San Pancho Retreat

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I often feel like an arrow.  While I am clear on the target I’m intent on hitting, it requires a pulling back, a pause, a refocused effort – a collection, a reflection, a question.   Each time I sell, and prepare to buy again, the arrow quivers just a little less in its trajectory.  This period of retreat is important to me, it keeps me grounded, it allows me to feel what I am doing, and prepares me to return, fortified for battle.

I closed on Halloween, rolled my suitcase and a bag down 8 blocks to my sister’s house and left the following morning for Mexico.  San Pancho is a quiet little town on the West Coast, not far from Puerto Vallarta.  I smile when I think of that city because it reminds me of The Love Boat, Captain Stubing who I actually waited on at Thompson’s Clam Bar in my hometown of Harwich, MA, in the nineties.  I would watch The Love Boat and the Fantasy Island with Mrs. McLaughlin, while I was babysitting on Saturday night’s.  The Love Boat always visited Puerto Vallarta.  If Puerto V is the big city, San Pancho is the outback.  Tucked away in the shadow of Sayulita whose popularity has grown since I visited 10 years ago.  Tucked into a bay, it became famous for its surfing, and art community, and the undeniable hipness of its inhabitants and visitors.  San P is its humble, quiet sister whose beauties and mysteries unfold with the passing days, and her softly spoken “buenos dias”.

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Life here is simple.  You need not guess at a person’s motivation.  It’s beauty is juxtaposed with its grittiness.  The dirt roads, and cobblestones, that are as likely to have a horse and donkey meandering through them as a honking car or motor bike.  Absent are the rules and regulations that we organize our lives and priorities so carefully around in the States.  Construction sites spill out into the street with nary a barricade or warning in site.  It seems to say – “live free or die” without saying it at all, which really is a good lesson, regardless of where you live.  Pride, and family, and preparation, and gratitude are in abundance.  I think of my old yoga coach who would tell me to “try easy”.  I push so hard, so forcefully.  San Pancho allows you to pull back.

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Here I have retreated.  I have risen, and pushed, and pealed back, and exposed all of my flaws and insecurities to a people that will not judge me, because judgement is not part of their lexicon.  I have lived under a GMO Free Zone for just a short time and the elegance, simplicity and vitality of the food has restored me.

I rose early, practiced hard, explored my artistic side, experienced the beauty of Gisella and Calista’s carefully curated hotel – rustic and refined, thoughtfully designed, suitably pancho.  More and more, square foot, by square foot, I gain an appreciation for the artistic talent of others – even when the style is not my own.  Hotel Ciele Rojo is exceptionally well executed, but those words do it an injustice – it’s designed with heart, and you feel the love when you are here.

Visit, and tell them I sent you.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond: star worthy finishes

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Lime Wash . Skipping Stone.  Gives that traditional, relaxed feel.

For the love of the craft.  Jamie and Casey Davis –  brothers, and founders of Portola Paints and Glazes have an eye for architecture and for color.  I think it’s cool that their Dad was a high-end builder, their appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry growing from this exposure.  Each taking it in their own direction – one as a fine artist, the other a photographer, before coming together to start Portola.  Even the name is cool, but I would expect nothing less from a company based in Cali.

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They are so right.  Bedroom, Powder Room, Front Entry – if London’s Sketch can do it – I can too.

Undoubtably these California roots fed their knowledge and respect for sustainability.  Their paints, glazes, clays and washes are almost entirely green.  All the acrylics are zero VOC’s though their enamels do contain low levels,  out of necessity – shhh.

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Roman Clay Finish – the combo of dull and shiny is sexy.

They make them here in the good old USA, they hand mix them (quality control at its finest)  and even hand paint the sample decks before mailing them out to you.  From smooth to textured, pearlescent to trowel finished, they marry old world tradition with sustainable tech and innovation.  Paints that take on the appearance of patinated copper and aged iron, to the weathered lime washed wonder of the Mediterranean.

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Note that slightly textured finish – Sandstone…who knew.

They offer up the look of Venetian plaster in the form of their Roman Clay – though buyer be ware – this is trowel or putty knife applied, so the skill of the craftsman WILL make a difference.  The last thing you want is to pay a lot of loot and have it look like porridge.  Oy vey.  This is for a property yet to be known to me, but it remains a happy visitor in my rich fantasy life where at the end of all this flipping I’ve become flush with cash and fame (not likely) and have the money to buy a home the size of at least three of my tiny flips put together.  That Roman Clay will adorn the walls of the entry, and be the wow I’ve been waiting for.

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Lime Washed Moodiness.

Until then, I am intrigued, though admittedly a little nervous about their semi-gloss and sandstone finish paints.  These have a slightly textured surface.  They show the brushstrokes and give the impression of a silk fabric – albeit a slight one.  It interests me still, particularly when I consider how it might look side-by-side with a high gloss.  They carry a hybrid enamel, which I envision on a ceiling, the moldings, base and/or door, and juxtaposed against this slightly textured sandstone wall.  Too much shine, too many hard surfaces, too much perfection is simply uninteresting.  Appreciation grows when juxtaposed.  I’m so clever with my rhyming today, don’t you think?

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HAND Painted.

Two final things that will have me stepping out on my boyfriend Ben (Moore that is, and not my real boyfriend) support and pride in, and for the small business owner, they really do make our world go round, and the luscious names they have assigned to their pretty little palette….El Mirage, Fountain Stone, Blue Moon, Sweet Water, Gypsy Eyes, Sayulita (a place that I’ve been and loved), Magic Potion, Show time and Simmer Down.

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These guys….hero’s of tradition.

I could just drown in those lovely names.  Happy Sunday.

STEELING the SHOW: Hope’s windows and doors

Founded in 1912 in Jamestown, NY, Hope’s windows and doors are synonymous with – well – style.  They are both modern and traditional, East Coast and West, industrial and refined.  Now pulling all these styles off simultaneously is a feat to be sure, but somehow they do it.

First introduced to me as the standard of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), they fit the industrial bill for the Institute that refers to themselves as “the corporation”, and where technological innovation is housed within concrete and limestone corridors, topped by “The  – famed – Dome” – site of so many clever and newsworthy hacks.  As you stroll through the corridors of this venerable institution, you are rewarded with what seems to be a never ending array of Hope’s Doors and Windows that frame out the corridors, capturing moment after moment of brilliant innovation – the doors themselves standing as an apt example of superior craftsmanship and elegance.  The simplicity of their design, coupled with their sleek lines, make them a fitting compliment for all that is conceived and executed within those walls.

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Sleek and refined, yet traditional.

But then I spied them in a NYC West Village apartment, and later a California cool hacienda, and finally a modern addition to a traditional brownstone in Boston.  Why not, they fit beautifully into all these regions, markets, and architectural styles.

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A touch of industrial in the kitchen.

Three times stronger than aluminum, and sixteen times stronger than wood, hot rolled steal is built to last.  It’s strength can support maximum weights from glass with the leanest profiles, combining beauty and strength.  Naturally they cost more, but they last far longer, and add distinction as they are handcrafted.  For this same reason you must be patient – lead times can be in excess of 5 months, so a commitment is required.  Some day, I will have a nest that is permanent and I will have my Hopes.

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Through the looking glass.

Happy Saturday.

Pretty Pairings: Painted wood meets natural finish

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Wood paneling at the Parister Hotel.

I’m not sure where I first saw it, but if I had to guess I would say it was in some hip hotel.  Hotel design has the luxury of being daring.  Guests like to see something different than what they might put in their own home, and since they won’t be looking at it all the time, they are less likely to grow tired of it.  Which begs the question – is high gloss painted wood, accented with natural wood something that I would grow tired of in my own home.

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The most beautiful detail….nyc.

This, I think, is something I am willing to try.  First of all, I won’t be there for that long, so how sick of it could I possibly get?  Second, as long as the millwork is crafted by a real expert, I am likely to admire it ….. forever.  There is something about the juxtaposition of these two finishes that is appealing to me.

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perfect pairings.

In small spaces you don’t have much opportunity to make statements, and one must be careful that the statement you make isn’t over the top.  This treatment would accomplish that.  I particularly like the paneled wall, though I could see how paneling the ceiling might be cool too.  If you have a fear of putting holes in the wall – this may not be for you.  It can be hard for some to make a puncture wound in what is in essence of piece of artwork in its own right.  If you have a lot of art and want to display it, taking up limited surface area might be a luxury you can’t afford.

See how the eye is drawn to those o

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See how the eye is drawn to the doors.

My favorite compromise is to paint the exterior casings and moldings of a built in, leaving the shelves and interior in the natural wood.  It feels sublimely refined.  So for No. 5, I plan to find a way to incorporate this detail into the mix.

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By bringing the natural stained wood to cap the banister columns and accent the base the stair is made that much more interesting.

West Elm Goes Gami

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.

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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.

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Ori Interface.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rental Round-up: Assessing the city’s offerings

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Back to School: Time to sharpen my pencil

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy Sunday.