Tuesday, September 29, 2009

North Shore Kitchen Tour, Oct. 3rd

Not on the tour ... this kitchen from our last home.

View some spectacular classic kitchens
with modern styling during the 2nd Annual
Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour
this Saturday, Oct. 3rd from 11 am to 4 pm.

Tour kitchens in Hamilton, Wenham, Beverly Farms and Prides Crossing. Tickets are on sale now at the Wenham Museum. Also on the tour is the c. 1690 Claflin-Richards House hearth at the museum. Take a peek at how generations past used to gather with (or as we say “entertain
) family and friends. You are sure to return to your own hearth with inspired design ideas, along with an appreciation for the modern conveniences that we have available to make our lives easier – and more pleasant – in the kitchen.

Missing my “old” newly renovated kitchen: shiny granite,
stainless steel, Viking stove,
Fisher & Paykel dish drawer,
tumbled marble back splash, lighting that sparkles. *Sigh!*

My husband and I joke that our current kitchen would be a great “before” kitchen for this tour. No need to post scary pictures, but let’s just say we almost took a sledgehammer to it a couple of times over the summer (we would still have a grill to cook on, right?) Fortunately (or should I say hopefully?) it is moving its way up our very long remodeling to-do list (basically as a result of six years of wear and tear from our four rough & tumble/always hungry boys!).

While I would design it differently than we did for our last house (we are in a Colonial farmhouse now, and before owned a Cape Cod style home) there are some features that I miss: plenty of space to cook and entertain, tons of cabinets and counter space, plus everything was pretty, shiny and new. I will be posting images specific to kitchen remodels in the next few weeks as I begin to commit to making changes in our own space. File this post under “I can dream!”

Friday, September 25, 2009

A peek inside ... Boston Design Center

Everyone always asks “what do they have inside the Boston Design Center?” Here is just a tiny sample of what I saw while visiting the showrooms yesterday to attend Design Boston. A couple of friends and I sat in on a number of design seminars (Recasting Historic Colors for Contemporary Settings sponsored by Farrow & Ball, Choosing Luxury Furnishings sponsored by Grange, but sadly missed Textiles 101 sponsored by Donghia since we were sitting in dreadful traffic on the way in to Boston.) Upon entering the building (filled with eight floors of the best luxury brands in the design industry) I couldn’t help myself from stopping to admire the landscaping ...

If you have empty spaces in your yard that you just don’t know what to do with, consider planting large groupings of perennial grasses. They are dramatic throughout several seasons and require virtually no maintenance. These also look great in containers and can be left out all winter to be enjoyed again come early summer. I love how they sway softly with the breeze.

The outside is in.

Had to post a pic of one of my favorite “I want to be in there” rooms at the BDC. JANUS et Cie has to-die-for quality outside furnishings. I found myself longing to take some home for my garden room.
Maybe next season???

Inspiration in a bag.

With registration, we each received a shopping bag full of product showroom brochures. Love the yellow and black graphics! Inside I found:

Cybele is the official magazine of the BDC. You can view it online or order your own copy of this quarterly publication that covers “the local design industry, special events, new products and design trends.”
Kinda like my blog, no?

Great textures and colors on a postcard
featuring pieces from Powell & Bonnell.

How cute is this complimentary pad of paper? I grabbed a pencil as well from the Osborne & Little showroom, who had their own bag of drool-worthy images from some of their product lines (Designers Guild and Nina Campbell were favorites of mine). I saw a lot of traditional settings covered floor to ceiling with BOLD colors, patterns and fabric combinations in the 2009 collections. Velvets, silks, pattern on pattern, and almost circus-like embellishments went from
“not difficult to imagine ...

Orsetti trims from Designers Guild

to “I’ll need time to think about that
but I think I love you.

Find these stunning images and more
like them at

If you aren’t quite sure if you can handle this much juicy visual stimulation, how about adding a dramatic flower (like the one on the low cocktail table above) to punctuate a space as I did in this bath that I designed for my last home ...

Round, lavender alliums are a photo-stylists favorite.

This image on a brochure for Osborne & Little reminds me of a stylish bowl that I selected for a client’s home a couple of years ago ...

More graphic boldness from Villa Romo
through Webster & Company.

I had to smile when I saw Nina Campbell’s Sylvana Swan Lake collection ... it reminds me of my high school senior art project (now be gentle — I copied this painting from a card and my mom still has it hanging up for all to see) ...

Graceful style that anyone could live with
from A. Rudin at

Still feeling design shy? Try accenting a classic piece like the chair above with a brightly colored silk pillow like this one from Designers Guild (unless you have young kids, then just forget about the silk for a decade or so!) ...

Letourney Cocoa

Of course, walking through the soothing-design-magazine-like atmosphere of the BDC made us crazy with I-have-to-have-that-desire, and if I can’t have it, at least give me something good to eat ...

Gorgeous for fall: sweet potato vines, ornamental kale,
mums, and towering palms combine to create a
dramatic centerpiece under the luncheon tent.

Lunch was served al fresco by The Catered Affair (and sponsored by New England Home magazine — thank you!). The food was delish and the presentation was oh-so-stylish. I had orzo pasta with finely chopped vegetables, and an apricot chicken salad (yum!) on fresh greens. Both were served (separately) in these great double old fashioned cosmopolitan glasses. I am thinking of ordering a set or two for myself to serve small bites of great food or end-of-the-day cocktails. I think my kids would get a kick out of pasta presented in one of these ... and I will serve myself a lemon-drop martini while I am doing my back-to-reality dishes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Stevens Estate receives a design update

The first floor inglenook at The Stevens Estate in North Andover has recently received a mini-makeover courtesy of myself and designers: Nancy Faye Glass, Linda Hentschel, Patricia Finn and Linda Diorio. Separately and as a team, we have been consulting and providing decorating updates since the beginning of the year to this stately mansion (owned since 1995 by the town of North Andover) that functions as a special event and conference center.

I found this image online of the Osgood Coat of Arms. I plan to have it reproduced and framed in honor of Charlotte E. Osgood whose family gifted this property to her and new husband Moses T. Stevens in 1853. New fabrics for the inglenook were chosen based on the colors from this coat of arms, along with the colors in the original stained glass featured in the stairway.

The inglenook cushions BEFORE ...

AFTER ... they are newly dressed.

My personal design goal for this project is to create the feeling of a boutique hotel by incorporating a signature look to promote the Stevens Estate brand identity. We received a generous donation of fabrics, one of which – a beautiful gold linen by Kravet – I had monogrammed to add a personalized touch to these public spaces.

The second floor bridal suite is branded with
a smaller scale version of the “S” pillow.

BEFORE ... the hall runners were too narrow and
the colors did not speak to the new, lighter palette.

AFTER ... this custom-sized runner allows
more room for couples to stroll side by side.

BEFORE ... the fireplace in the
banquet room was overlooked.

AFTER ... adding some life and light with a stylish
grouping of bright white birch logs goes a long way.

Be sure to check back for future updates ...

A special thanks goes to ...
Miles River Sewing in Danvers
and Nancy N. of Melrose for
professional workroom services
and fabric donations, and to
Donna Dreher of Threads Couture
for the custom embroidery.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashionably Chic Condo, part 2

I love how the pretty-in-pink flowers look against the Sandy Hook Gray
(Benjamin Moore) wall of the kitchen. Framed print from Art.com

My favorite decorating project is when I can coach someone else to design on their own. My sister, Linda, (who has also inherited an eye for design) is a great example of a “client who with just a little style guidance can take it from here. This summer, I helped Linda select the palette for her new condo based on some of her favorite colors. We then spent several afternoons shopping for big ticket items like a sofa and ottoman, and then the important finishing touches like carpets, end-tables, art and lighting. Since my last post, she has continued to add personal layers to define her new space.

From uninspired ...

to intentional ...

We draped this antique piece with a stunning teal pashmina that was too pretty to leave tucked away in a drawer. Above the music must-haves, she created an eye-catching shadow box of images from a special trip to New York with friends.

Den before ...

Den during ...

Den after ...

She added a couple more pillows in a soft linen-like texture to my “you-must-have-this-pink-ruffled-number!” A thoughtful collage of family photos (frames selected at Pottery Barn) add personal warmth and visual interest. One gold star for hanging them all on her own without making swiss cheese of the newly painted wall (visit PB for the tips she used to create a memory wall). The pretty watery blue wool carpet is still one of my favorite finds for this tranquil setting.

Not to be overlooked ... the powder room is modernized with a deep Smoke Gray (Benjamin Moore) on the walls to compliment (and upstage) the less-than-modern yellow tile. Lots of brushed silver and chrome add new sparkle, while sumptuous towels from Restoration Hardware add a luxurious touch. I think the banded tissue holder that she found is just fabulous, along with the framed pic of a little black dress – a great visual as she prepares for a night out!

Check out my previous post featuring this chic condo

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Design deja vu ... the printed word recycled

Project Runway recycles!

Designed by Epperson
Modeled by Matar Cohen

I am glad to see that Tim Gunn and the producers of Lifetime’s Project Runway Season 6 are on the same recycling page as me ... check out my post from Wednesday of this week.
Here are a few more of my favorite headline worthy designs from Thursday night’s competition. So if you don’t have thing to wear ...

– Challenge Winner –
Designed by Irina Shabayeva
Modeled by Kalyn Hemphill

all images from Project Runway on MyLifetime.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Favorite fall flower ... Autumn Joy

Flower arrangement from my bridal shower featuring
Sedum, Hydrangea, Hostas and Bittersweet

Paniculata (or Peegee) Hydrangea at The Stevens Estate in
North Andover where we celebrated my 3oth birthday

Flowers often remind me of special events in my life. At this time of year, I look to my garden and remember the floral arrangements created for my bridal shower in October of 1996 (has it seriously been that long?). My aunt Evelyn (an event florist) chose flowers of the season to create stunning arrangements for each table.

I immediately fell in love with the showstoppers that she selected, especially Sedum “Autumn Joy
which lasts forever in an arrangement (an appropriate choice for a wedding shower, no?) Just seeing them in my garden today can transport me to a time when the promise of the future was in itself the greatest joy.

Autumn Joy pairs with Japanese Painted Fern and
Solomon’s Seal in my woodland perennial garden

Showy Stonecrop Sedum just about to blossom

The Sedum plant is as delicate as it is hardy (a perfect marriage!). It is drought tolerant, will not be offended if you forget to water it, and will cheerfully blossom for a good month or so. In my garden, it is the first flower growing in spring (with beautiful little green buds close to the earth) and the last flower blooming in autumn. Even in winter, the stalks that remain continue to make a design statement.

(I will post these same gardens after a snowfall ...
the effect is quite charming).

This trailing Sedum flows from a container
it happily shares with Wisteria vine

Sedum ... loved by bees and yours truly!

I am dedicating this post to designer Kim Smith who was a guest lecturer this week at the first yearly meeting of the Village Garden Club of Lynnfield. Her slide presentation showing gardens filled with native flowers, butterflies and bees truly inspired me to take a closer look at my own surroundings!

Photo by Kim Smith

To see nature through Kim’s eyes, visit her exhibit

“Beauty on the Wing: The Life Story
of the Monarch Butterfly”

showing now through September 30th
at the Matz Gallery of the
Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library
2 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA

Admission is free and the show
runs through September 30th
with a special event on the 26th
at 10:30 am just for children.

Visit Kim’s website for
more event details.