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.

Home – LESS: Living out of a suitcase

Left:  88 Waltham St. #3 . South End – note the brick wall – recessed back from the fire place.  A perfect spot for closets.  I’d build them in – encasing the non-working fire place, hiding storage above, and building in bedside table nooks on either side of the head board.  A la , La Belle Julliette Hotel . Paris.

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Gut it and forget it.  It all has to go.  Tub to be replaced with glass shower, Duravit vanity, some beautiful tile.

Living out of a suitcase is nothing new to me.  Between most property flips, I’m stowing away my belongs, and living with whatever I can fit into 2 or 3 suitcases.  That is hard to do.  Even if you travel light as I do, it always seems as if the seasons change and I’m left without a winter coat, or my spring wardrobe.  Ugh.  Thank God for Jo-Jo’s closet where I “shop” until I’m settled into my next home.  Jo-Jo has a closet full of clothes that still have the tags on them.  She allows me to borrow and return.  She’s a big heart with exquisite taste.

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Note this particularly well done closet/beside built-in combo. You charmed me Charmonix.

As I consider how little time I am spending in my home these days – work – work – work – clients, friends, appointments, weekends on the Cape (year round), I think I could do with a lot less than I am currently making do with.  That is to say….space.

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That closet has to go.  This needs to become a dining area.  Small round table that snuggles into a banquet and serves its purpose for meals and work on the computer.  

I’ve looked at couple tiny beauties.  Bid on both, lost both, but the allure of having a 300 – 400SF space, and converting it into a luxury hotel room for the likes of little old me,  well it’s kinda cool.  They don’t come on the market every day, and they have a lot of competition – investors looking for a long-term hold, and a stable return, first time home-owners that want a toe in the market, and can actually afford a shoebox sized home, and people like me.  Living and working in the city, away on weekends – being home less makes this type of property a really great investment for me, and one that , dare I say, I would likely keep.

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This has to go too, obvi.  Don’t think that small means inexpensive.  This small means more expensive than you can imagine – if you are going to do it right.  All top of the line appliances required because you can buy them in petit sizes.

Don’t go getting crazy with protestations about not meeting my long-term goal of 10 properties.  I’ll keep at it, and this will make the process a little less sawdusty.  I think I’ve earned it.  But I’ll need all your positive energy to help me find the next one.  On that most hallowed of days I will close, and turn right around and flee the country to recuperate from the trauma of it all.  Buying and selling can be very stressful.  I’ll need four days of yogic breathing to recover.  They are tossing in art afternoons to kick-start my creativity.  It will be the perfect introduction into living more simply that will simply have to take me over the hurdles that are placed in my way on the hunt for No. 5.

 

Happy Sunday.

Getting Hammered: Debunking the flip

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See those Galbraith and Paul curtains hanging on the Lux Hold Ups Rods custom made in Brooklyn by female artisans – no normal flipper would ever buy those.  The cost a quarter of most flippers total renovation budget.  Don’t you just love them?

As I was preparing for a big real estate summit that’s coming to the city I came across some interesting sessions on social media, streaming, video production and branding for business.  All things that are important to me.  I should say – this is a corporate real estate summit, not a residential one, and it’s for my full time job, not my side hack.  Still, by design, these worlds collide, and I learn so much from my personal ventures that contribute meaningfully to my work, and vice versa, that it seems perfectly simpatico.  This research led to me googling myself, and to the discovery of a blog post for which I was the subject.  Or, as I prefer to think of it… the STAR.

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Farrow and Ball Wallcovering costs a fortune.  It’s really art that I leave behind.  I know not everyone will appreciate it.  I did it for me.

Jon Gorey, the author of House and Hammer, took to debunking my junk in his article and making me look like more of a hasbin than a starlet.  Hum!  Using me as a cautionary tale to all those wannabe flippers out there, he suggested that my efforts (and yours by the way) would have been better spent sitting around on the sofa for the next 10 or 30 years and cashing in at the end, having foregone the hassle, and the hustle associated with my high cost renovations.

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TV may make it seem sexy but it’s hard work.  Even Chip is sweating there.  A lot of sweet goes into it.

I must say that I have an appreciation for his style of writing, his clear understanding of the numbers, the risks associated with real estate ventures, and for his love of homes.  Pay close attention to all that because it’s true!  He says flipping is sexy – not true and that marble and Parisian chandeliers are not what the South End needs, or buyers necessarily want.  That I suppose is simply a matter of opinion.

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I spy a chandelier that still makes me smile.

I like saying “for the record” and “setting the record straight” but the truth is, the truth changes.  My truth at this moment, and as I have recorded it, has always been this…to date that is, I am flipping homes  – for me.  Not for anyone else.  Yes I want to sell them.  Yes I want to make a profit.  Yes I hope to use that profit to get ahead before I retire, but imbedded in those truths is something fundamentally more important that is driving me to renovate these properties.  It’s my love of design and architecture and travel.

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Travel inspiration.

What Jon doesn’t know is that were it not for the sweat, and hives, and the sawdust, I would not have traveled to Paris every other year, a place that is so sublime to me it fills my heart with happiness.  I would not have been to Croatia, Bosnia, Switzerland, Italy, Nantucket, Mexico, and on and on to so many amazing places where people of different cultures open ones mind to both how big, and small, our world is, and art and beauty sit side by side the dirt and grit of our realities.

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Croatia.  Look at that limestone.

Jon doesn’t know that I carefully plan each property based on a design vision that is like none I have done before.  While I certainly learn things along the way, a trick here or there to make the process a bit more easy, or visually more appealing, this is not PS101.  That Parisian chandelier was purchased for me, and boy does it have a good story.  If I were only in this for the money, I would use granite, not marble.  I would paint everything beige, not one of the dozens of refined and/or wild hues that my boyfriend Benjamin Moore has to offer.  I would use Home Depot fixtures, make only cosmetic changes not improvements to the infrastructure (many flippers – though not all – like to keep there money right where they can see it – and that’s not behind the walls).  There are so many things I would do differently if the only thing I was in this for was the bottom line.  Bottom lines are boring.  I never wanted to be a suit.

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Thanks to No. 3 Venice is now part of me.

I’m as pleased as punch that someone wrote about me.  As I said, I think Jon offers some very sound advice.  Being covered in sawdust isn’t for everyone.  You have to love it.  If you are considering making a foray into the adventures of flipping, it’s important to go in with eyes wide open.  Me, I grew up thinking everyone lived like this – you have a choice. Choose wisely.

Sailing into Fall on Cape Cod

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.

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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.

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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.

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Etsy wreaths are so creative.

 

Now go forth, with a nothing entirely valid reason to shop.

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add a little wrapped wheat and attach it above or below – holly for winter.

Happy Sunday!

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.

Sale-ing Away to a new location

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.