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Victorian Modern Family

I recently met with a client who moved into a beautiful old victorian. The house is blessed with wonderful high ceilings, detailed mouldings, fireplaces with original tiles, and charm up the whazoo. They are a family of 6 who wanted/needed to maximize there new space. I planned two new rooms; a family TV room, and a more formal living room.

This was all about modern family living.  The design needed to relate to the historical architecture yet function more casually for everyday life. I made use of every square inch of the formal living room.  It will be great for entertaining, or for the whole family to gather.  I integrated three distinct groupings for seating,  One group takes advantage of the fireplace. Another grouping includes a settee, 2 dining chairs all set around around a pedestal table for playing cards, games or spreading out the Sunday paper.  The third grouping will include a custom built-in armless sofa to frame out the bay window above it.

The family room includes two leather chairs the homeowners already own, and we’ve paired these with a sectional sofa with chaise, where the children can all gather for movie nights.  This room is completed with a large armoire on the back wall for storing toys, movies, and games all hidden away out of sight.

Check out their new floorplan here and stay tuned for color stories!

Spring Has Sprung…Staging Season

We all know that with warmer days approaching (was last week really in the 80’s?!?!), the buying and selling of houses is in full swing.   Staging a home is important no matter what time of year you are selling, but I find Spring to be a timely point share some insight on some do’s and do’s.

I read the blog, Hooked on Houses on occassion.  Its a great site to feast your eyes on some of the most coveted houses in the country.  Recently, Hooked on Houses shared some pictures of different houses for sale in California.  All of them were staged to some degree, and I wanted to share my view how/why they are successfull examples of staging as well an example of my own parents home, which is now up for grabs too!

It is my belief that first and foremost your house should be fairly neutral and decluttered of anything that detracts the eye from the space and architecture.  All of the rooms below feature neutral walls,  and neutral furnishings in the main living areas.

While everyone may not love a contemporary look, it is usually a successful staging tactic in smaller homes because clean lined furnishings allow a space to breathe a bit.  I actually saw pictures of this space before it was staged. The furnishings were tradtional overscaled pieces, the walls were yellow, and there were heavy window treatments.  It felt a bit old and stodgy.  What a difference this made!

I love this picture below because you can tell that these are actually the home owners own furnishings.  If feels like someone actually lives in the space, and lets be honest, sometimes staged homes can feel a bit sterile.  There is pattern, but it’s introduced in a small way.  This is a neutral room at its best- full of texture!

Here we have my dear parents house in Texas.  There is color, but it is kept in the dining room.  If there is a place to have color, let it be the dining room. I think private areas of the home can take color as well, but it should be on trend with the years color forecasts. Whats on trend? Just look to Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams websites as they list their top color choices for the year.  Red is very dining room appropriate, and since there really are so few furnishings in a dining room, this is this exeption to the neutral rule.  In fact, had the dining room been neutral too, I think I would have suggested painting it a color.  I wouldn’t be against adding some colorful pillows to the sofa, and an upholstered bench in front of the fireplace either.   Another staging tactic that can work really well is to take up many of  the area rugs.  This really capitalizes on the square footage and makes a space look larger.

There you have it.  Three different looks, three different ways to stage a living space!

Key West

My family and I recently came back from a trip to Key West.  Not only was it a refreshing get a way from the winter, it was great to ingest the vernacular of a place that is different in so many ways from the Northeast. The architecture of Key West is often described as mix of Victorian, Bahamian, and New England, and I really think they took the best those three styles had to offer.   We had rain on the day that we toured many of the neighborhoods, but I did take a few snapshots of some of the more striking houses before it rained, as well as some pictures from the Audobon House Gallery….The Gallery sells some original art of James Audubon’s works as well as many reprints (which looked as good as the real thing in my opinion!) I would love to design a whole room around the crane picture below!


A Support Pole Makeover

Just a couple weeks ago I posted some before and after pics of my clients basement redesign.


I promised to explain one particular detail in the design- the support column.  Here is the before  picture again. Kinda sticks out at ya-and-not-in-a-good-way, doesn’t it?



During our design discussions, one thing that came up in discussions was the support pole that essentially holds up the ceiling.  There were a myriad of different ways to try and incorporate this eyesore into the space.  If this were a more formal area I might have suggested wrapping it in wood and making a nice column out of it.  Then we threw out  making a tree out of it, adding some branches and faux painting the whole thing….but I needed to brainstorm a bit more, afterall this was primarily a kids space , and I wanted to do something really fun and out-of-the-box. The whimsical nature motif exists throughout the design, so the tree idea would defintely work.


One thing lead to another and I found this great shop on Etsy, Eve’s Little Earthlings. Eve makes among other things, wine cozies from recycled sweaters.  They often resemble tree stumps. 



 I contacted Eve and she was happy to custom make the “pole cozy”.  She did a really great job, and here is the completed Pole Cozy today: (I wish I had a better close up, and will try to add one to the post at a later date.)

I feel like it really becomes part of the design rather than some afterthought.