September 18, 2016
“Create your own reality” is a phrase friends and I saw once inscribed on a school or civic building when we were in our early twenties. I think it was in the Sunset district of San Francisco. It became a catch phrase for us, used more in jest at first, but it has become a mantra for me that has guided me in my adult life. Many years ago I decided that I’d like to have a home in Provincetown, it was in fact September 15, 2011 click to see entire post (FIVE YEARS AGO) I set my eyes on this house…
And now it’s mine (ours). It has been for 3 years now. I stalked it, I watched it I asked about it, I found a realtor that knew the owner, we inquired, we offered and we were accepted ( with a little negotiating ). I pinch myself every time I pull in the driveway – not only am I so very happy to have parking in this bustling little town – but I can’t believe my good fortune to have the opportunity to be the caretaker of such a beautiful cottage, in such a great location, in a town I love, only an hour and a half away from home. So here is where we are now… moved in, interiors cute, beachy, relaxed and for the most “done”. But the bathroom is crying for an update. So the last few posts have been about making sensitive choices that will update the bathroom, without it feeling like it doesn’t belong in this tiny, charming little cape house from the 30’s.
Mostly, I wanted to recognize that 5 years ago to the day almost, I had a dream. Today I’m sitting on the sofa, writing this blog and throughly aware of the gift it is in my life. I love this house. I want to do right by it. I’m going to keep processing materials and ideas in my mind and maybe on the ol blog til I have a bathroom worthy of showing off. Until then… Check out my posts Summer (house) May 19, 2014 and SeaSide Chic – I think so anyway August 3, 2014 for previous posts featuring other shots of the house. Cheers!
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.
January 19, 2015
I’m staring down two bathroom remodels and in many ways they couldn’t be more different and in other ways they will end up with many of the same details. One bathroom is tiny and has an egress out to the yard and beach and a step down which prevents certain floor plans, the other is a good sized room with a paladin window on the largest of the four walls and three doors. What to do?!? Well…
BATHROOM 1. Is hopefully going to get a full slab shower stall. It’s simple, rich, and spare but still has a quality and a quiet elegance I think this little room needs. The plan will be to have a removable teak “mat” inside the shower and a rain style shower head. Frameless glass door is a must to maintain the simple, uncluttered vibe. It’s shaping up to look a lot like this image (above) but I want to bring back some more traditional elements so I won’t do a poured concrete counter top or the contemporary open shelving instead I’m thinking horizontal V-grove boards on the walls with built-in medicine cabinets and a sink that feels like an updated throwback like the bathroom below. I think I really like the oversized dark floor of this bathroom too. Should hide dogs hair, dust and debris better than a white floor (the other option I’m thinking about).
BATHROOM 2. Is a big room to fill, but I need to get a tub, shower, toilet and 2 sinks into a room with three doors and a BIG window. I really want to put the sink into an armoire, the idea of “furniture” in this space appeals to me because I think the room – it’s also 9.5 foot ceilings – needs to be filled up a bit. This idea might make two sinks impossible but the extra sink is more negotiable than the tub, shower or toilet. Those are must haves! There are existing hardwood floors in the room currently, and I’d like to make them work either as is or perhaps painted, I love a painted floor. I am planning on subway tiles floor to ceiling in this room with V-grove board ceiling and an over sized lantern centered in the room. This bathroom will be mostly if not all traditional.
What do you care? Well, here are the lessons in todays blog:
1. Before you call the contractor, and before you head out to go shopping for finishes. PICK A STYLE or the “look” you think you want to achieve. This will help you from getting distracted once you are standing in front of all those bright and shiny choices and you either glaze over or pick something that has nothing to do with your desired look.
2. MAP IT OUT. Spend as much time as you have planning and playing with how the room can be set up, use tape on the floor to do this, or make templates from newspaper or draw mini versions (to scale, kits available on-line if you don’t have this talent) and plan, plan, plan.
3. Like most of us, you probably have a budget. It’s pretty helpful to MAKE A LIST of everything you think you need and put a price next to it to help you understand how much you have to spend on each item. Splurging on a sexy faucet might mean going cheap on the toilet. Mosaic tile floor might mean run of the mill tile in the shower. Once you have your list, be sure to subtract the contractors (and sub-contractors) labor estimates, reduce your over all budget number and then have fun shopping.
4. Unless you intentionally want some shock value keep the overall vision of your project in keeping with the architecture of the home/condo/apartment. There is nothing worse than walking in a Colonial home and getting hit with a Tuscan bathroom. WRONG. Want Tuscany? Move there.
January 2, 2015
I have always liked the classic Hudson Bay blanket. The primary colors of the signature HBC Collection striped point blanket first became popular in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714). First commissioned by HBC in 1800, the multi stripe has never been out of production since. It is the most popular colorway of all the HBC point blankets, past or present. Over time, it has become the product most identified with HBC, and by extension, Canada. Calling it a classic is an understatement I guess!
Careful attention to detail and authenticity ensures that today’s customer is acquiring the same high-quality blanket as the one produced centuries before. Today the Point Blanket is manufactured in Yorkshire, at the finest woollen mill in England. The number of points, or handmade thin stripes, on the edge of the blanket reflects its size. Authentic HBC blankets are 100% woven wool.
I have a pair of mid-century chairs that belonged to my grandmother that I would love to recover this way. Even though the textile is wool, I think the palette would support any season and wool is so durable. Who wants to help me convince my husband this is a good look for our chairs in our tiny cottage by the sea?
In a very simple room (all white) this sheet set or duvet cover could look cute, but beware! a little bit goes a very long way. Please avoid the pillows to match, the candle and the coasters, iPhone cover and everything else this pattern is tortured into covering. I think it’s best look is just being a blanket and after that, upholstery. It looks so good on this little ottoman, doesn’t it?
November 24, 2014
I have had a mid-century house – an Eichler built in 1958 nestled at the foot of rolling golden hills in California – and I currently live in a Colonial Revival – built in 1907 in the Georgian style in a town with more history than I can fathom – and after my adventure today of hiking the dunes on Cape Cod and discovering Mid-century gems cast away and being left to ruin, my heart aches for a clean simple box, unadorned and angular sitting amongst the scrub pines with a view out to sea. Waxing poetic, huh?
Well, I can’t help it… I LOVE ARCHITECTURE. I love design, I can’t turn it off and I certainly can’t own a house in every style I love. So I blog about it. Here’s what I did today… My partner in crime and life and I drove a short distance from our little cottage on the beach and followed a winding little road out to the open seashore of Cape Cod. There in all it’s glory the sandy cliffs play host to a very important modern structure named the Hatch House.The experimental Hatch Cottage was designed by Jack Hall in 1960 for Robert Hatch, an editor of The Nation and his wife Ruth, a painter. The family occupied the cottage until 2008 when ownership reverted to the National Park Service. CCMHT received a lease in 2012 and finished restoration in spring 2013. Since then the cottage has hosted four artist/scholar residencies. All the original furniture and artwork has been re-installed by the Hatch family. It’s hard to describe the setting of the Hatch Cottage, with it’s panoramic view of the bay, perched on the edge of a kettle hole, with a vernal pool below, and it’s untrammeled west facing hillside which takes in the sunset over the water. Because it’s in the National Seashore, surrounding development has been frozen since its construction. The cottage itself is a matrix of cubes. Some are single and some combine to make bigger shared spaces. The cubes are connected by outdoor decks which seem to dematerialise due to the decking being laid on edge; making the whole seem to hover a few feet above the ground. The rooms open and close with shutters of different sizes to regulate temperature, air and sun. There are two rooms with queen sized beds, a bunk room, one bath, a lovely path to a generally un-occupied bay beach and access to many trails through the woods. *This excerpt taken from the Cape Cod Modern Historic Trust website, see more at ccmht.org
After seeing such a beautiful modern structure built in a truly majestic setting I thought the rest of our day would be spent discussing the merits of this incredible structure and how we might someday replicate it – or something close to it – for our very own… But I continued to be surprised after we parked on an unmarked fire road somewhere between Truro and Wellfleet and hiked into a pristine pine and oak forest. The most beautiful fall-infused path opened up to miles of open seashore and the forest revealed its hidden treasures… many abandoned mid-century homes, slowly being reclaimed by the land they were built on.
Now owned by the federal government, these beautiful examples of mid-century architecture are decaying. Still beautiful, only hauntingly so, I could so easily imagine living in any one of the structures we came upon. This sad structure being the first we saw, I will admit it’s heartbreaking but this was the worst of what we saw… many are still habitable and CCMHT has begun to lease and preserve the most important structures. The landscape has grown in since this structure was built to a point where the ocean view is now shrouded by evergreens.
This house still has its wonderful view, ceiling suspended red metal fireplace and a spooky ouija board just inside the expanse of glass that protects the interior from the coastal elements. The living room spans the entire water side of the main living floor with accordion doors in the back that close to create a private bedroom or den. It’s also in pretty bad shape, but it’s not open and exposed to the wind, rain and salt air. Below the main floor (that also had a wall of kitchen in the back left corner) are additional bedrooms, a bonus room and full bath. I was happy this one was locked up tight.
Yeah, this one not so “locked up tight”. The door was wide open and the elements and animals of the forest had certainly made themselves at home here, but you can still see how fabulous living in this structure could be. There were even a few pieces of furniture I would have considered “rescuing” but I’m certain anyone else would have seen my good intentions as “stealing”… So I left those cool little rattan chairs behind for the critters.
Thanks for stopping by & reading!
November 22, 2014
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.
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!
This 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.
November 18, 2013
Ok, Ok… I spend more time on Instagram and Pinterest these days than I do writing blog posts. I’m sorry. In an attempt to satisfy my hunger for interior eye-candy and to share here with you I am combining in today’s post.
Here are just some of the images I pinned, or re-pinned today on Pinterest. I’m searching to a commonality, a theme and what stands out to me is a conscious “undesigned” vibe, as if these rooms just happened (they didn’t, btw). And, I think they all have a masculine vintage-modern vein to them… something old something new?
I want to label these images, most have some mid-century element but the look ranges from mid-century, 70’s loft-style, minimal, and a whole lot more. There is a spare yet eclectic aesthetic that I think I’m responding to. No pattern per-say, earth tones, it’s decorating made (to look) easy. I for one have a hard time stopping, I like to just keep adding but I have to say I aspire to less is more. Let me tell you that all these undecorated spaces were thoughtfully stylized, edited and controlled. Theres a big payoff if you can just say no to prints, and all the other bells and whistles available to us all via the design market place.
Let the furniture say what you want the room to say. Invest in quality sofas, chairs and case pieces… and by that I don’t mean expensive ( although expensive is often built well, and I wouldn’t say no to it). Buy it because it’s right, buy it because you love it.