Saturday, December 1, 2012

Scrooge this!

The house is still under construction.  We have no kitchen, the backyard looks like something out of Star Wars, and the seven of us have been relocated (and confined) to the second floor.  Thinking about the holidays has been the furthest thing from my mind, but, today on December 1st, just like clockwork, the elf-on-the-shelf has reappeared into our lives and the snow has just started to fall outside.  Christmas is truly right around the corner so I better get my act together, unwrap my gorgeous magnolia wreath ( and dress up what I can of this house for the season.  I refuse to be a Scrooge!

The Santas will be hung,

We'll add some swag.

We'll put out the Nativity scene,

And get a tree,
And wrap some presents,

And put out some more Santas
In hopes that the real one will be reading our lists

And making all of our wishes come true :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Closing ceremonies

Today was the last day of the Show House, and tonight after its close, we all got together one last time to celebrate with a final toast(s).  Sitting in the kitchen of The Potter Estate on a Sunday evening sipping champagne with the wonderful designers that I have come to know as friends over the past few months was bittersweet.  We heard that over 6,000 people came through the House and were told that this was the biggest and most successful House that the JLB has ever had.  Proud and humbled, I was honored to be included in such a crowd.  In this final post about the House (and yes, I will be getting back to real life blogging, soon), I just wanted to thank the League for giving me this great opportunity.  In the seven-plus years that I have been in business, I have never formally advertised.  Not only did I sell a great deal of merchandise during my stint at the House, but I went through nearly 2,000 business cards and have already received a few phone calls.  Regardless of where this takes me professionally, I am confident the experience was well worth my while, and given the chance to do it all over again, YOU BETCHA!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Green Room

If you have been following me on Twitter (@elizabethhome) or on Facebook, you have probably seen your share of posts on my room at the Junior League of Boston's 35th Show House, but now that it is up and running and has been professionally photographed, I am finally revealing it here for the rest of the world to see...

The room that I was given at the House was originally an annex to the kitchen.  In the 8'x18' space, there were two refrigerators and a walk-in freezer.  The original subway-tiled walls were stained and in disrepair, and the room was void of any architectural elements as seen throughout the estate.

When the League asked me to create a "mother's den", I immediately knew that I needed to warm up the space and make it feel as if it was a part of the main house.  I wanted to bring the 11'4" ceiling height down and cozy up the awkward proportions.  By introducing board-and-batten designs that were already found throughout the house, the room became more interesting and less disconnected.  Painting it Dill Pickle green from Benjamin Moore then set the stage for its theme.
Green is an omnipresent color in the natural world, making it an ideal backdrop in interior design.  It offers a sense of renewal, self-control, and harmony.  In show business, the space in a venue where performers are held before they are needed on stage is called "the green room".  It functions as a waiting room and a lounge before and after the show.  Given that this space is right off of the kitchen in what would be a busy household, we have created a literal "green room"; a behind-the scenes space for a mother to decompress and await her motherly duties; a calm and tranquil place to recharge in between tasks.  Mixing organic elements such as grass cloth and linen into a preppy palette of apple green, aqua, and lilac has made this room light and feminine; a special spot intended only for the woman of the house.

Some fun things to note about the space are:
Everything is for sale, even the monogrammed rainboots if your initials are eBr.
The piece of art that you see on the far wall is actually a fabric by Manuel Canovas.  The repeat is so large, that I view it as art and framed it accordingly.  It also doubles as a full-sized headboard and has been upholstered as such.
The high gloss "surf" artwork is made by a local artist named Karole Moe.  Each piece is created with upcycled house paint and finished with liquid glass.
There is a huge play on plaids in the room.  The pair of chairs are the vintage chairs that you read about here - - and they have been completely restored and reupholstered in a gorgeous Cowtan & Tout fabric.  Plaid is also found on the back of the "rope" chair, on the floor, on the ceiling, and on the custom ottoman...
The lighting fixtures are by Stray Dog Designs and are made of paper-mache.
The Green Room is an interior room, and the windows in the space actually look right into another room.  To hide this, we took photographs of the property and inset them into the backside of the window frame. 
If you can, come have a look for yourself - The JLB Show House is running through November 18th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A look at The Look

Today I spent the day at the Boston Design Center catching up with friends and colleagues at The Look.  Every fall, the BDC puts together an informative day of seminars, presentations, lunches and cocktails to update and educate my trade on the latest trends and products being released for the following year.  The day began with a wonderful breakfast in their new 342 Designer's Club.  This is a huge addition to the building - Finally, I will have a place to take a client to unwind and sift through materials that were collected during the day!  Here, we were greeted by a number of local bloggers and social media personnel, including Leslie Fine of Leslie Fine Interiors and Julieann Covino of Jace Interiors/CreateGirl blogs.  I personally was very happy to see that Cassandra Lavalle of Coco+Kelley ( came all the way from Seattle just to join in.

After breakfast, we headed up to the seminar room to hear Julie Rogowski, Vice President/GM of the BDC, give her Trend Report for 2013.  The presentation was broken into three categories; color, pattern, and style.  We were told that yellow will become the new neutral.  True blues and mushrooms will work well together while shades of red will make big statements in small doses.  For pattern, updated geometrics will get reworked into new colorways.  Floral prints will return (and yes, that does include chintz).  Stripes will overlap, and animals prints and figures will bring a bit of whimsy into any design.  Lastly, style trends will continue to follow the latest fashion runways with feminine shapes, easy elegant forms, personal detailing, and a return to classic, timeless design (remember, Audrey Hepburn has never gone out of style).

The rest of the day was spent listening in on a number of smaller presentations.  Notably, Lee Jofa introduced their Malika Collection; Kravet discussed their new Jonathan Adler line; and Michael Lee showcased his photography at M-Geough.  We ate lunch while learning about photo-styling secrets, and heard about why every project should ideally have not only an architect, but an interior designer and landscape architect on the team before the ball gets rolling (with a special thanks to Kristen Rivoli for representing our gang:)).

And, although I left the event early in the afternoon to get back to pressing Show House deadlines, book signings and giveaways were still going on.  I was sorry to miss the announcement of the 2012 inductees into The New England Design Hall of Fame.  The lobby was dressed in fresh flowers for the occasion, and I'm sure that it was a great end to the day...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bridging the gap

After playing the "technologically challenged" card for years, last fall, I finally joined Twitter.  It was slow going at first, especially getting used to conversations that only fit into a handful of characters.  Knowing that many of my peers across the country were using Twitter to help them grow their businesses, I started to follow other people in design.  This led to following other resources in design, including trades-people, products, vendors, manufacturers, and even editors, stylists, publications, and industry events.  At first, I felt like a stalker, following people who I didn't know and who didn't know me.  But, the great thing about Twitter is that it is actually reciprocal (most of the time), and soon enough I had a number of followers and was making friends with people from all over the country.  Twitter has become my business rolodex...

When the world was first diving into the digital age, there were a lot of naysayers preaching about how the computer would cause less interaction between people.  Maybe at first this was true, but being social is part of who we are, and now with social media, I think that having a computer (or any PDA) is actually encouraging us to interact more.  Obviously it's been a big hit in the dating scene, but for business, it's had huge success in bridging industry with end-users.  Blogging, tweeting, and even yelping, have done more to promote business than any form of traditional advertising ever has, and because it has had such an impact, companies are now looking to use social media as a back-end form of advertising. 

Lucky for me, the businesses who believe in social media sponsor fun events where I get to get together with other bloggers, learn about great products, and spend some time actually socializing in real life.  Tomorrow I am fortunate to be included in the first-ever #instyletour event here in Boston.  This incredible evening includes dinner at Villa Francesco coupled with a presentation from Blanco America, an award winning, family-owned business that specializes in kitchen sinks and faucets.  Following dinner, we will visit renown artist, Giovanni DeCunto's gallery in North Boston where we will see his latest collection and have the chance to win one of his pieces.  And yes, this all came from joining Twitter...

Below, please find attached the press release for the event...

First #INSTYLETOUR Celebrates Sinks, Art and Tweeps  

Twitter-inspired social media gathering attracts national sponsorship, interior design bloggers and original artwork

Boston, MA:  What began as a desire to bring regional design bloggers together in real life has morphed into a celebration of inspiration and excellence in art and design for over twenty-five interior designers from the Boston area and beyond.  The two-part event on Tuesday, October 2nd, sponsored by Blanco America and internationally-acclaimed artist Giovanni DeCunto, is being held at north-end restaurant Villa Franceso then moving to DeCunto’s studio for a special viewing. Highlights of the event will be an interactive presentation from Blanco representatives and a draw for an original piece of Giovanni DeCunto’s art.

The idea for this event, labeled with hashtag #instyletour on twitter, was born at a July 2012 tweetup hosted by local interior designer Andie Day and Vermont-based builder- turned-social-media-specialist Todd Vendituoli. “Art, interior design and fashion continue to overlap as today’s technology-infused lifestyle evolves,” explains, Andie Day. “We know that bloggers play an important role in communicating trends to consumers. We wanted to continue to push that envelope by exposing designers to manufacturers with beautiful, functional pieces for the home and unique styles of fine art. We’re excited about our first #instyletour evening.”

 “Blanco America embraced the concept right away,” adds Vendituoli.  “They see the value in harnessing the power of design blogs and talking about their beautifully-crafted sinks and faucets to such a targeted audience. Exposing their product to an audience so heavily immersed in communicating good design is invaluable.”

 Day and Vendituoli hope to roll out the #instyletour concept to other design-centric markets such as Miami and San Francisco.  The goal is to provide venues for those who have met via twitter to meet face to face and interact with brands that provide products to the design industry. “Face to face connections are still incredibly important,” says Vendituoil. “We all ‘talk’ virtually all the time, but now we’ll be in the same location learning more about design and art, and making our connections even stronger.”

The dinner and Blanco presentation at Villa Francesco, 150 Richmond Street, North Boston is from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Immediately following, guests will move to Giovanni DeCunto’s gallery at 15 Lewis Street, North Boston for the viewing and raffle.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

My day job

Between Show House and my own house, I actually am still servicing a handful of clients.  Recently, I put together a scheme for a living room in Belmont.  Here we are dealing with adjacent rooms that already have been finished complete with window treatments.  The client wants to keep their existing caramel colored leather sofa and their oriental carpet.  The shared color in the carpet and in the window treatments next door in navy, only the window's navy is paired with white instead of cream or gold as found in the carpet.  We will be purchasing a pair of club chairs, an upholstered cocktail ottoman, making a window seat and flat roman shades for a bay window nook, and lots of pillows.  Here is my first stab...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Always a curve ball

So the progress on my Show House room was going exactly as planned, and I was pretty confident that I would actually be able to pull this off without the usual hiccups that can happen on a job; that is, until the curve ball was thrown on Wednesday.  Because I am using vintage chairs (, I sent them to be restored before having them reupholstered.  I wanted to change the finish on the wood and have the joints tightened to make them as good as new.  When I went to pick them up, the finish was not as I had asked it to be, and they had to be redone, ASAP.  My upholsterer had me in the cue to begin working on my furniture that afternoon.  Since he has 4 pieces to either redo or actually build for me and my space, I needed to be ready when he was ready for me.  Now the poor guy is working on a Saturday just to ensure that they are done for next week. 

Meanwhile, my lighting fixtures were scheduled to go up on Thursday.  The first one was installed without a glitch; however, when the electrician went to hang the second, he found that a part was broken and it couldn't be hung.  This was a big upset - these light fixtures were a custom order made in another country, and to get another one in time for Show House is not possible.  Luckily though, the company who makes them can fabricate the broken part, and will FedEx it to me for re-installation by October 1st. 

Aside from the lighting problem, that afternoon I also found out that my painters painted a window open in it's place, and now it would not close.  After some maneuvering and a heavy hand, the window moved, but the painters need to come back and paint it all over again!

These obstacles are obviously out of my control, but stressful none-the-less when you have a vision in your head of exactly how it's supposed to go.  My room needs to be installed, staged, and ready by end-of-day this Friday.  It's going to be a busy week...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The kitchen demo

My wish has finally come true, and my terrible, awful, no-good kitchen was actually, for real, demolished yesterday!!!!

Above you see the old kitchen and then it's remains in the old dining room.  The plan is to make these two spaces one with an island separating the dining and working spaces.

This was the initial plan.  It has tweaked slightly given some structural discoveries found during the demolition.  What I'm learning first hand is that even when plans are in place, sometimes function trumps form, and you need to change the design.  

More to come...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Work in progress

Last week I gave you a glimpse of what I was working with at the Show House.  It was pretty grim.  Aside from the floor-to-90" stained and cracked wall tile, we had a rotten floor, and peeling plaster on the 90"-to-ceiling (135") remaining portion of the walls.  It took a few days to get my head around what had to be done to transform the space...

The entire first floor of the House is filled with incredible detail - stained glass windows, a mahogany library, wainscoting, latticed ceilings, and antique lighting.  My room is on the first floor in between the kitchen and the Junior League Show House office, and as said, it used to house a walk-in ice box and annex to the kitchen.  It is 8 feet wide by 18 feet long and has a 11'3" ceiling height.  Yes, it could be called challenging.

When the JLB gave me the room, they asked that it be a "lady's den".  To me, the word den is synonymous with cozy, so given my dimensions and existing materials in the space, I had to think long and hard about how to warm it up.  First, I knew that I had to lose the tile on the walls, but because this is a 150-year-old house, removing the wire mesh installation would be more work than my budget could handle.  Instead, I decided to cover it up and to give the room some architectural details consistent with other spaces throughout the house.  But even to cover it up (correctly) took a bit of carpentry and I am thankful to New England Property Contractors for knowing how to handle it.

The tiled casing around the doors and windows was removed, as well as the cap on the top of the wall tile.  These were replaced with 2x4s to give the room structure and a place to nail the new wood casing to.  The walls and ceiling were then strapped with lauan to cover the tile and accomodate a board-and-batten style application.

Here's how it went...



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Color coordinated

I have a client who loves to read and who has an incredible collection of books (yes, not the digital kind).  Before I got started with her, her living room had the TV on an adjacent wall to her existing floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases.  It was awkward because the seating was focused on the odd wall with the TV instead of on the wall with the books.  To remedy the problem, we reworked the bookcases to accommodate the TV and switched the seating arrangement accordingly.  We also color coordinated the books to make them look more interesting.  By doing this, we took away the heaviness of the TV and created an equally weighted display, that even matches her chair...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Role reversal

Less than a week to go until my 1985 kitchen is stripped of it's broken Formica cabinetry and age-old, energy-sucking appliances.  We are taking a big leap of faith that we will be up and running to host Christmas dinner, but even if we end up at the Chinese restaurant, it is time to finally jump.  When we first moved into the house six years ago, we knew that the kitchen had to be remodelled.  We thought that it was two years down the pipeline.  Well, sometimes other things come up - like more babies, a recession, and an external makeover (, and the plan gets pushed back.  Until NOW!!!

Because I have been thinking about this for quite awhile, you would think that I would have had it all planned out.  Instead, I got stuck in a pair of my client's shoes - paralyzed and overwhelmed.  I have been exposed to so many incredible spaces throughout my career, and there are so many great products out there to choose from, that wrapping your head around it all can really keep you up at night!  So after a few (dozen) sleepless nights (and many rolls of tracing paper), I realized that if I can be objective with my clients, then I can be objective with my own project.  I got my act together and designed the kitchen following the same guidelines that I use for my clients: make a wish list; set a budget; be consistent.    

This has been a lesson in compromise.  I wrote my wish list last year in a blog post entitled The Heart of the Home (  Even though my list remains the same, I now actually have to work within the footprint of the room, and not everything will find a place in the new design.  Not-to-mention, my never-cared-about-design-before husband suddenly does, and has a wish list of his own :)   And, because I am a preacher of cohesive design, I have to make sure that the new kitchen will mesh with its already existing neighbors.  Given the parameters that I have just listed, the choices for colors and materials were suddenly not so vast, and my decisions became more obvious.  The layout is set.  Everyone is happy.  No turning back now. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

What I'm working with

I dropped my proposal off for Show House on June 27th.  They told me that I would know if I was given a room by the end of 4th-of-July week.  Well that week came and went, and then so did another, and I didn't hear anything.  It wasn't until July 15th that I was finally told I had been chosen.  The coordinator said that they had received more than three times the amount of applicants as in previous years;  over 100 proposals for only 35 spaces! 

The room that I had been asked to do was different than my proposal.  At that point, it didn't matter to me, I was just happy to have been accepted, even if this is what I now had to rework my original ideas into...

See where the floor and walls are damaged?  Until the day before I took these pictures, the room had a walk-in ice box there!  This used to be an extension to the kitchen.  Remember these photos when you come see my space at the Junior League Show House!
*Show House opens October 16th.  Tickets can be bought at

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One month to go!

When we first moved to Boston, I joined the Junior League.  During that time, I was fortunate enough to staff a few of their Show Houses.  The first one was a big, old, gorgeous house in Westwood with endless rooms and beautiful grounds.  Even though I was only a volunteer, I loved being a part of it.  I got there early for my shifts just to be able to wander around and take it all in.  I was completely amazed by the before pictures, and what all of the different designers had made of the dilapidated spaces they had been given.  And, because I was a student at the time in design school at NESAD, I daydreamed about having a room of my own to transform... 

So finally, back in May, I found out that after a six year hiatus, the JLB was putting together another Show House, and that it would be in my town.  I was thrilled, and without a doubt, I wanted to be a part of the party.  I went to the preview, toured the house, and picked up a proposal packet.  The process was a little overwhelming.  The house was old, dark, and in need of a lot of work.  As much as I wanted to participate, the investment seemed too large.  Dollar signs halted my creativitiy, and I froze.  But then after the images of the house had time to settle in, an idea started to brew, and within a few days, my proposal was all wrapped up...


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back in the saddle

OK, so I've been back in town for two weeks and lots has been happening - Show House, remodeling plans in the works at my house, catching up with clients, catching up with friends, catching up on mail, kids getting back into school and the gazillion activities, etc...  I thought that I would be back in the saddle a little earlier than this, but after a whirlwind of a summer, I needed some extra time to regroup.

Throughout the year my kids are so over-scheduled, so every summer I try to get them to slow down, get out of a routine, and learn how to relax.  This means that I don't relax.  We drive up and down the East Coast visiting family and friends, and then at the end of the summer we do our own Benedict vacation - which included more road-tripping to see more family and friends (on the other side of the country).  In six weeks, we drove over 5,000 miles!

The best part about covering so much ground is that every place you go is so different.  There are so many beautiful things to be found along the coast and in the mountains, down rural roads, through vineyards, and in the city.  Good thing I had my camera with me to capture the moments; moments that I hope to use as inspiration this year...