Monday, January 30, 2012

Sophisticated in the mountains

It's ski season here in New England so my family and I have been spending most weekends up at our winter rental in the White Mountains, but given the balmy conditions, the skiing has been less than spectacular.  So instead of laying fresh tracks, we've been having fun discovering the area.  It has become our routine to spend Saturdays on the slopes (not feeling guilty arriving after 9) and Sundays exploring the great outdoors (and a whole array of interiors).  Whether it be driving around taking in the scenery, snowshoeing (or more likely hiking) with the dog, stopping for long and sometimes wine-y lunches, or checking out the open houses, mountain life has us daydreaming about a second home.

After walking through a dozen of open houses ranging the full spectrum of price and taste, I've found that the ski chalet has a tendency to be a little kitschy.  I have definitely seen my fair share of "Moose Crossing" signs, bear motif picture frames, snowflake blankets, and fake antler chandeliers.  I know that it's easy to get roped into the lodge theme, but there are better ways to do it.

So, to keep your rustic retreat from looking too much like a flashback from Hot Dog (or more recently, Hot Tub Time Machine), here are some great woods-inspired products:

Bunk beds from La Lune Collection

Worn leather sofa from Hancock & Moore
Occasional tables from Arteriors Home

Metalware from Beatriz Ball (like their Twig Tray)

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Bedding from Pine Cone Hill


Vintage signs from Arte House

Woods wallpaper from Cole & Son

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's worth the wait

I've been working with a great client for the past few years on her beautiful house in the metro west area of Boston.  Because she and her partner work long hours, and are meticulous about every decision that goes into the interior, the process has been slow and intentional, and we have fashioned one room at a time.  But, just like the old Heinz ketchup saying goes, it's worth the wait. 

What I like most about this house is that on its own, it's a very accessible space with comfortable rooms, beautiful details, and gorgeous furnishings.  It's not the type of place that needs to be dressed up with lots of accessories.  But, when it gets ready for a party, it shines.  The colors of the walls radiate with warmth and invite you in to take part in the festivities. 

Here are a few shots that my client took of what the space looks like on an average day vs what it looks like with some diamonds and pearls.  I can't wait to share the rest of the project with you down the line...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shopping for plumbing fixtures

Today starts an incredible busy 24 hours with out-of-town clients coming in to test out seating, look at casegoods, touch fabrics, consider wallpaper, and to pick out granite slabs, backsplashes and plumbing fixtures.  Out of all of the to-do's, the last one is my favorite. 

Plumbing fixtures don't sound sexy, but it's actually a really fun aspect of design, and no, it's not just looking at toilets.  That's just one of the many products that we will be searching for (though there really are some cool toilets out there).  A lot goes into designing a bathroom.  For the master bathroom, we will be not only be looking at toilets, but sinks, lavatory faucets, tub faucets and fixtures, shower heads, body jets, and thermostatic mixers and controls (and tile).  You don't just buy a whole set.  You mix and match (and then make sure that the lighting and the vanity knobs and towel bars and toilet paper holder mix and match as well).

Here are some of my favorites:

For the shower head - I love more than one; usually an overhead and a hand held. 
For controls and the lavatory faucet, I'm an old fashioned cross bar type of girl:

Venice Widespread - Polished Chrome Finish Pictured

For the sink, I like a more linear look:

Product View  

And toilets, a little in between:
Memoirs® Comfort Height® one piece elongated 1.28gpf toilet with Stately design

 And for the toilet paper (I love this product):

Novis magazine rack and roll holder

Products shown by Rohl, California Faucets, Kohler, Samuel Heath

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Updated in Hingham

I love working with clients who like to put a little spin on their interiors.  This one in particular took a summer bungalow, added a second floor and modernized the space in an unexpected way.  Though the house has a traditional appeal from the street with a farmer's porch and a shingled gray exterior, the inside has a completely different feel.  From the floating staircase, to the slate wall, to the contemporary lighting choices, to the custom cabinetry and finish stain on the floors, this house hits it out of the park.  It really is a great example of how you can have the best of both worlds.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bringing Sedona indoors

In my last post, I put up some photographs from this weekend's trip to Sedona.  I felt an instant connection to the landscape and thought that the natural beauty of the area could be easily translatable to the way I look at interiors.  Taking my digital learning curve up another notch, below you will find attached my Pinterest board.

My jumping off point for the whole design is Phillip Jeffries Java Cork wallcovering.  To me, it is a literal interpretation of the red rocks of Sedona.  I would love to use this as a focal wall in a bedroom.  To soften it up, I would place a wood and upholstered headboard in front of it in a Lee Jofa mossy green velvet.  Paired with some southwestern influenced textiles, a little leather, some animal skin (faux or real), and a few pieces of clean-lined furnishings, this would be quite a little adobe villa of your own!

The wild west

Just back from a quick weekend out west to Sedona - What a magical place with perfect temps for hiking and picture taking!  Here are some of the wild landscapes that encompass the town.  I will be following up this post with another about how to recreate this feeling in your interior...

And now for some details of color and texture.

And here's a peek at our sweet little adobe villa.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Up and down and side to side

Clients often ask me to help them arrange their bookshelves.  I understand that this can be a daunting task, and not everyone reads enough to actually fill them up with books.  So if you are not using them in the traditional utilitarian way, then this is a great place to highlight some of your family photos and favorite found objects.  With a little down lighting, they can even be the focal point of the room.

Everyone goes about assembling their things in their own way.  There is no real guide (or at least not one that I know of) on how to actually do this.  For me, it's about balance.  For every vertical object on your shelf, you need a horizontal one to counter it (usually above or below it and on the diagonal).  You also need stabilizers to finish each run.  To translate, usually I like to flank 6-8 books vertically against the side of the bookshelf and then support it with a bookend or a vase.  To keep the shelf from feeling too heavy, I usually place something lighter on the other side of the books, like a pair of photographs, a pottery collection, or an interesting box.  I will then do the reverse on the shelves above and below the one that I started from (like a zig-zag).  Below on my own bookshelves, you will find an antique ladies lap desk, an assortment of nautical tools, a small painting found at a flea market, a gurgling cod, some Chinese pottery, a few reference books, and some of our favorites novels.

Also, bookshelves are a great place to showcase pictures or souvenirs from a trip.  One entire shelf can display a grouping of photographs, especially if the frames are similar but in varying sizes, and even more so, if all the photographs are done in black and white.  Another shelf can tell a story from a vacation with a few items that you brought home to treasure.

Here are some favorites from my trip to Jordan and Egypt:

And another shelf gets my Balinese wedding couple paired with some antique Chinese buckets:

If you are an avid reader with beautiful hard copy books, then by all means, fill your bookshelves up with books.  If you have multiple bookshelves linked together with a center stile, then hang a painting on the stile to break up the line of books.  Or, use family photos to act as a bookend at the end of a run.  But if you're not reading the books that you put up there, then fill the cases with something more meaningful and something that will strike up conversation when you have company.  Anything goes!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Switch hitting

It's a new year.  I have started my annual cleanse, and now on day 3, I'm jonzing for my morning coffee, a glass of Pinot and some cheese and crackers.  I know that if I can just stay strong, the cycle will continue, and in a few days I will feel clarity and more refreshed to kick off 2012.

To keep on track, today I took a trip over to Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of Shape magazine - It's always inspiring to see before and afters of people who have dropped some serious lbs (did you see that issue of People magazine this month where they were 1/2 their size?)!  Anyway, while I went there to pick up Shape, I started flipping through Vogue and the like.  Finding the images a little too far out of touch for my physique, I ended up in the house & home section.  Go figure.

But, that's it. 

A friend of mine, Gretchen Aubuchon, is launching a new website next month called Fashion + Decor (  She has come up with the great concept of coupling fashion with interiors.  She is literally "pairing fashion to home decor to inspire dressing our homes as we would dress ourselves".  Though personally I am still an old school believer that interiors (or at least the ones that I create) begin more organically, there is an opposing school of thought out there that believe they are influenced more by how you dress or what you see on the runway. 

Now I am not a girl who is hung up on fashion.  I always thumb through the design magazines before I pick up a fashion one (which usually comes after a dose of US Weekly), so for me, this theory works a little backwards.  I see a beautiful space and then conceptualize it as an outfit, especially with color schemes that I normally wouldn't think of putting together on my body.   But, in trying to stay on track for a healthy new year, I came across this inspiration.  This is my goal.  I am going to look great in this swimsuit.  AND, for the first time that I am aware of, I'm a switch hitter.  Fashion is going to influence my design, and I'm going to use it as my jumping off point for a new project....

  Mara Hoffman

For more about Fashion + Decor, make sure to check out Gretchen's blog,