Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cool and Collected

When New York architect W. Stephen (Steve) Wood and clients toured a dark and dated 1920s Spanish Colonial house, they were all charmed by the modest home's grand spirit with its arches, wooden beams and gracious step-down living room. Beyond that, endless little rooms resulted in a dizzying floorplan, not to mention a lack of light. Steve immediately recognized the potential, and he drafted a plan so compelling the clients ended up purchasing and renovating the property, despite the dreariness.

More than a year later, the results are breathtaking rooms filled with natural light plus many custom details. The home is simple but sophisticated, historic but fresh, and subtle but showstopping. There aren't elaborate moldings, as typical of Spanish Colonial architecture, but what's been added is striking thanks to the Art Deco gestures - they add flair to the backdrop of white plaster walls as well as a sense of modernity.

Steve explained that it's not uncommon to find Art Deco elements in Spanish Colonial works. The former reached its height in the 1920-30s, while the latter was popular during the 1910-30s. So there is crossover. The 1939 Los Angeles Union Station is an important example showcasing the marriage of these two styles.
Image via
Image via

Furnishings are mostly vintage and antique pieces - from family to Tone on Tone items :) Steve had sourced pieces from Tone on Tone for a previous project - that's how we met. I'm delighted he thought of my shop when it came time to furnish this project as well.

I'm grateful to be featuring this special home. I know how much you all enjoy house tours, so I was thrilled that our clients said yes, even though they are still finishing the rooms. Many thanks to them!

Let's start the tour with some before photos:
No words here! Although that wallpaper on the ceiling and those stains: scary!!
ABOVE: The original staircase. 

BELOW: The step-down living room with wooden beams. Beyond the arched doorway are several small rooms, which became one large space during the renovation.

Get ready for the changes . . .
Here is the reception / dining room with a view to the step-down living room; the entry foyer is behind the stone column. The clients did not want a formal dining room, so this space doubles as a reception and dining room. Architect W. Stephen (Steve) Wood gutted this area to make it one open room. The floors are limestone with tumbled edges.
Stepping down to the now light and airy living room. A new wall of three oversized glass windows replaced the small front door flanked by mini sidelights.
The French steel, brass and glass coffee table is from Tone on Tone - I featured it here. Also French is the pair of gilded Louis XVI armchairs in old, threadbare leopard print fabric from 25 years ago - still chic! Those along with the vintage Bloomingdale's mohair sofa and rug brought back from Istanbul are all family pieces.
The fireplace is unusually small, but charming nevertheless with its original arched opening framed with granite. From Olde Good Things in New York City is the fireplace screen which the clients purchased for their previous home. Perfect fit here!
BELOW: Looking up to the reception / dining room. Compare it to the before photo with the three arches - this is the same view. What a dramatic difference!
Also from Olde Good Things is the stunning pair of antique carved stone columns and the wrought iron gate panels. Steve tells me that OGT is a favorite source for architectural elements and eclectic goods. The center hall / dining table along with the pair of vintage railroad signs came from the Marche aux Puces (flea markets) in Paris. A set of 6 vintage iron chairs were found in Hudson, NY for $30 each.
The clients originally came to my shop looking for a Swedish gray painted buffet. I suggested this 19th century French cherrywood sideboard instead. With all the stonework and metal surfaces, the space needed the warmth. 

Aren't those railroad signs cool? 
I love the custom iron register covers that Steve designed. Together with the antique sconces from Paris, they inject a bit of Art Deco flair.
Speaking of Art Deco, look at this graphic, zig zag staircase railing designed by Steve - brilliant! And, yes, those are Warhols :) 

By the way, this staircase is new - the skimpy, original staircase is shown at the beginning.

Upstairs in this bedroom are a pair of Swedish Gustavian style chests and bench from Tone on Tone - all recently delivered. 
Back downstairs, let's go into the new kitchen behind the wrought iron gates found at OGT. They remind me of the fanciful ironwork in Andalusia, Spain.
Welcome to the new gray-and-white kitchen with classic subway tiles and Calacatta marble counters. Gorgeous!
The fun pendant lights are available at DWR, but I hear you can get them directly from the manufacturer in Brooklyn, NY.

Reclaimed beams were added here and in the family room (not shown) located on the other side of the island.
I hope you love this home as much as I do. It's an original, and everything in it has a story.

For architectural services, please contact W. Stephen Wood Architect: WSWOODARCH@AOL.COM

With many thanks, once again, to Steve and our clients!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Fun Gallery Wall

My niece Becky was thrilled with all of your feedback on the blog post of her sitting area - many thanks to everyone! Quite a few of you suggested a lacquered desk, so she has ordered the following from West Elm:
Becky will be pairing it with my Wishbone chair. Together they will look like this:
Above image via here

To recap, my niece, after saving for many years, recently purchased her first place - a condo with two bedrooms. (We are super proud of her!) The second bedroom is teeny tiny, so I suggested it be her home office with a sitting area. In furnishing this space, we went to HomeGoods (Becky's favorite shop) and scored the following:

-Silver leafed chest
-Geometric art print

Becky and I went back to HomeGoods on a mission to decorate the corner at the end of her entry hall - a rather narrow space with a window and, thank goodness, plenty of natural light. So glad she got a corner unit with lots of windows! 

On the drive over to HG, Becky kept repeating "gallery wall, gallery wall." When we arrived, I asked her to pick out some fun and inexpensive art - start with two pieces you love. She chose the Chanel and Home Sweet Home prints. Cute! Then she selected an Impressionistic painting, and I said "no, the grouping is looking too random....toss out the faux Monet piece." Let's keep the following in mind:

-Keep it fun and not pretend this is fine art.
-Keep it interesting by incorporating different shapes and sizes.
-Keep it cohesive with repetition in color, subject matter, etc.

After finishing our shopping, I was treated to sushi and then dragged back to the condo to start hanging the goods. Actually we had so much fun and, most importantly, we came in under budget (hence the sushi). 

And here's the new gallery wall.....
Notice the repetition of the black accents. For variety, the sunburst mirror and birdcage were selected. The little chandelier print was a last minute find - our gallery wall needed that smaller piece. Before hanging anything, we mapped it out on the floor. We hung the middle section first, starting with the bottom piece and worked up. Next we hung the left grouping, again starting at the bottom. Then the same for the right side.

Of course we also found the perfect chair, pillow, accent table and lamp. 

FYI, we have not been compensated by HomeGoods - just sharing our happy finds and source.
Becky is in there somewhere! Say hi to my nieces and nephews :) I remember babysitting so many of them.

From all of us,

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shades of Gray and White

There is something soulful about a historic home. Who can resist gorgeous moldings, period mantels and other gracious architectural details like pillars, high ceilings, etc? And the patina, that only comes with time.

I think many of us have walked past an older house, admired its personality, and even envisioned owning such a treasure. But when it comes to renovating and restoring one - from gutting baths and kitchens to updating electrical and plumbing systems - few of us would say "bring it on!" (Having renovated a 1920s condo, two 100-year old homes, and an antique gem from 1804, my advice is to be flexible as there are always surprises.)

When Whitney and her husband, friends and longtime clients, purchased their stately 1850s home, they had planned to tackle the kitchen, a few baths and minor cosmetic improvements. Well, they ended up doing much more! 

To start, it took six months and many hearings to get approval from the local historical board. Then the dated kitchen and baths were all gutted. Layers of old wallpaper begrudgingly came off. Moldings had to be copied and custom milled to match existing ones. 

Acclaimed architect Digby Bridges of Bridges, Marsh & Associates collaborated with Whitney and her husband on the project. Whitney came up with many of the ideas, and she did a tremendous job sourcing everything - she's not a decorator, but should be! 

More than a year later, the family is finally back in their home. I am delighted to share this renovation. Many thanks to Whitney, who is busy being mom to her children, for taking time to share their home. And for GENEROUSLY providing her sources - complete list at the end.
The dark, dated kitchen before renovation. Notice the awkward corner sink and island located too close to the fridge. As mentioned, the kitchen was gutted. Major changes include relocating the doorway to accommodate the new island, and adding a breakfast bay with lots of windows. Reclaimed pine boards were installed to match existing flooring.
During renovation. All the electrical wires were replaced. This is the charming second staircase located in the kitchen. 
This large room was the dining room, but the family is now using it as a casual sitting room - it's directly off the kitchen. Many of the garish (not original to the house) moldings were removed. 
The children's bathroom before and during renovation. The American Standard 1919 tub was reglazed.
Two more before photos: a guest bathroom and frilly wallpaper.
Let there be light!! 

The new kitchen flooded with sunshine - isn't it gorgeous? The breakfast area with door to the garage is a new addition. Architect Digby Bridges, Whitney and her husband did an incredible job transforming it from dreary to dreamy.
Note the stacked upper cabinets - a way to maximize storage in spaces with tall ceilings. The counter stools, newly painted in Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray, were Craigslist finds.
I adore this striking arrangement by Whitney.
Though the kitchen is light, bright and airy, there is warmth thanks to the reclaimed pine boards. 

Whitney: what do you think of half shutters or tailored cafe curtains for the bay windows?
We can all use more storage space - love this clever corner cabinet above the bar.  The Carrara marble top is extended inside.
I volunteer to do dishes! 

Polished nickel faucet from Rohl. Backsplash ceramic tiles are Basics Snow White 3" x 6" from Architectural Ceramics.
This view shows the back staircase - there's another sweeping staircase in the front. Hi, Whitney and Parker :) 
Speaking of Parker, he wants to show you his room, all tidy and neat. Check out his new bed from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child. And it is upholstered in a friendly indoor-outdoor fabric - yay! The painted chair was a flea market find.
This adjoining room belongs to Parker's sister. The antique iron bed was mommy's childhood bed.
Because big sis was at school, Brighton kindly filled in. The marble mantel is original - there is an identical one in Parker's room as well. All the fireplaces were relined.
Remember the children's bathroom? Well, look at it now! It's fun yet stylish. Wallpaper is Nairobi by Thibaut. 

By the way, Whitney and I share a passion for gray and white!
Sconces from Waterworks. Medicine cabinet from Restoration Hardware.
A custom designed vanity with fluted feet. 
Are you done, Loi? We're ready for our nap!  

Again, thanks so much to my friends for letting me share their beautiful home!!

Whitney will be furnishing the rest of the house, and she likes to approach it organically: live in the space first, and then acquire what the family needs and loves as they comes across it. I look forward to featuring the other rooms as there are a few pieces from Tone on Tone :) 

S  O  U  R  C  E  S

Digby Bridges of Bridges, Marsh & Associates

Walls and trim: Benjamin Moore Super White
Cabinets: Christiana Cabinetry thru Kitchen and Bath Studio
Cabinet hardware: Restoration Hardware
Pendants: Circa Lighting (antique nickel)
Ceramic tiles: Basics Snow White 3" x 6" thru Architectural Ceramics
Counter tops: Carrara marble (honed)
Sink: Shaws Classic Modern Apron Front
Faucets: Rohl
Breakfast table: Vintage
Breakfast chairs: Crate & Barrel
Vase: Ralph Lauren
Antique metal vineyard basket and candlesticks: Tone on Tone
Runner: Dash & Albert

Bed and skirt: Restoration Hardware Baby & Child (Perennials indoor/outdoor fabric)
Bedding: The Land of Nod
Sunburst mirror: Vintage 
White chair: Antique
Rug: Stanton

Wallpaper: Thibaut Nairobi
Scones: Waterworks
Medicine cabinet: Restoration Hardware
Custom vanity: Masters Workshop (contact Eben)
Sink: Porcher
Faucet set: Newport Brass