whenever I’m stressed I go to Starbucks and get a latte. Something about a hot coffee with a lot of milk and sugar makes it all better. I love the furniture, thanks for the giveaway!

  26. Just smelling the salt air is very relaxing but a boat ride in the evening is wonderful.

  27. Romana says:

    loverly! gorg furniture, thanks Sarah for the links and interview!

  28. Tiff says:

    Phew. Just reading about Lauren’s day is tiring. I think I need that boot camp!
    To relax – a cuppa on busy days is about all I get, but if I can get a sleep-in every few months and a lazy morning after it, I’m a happy girl!

  29. Karen Hancock says:

    i have just recently had my fourth child and when things have been getting hard i remind myself that this is the life i have chosen and that this little man will only be little for an extremely short time, these days are precious and i need to treasure them, and look back apon them thinking i have done the best i can… sounds airy fairy but it has really made a difference! and i have really been on top of things and enjoying my boys alot more! thanks for a great blog! Karen

  30. Melissa says:

    Good Morning, Sarah-
    I don’t know where I’ve been, but this is a new company name to me! LOVING IT! Thanks for the intro., and the down to earth chat. So fun and inspiring to sit and read with my morning coffee….ummmm, of COURSE, after my early a.m. boot camp start! YIKES! Why is it that busy people fit so much more into their day than I can manage to?! ;)…Oh, right. Must be that 4:15 start.
    Thanks again for sharing such a great chat.

  31. Oh, I like so many things to do to unwind. I love to quilt, so that is one way. I love to read and that is another way. I like being with family although they are all far away, but those times that we are together are precious. I love a good chap with a good friend, be it by email, Skype, or face to face.

  32. amy jupin says:

    wow! this is a giveaway i just couldn’t resist!
    how generous of these folks! i loved this interview and the story behind this family!

  33. the brother is a cute one!
    and i like to relax with a nice cup of tea and a good book.
    if that feels too granny, i’ll grab a bottle of wine call some friends, tie the kids to the trees and throw a party!
    tweeted/facebooked, too!

  34. Tricia Rose says:

    Faskinating! (Popeye)

  35. Ellen says:

    I walk along the beach to relax – it always centers me. I love the interview and the pictures, especially the one with the dog on the porch – and yes, the one of the brother is pretty good, too! I also love the painting on the wall in the picture of the little girl’s room. It would be so much fun to win a gift card to Russel and Mackenna! Thanks!

  36. Ellen says:

    Woops, I meant Russell and Mackenna. I’m not trying to cheat with two entries – I just realized I spelled it wrong. Now if I can tear myself away from the computer, I should go out and get some exercise. That really was good advice. Thanks again!

  37. Tricia Rose says:

    I have just realised I don’t relax – I go to bed – get a life Tricia!

  38. leah p says:

    Lately, the hubs and I have been unwinding by watching old episodes of LOST. Since we didn’t watch it while the show was on, it’s been loads of fun.

  39. Elaine in Laguna says:

    Walking on the beach; reading a great book or magazine; enjoying some inspirational blogs like this one; and painting. Would love to win the gift card! Need a great media piece for the living room! Does the cute brother deliver?!

  40. That chick is something else – 4.15am start to the day…what an inspiration. Off to visit their site now – hoping to see another pic of big brother (mmmmmm…..) – only joking – actually can’t wait to see some of that gorgeous coastal style furniture and bit and pieces. For me, I relaxed reading this interview with a nice cup of tea. Thanks for a great post.
    ps. looking forward to hearing more about your book and store.

  41. Tonja says:

    To relax these days we get together with friends and let out kids run around in the backyard like wild animals while we BBQ and have a couple beers. It’s perfect with these cooler evenings we have been having.

  42. Karen Davis says:

    wowee what a giveaway!!! To relax these days, I make a pot of coffee and lay on the couch with a good book… and sip all afternoon!

  43. Beverly says:

    If I lived near any large body of water, I’d be relaxing by it, but since I’m landlocked, relaxing to me usually is a long walk with the hubby and dog, reading a book, or watching some TV. One boy is already grown and left for college and the other is 13, so I don’t have to balance much. I’m a pretty lucky gal.

  44. Beverly says:

    I’m gonna FB this too!

  45. mariah robinson says:

    ready magazines, doing projects around the house…that’s the way i relax.

  46. stanna rysdam says:

    WOW would I love to win. My idea of relaxing is a good cup of coffee or tea, Good Book and relaxing in the nice fall sun with my dog licking my tootsies.. Thanks, Stanna

  47. Wow…I love that website!!! Fabulous furniture!!!

  48. jodi says:

    I love to relax and unwind with a decorating magazine or blog for some inspiration at the end of the day. After the little one has gone to bed of course – she’s my top priority, and my number one inspiration daily!

  49. Michelle Page says:

    Love the furniture. Sign me up!

  50. joAnna says:

    Relax – kids are back in school, need I say more!
    Great site thanks for sharing.

  51. Nikki says:

    My way of relaxing is at 1pm with a cold diet coke and a bag of peanut M&N’s while putting my feet up and watching “Days of our Lives.” That happens about never, but when it does. I am in bliss.

  52. Desiree says:

    Very cute style! I especially love her armoire. I am still learning how to keep it together as a mother of two very smart little girls.


  53. meeyeehere says:

    A bath as hot as I can stand it,sometimes I drink a glass of wine while in the bath,only once in a blue moon.
    Bath time is the only time away from chaos,worries and all the stresses of a day.I look forward to it all day,sometimes I take two baths.

  54. Ginger says:

    I have to second that bath thing that meeyeehere talks about. I love nothing more than a quiet house once all the kiddos are in bed and I slip into a hot bubble bath with a great magazine…ahh…love it! BTW love that cabinet in the room with the bunk beds….to die for!

  55. Great article! Women who follow their dream with their passion and talent inpsire me! LOOOOOOOVE the furniture! Gorgeous!

    God bless!

  56. marylou says:

    Feels like I walked into a rainbow in Lauren’s home, fabulously beautiful….love the colors!!
    Great post Ms. BC, thanks for sharing with us;)

  57. Nicolette says:

    Hey Sarah!

    I’ve been a lurker on your blog for about a year now(found through StumbleUpon), and I always think about posting comments, but I guess I treat you more like a magazine and less like a blog, trying to change that, and how could I resist with such a lovely give-away?

    I have a wee little beach-cottage myself and I love looking through all your white-white, nautical and sandy details. It’s always inspiring and gives me the momentum to get on my own homey projects, especially now that the weather’s cooling down here and there’s less time to be spent lounging in the sand.

    When I want to unwind I like to go over to my neighborhood paint shop, to their basement where I have full access to all their “oops” mistake paints, which they very generously give to me for free. I poke about, shake all the cans and find the treasures to bring home for future projects. Some cans end up sitting around for an age (a yellow that’s too bright to do much of anything with, really, except bask in it’s sunshine glory) until it makes it way onto the trim of a drawer, as just the right contrasting flash of color that makes it worth-while to have hung onto it for so long.

    Keep up the beautiful work, I look forward to more inspiration from you and fantastic companies like Russell & Mackenna!


  58. Rae says:

    Winning a giveaway is a great way to relax and unwind!! :) But seriously, I head to the tub with wonderful eucalyptus/spearmint bubble bath and a good book…..and a Diet Coke to drink while soaking!!!

  59. Becky B says:

    Sarah – wonderful post. What an amazing talented and centered woman. And I, too, read your blog everyday. Love the all white – daydreaming about my own beach cottage one day…I have always relaxed and continue to relax with a good book. I have traveled around the world and even to some far away galaxies that way. Becky

    PS. Love the name of the company, Russell and Mackenna.

  60. What a fabulous giveaway!! I would love to win :-) As a mom to two toddlers…blogging is my way to relax!! Thats my time and its very precious.

  61. alex says:

    What an inspiring story! And the way I love to relax is to head out to our very own beach cottage :) We bought it mid-July and have busily been sanding, painting, and ripping out carpeting but last weekend it was finally put together enough that we actually had some time to kick back on the couch and take it all in. Heavenly! And the best part is that I’ve gotten so much inspiration from your blog that I’m actually quite pleased with how it’s turning out :)

  62. Vicki K says:

    What great furniture! I think the colors and fabrics are unbelievably beautiful. And what a great family business story. There is all sorts of inspiration at their site. Thanks for the intro!

  63. Beth West says:

    Great story and everything looks so fresh and beautiful.

  64. Kim says:

    Good Day~Great intro and interview.I will have to check them out.I could use a new table.Count me in Please.~Cheers Kim

  65. Hey Sarah! What a fabulous giveaway! Thank you for offering it!! My fav way to relax…..? Probably sharing a glass of our homemade FatCat*HappyDog wine with hubby while watching the sun set over Sanibel Island. But……I may have to change that to drinking a glass of that wine while just looking at that photo of Lauren’s big brother……..(don’t tell hubby!). lol!

    xoxo laurie@heavens-walk

  66. bobbie says:

    I kick back with a glass of wine and good book ~

    They have a lovely store ~ do they ship to the west coast???


  67. Shelby says:

    That is very inspiring! I relax by working on art projects– it helps take my mind off whatever is stressing me!

  68. michelle says:

    darling white cupboard and very cute big brother! ha ha love to refinish old stuff in my spare time but to purchase your would be delightful! thanks for the inspiration!

  69. Angie Rodeillat Smith says:

    Great story ! Love it when just normal everyday folks make a go at doing something they love.

    My favorite way to kick back, sitting on my back porch with a candle and a tall glass of sweet iced tea. Flipping through a stack of old magazines looking for ideas to update my newly acquired 55 year old home !

  70. pam says:

    I enjoyed your interview and learning about this new company. I relax with a cup of tea, soft background music of the classical variety, and a good book at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to that now. Great giveaway, thanks for the chance.

  71. Kim says:

    How do i relax???????? do I???? my hubs would say NO!!!! i say well if i am with the kiddos that would be head to the beach!!!! mind you not one as nearly beautiful as yours there in the lucky country but a nice local beach pop that big colorful beach umbrella and take it all in the sights sounds boats etc…. or simply making a huge sandcastle with my kids!!!!
    without kids
    as soon as they are off to school i settle with a cup of english breakfast tea my personal fave by twinings and then listen to the birds out in the back by the flowers!!! thats my idea of perfect relaxation!! well that is… if i cant be near the ocean!!!
    i really enjoyed reading this article thanks sarah as always
    have a g’day!!!
    your friend in far away michigan!!!

  72. Gina S. says:

    Red wine sitting on my deck is the best way to unwind. Love all their furniture.

  73. Patti says:

    Wow..makes me want to start my own business! Guess I need to figure out how to be awesome first!! Great interview!

  74. Lacey Munns says:

    Oh heaven on earth! This giveaway is totally delicious!

  75. Becky says:

    My favorite way to gather myself back to reality, to let it all unwind, and to remember all of the wonderful blessings this world has to offer…is when I crawl into my bed…under the down comforter…leaning into a plush set of pillows…open a good book…and forget about tomorrow…well, at least until I hear the little one on the monitor :)

  76. My best way to kick back is with a pile of shelter mags and a cup of hot tea (or iced tea in summer here). Loved this interview so much, I’m very inspired by the humble beginnings and the success!
    Pick me!

  77. Nan says:

    Great interview…I love their furniture. I’m in the process of turning my living room into turquoise and green so I love the bright colors. It’s nice to see they can be calming. I love a restful day on the farm…few and far between but enjoyable when we can do it. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  78. Suz says:

    OMG! What I would give for a pice of furniture from Russell & Mackenna!!! I’m a beach girl by heart, stuck in the snowbelt of the Great Lakes and if I want a little R&R I head to the ocean!

  79. Kathleen Kelly says:

    I love the sea for relaxation–the sound, the smell, the sun on the waves–but here in Wisconsin, I make do with one of our beautiful lakes or rivers.

  80. sadie barnum says:

    Laying in bed with a great book! Doesn’t get much better!

  81. stacy says:

    how about a comment on the big brother. . . *swoon* and a comment on relaxing. . . chilling with my own handsome hubs catching up at the end of the day.

  82. Tami C. says:

    Ok, what a great story, what a great give away! (Oh and Mr. Handsome Brother, my beautiful sister is single….)

  83. Molly says:

    What a great interview and company! I love you style and this giveaway:)

  84. Jules says:

    Sarah, you surprise me! You are the queen of thrift and to me you just personify Simplicity … just lovely simple lines that cost very little (or nothing!) and yet you promote this shop selling a hall table for 850 dollars!! I honestly thought I had read it wrong … sorry to sound so shocked but how can they justify 850 dollars! Come on?! No wonder Mrs shop owner looks so happy, I would be if I could get away with that too! On a nicer note, I voted for you in your Dunk Quest ! Jules x

    • Nicolette says:

      I have to agree with you! I hadn’t even looked at the prices when I flipped through their website initially.

      The $400 gift card won’t even cover the cost of the (albeit) cute, padded bar stool I was eying, never mind the lovely ottoman which I was picturing in front of my favorite reading chair.

      Lovely things, but without the giveaway I don’t think I’d be looking at their wares.

    • Sarah says:

      G’day Jules

      Thanks so much for your feedback

      I am sorry that you feel that way :-)

      My thoughts : my budget (& the circumstances that dictate that) don’t stop me from loving learning about a woman and her family who have worked extremely hard to create their own deserved success from scratch..and I like to think that that is exactly what my blog reflects..creating success whatever your resources



      • Jules says:

        Hi Sarah and thanks for your thoughts. Fair play to the woman – she’s worked hard and now has a successful business – albeit one that (in my opinion) is somewhat taking the you-know-what out of people wanting to have a lovely home.
        My only observation was that the merchandise of this particular store doesn’t seem to gel with the ethos of your blog/store. There are literally thousands of blogs out there these days – many of them promoting expensive stores and quite frankly showcasing what people can’t afford. However …. your blog is different (and again in my opinion) and that is why it is so successful and popular – people can relate to you and your blog because you show how to achieve a lovely home within a reality budget. I’m all for expansion and let’s face it we all need to make a living but to me paying 850 dollars for a little table is just mindless – I’m in the north of England – people want a car for that up here!
        Jules x

  85. Rachel Wolf says:

    I am so inspired by those who make their dreams happen and are willing to share how they did it with the rest of us!

  86. Shar Y. says:

    I love Russell and McKenna, have a wish list for them if ever I can afford it!! Looking at the color aqua or seablue type colors relaxes me now matter where or what.

  87. Frau Mayer says:

    Oooh, kicking back….
    Absolutely nothing new: a hot bath + some Lush bath melt (check it out, it’s AWESOME!) + some hot green tea + a fab mag. After a half an hour of soaking: a warm, fluffy bathrobe and at least 9 hours ov invigorating sleep!

  88. Darlene says:

    Hot tea and a good book!

  89. Rebecca says:

    A walk with my hubby in the sunset and talking about the day… decorating is relaxing too!!!! =)

  90. Sheila says:

    Going to bed early with a good book and my dog Evan cuddled up next to me for belly rubs.

  91. Joni Sill says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color scheme of this house! I would give anything for the kitchen- I wish I were that creative!

  92. Kathy says:

    To kick back and relax, I like to go surfing. You know, the web kind. Or grab some yarn and crochet away!

  93. Tracie Trump says:

    Hot shower with Lavender Body Wash! Then put my feet up with a good book! tracietrump@yahoo.com

  94. Matt F says:

    relax by taking the morning and maybe afternoon off then sleeping in

  95. lis says:

    I love her kitchen. Amazing.

  96. jody says:

    You are an absolute hoot. Love reading your blog – not to mention eyeing all the lovely photo candy!! Your blog is gorgeous.

  97. Erin says:

    Snuggling up on the couch — especially after leading 6 little boys in a Scout meeting — with a glass of wine is my favorite way to relax.

  98. cris richman says:

    I relax to music and sometimes I lay in the grass in my back yard.

  99. Tery H. says:

    I have been a fan of Russell & MacKenna for a long time-plus they are right around the corner from Annapolis, MD where I live!
    I relax by taking a walk around the water or strolling the streets of downtown!

  100. Inga says:

    I am a huge fan of armoires. I was admiring the ones you posted here, but I’ve got to say my favorite is the one in the children’s room that looks like it’s a door leading into a magical world of imagination. Ha! What a creative idea – I’m loving it. Thank you for letting us admire the furniture and Mr. Big Brother (clearing throat)…thanks for sharing. :-)

  101. Taylor says:

    Great site! I’m redecorating right now so this would be super useful. Thanks so much!

  102. DesignTies says:

    Wow, Lauren is an amazing woman!! Smart, talented, organized, ambitious…. just the 4:15AM thing is a bit crazy!!

    Thanks for the introduction to Lauren and the opportunity to win a gift card for her shop :-)


  103. DesignTies says:

    Just tweeted about your giveaway :-)


  104. Elizabeth says:

    Great interview Sarah, I love hearing success stories like that…..as far as relaxing goes – for me there’s nothing quite like kicking back with a cold bottle of bubbles with the one I love.

  105. I live steps away from a river so I go there to renew! ladyhightower@live.com

  106. Jenny says:

    It was a great read until I got to the bit about getting up at 4.15 am….I ain’t doing that. I relax at the end a the day with a long walk after dinner with my husband, then I settle down with a cup of tea and either knit, quilt or read. Great giveaway thanks Jenny

  107. shay says:

    Wow! What beautiful things they make. I chill with a good crime fiction book.

  108. Martha says:

    The way I like to kickback and relax is to put on comfy pjs, get a bag of chips, something sweet, and a soda. Curl up on the couch and catch up on my dvr’d shows. My “filth,” as I call them… Real Housewives, the Bachelor Pad, etc. I love having that time to myself!!

    Thank you so much for offering such a generous giveaway! xoxo

  109. megs says:

    What??? That’s awesome. (I would redo our balcony space!) Great interview. :)

  110. Jackie says:

    Beautiful post, photos, furniture…I’m along for the boat road~Sign me on up sailor girl!
    Thanks for a great post and eyecandy!

  111. Amy in Austin says:

    Wow, that’s some really gorgeous furniture. Great interview too.

    I like to relax with a book on my balcony when the Texas weather isn’t too particularly sweltering (and barring tropical storms…).

  112. I relax by looking at lovely blogs like yours. x

  113. Susan says:

    nothing spells relaxing like a good rainy day movie and popcorn cuddled up in a warm knitted blanket…..okay, if it isn’t raining, shutting the shutters and pretending that the sun isn’t shining and the yard doesn’t need tending….hugs…susan

  114. So much to comment on…
    1. LOVE Lauren’s Necklace :)
    2. Love Lauren’s Hot brother….
    3. Love Lauren’s boat
    4. Love the Wave table 2.0
    5. Totes, bottles and glass balls…Oh my!!!

  115. Peta says:

    what a great story. Beautiful pieces of furniture!

  116. Tovah says:

    Wow! What an amazing story. Do you think you’d want to take your shop in that direction?

  117. I love nothing more than curling up in bed or on the couch with a warm blanket and my pup and kitty!

  118. Sharon Smart says:

    Another great interveiw! I love *meeting* all these new people!

  119. Krista says:

    I am so delighted by this interview. :-) What a fabulous lady, so jolly and hard-working and wonderfully creative. :-) Her type of relaxing sounds heavenly! As does your idea of perching on the back of a boat barefoot with rolled up jeans. :-) I love being outdoors to relax: sitting at the beach, or on the creekbank behind my house, just me, the wind, the water, and a dear friend or two. :-)

  120. Marie Nelson says:

    What fabulous furniture, love the upholstered chairs, they look so comfy. My favourite way to relax is with a cuppa and a good mystery book, sitting in my ‘adults only room’ which overlooks gorgeous views of the city and mountains.

  121. I like to sit down at the end of the day with a good book.
    I’ll also say that I love all those pictures. What a fun house!

  122. Britt says:

    I run to relax, nothing better than a run along an ocean route.

  123. Abby says:

    Beautiful pics…especially her brother:)

    I love to sit on my front porch and watch my girl ride her scooter in front of the house. Thanks so much for the chance at a very generous giveaway.

  124. Patty Belliveau says:

    It’s inspirational to see such creative beauty….. not only in Lauren’s work but in the way she lives fully as a wife and mother. It was a blessing for my eyes and soul to read your story. AND I love this site….it’s the first time I visited your beach cottage and it reminds me of the cottage home I grew up in on Lake Erie. Ahhhhh…….mental retreat!

  125. mrs hojo says:

    Only recently found your blog and am loving it, loved going back to the start of your story and seeing how your projects have turned the house around. Gorgeous!


  126. Vivian says:

    I love those orange chairs. I can see myself and my four cats curled up reading a good mystery – listening to the rain.

  127. Shirley says:

    I’m loving that $400 giveaway but it would be even better if you included Lauren’s big brother! He’s movie star gorgeous.

  128. Tanya says:

    What a great interview. Love reading about a great success story!

  129. It’s always amazing and very inspiring to hear how other people have started their businesses – Laurens was no exception.
    To relax I like to meditate at the quiet end of our beach, then perhaps a stroll along the shoreline.
    Hugs ~ Kerryanne

  130. A walk on the beach is all it takes to remind oneself that life really is just a walk on the beach.

    Thanks for the splendid interview and for considering me in the generous giveaway.

  131. Christy says:

    A long walk at dust is a perfect relaxing evening.
    Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

  132. Siona says:

    Terrific interview, her style is amazing – looks effortless! I like to relax with a glass of wine and some chilled out music.

  133. Tammi N says:

    Curling up with a great book gets me everytime….when I can tear myself away from my busy life that is!!

    Did I read BC Book right?

  134. elizabeth says:

    It would be fabulous to win!!!!

  135. The art of relaxing-
    *make a cup of tea, turn on the computer, see what Sarah’s been up to on ‘abeachcottage’ peruse a few other blogs for a quick read, notice tea is half-cold, oh well it must be time to get back to work!
    * make a cuppa, find a good mag, curl up on the lounge, or sit in the sun and soak it up!
    *grab the camera, go for a walk, take some ‘nature’ shots

  136. Marnie A says:

    Great interview…..lovin the pics!

  137. Tara K says:

    I would love to relax with her brother!!!!

  138. Cathy says:

    Love, love your interview! Thanks for sharing. And I truly love to see a family run business from my hometown in the international spotlight. All the best to you Sarah and to Russell and Mackenna.

  139. Jolene says:

    What a lovely home, and I also loved the lady’s necklace. Love to be in the draw Sarah. xx

  140. Sam says:

    Lauren rocks! Beautiful handmade furniture and an inspiring story, what more could we ask for?

  141. Ann says:

    …………………………..sitting in Columbus, Ohio….soaking in all the wonderful-ness of A Beach Cottage…. fantasizing about ‘life by the sea.’ Just love your blog. :-)

  142. jayne says:

    right now relaxing is curling up with my 1 or 2 or my dogs with my laptop reading decorating blogs.

  143. Tonia Hobbs says:

    I love this post, it just takes me away! Living by the water must be so so nice. I’m married, but hey, the brother. . . he is fo’ sho’ F-I-N-E!
    Things that relax me. . . simple things. . . reading to my kids, antique stores, and of course, blogging.

    Love your blog.

  144. Cheryl Graham says:

    I love all the color in your life. You’re definitely not afraid of it!!! Bravo!!!!

  145. Tanya says:

    I like to kick back by spending the evening on my deck in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and a good book

  146. Loretta says:

    We recently bought our own beach cottage, and while I can’t really afford R&M, I am so inspired by their work and their home that we “thrifted” all sort of furniture and “R&M’d” it! So great to see more pics of their home. Wonderful company!

  147. I relax by finding a beach and looking for sea glass & shells. Also working in my gardens although that can be exhausting. I so enjoy your posts. I can’t always leave a comment but I never miss reading. It’s like reading a fun novel! Thanks Sarah and G’day to you. Sharon

  148. libbie says:

    wouldn’t it just be wonderful…that will be my mantra from now until 10/09.

  149. Oh my gosh, THAT. MAN.

  150. Schmidty says:

    I savored every word of this post ….wow! I love it all! ….and the feeling conveyed is so comfy and soothing. (The man , not so much ….) Thanks for the entry into this wonderful giveaway!

  151. Kirsty says:

    Wow I am in LOVE with that window on the wall! What an awesome idea! Love the story! Especially the quote about working hard and luck! Never heard it before… but it’s so true… I should probably start working harder then! :D

  152. Evelynn says:

    I relax with some me time by taking a hot bath, getting my nails done, and flipping through the pages of my favorite magazines.

  153. Alex says:

    I am IN LOVE with this site and furniture-can they please furnish my whole home?! Just so beachy, comfortable, and lovely!!!

  154. Felicity says:

    It depends on what time of day that I need to chillax.
    Mornings are beach walks, evenings a glass of wine and a chatting with Captain Valentine.
    Weekends [ = my favourite] hammock time!
    x Felicity

  155. Donna says:

    I cope- just- cos I only have ONE child! And he’s now 19.

  156. lizzy says:

    Loved this refreshing,inspiring and beautiful post highlighting how extraordinary,
    the ordinary can be and become when we accept the real and everyday
    whilst embracing the good and moving forward to the better.
    Great post Sarah and so lovely to ‘meet’ other beautiful people.

  157. elisabeth says:

    What a fun and inspiring story!

  158. Jacinta says:

    HHmmm boot camp, what a good idea…… is it extra to have them toss you out of bed, in order to get to boot camp????
    The dreaded creep of ‘no longer young’..
    Looove visiting your blog. Inspiring.

  159. Trish says:

    I really loved reading such a fantastic family success story. It certainly is hard work juggling a full time job in your own business & keeping a balanced family life. Im sure you know Sarah that when the business is your own your mind NEVER switches off. Lovely interview!!!

  160. L says:

    I like to chill with my blogroll when I get home from work

  161. Love your pom poms and love your blog….it’s all sooooooo gorgeous.

  162. HRH Sarah says:

    Oooh, yes please! I could really use a little house love right now, and that gift card sure would help! L-U-R-V your pompoms in the next post, btw… And your stinking teenager and husband sound just like my hubby when it comes to my obsessions… erm, crafts.

  163. Kate Dickson-Battye says:

    I can see why you love Russel & MacKenna.
    With all those perfectly coloured glassy deco’s and fabulous fabrics to inspire, Katie xx

  164. Michele Rice says:

    Thank you so much for doing this interview!! I loved reading, and like you, I LOVE a good success story!!!

    To unwind, I like to read or do crafts. I love to make cards and other paper crafts, and I recently started painting. I’m loving all things crafty right now, and it relaxed me.

    I’m off to check out the Russel & MacKenna site!!

    Thanks so much!
    Michele Rice

  165. linda says:

    what gorgeous photos and lovely style, thanks for sharing! I love to relax with friends….good food, wine and gossip tends to be all I need to recharge.

  166. Tracey says:

    You two gals are PURE INSPIRATION!!!


  167. Getting up at 4:15? Crazy but oh so inspiring. She really takes advantage of a day and is talented to boot!

  168. Heidi says:

    I love that blue dresser–with everything going white right now, the colors are so refreshing!! (Okay, white is fabulous too!)

  169. Heidi says:

    I love that blue dresser–with everything going white right now, the colors are so refreshing!! (Okay, white is fabulous too!)

  170. Beverly says:

    Oh, how I would LOVE to win the gift certifcate!

  171. Nancy says:

    Absolutely love ALL the furniture shown.

  172. Cortney Lovelace says:

    Wow! This is such a great giveaway! I am in love with all of the furniture!

  173. simpledaisy says:

    Yippee!! Enter me please:)

  174. mandiegirl says:

    Wow! What a generous giveaway!!! I love to sew to chill out lately!

  175. Marta says:

    Always fun and inspiring to read how other moms do it! get through the day, make life work, relax, etc. Thanks for the giveaway!

  176. Goodness, right now, I just need to sit here at the old computer and soak up inspiring blogs. My best way to escape the everyday!

  177. Teresa T. says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for the interview and a giveaway too? So nice to know there are small business owners that are making American Made Furniture in America. Living in North Carolina and privilaged to have a bi-annual furniture Furniture Market in our area has provided me the opportunity to see and know first hand how the industry has changed over the years. Local (NC and VA) companies have either gone Out of business or if they have been fortunate to stay in business have had to send the jobs over seas. This has meant a loss of jobs for families that made furniture for years and were very proud of their work. North Carolina has been severly affected by the loss of the furniture industry. It has also effected the manufacturing of textiles, materials and hardware companies in our region. All of the materials needed to make furniture were made in and around NC. SO, if a family can survive and make beautiful furniture and keep other people working and being creative in their community I say kudos for them.

    Quality products are worth what you pay for them! It is each persons individual choice how and where they want to spend their $.
    Example: Choose your coffee; store brand, made at home, barista from a national not locally owned chain, or your locally owned coffee house (beans roasted on the premises) and your neighbor works their while their kids are in school. The choice is yours!

    To answer the question, I relax by visiting the lovely blogs that creative people have written and are sharing apart of themselves with strangers.

    Always, Teresa T.

  178. jules says:

    I am a mom to 3 busy kids and I’m building my dream cottage in a beautiful town. I unwind and relax by taking a long walk with my dogs and am also known to pour myself a drink while making dinner : )

  179. Sarah says:

    Love love love this giveaway & all things beachy! Being a Marylander myself , I love all the water that surrounds us!

  180. Holly says:

    That brother… if I were not getting married in 3 weeks I might just try to snag him myself :)

  181. Cheryl says:

    Yes, the brother is dreamy! Would definitely love a stroll along the beach with him… that would be very relaxing. Then retire to a beachy cottage with loads of dreamy, beachy furnishings and things inspired by my favorite websites and blogs… heavenly!

  182. Ginni says:

    I love the colors of the furniture, and the family feel. Now, browsing their website . . .

  183. Mary says:

    I take my dogs for a walk down to the lake, there’s something relaxing about throwing a toy for fetch over, and over, and over again at sunset!

  184. Patty says:

    I am a beach house owner only in my dreams, but I love your blog! The furniture in this post is definitely dreamy!!!

  185. kathy h says:

    I have died and gone to heaven!! I Luh huv their furniture. Unfortunately it’ s a little out of our budger ( cry ). Maybe one day!

  186. DeeDee Cox says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog and this article!!! And yeah, the brother is a hottie :)

  187. Kate H says:

    Lauren, you rock! And it is so much fun following Russell & MacKenna. What great furniture … and what a great brand.

    As for favorite ways to relax? A good walk around the neighborhood with my two dogs always makes the stress of the work day disappear … followed by coming home and curling up in my Russell & MacKenna Libby back chair, with a good beer and book!

  188. Callie Appelstein says:

    Absolutely love this furniture and the family’s story. My favorite way to unwind is a hot bath. Predictable, perhaps, but classic!

  189. Barbara says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! I’m not sure whether It makes me feel motivated, or HOPELESS!!! 4:15 AM? Every morning? Boot camp? No wonder I can’t get out of my own way! I have so much admiration for women with this kind of drive and the things they accomplish. The furniture is beautiful, lovely to see a young family make a life from a business and product they create and love.

    My therapy? Sunday afternoons with my family Grown children ages 26, 28, and 30, and their significant others. Depending on the season, it’s football games, beer, bocci on the lawn, afternoons at the ocean, barbques, , wine, fires in the mancave’s old woodstove, music, food, lots of cooking by everyone, dogs…everywhere, they all have one, we have one, four dogs in all, usually! Come to think of it, I usually need therapy AFTER Sundays with my family :)

    Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

  190. Barbara says:

    PS: Love the Hinkley! My son captain’s a Hinkley out of Sag Harbor, it’s a beautiful boat!

  191. Carmen says:

    I relax by – snuggeling up with a good book and my puppy and/ or hubby.