Design Crush

August 16, 2014

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As I have said many times, inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere.  The colors of a leaf can spawn a color palette in a room, a vintage photograph can educate the eye towards texture and the balance of lights and darks. Sound too esoteric for you?  I get that, but it’s really very true… Nature, art, architecture heck, ANYTHING can really be a spring-board for a creative project no matter the medium.  In my design work I find people are drawn to certain shapes, colors, textures or patterns because of some recall that might remind them of something, or makes them happy, this too is inspiration.  Embrace it.  when something “feels right” move toward it.

Good design can also inspire others.  I love Daryl Carter’s work, Kelly Wearstler, Thomas O’Brien and host of others but I have a new crush.  Ken Fulk.  I might be late to this party, but he stepped into my peripheral vision when he refurbished a water-front home in Provincetown, MA.  On bike rides in the East End of town, I would always slow up to check out a decrepid old house with great bones that was slowly being lost to neglect.  I guess it was a year or two ago that the house got the attention of Mr. Fulk who has brought the house back to something that might be even better than what it once was.  Now I haven’t actually seen the interiors myself, but I have seen an image or two – I think it was on Instagram, and it’s quirky, details are made to give the house soul and patina.  It’s sort of layered up with antiques, oddities and old-fashioned charm but it’s thoughtful, comfortable and feels effortless and that is how a house should feel.

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Clearly a designer than marches to his own beat – in a very good way – his use of color, his mix of styles and the talent of merchandising he shows makes me want to see more… I’m smitten.  Here are a few images, favorites that I borrowed from his website (click his name above to be directed there).  Ken Fulk, like the other designers I mentioned all inspire me.  It’s ok to like other peoples style, to borrow a look or an idea.  That’s how trends are born.  Just give credit when credit is due, don’t copy… make it your own, tailor an idea to suit you and by all means… share the knowledge or pass the idea along if it’s really that great.

 

20140803-122617-44777496.jpgI have read back and it seems I’ve made many promises about what I’d do (and not do) if I were to be lucky enough to some day have a beach house.  No “designer pillows”, “paint everything white” the list goes on and on. Well…

I’m a liar.

I’ve got a few pillows – 6 so far to be completely accurate – that are made from “designer” fabric, Not everything in my little getaway is painted white, and it is quickly becoming a mini petri dish of design experimentation.  Curated and decorated but with authentically aged pieces, family pieces, antiques, local art, and even the occasional seashell.  I’m happiest in a space that blurs the lines between something very vintage and something a bit more updated…  A mix of modern and vintage.  The interiors of our little house have mostly come together with items we had in the basement of our other house, things that belonged to my father and grandparents, shipped across the entire continent to be held in storage until now, and a few recently purchased pieces that give the spaces a modern punch.

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Here I simply stacked a bunch of old crates that came out of my fathers plumbing shop in down town San Mateo.  My sister shipped them all out to me – way too cool to get rid of – and now they provide the perfect storage in our dining/guest/library room.  A white Saarinen gives this space a modern edge and creates a place to sit and eat, work or do a puzzle on a rainy day.

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We have also decided to live with the green woodwork in the living room, for now… but it totally works and the over all color palette seems to have followed suit – neutrals of course and a lot of white with splashes of blues and greens – expectedly coastal I know, but it works.  I have embraced the green and it gives a turn of the century vibe, a 40’s 50’s vibe and a modern “designer” vibe too and I’m great with all of that.  You can’t tell but we hung an off white grasscloth wallpaper in this room to clean it up, soften the edges a bit and to add a layer that didn’t feel too heavy but gives depth.  There were box valances and curtains, those are all gone.  In their place are clean lined bamboo blinds that fold up like roman shades.   20140803-122618-44778175.jpgNot going to lie… I’m now on a tear.  Buying vintage pottery like a drunken sailor, oil paintings from the 20’s to the 60’s and  nautical themed ditties that have patina.  The coffee mug(s) pictured above is the latest splurge.  I love them.  I have my eye on a set of mixed color mixing bowls that remind me of a set my family has at our lake house in California and an oil painting of waves crashing on rocks painted sometime in the 1930’s.  The house is tiny so it shouldn’t be much longer before I run out of room.  Let me know if you want me to fill up a little (or not so little) house for you.

I’m Working On It

July 23, 2014

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It’s always a lovely drive down to Narragansett Rhode Island… Several bridges, miles of coastline and farms and charming towns along the way.  I made a recent trip to deliver some goodies to a client there and here are just a few (non-professional) iPhone snap shots.  Just wanted to share what was keeping me busy these days.  Among other things I was picking up a custom sisal rug from Merida from their Fall River plant.  Very exciting to me as I had never seen their operation before and I’ve been selling Merida for over 10 years.

photo 2Check out this state of the art facility.  They have work tables that must be 30, 40 or maybe even 50 feet long!  I loved seeing the guys working on custom bindings, and I feel lucky to have the “workroom” so close – by just a few towns away – not because I intend to visit more… but because my orders come so quickly!  So after the brief tour of the Merida facility, I was on my way to deliver not only a beautiful sisal rug but ALL of this furniture (mostly LEE Industries).photo 4

This room was a totally different layout when I first saw it.  Sofas flanked the fireplace just out of the frame to the right.  It was cozy but cut the room in two, and no one was using the other half of the room and that was the space with the best views of the ocean beyond.  So, I pushed a sofa to the window and turned another sofa to face the fire-place.  English arm chairs covered in a Thibaut woven fabric flank the fireplace (so there’s still a cozy spot for cold nights) but the room is much more open and inviting. We 86’d green sofas and red and green striped chairs so the greige palette is quite a change. Once I place the coffee table and a few accessorizes this living room will be done.

photo 5Since the kitchen is open to the living area the client and I decided to update the yellowy kitchen too by painting the island a warm tannish grey Ben Moore Revere Pewter HC-172 and the other cabinets Ben Moore OC-85 Mayonnaise.  The white is still a warm white but the yellowness is reduced to something that feels white, without feeling like primer.  The existing kitchen had beautiful wood countertops but the island had a basic “builders special” granite top so we upgraded the counter surface on the island to this beautiful Calacatta marble.  We chose to have it honed, knowing a highly polished surface would give way to use.

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Last but not least, what do you do when you walk into a clients bedroom and you discover they have a water-bed that they are not willing to part with? you recover it!  I chose this nautical looking woven from Thibaut to update a well made but dated wooden bed.  The dark nailhead coordinate with the bedside lights and sconces in the room and maintain our intended “tamped down” tonal, quiet range of colors.  We repainted this room too, a dark mocha to set off the view… pale blues and creamy whites brighten this master bedroom and keep it interesting.

 photo 6Different client, different house, different look.  I can and do use color.  Quite a bit in fact, even though I prefer to live with less of it in my life.  I enjoy the enthusiastic client that asks for color.  This hip couple wanted something that felt younger and more playful than what their pervious designer had given them.  The house is big, and formal and in an area where, um… Lets just leave it at the first designer made assumptions based on the house and the area, she didn’t know her client.  The shot above is a screened porch.  We started from scratch with the exception of the brown woven side chair, the set was newer and very useable so I found a dining table to match and we worked with it (recovered cushions of course).  The chaise can be flipped to allow the user to face the fireplace in colder months and away from the fire when the fireplace is not appropriate.

photo 7This is the same clients sun room, the only thing we kept was the woven wallpaper.  Oh, and I recycled the settee that has the Thibaut print on it,because it was the right scale, well made and it allowed us to spend more on other things in the room.  I love this room.  Plenty of color – NAVY is a color – for the client and still tonal and sophisticated and grown-up feeling too.  The dark inky blue sofa is from LEE, the custom pillows are all made from Thibaut fabrics.  All thats missing here is a rug.  Were going to go tan to pull the wall color because this fall the floors are going dark! The lighter rug on the dark floors with the tan walls is going to look amazing.

Thanks for checking out the blog, hope you got inspiration from it.  xo

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Here they are… My window boxes.  As most of you know I try post as much original content as possible and I attempt most everything I post about (like those blasted Ding Dongs turned cupcakes a few posts ago).  Some things go well, some not so well.  I have to tell you my window box experience was flawless start to finish… so now, I just have to keep them watered and alive.  In all seriousness, I ordered the window boxes from windowboxes.com installed them myself and spent less than an hour at the nursery – and I didn’t argue with my spouse about what to buy – so that in itself is a win! and had the right amount of soil, plant material and a beautiful sunny day as a bonus.   I think they will be really pretty once they have filled in.  They will take some time to be truly “photo worthy” but I wanted to share with you what I decided on and hoped to encourage you to try it – provided you have a house they are appropriate on : ) I think the palette is special and interesting and the textures are varied and unique.  It’s a strong color story, even the flowers of the plants will stay within the green and purple palette. What do you think?

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I chose  purple fennel,  green and purple potato vine, lavender, and tri-colored sage.  I think I’m going to really like the depth of the deep purple  mixed with the acid green of the potato vine.  I picked plants that won’t get particularly tall as my windows are not big to begin with and don’t want to lose too much view.  The potato vine will be an aggressive grower but they hang so beautifully and are such proven winners that I don’t mind if they eventually become out of scale with the other plants.  Fingers crossed they are happy with the amount of sunlight they are going to get… they are in a particularly sunny spot.

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There was a very good guide on the window box.com website to help guide you to the right sized box.  They suggested if you have shutters going a bit wider on the box than the window trim would help keep the proportion and I have to agree.  There is a balance with these new boxes the previous boxes didn’t have – they were at least 10″ smaller.  I still have to attach decorative brackets that will really finish the look of these.  Maybe I’ll post one more snap-shot later in the season when they have filled in.

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The Window Box

May 25, 2014

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The window box… Not everyone is a fan.   I’ll admit that I think they have a place and can look good, but! they are not always appropriate (or well designed and maintained, but I digress).  If your homes architecture is a style that supports the aesthetic of window boxes, Craftsman, Cottage, Cape, Victorian, Ranch (eeewww), Colonial Revival, then by all means get some… BUT please think about your home and where you want to put them and decide accordingly as to how big they should be and how many you should use.  Once your sure there is just one small issue…  planting them well … and (ok two issues) maintaining them!!  That’s the trick people, plenty of water and maintenance.

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Here are my rules to successful window boxes:

Keep the color palette tight.  I really like a one color flower palette like all white, or all blue or all red.  There will be plenty of textural intrest and varied hues of the same color to give depth. And, the leaves can add color and interest too.  Unless your look is cottage or country, please don’t mix blue, yellow, orange, pink, red, white and purple.

That brings us to rule 2… If you must mix colors try to keep it to two or thee tops and stick with either cool tones or warm tones (don’t mix red and blue, pink orange and red would be a better combo).  Blues and purples play well together too.

Vary the size of the leaves.  Flower color is a strong element in your window box but the size texture and color of the leaves is super important.  Try mixing grey and blue shaded leaves with white flowers or yellowy leaves they give a great look and provide depth and interest.

198ffb033626ef686e210476a70fb862[1]Pay attention to deadheading  and watering.  There is nothing worse than a 1/2 dead window box.  it’s like putting on make-up badly, it’s worse than no make-up right?  Same deal here.  If your box isn’t fresh it’s gonna bring down the look of the entire house.  So, while your watering, pluck off  all the dead flowers to simulate new flowers growth, trim damaged or dying leaves and keep the window box looking as good if not better than the day you hung it.

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Now is the time to be planting.  I’ll be getting out in the next few to tackle mine, I’ll be sure and post a snap-shot of what I pick.  I thought I wanted all white, but I might surprise myself and go for something a bit different for me.  stay tuned, oh and happy Spring.  02f140e171f88062bfd09fa79e4df36e[1]

Dirty Talk

May 20, 2014

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Yep, I really meant it when I mentioned Spring cleaning in the last post.  The fastest and least expensive way to get your space feeling picture perfect, clean it.  We all get accustom to seeing those little things creep into our living spaces that really have a place they belong (out of sight).  This is a god time of year to recycle your old magazines.  Sometimes schools are interested in them for art projects, but at a minimum please recycle as much as you can – and support recycled and earth friendly products – end rant.  Open shelves will need a wipe down, if not a full scrub if you’re a serious cook.  I find the more often I dust, the less I need to wash between usage.

photo 5photo 2 photo 3Don’t forget surfaces, like table top, shelves, mantles, stairs and yes even the tops of your mirrors and picture frames.  I like a damp cloth because it really grabs the dust. And, on the stairs you can’t beat a vacuuming.  It will feel like you painted and added a window if you empty your staircase and vacuum the treads and/or wipe down each one down.  These are the areas that collect dust bunnies and pebbles from outside, attack the right areas and the whole house will feel better in no time.

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People often remark that my house has something – a feeling – that put their finger on exactly what it is but there is an unseen element that elevates simply by not being there… wear and tear and/or dirt and debris.  Put it away! you’re welcome.  Please go clean off all those areas where things tend to pile up a bit when life gets busy ; ) *always  … I know, its tough, but a clean and picked up home will bring inner peace and a make you happy to come home.

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So go clean something!photo 3

SUMMER (house)

May 19, 2014

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Believe it or not it’s finally time… Memorial Day is fast approaching and the season is beginning!  Its time to paint the shutters, clean up the yard and air out the house. Roll up rugs if thats your thing. I’m thinking that the sand from the beach will be easier to get up with out the rugs in the way. Plus I love the look of the bare floors so I’m going naked (floors of course). I just finished painting the shutters Chrome Green (Ben Moore) the color is so old-timey/wasp/preppy… to be honest I might not have picked it, but it’s the color they have always been, so it suits me.

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This tiny guest room recently got a fresh coat of paint. in fact it went from dark taupe walls and wall to wall carpeting to simply white (Ben Moore) everywhere.  The walls are flat, trim satin and floors high gloss.  I’m not going to lie, the carpet came up easy, and those wide board floors were there, so a simple rough sanding was all it took for the painter to get the finished look you see there.  I tried to paint this room and the color was so dark, I gave up during the 3rd coat!  Some things are better done a pro.  The look certainly captures the spirit of an old beach house and looks chic mixed with the “unintentional” look of family cast-offs, “temporary” furniture that never got replaced  and nautical kitsch collected for generations sprinkled in.

photo 3There are still gallons and gallons of paint left to go, but this little house at the end of the road is quickly becoming a charming little beach house that is sure to see plenty of fun, laughter, relaxed days and maybe a few rowdy nights for years to come.  The dogs certainly love running leash-free on the sand and going on walks (something they do do much of at home) so everybody gets a change of pace – not just me.  Below are some inspirational images of rooms I like the look of… maybe some of these details will find their way into this little house.

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