Hurry Spring

February 11, 2018


SW1927165-PK11-A_grandeI’m not sure if it’s the color palette that just feels right to me, or the casual ease of Spring/Summer dressing that appeals to me but I know every winter (while i enjoy wearing lots of thick cashmere) I look forward to lightweight khakis, loafers – with no socks – and chambray shirts hanging out of summer weight cashmere sweaters.  I was a dedicated J.Crew shopper for many, many years and while I still love their secret wash button down shirts and their khakis but Todd Snyder – who got his start at Ralph Lauren and went on to work for Gap and J. Crew – has such a good great shop and website that I could really just wear the lines he represents, including his own of course.  This is not a paid endorsement (I swear it, god knows I’d love a heavy credit to his beautifully curated store) Todd if you’re reading this, I love what you do man.

Now of course, I love a nice shoe, and Todd has those too but my heart is with Gucci when it comes to nice shoes, I think they are classic and trendy at the same time, and if not a leather loafer then a white sneaker from Adidas (Stan Smith) or Converse (Jack Purcell). So come on Spring… I’m waiting.



I’m Working On It

February 9, 2018


I read back a ways and it’s been a long, long time since I posted any of my work projects. I feel so very fortunate to have had so many wonderful clients over the years, clients who allowed me to guide them to an aesthetic that was beautiful, elevated from the ordinary but livable and comfortable.  Since I’m posting a lot of pictures, I’m going to not bore you with to much copy.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and feel inspired by them.





Remodel Mode

February 6, 2018


Well, we are in full remodel mode around my house.  I wish I could say it’s well planed and that we are ready with decisions, contractors, and a bank roll but, were not.  And yet we are already in deep in demolition so you can imagine I’m “designing” as fast as I can.  I do have a spreadsheet ( I love google sheets) going so I can track and estimate exactly how much I’m going to overspend. But i think I might be a bit ahead of myself…

In early January our little house on the cape took on a significant amount of sea water, so we are forced to open and dry out walls, replace ruined floors and repair damaged systems and woodwork.  I’m a little (ok a lot) heartbroken, but trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel.    That light looks like a garbage disposal, a dining are that seats more than four, and maybe… just maybe a washing machine and dryer.  The picture on the left is whats left of the kitchen, and the right is a deVOL kitchen I’m using as inspiration.  Those little cabinet doors vent holes are too cute, and I’m going brass with the hardware but the truth is I’m not sure if I’ll commit to grey of just do a classic white kitchen.

IMG_1413The bathroom will be Painted Simply White with white subway tiles in the shower – with light grey grout – and this pretty palette on the floor.  The tiles are from Heath Ceramics, I’m picking a 4″ hexagon mixed in these three colors.  Currently our plan is to use a washstand and basin from Duravit and a toilet from Duravit – designed by Philippe Starck – that I really like.  I think the tile colors will mix well with Carrara curbs and thresholds.

We might end up moving the kitchen to the room we currently use as a dining room, this would allow us to have larger dinner parties and the dining space would be directly off the living space making for one larger entertaining space. I think I like the sounds of that, but I have to make sure all the charm and the old-timey vibe is not lost.  This will require special attention to the millwork; chair rails, paneled walls, cabinets and the like.


White kitchens are pretty… and the brass looks sweet against it.


And I think thew white against these Carlisle Wide Plank floors would look pretty fresh. Carlisle-Eastern-White-Pine-Flooring-Banner-310



February 4, 2018


A banquette by definition is an upholstered bench along a wall, especially in a restaurant or bar.  What I’d like to add is a banquette isn’t really a window seat or vice-versa unless of course your window seat was built at the correct height to dine at and you have a table and auxiliary chairs on hand to support dining at said window seat (technically now a banquette).  In a nut shell if dining or drinking isn’t intended, it’s a window seat or a built-in bench.


I’m not sure this counts but if one were to have a late night supper at this tiny table you cold argue this pretty alcove bench is a banquette.  It has a chair to pull in and a stool (easy perch) for the host(ess) but I’m afraid this just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s pretty though, best part for me is the drapery framing the opening.  If you hadn’t guessed yet banquettes are on my mind these days.  We moving a few things around at our place so I’ve been zeroing in on certain details… today: BANQUETTES. and guess what, Size matters!


Once you have identified where you want a banquette, triple check you have the space to accommodate the scale of your built-in and that it will hold the number of people you expect it to.  Expect your banquette to be a minimum of 20″ deep (this accommodates for a small amount of pitch on the back rest, or a straight back and room for a pillow or two) and an 18″ seat height.  See diagrams at the bottom of this post for more details.


I personally prefer the look of a straight back with lots of pillows, because I like pillows. But! don’t be fooled into thinking deeper is better. You have to provide a back rest of some sort, pillow or upholstered or pitched back.  Trust me, no one wants to sit through a meal with their core engaged the entire time.  The paneled detail on the banquette in the image above is very pretty.

img_1529.pngUltimately I think this style with upholstered “arms” that hold you just a bit is really the best of all worlds, sofa like but proportioned to allow you to work, draw or blog at a table (30″ high) and dine of course.  The world is going crazy for banquettes right now so I’m filing this blog post under Trend Alerts, yeah… they have been around a long time but they are very HOT right now.





So, I made a cake.

February 1, 2018

img_2028For me it’s all fun, choosing a recipe, mixing, baking, whipping, but I confess more than enjoying the finished product I enjoy the visual production of asembeling a cake.  I have been slightly addicted to a Caramel Corn recipe after making it for the first time a few weeks ago. So when I needed to make a dessert for a dinner party I knew I had to work it in somehow.  I couldn’t serve a bowl of Carmel Corn and just putting it over ice cream sounded good, but lazy… so I made a cake. img_2025I started with my favorite chocolate cake recipe (it might have been out of a box). Follow directions and let cool. If you are a frosting whore, slice these layers into two layers each and end up with a four layer cake!  I highly recommend you make this cake wearing slippers and if you’re up for it… make your cake from scratch. Box cakes are really just ok  and have things in them you and your loved ones really don’t need to consume.


In a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
Add vanilla and mix until it is combined.
Add the powdered sugar and mix. Slowly at first until the powdered is combined into the butter and sugar mixture. …
Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you have the frosting at the desired consistency.    click here for full recipe img_2024

Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. …
Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. …
Boil 5 minutes without stirring. …
Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. …
Cool; break apart. click here for full recipe img_2027I used some of the cake crumbles from leveling the cakes to mix into the carmel corn to suggest the chocolate flavor within.  I’m telling you, if you like these flavors this cake is a winner.  I’m not a big fan of salted caramel, but if you are you could use a tiny bit of kosher salt flakes on the carmel corn or light sprinkled over the top of the cake.  I might add peanuts to the carmel corn next time, I miss them when they aren’t waiting for me at the bottom of the bag.  Frost as you typically would (I skipped a crumb layer this time) and pile the carmel corn on top!!  yummy.


These clowns thought they were going to get a slice. They didn’t get any… Everyone knows chocolate is bad for dogs!



let there be light…

January 31, 2018

…and let it make a statement.  Your light fixtures are the right place to take a risk, make a point, and inject some personality.  Yes, they can be expensive but they truly are the jewelry of a room (and who wants cheap jewelry?) Now thats not to say something inexpensive but fun and whimsical or creative, or unique isn’t a great idea… I’d celebrate that.  Typically though, you get what you pay for with light fixtures.

Two points I’d like to make are 1. your light fixtures don’t have to match, in fact they shouldn’t (unless were talking about scones in a space, a long hall, or pendants over an island or other instances like that) Mix it up from room to room, and have some fun with not doing everything in a certain genre, you can have an old crusty lantern in one room and a modern saucer in another. BUT the finishes must speak to each other.  Lighting is no different than any other detail on your home.  Windows, masonry, woodwork to create cohesiveness those details have to tell a story through color, texture, shape or style.  And if you’re mixing up style, focus on the finishes telling the same story.


The other point is you can change a light when it falls out of fashion, but you have to rip out that backsplash accent you couldn’t live without, and trust me… you will get sick of the over designed backsplash.  Or the niche detail you think is a good idea now.  There is no harder job what it comes to good design than restraint.  Thats why i started by suggesting you put the “risk” into light fixtures, they really are easy to change out.


Parting thoughts… use light fixtures to enhance a space, not just light it.. places like the top of bookcases or over your favorite painting (but not if it has glass please). Add sconces down a boring hallway or up a staircase.  Don’t think about them just providing light, make them a point of interest, design them into your space and for pets sake PLEASE put them ALL on dimmers.  Unless your pulling out a splinter or reading the dictionary, I’m pretty certain you need to dim your lights down.


The End.




Once you go black…

January 21, 2018

scarsdale-home-by-tamara-magel-photo-by-rikki-snyder…it’s said you’ll never go back.  For the record I love a little black. It’s a crisp sharp neutral that adds sophistication to a space.  Walls fade away when a room is painted a deep dark color but I like black best surrounded by lots of white (or grey, or taupe).

Seen here as a countertop and select cabinetry, the black feels a tad industrial and decidedly modern.  It adds an articulation, punctuation… a moment.  These White kitchens have added interest because of the black.

It’s pretty obvious from these pictures how black in a neutral room pulls the eye!  I love how the light fixtures are highlighted by choosing the a finish so dark.

Cabinetry  in black really grounds a space and a light counter will set off dark base cabinets best. I still like brass hardware, it don’t feel passé to me (yet, it’s 2018) and it’s an easy change when it really jumps the shark, so i say go brass!