Friday, July 31, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets - Do I want Black or Green?

Linda's nasty knotty kitchen

As I've previously mentioned, I live in townhouse/condo here in Duxbury, MA. This is a town with precious few condos and I was lucky to get into one. My building was built in the 1980's and I had to do a lot of work when I moved in bringing the place out of the 80's (ripping up carpet, installing hardwood floor, new lighting, etc). The one room I've not really touched so far is the kitchen. The only thing I've done is put is install the black and white checkerboard tile. I've been wanting to paint my nasty knotty pine cabinets for a long time and I've been girding my loins for the challenge. My kitchen is tiny, but it will still be a lot of work. And as this will be a total DIY on a budget project, I've been dragging my feet about the whole thing.

Of course, the decision about what color to paint the cabinets is the biggest one. I've been wavering back and forth between dramatic black or soothing grayish/green. The inspiration for the black came from my own powder room that is on the same floor as the kitchen. It too has the b&w checkerboard floor and had the same nasty knotty cabinets. I painted an undercoat of a soft unripe tomato red, and then covered with a high gloss black and rubbed off some edges for an antiqued look. I did this several years ago and still love it and it still looks great. No chips, etc. So, this was very easy to do - especially where I didn't bother to prime or had a need to treat the knot holes since they're not going to show through black. So, black it is, right? Well, as a few friends have pointed out - my kitchen hasn't got a lot of lighting. One window and only two overhead lights. I don't have the budget to add recessed lighting at the moment. I may try to add some under cabinet lighting, but the lip is very small, so that may not be an option. So, black is problematic on that level. Oh, and by the way, the walls will be painted in an off white.

Linda's powder room with painted cabinet

So, like any good blogger, I took to google and some of my favorite blogs and magazine websites to see if I could get some inspiration. So, here are some fantastic black kitchens.

Layla's famous DIY kitchen makeover - image courtesy of The Lettered Cottage


Kelly Wearstler black kitchen

Gwynneth Paltrow's Hamptons kitchen

Miles Redd kitchen

Chicago home - Country Living (photo credit:Keith Scott Morton)

Rosemary Beach House - Country Living Magazine (photo: Michael Weschler)

Jean-Louis Deniot - House Beautiful
"Deniot wanted black in the kitchen for its vintage feel."Plus I didn't want a traditional white kitchen," says the designer. "It's hard to make a white room look unique.""

Paloma at La Dolce Vita had put together a great collection of black kitchens a few months ago, which you can see here.

Okay - so lots of fabulousness on the black kitchen scene.

Meanwhile, I recalled that I was planning on stealing Gina at Willow Decor's Butlers Pantry lock, stock and barrel when she wasn't looking:
Which reminded me that I am also drawn to softer, more soothing colors.

Chad Eisner designer - House Beautiful


Which also reminded me that I've loved soft green since I was little and when given the choice, I am always drawn to it.

My antique desk that my father refinished for me many years ago.


Hampton Islands Kitchen - Southern Accents Magazine - one of top ten kitchens - design by Elaine Griffin. Totally swoon inducing.

Image source unknown
Howard Backen kitchen in Arch Digest, photo by Christopher Irion, via Flickr


Okay, so, hmm... now I'm veering towards green. Which is problematic because it will be harder to do and require more prep work so that the nasty knottys don't show through. I also have a lot of green in my house, and does this tip me into overload? And finally, how do either of these colors effect resale? Not that I'm planning on selling soon, but you never know what life will bring.

Anyway, here are two badly done photoshopped mockups of my kitchen in black cabinets and in green. Note that the black is way shinier and metallic looking than would actually be the case...

and the green is likelier a little stronger than I would end up doing:

So, which do you prefer?



Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Congrats to the Best of the South Shore Winners


A big congrats to the winners of the 2009 South Shore Magazine's Best of the South Shore winners.

Best Antique Shop: Dillon and Company, Plymouth. They have won this award for the last several years, which almost makes it seem like they are the only Antique Shop, which isn't true. But, they are one of the best!



Best Lighting Shop: Fleming's (website under construction), Cohasset. They are pretty much the only lighting only shop here on the South Shore, but they'd be winners even with more competition. Not only do the stock a wide array of lamps and decorative lampshades and finials - they also do rewire and repair work as well. A real old-fashioned type of specialty store with the kind of knowledge that one will never find in a big box store.

Best Rug Merchant: Hassan Oriental Rug, Hanover, MA




Best Tile Store: Classic Stone & Tile, Hingham, MA. The shop is owned by sisters Julie Ryan and Kristin Henaghan who know everything about tile and stone. They can answer questions on installation issues and create your design plus, they have the most beautiful showroom with so many gorgeous samples, it's hard to know where to look first. From elegant marbles to fun and funky recycled glass mosaics, the cover the gamut of design styles. I've used them in my work and have always been thrilled with the selection and customer service.


There were other categories in home furnishings, however, all those winners were large chain stores and I'd rather focus on the small businesses where customer service and high quality go hand in hand.

Congrats to all!


Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

My latest articles on Divine Caroline

Here are links to my most recent articles over at DivineCaroline.com

"Kitchen Makeover on a Budget"
It’s often said that the easiest and least expensive way to make a big change in a space is to paint the walls. And that’s...






"Color: Make a splash in kitchen and bath"
We all know that kitchen and bath remodels are pretty much the most stressful projects (both financially and emotionally) that one will take on in...

The Skirted Roundtable welcomes Anna Spiro

We were thrilled this week to chat with Anna Spiro of Absolutely Beautiful Things who called in all the way from Australia. The wonders of modern technology - thank you Skype!

Anna, in case you don't know, is a talented interior designer as well as blogger. Her design business, Black and Spiro, is based just outside of Brisbane, Australia. Her style is clearly feminine, yet never cloying.






So, hop on over and take a listen - The Skirted Roundtable!



Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, July 27, 2009

A cool conversion: Bell Tower Place

Bell Tower Condos


I've mentioned before that I love when a living space is a converted from another type of space - such as a church or school. I harbor the deep desire to one day live in such a unique space!
Bell Tower Condos

Last week, I visited the Bell Tower Place in Watertown, MA. Housed in what was once St. Theresa's Church, this new condo development is a wonderful preservation project undertaken by Phoenix Construction Group, Inc. The one time Catholic Church was decommissioned in 2002 due to a parking shortage. In fact, there was no parking lot and no surrounding property on which to build. Built over 100 years ago, the church would have served a very local Catholic working class population who most likely walked, or perhaps took a trolley to nearby (but not THAT nearby) Watertown Square. These days, the Catholic population is likely more spread out and the need for parking became a problem.
Bell Tower Condos

So, the church was closed, and sat there empty for a few years when the folks at Pheonix came along with a plan to create gorgeous luxury condos within the main church and the adjacent rectory while preserving the architectural and historic integrity of the building. A big plan! My initial reaction was surprise that they didn't encounter strong neighborhood protest and fear of gentrification and increased property taxes. The developers were smart and worked closely with the community to create a plan that not only preserved as much of the outside architecture as possible, but also used craftsman and workers who themselves had been parishioners. Smart move. For their work, Phoenix Construction Group won two 2008 Contractor of the Year (COTY) Awards - the COTY Gold Award for Best Commercial Project and the Silver Award for Best Residential Specialty Space.
Bell Tower Condos

I met with developer Karnig Ostayan last week who gave me a tour of some of the completed and still under contruction units. Several of the units are already sold - I'd have loved to see how some of those folks had their places decorated! I was told that the buyers have all been very artistic folks - writers, musicians, etc. Makes sense. Spaces like this are very special and in many ways, require a lot of imagination.

Let's start our tour:
Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

One of the big exterior changes made to the building was the removal of the original stairs in the front of the church, leading up from the sidewalk. The stairs were removed allowing for driveway access to a basement parking garage for the unit owners. There are now stair cases on each side of the landing, leading to outdoor balcony space for the two front units.
Bell Tower Condos


These are images of the model unit #5. All of the original columns and internal architectural structure have been maintained as much as possible.
Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

Note the second story overlooking the main living area. In some units, this is an open balcony space for use as a den or office, however, the glass walls are an option if an owner wishes to make this room into a more private space. Add some curtains on the inside and privacy is available when needed!
Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

Bell Tower Condos


Many of the materials have been reused from other parts of the project, such as the coffered ceilings, which you see below under construction in one of the units:
Bell Tower Condos


Bell Tower Condos


I asked about the original stained glass windows and was told that they (along with the lights) were removed by the Archdiocese prior to the sale for use in other churches. There is a national registry of stained glass and other church-y items so that new churches can make use of existing inventory from closed churches. Karnig told me that the pews were still in the building when they took it over and they kept shuffling them around, working around them in hopes of finding them a new home. In the end, they were able to pass them on to a new church in Annaheim, CA. Phoenix Construction even donated to the transportation fees. Loving all the reuse of materials!

One thing I really appreciated is all the attention to details such as how not to cut off the tops of existing windows which are taller than ceiling height. For example:

Bell Tower Condos

These are the windows over the sink in unit #1. In order to bring as much light into the space and not cut off the tops of the windows, the builders cut into into the floor above. The image below shows the space over the 3 tall kitchen windows. It now becomes an architectural feature in the bedroom above! If you look back up at the exterior front facade, you will see the long triplet windows aside the main doors. Tricks such as this happen all over the project.
Bell Tower Condos


Spaces like this really do require a lot of imagination on the part of the buyer. These are not square boxes at all:
Bell Tower Condos


Bell Tower Condos


Bell Tower Condos


Bell Tower Condos


There's a lot of attention to the outdoor spaces for the unit owners with each unit have lots of windows and one or even two private outdoor spots.

Bell Tower Condos

Bell Tower Condos

The copper gables add significantly to the spaciousness and lighting of the units. They used copper which was architecturally appropriate to the building itself and will certainly age beautifully!


Bell Tower Condos


The adjacent rectory as also been restored and turned into two large condos. I didn't see this building, but the exterior is lovely, as are the ground connecting the two buildings.

Bell Tower Condos
image courtesy of Hammond Residential

Bell Tower Condos


Here is a link to Bell Tower Place's website which has more photos, floor plans and information. Phoenix Construction Group's website is here and the realtor is Hammond Residential.

I hope to be able to add photos of the original church exterior and interior soon! Oh, and if you're wondering - the bell tower is in fact part of one of the units. The unfinished unit (photos above) gets the access (four flights!) to the bell tower. I am dying to know what one would do with one's own bell tower!

All photos by Linda Merrill, unless noted otherwise.



Subscribe to ::Surroundings::