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  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Garden Design Plan

Do you know my good friend Kelly Elko who writes the popular blog Eclectically Vintage? Kelly is an inspiration: she loves decorating and restyling her home - many times with antiques, yard sale goodies and even curbside finds. She has an original point of view, which I really admire.

Kelly lives in a beautiful 100-year old home in the prettiest neighborhood of historic homes. She asked if I would make a few suggestions for landscaping her backyard. Here are photos, starting with the front of the house.
Isn't it charming? The front is postcard perfect. And here is the backyard.
I think Kelly took these photos in early spring when the flowering trees were in bloom. The deciduous trees were still bare, which allowed me to study the yard with its bones and views.
Some of the trees, including the Arborvitaes, look unhealthy and need to be cut down. Remember, Kelly's home is over 100-year old, so she inherited many of the trees. One really great feature about the yard is that it is flat.
A view of the back of the house with the addition and the sunroom to the left. 

Wonderful flagstone terrace! You'll notice in my design plan (below), I suggest extending the terrace to the left. The furniture looks a bit crowded. Also, there will be less grass to mow and more time to enjoy cocktails :)
A gorgeous plum tree planted recently. Notice the two A/C units. Kelly did tell me this south side of the property gets hot afternoon sun.
The seating group currently faces the driveway. I moved it to face the new garden in the back - see plan below.
A few of Kelly's requests:

-Add tall evergreen privacy wall / hedge in the back, which spans 48 feet from neighbor's fence to garage. The back has eastern exposure. Also, one neighbor's deck sits up high looking into Kelly's house.

-Add plants on sunroom side, which get southern exposure.

-Add plants to shield A/C units.

Thanks to Kelly's awesome photos, here's what I came up with:

A simple, low maintenance garden that has evergreen structure and, most importantly, privacy. 
Make a statement by planting en masse! The focal point will be a substantial eight-foot long bench flanked by big, beautiful Limelight Hydrangeas (which are sturdy and long blooming) behind clipped yew hedges - nicely layered.

In winter, the Limelights can be cut back, if desired. The yews stay green and neat.

The photo above is from my blue garden. Limelight photos are from Dirt Simple Blog.
I've mentioned numerous times how much I love Nellie Stevens Holly. It has white flowers in early spring, followed by berries that turn red. A hedge of these hollies is most useful for shielding the road, neighbors, etc. 
There are groupings of Otto Luyken Laurels (unclipped for a natural look) around the deck and small walkway. I also included a cluster to hide the air conditioning units - these Laurels grow up to four feet high. I like the repetition of the three clusters. 
Looks like there is already an established tree on the property line (near the sunroom). I would plant another one to provide needed shade for the flagstone terrace. Under the shade trees, perhaps Liriope ground cover in either all white or purple. No combo, please! I grow Liriope Monroe White in my own courtyard garden.
BELOW: I believe these are Liriope Royal Purple. Liriopes retain their foliage in winter, but they should be sheared back in very early spring. 

Drifts of Daffodils or other flowering bulbs would be lovely interspersed between the Liriopes. Choose early blooming varieties so they flower before the shade trees leaf out.
For a bit of action, Kelly can have containers of colorful annuals on the terrace - such as this one from Johnson's Legacy Landscapes

Oh, one last thing: I removed the boxwoods and shrubs in front of the basement windows so that sunlight wouldn't be blocked. A dressing of gravel sloping away from the house looks tidy.

I hope you have enjoyed this garden plan. Only a month and a half until spring!!
PS - Thank you all for the desk suggestions for my niece in the last post. Becky and I both appreciate it. We're thinking of a lacquered Parsons style desk from West Elm.