September is really one of the most beautiful months on the Cape. The streets clear a little, the days are warm and while you might not necessarily be rearing to jump on into the water, you could. A walk home from the beach is dotted by pumpkin sitings and baskets of mums. Nights turn cool, and sitting around the fire pit to the sound of crickets, and the glow of happy faces is truly special.
Fall begs for pumpkins and mums.
When you have a summer home (I don’t by the way but pretend I do) the likelihood is that you’ve designed it to reflect the location. I would. Homes near, or on the water, lend themselves to nautical touches, light and airy interiors, hard wood floors that will clean easily when the sand makes it way in from the beach, and the prep cookery gets a little out of control. Ease is the name of the game.
A wreath for every season signals the change.
I imagine one must make the most of a seasonal home by using it in more season than one. I like my home to reflect these changes in the weather. Decor is a wonderful way to do that, and I don’t mean changing out a summer sofa for a cozy winter one – now who would do that. Accents are the answer. Pillows, throws, potted plants, a might even go so far as to add another throw rug atop a sisal that will bring the warm and fuzzy to a cold morning. A wreath, a table runner, a Christmas tree stunner. These touches can turn your coastal home, lake house, or mountain cabin into a perfectly appointed abode for winter, spring, summer or fall.
Origami that is. West Elm is a company that I admire on so many levels. As a lover of Mid-century Modern furnishings, West Elm’s clean lines and sixties aesthetic appeal. So too does the price point, the on trend colors and their in-house designers that work to put it altogether for you, if you need a nod indicating you’re doing it right – or a whole hand in crafting your next home look.
Ori on display at West Elm’s Fenway location. 160 Brookline Ave. Boston.
There business model, appears to this outsider, to be pretty pliable. Not something I necessarily associate with a big corporation. They team. Teaming is good for business. It puts the community back into the places these stores are located, and small businesses are very important to our economy, not to mention fighting the good fight against homogeneity. It feels pretty special when you walk into the store, meet with local Etsy purveyors, select a painting from an artist to go above the sofa you saved your hard earned doe to get, so you could stop watching tv on the floor atop a pillow. Add to that a signed copy of Erin Gates book, Elements of Style, and you not only have a story to tell friends when you entertain, you’ve personalized it. That’s the magic of West Elm.
Don’t worry, they seem to produce that dust out back somewhere because they have done it again, albeit, in a very different way. This collaboration will be short lived like their Esty pop-ups, so you’ll want to forgo one or two of your fav fall activities to visit the Fenway West Elm store, because Ori – short of Origami – Robotic Furniture has arrived, for a limited time (October 30 . 2018) in store. 160 Brookline Avenue . Boston.
A whole existence in a box.
I’ve written about this MIT Media Lab launched company before – wow that’s a lot of alliteration. Their tag line: “One room . One Hundred Ways” is pretty brilliant, but the fact that you can transform your living room into a bedroom, your bedroom into a study, your study into a walk-in closet, by hollering at Amazon’s Alexa, or if you’re old school, by pushing a button, is AMAZING.
At West Elm . Fenway . Try it for yourself.
Originally only for sale to developers, this limited time offering allows the public – that’s you and me – to get our hands on one. The price point is a bit higher than the developer deal, but in fairness, they are buying in bulk. Full size option at $15,500., Queen at $16,000. Not exactly walking around change, but if you haven’t been tracking, waiting, saving, and hoping (harassing the people at Ori to let you buy one) then you can rent one for $300. a month. Now isn’t that convenient? Designed to snuggle into a 300 – 600SF space, CEO Hasier Larrea (and team) have created something truly brilliant.
345 Harrison . Ori would snuggle in there nicely.
Always willing to try something new, I am considering making my way on down to West Elm and ordering one up to be delivered, right under the gun, to 345 Harrison Ave. a place I am considering for my next home.
Sun filled living room. tall ceilings . low floors. painted in Benjamin Moore’s Sand Dollar.
You might have guessed with all this talk of rental properties that I had something beside a post up my sleeve. Well I do, this is the first time that I have written about – in the moment that is – a property that I have on the market. It went on Wednesday night. This is a particularly stressful time for me. I question everything – even the things, that to an outsider – are so clearly good things. For the next two months I’ll be on pins and needles, right up until the moment my Lawyer Sarah tells me the sale has been recorded in Suffolk County Registry of Deeds. Then I can breath again. Two months is a long time to hold your breath, trust me, I don’t recommend it.
Custom Kitchen cabinets with brass hardware and carera countertops and backsplash.
It started out as a one bed, but has been converted to two. Apartment living is all about proportion. Large can feel small and small can feel expansive. As the French say- ca depend. Layout, ceiling heights, even the angle and the swing of the door can make a huge difference in the livability of a space. Of course some things are entirely out of your control (like the sale of this condo and the ceiling heights you are given to work with) other things like the geometry class of a door layout which allows the bedroom doors to swing in and miss the queen size beds that lie within, are entirely within your control. It’s this bit of genius that make the pint size unit (708SF) worth every penny of the asking price. It’s two real bedrooms, not a bed and a half, not a bedroom for a baby with a crib, not a “bonus space” it’s a bedroom. It’s also quite a nice feature that I refer to as the “bow of the boat”. The doors form a point at the end of the hall, from the ceiling at that point hangs a perfect little pendant lighting the way to your state room. Charmont, if I do say so myself.
Dining nook with custom table in grasscloth and Farrow and Ball Lotus Wallpaper.
It’s in the Eight Streets, a prized neighborhood within the South End neighborhood for it’s proximity to some of the best restaurants the SE has to offer. Snuggled between Tremont and Shawmut Avenues, there is only one street within the eight that extends beyond these two streets and acts as a thoroughfare – that’s Waltham – lived there in case you are wondering. Why would anyone care about this you ask? Quiet. It’s a quiet street, across from the park, a street that might make you think your in the suburbs, and that my friends is worth gold. Some of which I am asking you to part with for the privilege of living here.
Other selling points include the design – why trouble yourself over it when you can just move right in and start entertaining. Everything is for sale and no one said you couldn’t, or shouldn’t buy a refined living environment, most certainly not me. Then there is the fact that it’s parlor level, just three steps up into the building. It’s across the street from the Ringold Park where the sounds of children’s laughter and the gentle splash of water from the fountain make their way with the breeze into your living room. There’s the shared garden oasis tucked away in the back for bbq’ing, sipping coffee and reading the paper, or a glass of wine by the fire after a long day at work. City living…this could be you.
Tucked away behind the building you wouldn’t even know you were in a city.
Come for a visit: 3 Hanson Street, Apt. 1, Boston – Buy and stay for as long as you like.
I’ve been working on a project – well for work. Each year we embark on an exhaustive adventure, the purpose of which is to conceive of the most wonderful holiday gifts our clients and partners have ever received. They have to be magical…no pressure. We often use a single word to drive the process. This year the word is “cozy”. Try putting that in a box and shipping it UPS. Not your problem. I’ll figure it out, and when I do, it will evoke feelings of home, and family, serenity and celebration, security and childlike wonder – cozy.
South End Brownstones
That’s what I like about Brownstones. They are cozy. They are old, sometimes their four stories tilt a little with age, but they stand proud. There is community within, but not so large a community that one can get lost in the crowd. That can be hard for some city dwellers – they want the anonymity. As a single gal, I like knowing that I am sandwiched between neighbors that I can rely on for help, and that offer a level of comfort in my solo existence. These Brownstones don’t exist in every city, or even every neighborhood in my city, which makes them pretty special.
The Troy . Rental Units . South End . Boston
Boston has a huge housing shortage problem. The reasons for which are vast – college town with students from all over the world coming and buying up properties, or renting at exorbitant sums of money, our strong economy with varied market sectors – Life Sciences, Academia, Finance, and TAMI. That stands for Technology, Advertising, Marketing and Innovation – it’s a thing. At any rate the Mayor said he was going to solve the problem and developers have shown up left, right and center with their bids for property, and their pleas for zoning lenience – it’s hard to make a buck on these buildings without turning them into luxury condos, or rental properties. Not exactly what the average joe had in mind when the Mayor said he was going to solve the housing shortage issue.
The Girard . Harrison Avenue . South End . Boston
Any hoo, as a lover of design, and a gal on a mission, I decided it was time to get to visiting some of these places. A few readers might remember that between my last home and where I am living now, I rested my head at the Ink Block. I’ll probably be struck down for this, but of all the places I have thrown down a doormat, the Ink Block is the only one I miss regularly, and pine for like a teenage girl after an unrequited crush – how embarrassing. It was just so darn easy to live there, and I’m not exactly accustomed to easy, and I am certainly not accustomed to having help, and while I didn’t want to get used to accepting it, I didn’t want to offend either, and there you have it…they got me and before I knew it….I had fallen in love.
345 Harrison Ave . Rental Complex . South End . Boston
Two new buildings have popped up in the last 22 months. These are big buildings too, so those of you not so familiar with construction should know – that’s a fast track schedule. I visited a third that had just opened around the time I went into the Ink, but that couldn’t accommodate my short term rental needs so I never visited. The Troy is the oldest of these buildings (just sold to Related Beal), The Girard, and 345 Harrison Avenue. I’d feel sorry for 345 Harrison, not having a name and all, and for the fact that they have the dumbest tagline: Designed for Living…I shudder to think how much they spent on that, but the fact of the matter is, the CBT designed building is spectacular. You heard me say it, it’s awesome, and set back from the highway, it’s a bit quieter.
Stats, facts, photos, and feelings will be shared on the properties in my next post.
Even though it’s technically still summer the moment Labor Day hits I’m ready for it to be fall. Fall clothes are my favorite, fall traffic is not. Hot apple cider, pumpkins and mums, and days that end with a good meal in front of the tv – guilt free- are a welcome balance to the long summer nights dining al fresco under the stars. It’s also a time to get organized, and if you’re me that doesn’t just mean turning over the closets (which is a favorite pastime because I love throwing away, donating, and gifting things that no longer work for me) but it means it’s time for the second most important real estate market. The Fall Market.
56 Gray Street . Apt. #4
On off years, (those years that I am not in the market for a new home), I romp through the neighborhood kicking leaves, listings in one hand – hot cider in the other, intent on exploring. There’s something so stimulating about being in the hunt – even if you’re not in a position to buy – spending time exploring homes that are for sale is both educational and entertaining. From the moment I step across the threshold I begin to assess. In the city, curb appeal can be deceiving. Many streets have no garden in front at all and rely on a few potted plants, perched on a step to set the stage. Streets can be dirty, littered with trash and even…ugh, dog poop. In these instances you need to rely on the neighborhoods historical ranking. In the South End, where I live, we have neighborhoods within neighborhoods. I live in the Eight Streets, which is considered a premier location because Union Park falls within this district. That street is Paris in Boston with its private park and fountains, it’s lovely. If you are looking within the Eight Streets you can clean up the streets, pot your own plants, and renovate the interior. Location, location, location. You know the drill.
I’m a little bit quirky, and I apologize in advance for saying this but it’s true – critical. I open the door (how heavy is it?), peak into the vestibule (is it well lit – bright?), I sniff (don’t laugh, there are few things worse then the smell of cooking cabbage, cat urine or mildew) I want to smell something fresh and pleasant when I enter the building. That all happens in the time it takes you to ascend the nine steps. We are all adept at judging. So this first impression is critical.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw the listing for 56 Gray Street. A sweetie of a street in the South End, bordering the Back Bay. These Federal Style homes were really for the rich and famous’ servants. At just 350SF, I was all aflutter. I’ve never lived in a studio, and I certainly haven’t lived in a place that small before, and with my tiny house obsession it appeals.
Lynn– both the Owner and the Broker, had me at Gray Street. I didn’t even try to play hard to get. It was a jewel box (location, location, location). As a rental it was more Kay Jewelers than Cartier, but the potential was there. I started frantically designing in my head. Pour Lynne was worried about the shower curtain rod not staying up in the bath – me…I had that sucker ripped out with the 80’s style 2 x 2 speckled tile, lock stock and barrel. The next change was hiding the brick wall (sorry all you brick wall lovers, the palette needs smoothing out). La Belle Julliette was calling and I could see the millwork go up, the closets surround the bed, the tucked away shelving on the side, and my sconce lighting build right in for reading in bed. Add to that a tiny ( and I mean TINY) kitchen reno with a Smeg fridge and you have a palace for a pauper.
I handed over my deposit check, scrambled to rub two nickels together to make a dime, and sadly learned that it wasn’t enough. I do hope that the new owners will have a special place in their heart for that little gem.
I spend a good deal of my time fantasizing about beautiful objects, exotic places, and different ways of life. I love my life, and find great joy in the make believe. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy travel so very much. To step into another culture, to talk to other people about their lives and paths – fascinating. It’s healthy to imagine, don’t you think?
This weekend of Sales, Sails (I am on an island after all) and Sales, had me troving the internet for steals, and deals. I ask that you keep in mind the relativity of a deal, based on the items I’ve carefully curated, some of which buyers would conduct months, or even years of research before taking the plunge – I might buy on a whim.
CB2 x GOOP. Boucle Chair. $899. (ready for ship October 2018)
Judge away if you will, life can take you in funny directions, if only you are willing to let it.
Fiat Jolly . 1959.
Amazon – by the way – is taking over the world, and while it makes me nervous, I find it AMAZing that they can ship me a home for free. So I’ve decided to stuff my worry down into my toes, and save it to my favorites list. Later today I may just put it into my shopping cart and click send.
One Kings Lane – a favorite on-line decor store of mine, as much for the photos that top their “shop the look” stories and designer profiles, as for their furnishings and the carefully curated bric a brac. This morning, as I sit surrounded by bountiful Hydrangea bushes, their branches staggering under the weight of late summer blooms, a soft breeze and a quiet hum in the air, I feel the need to contest their assertion that you can “capture the spirit of Nantucket” by clicking add to cart.
OKL – Could be Nantucket
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but some things simply can’t be bottled up and sold. The cloud formations that float by in skies that feel vast, and unending. Honey Suckle and cobblestones, fog horns and ship’s bells, vine ripe tomatoes and Pocomo oysters – salty and sweet all in one. It’s old money and new, it’s battered, bright and briny, it’s quiet contemplation and sing-along yoo-hooing. It’s the feelings you feel when you slow to a stroll instead of panicked run. Those feelings you feel that speak truths about you, that can’t be captured in a painting or postcard.
Wharf Cottages . In town.
The writer suggests that you can recreate this feeling in your home, wherever it may be. Perhaps that’s true, if the truth is that you’ve never been to Nantucket before, and your basis for recreation is the photograph they provide. Still I discourage you not. This place is special enough to give it a shot.
Me, I like my walks on the wharf, my voyeuristic tendencies kick into high gear as I peer, not so subtly into the home lives of the well-to-do, and connected. I recently saw one of the cottages go up for sale. A two bed for over $8M! These are exposed stud, uninsulated, summer hide-aways. Split swing front doors to let the breeze pass through, a hook here and there for a straw hat. A bed, a book, a cooking nook. Everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Island living. Oh I’ll take a piece of it here and there to sustain me through the long winter, but the charm of Nantucket for me, will always exists right here, 30 miles south of Cape Cod.