Monday, April 14, 2014

A traditional New England style home in a surprising location

Currently on the market is this traditional New England style home designed in 1978 by the famous New England Architecture firm of Royal Barry Wills Associates, Inc.. I'll share at the end of the post where this house is located - as I said, it's a surprising location for such a quintessential New England style.

From the map on their website, it's clear that the majority of their work is in the Northeast, with a smattering of locations around the country and other parts of the English speaking world. I wonder if the Australia and Virgin Islands locations are American's abroad looking for a feeling of home, or just fans of the style.  RBW has been designing houses since the 1920's and not all the early houses were in the classic New England vernacular - some were quite modern and other's very European storybook looking. Check out their chronology of houses here.  From the start, RBW was sought after for his classic and simple homes, many of which featured classic 1-1/2 story Cape Cod style.

Interestingly and incorrectly, the real estate listing and the news story which features this mystery location house I am featuring here as a Cape Cod style house - which it's not, it's a classic symmetrical center entrance Georgian style (1700-1780).

Cape Cod style houses were always small, with single story fronts. Below is a row of period Cape homes that are on a main street here on Cape Cod - I took this photos a couple of years ago and featured it in my White Houses of Cape Cod blog post - one of the most viewed posts I've done due to web searches for Cape Houses and White Houses. Cape Cod style houses feature both center and side front doors, with chimney's that run up the center of the house. Historic New England has a wonderful guide to architectural styles here.

When I first saw this house listing, I wondered if the interiors would match the classic New England exterior, or would it be done in the well-known style of its location (to be revealed later).

I was happy to see that the insides do indeed match the outsides - though the decor is probably a little "too" for my personal taste. I wouldn't mind a little mixing of styles and periods. The classic front entrance features pine floors and a simple staircase. I'd have loved to see some rugs here - a jaunty stripe on the stairs possibly.

The formal living room features beautiful paneling, made by Cliftondale Woodworkers of Saugus, Massachusetts (the story says Maine, but I'm pretty sure that it's MA). The furniture seems to be a bit dated - possibly it as last done in the early '90's. The rug, however, is the perfect worn looking oriental. New Englander's are known for keeping things till totally threadbare, so this fits right in!

The library's paneling and bookshelves are painted in Williamsburg Red.

The formal dining room features a fireplace and simple chair rail and wainscot.

By today's standards, this is a pretty small kitchen area, but I like it. The brick floor continues the (Williamsburg) red color theme into the space, which also has gray/blue cabinets in a simple flat panel design. I would have liked the beams to be a little wider and maybe a little less refined looking. It's funny, this color scheme is identical to my parent's open concept kitchen and family room - with the blue wood working, red brick accents and colonial styling including Windsor chairs, blue checked sofa and worn oriental rugs.

The large master bedroom features tongue and groove floors and more beautiful panel work. I like the collections of books in the window seats and the angled walls flanking the fireplace.

This bedroom features hand stenciled walls.

This shared bathroom (aka Jack and Jill) is dated and could definitely benefit from an update.

This is one of the bedrooms off the bathroom. I like that there's a little more color in here than we see in the other bedrooms.

An upstairs family room just screams '80's/'90's doesn't it?

The house is listed at over 5,000 sq. ft. - which doesn't look possible given the interiors we've seen - but must include out-buildings and the "wings".

The prevalence of outdoor seating areas is a real tip-off that we're not in New England here! Not that we don't have outdoor spaces, but our season is so short they aren't as common as other area's of the country.

So, any idea where in the US this house is situated?

When I started looking at the photos, I wondered if the interiors would be traditional to the architecture, or showcase the very different style known as the Houston style, as showcased on my friend Joni Webb's blog Cote de Texas. Yes, this New England style house is located at 11030 Greenbay Street in Houston, Texas. It's on the market for $3.5Million - you can see the real estate listing here and there are several more photos of the house. All photos except my Cape Cod house photo are by TK Images.

So, what do you think? I have to wonder if they know the style isn't "Cape Cod", but feel it's more evocative than "Georgian", or that "Colonial" is mundane and "New England" style is too vague? Marketing is always a factor...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

California Closets partners with Room to Dream Foundation

Way to go, California Closets!

The Room to Dream Foundation is pleased to announce California Closets of New England has agreed to be the official closet provider for the foundation’s room renovation projects.
“We are excited to be partnering with California Closets of New England,” says Room to Dream’s founder, Stefan Nathanson. “Every contribution made has allowed us to give back and put smiles on the children and families we serve. Having California Closets donate closets is a tremendous resource that goes directly to our end goal of providing lively but functional rooms for kids in need.”
The Room to Dream Foundation is a Boston-based non-profit organization dedicated to creating healing environments for children and adolescents suffering from chronic illnesses. Focusing its services on children and families living in low- and moderate-income urban and suburban areas, the foundation raises funds through donations and several events throughout the year. Additionally the foundation relies on the generosity of professional and amateur artists, interior designers, builders and others who volunteer their time to transform the living spaces of the afflicted child and his/her siblings, creating a room to dream of a healthier future. The foundation typically undertakes six to ten projects a year.
California Closets is an industry innovator and category leader, known for their custom designs, intuitive organization, and a commitment to creating an exemplary customer experience.  As the creators of the custom designed and installed storage industry, California Closets continually invests in innovative design solutions by sourcing trend-setting materials from around the world. California Closets installs more than 2,000 systems each year and has more than 8 showrooms throughout New England. “It is our pleasure to partner with Room to Dream as the official closet provider,” said Laura Stafford of California Closets. “We are looking forward to working together to make a positive impact on the kids and their families.” For more information on California Closets, please

Designs by Marilyn McLeod, Project Manager Mike Collins architect, Photos by Michael J. Lee

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Summer Livin'

So, we had an early Spring blizzard here on the Cape.

Turns out RoyRoy loves the snow - though he nearly got knocked over by the wind. We still have a lot of icy snow drifts today and when we were walking up my driveway, he suddenly stopped and was kind of huddled in one place, then scooted over to me and literally got on top of my feet. He must have had a piece of ice wedged in his paw. Good thing he only weighs 13 lbs and can easily be scooped up!

The current issue of Cape Cod Life magazine was sitting on my coffee table mocking me yesterday... Actually, we won't see trees like this until early/mid May.

Interior design by Linda Merrill

Anyway, this is NOT how we want to welcome spring here. Tomorrow, however, I'm headed up the coast to Gloucester, Massachusetts to start a beach house project. This is a good sized new construction house that is nearly complete and I'll be designing and planning all the window treatments in the house. Usually, I decorate an entire room or house, but in this case, the homeowners have decided to focus on getting the house built and the windows covered and then go from there. While there's a lot of opportunity to create beautiful window treatments with pretty fabrics, it's also a project that has a lot of practical issues to think about as well - sun and temperature control is important, as is understanding how corrosive the salt air is when living near the ocean.

                                                Interior design by Linda Merrill, photo by Paul Blackmore for Cape Cod Magazine

My recent Truro, MA beach house project that was featured in Cape Cod Magazine had large glass walls and simple dark solar shades so that the entire ocean-side of the house was opened up as much as possible.

This new project is a classic shingle style house with lots of smaller windows and I'm very much looking forward to welcoming Spring (the real thing, not the snowy version!) with visions of pretty rooms, pretty views and some casual beachy style.

design by Gerald Pomeroy

Interior design by Charlotte Barnes

Interior design by Maureen Griffin Ballsbaugh, styling by Stacy Kuntstel, photography by Michael Partenio for New England Home magazine

                         Interior design by Maureen Griffin Ballsbaugh, styling by Stacy Kuntstel, photography by Michael Partenio for New England Home magazine

Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI. This would sure be a great way to wake up!

Spring and Summer will be here before we know it, right?

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Living Room Plans

As I've mentioned, I'll be moving to a new house or apartment at some point later this year and while I have not idea at the moment what kind of space I'll be moving in to, I can't help but start the planning! When I moved the last time, I got rid of a lot of my furniture, keeping only the things that I truly love and matter to me. I figured when the time came, I'd start fresh with some new pieces that were also loved and needed.  I'd like to say that I plan on living a much more "pared down" lifestyle, but that's probably not really true.

After all - this is my inspiration:

design by Charlotte Moss, photo by Pieter Estersohn

I do actually already have many of the elements of this space and the color palette is my absolute most favorite!

This is the living room area in my last condo. I got rid of the chaise, rug and side chairs, but still have the love seat, trunk and artwork. That chaise was amazing for napping, but not so comfortable to just sit in.

The Hickory Chair love seat was my parents but they gave it to me over twenty years ago when they downsized. It started out in blue damask and I had it recovered in Robert Allen's "Les Insectes" about a dozen years ago. I think the fabric is discontinued.

RoyRoy seems to like it as well - since he gets up on it every chance he gets!

I'm going to be taking this striped velvet arm chair from my parents house for my new place. It's compact but still very comfortable and in great condition. I don't know if they bought it as is in the 1970's, or it's older and reupholstered in the '70's, there's no visible tags on it, which makes me think the latter. In any event, I don't love these shades of green (they are more muted and brown than in the photo) and it's not the right shade to go with my love seat.  So, yes, I am planning on recovering a green velvet chair with a different green velvet.

I hadn't yet started looking at velvets, but when my decorator friend Scot Meacham Wood of SMW Design in San Francisco posted this photo to Instagram, I knew it was THE ONE!

This was in a Lee Jofa showroom and is "Watersedge" by Aerin Lauder for Lee Jofa, made in Belgium. Give me a fan (or my old fainting couch), I'm going to swoon! I love a fabric that looks worn and well-used.

I ordered a memo sample and love everything about it from the beige ground fabric to the multi-shade green velvet chevron - plus it's ridiculously soft to the touch. It also comes in aqua, red and gray colorways.

Here's another use of the fabric. This from the Lee Jofa showroom at the D&D building in NYC and courtesy of the Kravet Inspired Talk blog. I definitely want to look into small faux bamboo or other vintagey brass side tables. I think space will be an issue in my next place.

Also going in my living room is my little antique desk that my dad found in a shop somewhere and painted for me when I was still in elementary school. It's antiqued off-white on the inside and antiqued green on the outside. My passion for green goes back a long way. I've used this desk as a dresser when I was in a studio and had no space, and at other times as a linen chest, and to store papers. Can't wait to get it out of storage!

I'm going to be wanting a comfy sofa as well. I used to be able to curl up on Hickory Chair love seat and nap and watch tv - but it's really small and was never comfy. But what one puts up with in one's 20's isn't exactly the same at a more, shall we say, mature age...

I like this Crate and Barrel "Serene" apartment size sofa. It's slipcovered which will be essential since Master RoyRoy has decided he loves himself a sofa. I'm currently washing the throw blanket I have on the sofa I have now every other week... Luckily, he doesn't shed too much since he's a short haired dog. I'd want the sofa to be light colored as well. So, a good throw blanket will be needed here as well. I like the simplicity of this piece. It calls to mind some of the beautiful sofa's by Verellen, but a little closer to my budget. I'm tempted to just go the Ikea slipcovered sofa route, but I know I'd regret going against my own advice about buying the best one can afford. C&B is right around my budget at the moment.

To ground the space, I'll be using either this new rug, a hand-knotted Sultanbad that I got from Medallion Rug gallery last year:

Or this antique oriental that was my grandparents and is likely at least 75 years old. It has so many colors in it it goes anywhere and with anything.  Which rug I go with in the living room will be decided by size I guess. The above rug is 8x10 the bottom is at least 9x12 (haven't take time to measure yet).

If I own the place I move to, it would be great to cover the walls in a natural/beige grasscloth for lots of texture, but we'll see. Praying if I rent that it won't be acid green or yellow - that will require some negotiating to repaint!

So, that's the scoop on my living room plans. Let me know what you think. I'm probably going to go ahead and buy the Lee Jofa fabric for my chair just to have it ready and not run the risk it goes out of stock. I always advise clients who have decided on a fabric to purchase it right away, even if they don't need it right away. You never know when a mill will shut down and a fabric is suddenly discontinued.

I'm going to a fun event tonight put on by C&R Flooring that's part of the Boston Design Week that's running now through the 30th. I'll be learning about flooring and putting together my own signature line.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tiny Houses mean creative living

As I contemplate my next move in my life, I expect that I will be living in a pretty small space. And that's ok. I'd rather live in a beautifully appointed smaller home than kick around in an empty McMansion.

I'm not talking fairytale cottage small:

But something interesting and quirky would be fun:

Of course, to comfortably live in such a small space and pack in all the modern amenities takes a good amount of creativity and a whole lot of editing.

A lot of tiny houses have ladder-like stairs to second floor lofts, so I appreciate the standard staircase in the photo above. It takes more floor space, of course, but seriously, how long does one want to live climbing up and over to get to bed?

Every nook and cranny needs to be used. I love the look above, but am freaked out  by a staircase that doesn't have a banister. This just needed a rope banister along the wall to feel a bit safer to my eyes.

This is quite a lot of functional space tucked under the stairs.

I love this look above, but who would use that ladder and my fear of falling would be triggered by the  open loft.

The space above, designed by Tucker & Marks, shows that a small space can still be richly appointed. I'm not sure of the context of this particular space, but if it were a small house, I'd want to see drapery that could be pulled to diving the living room from the bedroom.

And this is my favorite. Love the formality of the table and chairs which seems surprising under the beamed ceiling. This little house from Kanga Room Systems in Texas.

The ladder is better than a straight vertical one, but still, probably not something I'd want to be dealing with - especially in the middle of the night!

See all pins and resources here.

How small a space could you live in?