Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer House Tour

Hello, there - Remember me? It's been too long!

Tom and I are 95% finished with our renovation here in Maryland. We're almost done in Maine, too. The pace of the last ten months has been fast and furious.

Let's back up to September 2016. We sold our historic house in Castine, Maine (the one with the hydrangea hedge), and began gutting another property in the same town - a circa 1863 cottage by the sea. In December, we acquired a Cotswold-style stucco cottage in Maryland, and immediately started renovating it. Yes, we were crazy enough to renovate two houses at the same time! In February of 2017, our brick Tudor went on the market and sold - see my post here. Then this spring we moved into the Cotswold cottage despite not having a kitchen. Tom did set up a make-do kitchenette in a spare bathroom. Picture a microwave over a mini fridge located inside the shower stall along with a hotplate next to the sink. Not pretty! Thank goodness we finally have a working kitchen today (minus the dishwasher). And over Memorial Day weekend, Tom and I moved furniture up to Castine. Whew! That's it, NO more moves for us!!

Now you are all caught up. I'm excited to share peeks of both homes just in time for a summer house tour organized by a group of talented Instagram / blog friends. 

For those visiting via my friend Lizbeth at Home and Fabulous, welcome! Liz has such a chic style - please check out her blog if you aren't familiar with it. 

Let's tour our new homes. 
At our Cotswold-style cottage, we upgraded the electrical service as well as replaced all of the light fixtures inside and out. A pair of Suffork copper lanterns from Circa Lighting flank the French doors leading to a walled courtyard. The lanterns illuminate the courtyard beautifully - just in time for outdoor summer entertaining. 

Inside, I also sourced this McCarren globe fixture from Circa for the foyer. By the way, this Swedish Mora clock has been in four of our homes - it's one of my favorite pieces. A summer arrangement of hydrangeas, spiraeas, and ferns fresh from our garden adds seasonal color.  
A view from above of our striking wrought iron staircase. Notice the seahorses adorning the railing - so unexpected and whimsical! I'd like to thank Carpet Creations (in Rockville, Maryland) for their excellent fabrication and installation of both stair and hall runners. They always do wonderful work.
It's been ten years since I last purchased kitchen utensils and small appliances. These new white ones, from Williams Sonoma, look especially stylish in a Crate and Barrel marble wine cooler, which complements the counters. And I just couldn't resist this aqua mixer - a fun splash of summer, don't you think? 
Here is our new kitchen. Once again, I selected classic Shaker-style recessed cabinet doors. The doors as well as drawers are inset (as opposed to overlay). Notice the arched vent hood. Normally I wouldn't have chosen an arch, but want to reference the many architectural arches in our home. Counter tops are white Carrara marble with a honed finish. The 4" x 8" white subway tiles add texture plus sheen.   
A festive arrangement of patriotic flags in a white ironstone pitcher all ready for the FOURTH!
More kitchen photos to come.

Now a sneak peek of our little cottage in Castine. I quickly snapped these photos with a rather old iPhone while we were moving in prior to styling or accessorizing.
ABOVE: A view of the harbor shortly after sunrise. More boats will soon be moored here.

BELOW: This gallery wall features part of my collection of vintage seascapes, many found locally in Maine. I'm looking forward to accessorizing the console table.   
That's it for this time. Hope you've enjoyed seeing our new homes....check back for updates.

Now please pop over to Maison de Cinq, my friend Sheila's blog to enjoy her summer tour. I can't wait for you to see Sheila's lovely home.

For more summer decor inspiration, check out all of these fabulous tours:

Happy Happy Nester
Styled With Lace
Crazy Chic Design
2 Ladies and a Chair
Lindsay Hill Interiors
Citrine Living
Home and Fabulous
Tone on Tone (that's me)
Maison de Cinq
The Design Twins
I Don't Know How She Does It
Meme Hill
Designs by Laila

HAPPY SUMMER! 
Loi 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring at Our Cottage

Spring has sprung in DC, AGAIN! After being teased repeatedly by Mother Nature, it finally feels like spring is here to stay. Tom and I couldn't be more thrilled!

The gardens at our cottage are brimming with fresh growth. Every day brings new discoveries. From muscaris to scillas, there are thousands of bulbs blooming. Yes, thousands! The show started with snowdrops and crocuses on the big lawn, and now, daffies and hyacinths in the borders are doing their things. We are grateful to the previous owners who planted profusely and passionately.

I've been a busy bee marking everything as there are plans to redesign, regroup and refresh the gardens. So much for downsizing and simplifying. Actually I told Tom that this property will be lower maintenance, and I intend to keep my promise. Please remind me as you know how I am easily tempted by those manicured gardens - ok? 😉

More to come. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek....
Well, March certainly is living up to its reputation of "in like a lion and out like a lamb." Just a couple weeks ago, snow blanketed our Tudor, and spring seemed so distant (with much concern for the fate of the cherry blossoms). BTW, we are spending our last days at the Tudor before moving to the cottage soon.

Today, the snow is gone, and good news: the cherry blossoms made it through just fine. Here is one starting to bloom in front of our new home.
Built in 1928, the original stucco was deteriorating. Tom and I decided it was time to restucco, and hired Robey, Inc to do the work. They have patiently and meticulously worked with us to restucco both the house and garage. We're so pleased with everything including the texture plus color - a neutral greige. I look forward to sharing closeups of the final work.  
Throughout the property, I've staked and marked various flowering bulbs. There are many, many clumps of Tete-a-Tete daffodils, which are usually the earliest daffies to bloom.
I am 90% sure the beauties above are Pink Charm daffodils.
Also blooming now are pink, white and purple hyacinths. They are incredibly fragrant.
I couldn't resist picking a few generous bunches to enjoy inside in our freshly painted entry mudroom. The arched window with leaded glass is one of my favorite features.
H a p p y  S p r i n g !
Loi

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Mantel Refresh

I have terrific news to share: our Tudor is under contract! Yay! A solid offer, from a lovely young family, came in a day before the scheduled open houses, and we accepted it. Tom and I along with our wonderful agent, Mary Lynn White, all decided to cancel both open houses. I apologize if that caused an inconvenience or disappointment to anyone. 

Many thanks to those that left good wishes - I received your comments, emails plus messages with much gratitude. I'll keep you posted on our move.

In the meantime, let's revisit a serene and sophisticated home that I decorated and recently refreshed. It belongs to Susan and Greg, special friends and longtime clients. I had the pleasure of featuring this project back in 2012. Take a look here - go ahead.

Now compare that to today: 
Gone are those bright gold silk curtains (which were installed by the previous owner, and conveyed with the house). Per my advice, Susan replaced them with cream linen panels that complement the quiet beauty of the palette of warm neutrals accented by Swedish blues and grays. 

Speaking of Swedish, there are a number of furnishings from my shop throughout this home. But I didn't want the decor to scream antique Swedish showroom, so I layered in plenty of upholstered seating for comfort, English and French furnishings for variety, and one-of-a-kind accessories for originality.
Many of the pieces I actually repurposed from early architectural elements. The iron grate in the coffee table that's in front of a Swedish settee came from a Parisian balcony. The zinc fragment on the mantel was once part of a door lintel; it's the latest Tone on Tone acquisition that inspired my restyling of the mantelscape.
Here is the new mantelscape incorporating my zinc fragment plus sentimental items including family silver and the sublime drawings of acclaimed artist and dear friend Jill Bateman. Jill is also a good friend and client of mine. I'm grateful to her for bringing Susan and me together. BTW, the dramatic seaside painting (shown in fourth photo from top) is another work by Jill.
Let's take a quick peek into the dining room where two more items were repurposed from architectural elements. I found both the zinc window dormer, known as oeil-de-boeuf, and wrought iron balcony guard in Paris. Together they make a striking statement as well as a fun topic of conversation. And how cool to have the zinc pieces in the living and dining rooms speak to each other.
In addition to the beautiful art, Susan is a passionate collector of mercury glass and ironstone china. Here is part of her collection catching the morning light in one corner of the living room. The French cabinet and mirror are from Tone on Tone.
Thanks very much to Susan and Greg for inviting us back into their elegant home. I love the updates!
xoxo
Loi
PS - For more, please follow along on my INSTAGRAM. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Tudor Home

Hello, there!

I'm proud to say that our Tudor went on the market today. After working on it for a year, Tom and I are thrilled with how everything turned out.

To recap, we purchased it in early 2016, and spent most of last year renovating. Here's what we did: gutted a bathroom, updated a powder room, finished the third floor, upgraded to a new two-zoned AC system, insulated the roof, replaced the asphalt roof tiles with Vermont slate, installed custom built-in bookcases and plantation shutters, added ceiling beams, painted walls, refinished floors, etc. This was going to be home for a long time, so everything had to meet our standards. There was even a plan to convert the side porch to an enclosed sunroom for my topiaries.

Then our dream cottage, which we stalked for years, became available in December. It's the same size as our Tudor, in the same neighborhood, and built around the same time (late 1920s). The biggest difference is the lot. The cottage is another small home, but on a large lot with fabulous garden potential. And it needs updating so we just couldn't say no to another project 🔨🏡!!

Tom and I are selling the Tudor not because we don't love it, but because we found another home that we love even more. BTW, the cottage will be house number six for us (in the last 20 years)!

Helping us with this sale is good friend and expert realtor Mary  Lynn White. This is the fourth house that we've entrusted to Mary Lynn and her team. Regardless of size and price, they treat each of our homes with the same level of attention, professionalism and passion. Tom and I couldn't imagine buying or selling without Mary Lynn.

There will be open houses on Saturday (18th) as well as Sunday (19th). Please contact Mary Lynn here for info. And please help spread the word. Thanks very much!  UPDATE: THE OPEN HOUSES ARE CANCELED AS WE ARE UNDER CONTRACT. SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.  
Our enchanting brick and stone Tudor for sale! Note the dramatic tall chimney, stone lintels and arched front door. We had the slate roof, copper gutters plus downspouts installed. The curved walkway is granite with brick edging.
Please come inside! The entry foyer is small but so sunny thanks to two windows along the staircase. There is also a deep coat closet. Speaking of staircase, I had the beautiful wool runner custom made; it continues to the upstairs hall.
A view of the dining room and kitchen from the foyer. I designed the arched doorway to repeat the arched front door. In the dining room, Tom and I installed, with the help of carpenters, pine ceiling beams after personally distressing and staining them ourselves. We spent many hours figuring out proportions and placements. They ended up being beautifully centered over the windows, fireplace and doorway to the living room; it took much effort to get everything to line up.

Also, I designed the wall of built-in bookcases to house my art books and creamware china. Now the room feels like a library as well as a dining room. It's a pleasure to dine, casually and formally, surrounded by treasured books. 

I love designing built-ins, and have done so in every home we've owned. Tip: when adding built-ins, try to incorporate existing moldings such as crown, casing and baseboard to make them look original to the house. 
Let's move into the living room with its lovely bay windows that bring in abundant light all day. Actually this used to be the dining room. I knew it would make a bright, warm and comfortable sitting room with its southern exposure and views to the garden. It's cozy and private. French doors can be closed for even more privacy. 
Since there isn't a family room, our TV is here inside the Swedish armoire. In the evening, you'll find us on the down-filled George Smith sofa watching favorite shows like The Crown and The Great British Baking Show.
We'll occasionally pry ourselves out of the sofa to come into the kitchen for a cup of tea. Honed soapstone countertops and crisp white Shaker cabinets give the kitchen a timelessness. There is radiant heating under the painted linoleum floor.
Two of the four bedrooms upstairs. All bedrooms on the second floor have new plantation shutters. They also have their original paneled doors with glass doorknobs and brass plates.
Two bedrooms share a charming Jack-and-Jill bathroom updated in a vintage style.
A completely renovated bathroom with marble hexagonal floor. 

For more info, please email Mary Lynn. Don't forget to spread the word. Many thanks! UPDATE: THE OPEN HOUSES ARE CANCELED AS WE ARE UNDER CONTRACT. MANY APOLOGIES.

xo
Loi
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