Southern Challenge: Leap of faith

Today I am filled with gratitude and a healthy dose of awe for the faith that the Walton’s placed in me with their new southern home. It’s one thing to preach about it, and another to put it into practice. I always knew they were special people, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the divergent nature of the design suggestions I was making, from that which they were accustomed, until I had changed everything that is.

Above: Family room before and after. All the surface mounted electrical was removed, the existing built-ins were modified to accommodate the wall mounted tv – which can be hidden away with the addition of the new doors. A additional corner bookshelf cabinet was constructed to the right of the door. All woodwork was painted in Benjamin Moore’s Nickle, walls in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral ice. Quite a transformation.

Above Left: Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Right: Benjamin Moore’s Nickle.

Dark, rich, brooding color palettes were packed up in boxes and left in New England to be replaced with bright, fresh, clean happy hues with a hint of grapefruit. Just kidding. I love the crazy adjectives that they use to describe wine, and I got a bit carried away.

Above: Office before.

The house was in need of a manicure and a haircut. It was so laden with window dressings and accoutrements (that’s french for a lot of trappings or extras – the fringe had its own accessories), that I was surprised that it could breathe under the weight of it all. It was entirely the wrong feeling for a family that breathes life into its visitors, allows them to see life through a new lens and find their purpose. Speaking from my own personal experience, I can assure you finding your purpose is hard enough without hiding it under all those trimmings and trappings. I love a window treatment as much as the next gal (if I am being honest, probably a little more than the next), but balance and harmony must prevail, and even I believe that being parsimonious nets a more pure result.

Above: Office after – dark wood painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Winged Dove in high gloss. Walls in same – egg shell finish.

I think I would have been really nervous if I had been clued into the doubt that was floating around down there in North Carolina. Ho boy, as Jo-Jo likes to say, I might have been up a night or two over it. You see, I am not really accustomed to working with others to realize their vision. As a flipper, I am in the business of realizing my own. It’s true, sometimes I let myself down when I make mistakes, but I have learned, well, to learn from them, and move on. It’s a weighty responsibility to please others, which brings me back to faith and gratitude.

Jonathan said: “We would never have imagined painting these colors.” “I was skeptical about the color. But SO love it!!! I’m so glad that I did not go brown and browner.” Me too Jonathan, me too. Thank you for the gift you gave to me in your trust.

She Sheds: the place I want to be…shed

Note the Greek Key awning in pale gray and the black and white tiled floor – this is quintessentially French, and I adore it.

The all about me shed. I’ve been feeling nostalgic of late for my very first place in Charlestown. It’s not so much that I miss living there, or even want to be back in that condo, as it is a longing for the feeling of creating something that was unapologetically about me. Everything was new, and fresh, and I didn’t allow pesky things like resale value get in the way of my dreaming.

That’s the thing about projects. They can sometimes take on a life of their own. You can start doubting that what you are doing is going to turn a profit, or move fast enough, or be “liked” by others. When I started on this journey, before I knew that’s what it was, though isn’t life always – a journey that is – before that, my only worry was how I would pay to make my vision a reality. Cat House my kittens tail – that paint job in my Charlestown home was perfection. Perfection I tell you. It certainly did not resemble a house of ill repute and why haven’t I been as bold with the other homes? Was it because they became just a number?

Whatever the reason, it got me longing for a She Shed. That’s right, a place were I could put my creativity back into action. A small jewel box of a hide away. A place that I could sit and write and be surrounded by the sound of chirping birds in summer, snuggled up in blankets in winter, with a heater at my feet. Oh how I hate to be cold.

It would be cloaked in striped curtains, and have an interior awning – in my minds eye it would have a beautiful set of barn doors that opened to reveal both. I would welcome friends to come for cocktails and listen to music and sit and chat when I wasn’t writing.

Studio Shed . Portland Series

It would sit on a little plot of land, or in a back yard, and a perfect set of pavers would lead you down a lavender and daisy flanked path to my pretty little french macaroon of a hide away.

Now finding and creating the She Shed is the easy part. You wouldn’t believe how many companies exist that are in the business of making your dreams come true – as far as She Sheds go. They’ll prefab them, trailer them whole to your destination (they require you to be pad ready – that means you need to have some sort of a foundation for the shed, which depending on the size and the area that you live in, and other features you may decide are essential like plumbing and electricity – you could be required to get a building permit). Other approaches could include the conversion of something you already have in your back yard – that is, if you have a back yard at all, which I don’t.

This one would cost you but oh how pretty she is!

Hum, which really leads me to my bigger problem. While some of these She Sheds can be purchased for less than $2,000., and of course the sky is the limit in terms of what you COULD spend on one, but i saw some pretty nice ones for $48,000. – if you don’t have the land to put it on, that’s going to be your biggest expense. Oh my She Shed longing just rachetted up a few more notches.

Just a tiny bit of thing, it doesn’t need to be big to be just what you need….

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Townies: The Manse gets its make-over

Above: Exterior – White Cedar shingles, Door’s in Nantucket Red. Side deck, Home Goods Garden Stool, Restoration Hardware – Malibu Collection.

Since the 70’s its been a law office, a sometimes summer dwelling, a retreat from other major renovations, a spa, a home to more than a few spiders, and seen its fair share of paint and paper. It waited patiently, frankly with far more patience than I myself possess, for its day in the sun.

I would say all the waiting was worth while. The Manse, finally finished, gained a few inches in height, spread her wings a little to make room for a first floor suite of sorts, and a proper foundation – if you are going to build a nest, you really must have a solid foundation. It’s a miracle the old dame lasted as long as she did, sitting so indignantly on the dirt, but 230 years later, she landed in the pages of the Boston Globe Magazine.

Now owned by my youngest Sister, Jo-Jo put the architecture in the hands of my father, and the interior design in my hands – who else. The results are what I refer to as “cozy coastal”. The article provides details of the space, but just a few photos, so here is a bigger glimpse into the results my biggest project to date.

Resources and Additional Images to follow.

Miss Willmott: Seattle’s hauntingly beautiful restaurant

Welcome to Willmott’s Ghost . Seattle . WA

If Renee Erickson’s Italian Eatery, on full display inside one of Amazon’s four story Sphere’s, located on 6th and Lenora in Seattle’s downtown, has got you wondering why this glass slipper, fairy tale of a restaurant has “ghost” in its name – guess no longer. Miss Ellen Willmott was a Victorian Botanist who must have been a bit presumptuous, as she went around planting the thistle like flower around town, and at the private property of folks she thought would benefit from the beauty. Willmott’s Ghost is indeed a pretty plant, and hearty too, which is welcome in seaside locations where sandy soil, and salt air doesn’t favor the delicate.

When I visited, I hadn’t known that Renee was a renowned Chef. She’s got a little empire of a restaurant group under her fin, and its name Sea Creatures is so stinkin’ cute I can’t stand it.

Pale Pink accented by deep forest green, gold and glass.

She doesn’t just have her fingers in the pots on her stove, she’s also the author of a delightful cook book – entitled A Boat, a whale & a Walrus. Stop – just stop, I adore the title and her playful approach to our serious world.

Available on Amazon – where else?

But wait, you didn’t think she’d be done with a mere half a dozen restaurants, and a single cook book – the world opens and expands to welcome the joyous talents of those that put them out into the world. She is also a restaurant designer, though I couldn’t figure out exactly what the connections are, they have to be familial. Heliotrope Architects – Price Erickson designed the space in collaboration with Renee, who is partners with Jeremy Price and Chad Dale on the restaurant design front. While I adore food, design is passion, and Renee and her team have talent in spades.

Pink is such a happy color and to see it in a restaurant, tiling the walls of the open kitchen – a place that is expected to take the wear and tear, the heat and toil of this fast paced, tough and tumble environment, speaks volumes to me about strength and beauty.

happiness…..

Well done team. Happy Saturday.

Chief: Of One’s Own Destiny

Future, fate, fortune, doom, that hidden power that floats in the ether controlling your every move, your every breath – those ragged and smooth, gasping or shallow – leaving you a little light headed, does it really exist, or can you gently nudge it in one direction or another?

Muddier hues give the space an elevated sophistication.

On the one hand it feels rather reassuring to think that it all doesn’t matter. The worrying, and the striving, the toiling and the task making – if it’s all going to happen as the universe wills it – why not relax? Blessedly I have two hands, and the other one isn’t taking any chances. Just in case, and for all the what ifs – I am in the game, and believe that fortune is made by those that grab it by the pig tails and squeal, and snuffle, get into the mud and sling it out – oink and boink, and decide. That’s right, just decide to put yourself in the path of other like minded survivors – thrivers – the really alivers. Ok, those are really words, but you get the point. It’s for the bold, even if your bold delivered in the form of a new word.

That color looks like Farrow & Balls – Setting Plaster. Pink offset by rusty tones keeps it from feeling too whimsical.

Today though, I prefer to focus on the word “Chief”. Derived from the Latin – where else – it references the highest, most important rank. It denotes power and prominence. For me, I’ve never wanted to be the number one, number one. I’m happy being the number one, number two – not because I don’t have my own ideas, and thoughts about what success looks like, but rather because I blossom in an environment of collaboration, and idea sharing, where together we can share in something that could not have been created as a solo effort. Chief, I bet is a lonely place to be at times.

Every Club has to have a beautiful bar.

I am nonetheless, fascinated by the most recent declaration of female power in the form of a Women’s Club that will soon be arriving on the shores of Boston. Unlike The WingChief is not a co-working space, it’s a club, a club with a very specific purpose, to put high ranking women in the path of like power brokers. It’s a place to convene and share, trade secrets – not of their companies variety, but rather of the people, and places, and resources that got them to where they are today, and hopefully through this magical sourcing and resourcing, will propel them to an entirely new elevation in the future.

Groups of women gather for “Salons” in settings like this.

Founded by, what I can only refer to as two young gals, now that I am sadly struggling with my middle age title. I sometimes reflect on a Harvard Medical School talk I attended where the speaker indicated if we could hang on for another 50 years, he could give us another 100. It happily blew my mind. I plan to live another 50, so it most definitely slides me into the lower quadrant of my existence, and just like that – brilliantly – I have a world of possibility ahead. I digress, which I am wont to do. Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan, formerly of Handy and Casper respectively, were at the VP level of their organizations, and thought to themselves – where’s the support network. How can I break through?

Chief Co-Founders – Childers and Kaplan

Chief is their answer and I have to tell you, it just might be worth striving for the top spot to gain access to this interior. I love the Millennial Pink of The Wing, and a girl doesn’t limit herself to just a single pair of shoes, does she? Why ever would she limit herself to a single interior. Stay tuned for its arrival. Happy Saturday.

Mix of the masculine and mid-century marvelousness.

Setting Plaster

Robert A. M. Stern’s Offices . One Park Avenue . NYC

If you think I am going to provide you with a lesson on how to set plaster – you have another thing coming. While I love a beautifully plastered wall, and believe in the fundamentals of a clean space within which to work, I happily leave the execution of that up to the experts. It’s actually the name of a paint color – a showstopper – a mon avis, but the name leaves a lot to be desired. Farrow and Ball could stand to learn from Essie’s in the naming prowess. There Rallings, Down Pipe, and Stiff Key Blue could go from marbles in the mouth to the amuse bouche (a little happy for your mouth 🙂 ) of a Touch of Sugar, Reign Check, or Tiers of Joy, but that’s neither here nor there. A rose by any other name and all that. I will not be dissuaded from my new found adoration of this hue.

One Park Avenue. NYC is the I’ve arrived of all addresses. Originally designed by York and Sawyer, it is home to Robert A. M. Stern Architects. I announced to the Receptionist, in the most uncouth way, that I needed to be shown to my room, I was moving in. Naturally she looked a bit confused, and was decidedly too polite to point out that the Ritz Carlton was down the street. After clearing up my actual reason for being there, I had a tour of this amazing space. From their lighting collection to their carpeting, hardware, tile, urns, and the recent addition of benches and bike racks for their institutional clients, RAMSA leaves nothing to chance. They are my kind of people, even if they don’t know it.

THE Office.

I joked to my colleague, that you could safely say that you were in the big leagues when you were dealing with folks that laugh at the idea of an 8″ base. This seemed to be to be excessive when I was considering it for my modest condo project two months ago. I would have happily settled for 6″ – ha. RAMSA outfitted their lobby with a base that was conservatively 21″ tall, and let me assure you, not only does it work, but I briefly considered ripping out mine and replacing it, and my paint is barely dry.

Model citizens – getting the scale right.

Ah to be in the vicinity of greatness. As I make my way quickly and efficiently through the city today, making decision after decision to accent my new space, and dare to dream, transform it into something that I like…I am ever hopeful, that some of their magic rubbed off onto me.

Towering Heights.

Reflections Of….

Is it too late to take a look back at 2018?  I have been so sick, I clear missed the end, and the new beginning.  I hate not saying a proper good-bye.  Despite so many friends and relatives saying sayonara with nothing less than gusto, I had lots for which to be grateful.

Left is Hanson Street Living Room After the Renovation. Right is before.

I like listing the accomplishments and the milestones.  I’m one of those people that adds things onto the list, just so I can cross them off.  You know the kind, don’t you?  Well sometimes I get to adding things to my list at such a dizzying rate I think my head is going to spin clear off, but them I go and get it all done, and there my head is still, so there’s not much of a case for slowing down.

This year I sold a house, bought a house, started a renovation, finished the biggest interiors project I had ever undertaken, built a deck, landscaped a yard, tore down a chimney, and spent an inordinate amount of time at Stonewood Products in Dennis, MA.  If you think sawdust is great you are going to love this place.  I had a “round” milestone birthday, celebrated in Mexico, and then London, visited Seaside Florida a new urbanist development that to me, is perfection, and took a ferry ride to Nantucket with my friends for a week.

Refurbished furniture for The Manse.  A little can of paint will do you.  Right side photo: Dan Cutrona @cutrona

I remembered how much I respect and admire the work of Dorothy Parker – I mean who else could possibly come up with poems as acerbic and sharp-witted as quips like:  “It serves me right for having put all my eggs into one bastard”?  Brilliant.  

I couldn’t resist.  Lawrence Street at time of purchase on the left and now….

I reaffirmed my affection for the color gray and more specifically, Ben Moore’s Mineral Ice.  It’s such a serene and calming gray.  I’m going to paint No. 5 gray too.  And there was so much more; introductions to new and amazing people like Jill Rosenwald a hip pottery maker, and Tillett Textiles – allowing you to select your pattern, and color palette, and finally find the perfect combo to go with your grandmother’s Bergere chair.  Magic.

Yes, 2018 was a pretty good year.  Hope it was for you too.