Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Winter... Inside!

On this first day of Winter, here in New England, it is rainy, gray and not that cold at all.
But inside our home, it feels like Winter and Christmas have arrived... welcome!

Wishing you a Winter filled with warmth
& a Very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stunning Summer Setting

Leah, me, Carol, Deb & Eileen
One of my favorite events of the summer season, at least relating to interior design, is the annual Decorator Show House benefitting the Museums of Old York, Maine.  This year was their 23rd, and if my calculations are correct, my visit on August 6th with several of my good design friends was my sixth.

Set in an idyllic coastal village, each yearly house can’t help but lure its visitors into the feeling that this is what life should be like.  Through the years I have seen a lot of well executed interior design work evident in the Old York houses, but I must say that I feel that this year’s “Harmon House” was the best that I have personally experienced!

Program Guide
 Although at first glance the house appears to be a historical property, in actuality it was just built in 2000.  The success of this well-aged look reflects the fact that the designer, Thane Pearson Design, sought to harken back to the infamous Shingle Style architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, making the home look as though it had been in its location for a long time and fitting into the neighborhood beautifully.

Facade of the home with its distinctive gambrel roof lines 

Rear elevation with dormers and porch
Although the architectural design and interior details are very respectful toward a historic orientation, the floor plan of the house is truly livable for a 21st century family.  That was one of the things that I noticed immediately upon entering the Foyer.  It has its own distinct space, but visually opens right into the adjacent rooms which flow from one to the other, as well as the porch and view of the York River to the back. 

The center of the home is focused around the Great Hall and Living Room, as well as the Kitchen and Dining nook.  All of the spaces in the Show House revolve around these rooms, designed by Gerald Pomeroy of the Gerald Pomeroy Design Group, in terms of both layout and style, with their blue walls, white trim, taupe accents, and coastal feeling textures.  They are soothing and serene, yet stunning in an understated way.  Anyone who knows me is well aware that I love blue… so I had a hard time even leaving these rooms to explore any farther!

Great Hall & Living Room by Gerald Pomeroy Design Group
Photo source Design New England blog
The floor plan of the home is very contemporary in that it has a split layout with the Master Bedroom on one side of the house and a Study at the other, with all of the other bedrooms upstairs.  The Master Bedroom is accessed right off the Living Room, and it is also in the soft blue tones making for a nice transition, which I understand was a happy coincidence, considering that it was designed by Meredith Bohn of Meredith Bohn Interior Design and not Gerald Pomeroy!   The Master Bath has a soaking tub situated on an angled wall with a wonderful large window with views of the water.

Master Bedroom
Photo source Meredith Bohn Interior Design

Master Bath
Photo source Meredith Bohn Interior Design
I have referred to the views several times already… they were spectacular!  The house is beautifully sited on the home site to take full advantage of views of the York River.  On a beautiful, sunny summer day like the one I visited on, it could not have been improved upon!  Don't you agree?

The Show House is no longer available to tour, but I hope that you enjoyed this little peek inside and out!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Time Reminds Us To Lighten Up

After a long winter, or many years in the same home, many of us settle into accepting the monotony of dull and sometimes lifeless interiors.  But the long, sunny days of Summer have a way of perking us up and stirring the desire to lighten up our rooms and our lives.

One of my recent design projects exemplifies this feeling, so I thought that I would share it with you.  One of my favorite clients and her husband have been living in their lovely home for a while now.  When they moved in years ago, they decorated it in a way that suited their phase of life and the styles of the times.  However, years later, with their daughters out of the house and off on their own, the home no longer spoke to their lifestyle.  There was nothing really wrong with the rooms… they just didn't feel as “right” any more.

These clients wanted to stay in the same place, but update some of the interiors without making a lot of significant or super costly changes, such as purchasing major, new furnishings.  Here is what we did:

Dining Room

Old Style: dark, dull sage paint scheme

New Life: lighter, neutral, warm and welcoming hue

Old Style: heavy, old-fashioned window treatments

New Life: lighter, updated linen drapery panels on iron rods

Old Style: traditional, dark and busy area rug

New Life: transitional, wispy, area rug

Old Style: colonial brass chandelier with rosy shades

New Life: bronze finish scroll chandelier with seagrass shades

Old Style: uninspiring fireplace wall with repetitious accessories

New Life: interesting mantle compositions and varied accents

Old Style: lack-luster and formal looking décor

New Life: lovely vignettes with charming accessories and consistency of finishes & materials

Sitting Room

Old Style: dark, serious paint scheme (especially for a garden-view room!)

New Life: light, relaxing hue

Old Style: uninviting furniture arrangement with lamp table by walkway

New Life: end table with different lamp moved away from the room's entry space

Old Style: traditional design dark rug

New Life: light and airy patterned rug

Old Style: tired looking accessories

New Life: fun, new colorful pillows, throw and accents that invite the outside in

I think that you can see what a difference that colors and materials can make in breathing new life into an old space!  In these rooms, there were some expenses in the purchase of rugs, window treatments (dining room only), some lighting and accessories, as well as painting.  But many of the accessories were "shopped" from other rooms or simply arranged within the rooms, and all of the major furniture was left in place.  And the resulting spaces are barely recognizable from how they began!

I hope that this motivates you to see your rooms in a fresher new light!

Monday, January 23, 2012

“Small Space Organizing”

January is “National Get Organized Month,” and anyone that is acquainted with me at all probably knows, or can tell, that I am a pretty organized person. I have just always enjoyed living in an orderly way, and I truly feel that it saves time and frustration. People say that it takes too much time to be organized, and they just don’t have the time. But in actuality, it is quite the opposite! While it is true that it may take time to set up your life and home in an organized fashion, once things are in place, it makes everything that you do so much quicker and easier. An organized person can put their hands on something in moments, while the person living in disarray will tear their house apart and waste time looking for that desired object… not to mention the additional mess that they have just created that will cause new problems!

William Morris, socialist and textile designer of the Arts & Crafts Movement in the mid- to late- nineteenth century in England, expressed his golden rule in the now infamous quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Image Victoria and Albert Museum

This should be the anthem for us all regardless of how much space we are living in. Bigger is not necessarily better when it is filled with meaningless objects in a disorderly setting. And while an organized household is desirable in general, when it comes to living in a small space it is imperative! There is just no way to live a full and harmonious life in a small space without being careful to edit your belongings and lay out your spaces in a way that, as Morris referred to, are useful, meaningful, and of course beautiful. Just because your space is small, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a gracious place filled with stunning design and lots of personality.

If you live in a small space, and all of this sounds very appealing, but you just don’t know how to go about it or where to start, I have a suggestion for you… a brand new book “Small Space Organizing, A Room-By-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space” by Kathryn Bechen.

Image Kathryn Bechen INK

Kathryn and I met several years ago at a weekend-long event on living a happy and gracious life hosted by an interior designer and lifestyle author that we both find inspiring, Alexandra Stoddard, at Alexandra’s home in Stonington, Connecticut. It is not surprising that like-minded people come together in such ways, and stay connected through the years.

Kathryn Bechen and me

in Alexandra Stoddard's home, Stonington, Connecticut

Kathryn is a journalist who specializes in lifestyle topics, and has herself been a professional organizer. What makes her approach to the topic even better is that she and her husband Steve have personally lived in thirteen small spaces themselves, and with Kathryn’s concepts and style, have done so artfully. In Small Space Organizing, Kathryn starts you off on your organizing journey by looking at what kind of small home dweller you are (newlywed, empty nester, etc.) and encouraging you that you can dwell well in that space if you make the lifestyle commitment. She also makes the case for “small space grace” verses “big house blues,” for those of you that still yearn for more square footage… you might rethink that after you read what Kathryn has to say!

The great thing about “Small Space Organizing” is that it is a practical guidebook in which Kathryn gives you all of the framework that you need to analyze the space that you have (and what you might not be taking full advantage of), how to look at your belongings to determine what to keep and how to dispose of the rest, how to make the most of the storage spaces you do have, how to arrange your furniture to maximize flow and functionality, and even suggests furnishings that can do double-duty… all while expressing your own personality in a visually attractive way. She also shares plenty of her resources for organizing products and supplies, furnishings and accessories suitable for small spaces, so you will be able to bring your newly organized small space to fruition.

For more information on Kathryn Bechen, and her new book “Small Space Organizing,” please visit Kathryn Bechen INK, or just click on her link under my "You Must Visit" list to the left!

Happy organizing!