Thursday, September 29, 2011

The heart of the home

If I were to take a poll, I think that we would all agree that kitchens are the most personal room in the house.  Yesterday, I spent 6 hours in mine (I really calculculated this).  For those of you with young families, and trying to get them up and at it the morning, the day can start early and be primarily focused in the kitchen.  For me, I have particularly slow eaters, who like to finish up their homework over a bowl of Cheerios, and this typically accounts for my first hour-and-a-half in the heart of my home.  After dropoff, you'll find me standing back in the kitchen in front of my laptop getting caught up on emails and plotting out the rest of my day.  Then between the hours of 3-8, it's after-school snack, homework at the kitchen table, getting dinner ready, finishing up end of day work on my laptop and cleaning up after a day in the kitchen....

So, after spending up to (but not less than) 42 hours per week in the kitchen (a typical work week on top of a typical work week), it's no wonder that I'm dreaming of a new one.  And, it's no wonder that it is the renovation project that is at the TOP of most of our lists.  And, it's no wonder that it's the hardest one to budget for since there are so many wants and needs that go on the wish list for the space.  Here are my top 10:

1.   Antique Buffet (I love a little personality in the kitchen)
2.   In-wall Miele coffee system (everyone has a fixe)
3.   2 dishwashers (1 standard, 1 Fisher Paykal dishwasher drawer)
4.   2 sinks (including 1 Shaw's Original farmhouse sink)
5.   Winebar/wet bar (again, everyone has a fixe)
6.   2 islands - one for prep, one for eating (must have 30" cold stone top for baking)
7.   Gynormous refrigerator (reminder, 4 kids)
8.   Separate ice maker, preferably near the winebar/wet bar (to accessorize the fixe)
9.   Lots of storage (4 kids = lots of stuff)
10. A workstation (I'm addicted to my laptop)

Oh, and a commercial grade range...
Miele CVA4062SS Coffee System             Fisher Paykel DD24SCX6V2 Built in Dishwashers

Shaw's Original 30" Farmhouse Sink                  

Wolf DF606CG -


Monday, September 26, 2011

Swimming anyone?

I love wallpaper in a bathroom.  It's such a great way to turn such a utilitarian space into a little jewel box of interest.  It also can make a small space seem bigger, as the pattern on the paper can add dimension to an otherwise simple white box.  Just a few ideas for you to think about the next time you're dropping the kids off at the pool...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Everyone makes mistakes

Yesterday I got a bad haircut.  It's beyond bad.  It's too dark, it's too short, and it makes me look as if I am really turning 40 in a few weeks.  It's my fault - I went to the salon and left my fate in their hands - something you shouldn't do just weeks before you're turning 40.  You know how the conversation goes, they ask, "What do you want to do with your hair today", and I respond "Oh, just do what you think it needs.  I could use a style."  Big mistake.  I've already washed it 6 times hoping it will make a difference...

Unfortunately this haircut is not just a bad haircut, it's a reminder of another error I made awhile back.  A couple of years ago I ordered a Stark carpet two feet too short for the space; rather then ordering a 12x22, I ordered a 12x20 (even though my notes clearly showed that the measurement was 12x22).  It was my fault, a dumb mistake that I'm still kicking myself for.  Yes, designers somtimes make dumb mistakes.  When the carpet was installed, it was so obvious that it was too small, it looked like a someone cut their bangs too short.  Without even trying cover up the blooper, I took ownership of it.  I ordered a new one in the correct size, ate the bill, and have been storing the 12x20 ever since (not to mention, took out a great E&O insurance policy the next week).

I may be shooting myself in the foot by letting you all know that sometimes things do go wrong during an installation, but I'm actually telling you this to start a conversation about making sure that you know what you're getting into when you sign on with a designer.  Relationships between designers and clients are multifaceted.  They are professional.  They are personal.  And, they are completely individual.  Make sure that you find a designer who you can trust, someone who you actually get along with.  Afterall, you are hiring them to make some of your toughest decisions with regard to how your space looks and how you will ultimately live in that space.  But also make sure that whoever you're hiring is a professional, someone who is not only recognized in the industry, but gives you a contract to sign, and has insurance. 

Now getting back to my dilemma of too short to look good, and how I plan to handle the problem - I have a few headbands to tie me over while my hair grows back, but I don't have a fix for my carpet.  You see, part of my predicament lies with a personal promise that keeps me from repeating designs that were custom to past client projects.  I think that this ties in with building trust between the designer and the client, and knowing that a designer is hired to create a truly custom concept for the client, an individual product.  So, if anyone wants to take a just-barely-used Stark Chesamar 100% wool carpet off my hands, drop me a line.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A little bit of India in my life

I have a friend, one of those over-acheivers who used to be a lawyer and then decided to do something different.  As if going through law school, taking the Bar and going on to practice wasn't enough, she decided to have a beautiful family and then head up the PTO and become a seamstress.  Anyway, she did something fun this week - she took an Indian sari and turned it into her daughter's window treatments; luminous London shades that sparkle and float and add so much character to the room that you don't even notice any of the other pieces in there.

What I love about this is twofold.  First, I love that she repurposed something that she would never have used otherwise (as talented as she is, I don't think that she could ever pull off wearing a sari unless it was as her Halloween costume).  Second, I love that she introduced a sense of style and culture to a first grader.  Just by putting the sari in her window, it opens up the story of India and the tales of the Maharaja. 

Years ago, when my life was a little less full of kids, my husband and I spent three weeks travelling through Rajastan and the northern circut of the Thar desert.  Words cannot describe India.  You have to go to really appreciate it.  It's such a vivid adventure filled with striking contrasts throughout the landscape.  The desert is arid and dry, yet the people are colorful and warm.  The cities are CRAZY and CROWDED, yet they're respectful of their history and mindful of their culture.  India was a country of more than 600 states at one time, and each of those states had their own king, and each of those kings had their own palace, and own vacation palace, and own hunting lodge, and own protective fort, and so on and so forth.  And because of all of this royalty, there are a lot of incredible things to see - palaces have been turned into hotels, hunting lodges have been converted into tiger reserves, and forts have been left for you to roam free among the ruins in.  India is saturated with inspiration; the mugal arches, the fretwork-covered windows blocking hidden palace rooms, the unbelievably vibrant colors and layers-upon-layers of patterning, the rugs, the miniature style paintings, the bedazzled accessories....  It's all amazing.

There are a lot of Indian-inspired textiles out on the market these days, but my two favorites right now are the India Collection by Mally Skok ( and the Victoria Collection by Ferran (  So, if you don't have a sari to recreate, take a look at these and think about a pillow.  We all know how much I love pillows...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday Funday

Yesterday we spent the day trolling around SoWa Market in the South End neighborhood of Boston.  This is such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family.  Not only do they have great local crafts for sale, there are food trucks galore lining the perimeter of the place (  Too bad we didn't know that before took the kids to a phat sit down brunch at Gaslight (!  You can get everything from a grilled cheese sandwich from the Roxy truck to a falafel at Clover to an old-fashioned twist from Mr. Frostie.  And at the end of the line, a great pair of shoes from box truck selling all sorts of accessories...

My favorite thing about the place is the SoWa Vintage Market just steps up into the neighboring building from the outdoor space at 430 Harrison Street.  It's such a throwback into my childhood; Star Trek metal lunch boxes, fun 50s shoes, painted furniture, and today, my greatest find, 4 Kartell Louis Ghost chairs for $1000 (normally $410 for one)!  The space is made up of lots of little vendors, some regulars and some making guest appearances on random weekends.  The woman with the Ghost chairs was a familiar face from the Boston Design Center - a former Baker employee named Jennifer Allen.  She has put together a great collection of vintage finds, fun vases and cool accessories and calls it Market (  I'll be checking in weekly to see what she has to offer...


Friday, September 16, 2011

Fluff please

Every woman loves a pretty pillow, but twice as likely, every man does not.  My husband is constantly tossing them off the sofa, off the bed, and off the chair onto the floor next to the ones that are meant for the floor.  Obviously, I'm a pillow person.  Whether it be a way of introducing a print into a space, adding a pop of color, or just another means of layering in a texture, I think that they are NEEDED to complete the space. 

Pillows not only personalize a room and make it cozy, but they can be used to link rooms from one to another.  A pattern or a color that you might see in the dining room can easily be carried over to the living room or den by repeating it in a throw pillow. Pillows can be a great tool for cohesive design, and if your husband throws it on the floor, well at least you can pick it up and put it someplace else!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A new year

Aaaaahhhh, Fall.  My favorite time of the year.  Today, in fact, is my favorite day of the year.  Forget New Year's for making resolutions, the day AFTER Labor Day has always been my fresh start.  The kids are back at school, and it's time to get organized, get motivated, and breathe in the changing of the season...

Autumn to most means falling leaves, apple picking and carving pumpkins; earthen colors that make you want to put on a sweater, make a pie, and go tailgating.  This year, however, the colors of the design world are telling it to us differently - bright hues of chartreuse and orange are replacing the burnt out colors that we're accustomed to seeing.  For me, the move is a little too severe.  I'm wanting a compromise.  Think of how beautiful they can be when coupled together.  A bit of fall with a burst of life - a burst of energy - a fresh start...