Thursday, March 29, 2012

Under covers

Today was a dreary, wet, cold day in Boston - felt like we were back in March instead of enjoying that burst of spring that was such a tease last week.  Still feeling a little sore from my Monday runday (and Tuesday's follow-up 3 miler), I could have (and would have) stayed in bed all day if I didn't have plans already made.  Instead I was coming and going wishing I had worn a warmer coat and daydreaming about putting my sweats back on and getting under the covers.

Now, of course, getting under the covers is so much better when you have an incredible mattress (which I am lacking).  Recently I had to specify a bed (mattress and all) for a client.  This was so much fun.  Especially if you have a big budget.  The Dux bed (by Duxiana) and the Hastens bed are by far two to-die-for choices, but given the need to stretch funding to other parts of the room, for most (including me) they are a luxury more so than a necessity.  So instead of over-indulging, I headed to Bloomingdale's and looked at the Klufts and the Shifmans.  These were also extremely comfortable, oversized, and every bit the $15-5,000 price tags, but, when weighing price vs. function, there were definitely other options. 

After lounging around laying in every bed in the showroom (with my shoes on because they have those funny little red blankets at the foot of the bed to keep it clean), the salesperson pointed me toward Bloomingdale's private label Hudson Park.  What a little secret!  I have to say, their 'luxury firm' package definitely beat out the Stearns & Fosters and the Sealy, and at the ridiculously reasonable price point, I no longer felt that I was missing out on the Kluft or the Shifman.  With an amazing warranty, I not only found a winner, but I was completely confident that the mattress would outlast my client.  Happily I purchased the bed and still had plenty of funds to splurge on Down to Basics (by Susan Fowler) bedding. 

Pure heaven.
Hudson Park Luxury Firm

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday runday

After much procrastination, I finally started training for the Ragnar Relay Race that I'm a part of in May.  Yes, I know it's just over 6 weeks away and I have a lot of catching up to do, but I am thankful that my chunk of the run is only 13 miles (over three different legs) and the training doesn't have to be very intense.  Anyway, today I met one of my teammates down in Hingham, and we wandered our way through six miles of the perfectly perfect coastal New England town.  When I say perfect, I mean that every house is perfectly painted, with perfect historical detailing, and a perfectly perfect manicured lawn with stone walls and picket fences (and sometimes a swimming pool and guest house) - a perfect distraction to keep me going through a harder-than-expected work out.  Good thing one house after the next kept me chugging along and excited to discover more next week.  If you haven't been, here are some houses (from that give you an idea of what the whole town is about.  AND, if you do go, make sure to check out Delicious Designs on North Street.  Roberta Sobran is the shop keeper and an interior designer with, but of course, a perfectly perfect sense of style! (

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Neutral with a pop

I have a client who is very into taupes and grays.  She's a busy mom to a young family and putting on a great room/master bedroom addition.  A neutral palette is perfect for an open space that's full of crazy kids - it's soft and serene, yet current and fresh at the same time.  BUT, without texture and pops of contrasting color, I think that it can be a little cold. 

We've already decided on white cabinetry, pale gray walls (think Intense White OC-51 from Ben Moore), and warm wood tones on casegoods, so we have no limitations on where we can go with the fabrics.  Here are some of the schematics that I sent her way.  Which one would you choose??

Monday, March 19, 2012

Above and below

I'm a collector.  I pick up sticks when I walk through the woods, pebbles and sea glass on the beach, and pairs of black shoes wherever I can...  Of my collections, my favorite has to be my blue and white porcelain jars that I picked up on Hollywood Road in Hong Kong.  It's all the same pattern but varying shapes and sizes, and I love the way that they sit together, symmetrically in a group.  They add composition to a room and can create interest on any surface.

This photo represents my favorite vignette in my house - the blue and white collection on top of an antique Chinese cabinet - the one that was salvaged from mainland China that used to be a bright red lacquer before it was stripped down to it's original wood and given this beautiful wax finish.  My bamboo ladder from Vietnam and the indigo Indonesian ikat throw that hangs from it are reminders of my travels but also double as a valet when needed (as does the teak box underneath the cabinet that hides my collection of black shoes).

Here the blue and white collection found a place in under a flip-top writing desk in a small apartment in Town.  When the ceiling is the least attractive part of a room, it's nice to bring the focus down rather than up, so don't be afraid to add interest under tables rather than a traditional use on top.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just by chance

A few weeks ago my name was mentioned in a Boston Globe Sunday Magazine article entitled 'Secondhand shops around Boston' (see article here 

...designer Elizabeth Benedict of Elizabeth Home Decor & Design scours consignment shops for upholstered pieces with quality frames that can be re-covered. It’s a strategy that can save money and yield unique pieces, often with a shorter lead time than if they were ordered new, Benedict says...

On a number of occasions I have blogged about how I like to repurpose what clients have or use the likes of criagslist and consignment stores to find pieces that are timeless but in need of some TLC.  After this article came out, I received an interesting phone call from an 82-year-old woman in Revere who was downsizing.  She had seen my name in the Globe, so she looked me up and asked if I'd be interested in purchasing some Provincial-type chairs.  Since she didn't have a computer, she offered to send me actual photographs of the chairs by mail.  When I opened her letter, I was pleasantly surprised by this chance encounter, and I arranged to purchase them the next day.  Nothing beats 3 classic frames for $200.

Here are my new friends.  Yes, they are in need of some updating, but with a great finish and some luxe modern fabrics, they are sure to be the perfect ending to this great story.... 

This is a pair!  I'm thinking a high lacquer dark walnut stain with a geometric print - just the right scale for an office or on either side of a game table.

And this little French lady will need some plush texture to contrast the distressed crackled cream-colored frame - ideal for a corner reading chair in a bedroom or fireside.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Make it your own

I remember buying my first poster for my freshman college dorm room.  It was a Monet.  Technically, not really, it was a glossy reproduction of 'Water Lilies' that went well with my XLong twin comforter from Linens-n-Things.  But by senior year, the Monet had been replaced with prints that I had collected from random venues that I had been to - Neil Young at Red Rocks, the Aspen Wine & Food Festival, Laguna Seca Daze, Spoleto, Jazz Fest and the like - an anthology of good times, but still nothing really that one could call art.  It wasn't until I was 25 that I bought my first piece.  It was a photo transfer from a gallery in Charleston, SC; a beautiful landscape that I still have.  It cost $95 framed.

Since then, I have put together quite a collection, buying pieces that I come across along the way.  Some are qualified, legitimate works of art, but some are flea market finds or simple reminders of a meaningful time.  Whatever it consists of, it's my story, and it adds an incredible sense of warmth to our home.  To me, the definition of art is only something that you can define.  Whether it be a realist oil painting, a mixed media storyboard, a photograph, an antique botanical, a rare map, or a piece of sculpture, you are the only one who can decide to appreciate it or not.  You are the only one who decides if it's for you.  It's 100% personal.

I have some clients who want to design their interiors around their art and then some who want to design their interiors and then find the art to complement it.  Either way, art is a very important aspect to interior design.  If you don't already have some found pieces of your own, there is a whole world of artisans waiting to be found.  Here in Boston, I can recommend three wonderful women to help you find it.   Julie Mussafer from Jules Place in the South End of Boston (, Diana Levine ( from the Boston Design Center, and Beth Kantrowitz of BK Art Projects in Watertown (, are all gallery owners and art consultants who represents a number or artists from around the country.  Whatever media you might be drawn to, they can help you find it.

Happy hunting!

My first piece by Laura W. Adams

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pretty in pink

I have a red dining room.  This was something that I did 10 years ago.  I can't wait to change it.  They're overdone. 

I have a client who likes the idea of red, but likes pink better.  This is not overdone.  This is brilliant.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oops, I did it again

A client needed a narrow tall chair to fill a corner in a small guest room.  We found this great frame that was the perfect scale at Arhaus (the Alice chair), stripped it down and reupholstered it in Peter Fasano's gorgeous Brompton print.  What do you think?

Alice Dining Chair

Notice how we lost the slipcover with the odd drop waist, and cleaned up its lines with a semi-attached cushion and a tailored waterfall skirt - A total transformation that I can't wait to see after it's delivery!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Into the woods

I like to photograph trees.  Especially the ones that look like they've had it but keep on growing.   My favorite one is the white birch, aka the Aspen.  It's white trunk always makes for great contrast no matter where you find one. 

I began to notice nature was while I was living in Colorado (and no, not because the Samples had a song about it). Where I grew up, it was more about the beach and I didn't spend much time in the backcountry. In college, I spent a lot of time hiking and skiing and getting to know the woods. And, I spent a lot of time in Aspen. If you've ever been there in late September, you would definitely take notice too. Here the birches out number the people, and in early fall, their leaves turn a blazing golden yellow. Any person with a camera can get an unforgettable shot. 

Below are some of mine from last weekend - their leaves are gone, but they are still so interesting.

And when I look to buy artwork, I continue to gravitate toward the same trees. Here are a few artists who capture them so differently, but so incredibly well.

Aspens get me every time
Susie Pryor

Whitney A. Heavey

Wolf Kahn

Bob Ichter