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.
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.
Flora Chella Design . Cape Flower Shed Installation
I love a Winston’s floral arrangement. It’s crisp and tight and fresh. It’s formal and elegant, and refined. It’s special occasion. It has the power to turn a not so special space into something notable. I love wondering into the store on Newbury Street or Chestnut Hill with all it’s vastness and inspiration. The sheer abundance of stems with their blooming beauty puts me at ease and fills me with wonder.
So it may come as a surprise to you that I went in an entirely different direction for the shoot on the Cape last weekend. It was as unstructured as I think I have ever been. I didn’t dictate a color palette – so unlike me. I didn’t demand a particular blossom, bloom, fern or stem. Instead I let the floral artist go where her heart wanted to go. She walked the home, she got the vibe, and she filled her little truck with a most wonderful and unusual combination of flora and fauna I ever did set my eyes upon.
Wooden Dory awaiting snacks – seaweed, horseshoe crab case, and floral design behind in a silver punch bowl.
Kate Formichella of Flora Chella Design is a floral installation designer, a grower of edible flowers, and artist. She used seaweed and horseshoe crabs, driftwood and succulants, an array of unusual flowers for which the names escape me. We gathered punch bowls and some of my carefully curated pieces from Jill Rosenwald’s collection, perfume bottles, and silver Dory’s, sand pails and antique glass spirit bottles. This eclectic array of materials resulted in one of the coolest floral installations I have ever been a part of. I wish I had taken a picture of Kate – so super hip with her long gray hair, and her shortie black and turquois cow boy boots. Love!
Hydranga – quintessentially Cape Cod
A real artist. Chicago . NYC . Cape Cod. If free and easy, and totally on-point is what you are after. Kate is your gal.
Look at the fern, cascading down the side of the table in my Jill Rosenwald vase.
As I prepare to have my sister’s home shot on Saturday, I have come to a number of realizations. First, that which I have come to consider “normal” is anything but. I have had to explain to my Father at least a half dozen times, why we were hanging paintings, photographs, signs, and the like off center, up high, down low or not at all, letting them lean casually on a piece of furniture as if I was deciding whether or not the wall above would become its permanent home. The reason of course is…staging. What gets framed out within the confines of the view finder looks entirely different – dare I say horribly wrong – in real life.
Proud moment when everything came together. I painted that console table!
In small spaces, where cameras, and tripods, jigs and jogs in the walls, eaves, and any number of less than perfectly wide-open, square spaces (like say a 1789 home that was renovated – maintaining “most” of its original integrity might have), faking the scene is critical to telling the story.
Coasting into the shoot as if it was no big thing….
If this feels like an Is this Real or is it Memorex commercial – it sort of is. For you younger readers, that’s a reference to a cassette tape commercial. If you are still not with me – look it up. I’m thrilled that I have such young readers. The point is, cameras cannot capture everything, despite what TMZ might lead us to believe. There is a lot of pulling pieces into a frame, with great effort, making the dress appear as if it has been tossed on the settee, awaiting the cocktail party in just a few hours, the book lying open on the bed, having just been abandoned for a dip in the ocean. These things are carefully manufactured.
Flowers in a Jill Rosenwald Vase … cut scene.
I have been filling this home with furnishings and objects for coming on 6 months now. It wasn’t until the last two weekends that I even attempted to start and set the scene. ( I only work on this project on the weekends). Scene setting is an exhausting endeavor. It requires gathering hundreds of objects, some rare, some cheap but interesting, some vintage, some natural- think shells and drift wood, some art, and some others would never consider art, and pulling it all together. Is there a secret to it? A science? I’m still not sure. I try and test, remove, and replace, add and subtract, curse and commend, and eventually after a little more nudging, a tiny bit of consideration and consultation, arrive at the vignette. Alas, the point of the story. While I cannot show you all I have been up to, I am happy to share this one perfect moment. Perfect, anyway, from my point of view.
I have looked at so many chairs they are all starting to look alike. I fell in love with two tables – a very reasonably priced Ballard Design Trestle table, and a mid-range Dovetail Campbell table, which I was surprised wasn’t more expensive. Why you ask? The answer is simple – I was born with silver spoon taste. It’s legs are turned, and have a beautiful curve, it’s finish rustic. The combination is refined without being prissy, coastal without being kitsch.
That’s the trick. Being suggestive without being overt. That’s why I have spent so much time looking, looking again, second guessing, and finally making my selections. Trust me when I tell you – mistakes will still be made. It’s the nature of the process. Some will be easy fixes, some will cost a disgusting amount of money to fix. Ouch. Those, however, are the ones I will never make again.
After all that searching, I landed on chairs from the most unlikely of places. Will I consider them a mistake. Time will tell. I chose a version of the Windsor Chair in a dirty blue. High backed – arm chairs that will sit at the head of the table. Side chairs are going to be a simple Parsons curved back chair from IKEA. Yup. In the end, frame plus slip cover is just $129. a piece. The will be used most frequently. Everyone likes to sit in the “kitchen” – since the dining room is open to that tiny, but incredibly sweet, u-shaped kitchen, I know that is where people will hang out.
Tick Tock . Perfect accent to play off the gray.
I am going with a Cirque Pendant by Louis Poulsen. The colors are muted – not the bright primaries you would normally think of for a seaside seeing, but the strips scream nautical and French. What more could I want?
I imagine a red and white ticking stripe napkin, with a gray matte, metallic charger, and a rough hune string, tied loosely around the cloth. Maybe a sprig of thyme or rosemary tucked into it for effect. At the center of the table I would have one of Jill Rosenwald’s vases or platters. Her pottery is perfect. I might even go for one of her leafier patterns. Dare to go wild.
Jill Rosenwald Pottery . South End
Piece by piece. Bit by bit. It is beginning to come together.