No Flowers, No Problem


In a pinch, when fresh flowers aren't available, I like the look of rustic wooden spoons in a vase for a casual winter supper.  Add a few votive candles and you're done.  It's one less thing to do and no worry about keeping the flowers fresh.

Our Bedroom Makeover

I took a long absence from blogging this summer, although I didn't really plan to.  Sometimes it was hard to find inspiration about blogging when we were working on the house and things were messy.  I spent most of the spring and summer working on our bedroom.  It needed every thing from paint to carpet, but it was a fun project--choosing fabric and finding just the right touches to brighten the room.  I can't wait to start work on the second bedroom!  Here are the before and after photos of our bedroom.

The house was built in 1875 and none of the original features remain, except for the pine floor.  They don't look bad here, but they were old, worn and had wide gaps between the boards, which were a magnet for dust.  To create a warmer and brighter look, I had the floor covered with wool wall-to-wall carpeting. You can see my bureau on the left, which isn't may favorite piece of furniture, but it provides plenty of storage in this house with few closets.  I decided to paint it white to blend with the walls since it originally had a dark stain finish.

 Here's the room with carpeting.  It's not as dark as it looks here.  It's actually a blend of cream and pale aqua fibers.  The aqua is very subtle and soft.  The ceiling is painted pale blue and it nicely complements the carpet.  Jon liked the carpet too, which surprised me.

This is a photo of the West side of the room.  It's been difficult to get good photos of this room for some reason.  Ever since the iOS8 iphone software update, it seems like the quality of iphone photos isn't what it used to be. 

Here's the after shot.  The colors are a bit washed-out in the photo, so the drapery fabric looks muted. The fabric is a blend of ivory, soft aqua, taupe and a touch of butter.   That's Jon's cherry wood dresser in the photo.  I'm not a fan of dark wood, but he loves his furniture and it's beautifully made, so there it is.  I chose the bronze finish on the drapery rods to complement with the wood dresser. 

This is the before photo of the East side of the room.  Notice the lovely patch in the wood floor.  I have no idea why there would have been a gaping hole in the floor at one time.

Much better, don't you think?  I bought the antique botanical on eBay years ago for about $20 and finally had it framed.  I chose a custom white gold-leaf frame with blue highlights in a floral and vine motif.  It's so nice to have found just the right spot for this print.

The script at the bottom of the print always intrigued me.

Another view.

We bought a new bed too as this one was too small for us.  This photo was taken after we painted the walls and trim.  I'm so glad the pine floor is gone!  Some people will think I'm crazy for covering original pine floors with carpet, but trust me.  The floor looks much better in the photos than it did in person.

This photo is too light, but at least it shows the finished room.  I had a headboard made in a wheat-colored fabric with a matching bed skirt.  The alabaster lamps are from Brimfield--purchased about 15 years ago.   I thought about selling them, but kept them and bought new silk pleated shades for them.  The lamps had been in the living room and they look much better here.

The veins of the marble / albaster look black here, but they're actually a soft gray. 

This framed cameo hangs above the bed.  Jon bought it for me after we were married.  We bought a picture light for it, which accents the unusual layered matting and gold-leaf frame.

I wish the color in the photos was better.  Above is a close-up of the linen drapes.

Finally, here's a photo that shows the true color of the drapes and trim.  I didn't originally plan to use trim, but once I saw it with the drapes, I was sold.  It really dresses up the room.  The butter-colored fabric on the right was used to make a Roman shade for the hall window.  I had the same trim attached to the bottom of the Roman shade.

So that's our new bedroom.  I'm pleased with how it turned out. I made some changes in the living room too and will post about it soon.  Thanks for following along!

Back to Business

Source here.  Photo by Martyn Thompson

I hope you are having a terrific Fall.  I have been enjoying myself with projects around the house, including the redo of the bedroom and will be posting before and after photos soon. In addition to work and house projects, I've been experimenting with making scented candles--it's a hobby that's been all consuming.  It's been a challenge experimenting with scents, wicks, and wax, but I'm really having fun with it (mostly through trial and error).
More to follow!

Catching-Up with Nancy Fishelson

Nancy Fishelson is an architectural designer whose homes have been featured in Country Living, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens and Architectural Digest.  I did a post about Nancy's former  Connecticut home last year and recently spoke with Nancy about what's she currently working on and how she got her start in design.  If you're familiar with Nancy, you know that she has a talent for transforming houses into beautiful homes.
 Although I'd read about Nancy's work, I couldn't find much information about her when I wrote the post last year.  Nancy told me that she had wanted to be a set designer, but became a production assistant and later an executive producer at an advertising agency.  She was most recently the executive producer of a film production company in Los Angeles.
Nancy got her start in design when she and two business partners bought and renovated a California property.   She eventually moved to the east coast, buying and renovating a large house in Connecticut, which she's since sold.  Nancy has worked on homes in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts (including Nantucket) and Maine.
Before speaking with Nancy, I thought she only renovated her own homes, but I learned that she also designs for clients.  Her projects range from full-scale renovations (including major structural corrections) to decorating consultations.  I was most familiar with Nancy's business of buying and selling antiques from the Country Living and Connecticut Homes & Gardens articles.   
Nancy shared with me these photos of her recent projects and even shared a few tips with me too. 
California Project
Following are photos of a project Nancy did for a client in California.  As always, I admire Nancy's us of natural colors and the way she uses texture, contrast and light to make simple spaces come alive.
Here's the living area in progress.  Nancy added beams and a simple mantel  (among other details).  Sconces and hanging light fixtures mix with recessed lighting.   

The finished living area features lots of light and Nancy's trademark dark wood floors.

The kitchen, in-progress.  More rustic beams with contemporary recessed lighting and hanging fixtures with glass shades. The lighting is simple but effective and doesn't overwhelm and kitchen island.

Here's the finished kitchen, complete with Nancy's signature gray counter tops and white cabinets.  It's all crisp, clean, and comfortable, but elegant too.

Close-up of the stove and stainless steel hood.  It's nice to see a simple back splash with something other than white subway tile or white marble, which is so popular these days.

To the left are plenty of windows to let in natural light.  

One of the bathrooms in the house features a dark vanity top and more white cabinetry.  The contrast of the dark counter tops against the white walls and cabinets is striking.

The shower is simple, fresh and calming with white tile and plenty of light.

The deep soaking tub would be a welcome retreat after a day of gardening.  

Maine Project
Next are photos of a home Nancy renovated with a client in Maine.  Again, lots of white, and contemporary lighting make this a cheerful and relaxing space.  The dark storage piece contrasts perfectly with the light floor.

Simple but architectural shelves in the kitchen add interest.

A rustic farm table and wicker chairs make for relaxed, comfortable dining.

 Nancy is known for her use of pale, white color-schemes and antiques, but she also uses modern appliances and has found more than a few bargains for her projects.  Here are a few tips from Nancy:
1.  Finding the right antiques and furnishings requires diligence and patience.  You must be willing to put in the time to visit antique shops and flea markets, often the same ones and frequently, to become familiar with the owner's merchandise and to check for new pieces.
2.  Nancy often buys antiques at flea markets.  She does not often attend auctions as the bidding can escalate in the blink of an eye.  It's better to avoid getting swept up in the action and risk over bidding and having buyer's remorse later.
3.  Nancy is not afraid to hunt for a bargain.  Although the cabinets in her Killingworth, Connecticut home (below) were custom designed and built, Nancy purchased the kitchen cabinets for her Woodbury, Connecticut home (not shown) on ebay and had them installed by her carpenter.  
4.  Nancy has saved on high-end appliances by buying a La Cornue stove that was a discounted floor model and even bought a  Sub Zero refrigerator on Craig's List.  I've heard of people finding good deals on Craig's List, but that was an eye-opener.
5.  I asked Nancy what paint colors she uses in her projects and not surprisingly, she has custom-mixed formulas that she's used repeatedly.  However, she also likes Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert paints.
*  She often uses Benjamin Moore's "Dove White"
*  Nancy likes the warm gray of Benjamin Moore's "Thunder" for floors
*  The best gray color Nancy said she's used is Pratt & Lambert's "Tucker Pale Gray", but it's been discontinued.  She has had the shade custom-matched, however, in Benjamin Moore paint.
I greatly enjoyed catching-up with Nancy and hope you enjoyed seeing more of her work.  You can read more about Nancy on her  website
Nancy is also on Facebook and recently joined Pinterest, so have a look there at the photos of her latest projects for more inspiration.

I ♥ New York

Central Park, New York City, June 2014
We were in New York two weeks ago to see "Macbeth" starring Kenneth Branagh at the Park Avenue Armory.  I am not a Shakespeare buff (Jon is) and it was the first time I'd seen the play, but I thought it was fantastic.  Did you see it?  I'd be curious to know your thoughts about it.
On Sunday, we visited The Frick Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and afterward walked around Central Park.  This scene at the pond where people navigate remote-controlled sailboats was, I thought, reminiscent of a scene that Monet might have painted.
Wishing you a happy Fourth of July this weekend.

A June Wedding

Ideas for a summer wedding

The summer solstice arrived this weekend, which means more time outdoors in warm breezes surrounded by light, airy colors and long twilight afternoons.  For some reason, being a newly wed has drawn me to photos of wedding themes more than ever before.   There isn't a pretty dress, flower arrangement or cake swathed in white butter cream that gets by me these days.  I'm thinking of making a petite wedding cake just to celebrate six months of marriage, which is really just an excuse to make (and eat) a cake.  After all, "a party without a cake is just a meeting," according to Julia Child.  I'm not sure if she really said that, but I like to think so.  
One pretty image leads to the next and suddenly I'm imagining a small wedding reception in a cool leafy space by a turquoise pool.  Bridesmaids in silk satin and tulle float from table to table and a small group of guests nibble cheese straws and sip cold minted pea soup.  The main course includes poached salmon with cucumber sauce, lightly sauteed spring vegetables and jasmine rice.  Dessert includes coconut lime sorbet and wedding cake.  For a wedding favor, guests would receive small white boxes of chocolate nonpareils, tied with a pale blue ribbon.
The thoughts alone are enough to transport me from Monday morning to Saturday afternoon.  Now I just need to figure out what to do on Tuesday.