Ok, back to design and architecture…

I can’t CONTAIN myself, I just love these houses, just enough modern with a mid-century vibe and sustainable… I’m in! Smitten in fact.  Can you believe that with a $40,000 budget, Benjamin Garcia Saxe used two 40-foot long shipping containers to create this cozy 1,000 square feet space. The home is located in San Jose, Costa Rica, and proves you don’t need deep pockets to fund a shipping container home project.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-1The design team at Studio H:T thought a bit outside of the box with this one. Rather than build the entire home from shipping containers, they chose to add 2 storage containers to the outsides of a pre-existing structure. The residence is nestled on a ledge in Nederland, Colorado, and includes roof mounted solar panels, passive cooling, and much more.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-4Guest houses are typically small anyway, so why not build yours from a recycled shipping container? Designed by the team at Poteet Architects, this modern living space spans 360 square feet, and has everything one would need from a living room and study area, right down to the bathroom and patio.


Designed to be inexpensive and portable, the Port-A-Bach is the exact picture that comes to mind when we think of storage container dwellings. The tiny home was built back in 2007 by the team at Atelierworkshop, and features a double bed alongside 2 fold out bunk beds, providing sleeping quartes for up to 4 people. Unfolding the boxy home provides a nice deck to enjoy to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer.


Great aren’t they?  I’d love a piece of land, with a view to place one of these sustainable, unique and easily built structures.  To see these and more like them visit dailynewsdig.com that’s where I got these images and most of the copy.



So, a friend and fellow designer John De Bastiani posted an image of this sweet little house on his Facebook page the other day and I immediately recognized the bunkroom picture from a shelter magazine… I have loved and coveted this room for a long time.  And now, I glad to know who created this beautiful and respectful tiny house, Jessica Helgerson.   09

With more than 15 years of experience designing residential and commercial interiors Jessica creates interiors that are typically clean and uncluttered.  Adept at many styles, she is happy to be guided by her clients’ individual needs and tastes as any good decorator is.  Jessica likes to start by considering what the best design for the client might be while considering the best design for the building or space.  Her goal is to ensure that the fundamental design and the materials are classic, long lasting, and appropriate to the building and its period. She likes to layer on fresh, contemporary elements—such as lighting, furniture, and art—that feel just right for the clients and for the moment. I’m a fan, and if I wasn’t a control freak.. I’d hire her to do my next house.  Just look at this tiny house she designed!

01This little house is where Jessica and her family have been living for the last several years. It sits on a five-acre property on Sauvie Island, an agricultural island on the Columbia River 15 minutes north of Portland.

The house is an interesting experiment in reduction and reuse not only because it is only 540 square feet or because it was remodeled using nearly exclusively reclaimed materials, but because the building itself is now being recycled for the fourth time. It was first built in the early 1940s as part of Vanport Village; a quickly erected development built to house shipyard workers. When Vanport Village flooded in 1948 this particular little house was floated down the river to Sauvie Island, where it became the goose-check station. Years later it was remodeled to become a rental house.


When Jessica and Yianni bought the property in late 2008, they decided to remodel it without adding to the existing footprint. Their first step was to redesign the interior for maximum space efficiency. A ‘great room’ houses the kitchen, dining room and living room with large, comfortable, built in sofas that double as twin beds for guests. Drawers under the sofas hold children’s toys and a wall of shelves houses books and more. The ceiling was opened up in the main space, but the bathroom and bedroom have lower ceilings to accommodate the parent’s sleeping loft above, accessible by a walnut ladder. The children’s room has two bunk beds as well as a full bed for guests. A pull-out closet makes maximum use of the narrow space near the bunk beds.

New high-efficiency windows come right down to the sofas and offer a fun way for kids and cats to enter and exit the house. The walls were insulated, then faced in reclaimed wood siding, most of which was found on site in one of the barns. The

new floors are local Oregon white oak, and the dining table was made from locally salvaged walnut. The range is a vintage Craigslist find, and the tub was a salvaged from a friend’s demolition site. A wood-burning stove easily and efficiently heats the small house.


As part of the remodel, the worn out roof was replaced with a green roof, planted with moss and ferns gathered along the Columbia River Gorge. The green roof offers insulation as well as a playful visual counterpoint to the traditional white cottage.

Despite its size, the house is welcoming and comfortable and nearly every weekend it is full of family and friends coming from Portland to enjoy a day in the countryside. In addition to living in a small footprint, Yianni and Jessica have been working towards food self-sufficiency. Their first year on the property they built a 1200-square-foot green house, planted vegetable gardens, rows of berries, and fruit trees. They are also raising chickens for meat and eggs, keeping bees, and making cheese from the milk of a neighbor’s goats and cows.



*Much of this text was taken directly from Jessica’s website, with the intention of “getting it right” and sending the intended “message” out of respect for Jessica, her brand and her work.  

I’m all about paying respect, honoring craft and celebrating others in my field.  Please click on the web address above to see Jessica’s full website.

Rough & Tumble

September 15, 2013

I am loving this abandoned stable turned family dwelling in Cáceres, Spain designed by architecture firm ÁBATON. There is something very modern, mixed with the rustic stone and the traditional twist of the clay tile roof that sounds like a hot mess but looks like a dream come true.  I would love to design the interiors for a structure like this one for a client (or myself).  You know me, it’s all about the juxtaposition of light and dark, modern and rustic or hard and soft.  I love the idea of linen slip-covered sofas, floor pillows and a flokati rug in the living room of this house.  I would do my decorators best to keep the accessories to a minimum – I am a self-confessed packrat – and the colors should be those found in the stone that makes up the pool, walls and architecture.


I don’t really have a reason for wanting to show beds with this structure, but I do think these bedroom shots exemplify the vibe of the house.  Relaxed, tonal, clean.  Who wouldn’t want to tumble into one of these beds…

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If it was up to me I’d make the pattern, texture and visual interest the beauty of natural stone.  This would make an amazing shower surround for a bathroom.  Maybe open to the sky and a teak floor slatted to allow the water to be caught in a cistern and recycled into the landscape.  Add in some big gnarly olive trees and you have one rough yet beautiful modern mediterranean compound.  I’m ready, are you?


We’re Building A Pergola

September 10, 2013


The season may be coming to an end ( sad ) but we are gearing up for Fall planting and the construction of a pergola! at my house now that we have finished a much-needed fence across the back of our property.  We are hoping to keep the project simple but the more I study the construction of these whimsical pavilions, the more I realize that I may need to shell out more for something a bit more than “basic”.  What I really seem to like is a structure with double round columns at the corners.  Double columns means double the materials which adds up to probably double the money AND round columns definitely means more money.


So what that means is I can probably afford something that looks more like pergola in the image above.  Four square posts, no doubling up, simple cross pieces and not too many bells and whistles.  Our plan is to paint any structure white so disregard the finish of the above example.  I think if this is what I end up with I’ll be happy, but I’d be happier if the posts are doubled on the corners because I think the detail adds visual weight, a visual quality and a nice detail.  This is what I imagine it will look like…

707c88cfe30f2aa2a1e5133a81020360This one is elegant, love the extra height and the trellis insert between the posts.  I think I like the idea of the additional sense of enclosure the trellis gives the structure.  And, I think I like the smaller more tightly spaced cross pieces.  I plan on experimenting with the spacing of the cross pieces to get the right amount of shade at the right time of day… those details will need to be discussed with the carpenter including and maybe most importantly, the direction of the cross pieces.


eb202926fc40166479ff3b6b80f0bbbcI pray that my rose, or climbing hydrangea or clematis is half as happy as this rose.

Promise to post before, during and after pics.  Stay tuned.


TULUM a loveletter

April 12, 2013

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As most of you know, I grew up in the Bay Area, San Francisco-ish.  Living in such close proximity to Mexico I have had the pleasure of visiting many times and,  just for context – this is not a brag – I have seen the beaches of Hawaii, Thailand, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean and I’m here to tell you that Tulum beach on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of THE prettiest beaches I have ever seen.  No lie.photo[1] (4)

Of course anywhere you go where your responsibilities don’t follow you is a happy place, a total checkout… But to add to that a warm sunny place with beautiful breezes and a relaxed and kick-back atmosphere surrounded by beauty like this?  Well, I’m sold and frankly ready to buy!  Did I mention the food? Giant fruit salads, yummy coffee (yes all the cafes had soy) and a yoga class within a stones throw starting practically every ten minutes.  The real test for me was the lack of pool.  I’m a pool guy.  In fact I love pools, laying by them, getting a drink brought to me while I’m near one and yes eating at the pool (the height of decadence) is something I love.  Well, there was no pool.  And I’m still in love with Tulum.

photo[1] (5)You will find almost every type of resort in Tulum.  All inclusive, Yoga and wellness focus, fancy & not-so-fancy, but the thing they all have in common is a underbuilt (3 story max from what I could see) and place sensitive architecture that allows the natural surroundings to stand out and remind you that your somewhere between a jungle and the ocean, with a sky filled with stars (and avocado on every entre!).  My architecture of choice would be something along the lines of the beach structure shown above.

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It’s all over the place, bottle green might just be the new it color.  Trending that’s for sure, I’m seeing this beautiful hue in fashion and furnishings and it seems to be gaining strength.  Now that Sandy – the hurricane – has past ( and I hope all are well and getting back to normal.  My heart goes out to those who have lost… a loved one, a pet, a home… ) we can all try to get back to “normal” or at least allow ourselves the distraction of design, fashion, trend and pretty things.

The luxury brand Akris is no stranger to identifying trends or creating them, their newest collection includes multiple pieces in the most delicious green you may have ever seen (or worn).  The handbags are an architectural dream of trapezoids, and elegant geometry and the dresses and other clothing sublime.

This is one of the newest table lamps from Jamie Young.  I love the fresh green of this lamp – so much in fact I just spec’d it for a clients TV room.  This lamp makes me want to open multiple pack of M&M’s and eat all the green ones.  For those of you who fear color, a colorful lamp is a nice entre into the world of color.

 There is always an option for the bold bunch too.  Take these malachite print drapery panels, this is a commitment to color!  But it so works… Love it with a bit of brass for that 70’s vibe without being to literal, it pays nicely with the dark stain of the floors and has good contrast with white walls and furniture.

And, this takes the term living green to a whole new level.  I could live with a green room but it’s hard to look pretty in a green room, you might want to add pink bulbs to your light fixtures to counter the effects the green paint will have on your skin-tone (not entirely kidding, but not sure it will work either).

Ladies and gentlemen,  I give you… Bottle Green! go git yo sef some.

Farm to Table

July 3, 2012

There is no better way to eat than locally, unless of course the food is served to you in a beautiful field, on a 38 acre farm by the top chefs and caterers in the area on a gorgeous summer night.  I was lucky enough to attend the Farm to Table Dinner benefitting SEMAP at Sliverbrook Farm last friday and the food (and company) was amazing.  Five courses of all local food were prepared for several hundred guests to help SEMAP support, preserve and expand access to local food and sustain farming in Southeastern Massachusetts.  

Seating is always random so you end up making new ones at the Farm to Table dinner.  I lucked out and sat next to some great people and got a view of the fields, horses and forest beyond.  Fireflies were slowly floating out the hay as the night sky took over and the twinkly lights flickered under the big tent.  You carry in you own plates, silverware and glasses so we brought jelly jars and antique plates to set the mood.

Berkshire “hot-pot” pork over bean sprouts and broth with cilantro… yummy!

Sweet pea ravioli garnished with beets and lemon rind… yummy!

Braised beef with spring onions and carrots… yummy!

I was having such a good time and I was so excited to be getting a plate full ( everything is served family style ) of desserts from Chef Meredith Ciaburri from Artisan Kitchen in Rochester MA that I forgot to take a picture of the fantastic desserts.  The event is always great because it is such a celebration of food.  Each course is delivered by an army of servers led by the chef of that particular course…  and beautiful bread from Pereira Bread Co.


Chefs: Meredith Ciaburri-Rousseau, Artisan Bake Shop and Rosa Galeno, Rosa’s Food Shoppe

Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farm’s Oysters on the Half Shell

Sweet Biscuits with The Silverbrook Farm Preserves

Grafton Cheddar & Herb Gougère

Shy Brothers Hannahbells, Great Hill Blue, and Martin’s Goat Cheese Spread

Pereira Bread Company & Effie’s Oatcakes

Farm Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Skewers



Chefs: JJ Gonson, Cuisine en Locale and Rosa Galeno, Rosa’s Food Shoppe

Asian-Inspired Hot Pot with Farm Fresh Vegetable Broth, Sprouts, Pea Tendrils, Cucumbers & Cilantro

Miss Scarlett’s Blue Ribbon Farm Smoked Berkshire Pulled Pork

Wine pairing: Travessia Urban Winery, Bastard Rosé



Chefs: Sonya Bradford, David Hernandez, and Carolyn Staley, Green Gal Catering

Sweet Pea Ravioli

Puddingstone Farm Organic Chicken with Summer Beets, Preserved Lemon & Fresh Mint

Wine pairing: Running Brook Vineyards, UnOaked Chardonnay



Chefs: Sonya Bradford, David Hernandez, and Carolyn Staley, Green Gal Catering

Farm Fresh Field Salad, Micro Greens and Narragansett Creamery Feta Cheese

Grilled Spring Onions, Summer Squash and Zucchini

Wine pairing: Running Brook Vineyards, UnOaked Chardonnay



Chefs: JJ Gonson, Cuisine en Locale and Rosa Galeno, Rosa’s Food Shoppe

Slow Cooked Beef Brisket, Brined in Zoll Cellars Cabernet Franc with Herbs, Carrots & Onions

Vegetable Pilaf with Pioneer Valley Grains

Wine pairing: Zoll Cellars, Cabernet Franc



Chefs: Meredith Ciaburri-Rousseau, Artisan Bake Shop

Candied Curley’s Farm Rhubarb Choux

Sparkling Strawberry Soup with Fromage Blanc, Cervelli Farm Strawberries, Westport Rivers Brut & Acushnet Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream

Bog Berry Shard with Cranberry Compote