Category Archives: portfolio

So with my best, my very best, I set you free…*

*Lyrics from I Wish You Love as sung by Frank Sinatra (though the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance is cheerful and delightful, and certainly worth watching on a day like today). I considered an alternate title – “I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm” – especially because the entire Eastern portion of the US is being battered by yet another bracing, snow-filled, ice-capped, rained upon bit of winter goodness, but I thought the above excerpt was more fitting. I heard this song ages ago and jotted it down to use at the end of something. Today’s weather makes the timing even more apt. 

Le sigh. It’s over. This is the last installment of the Project W AFTER Tour (catch up here: master bedroom, kids’ rooms, main floor part one, and main floor part two). I am so proud and grateful that I got to have a hand in the complete transformation of this now gorgeous home. So, now, pictures! (Get ready, this is a long one…)

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Boom. Project W kitchen. Do you remember it when it looked like this?

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world.

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world, and a new era.

Sort of major, right? When we toured the space, there was a giant spiral staircase – de rigueur in 1982 – that cut right through what I saw as perfectly usable kitchen real estate. When we first met, the clients – craving brightness, space, and fluidity – wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but I felt that they would lose too much storage space. The kitchen was a galley and, while efficient and completely appropriate to the home, it didn’t exactly ooze storage space. With a tween, a teen, and a big, hungry dog, I knew that losing those uppers would be a risk. read on…

Careful what you say, oh dear, it’s too late now…*

*Lyrics from Careful What You Say by Class Actress from their EP Journal of Ardency. This song resonated with me for this post because during the process of building/designing this home (and perhaps especially these last spaces), my relationship with my friend (the builder) was, to say it politely, strained. It’s inevitable to quarrel with those closest to you, and likely to happen again with someone else during my career/life. I’m sure it’s happened to you – with your spouse/partner, your client, your family – and I’m sure you hated it as much as I did. I loved this job, and was so completely grateful to have been able to be a part of it, but it took an emotional toll. And I guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic for the good times. (This winter feels really, really long this year.) Cheers to the happy times, to the promise of a new season, and of the hope for smoothing the scuffs and scratches that will just add patina to what I hope is a lifelong friendship.

BEFORE: Linoleum, dingy paint, bad lighting. AFTER: Classic grey tile with modern rectangle shape, transitional fixtures, neutral walls.

BEFORE: Linoleum, dingy paint, bad lighting. AFTER: Classic grey tile with modern rectangle shape, transitional fixtures, neutral walls.

And the AFTER tour continues… When we last met, I shared with you most of the main floor living spaces for Project W. Today I’m going to share the dining room, foyer, and powder room. When I first walked through the house with Mrs W, we both had the same vision for the foyer: gray, almost concrete-looking rectangular tile that would feel modern, not too dark, yet be easy to care for with two kids and a sweet, but sloppy dog. It took some doing, and some negotiating, and some pretty strong-willed moments (high five, Mrs W!), but we found our tile, and were able to achieve the exact look we imagined. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes you have to invest in a bit more to get more. At any rate, we ended up with a wonderful update to this formerly vinyl-floored space.

This area was formerly the original kitchen (!), but had been adapted to include a powder room as well as transitions to the rest of the house. So we treated it as a mudroom.

This area (left) was formerly the original kitchen (!), but had been adapted to include a powder room as well as transitions to the rest of the house. So we treated the entire space as an extended mudroom.

The powder room got another black and white mosaic tile, and the ceramic grey tile provides a low-maintanence transition point for the wood floors, tile, and exterior. (Sneak peek of the kitchen, still to come!)

The powder room got a black and white mosaic tile, and the ceramic grey tile provides a low-maintanence transition point for the wood floors, tile, and exterior. (Sneak peek of the kitchen, still to come!)

Just off the side entry – the mudroom area – is a powder room. Now, this space used to house the original kitchen; in fact, the old house stopped along the wall separating the new kitchen and dining room from the game room and entry hall. So the bathroom that was put in was decidedly from its time (1982).

BEFORE: Tired vanity, wallpaper that had no appeal, and more linoleum. Yuck. AFTER: Pedestal sink and mosaic tile speak the home's origins, while making the small and slightly awkward space feel more spacious. We also moved in one of the crystalline lights from and adjacent room to add some glamour. No reason a small room can't be fabulous, and work within a budget.

BEFORE: Tired vanity, wallpaper that had no appeal, and more linoleum. Yuck. AFTER: Pedestal sink and mosaic tile speak the home’s origins, while making the small and slightly awkward space feel more spacious. We also moved in one of the crystalline lights from and adjacent room to add some glamour. No reason a small room can’t be fabulous, and work within a budget.

I wanted to reclaim the character as we did with the master bathroom design, but knew that we couldn’t really spend too much to do so. We had to work with the space as it was for the budget’s sake, and we had to use materials that could withstand lots of traffic. We ended up finding a really reasonably priced ceramic mosaic tile that picked up on the black and white theme we used in the master (I love it when spaces in antique homes, like kitchens and baths, seem like they could have been installed during the house’s original build), which really helped to reinforce that 1920s feel we were after.

BEFORE: Ugh, I mean, really. AFTER: Much, much better. Ahhh.

BEFORE: Ugh, I mean, really. AFTER: Much, much better. Ahhh.

Details: The faucet and sink have a square shape that references the mosaic tile. There was an original mirror (square) that I had planned to hang here, but, well, let's hope Mr W doesn't really get 7 years' bad luck.

Details: The faucet and sink have a square shape that references the mosaic tile. There had been an original mirror (square) hanging here that I had planned to rehang, but, well, let’s hope Mr W doesn’t really get 7 years’ bad luck.

Details: The mudroom/hallway as it transitions into the game room; the game room looking into the dining room (which is where the 'new' addition begins).

Details: The mudroom/hallway as it transitions into the game room; the game room looking into the dining room (which is where the ‘new’ addition begins).

Having connected the powder room to the house’s architecture, I wanted to let the dining room really connect to the homeowners’ love of mid-century design. I knew they had some cherry and rosewood pieces that would look really nice atop their newly finished oak hardwoods, but that they needed a wall color that could support all of that rich, warm wood. Probably the most contentious battle with regard to the color palette happened regarding the dining room walls – SW Hazel – which virtually every woman loved and every man loathed. In the end, though, my clients agreed that the initial scheme was what they loved, and they stuck with my suggestion. I love the color. This room floods with light in the afternoon, and can really stand a rich hue on the wall. They are also avid art collectors, and I knew that an art wall would eventually really sing atop this rich but modern hue.

BEFORE: This room was bright, but had no personality. AFTER: A modern wall color mixes well with the homeowners' warm wood mid-century and mission style furnishings.

BEFORE: This room was bright, but had no personality. AFTER: A modern wall color mixes well with the homeowners’ warm wood mid-century and mission style furnishings.

This wall color (Hazel by SW) was hotly contested. Every single male hated it, while every single female loved it. Weird. Color is totally personal.

This wall color (Hazel by SW) was hotly contested. Almost every single male hated it, while every single female loved it. Weird. Color is totally, I mean completely, personal.

Details: Mrs W let me rummage around her accessories to find sweet trinkets to display. The light fixture is a budget-friendly Pottery Barn find - another hotly contested search - and the cabinet in the background is antique.

Details: Mrs W let me rummage around her accessories to find sweet trinkets to display. The light fixture is a budget-friendly Pottery Barn find – another hotly contested search – and the cabinet in the background is antique.

The entire first floor connects visually from room to room, zone to zone, and I think we really created a soft, watery, and flowing palette that is peaceful and soothing. I know that the clients’ soft furnishings, curtains, pillows, rugs, etc., will shift as time goes on, but the harder, more permanent things – tile, flooring, lighting – will enhance whatever additions they make.

BEFORE: Beautiful light, and access to the exterior were this room's best features. AFTER: Sliders lead out to a breakfast patio (which will get updated eventually), but who would want to dine al fresco when it's so pleasant indoors? The doorway from the kitchen was widened to mimic the generous opening on the game room side of the space to make it feel as if there might have been french doors at one point.

BEFORE: Beautiful light, and access to the exterior were this room’s best features. AFTER: Sliders lead out to a breakfast patio (which will get updated eventually), but who would want to dine al fresco when it’s so pleasant indoors? The doorway from the kitchen was widened to mimic the generous opening on the game room side of the space to make it feel as if there might have been french doors at one point.

BEFORE: This little soffit created an awkward bump out. AFTER: That nook created a perfect spot for Mrs W's china cabinet, and created an opportunity for an art nook. Eventually these walls will be covered in art, as the homeowners' have tons of beautiful pieces. Who wouldn't want to be invited over for a lingering dinner?

BEFORE: This little soffit created an awkward bump out. AFTER: That nook created a perfect spot for Mrs W’s china cabinet, and created an opportunity for an art nook. Eventually these walls will be covered in art, as the homeowners have tons of beautiful pieces. Who wouldn’t want to be invited over for a lingering dinner?

I still have one last space to share with you. Stay tuned!

xoxo

 

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room…*

*Lyrics reluctantly from a Taylor Swift song, Never Grow Up. Reason one: the younger of the two Project W kids, and the one who was most interested in the whole design process, LOVES her, or at least did the last I heard. Reason two: the song I really wanted to use was, well, a bit of a downer, and not at all representative of the beautiful and loving family that I was honored to work with. But, in my defense, the lyrics I was going to pick out from the rejected song (Jeff thought I should leave it out of the post entirely) were the (sweetly, sad, yet) positive bits: “Kid, have your say, ’cause I still love you, even if I don’t see you again.” So, instead I give you vapid tweenie-bop music. You may choose to listen as your mood dictates, but know that the second, deeper one by Neko Case is brutally beautiful, and will probably make you cry. (The first one might make your ears bleed. You have been warned.)

Now it’s time for another installment of Project W: The AFTER tour! When we last left off, we were sneaking around the master bedroom and bath, basking in the improved flow and potential for timeless style. Let’s move into the kids’ wing of the upper floor, shall we?

BEFORE: This space started out as a strange pass-through with a skylight and a spiral staircase. AFTER: This little corner will now become a reading nook, or a homework zone if the kids need some quiet space.

BEFORE: This space started out as a strange pass-through with a skylight and a spiral staircase. AFTER: This little corner will now become a reading nook, or a homework zone if the kids need some quiet space.

Just off the area where the spiral staircase used to be (we nixed it in an effort to gain more usable space in the kitchen), is the kids’ wing. It’s private, away from the parents’ master suite, and has its own family bathroom (still to be renovated). While the hallway boasts the same color as all of the transitional spaces in the home – foyer, mudroom, hallways, stairwell all in Toque White (early on my builder asked me to choose only Sherwin Williams colors) – the kids’ rooms depart from the main thrust of the home to reveal individual and personality-based spaces perfect for the rejuvenation of young minds.

read on…

Well you better be rich, or be real good at cookin’…*

*Lyrics from Lily Allen‘s Hard Out Here. This video is NSFW (and is controversial, so it would seem), but the message is pretty spot on. Anyway, I wanted to find something to listen to that would compliment this post, but instead I found something that made me want to persevere, challenge the status quo, and fight the good fight, which is just as important. Plus, it’s way catchy, and probably great to add to an exercise playlist. I always like a little ‘tough bitch’ music when I’m feeling less than that, don’t you? 

When we last left off, you saw the glorious living space that we carved out of practically nothing. Now, have a look at the kitchen/dining room.

When we last left off, you saw the glorious living space that we carved out of practically nothing. Now, have a look at the kitchen/dining room.

When we moved from the pied-à-terre to the pied-à-deux we brought our kitchen with us, like the good faux Italians we are. Our IKEA cabinets, countertop, and pendant lighting made the trek down one flight to become our new old kitchen. The only real difference between the two spaces is the color of the existing laminate countertops, and the age of the refrigerator (the old place had a brand new one, this one, not so much). We actually had the landlord move our stove down one flight, too, when we discovered (much to our chagrin) that the stove in The Deux was mostly not working (one out of four burners worked, and the oven didn’t heat up at all). Oh, and the other difference is that the upper floor unit had about 18″ more space in the dining area.

BEFORE: The prior tenants' paint choices and furniture layout just wasn't for us. AFTER: All new fresh paint, layout, and lighting make these spaces function for us.

BEFORE: The prior tenants’ paint choices and furniture layout just weren’t for us. AFTER: All new fresh paint, layout, and lighting make these spaces function for us.

read on…

You’ve got to give it what you got now…*

*Lyrics from Mean Streets by Tennis from their new EP Small Sounds. It’s no secret that I love this band, but this mini album is excellent. I dare you not to get this song in your head for several happy days.

I know you’re all still geeking out over the amazing, awesome, inspiring transformations from the One Room Challenge, but do you remember me teasing that I’d soon have pictures to share from my clients’ Project W house? Well, first room, here you go. This is a major BEFORE & AFTER post. Get ready.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

It seems like so long ago that I first met with my clients on Project W, and first glimpsed at their terrible, wonderful, overwhelmingly dated raw material of a house that was to become their dream home. It seems like another life ago, not only because so much time has passed (and so much has happened), but because their home has completely transformed. You know those makeover shows where people don’t recognize a loved one, or think they’re in someone else’s home? Yeah, their house is kind of like that.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

read on…

Take me out of this place I’m in…*

*Lyrics from Human by Daughter off their album If You Leave. I found this on spotify (naturally) and really enjoyed their acoustic “spotify session’s” version. I recommend you check it out before you hear their original album version. The song felt appropriate for my first substantive post in a while. After all, we’re all just human, underneath it all.

I know. I know! It’s been a long, LONG time since we moved in. Since I shared anything relevant to design. I know. Let me make it up to you?

Welcome home.

So, here it is, the Pied-à-Deux: our tiny, sweet, tiny, small, cozy, small, bitty, efficient, annoyingly small living room. And it’s our entryway, and our closet, and my office, and our guest room, and part of our bedroom in that the TV sits on a dresser 2/3 full of our clothing. It’s small. It’s been tough to cope with how small it is, but we really tried to make it as beautiful and practical as possible. And we do like it very much.

BEFORE (left): Former tenant’s furniture layout didn’t feel as useful to us. AFTER (right): We reoriented the sofa/TV layout to allow for easier access to the niches.

read on…

No need to hide, come on inside…*

*Lyrics from I Am An Ape from the collaboration album Love This Giant by David Byrne and St. Vincent. I think this album is challenging, but interesting, and quirky, and catchy, and absolutely worth a serious listen. I don’t always need music to be easy, and when I respect the artists involved, well, it’s kind of like music, to my ears at least. Hope you give it a try, and let me know how you like it.

House Tour: Living Quarters

The foyer, or entryway, is both grand and homey. It connects virtually every space in the house, especially when you take into account that the two-story entrance snakes continues on through the hall that connects all the bedrooms upstairs.

Despite our choice to now live a bi-polar dual-homed existence, our home is still actually for sale. And, though my focus is on making the new spot as homey as possible, I thought you might like to see a re-cap of our living space – or, living quarters as I’m calling them. The architecture of this home, built in 1920, provides for a connected-ness that most modern families crave, while at the same time allowing for some privacy, and some division of activities. For example, many people love the look/feel of a so-called ‘open plan’ space, where the kitchen, dining and living rooms are one Great Room. Not me, and apparently not builders in the 1920s. I prefer the kitchen to be its own space – after all, sharp, hot, and time-sensitive duties (i.e., people rushing around with sharp and hot things) are performed there, which can make a mess, which can be unsightly to guests and other family members alike. But, even though I treat the kitchen as a work-zone (which, if you’re like me, it most certainly is), the living room and dining room feel like fluid extensions of one another. The builders in 1920 agreed with me there, too.

read on…

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