Sunday, August 15, 2010

What a Summer House means to me

I grew up spending summers on Lake Charlevoix in Michigan. I loved everything about being there - catching tadpoles, reading bedraggled Archie comic books, riding bikes to the Dairy Queen. I and a gaggle of cousins (and siblings of course) were so carefree, and without a television, we entertained each other.

That house inspired my design aesthetic. The feeling of summer - casual, comfortable, safe and breezy. Unfortunately we don't go out to Michigan that much anymore. It's an expensive trip by plane, and a lengthy one by car with a 3 year old who hates traveling. Oh that it were closer...

This is the coveted bedroom in Charlevoix... chenille bedspreads and diamond panes. One of my favorite dealers at Brimfield is a great source for pairs of bedspreads.

And of course beadboard everywhere. The ceiling, the walls... in Charlevoix it's just varnished and everything is warm and cozy. Even in the summer we light the fire in this gorgeous fieldstone fireplace and wait for the cuckoo clock to chirp and let us know it's time to do... anything.

This summer we spent 3 weeks in Little Compton, Rhode Island with my in-laws in two different houses. It has a similar feel to that spot in Michigan - big, shingled houses with comfortable wicker and beadboard. And a huge plus - the breathtaking ocean and its salty, sticky breeze. I wish I could live here all year. We stayed in two different houses this year... the one above on Warren's Point and the one below at Round Pond. While the Warren's Point house was gorgeous from the outside and had a beautiful view of the ocean, this sweet Round Pond cottage was at the end of a private lane and was lovingly decorated with all things summer.

So what did I love about the house here?

The driftwood framed nautical map... the Little Compton trophy and sweet vintage wooden boats.

The gorgeous teal painted floors and tongue and groove paneled walls...

Open shelving for ironstone, old and new...

A collection of heart-shaped rocks...

The antique decoupaged dresser and ubiquitous fans (although the ocean breeze means we didn't need them much)...

If you're interested in renting a house in Little Compton, ask for Lisa at Little Compton Real Estate - she's amazing. And hopefully we'll be back next summer for longer!

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Project

I've been so busy with my latest project that I haven't been posting. Not that I was posting much even before that... but I love to be busy and there it is. However I would like to share this home with you and the owners, L and B, have graciously agreed to let me document this gut renovation.

I feel very fortunate that my own architect, Jeff Yates, recommended me for this project. He is the rare architect (and I come from a family of them so I know...) who is completely devoid of a strong ego. He is not only a wonderful designer, with a lovely, flowing sense of space, but he's open to ideas. Anyway, he saw my passion for this work on my own house, my experience from Pottery Barn... and voila! A new chapter in my design career.

This house is a total gut renovation. It's a charming, cottage-y Dutch Colonial with a gambrel roof that was built in the 1920s here in Concord, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, previous owners had a few too many wine coolers in the 80s and built this entryway and family room on the back.

Need I say more?

Stay tuned for gorgeous inspiration photos... even though the house isn't huge we're touching almost every room. Five bathrooms, kitchen, entryways, dining room... it's going to be amazing! We're almost done with demo and framing, so we're kicking into high gear.

And stay tuned for an update to my website... a new career is an excuse for a new look!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Finds

How did this whole week race by? I have so many exciting things to post on my new project... and the days went by in a blur.

However, I am committed to my new Friday Finds. It seems they were popular last week - things got snatched up quickly! So here we go...

I'm loving this pair of chairs. Recovered in navy with white piping? $100

This very sweet antique couch is a delicious shade of bubblegum. Perfect for a bedroom or child's room: $575

This charming pair of wingbacks screams for adorable box pleat skirts. Or cover them in leather and nailheads - very Ralph: $50 (oh yes, that's for TWO).

OK, this couch looks scary. But it's fabulous, and read the description. Antique wicker with the original spring cushion. That means sturdy and comfortable - recover with some Beth Rawlinson fabric and you're done: $125

Love Rachel Ashwell furniture (and I'm not talking about Target pieces)? I do... but they're expensive. This table is available (from Wellesley, natch) and it's perfect for the kitchen, or put in a corner of the library and pile on the books: $800 (originally $1600)

Lastly, this bed is gorgeous. Really gorgeous. It's at an Ebay auction drop, so maybe you can negotiate the price. But it's worth it, especially if you're tired of PBK and Land of Nod for children's beds. $600

Let me know what you pick up!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Finds

I'm starting a new post for Fridays... I am always trolling Ebay, Etsy and Craig's List for vintage finds. Most require a bit of work, but the bones are amazing. This week I bought two AMAZING antique wooden signs and will post those next week. But I thought I'd start posting things that are wonderful that I don't have a use for currently - snatch them up before they're gone!

These adorable painted spool beds would be perfect for children's rooms, either together or separate: $200

I love this farm table. Perfect refinished as a kitchen table, or paint it and use it as a desk. And for $75, you can afford to put in some elbow grease.

Finally, some lucky soul will snatch up these Michele de Lucchi pendants. Normally they're $520 each at Unica Home. You can buy 3 and suspend them over your kitchen island for $500!

Let me know if you snatch any of these goodies up!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to me

Photo: Lisa Rigby, Flickr

I remember reading this around New Year's this year. It's by Henry Ward Beecher:

Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.

I love this quote. And on today, my birthday, I would replace January with the 15th of July. Those of you who know me well know that this has been a sad, bumpy year personally. However out of that sadness many wonderful things have happened - new, closer friendships, a stronger marriage, greater compassion and sensitivity towards others, openness to new opportunities and the shedding of any negative in my life. Now that a full year has passed I feel like I can start over.

On that note, I am parlaying my love of design and renovation into a revitalized career path. Today I officially started a new house renovation. Stay tuned... it's a new year, and a new me. I feel very blessed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Porcelain Farmstand

I love ironstone - practical, durable and yet beautiful in its simplicity. Originally designed by the British for rural America its starkness is extremely modern and nostalgic at the same time.

Recently I have noticed a trend that is a new twist on that combination. White porcelain farmstand accessories are everywhere, and I for one just love them.

has lovely farmer's market baskets in 3 different sizes - strawberry, raspberry and plum - available at Velocity Art & Design.

There are two artists on my beloved Etsy who are creating porcelain mason jar and milk bottle pieces.

Alyssa Etinger's
refined pieces define high/low. I of course love the milk bottle that says Concord Dairy. She also has a new French mason jar - a larger size than her milk bottles and perfect as a vase for summer wildflowers.

Pigeon Toe Ceramics also showcases porcelain mason jars, and they're gorgeous lit as votives (as above).

What do you think of this trend? I'd love some of these for a birthday present... hint hint!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Henn House

One of my favorite resources in Massachusetts is now an online auction... I'm not sure why I'm sharing this because I want most things listed! It's a great mix of shabby, nautical, beachy, sporty...

I'm really loving these lights - perfect for a kitchen and not the same old, same old.

But in the interest of sharing (which I try to impress upon my 3 year old is a good skill), go and visit their site!


Friday, April 30, 2010

Can Leather be Country?

While I have always loved comfortable, slightly shabby decor, I am more in love with it because I have a toddler. He crashes and bashes into everything, often with a baseball bat or tinker toys. Sometimes he just everything on a surface onto the floor. Charming. But hey, what's a little more weathering?

We lived in San Francisco when we got our leather couch. We had a beautiful library room that we painted dark red and showed our collection of antique bamboo furniture. I appreciate leather all the more now because our son loves to take a purple marker to things, or dump his sippy cup full of juice. Leather is eminently durable, wipeable - you get the picture.

But our house here is so light... it has very few walls on the first floor and every room works together to be light and bright. The leather couch, at home in our "library" (aka TV room) looks dark. The antique oriental rug looks dreary. So I got to thinking... can leather be part of a country farmhouse?

I have scoured magazines and websites and have come up with a collection of images that say "yes you can!" By combining leather with light counterpoints, the leather adds warmth much like a hardwood floor.

It seems the most popular route is with leather armchairs... a pair nestled close to a light-colored couch and resting on a light colored rug. And some vibrant, country-style throw pillows.

But I have a couch... and so does this homeowner. I like the combination of the leather couch with the industrial coffee table. The white rug and light throw pillows, combined with the fresh green of her topiaries lifts the look up from dark to cozy.

And if the doyenne of Shabby Chic, Rachel Ashwell, can figure it out... well there it is. I am not a huge fan of this couch - it seems overwrought - but I love her idea of upholstering the seat cushions in a different fabric.

So what do you think? Can I use leather and still get the look?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I ♡ Pottery Barn


I co-owned a clothing manufacturing business for 7 years, that was started from nothing. It taught me EVERYTHING I know about running a company, financial management, marketing on a shoestring... When I decided to do something different I did not want to work for a big company. The best part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom. No one to say when you have to show up for work. No one telling you how to do things. There are many downsides to running your own business, but these aspects are a HUGE upside.

My husband - an attorney - told me that it would behoove me to work for a big company. Just to show that I could "play in the sandbox" with others. No one would ever question my credentials if I had the approval of a big company. I was randomly offered a freelance project with the President of Pottery Barn Kids. The turnaround was really fast, and the project was intense. But after owning your own business, this was like a vacation. She and I hit it off... and immediately she wanted me to come on board (thanks, Sandra).

About two months later I started working for Pottery Barn Kids in Visual Merchandising. My department did everything visual for our stores - photoshoots, store display, store marketing, gift registry, promotions, store architecture, signage, etc. I had a big, wonderful team who worked really hard for me and the aforementioned Sandra put a lot of trust in me.

My husband was offered an amazing career in Boston; we moved when our son was 6 months old for this opportunity and to be near our family. I freelance, both as a graphic designer and an interior designer, utilizing the skills that were honed from these last two jobs. People are always so interested to hear about working for such a well-branded company as Pottery Barn.

Even though I was only there for a third of the time that I had my business, the brand name of Pottery Barn outweighs all of that experience. I have to thank my husband for that one.

You might think that products from big box retailers are not as special as those found in your Design Center. But this isn't necessarily true. The product designers at PBK were unbelievable - go Allison - and many of the crafters were ex-Martha Stewart employees. Even though what you BUY may be made in China, I can assure you that its inspiration was from an antique, or a furniture artisan's design, or a dedicated crafter. And then sent to China so that you could afford it - or find it.

Today as I work in interior design, I still look to Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Williams Sonoma Home. Because I know intrinsically that those products were created by an incredibly talented (although underpaid) group.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Don't be afraid to tell your interior designer that you like Pottery Barn. Or Restoration Hardware. Or any of the catalogs that are selling you a wonderfully comfortable lifestyle. So it's not custom and doesn't cost $10K. Good for you - you just saved $7K on that couch. And for those of us with small children who inevitably decide that cream cheese and jelly looks much better smeared all over white matelasse... the Pottery Barn version is even better.

Your interior designer can sign up for the trade discount offered by many catalogs, and then purchase products for you (so email if you need something). I myself am partial to the following: Sundance Catalog, Serena and Lily, Restoration Hardware, Dash and Albert, Velocity Art & Design and of course, Pottery Barn.

Don't be afraid to love them too.

Sandra is now the President of Pottery Barn, so the above images are under her direction. I think she's doing an amazing job, don't you?