November 7, 2016
It’s a classic that never seems to fall out of favor. Blue and White feels appropriate in any season, in any place, and in any room. The above image is a family room I designed for a summer house on the South Coast of MA. The clients were young and I wanted the room to feel sophisticated and classic but relaxed. The wide striped rug from Barrier Island Rugs sets a sporty tone and the ticking stripe on the swivel chair and the Kelly Wearstler pillow fabric all play nicely together. (Upholstery by LEE Industries)
Stark Carpet is a leader when it comes to broadloom and rugs. They have an endless supply of patterns and styles and there is not shortage of blue and white. I’m particularly fond of the ones in my photograph that I’m using for current client. As you can see these patterns go from bedroom to living room to staircase, blue and white can be used to suit any space. (headboard by LEE Industries)
The color story doesn’t have to stop at fabrics and rugs, Front doors, art and accessories are all fair game. Here’s a shot of my front door, a clients house and one of my most favorite pieces of art by Marine Edith Crosta. Her unique miniatures are hand painted and framed in her East London studio. The frames and glass that she uses are antiques so the sizes and characteristics can vary, which I love.
A blue and white palette benefits from an added neutral or a pop of color like red, but that doesn’t mean you have to add another color. That said you can also play with the amount of each color you use to find the loo you want. I love a dark blue room with a crisp white chair rail, like the Private club house I designed for a local Golf Club.
September 11, 2016
I want to do something unusual in my bathroom remodel and I love the look that brass fixtures give a room but I worry that in my marine environment that the brass won’t stay pretty for long. I don’t need it to stay perfect forever but that’s not the only reason I’m afraid to use it on this project. You see, it might come off as a bit to glammy for the house. In fact I’m pretty sure I’ll have to save that look for a different project. I need something a bit more subdued, rustic but modern. The obvious choice is black.
To me black fixtures in a bathroom give a Scandinavian vibe. It’s european for sure but there is a modernity that says Danish modern and mid-century to me. I also like the 20’s 30’s aesthetic black and white give, again it’s modern… but modern with a twist. I’ve never in my 25 plus year career spec’d black fixtures for a bathroom, if you can believe that. So, I have no idea how it will hold up. or if it will look bad in a year. or if upkeep is hard… but i think I’m ready to experiment with my own bathroom, before I tell a client they ought to go for it.
I’m going to go with Dorn Bracht for my faucet and shower sets. There are many brands that offer black as a finish, but I love the X handles of the Tara series and the clean smile neck of the faucet. Pop back in a few days… I’ll share some inspiration images with you so you can see the look I’m going for.
March 27, 2016
Easter for me is a time for Bunnies, Chicks, Eggs, Easter Baskets and of course Egg Decorating… However you choose to spend the day, I hope you and your loved ones are together, sharing food, prayer, or your Easter Baskets. I chose to spend the morning peeping some eggs and this year I thought why not try the natural approach to coloring. I decided to try coffee, turmeric, chili powder, and spinach (because I really wanted green).
The colors are subtle, some more successful than others, and some didn’t really work at all. The big surprise is that I like the coffee the best! Turmeric worked well too, but chili powder and spinach were a bust… so I broke out the food coloring. I was carful to not over dye the eggs, because I wanted a soft natural palette this year. I’m not sure where this technique of wrapping the egg with mesh or a piece of nylon stocking came from (or I’d give credit) but I think it’s a great way to add visual interest, while keeping it natural. Here are the results. I’m pleased with how they turned out, there were one or two I’m not showing you but for the most part the method is easy, and produces good results. I love the flower , I used hellebore because it’s really the only thing blooming in my yard right now. I foraged some bamboo leaves, some evergreens and a small fernlike plant that I’m pretty sure is a weed… but a pretty leaved weed. Hey, on March 26th in the garden you can afford to be too picky. Note: choose soft non-woody plant materials and avoid thin spindly plants, they don’t work well. I added vinegar to both the traditional dyes and my “spice dyes” , i have to be honest I don’t really know what is does, but we did it when I was a kid, and you add it to PAAS so I added it. Good luck if you’re dying eggs today.
January 11, 2016
So, this is what heaven looks like I’m sure. No… Really, H.E.A.V.E.N. At least I hope so. Just look at the beauty called the Dunmore Hotel & Resort. I think their design team nailed the look! The entire resort has a sophisticated yet relaxed look to it, one that allows you to exhale but reminds you that you’re somewhere special. Just look at the dining room shot below, I love the collected treasures and old photographs… they add warmth and patina to an otherwise crisp and bleached out space. And, who doesn’t love a stripe? They are clearly cuckoo for stripes judging from these pictures (pictures that were in fact found on Instagram, I give credit at the bottom for each individual who posted them).
In their own words…
Welcome to The Dunmore, a Harbour Island resort where the exceptional is part of each day. At our Caribbean beach hotel, you’ll experience the profound warmth of our people in a timeless retreat that blends classic elegance with contemporary comforts.
Our resort in the Bahamas overlooks the sea’s spectrum of blues and the celebrated pink sands that are uniquely Harbour Island. Join us at The Dunmore for your Bahamian holiday, and discover why we have been inspiring memories since 1963.
A little bit about the island…
Harbour Island, in the Bahamas, is one of the most celebrated destinations in the Caribbean. On the Atlantic side of the island are the famous pink sand beaches. A three-mile stretch of indescribable beauty, the sand here is truly pink. Sifted and smoothed by generations of waves, the sands are coloured by finely crushed coral. A light rose blush by day, they become a vibrant pink at sunset. With its gentle sands and the ribbons of blue in the sea, it is often called the world’s most beautiful beach.
Beyond the beauty of the beaches is the charm of the island itself. This precious place is a historic destination, dating to 1791 when Lord Dunmore, who had a summer residence here, planned the streets of the town. Today, well-preserved cottages are nestled along the streets where golf carts are now the transportation of choice.
I wanted you to see the folks who captured these great images… follow them on Instagram!
January 7, 2016
I’ve never been to Blackberry Farm but these images (all from Instagram) made the decision for me to add it to my “must visit” list. I had never even heard of this beautiful place until today, but just look at it. I’m sure my southern friends will say “hello, where have you been…” I’m just happy to have discovered Blackberry Farm. The decor and care and attention to detail is clearly something they pride themselves on. To see many more beautiful images and to learn more about Blackberry farm visit their website here. Here’s more in their words (taken for their website)…
In 1939, Mrs. Florida Lasier of Chicago snagged her silk stockings on a wild blackberry bramble while exploring the idyllic Smoky Mountain foothills, and the name Blackberry Farm was born. Thirty-nine years later, the Beall family invested their hearts and souls in the same romantic site that has become their family home and lifelong passion. Today, one of America’s most celebrated intimate luxury hotels beckons discerning guests who aspire to escape modern-day frenzy and slip into a Blackberry state of mind. Situated on a pastoral 9,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry will show you the many reasons why it is one of the top rated properties in the world.
Whether you select the intimate charm of an Estate Room, the legendary elegance of a spacious Singing Brook, Farmstead Cottage, Holly Glade Suite or luxurious comforts of a Hill Cottage, Blackberry Farm’s accommodations offer a haven of carefree comfort. From heavenly feather beds adorned with sumptuous linens to plush robes and luxurious amenities, your accommodations reflect a meticulous attention to detail.
Winter Rates available January – March:
Roaring fires, frosty mornings and everything signature Blackberry Farm in between – plus our annual winter rates for rooms and activities. No matter what draws you, there are plenty of reasons to slip away to Blackberry this Winter and enjoy the stillness of the smokies during truly one of the loveliest times of the year.
(Winter rates available from January 1 – March 13, 2016)
Winter Romantic Escape: Spend more time together at Blackberry Farm in an exclusive offer for a complimentary fourth night when you book three weeknights during December-March. You will also receive a split of champagne on arrival, a seasonal welcome amenity, and a rose petal turndown one evening.
Call 800–557-8864 for information and details. *subject to availability
No promotional enticements or fees were paid for this blog by Blackberry Farm or another person or company. This is just me, telling you what I think is chic and what deserves to be celebrated and admired.
January 5, 2016
An architect makes a house, a staircase makes a home… if it’s a show stopper like these! I love a dramatic staircase because foyers and stairwells are typically difficult to festoon or bedazzle with furniture and fabric, although one or two of these images may prove me wrong. It’s really all in how they are designed, built and decorated. If you’re not lucky enough to have the budget or space to create something magical, work with what you’ve got a god for some DRAMA. Always a classic, the white painted riser and the black tread makes a statement. It’s an elegant choice and can be achieved on almost any typical staircase. All one color works too, but go for something bold if you choose a monochromatic look. The sisal on these stairs is a nice counter to the slick, shiny formality of the black and white. It ‘s the perfect Yang for the stairs Ying. …if you know what I mean. You might not have an all brass circular staircase in your home or apartment – get one if you can – but you could think about panting existing metal balusters antique gold in lieu of the expected black. You can also replace balusters without replacing your entire hand rail system, check into it if you hate yours. MMMMMM…. I do like a spanish influence, and these stairs are pretty classic. In the States, I think you’d see more terra-cotta tile with these pretty decorative painted tiles but simple cement stairs like this that are made on site are everywhere in Mexico, Spain, Portugal and other countries… I find this style charming and they last forever. Let’s just pretend you are stuck with a plain old, run of the mill staircase. First paint it, stain it or do what ever it needs to freshen it up. Then add pattern, animal works for me. But if you a bit more conservative you can go geometric or stripe… but I suggest animal. Grrrrr. Your last resort, the absolute final final option is add art, LOTS of art, like Philip Mitchell did at the Kips Bay Show House (and follow him on Facebook too, he’s fab). He actually did a lot more than just toss some art around, the rug, wall coverings, paint, light fixtures and everything else you see were all carefully hand chosen – you should be as diligent. But if all else fails, add art.
If you’re going to leave it bare, and I mean completely naked… you had better have one sexy staircase already!
Here is how I updated my back stairs. I painted the risers and left the treads a stained pumpkin color and added an antelope pattered broadloom, expertly installed I might add. The texture of the V-groove vertical boards is enough to add interest without hanging art.
January 3, 2016
The concept of training plants into topiary is a centuries old tradition. Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, whether geometric or fanciful. The term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way, as an art form it is a type of living sculpture. The plants used in topiary are evergreen, mostly woody, have small leaves or needles, produce dense foliage, and have compact and/or columnar growth habits. I’d say the most common species chosen for topiary is the boxwood or “European box” however arborvitae, bay laurel, holly, myrtle, yew and privet are all widely used. I love a simple boxwood ball (or may as the case my be above). It’s such a happy shape, the form is classic, the technique time honored.
This is a perfect example of how adaptable boxwood is, look at how sharp this stair detail is. It’s just so chic. The picture below was inspiration for a “redo” of our small garden in front of the beach house. We pulled out everything but a climbing rose and planted different sized boxwood spheres. For greater visual interest we under planted with bulbs of white tulips and purple allium. I can’t wait for spring!
And this is my back yard in the City. The garden is asleep (taken late november) but the form of the boxwood is something I count on in the winter months to give the yard color, and structure. Please excuse the sofa cover. There is nothing prettier than a dusting of boxwood on a boxwood.
Above is an image of my garden a few years ago and a different application of boxwood, grown into a knot garden. We planted different types of hosta in each of the diamond shapes formed by the boxwood. In my head it looked like the image below, maybe not quite… But you gotta start somewhere. The Dogwood tree is certainly bigger now, and the X’s more clearly clipped.