Stairway to Heaven

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.  imageAlways 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.  imageYou 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.  imageMMMMMM…. 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.  imageLet’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.  imageYour 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!

imageHere 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.

FYI: Stair_Parts_copy


BOXWOOD Obsession

January 3, 2016

 imageThe 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.

imageThis 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!
imageAnd 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. imagephoto4

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.  brodsworth-formal-garden-via-tripadvisor

LOVE Naturally

December 31, 2015


This is my Jam! I love the creamy natural vibe of these spaces, these finishes and the relaxed, natural aesthetic (drink) they present.  I don’t miss the patterns, the colors… I don’t miss anything that isn’t in this range, everything I need in a room is right here… The white,the leather, the polish and the rough… perfection.
Same goes for this kitchen… the Walnut/Teak tone of the wood and the marble and the white and the polish… thats all, thats everything.

316934_247682428627012_158446624217260_700394_1630259487_nOf course there is a style to the furnishings that is also VERY compelling.  I’d say these are all pretty contemporary spaces, but the warm natural elements keep these rooms feeling warm and inviting. There is a mid-century vein running through these images that feels authentic and not kitschy.  I like it.

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 I’m crushing on these built-ins BIG TIME!  What a dreamy place to sit and drink coffee!  Marble table (Saarinen) for the win…l7c4493


I’m working on it

December 23, 2015

imageI am excited to be working with clients on this South Coast new construction project.  They are lovely people and we seem to be very in-sync so the job should be a good one.  I’m currently fine tuning floor-plans and designing built-in mill work, and have recently scoured my Instagram feed for inspiration.

The pieces I’m working on currently are an oversized entertainment center with sliding doors and tall narrow cabinets for either side of the Library’s fireplace.  The Library will be used as office space so the lateral file drawers at the bases are key.  I’m going to something more decorative on the doors and like the idea of the door designs to echo the pattern we choose in the Great Room, so I’m drawing with many door styles to give the client options. imageThis room told me how it needed to be laid out based on the views and where the TV would eventually end up.  I like this final concept for the floor plan, we had others but this seems to suit the room and all of our needs.  I pushed for back to back sofas, but ultimately I had to concede (the TV won).


Floor-planning and drawing is really the second step after tile and stone and other finishes are identified, and i really like each step in the process of designing a home for clients, but I think I like color and fabric selection best.  Even though the house is traditional, the client wants something a bit more transitional inside.  This gives me an opportunity to mix in some more modern pieces and take the palette to something a bit more tonal and neutral than I might have with a more traditional client guiding me.  You probably already know I couldn’t be happier to be showing them Grey, Camel and Cream.


Merry Christmas (Decor)

December 19, 2015

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! It’s been a while I know… I’m sorry. Life has been very full lately and business has kept me away from most of my favorite distractions (including this blog).  But here I am! And it’s almost Christmas. Here is how I’ve been getting ready for the season…imageThis years front porch look is Pinecones and bright green moss. I worked them into a basic (store bought) wreath of pine and added sugared berries for a punch of red.  I like the biggest wreath possible so it reads from the street.  When you decorate your house or porch remember to step back (way back, like across the street back) to get a good look at how your decorations appear from further away. And, remember that the front door is where all your holiday company passes, so sweat the small stuff too. You have to think BIG and small when you’re designing the front door and/or porch. image
It’s become a tradition fo me to decorate the chandelier in our front hall. I love the impact it creates, there is a nod to Victorian times – 1907 technically our house is Edwardian, but it that’s ok – and yet it’s still an unexpected flourish guests live to discover.  Here is an image taken mid flourish! The Elf lept to his death so I took it as a sign and left him off the light fixture entirely.imageimageBelow is a close up of the foyer table. More of the same items, but grouped in bunches.  I like a theme to my decor, be it holiday or day to day. Keep it tight and orderly for a seamless look.  Stay on message so your look stays strong.imageIt hasn’t snowed a single flake, but I’m doing my best to get into the sprit of Christmas.  I’ve got a fire lit and I’m crafting old Christmas cards into gift tags.  These make great gifts for folks on my list, a little something, something everyone needs, useful and not another piece of bric-a-brac… and it’s recycling, so it makes it a green activity (reducing my carbon foot print the fire is most likely creating)imageI’m sorry Ginger, that I didn’t post around Thanksgiving… so just for you, here are some images of that celebration.  I hope all of you and yours had an amazing day filled with family, fun and love.


354f7683deaefaf0b0da2c028d5af55aIt’s a toss-up really, what do I love more? The board and batten siding, the metal roof, the shed dormers or the deep porches? I’ll tell you it all adds up to something pretty wonderful. But I think what it really is for me is the sharp cleanliness of these exteriors. Charming and certainly of a farm vernacular, but unfussy, simple details that keep it more contemporary and cute.  I’m smitten. 2e9961a6b907a3104ab0706d1967c236 4611ae66e673aa2aecfaaa29b5fbf87b

All of these are different houses. The “flaws” are that neither porch is screened and the enormous interior volume is such a waste of space, albeit pretty.  If I were building I don’t know that I could give that much square footage away… but that giant widow makes the first house so great.  There is nothing better than natural light.  The second house seems “perfect” from the outside, but I don’t love the landscaping.  there is a wee bit too much pea gravel for me.  That’s not really complaining too much.  The third house is a bit easier to pick apart.  Don’t like the mix of the gravel color, the red brick and the cement and paver walkway.  Thats a few too many masonry styles for me, thanks.  The “fix” would be to white wash the brick, and pour a gravel that better matches the paver walkway.  The sliders tucked under the lower roof line should have been a set of french doors.  But don’t get me wrong, I like the house I’m just being nit-picky today.  traditional-kitchen5005229d0fbd8fa0bf5f102fcd25b0cablank-canvas-gil-schafer1baeaf8f0fdb14e3e3b6e762f7dbd3ecMudroom.-Mudroom-Design-Ideas.-Mudroom-with-custom-cabinets-durable-floors-and-horizontal-tongue-and-groove-walls.-Mudroom-

I guess I love the idea of not making a house that is clearly of this decade.  The details and design decisions in these pictures all give the spaces a nod to a time gone by, a wink to tradition without feeling like  they were indented to fool anyone into thinking they were 100 year old rooms.  The pocket doors on the bar are a nice detail.  Closed it could be a pantry, or who knows… open it keeps guests out of the kitchen when they need a refill.  you gotta love that.  I say if you have enough storage, there’s nothing prettier than a leggy sink.  We look right past the expected base cabinet/sink set-up because it is so “standard”, but look at the showstopper the sink becomes with sexy nickel plated legs!  Va-va-va-voom.

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Bamboo Houses in Bali

June 5, 2015

This story is from  I try to create as much original content as I can, but this is too cool to not share, and I’ve been pretty bad as of late in posting so….bamboo-house-ted-talk-sharma-springs-elora-hardy-ibuku-bali-101

Elora Hardy left a successful career in the NY fashion scene to build bamboo houses in Indonesia. The Bali resident and her team have spent the last 5 years revolutionizing bamboo construction in the belief that it is an underused but ideal renewable resource. Hardy uses boron, which occurs naturally in nature, to treat the bamboo and make it indigestible to insects.

Hardy was inspired by her father, who “chose bamboo for all of the buildings on campus, because he saw it as a promise,” she explains in her TED talk. “It’s a promise to the kids. It’s one sustainable material that they will not run out of. And when I first saw these structures under construction about six years ago, I just thought, this makes perfect sense…Why hasn’t this happened sooner, and what can we do with it next?”

Bamboo has the compressive force of concrete, the strength-to-weight ratio of steel, and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Damage from insects and moisture are its primary weaknesses, but if treated, bamboo structures can last a lifetime.