{Home Tour} An FOF fabric designer works a lifetime of mementos into a sleek, modern space.

When decorating your FOF home, there are often two polar instincts:
(1) Surround yourself with the heartwarming photos, knickknacks, books, art, etc., that you’ve accumulated over 50+ years.
(2) Pare down, and create a calm, clutter-free oasis straight from the pages of Dwell magazine.

Meet Lee Olson, who brilliantly managed to do both. FOF Lee is a textile designer and the owner of Yoma, a New York firm that creates fabrics for commercial and residential use. Her vivid designs all begin with her own hand-drawings and are inspired by her travels around the world, to India, Thailand, China and South America.

Her travels have also inspired a lifetime of . . . .shopping. Lee and her husband, Chandler Pierce, a leading architect and furniture designer, have collected a (small) museum’s worth of cultural artifacts and art, including books, brooms, buddhas and baskets.

Twelve years ago, the couple purchased a building on a one-block lane straddling SoHo and Little Italy, just behind the former New York police headquarters. They renovated the attic into a 1500-square-foot residence for themselves. The space took six months to renovate so that it was “livable,” but the couple has continued to work on it over the years.

According to Lee, both the biggest asset and challenge of decorating their home was marrying her and her husband’s tastes. “We have different aesthetics. Design-wise he’s a little cleaner, slicker…I’m always interested in bringing in more texture, color, curvilinear shapes.”

The key, says Lee, was in the curation. She and Chandler carefully chose what to display and what to pack away in their large storage closet. “He edits me,” Lee says of Chandler, “I choose to display things that I’m really passionate about, and then he goes in and arranges them–almost like a set.”

The end result: “When people come there, they often say: ‘Wow it looks so clean and sleek, but when you start to look around there’s a lot of detail–a lot of warmth.’”

Left: Lee’s building used to be a gun factory, part of New York’s fabled gun district. Right Top: Lee in the Yoma office, wearing a coat by Juli Raja. Right Bottom: Each of Lee’s textile designs begins with her own hand-drawings.

The main living area is a mix of sleek, architectural pieces and quirky ethnic finds, like the tiny wooden chair from Guatemala and a collection of hand-woven purses from the Philippines. Couch: Ligne Roset, purchased on Craigslist. Coffee table: Broome, Chandler’s furniture design company. Rug: Warp and Weft.

A modern table is offset by rich, textural details, including a New Mexico-inspired painting by artist Lou Hicks and hand-painted Italian plates from Ceramica Direct.

At first glance, these “Afghan War Rugs” appear to be typical antique oriental designs, however if you look closely, you can see machine guns, missiles and war planes woven into the fabric. “It’s an amazing example of people incorporating what’s going on in their lives into their art,” says Lee, who inherited two of the rugs and bought a third from Warrug.com.

A tranquil bed from De La Espada seats beneath an original aquatint by artist Katja Oxman, who uses layers of fabric patterns in her work–much like Lee’s own designs.

Lee and Chandler began collecting handmade brooms ten years ago. “They’re mostly street brooms,” explains Lee, “handwoven by people in China and India who use them in the morning to clean. I’m interested in things that carry the spirit of the person who made them.” Red chair: Ochre.

Personal artifacts are carefully arranged in themed groups. Art (with crosses): Lou Hicks. Skull: Matter. Buddha: Vietnam.

Lee’s tranquil terrace overlooks the former New York City police headquarters.


photographer: Katherine Miles Jones
gun shop & terrace photos courtesy of: ChandlerPierce.com

{Makeovers} Beauty Bash makeovers big reveal

In September, we introduced you to our 2 fabulous makeover winners, FOFs Karen Hansen and Cathy Furengo. Both received transformations at the FOF Beauty Bash (Oct. 1 & 2) worth $3,500 including new clothes, new makeup, new hair and a color consultation. “Guru of hue” Jill Kirsh and hair genius Elline Surianello narrated their transformations live on stage.

Couldn’t make it to Beauty Bash? Below, see the fab before-and-after photos and read a breakdown of how the experts achieved their new and improved look.

FOF Karen Hansen

“I grew up in the no-makeup, jeans-and-t-shirt generation,” said Karen, a retired CPA who lives in South Carolina in the winter, and Brewster, N.Y., in the summer. “I’ve never been great at putting myself together.” Prior to her makeover, Karen told us her hair was “balding at the top” and she was “confused” about her personal style. “I feel 24, my body acts 80, and my birth certificate says 58,” said Karen, who also told us she hoped to look “younger” by her 59th birthday in November. Could a makeover help achieve that goal?

Her transformation broken down:

Hair: Hair expert Elline Surianello of LeMetric Hair Solutions addressed Karen’s thinning hair with one of her custom hair pieces. Prior to the makeover, Karen had light, reddish-blonde hair. Elline designed the hair piece in a deeper shade. “There is no better or faster way to change how you look than wearing the right hair in the right color,” says Elline. “Look how powerful this is.” Karen agreed. “I knew my hair was thin but didn’t realize the difference [fuller] hair makes. It’s fantastic. I feel like a new person.”

Colors: Once Karen had her new hair, “guru of hue” Jill Kirsh was able to recommend her most flattering shades. Jill’s color matching system is based on a simple concept: your most flattering shades are dictated by your hair color. “Your hair is what frames your face,” says Jill. She breaks us up into four categories, golden browns/red heads, deep brunettes, ash blondes/platinum/grey, warm blondes and has assigned a palette of colors to each group. Since Karen’s new hair falls under the “golden browns/redheads” category, she looks best in earth-tone colors such as camel, ivory, warm greens and browns, according to Jill. Jill did Karen’s makeup and picked an outfit for her in her new palette. “When you get your hair, clothing and makeup the right shades, everything is in sync,” said Jill.

Outfit: Jill chose clothing from the Soft Surroundings Fall 2011 collection in Karen’s most flattering shades. On Karen — Textured topper in camel ($89.95), Napa Necklace ($34.95), Straight leg destination pant in chocolate ($64.95), Del Tank in ivory ($39.95).

What did Karen think of her new look?
“The makeover has changed my life by giving me more confidence, especially now that my hair doesn’t look so thin,” says Karen. “I never thought I could get up in a room full of people like that. All the attention and compliments really made me feel good and upped my self esteem. I just wish I could have someone fix me up everyday!”

FOF Cathy Furegno

“I always dreamed of being a model” wrote in FOF Cathy Furegno, a secretary at a high school in Middletown, N.Y. “I raised 4 children, worked two jobs most of my life and just feel it is time to do something for myself.” Cathy said she doesn’t spend much money on her clothes and that “it would be really nice to be pampered for once.” The Beauty Bash makeover was Cathy’s chance to do just that.

Her transformation broken down:

Hair: “Cathy doesn’t have thinning hair but she may want to have fun with it without making a big commitment,” said Elline. She created a custom hair piece for Cathy in a darker, cooler hue (Cathy was a dark-redhead prior to the makeover.) The hair piece was also longer, which Elline said is a more modern look than her old style. “Look how much younger she looks with longer hair. You look hot…How do you feel?” asked Elline. “Hot,” said Cathy.

Colors: A new hair color for Cathy, means she needs to change up her colors, according to Jill Kirsh. “With the red gone, her hair is much cooler,” said Jill who said that Cathy now falls into the “deep brunette” group of Jill’s 4-category color system. Prior to the makeover, Cathy’s most flattering colors were the earth tones, but now, according to Jill, she looks best in gem tones such as emerald green, ruby red and sapphire blue. Her best neutrals are black and white. Jill did Cathy’s makeup and picked an outfit for her in these shades.

Outfit: Jill chose clothing from Toula’s Fall 2011 collection in Cathy’s most flattering neutrals — black, white and silver.  On Cathy — Tweed jacket with nailhead trim ($760), Basic knit pant ($310)

What did Cathy think of her new look?
“This makeover made me realize you don’t have to be 20 or 30 to look your best,” says Cathy. “We all need a little boost and self-confidence like this, in our lives. Oh, and in addition to the makeover, I made a new friend… Karen (fellow makeover winner), she is a very nice woman.”

{Makeover} A bra-mazing makeover

“Although I’m 63, my body looks 45 because I exercise every day. But, my boobs belie the rest of my appearance,” wrote in Harriet Brand in response to our call for FOFs in need of a bra makeover. “I could really use a professional to help lift my ‘girls’ and my spirits.”

We knew just the FOF bra guru to call: Linda Becker owns two lingerie stores in New York and has been in the bra biz for twenty-four years. She has been featured in The New York Times, Glamour magazine and The Today Show for her bra-mazing abilities. [Read the entire interview with Linda here.]

“Your breasts have a mind of their own,” said Linda, when Harriet met her at her New York City store. “They’re like two bad kids. If you don’t control them, they’re out of control.”

According to Linda, Harriet’s breasts were just that — out of control. When she came in to Linda’s Bra Salon, Harriet was wearing a size 36C bra from Steinmart, which Linda called “totally dead” because it was so worn out that it offered no support. She also said the band was much too loose. “[Her breasts are] low, her nipple should be halfway between her shoulder and elbow. We’ll pick your girls up,” Linda assured Harriet, after she determined that her true size is 34DD. “The last time I had a bra fitting? Never,” said Harriet.  Linda trashed Harriet’s old bra and replaced it with three new and perfectly-fitting bras including the bestselling Body Sense Back Control Bra by Natori in Nude, 34DD. “It’s what I call the back fat bra,” says Linda. “It’s wide on the sides so it gives you a really smooth look in the back. It’s a really basic, comfortable bra.”

SO how did Linda find Harriet’s perfect bra? And how can you find yours? Read on to find out . . .

How do you know if your bra fits correctly?
Your nipple should be halfway between your shoulder and your elbow. When your breasts are low they make you look shorter, heavier and older.

How often should you get new bras?
Every six months. No one is the same size their entire life. There’s too many things that go on — you exercise, you have babies, you gain weight, you lose weight, you take medication that can make your breasts bigger, you go through menopause…

Should you wear a bra when you sleep?
Your breasts never know what you’re doing. They have to be supported all the time – whether you’re cleaning your house, sleeping or going to a wedding. You can wear sleep bras to keep them uplifted through the night.

Is a more expensive bra necessarily a better bra?
You can get a great fitting $29 bra. The difference is in the fabric. For instance, you get a better lace in a $129 bra.

What are your favorite bra lines for FOFs?
Different companies are specialized in certain things, Simone Perele makes really pretty, well-fitting bras that minimize you. Chantelle is a fabulous bra company that is making their cups bigger and bigger, which is great. Panache specializes in double D and higher. Wacoal are great fitting bras for FOFs at great prices.

Do different brand bras fit differently?
Yes. You should always be fitted when you buy a new bra. You should never go into a department store and just say, ‘Oh, I’m a  34B.’

Can I figure out my own bra size?
I’d recommend having a professional fit you. There are so many intricacies and as I mentioned before, different bra brands fit differently. You may be one size in one brand and another size in a different brand.

{Makeovers} Meet Karen and Cathy, winners of the Beauty Bash makeover

Next weekend (Oct 1 & 2) at The Beauty Bash, FOFs will be stunned to see the total transformations of Cathy Furegno and Karen Hansen, last month’s makeover winners. Both will receive $3,500 transformations including new clothes, new makeup, new hair and a color consultation. Meet them, below.

Meet Cathy:

Why did you enter this contest?

I thought ‘why not?’  I am a bit on the shy side and never had much self-confidence. I felt if I won, this would be my 15 minutes of fame. I always dreamed of being a model.

How has your appearance changed since you turned fifty?
My weight is about the same, although I do have a tendency to fluctuate by about five-to-ten pounds (but don’t we all?) My face is a bit longer and I have ‘parenthesis’ but no wrinkles. My eyes also look tired at times. I have some gray hair but I dye it. I’ve always had baby fine hair.

Describe your self-image.
I am not ashamed of how I look, but I don’t spend much money on myself. I have 4 children and a husband and always felt guilty if I put myself first.

Describe your style.
It’s on the conservative side, although I admire flamboyant people because they are not afraid to wear what they want. I don’t spend much money on clothes.

Do you have a fashion icon?

Jacklyn Smith. Her taste is simple, yet she always looks wonderful. She was and is one of the most elegant women in the world.

What are you looking forward to most about your makeover?
Learning how to bring out the best in myself. I know I will enjoy all the attention. A dream come true!

Meet Karen:

Why did you enter this giveaway?
I’ve always wanted a makeover. I grew up in the straight hair, no makeup, jeans and t-shirt generation and have never been great at putting myself together. My kids always said I was ‘hair and makeup challenged.’

What do you wish you could change about your appearance?
I wish my thinning hair was nice and thick. I’d like to get rid of the wrinkles starting under my chin and neck. My biggest wish is weight loss.

How would you describe your personal style?

Confused. I love the preppy look, like the “hippie” look but also like my jeans-and-T-shirt days. It all depends on my mood and activities.

How do you want to look on your 60th birthday?
Younger — like 50 on my 60th. I feel 24, my body acts 80 and my birth certificate says 58.

What do you hope to get out of this makeover?
How to look my best. I want to learn how to accentuate my best features and how to play down my flaws.

{Makeovers} A hilarious duo gets a serious beauty do-over from Soft Surroundings

FOFs Janet Prensky and Anne-Marie Aigner have been best friends since Anne-Marie was Janet’s voice teacher at Emerson College. Over the years they’ve shared a radio talk show in Boston and a flourishing marketing agency, Aigner/Prensky Group.

In 2009 they launched “The Boomer Broads,” a hilarious web-based talk show “for and about grown-up women!”

To help them get camera-ready, FOF teamed up with Soft Surroundings and gave the sassy, brassy, hilarious duo… a serious beauty do-over.

Farukh Shakeel, Soft Surroundings makeup artist extraordinaire, came armed with her bag of foolproof flaw-fixers from Sue Devitt. “Sue Devitt products are particularly fantastic for FOFs,” says Farukh. “They provide great hydration and contain nylon 12, an ingredient that bends and moves with the skin so the product won’t settle in lines and creases.”

Flaw: Wrinkles and deep lines from spending summers on Cape Cod.
Microquatic Anti-Aging Primer (1) fills in pores and wrinkles so the makeup doesn’t set into fine lines,” says Farukh. “Primer is the most important product for FOFs.”

Flaw: Redness around the cheeks and nose.

“Ruddiness can become more pronounced after fifty,” ” says Farukh. 70% Triple Seaweed Gel Foundation in ‘Tanami’ (2) covers the redness in Janet’s nose and cheeks, but it’s very light–70% water–so it won’t look heavy.”

: Pale, “unfinished” lips.
“Balanced Sheer Lipstick in ‘Villefranche’ (3) is a beautiful, pinky-nude that’s not at all overpowering,” says Farukh. “It gives a slight bit of color, so her lips don’t overwhelm.”

Flaw: Sparse eyelashes.
Lash Intensifier Treatment and Lengthening Mascara (4) makes Janet look awake and alive. It brings so much definition to her eyes. And if she uses the conditioning treatment every night, she should see significantly longer lashes in a few weeks.”

*All products listed are from the Sue Devitt Cosmetics line available online at Soft Surroundings or Soft Surroundings retail stores. Call 1-800-240-7076 for more information about products not available online.

Flaw: Dark under-eye circles
Bermuda Triangle Undereye Corrector (1) works universally on all skin tones,” says Farukh. “The peach undertones camouflage the blue-green of dark circles. It has orchid extract which helps hydrate the under-eye area and fight free radicals. It starts off very creamy and works down to a powdery finish.”

Flaw: Too much mascara and overly lined eyes.

“Anne-Marie shouldn’t use mascara on the bottom lash because that creates a younger, doe-eyed look,” says Farukh. “When all the mascara is on the top lashes, the eyes appear lifted. The Eye Intensifier Pencil in ‘Ava’ (2) goes on creamy so it doesn’t create a hard line around the eye, and the deep purple shade brings out the green specks in Anne-Marie’s eyes.”

Flaw: Uneven lip color

Ann-Marie’s lip line looks heavy, and too dark for the inside of her lip. “Long-Lasting Lip Liner Pencil in ‘Safi’ is creamy, not hard, when applied, so it won’t create a hard line and it won’t feather and bleed. Use it to fill in the lip–not just to line.” says Farukh. “Balanced Sheer Lipstick in ‘Hollywood’ (3) is a dusty-rose, perfect to match the pencil and finish the look.”

Flaw: A dull winter complexion

“Triple Touch Light Reflecting Bronzer in ‘Beausoleil’ (4) has graduated color, from light to dark, to prevent a flat, streaky tone. Just brush it lightly over your t-zone–where the sun hits–to liven dull winter skin.”

**All products listed are from the Sue Devitt Cosmetics line available online at Soft Surroundings or Soft Surroundings retail stores. Call 1-800-240-7076 for more information about products not available online.

You can watch the Boomer Broads makeover, with all their commentary, here.

“She did a great job,” says Janet. “I like it, and I didn’t think I would. Now I’m going to have to go home and keep playing the video back so that I can replicate it.”

“This is the first time anyone has done my makeup. Isn’t it every woman’s dream?” says Anne-Marie. “Farukh from Soft Surroundings is a miracle worker. Now, she’s going to have to come home with us.”

“Hot dates tonight ladies?” We asked the pair. “Umm…Is American Idol on?” jokes Anne-Marie.

Images by Katherine McPherson for FabOverFifty.com

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{Giveaway} Win a custom color beauty system from Jill Kirsh “guru of hue”

FOF Jill Kirsh, “Hollywood’s guru of hue,” is giving away her foolproof custom color system, worth over $240. It includes her ultimate makeup kit, a patented swatch book to take with you when you shop and an on-the-go mini compact. To enter, visit Jill’s page at Soft Surroundings to determine which of Jill’s color collections is right for you. Then tell us in the comments below!

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

You may love the color baby blue, but does baby blue love you?

“Before Jill Kirsh came to the FOF offices to explain her color system, avocado was the last color I would have ever worn,” says FOF Founder, Geri Brin. “After she left, I literally ran to H&M to buy an avocado shirt.”

Jill’s system is based on a simple concept: your most flattering shades are dictated by your hair. “It’s not your skin color,” says Jill. “Your hair is what frames your face.”

She breaks us into four hair color categories: deep brunettes, warm blondes, ash blondes/greys, golden browns/redheads. Each category corresponds to a palette of 30 colors you can wear, either alone or in combination, and to a complete set of makeup.

For example, Geri’s hair color type–golden brown/redhead–looks best in these these colors:

Of course, “there’s no law that says, you can’t wear other colors,” says Jill, but she promises that these colors look best.

Since her color consultation with Jill, Geri takes her treasured swatch book everywhere. “She even takes it to Starbucks,” says her sister, Shelley.

Enter to win Jill’s complete color system by visiting her page on Soft Surroundings to determine which of the four hair color categories fits you best. Then tell us which one you are in the comments below!

(See all our past winners, here.)

(See official rules, here.)

Contest closes February 10, 2011

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

[Read more about Jill, here]

{Makeovers} 4 unbelievable celeb color makeovers!

According to FOF Jill Kirsh, “Hollywood’s guru of hue,” any FOF can look younger, thinner and more radiant, with just a little bit of color intervention. Her clever system is based on hair color, and includes makeup kits and a portable booklet of fabric swatches to help you identify your best colors.

We were intrigued, but skeptical. What about skin tone or eye color? “No, no” says Jill. “The hair rules the day.”

“We’ll believe it when we see it,” we said, and put Jill to the test.

The challenge: Take 4 FOF celebs and tell us, were their Golden Globes dresses a hits or misses? If it was a hit, show us why. If it was a miss, work your color magic and help that star shine.

The results: Ta-da! 4 show-stopping color transformations.

She missed. “The warm champagne tone of the dress that Helen wore to the Golden Globes takes away from her silver hair and drags her down. Icy blue would have been a better choice for her. It lifts the attention up to her face and makes her look more vibrant.”

She hit…sort of. “Black is great, it’s basic and we all love it,” says Jill. “The black dress Melissa Leo wore to the Golden Globes works. But, eggplant should really be her new black. The eggplant dress brings out the warmth of her face and auburn hair.”

She hit. “Catherine Zeta Jones nailed it with the forest green dress she wore to the Golden Globes,” says Jill. “Since she’s a deep brunette, she really pops in forest green. If the dress were a different shade, such as olive, she would fade right into it.”

She hit. The marigold that Kyra Sedgwick picked for the Golden Globes was a great choice for her warm blond hair coloring. She looks vibrant and alive,” says Jill. A taupe would have grayed her out and made her look older.”

[Enter to win one of Jill’s complete color kits, here.]

Images via American Superstar Mag

{Interiors} An “Empty Nest” NYC Apartment Makeover

When we put a call out this past August for an FOF in need of a home makeover, we got hundreds of responses. But the message from Sharon Nord was particularly compelling:

“I recently followed my grown children to The Big Apple. I brought two end tables and some pictures with me,” wrote Sharon. “I am completely changing my style, my address and my attitude. Please help me be FOF and not BOF (boring over fifty).”

We were curious as to what precipitated this major move. Turns out, four years ago, Sharon and her husband separated. “It wasn’t in my plans, it was a total life change,” says Sharon.

Sharon moved from an 11,000-square-foot house in Atlanta, Georgia, to an 1,100 square foot apartment in New York City’s Wall Street neighborhood.

“I really loved Atlanta, but I really wanted to be near my family. That’s more important than a big house and lots of furniture,” says Sharon. “It was a huge adjustment especially at my age (us FOFs are not so into adjusting) but I’m really learning to love it.”

This empty-nester’s new nest, a 2-bedroom apartment, was in fact… empty. The rental had beautiful views of the Financial District but looked more like a sterile office space than an inviting FOF home. Interior designer Jennifer Levy, of CAVDesign and The One-Day Design Solution™, helped Sharon warm up her downtown digs in a way that suited Sharon’s personality and new lifestyle.

“Using a palette of citrus, eggplant and mixed materials such as wood and marble, we created a comfortable, homey feel,” says Jennifer.

“My life has changed. I’m single, and I’ve never done something like this by myself or for myself,” says Sharon. “But I love what Jennifer did, all the clean lines and no-fuss decorations. I’ll go to unpack a box of stuff from my old life and then put it away saying, ‘No, no, I don’t need the clutter.’”


Images by Jennifer Levy

{Makeovers} Out-of-control closet makeover

Compulsive hoarding may affect up to 2 million people in the United States according to an article from WebMD.

And while not everyone qualifies as a hoarder, many FOFs admit to having pack-rat tendencies. A few months ago, when FOF ran a closet makeover giveaway, we got hundreds of responses from members who were desperate to clear the clutter.

FOF Myra Garber won the closet edit with style expert and organizer extraordinaire, Ali Barry. Here’s her winning response to our question: “What is one item from your closet you can’t part with?”

“I can’t part with an orange/yellow harlequin sweater that my grandmother made for me when I was 12. When I wear it, I remember her.” Myra’s winning response was one many FOFs can relate to, the difficulty of parting with an item that is attached to significant memories or an important person in their lives.

When Alli visited Myra’s home in Wantagh, N.Y., she still hadn’t parted with the sentimental harlequin sweater she wrote about… and 50 other sweaters that spanned three decades.

“I probably have sweaters I could get rid of,” said Myra. “I recently retired from my full-time job as a teacher, but I still have theme sweaters I wore with the kids. I have ones with animals, figures, a Halloween sweater, and one with bears I wore when we took the students on a nature trip upstate. It’s probably time to get rid of some.”

Alli and Myra conquered her closet with this 5-step plan that Alli says will work for even the most persevering pack-rat.

*To find an organizer in your area, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers’ (NAPO) website.

Take a look at a few of the sweaters Myra and Alli sorted through. Tell us, would you keep, donate or re-purpose each? Then see what Alli and Myra decided.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

What Alli and Myra decided: Re-purpose them. Myra hadn’t worn these sweaters in years, but thought maybe she’d wear them when visiting her grandchildren. “You’re crafty and like to knit,” Alli said to Myra. “Why not cut out the mermaids, starfish buttons and other embellishments and re-purpose them into gloves or a scarf for your grandchildren? This way they won’t take up valuable real estate in your closet if you aren’t wearing them.”

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Alli and Myra’s decision: Donate it. “The arms were too big, pattern is a bit dated, and the color didn’t do much for her,” says Alli.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Ali and Myrna’s decision: Keep it. “It fit her well and the color is neutral. It would go well with jeans, black pants or leggings,” says Alli.

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