Spotlight On: Melissa O'Boyle of Bow to the East

Webster's Dictionary defines macrame as "a coarse lace or fringe made by knotting threads or cords in a geometrical pattern; also  :  the art of tying knots in patterns". See also, pretty, stylish, relaxing, and useful

I kid. I'm not about to make this spotlight into an 8th grade running for class president speech. What I AM going to make this post about is Melissa O'Boyle, her beautiful face, and her lovely macrame stylings. 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa with our new and improved set of "Spotlight" questions, did the ole' snappity snap with the camera, and came away totally inspired. Her work is gorgeous and we couldn't wait to find out more about what makes her tick--I bet you can't either. OK, on to the interview!

Gimme! Photo by Christina Wedge

Gimme! Photo by Christina Wedge

Who is your design or art crush?

The artists and designers that I crush on the most are my peers and emerging artists I find on Instagram and at local shops, festivals and galleries.  They inspire me to showcase my work and to think outside any limits I have created.  It is amazing how much amazing talent is out there all around us.

Again, gimme. Photo by Christina Wedge

Again, gimme. Photo by Christina Wedge

What three words would describe your aesthetic?

Organic, Rhythmical, and Tranquil

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Which of your career milestones makes you most proud?

I was very proud when I was asked to put my work up in the Downtown Seattle West Elm in 2014 as well in the West Elm Ponce City Market in Atlanta in 2016.

In 2015, I was commissioned to make 8 large window hangings for a restaurant in Austin, TexasIt is an excellent Latin Coastal Kitchen in Austin’s SoCo neighborhood with great exposure. Everything on the menu is amazing including fresh squeezed fruit margaritas.

In 2015 I was also asked to host my first workshop.  Teaching workshops opened a whole other door for me. I absolutely love sharing my passion for macrame. I have two workshops coming up in Atlanta.
March 8th -
April 12th -

How did you take the leap towards a creative career?

The way that my macrame work came into fruition is an interesting and serendipitous story.  One day I found an old book at a used bookstore that gave instructions on macrame.  This refreshed my memory of what I had been taught by a high school art teacher.  At the time I was living in a lovely little cabin-like cottage on the Puget Sound in Seattle.  All the walls were wood paneling which was pretty outdated although it has some charm.  I made my first large scale macrame wall hanging for myself to soften the space. I had a friend from Atlanta see a picture of it on social media and she asked me to make her a wall hanging.  Once I was finished I had it all wrapped up and I went to a custom shipping spot, The Sip and Ship, to get a custom box made.  The owner asked what was in my wrapped up fabric.  I showed her a picture. She loved it and directed me to go to West Elm and show them my work because they feature local artists. West Elm asked me to make a wall hanging to put up in the store as well as have a pop up shop.  That prompted me to make a number of plant hangers and smaller wall hangings.  The ones I did not sell I put on Etsy. About 6 months later a marketing manager for a restaurant group in Austin Texas found me on Etsy and commissioned me to make eight 6’ x6’ wall hangings that are permanently on display in the hip restaurant. I’ve gotten a number of jobs from people that see my work in that restaurant and ask me to commission work for their homes.    The beauty of the unfolding of these events has me feeling very blessed.  It’s amazing how things happen so much easier when there is no pressure to make things work.
When things started happening for me and my macrame without much effort and mostly through word of mouth, I eventually started to put more and more energy into marketing my work. It’s very gratifying to be able to work for myself being creative.

How do you balance work and play?

 I have learned in my travels and soul searching that anything that feels like you are a fish going up stream is a waste of energy.  Of course, we have to put a certain amount of effort into our lives, but things are for the most part supposed to feel good. One of my favorite ways of balancing working and playing is to have a free day and have a little local adventure. To me, that means picking a neighborhood in the city I haven’t been to in a while and just walking around with no plan or expectation. I might walk in the boutiques to get inspiration and design ideas, browse through a used bookstore, and sit at coffee shop reading and people watching. Almost anytime I have a day like this I meet the most interesting people and find the most amazing little treasures.

If you could live in any place or era, what would it be?

 I would love to live in the seventies. I’m admittedly a little bit of a hippie at heart. Music was revolutionized at this time as were so many other parts of American culture.  The style was characterized by *playful embellishment and radical experimentation with form*. The women’s rights movement made significant strides in the 1970’s and took a prominent role within society.   All in all, it just sounds like a lot of fun!

Chocolate or wine?

Why can’t I have both? haha. If I had to choose I’d go with wine.  It could be red, rose, or a bubbly.  I like them all!

How did you come up with the name Bow to the East?

On one of my little day adventures I came across an amazing book called the Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual. This book is straight out of the seventies and gives instructions, with great hand-drawn pictures teaching Weaving, Pottery, Macrame, Beads, Leather, Tie-Dye & batik, Embroidery, Silkscreen, Home Recording, Candles, and Crochet.  On the cover is a drawing of hands making macrame and it looks just like something I made in high school when I first learned the technique.

In the section on macrame it starts out with this great tidbit:

“It’s emphasis on rhythmic control has a stabilizing effect that has led some of the world’s foremost statesman like Churchill and De Gaulle to find soothing relaxation in both knitting and knotting. It can be satisfying therapy for those who see their larger problems in terms of confused strands and loose, fraying ends." ~excerpt from Paul Schwartz in Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual

The chapter goes on to list everything you will need to start the process of macrame such as tools, materials, accouterments.  On the section on Planning and Preparing it states simply: Bow to the East. I just loved that. The East represents new beginnings and to me it represents home. So when I am starting a new project I seek out my old compass among my raw gemstones, I find East and do a ceremonial bow.

Thank you so much, Melissa, for your beautiful work and for your time! We are so excited to have turned the spotlight on you today and can't wait to get one of your wall hangings in our own homes!

Xoxo, Susie & Christina

Traditional or Transitional?

Knowing what your style is goes a long way when it comes to making your house feel like your very own home. What about if you don't know what the names of different styles mean?

For today's post, we're reblogging from Laurel & Wolf about learning the difference between Traditional and Transitional. Enjoy!

Laurel & Wolf Explains: Traditional vs Transitional

Ever wonder what makes a traditional or transitional design? We’ve got the 411 on a few tricks for detecting the differences between the two!


Traditional design has its roots in 18th century England and French countryside. The style is known for its warm, inviting interiors that scream comfort.

Bronze accents, a rich chandelier and luxe drapes gathered loosely are common in traditional interiors.

A wall sconce with an ivory shade and detailed millwork create a warm, inviting feeling in the bathroom.

Traditional color schemes typically include neutral tones with warm, rich woods.

This traditional office features a Persian rug, dark wood tones and coffered ceilings.

Symmetry is important to traditional design. The furnishings are balanced to create a room that invites conversation. Accents include plump cushions, plentiful pillows and silk flowers in a gorgeous vase.

Traditional designs feature soft, curved edges and natural stone, such as granite countertops.

Walnut railings are a common feature in a traditional space, and detailed millwork can be found on the staircase and the wood molding.


Transitional design combines the best of traditional and contemporary styles to create a timeless interior that everyone will love! Together, the perfect balance of masculine and feminine results in an elegant, classic design.

Transitional designs are known for their subtle, clean color palettes, which create a relaxing and uncomplicated room.

Accents of rich wood range in shades from white to chocolate are typically added to create a sense of warmth.

With transitional design, soft-colored carpets (or warm wood floors) and a textured rug are generally used.

Clean lines and rounded profiles keep the room feeling fresh and comfortable. The result is a room that is not too manly and not too frilly.

 A signature light fixture, minimal accents and solid-colored drapes exude a sense of simplicity and sophistication.

A neutral backdrop allows the exquisite traditional millwork to have a powerful impact in the space.

Geometric tile patterns in natural tones on the floor provide a subtle contrast to the traditional settee.

Check out our Pinterest page for more examples of traditional and transitional designs!

xoxo, Laurel & Wolf

Tips for Tiny Kitchens

So many of us buy homes without getting exactly what we want out of the kitchen.  In older homes this is especially a problem.  Here are a few tips for making your tiny kitchen work without totally reworking your floor plan.

It may seem counterintuitive, but paint your cabinets a bold color.  By painting the cabinets a bold color it gives them purpose and a furniture feel instead of a cabinet feel.  This adds drama and  cozy feeling instead of feeling like a cramped afterthought.

Monochromatic, and all white finishes always open up a kitchen.  The white surfaces bounce natural light around the room giving it an open, airy feel.

Stainless steel backsplash is a great way to make a space feel larger.  It's seamless construction and reflective surface gives the kitchen a clean, professional appearance.

Open shelves automatically give you an extra 12" of visual space.  The key to open shelving is keeping your dish wear simple and monochromatic.  White dish wear usually looks best, but other colors work as well as long as they are consistent.

Cape Town, South Africa: A Photographic Exploration

As much as I love my grits, (I'm looking at you, Flying Biscuit Cafe!], and Piedmont Park, it’s fun to travel to faraway places and experience a totally different culture sometimes.  Christina recently went on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa and I am totally jealous! It looks and sounds like one of the best trips ever.   Today, I’m excited to share with you a photographic exploration of this gorgeous part of our big world.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Can’t decide if you want to go to the mountains or the beach this year?  Cape Town has both, plus charming city life, exotic culture and adorable animals! In fact, it was selected as the No. 1 place to visit on the New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2014 list

Cape of Good Hope, photo by Christina Wedge

Cape of Good Hope, photo by Christina Wedge

Clifton Beach, photo by Christina Wedge

Clifton Beach, photo by Christina Wedge

Robben Island at Cape Town is home to these cuties, the African Penguins.  Every day they parade down to the ocean to get fish then return to their nests and feed those fish to their hungry chicks.  (You don’t want to know the details of this- yuck!)  Don’t expect to hear any musical chirping from these little guys.  They were first named the Jackass Penguin if that gives you a clue.  Robben Island is best known, though, for being the site of the prison that held Nelson Mandela.  Today you can tour the prison and learn about its history as a former leper colony among other things.

Robben Island, photos by Christina Wedge

Robben Island, photos by Christina Wedge

Ahhh, Kirstenbosch Gardens. It’s said to be the most beautiful garden in Africa.  Christina's photos of these flowers took my breath away.  Kirstenbosch is devoted to growing the indigenous plants of Africa. Set against a backdrop of mountains, it’s like heaven on earth.  If you go to Cape Town you must visit here!  Of course, when you get home you’re going to be even more disappointed in that scrawny wilted chrysanthemum sitting on your deck.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, photos by Christina Wedge

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, photos by Christina Wedge

While in South Africa, Christina was able to tour the workshop and do some photography for the Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery.  These guys specialize in exquisite framing for fine art and they often use locally sourced materials for their framing.  Their gallery is in Old Biscuit Mill development, a hub for artists and designers.  Who knew they made biscuits in South Africa?  Ha! I guess some things about the south are the same no matter where you go.  This area is perfect for finding that special piece to bring home to remember your trip.  Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a place?

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

The culture and history of Cape Town is lively and interesting. Tradition is upheld and celebrated.   (Click here to learn more about the history of Cape Town.) And if you’re like me, you’ll be especially taken with the local wines and scrumptious seafood. 

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Table Mountain, Photo by Christina Wedge

Table Mountain, Photo by Christina Wedge

I hope you are inspired by Cape Town, South Africa as I am!