Monday, June 29, 2009

Modern Love: Sebastian Carpenter Designs

A sun room set for inspired conversation.

Dragonfly Club Chairs, Deco FL-A Floor Lamp, Cube Ottomans in Zebra,
Bamboo Coffee Table, Dragonfly Sofa in Raffia

Ahh .... serenity! I was recently invited to view the studio line of furnishings by Sebastian Carpenter at his Wenham home and studio “Dragonfly.” The property itself, one of those breathtaking sites securely rooted in history, is quietly ensconced atop a wooded hill overlooking the Wenham Lake. Modern sculptures that combine welded metal and used farm equipment designed by his late father (and renowned modernist sculptor) Harlow Carpenter, line the long curving drive and herald a display of inherited creativity to come.

Modern vignette inside the front entrance,
with antique farm-tool sculpture on top
Kinko Chest inspired by modernist
Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Moderne T. Deco Console Table
paired with Deco T-A Lamp

This completely renovated and restored property is uniquely modern while surrounded by a setting of mature trees and gardens (the property dates back to 1916). Both the interior and the back “yard” views look like something straight out of a magazine ... oh, yeah, they were featured in a magazine article or two.

Out of the Woodwork by Regina Cole for Boston Home Fall 2007
Local designer creates new look in old house ... by Natalie Miller
for the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle Fall 2007

While enjoying a cocktail reception/studio tour hosted by the architect-designer and his wife, Elisabeth, I was able to take a few snapshots for my blog (thank you!). The fact that another guest was my favorite high-end interior photographer *EVER* Eric Roth made me a little shy behind my pocket-size Nikon lens, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to show off these great pieces.

Cow Skin/Mahogany Cubes

Dragonfly Sofa (image from SC website)

The clean, streamlined look of Carpenter’s pieces are stylishly-symmetrical while being warm and inviting. The club chairs were very comfortable seating, and I loved the built-in ledge behind the luxe sofas ... ideal to perch a reading lamp/book/etc. on. The only drawback? When my husband and I returned home, I was ready to take all of our mostly traditional pieces and put them out on the curb! Although, to be fair, these modern beauties would mix very nicely with vintage pieces and would add a nice contrast to traditional settings. No need to start over, just add a piece here and there to achieve your own touch of “modern love.”

The super-stylish lamps would be a great place to start ...

Or how about this gorgeous chair that combines a modern aluminum
frame with sleek walnut and supple leather ...

EC1 Chair (image from SC website)

Love the shoji screen room dividers ...

Moderne T3 Dining Table/Desk
with EC1 Chair and Deco-T-A Lamp

The pieces look great from every angle and the materials used – ash, bamboo, white oak, aluminum, and natural fabrics – are visually sumptuous with the various elements combined in a thoughtful zen-like fashion. Fabulous lamps, custom tables and designer-y cube-shaped ottomans complete the collection. I wasn’t able to photograph all of the pieces, but look for them soon on or at the Boston Design Center.

(Lamps available at Blanche P. Field,
Desk available through EcoModern Design)

For more information on prices and availability
contact Sebastian Carpenter at 617.470.6060

And if you love amazing photos of interior design ...

Be sure to check out the website for Eric Roth Photography to see some professionally-posh photos of Dragonfly (look for the “snooker” table beneath large scale white paper lanterns in a room with red leather walls, or the exterior shot of the glass-walled sun room at the end of a walkway covered with a wisteria-trellis canopy). While you are there, take a virtual tour of Roth’s extensive and impressive portfolio ... be prepared to sigh! Then look for his work on Sunday mornings when you sit down with a cup of coffee to skim the pages of Boston Globe Magazine (in which he was recently featured as the subject of an interview) or when you are looking at just about any important shelter magazine (Design New England, New England Home Magazine and Metropolitan Home to name a few). Roth’s photography showcases the best in architecture and interior design. For me, looking at it is like a visual escape/small slice of heaven. Enjoy the view!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tablescapes Spotlight: The Green Egg and WWS Woodworks

“Happy Eco-Birthday!

There is so much that I love about this tablescape from the North Shore Design Show designed by Tracy Davidow of The Green Egg and featuring handcrafted pieces by William Smith of WWS Woodworks.

1. The cake. How deliciously-cute is that? And if you can’t bear to cut into it, there is a cupcake or two for each guest.

2. Sarfari Masks. At one of my favorite birthday parties, we gave all the kids masks like the ones that Tracy used for this earth-friendly event (her shop features many eco-aware items that are made from recycled materials). The pictures that we took of the masked children were wildly adorable!

3. Mini Red “Suitcase. The tiny suitcases at each place setting are another favorite of mine ... they are great for containing all of those itty-bitty treasures that our little ones collect. Perfect for packing as an on-the-go toy chest (or entertainment at the ready). I highly advise one for each child! (available in a variety of colors)

4. The Table.
I am always looking for farm tables, and this beauty by William Smith is a must-see. It has a smooth-as-satin finish while still maintaining its made-by-hand good looks.

5. Wordly Decorating. From the globe-inspired floor cushions to the “we are the world” mural, this party celebrates the connections we all share. Contact Tracy at The Green Egg for design resource information and availability.

I picked up four of these had-t0-have-them
twig pencils after the show ... I couldn't resist!
My boys thought they were cool, too.

Mention that you saw The Green Egg on my blog,
and you will receive 10% off your purchase. Enjoy!

More great works from William Smith ...

Ledge Trunk with gently closing lid makes a great toy box
and this golden baby cradle may also be used
to hold favorite dolls and creatures.

Iris Coffee Table by WWS Woodworks
This piece is stunning ... simple lines and beautifully crafted.

“WWS Woodworks is dedicated to preserving the environment, reducing global climate change and promoting sustainable forestry. A primary focus is to conduct business in an environmentally responsible and proactive manner. WWS aims to conserve natural resources, minimize waste, encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources.”
– from the WWS website

Visit William’s website to learn more about his design philosopy. Contact him to arrange a studio visit, or to commission a piece for your own home or as a gift.

WWS Woodworks Studio/Shop
39 Liberty Street, Newburyport, MA

baby gifts • birthday party gifts • clothes • beach toys • tees

Stop in for a visit or shop on-line.
19 Central Street, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Friday, June 19, 2009

Style at the Stevens Estate

Garden Party at the Stevens Estate in North Andover

I was just visiting one of my favorite design blogs, Elements of Style which is written by the talented (and humorous) Boston-based designer Erin Gates. For today’s “Fashion Friday entry, she notes that hot pink is one of the hottest new trends and posts some gorgeous pics to illustrate and inspire. Well I am glad to know that when I pulled out my peony-pink skirt last week (I bought it 5 years ago, but have always loved the designer-detail of its construction) that I was on the cutting edge of fashion as I attended an old-fashioned garden party ...

As this year’s program director for the Village Garden Club of Lynnfield, I booked the Stevens Estate Special Events & Conference Center in North Andover for our year-end event – a light and delicious catered meal set up outside this historical mansion (I am on the team of designers who are “adding sparkle” to this beautiful event property.)

Original rendering of the Stevens Estate by
Boston architects Hartwell & Richardson

Most of us wore hats (not quite Kentucky Derby, more garden inspired) ...

and the 20-or-so members from the club were able to enjoy each other’s company while sitting outside the veranda,

later touring the amazing architecture inside,

(Can't you just picture a bride – or the lady of the mansion –
floating down these stairs to greet her awaiting guests?)

then chatting over dessert and coffee while sitting beside original marble fireplaces in the intimate setting of the oak double parlors.

We had the entire estate to ourselves, and even though it can accommodate much larger parties, it felt cozy in an awe-inspiring way. Whenever I travel up the long, curvy drive that leads to the estate, I feel like I have “arrived ... almost as if I had lived back in the day (the mansion was built in 1886 for Charlotte and Moses Stevens, one of the founding families of North Andover and owners of a prosperous textile mill).

Check back for more posts that highlight the design updates we will be making to the estate. To book a tour or to inquire about scheduling your next event, contact the estate manager, Laura Gifford. The Stevens Estate is a hidden historical treasure that brings one back to the times when entertaining at home was grand-scale, dressed-up and high-style.

723 Osgood Street
North Andover, MA 01845
Phone: 978-682-7072

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tablescapes Spotlight: Kim Smith for Willowdale

Time spent in the garden is just starting to reap rewards about now. It is much easier to ignore what is going on inside my house and just plant myself out in the sun to admire the ever changing colors and fragrances of my country garden. These low-maintenance shrub roses are intoxicating, which may explain why I have been sitting much more than I have been weeding!

While I sit, however, I ponder the possibilities ...

“Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities
written and illustrated by Kim Smith
Available through Toadhall Bookstore Online
or through

To achieve the garden of your dreams take a peek at this book by the super creative author/illustrator/photographer and designer Kim Smith. Her words of wisdom and sweetly illustrated garden images will give you much to think about when planning your own outdoor spaces. And then when your garden is looking its best, a party is in order. Kim designed this birthday celebration vignette for the North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes event held at the Wenham Museum in May.

Photo courtesy of Linda Encarnacao

Inspired by the butterfly courtyard at the Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, Massachusetts, it is a visual treat that combines antique finery, whimsical touches and irresistible confections.

A packet of seeds for each guest is a creative and thoughtful touch.

These cookies tasted as good as they looked ...

And if you’d like to try your hand at creating a work of art “en plein air like Kim, Willowdale hosts Artist Open Hours free with no registration required on the first Tuesday of each month starting in June from 9 a.m. to noon. Bring your “paints, panels and brushes” and get a first-hand look at the gardens that have inspired Kim and the many visitors to the estate.

To book a tour or plan your own event at Willowdale, call 978-887-8211

Rhododendron and Carpenter Bee by Kim Smith

To receive “inbox-inspiration” directly from Kim, sign-up for her eColumn newsletter which is chock-full of smart – and timely – gardening information and beautiful close-up photography. Or plan on meeting her in person at one of her upcoming lectures or book-signing events. She is just as nice in person as you would expect a lover of gardens to be!

Photo credit: Liv Hauck

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tablescapes Spotlight: Mimi Artful Gifts

With the approach of wedding season just on the horizon, I thought it appropriately helpful to share with you Mimi Artful Gifts of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

I met the smart and personable women behind Mimi at the North Shore Design Show held at the Wenham Museum in May. Their sparkling tablescape was inspired by the sea, and its shining stars were pieces from the talented New England artisans featured in their shop ... Mariposa, Simon Pierce, and Jennifer McCurdy to name a few.

A piece from Mariposa is one of those “Ooh! I love it!” type of gifts. I am loving this sand dollar platter ... simply stunning!

Besides carrying an extensive collection of beautifully crafted giftware and serving pieces, the Mimi shop is home to a revolving art gallery that exhibits local artists and landscapes. On occasion, they also have invitational events at their 26 Market Street location. Sign up for their monthly newsletter to receive information on new products, sales and upcoming events (look for me at the next one!)

Flowers by Petros, Ipswich

Mimi Artful Gifts
26 Market Street, Ipswich

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tablescapes Spotlight: Tuttle and Company

A tented luncheon: Photo courtesy of designer, Rosanne Palazola

The next time you are planning on entertaining al fresco, consider using a beautifully neutral table setting like this show-stopper as designed by Tuttle and Company for the North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes held at the Wenham Museum in May.

A bold black and white striped tent provides a dramatic back drop to this nature inspired table. Graphic illustrations on square white plates are fun conversation starters, while so-adorable animal figures seem to graze beside a simply elegant centerpiece of fresh parsley (fragrant cilantro would be just as lovely). Rattan chargers and silver vintage wine goblets add both texture and depth, while napkins tied with playful dotted ribbons grace this semi-formal table. With the addition of smart, black wicker chairs, this country-manor-like-setting is a timeless invitation to sit and enjoy the great outdoors.

For design inquiries, contact Tuttle and Company
Salem, Massachusetts 978.744.4446