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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I do ok in the kitchen.  What I mean is I’m not a trained chef or baker but I get around a kitchen or recipe pretty well, provided I have the right tools and ingredients.  For Mothers Day I wanted to do something fun and whimsical and wanted to avoid the lemon, berry,whipped creme trappings that are so prolific around this spring holiday, so I decided to make home-made Ding-Dongs.  I followed a recipe from The Bean Town Baker and have to say they tasted even better than the real thing.  The Bean Town Baker implies that there is a lot of work in these but that’s putting it mildly. I doubled the recipe, so it was double the work… trust me on this, that probably didn’t help.  they are in her words a labor of love.  Instead of posting the recipe (you can find that by clicking the link to the Beantown Baker page) I’m going to give you the inside scoop on this recipe.

So, First things first… if you are astute you’re probably scratching your head thinking “he said Ding Dong but the picture up top is a Hostess Cupcake, what gives?”  well, here is the lowdown on that…

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The ‘from scratch recipe for the cake used in the recipe suggests you use 9 or 10″ round pans.  After baking mini-cakes are made with a cookie cutter, filled and glazed.  There is a great deal of cake waste with this method, but you do get the iconic straight sided shape.   Actually there is so much batter that the recipe suggests a bit of the batter be reserved and used for cup cakes – this way the round cakes don’t bake up too thick.  (I was happy to imagine having extra cupcakes laying around the house, heck summer won’t be here til June 21st right?) Anyway, it wasn’t until I was well into my second batch that I realized the cupcakes would make perfect replicas of the famous Hostess cupcake, and the left over whipped filling and ganache were just enough to dress up a dozen or so of the “extra” cupcakes.  I baked what I could in cupcake papers and the rest I just put in a well greased cupcake pan and both ways worked well.  I liked not serving cupcakes with paper on them to my guests.  And frankly, the cupcakes were easier, cuter.

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 And, I now have a Tupperware tub filled with chocolate cake bits – I’ll come up with something yummy to use them for – maybe mixed into malted ice-cream? or a trifle might be good… but I guess the moral of the story is, go for the cupcakes! They are easier to make, they don’t waste unused cake, they are easier to eat and they present better and more professional that their cousin the Ding-Dong and it’s all about presentation right?      photo 3 copy 4

I’m Working On It

May 8, 2014

I’m sorry.  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.

Before I update you all on what’s been going on for me professionally, I have to thank all my new followers for seeing value in my past blogs and deciding to follow me in spite of lack of attention I have been giving this blog… and all of who have been following me for years, your continued support is much appreciated. It blows me away that so many people want to read my rants on design, color, furniture, fashion and let’s not forget food!

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It’s been a very busy spring for me. My design work has been so rewarding… clients who truly value my insight, clients who truly want to create a room – or home – beyond simply a place to watch tv or sleep, a place that makes you take notice… A moment. I see that magic happen when clients allow me to keep them “on message”.  I find a strong direction or perspective and sharp, intentional execution create rooms – or homes – that have that wow thing.  In recent months I’ve had several projects that felt very focused, the results… happy clients. I love it when clients love what I help them create.  The above shot is a professional one ( as many of you know my images are typically a iPhone snapshot).  The clients were totally open to this limited and tonal palette.  The result of a trusting client is a pulled together look and something I can be proud of.  Of course I brought in most everything to finnish the look (the feathers are cuortisy of the clients husband) Please contact me if you’d like resource information on anything.

20140507-212912.jpgI literally rolled out this custom rug today at a clients… a favorite client in fact that is fearless, and often pushes me to go further and bolder.  We have a great time picking things out and her homes are like no others.   It is truly wonderful when a client becomes a friend.  I snapped this picture to send to her, but I wanted to include it in todays post because its such a fun room.  I might have staged the coffee table and played up the orange accents – pillows on the sofa, a chandelier over-head – they really pull the corner chair into the color story, I’m sorry you can’t see more of the room. The rug is by Patterson, Flynn and Martin.

20140507-212043.jpgThis living room is a total transformation and yet the exact same rom I designed for another great client several years ago.  The layout was great, the furniture was classic – and still in great shape – so we just recovered everything and replaced the existing sisal with a wool/sisal rug from Merida that is creme and oatmeal.  Prior to this taupe, cream and navy palette the room had been red, gold and green (insert Culture Club joke here).  The yellow walls were painted out a pretty greige (grey/beige) a color just a shade or two lighter than the new upholstery and the accents became navy to suit the cooler color scheme.  The perfect summer retreat for cocktails with friends or TV with the family all this room needs is a few more tweaks with the accessories.  (My husband insists that I not show rooms without full staging but often the client wants to fill the small details in over time, and typically I and posting pictures I have taken simply to document, not publish) whatever!  Stay tuned for more on this room.

rothAnd this happened in recent months too.  Some modern, some whimsy; straight lined and clean with feminine edges and pretty details… a wonderful mix for a city apartment.  I’m lucky enough to have worked on another project for these clients, a beach house so when they decided to buy a small(ish) apartment in town, I got the call.  The beach is light and easy with strong colors and patterns so it was a no brainer to make the apartment sleek, and a bit more subdued.  Yes, this is subdued.  Plum, violet and grey tones sit on a nearly white rug, vintage brass etageres flank the sofa and echo the light fixture over the dining table in this open concept space.  I have a bad habit of posting pictures of rooms 90% done, because I don’t always go back for professional images the last trip out with orchids, accessories and the little ditties that make rooms really finished often don’t get documented.  Sad huh?  But enough about that I have to let it go.  Just so you know we stacked a grey and white geometric box made of inlaid bone on the table with a few coffee table books and three gold lotus blossom bowls to add a little shimmer.

OK… thats going to have to be enough for tonight.  it’s 11:53 at night and I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow.  Thank you again for sticking with me when the posts don’t come as often as they used to. I hope you are amused, enlightened or even just distracted for just a little while when you’re here, and leave inspired. xo

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