Southern Challenge: The Drawing Room

Drawing Room – Prior to Renovation.

Living in the city as I do, and not being a person that requires vast amounts of space, I haven’t had the experience of having dining rooms and libraries, living rooms, dens and offices. I usually just have one room that isn’t a bedroom, kitchen or bath, and has to serve all the purposes of a great house in one. This is not a complaint, just a statement of fact – in fact if I did have all those rooms, I don’t know which I’d choose to sit in, but being only one person, I suspect that I’d snuggle into the same old cozy corner, every night after a long day, and the only thought I would give to all those rooms would be, how ever am I going to keep them all clean.

Inspiration in the above photos for what could be a rich drawing room with beautiful bar. Note that these cabinets are painted in lacquer finish, which is a more time intensive process then using high gloss, but it does give it that glossy sheen. Left: House Beautiful – Benjamin Moore’s Summer Nights. Right: House Beautiful – Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue.

The French perfected the art of dining in the 18th century. They had loads of rules and books on etiquette that dictated the manner in which you were to entertain. The dining room brought all the guests together, but at dinner’s conclusion, the women typically retired to the Drawing Room, leaving the men at the table to drink and discuss politics. This withdrawing to another space provided for the relaxed continuation of the evening. These rooms were not necessarily less grand than the dining room, but they were populated with sofa’s and settees, comfortable chairs, game tables, tea service, tapestries and more. The dishes and detritus of the evening’s repast left behind.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s – Gentlemen’s Gray – to be applied to the walls and the woodwork – moldings and baseboard. Ceiling to be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Nickle. Middle: Jonathan Adler’s Rio Pendant – $386.40. Left: OKL . Madison Leather Club Chair. $899.

I like the idea of the Drawing Room. It feels fitting in a home, that at its heart, will be used for a good deal of entertaining. By defining the rooms which are open to the public, from those which are for family only, is important. The adjacency of the Drawing Room to the Dining, and Dining to Powder Room feels intentional, and I am certain the architect had this in mind when their sharp pencil hit the mylar to begin its design.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Dark Harbor for walls. Molding and baseboard in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Middle: Modern Metal Pendant in Polished Nickle $232. Left: Pottery Barn Irving Leather Arm chair with bronze nail heads. $919.

The other rooms have all been bright and welcoming, though I have balanced cool and warm tones as you move from one room to the next. This ensures the visitors maintain an internal harmony. Why? I’m not sure, we humans are very complex creatures. We like what we like, and I try not to buck mother nature on these issues. I must reserve all my energy after all to battle her and the clock.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Forest Hills Green – for walls. Base and molding in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. Ceiling in white. Middle: Carillon Pendant . Large $298. Left: West Elm . Mid Century Show Wood Leather Chair in Saddle $999.

I want this room to feel cozy, to wrap the guests in an experience. I want every surface to be in high gloss, but I will resist this temptation because the walls need to be in perfect – listen closely all you high gloss lovers – PERFECT condition. The mirror like finish will reflect every ding and dent and make someone like me, bananas. Use eggshell instead and reserve the high gloss for the woodwork. Here are my recommendations.

About a Boy: Part II

So the jury has returned from deliberations. Look No. 2 which can be seen below was selected. It’s a pretty good look. I should have known he would have gone for the platform – it’s cool. A disadvantage of this bed is the lack of storage space underneath, but the up side is that snacks can’t sneak under it. A pretty big upside if you ask me.

So now that a bed, side table, and desk have been selected, the elements that will really bring the space to life have to be factored into the equation. Color is so important to the overall feel of the space, but so is storage. We have to deal with the aforementioned sneaker collection, and these aren’t small feet we’re talking about. Size 13’s take up some space. There is a large closet in the room – with no door on it – don’t ask. If I build out the guts of the closet with plenty of shelves and a small hanging area it should do the trick.

As for which color we should paint it. I am recommending one of these three Benjamin Moore Colors: Sunrise, Ice Cubed Silver, or Hunter Green. In this last instance I would paint the baseboard interior door and casings in the color and the wall in Super White. Give it a really crisp bright feel.

Finally, I’d resort to my old favorites for finishing touches. Home Goods, Home Goods, and maybe a few local favorites like Oceana and Bungalow. Stay posted for the final reveal. Happy Sunday.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green. Right: Benjamin Moore’s Super White

About a Boy: beyond the basics

For the last few days I’ve been considering how to design a space for someone that is no longer a boy – though he certainly has attributes of one – in the best possible way, and not quite a man either. To say he is an adolescent feels totally wrong, and disrespectful. He’s “becoming”, moving from one thing to the next, discovering what he likes and doesn’t, and who he is going to be. Aren’t we all? I certainly hope I am not done. A lot of work left for me to become who I am going to be.

Option 1: Neutral Palette: Bed: West elm Mod Upholstered Platform Bed in Twill Stone . $824.25. Pier One . 3 Drawer Dresser $219.99. PB. Teen . Bean Bag $183.00

Part of that discovery is, well discovering that you have a style at all. Who knew. While you might not quite know what it is, I bet you know what it isn’t. So the exploration begins. My task is to map out some possibilities – economical ones are a priority. His tastes are likely to change, as they should, and this baby’s work isn’t going to get tossed out with the bath water. I hope it’s going to get handed down to the next boy, but that little one has very particular ideas about style, so I better make it good. He notices every detail. Note to self – be on your best behavior around Lukie.

Option 2: Bed. Wayfair . Aristocles Platform by Mercury Row . $286.99. Wayfair . George Oliver Bugg 2 Drawer $183.99. West Elm . Mid Century Mini Desk $399. Kartel . Louis Ghost Chair – Pair – Wayfair $773.50

I grew up in a household of girls. My Dad was strong but gentle. Ironically I was always the one that he shouted “don’t slam the door of the Jaguar”, be gentle Jack. This being with all boys – and very rough ones at that – is new to me. They’ll tear a cabinet right off the hinges to get to a cheeze-it. A dish has no chance of survival in this home, and the hallways look like the inside of the local recreation center. Slowly we are instituting Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Window Theory to bring civility to the household. They break something, I painstakingly repair it. They litter the yard, I clean it up, they toss Cheerios around the living, and bedrooms like confetti on New Year’s Eve – I get out the cleaning supplies and get to work at restoring order. I hope that pride of place, investment, and caring for one’s things will result. I know the subject of this post has it in him. I’ve seen how he handles his extensive sneaker collection – I know it’s in him.

World Market Headboard . Gray Rattan Dimitra $350.
Wayfair . Williston Forge Cifueyes $204.99
Target

What I am not sure of, is his style. So I am proposing here three options. His room in its current state is much like a dorm room. It’s got a TV, a fridge, a sofa, a bed, a dresser. It is subject to the full living experience – it’s his domain. He should be the king of his space, so I will attempt to account for all of those things while creating a perfectly tight hospital corner of a visual. Don’t worry – he’s plenty strong enough to loosen it up.

Shine

As I wondered through the shops in Chatham today, with only a thinly veiled guise in toe, my hunt for thank you notes, I was struck by the number of people that so openly proclaim they can get this, or that, for so much cheaper at Home Goods. While it’s undeniably true, that many wonderful things can be purchased there, show some respect folks. It’s hard being a store owner, and think how genuinely nice it is to stroll local shops in town – any town.

So I bought my cards and picture frames, and a belated birthday gift for my little 3 year old friend who will forgive my tardiness. Isn’t that one of the very best things about being 3? Time is fluid. Forgiveness is given freely, and joy is unabashed. Oh I can’t wait for her to get her fairy garland.

Now that I have supported the local shops, I can tell you with an open conscience that Target has come out with another line of lighting that BEAUTIFUL. It trails behind another HGTV hit hostess and is so crazy affordable, I am tempted to buy far more than I need and squirrel it away for a rainy day. Leanne Ford and her Project 62 line will have those that lust over Serena & Lily, Rejuvenation, or even West Elm’s more economical lines – well lining up to load their shopping cart. And wait you better because Target says it’s a limited edition.

While most the Restored by one Ford Collection is pendants, and floor lamps, if you are in the market for table lamps, head to Home Goods this weekend. They are having an enormous sale on lamps, rugs, and more, and the stores are packed with product. This girl spotted a few John Adler knock-offs, a couple of mid-century modern globe lights, a couple of Ralph Lauren ginger jar blue and white beauties, and many more, you are sure to find a desk top, bedside, or sideboard or console table lamp to brighten your home.

Solo Act: seeking solitude at the office

There’s been a big brew ha ha about open office layouts of late. Claims of lowered productivity, less collaboration, more distraction. The exact opposite of what the experts claimed would happen a few years back.

Cole and Sons . Woods and Stars wall covering. Just a little bit of calm.

I don’t mind an open office environment. My very first job at an architectural firm I sat in the wide open with all the other employees. I loved it. Between opening and reading the mail and listening to the conversations around the office, I might have been the second most well informed person in the company next to the Founder. Pretty good if you ask me.

Later, I had an office and then I didn’t. The rising cost of real estate forced the shift. Having gotten used to the private space I thought I would hate being on a floor with no walls and 250 people. I didn’t. I liked it quite a lot. I even found the weekly battles of the genre of music that would be played RATHER amusing. As far as my experience went – I did in fact collaborate more – and that was pretty cool. When the economy tanked and we had to give that floor back, I never felt so lonely as I did returning to a private office.

Wayfair . Wrought Studio Sease Lounge Chair $233.99

So hype or not, the cost of real estate is going to continue to rise, so finding ways to whittle down that SF is probably here to stay. One pretty great residual benefit of the open office is the specialty spaces that come along with them. A huddle room, how cozy. A phone booth, a Mother’s Room, a Meditation Space, a cafe with snacks, and wi-fi simply everywhere you can drag your device. As a writer I sometimes just need a change of scenery to spark the creativity, and our conference rooms are often booked, so I have been charged with designing a little space to take a call or a brief breather. Comfortable but not so comfortable you wouldn’t want to leave.

All Modern . Swan Swivel $339.99

I feel generally good about what’s been selected but am a little uncertain about the chair. The chair will make or break the space. Advice welcome.

All Modern . Alberto Swivel Wingback $349.99

Happy Sunday.

72 Hour Challenge: Part II

Top: The Inside Headboard only comes in Queen so we’ll need to have it custom made, but it will look beautiful mounted to the wall in front of this Article Basi Walnut Bed frame.

Undoubtedly the living room is a big deal in any home. That’s where you curl up on the sofa with a good book and a glass of wine, argue about what you are going to watch on TV – Tree House Masters or Hallmark Channel, sometimes I do that – judge away if you must, entertain friends, have long talks, and generally…well…live. As much as I appreciate that the living room can be the heart of the home, I long for my own bedroom when I am between flips. I dream about my bed, I imagine how lonely it is in that freezing cold storage box, and feel a little less than whole.

For me that poor cold bed is my everything in that room. Sure I love my closets, but they have doors, so they are practically different rooms entirely. It’s my perfect Prana Mattress, my feather stuffed pillows, my layers and layers of blankets that create a coziness I sink into. It’s a bit ironic since I suffer from such serious sleep issues. A post for another time.

I want to make sure that the master bed gets the special attention it deserves. The whole room that is, not just the bed. It’s a big room too so making it inviting without stuffing it with furniture, keeping a minimal aesthetic in keeping with the modernist look, is the challenge.

A king size bed will help with the scale of the room, a large low dresser, a bench at the end of the bed for taking your shoes off at the end of a long day – all important elements. Add black out curtains (a non-negotiable), some great bedside tables, and maybe a comfy chair. For me, no TV in the bedroom, but that decision I will leave up to the owner.

72 Hour Challenge

Above: Left Top: Anthropologie . Linen Haverhill Chair $595.50. Top Middle: Ballard Designs . Antelope Hand Tufted Rug in Grey 9 x 12 $899. Top Right: Shop Candelabra . Boyd Delux Credenza $4797 Bottom Left: CB2 . Forte Channeled Leather Extra Large Sofa $2379.15 and Bottom Right: Etsy Mid-century Side Tables – Pair $250.

I love a good challenge. It’s decidely easier to spend someone else’s money than my own. Though, admittedly I am pretty good at spending that too. This gives me the perfect distraction from my own renovation project and its associated budgetary challenges – you don’t even want to know how far over budget and how extensive the scope creep has been – you just don’t.

Left: Mineral Ice by Benjamin Moore will be the main color palette for the common areas and the living room. Right: Rejuvenation . Poplin Floor Lamp $423.

Look #1: Drum roll – $12,317.30. This includes significant discounts from West Elm, Ballard Designs, CB2. January is a big sale month.

West Elm . Andes Sectional $3582.90

Look #2: West Elm Sectional as posted above. Top Left: Target Warwick Wood Ratan Side Table $85.49 Top Right: World Market . Natural Basket Weave Jute Rug 9 x 12 $314.50 Bottom Left: Article Mara Walnut Coffee Table $299. Bottom Right: Etsy . Sideboard in Walnut $1897.45

Total for Look #2: $6264.83 Note that it does not include 2 side chairs or any lamps in this look – and they will be needed.

Now I don’t want you to think that I am being irresponsible with the recommendations I am putting forth for this young professional – on the contrary, I conducted an extensive search of some of my very favorite places – West Elm, The Inside, Etsy, Verellen, Shop Candelabra, World Marketplace, Rejuvination, and more. I went back to some tride and true Ben Moore colors, and picked a few new, and I will visit Home Goods for lamps and accessories, because well, they are simply the best for inexpensive, transitional lamps (remember, that’s a modern twist on traditional), and they knock off high end accessories faster than I can make my way down to NYC to get lured into buying the original. Thank the Lordy- Lord for Home Goods. Sometimes I think it’s too good to true, and then I pinch myself, and there it is…devine design, but not by Candice Olson – I love you unsung HG Knock-off Division heros.

Top Left: West Elm . Leigh Coffee Table $488.60 Right Top: West Elm . Flourish Rug 9 x 12 $1279.30. Middle: Shop Candelabra Boyd Delux Credenza $4797. Bottom Left: Target Single Drawer Hafley Side Table $62.99 Right Bottom: Ikea . Veda Arm Chair $199.

Look #3: Total $10,088.88 no lamps included in this look

So, back to the challenge: A condo that closes next week. A major move from DC to Boston, a series of subs lined up to execute the work – a tiny bit of demo, open a wall here, let the light in there, refinish the floors in a walnut stain – I approve even though the decision was made before I arrived on the scene, and paint. Then – a totally clean slate. Music to my ears. No Grandmother’s sofa to work into the mix (excuse me all you Grandma’s out there – I love you – truly I do, it just makes it so much easier when you can start fresh). To be clear, I would have taken that sofa and had it reupholstered for more money than you would have approved – so don’t you see…it’s just better this way.

Additional pieces I love and which could all work with any of the looks. Top Left: West Elm . Retro Tripod Coffee Table $209. Top Right: Etsy Walnut Credenza and West Elm . Kidney Bean Coffee Table $365.

Every room needs furniture. Two beds, a living room, and presumedly a dining area – though that is not part of my scope (hey you – you know who you are – the guy this challenge was posed for in the first place – I’ve got three dining tables if you need one.

I am well trained by my sister Jo-Jo to provide 3 options. She likes options, and a full design presentation. She provides the budget and I provide three schemes that fall within the same, and she picks. I will say, she typically picks items from all three options, but that’s her right – she’s paying.

I’m pretty excited about what I have selected and do hope that Jake will be too. It’s a lovely way to begin one’s life in a new town – don’t you think?