July 23, 2014
It’s always a lovely drive down to Narragansett Rhode Island… Several bridges, miles of coastline and farms and charming towns along the way. I made a recent trip to deliver some goodies to a client there and here are just a few (non-professional) iPhone snap shots. Just wanted to share what was keeping me busy these days. Among other things I was picking up a custom sisal rug from Merida from their Fall River plant. Very exciting to me as I had never seen their operation before and I’ve been selling Merida for over 10 years.
Check out this state of the art facility. They have work tables that must be 30, 40 or maybe even 50 feet long! I loved seeing the guys working on custom bindings, and I feel lucky to have the “workroom” so close – by just a few towns away – not because I intend to visit more… but because my orders come so quickly! So after the brief tour of the Merida facility, I was on my way to deliver not only a beautiful sisal rug but ALL of this furniture (mostly LEE Industries).
This room was a totally different layout when I first saw it. Sofas flanked the fireplace just out of the frame to the right. It was cozy but cut the room in two, and no one was using the other half of the room and that was the space with the best views of the ocean beyond. So, I pushed a sofa to the window and turned another sofa to face the fire-place. English arm chairs covered in a Thibaut woven fabric flank the fireplace (so there’s still a cozy spot for cold nights) but the room is much more open and inviting. We 86’d green sofas and red and green striped chairs so the greige palette is quite a change. Once I place the coffee table and a few accessorizes this living room will be done.
Since the kitchen is open to the living area the client and I decided to update the yellowy kitchen too by painting the island a warm tannish grey Ben Moore Revere Pewter HC-172 and the other cabinets Ben Moore OC-85 Mayonnaise. The white is still a warm white but the yellowness is reduced to something that feels white, without feeling like primer. The existing kitchen had beautiful wood countertops but the island had a basic “builders special” granite top so we upgraded the counter surface on the island to this beautiful Calacatta marble. We chose to have it honed, knowing a highly polished surface would give way to use.
Last but not least, what do you do when you walk into a clients bedroom and you discover they have a water-bed that they are not willing to part with? you recover it! I chose this nautical looking woven from Thibaut to update a well made but dated wooden bed. The dark nailhead coordinate with the bedside lights and sconces in the room and maintain our intended “tamped down” tonal, quiet range of colors. We repainted this room too, a dark mocha to set off the view… pale blues and creamy whites brighten this master bedroom and keep it interesting.
Different client, different house, different look. I can and do use color. Quite a bit in fact, even though I prefer to live with less of it in my life. I enjoy the enthusiastic client that asks for color. This hip couple wanted something that felt younger and more playful than what their pervious designer had given them. The house is big, and formal and in an area where, um… Lets just leave it at the first designer made assumptions based on the house and the area, she didn’t know her client. The shot above is a screened porch. We started from scratch with the exception of the brown woven side chair, the set was newer and very useable so I found a dining table to match and we worked with it (recovered cushions of course). The chaise can be flipped to allow the user to face the fireplace in colder months and away from the fire when the fireplace is not appropriate.
This is the same clients sun room, the only thing we kept was the woven wallpaper. Oh, and I recycled the settee that has the Thibaut print on it,because it was the right scale, well made and it allowed us to spend more on other things in the room. I love this room. Plenty of color – NAVY is a color – for the client and still tonal and sophisticated and grown-up feeling too. The dark inky blue sofa is from LEE, the custom pillows are all made from Thibaut fabrics. All thats missing here is a rug. Were going to go tan to pull the wall color because this fall the floors are going dark! The lighter rug on the dark floors with the tan walls is going to look amazing.
Thanks for checking out the blog, hope you got inspiration from it. xo
May 19, 2014
Believe it or not it’s finally time… Memorial Day is fast approaching and the season is beginning! Its time to paint the shutters, clean up the yard and air out the house. Roll up rugs if thats your thing. I’m thinking that the sand from the beach will be easier to get up with out the rugs in the way. Plus I love the look of the bare floors so I’m going naked (floors of course). I just finished painting the shutters Chrome Green (Ben Moore) the color is so old-timey/wasp/preppy… to be honest I might not have picked it, but it’s the color they have always been, so it suits me.
This tiny guest room recently got a fresh coat of paint. in fact it went from dark taupe walls and wall to wall carpeting to simply white (Ben Moore) everywhere. The walls are flat, trim satin and floors high gloss. I’m not going to lie, the carpet came up easy, and those wide board floors were there, so a simple rough sanding was all it took for the painter to get the finished look you see there. I tried to paint this room and the color was so dark, I gave up during the 3rd coat! Some things are better done a pro. The look certainly captures the spirit of an old beach house and looks chic mixed with the “unintentional” look of family cast-offs, “temporary” furniture that never got replaced and nautical kitsch collected for generations sprinkled in.
There are still gallons and gallons of paint left to go, but this little house at the end of the road is quickly becoming a charming little beach house that is sure to see plenty of fun, laughter, relaxed days and maybe a few rowdy nights for years to come. The dogs certainly love running leash-free on the sand and going on walks (something they do do much of at home) so everybody gets a change of pace – not just me. Below are some inspirational images of rooms I like the look of… maybe some of these details will find their way into this little house.
May 8, 2014
I’m sorry. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.
Before I update you all on what’s been going on for me professionally, I have to thank all my new followers for seeing value in my past blogs and deciding to follow me in spite of lack of attention I have been giving this blog… and all of who have been following me for years, your continued support is much appreciated. It blows me away that so many people want to read my rants on design, color, furniture, fashion and let’s not forget food!
It’s been a very busy spring for me. My design work has been so rewarding… clients who truly value my insight, clients who truly want to create a room – or home – beyond simply a place to watch tv or sleep, a place that makes you take notice… A moment. I see that magic happen when clients allow me to keep them “on message”. I find a strong direction or perspective and sharp, intentional execution create rooms – or homes – that have that wow thing. In recent months I’ve had several projects that felt very focused, the results… happy clients. I love it when clients love what I help them create. The above shot is a professional one ( as many of you know my images are typically a iPhone snapshot). The clients were totally open to this limited and tonal palette. The result of a trusting client is a pulled together look and something I can be proud of. Of course I brought in most everything to finnish the look (the feathers are cuortisy of the clients husband) Please contact me if you’d like resource information on anything.
I literally rolled out this custom rug today at a clients… a favorite client in fact that is fearless, and often pushes me to go further and bolder. We have a great time picking things out and her homes are like no others. It is truly wonderful when a client becomes a friend. I snapped this picture to send to her, but I wanted to include it in todays post because its such a fun room. I might have staged the coffee table and played up the orange accents – pillows on the sofa, a chandelier over-head – they really pull the corner chair into the color story, I’m sorry you can’t see more of the room. The rug is by Patterson, Flynn and Martin.
This living room is a total transformation and yet the exact same rom I designed for another great client several years ago. The layout was great, the furniture was classic – and still in great shape – so we just recovered everything and replaced the existing sisal with a wool/sisal rug from Merida that is creme and oatmeal. Prior to this taupe, cream and navy palette the room had been red, gold and green (insert Culture Club joke here). The yellow walls were painted out a pretty greige (grey/beige) a color just a shade or two lighter than the new upholstery and the accents became navy to suit the cooler color scheme. The perfect summer retreat for cocktails with friends or TV with the family all this room needs is a few more tweaks with the accessories. (My husband insists that I not show rooms without full staging but often the client wants to fill the small details in over time, and typically I and posting pictures I have taken simply to document, not publish) whatever! Stay tuned for more on this room.
And this happened in recent months too. Some modern, some whimsy; straight lined and clean with feminine edges and pretty details… a wonderful mix for a city apartment. I’m lucky enough to have worked on another project for these clients, a beach house so when they decided to buy a small(ish) apartment in town, I got the call. The beach is light and easy with strong colors and patterns so it was a no brainer to make the apartment sleek, and a bit more subdued. Yes, this is subdued. Plum, violet and grey tones sit on a nearly white rug, vintage brass etageres flank the sofa and echo the light fixture over the dining table in this open concept space. I have a bad habit of posting pictures of rooms 90% done, because I don’t always go back for professional images the last trip out with orchids, accessories and the little ditties that make rooms really finished often don’t get documented. Sad huh? But enough about that I have to let it go. Just so you know we stacked a grey and white geometric box made of inlaid bone on the table with a few coffee table books and three gold lotus blossom bowls to add a little shimmer.
OK… thats going to have to be enough for tonight. it’s 11:53 at night and I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow. Thank you again for sticking with me when the posts don’t come as often as they used to. I hope you are amused, enlightened or even just distracted for just a little while when you’re here, and leave inspired. xo
August 2, 2013
Yes, sadly it’s been some time since my last post. Don’t worry it wasn’t a tail spin created from one failed dessert… It was frankly a busy work and social schedule coupled with my discovery and love for Instagram. Far less informative, it is great for eye candy – mostly fashion, pretty people, pets, cars and destinations but there are some good designers and architects posting work… myself included). Whats not on Instagram and what I have found I miss is the dialog that goes with the images, there is no real context. Just pretty images, sometimes with a #tagline. Stick with Pinterest, Houzz and good blogs for real information, resourcing and inspiration if your planning a project that involves design.
So here is what Ive been working on… The first two images are a sunroom I designed for a client that has been coming to me and Surroundings for years. She is dedicated, open to guidance but has a good eye, willing to go the extra step and likes nice things. Suffice to say it’s a winning combination when you add in a Virgo designer. This space hasn’t even been accessorized and fluffed yet and it’s already a show stopper if you ask me. The “greige” and cream color palette is puncuated with dark woods accents and glammed-up by the dash of mercury glass. favorites of mine are the Palecek cocktail table made of petrified wood and the floor lamps designer and produced by Rich Brilliant Willing.
In recent months I also completed a summer-house for a young couple. They were a delight to work for, and a designer is always happy when clients see the vision and allow a designer to do his or her job. We chose nearly everything in 3 or 4 meetings. I love the way this house turned out, every room is polished, the vibe is fresh without feeling too trendy there is quality built to last in every piece. When it comes to furniture, you really do get what you pay for. Most if not all the upholstery is LEE, the cool banded pillows on the sofa in the lower shot are custom with fabric from one of my favorites Kelly Wearstler, i think they add a edge to the room. The cocktail table made from cut marble is as heavy as it looks and gets most of the attention, as it should. It is an amazing piece from Global Views and makes the room.
I thought I’d better post a few jobs with color so newer readers wouldn’t think I only do neutrals. All three of these rooms are for the same client, the first an apartment in Chicago, and the following two are in her home on the coast of Massachusetts. She is a favorite, I’m not going to lie. I am lucky to like most of my clients but this gal has guts, likes it bold and loves the details… thats my type of client. There are way way way too many vendors to mention, fabric designers to credit and paint colors to list, so if you want info on anything send a note.
As if all that work wasn’t enough… I helped two dear friends pull together a wedding in my back yard earlier this summer. It was a great time, everything looked great, the food was amazing and every seemed to have a really good time. Designing the wedding cake and helping with the flowers were the “work” highlights. Maybe I’ll post more pictures and details of thier wedding and my nieces wedding in the coming weeks, stay tuned! I hope you feel inspired to tackle a project, get creative, invest in some good quality furniture, hire a designer… do what ever it takes to love where you live. BB
May 13, 2013
I am especially lucky to have Mondays off from my typical work day. The Interior Design business; paperwork, installations and the balance of client/office time morphs into something completely different, something more personally creative, almost introspective on a day off. And eventhough I snuck in a tiny bit of client time most of the day was spent alone, arranging shelves, gardening, induldging and maybe a tiny bit of napping! So, as I start to unwind tonight I thought I’d send out what a typical day off looks like for me.
It started with a commute (about 15 minutes) to a Clients for a quick rug install. We flipped a few rugs around the house to freshen up other rooms while updating the living room “off the kitchen” (vs the living room” off of the front foyer”, through the “tween” room and bar. Shes a great lady and I have fun with her, we debate and collaborate to find common ground between us and when we find it, we buy what ever it is we are in agreement on. The Ascot rug from Asmara Rugs in Waltham, MA is a beautiful addition to the relaxed space that’s affords comfortable reading spots, coffee cozy spots and a snuggle up spot. We agreed on this rug after she had the chance to have it brought into the home. This Asmara Rug was definitely love at first sight.
Not going to lie… I had cake for lunch, torte actually. It was Mother’s Day leftovers, it was calling my name, I had to taste it. I made a semi-sweet torte with pecan and cookie crust for Mothers Day and I was so happy that there was actually a bit of it left over for today. It is SO rich that one 9 ich spring-form pan ( and 2 lbs. of chocolate) produces enough torte to serve 20 people. I served it with homemade (of course) carmel sauce. Here is the link I used…simplyrecipes.com
If I had known I was going to post this topic today when I was planting rose cuttings in the hopes of propagating them. A client gave me these after I had complimented her healthy rose-bush, so vital in the ocean air, and pretty too. A small pink rose covers the canopy, Cecile Brunner? heirloomroses.com If I don’t kill them I will plant them to climb the columns on the front porch.
February 7, 2013
Not going to lie… The PUPPY along with a busy work schedule is taking its toll on me. I’m runnin every day, working on designs for clients, making deliveries, and managing the paperwork, scheduling and other details that go along with a busy design practice… But today I found the time to have a runner installed on the back stairs at my house, yeah… MY HOUSE. You’ve heard about the cobblers kids right? …they go around with old or no shoes, well I am no longer the designer with an unfinished staircase. I have been a fan of this pattern for some time (I’ve used it more than once for clients) and love the way it turned out.
Speaking of clients, the sofa for this room finally arrived today. The clients were in town last week for just a day or two are thrilled how things are turning out. I can’t wait to hang art add accessories and the finishing details. Once that happens I’ll be sure to get some professional shots before the clients start enjoying the house. I have a beautiful pair of embroidered pillows in mind for that sofa!While at the New York Gift Show I spied this new color of the ever popular “Cats Paw” rug from Dash and Albert. A fan for years of Dash and Albert for Summer homes and coastal cottages, I can not tell you how happy I was to see this affordable and durable wool rug in a palette I am literally in love with. This rug is my soft, tonal, “greige” dream-come-true… It looks good with warm tan walls, grey walls and countless other colors and that’s why I ordered several for the store today , so excited.And, I helped install these custom-made drapery today. The green flange at the lead-edge coordinates with a slip-covered chair and ottoman and the neutral colored sofa and love seat have orange and lime patterned pillows, perfect! Now All I need is the sofa and the love seat, they’re still at the upholsterer (the slip-covers are custom). I have been assured they will be done before this client returns from traveling for work.
I ‘d be lying if I told you I worked out today… But it has become a regular thing for me. I’m seeing my trainer two to three times a week, I am committed to having the body I want by summer. A trip to Mexico at the end of this month is coming a bit too quickly, I’m not where I want to be just yet, but the warmth and sunshine will be a good reminder of why I’m working out and help me stay on track. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t splurge from time to time. Last week in Boston I had a great meal at cinquecento and I did have dessert. This panna cotta was infused with bay laurel and was served with a cherry coulis, and it was worth every calorie! If you’re in Boston check out this boisterous and popular eatery. In my down-time (7pm to 10pm) I blog, Facebook, Instagram, cook healthy dinners, play with the dogs, wash the dishes, email family, and occasionally try to catch-up on my DVR’d TV shows (Downton Abbey being the only show I try not to miss) and I squeeze in a bit of work from time to time. I actually love sitting on the sofa, with a dog on my lap, poking around Pinterest, Zinc Door and many other great resources for furniture and accessories with my husband across the room while I enjoy the warmth and the crackle of the fireplace.
February 4, 2013
I think I’m a modern-kinda-guy but sometimes I find comfort in tradition. The designers over at Ralph Lauren know how to put out the classics but give them a twist… Like the collection for Visual Comfort. These table lamps are a small sampling of the brass, glass, ceramic, nickel and other great materials that are employed in the traditional yet up-dated collection. These lights are easy to place, work into may different looks and have a high-end quality look to them.
I have a great client (who I have a small crush on) up in Newton, MA and this look will be perfect for her. We are reusing some blue and white buffalo plaid silk drapes from her previous home and I’m thinking that these lamps will layer up the look nicely with a camel sofa and perhaps a pair of chairs in cream. We have a small pair of occasional chairs to recover too, I think those would look great in a leopard but that might be too wild for her. Stay tuned for up-dates on that project. This zebra lamp would look best in a room filled with cream-colored upholstery and dark wood floors. I like the idea of making this lamp one of the only patterns in the room vs mixing it with color and pattern… That might just be a tad OTT (over the top) for yours truly. Maybe the space could support a modern wickerish coffee table and a leather chair, but this with too much else is just too much. Bottom line: careful how you use this light.I prefer Navy and Chocolate as my dark tones in color palettes. Navy mixes with so much, it looks good with almost every other color AND it plays well with other blues & blues are notorious for not being easy to mix. Soft wall colors or a white room would benefit from the visual strength of this solid blue lamp. And, if you’re feeling more than a bit wild perhaps a leopard based lamp will feel right at home at your house.