I Was Inspired!

May 31, 2011

After arriving home with cartloads of plants my partner and I set out to tame the yard yesterday. Inspired by Haskell’s and determined to revitalize the yard after winters punishment, we weeded and mulched, we pruned and we planted and we planted some more. I am very pleased with the results.  Many years ago we decided this little yard of ours didn’t need lawn, it struggled to stay thick and lush in spots due to the maple trees above and the shade they cast.  In lieu of lawn we laid pea gravel and created a mini-park, with beds and paths.  Common boxwood define most of the areas leotrope, hostas, impatiens, iris, lilac, ladies mantle and lambs ears have all found their way in and were still adding.

I guess one my favorite things in the yard is the dogwood we received as a wedding present.  It stands proudly in the side garden, “knots” of boxwood crisscross beneath it with different varieties of hosta in each triangle.  It a great view from the family room windows and I am quite fond of trimming the boxwood.  Anyways… how ever you spent your Memorial Day I hope you had a good one.  See you tomorrow.


I’m lucky to live in a city that is home to a renowned nursery that caters to the landscaping elite, and plant perfectionists. I made my first trip of the season to Haskell’s nursery Yesterday a family owned gardening emporium that been in operation for more than 50 years. The Son of the late genius plantsman Allen Haskell, David now presides over the seven-acre retail nursery and landscape design business created by his father.
Haskell who was called “the king of topiary”.

The Haskell family’s exacting standards have attracted diverse patrons, from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Martha Stewart, and Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands to local do-it-yourself gardeners. David says this breadth of clientele is the nursery’s greatest strength. “People tell us it’s like a museum. It’s one of the most flattering comments we get,” he says.
Allen C. Haskell Horticulturists is a salmagundi of beautiful gardens and resembles an English country estate. Twelve greenhouses, including four classic Lord and Burnham glass structures, teem with exquisite plants not found elsewhere: Dispersed among them are some 3,000 orchids; tropical plants; scores of flawless myrtle, ivy, and rosemary topiary that Haskell’s nursery made famous; 30 types of coleus; and rare camellias, among many others.

The nursery, which draws plant lovers from all over the world, includes the city’s oldest house, a Colonial structure dating back to 1725.

Along the shady, meandering paths that link the brick buildings filled with statuary planters and pottery, there are espaliered trees, exotic birds, and lush beautiful gardens planted decades ago. Shopping at Haskell’s is a treat and I love going there.

Dear Readers…

May 29, 2011

As you know, I started this blog for myself… BILLblog is a design diary.  I find something I love and post it.  It’s not for a client, it’s not for a paid advertiser ( I have none, but WordPress pokes them in sometimes I know, that’s the price you pay for a free blog ) it’s just for me… AND NOW after 100’s of posts… 100’s and 100’s of readers!

Thank you for being interested in my point of view.  It’s really sort of wild to think as many as 500 people (or more) check out my blog on a daily basis.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.  I never though I’d care ( and I never thought I’d admit that I care ) but I’d love to get to 1000 readers.  to get there, fewer than 1/2 of you simply need to tell a friend about BILLblog and I’ll no doubt get to my readership goal…  I’m not going to win any prizes, I’m not going to start advertising ( I don’t think ) and I won’t stop blogging if I don’t reach my goal… it’s just fun to see the readership continue to grow.

Thanks for sharing BILLblog with a friend or two and thanks for reading day after day.

I’m Working On It

May 28, 2011

Clients are building this waterfront home and we are in the throes of choosing tiles, cabinets, lighting, paint colors and furniture.  I love this part of the process when colors, textures, and finishes all start coming together.  This work is a challenge because the clients want something that feels modern, but all of their previous homes are traditional/historic and there is not many reference points to modern in their lives… So my mantra has been and will continue to be, simplify… simplify, simplify!

As mentioned in my White Kitchen post back on May 14th, these clients are using Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring.  The sample in the image above is the final color, and it really sets the tone for the entire house.  I love the greys and taupes that add the dimension to this subtle White Oak….  It’s got so many beautiful colors to work off with!  We are using Grant Beige on the walls in the livingroom, it’s a puttyish brown with green and grey tones.  The water view will really pop with this rich wall color.


And, here are some samples of the tiles and stone we are using in bathrooms.  The stone under the paint samples on the right is Emperador Light a marble, it’s going in an upstairs bath cut in 12″ x 24″ tiles.  The very small tile on the left, on top of the paint samples, is called sisal.  We are using it as the flooring in the master bath.  It’s also 12″ x 24″.   We found most of our tile at Discover Tile at the Boston Design Center, the perfect one-stop-shop for tile and stone… and the girls there couldn’t be nicer.

Old and New Bathrooms

May 27, 2011

All you really need is a sink, shower and toilet.  But, do you stash the sink in a custom made armoire and wash your hair in a claw foot tub?  Or, do you expose the glass walled shower to the master suite and use square vessel style sinks?  Either way your going to get clean, I guess it just depends on what look you like.  My problem?  I love them both.  I actually have a small room intended for sewing that I’d like to make into a bathroom and the sink in an armoire look is perfect because it will allow for storage and help fill a room that might be slightly large for a bathroom.  And, whats not to love in this image? White painted floors, check! white on white walls, check.  Vintage charm, timeless details, relaxed and comfortable, check. check. check!

If you have the modern itch, scratch it by taking down the wall between the bedroom and bathroom and let the natural light in as in this beautiful space.  Hey, as long as you keep the shower clean it makes sense to open up a windowless room.  Do we really need so may walls anyway?  yes, of course you still need the toilet in its own private area, so it’s tucked behind the shower along with linen closet type storage… but with the night stands stretching from bedside to bathroom, storage is no issue here.  Really the sink vanity is dresser is nightstand.  Seamless.  Smart.  and, I love it.

Traditional Windows

May 26, 2011

I installed these Roman Shade Valances a few weeks ago at a clients.  You would think a formal look like this went into the living room or dining room but no, I had these made for a dressing room… custom window-seat and pillows to match, of course… More is More when you’re going for a look like this.  Funny, the trend is to embellish less and embrace simple and quiet interiors more but there are those die-hard fans who love a swag and trim for days.  It’s not how I live but it’s fun to create for clients.  The trim featured on these valances is from the fabric and trim house of Scalamandre, part of what I call the “old school”.

In the 80 years since it was founded, the house of Scalamandre has always looked upon textiles as archeological artifacts and itself as the keeper of a historical record.  Would you believe  Scalamandre has done more than 600 historical textile reproductions in the United States and Europe. The company, in New York City, also produces custom textiles and trimmings for decorators and designers including myself… elaborate tassels and fringe, dimities and damasks and more prints and wovens than you could possibly use in a lifetime!  Adriana Scalamandre Bitter is the president of the company, and her husband, Edwin Ward Bitter, the chairman. Franco Scalamandre, Mrs. Bitter’s father, died in 1988.

Sand Castles

May 25, 2011

Yes, even sand castles can be designed to the point where they deserve a place on billblog.  This year’s sand castle competition in Cannon Beach, Oregon was stunning… just look at these entries!   

The competition starts with the tide going out. The judging must be completed before the tide comes in and washes the work away. That gives everyone about 6 hours. Some pretty fancy work for a short time! There are ribbons and awards for the competition, but no prizes.  These artistic and creative people do it for the bragging rights and the fun.  

Thanks Mom for sending these great images!