Pied a tierre in Paris for about $1.7 US? Sign me up!
Full article and slide show here from the NYT.
Pied a tierre in Paris for about $1.7 US? Sign me up!
Full article and slide show here from the NYT.
It's not unusual to have special needs about television. Size, sound, angled viewing, not wanting to see the TV, wanting to see the TV, hating TVs. And yet, everyone seems to have them. And more and more televisions are popping up in every room.
Sometimes the room dictates that the TV must go above the mantle. For most, this is an unhappy compromise. But here are some interesting solutions.
Client needs: optimal viewing height, best quality sound. Largest television we could get in the space. So we pulled out the mantle, changed the gas insert engine and the surround, reframed the wall, recessed the speakers, designed a custom mantle (that is technically too low for the space but allows for optimal viewing height and sound -- and meets code for the new insert). Here it is in stages. There was a lot of work and a lot of people involved here. Electricians, AV guys, ordering a new insert, code for the insert, reframing the wall with sufficient support for the wall mounted television, designing, specifying, and installing the new mantle. This was NOT easy.
Here is the after shot.
Another client wanted a really good TV but the look of the room was more important to her. She hated the look of a TV but didn't have another room in the house for watching TV. So we installed a product from Vision Art. See the art over the mantle? It's art that hides the television. When the TV is off, you see art. Then you use a remote to lift the screen so you can see the TV. With the traditional decor, the TV does not distract. Her speakers are cool too.
This solution below involved making both husband and wife happy. The husband HAD to have a TV in the living room; the wife did not like the idea of it going over the mantle. But then the husband offered this compromise: if he got the TV over the mantle, then he'd stay out of the rest of the process (which was only partially true in the end). We also changed the tile and the hearth so that when the wife looked at the fireplace, she could see something pretty.
Tag-teaming with the Thanksgiving Holiday, I spent two days antiquing with my Cambridge client. We have the bulk of everything done but need a piece or so per room. The big hits were anything Maison Jansen at Greenwich Living in Stamford. I think we'll find a place for some Jansen somewhere. Just a question about placing the right piece where.
The client loves the formality of the French style and they seem to have so much good Jansen in Stamford. For many, this look is simply over the top, but in the right setting, it's beautiful. Either one of these could look great in the dining room. I prefer the one on the top because it's simpler and the marble will work well, but I want to visualize it in the space.
Ritter Antik in on 10th Street in New York is known for Biedermeier. I'd love to see some more wood in that dining room to tell you the truth. We already have a black fireplace (original to the house), a black table, a black and gold mirror (from his mother's home) AND a black server. I know he's a guy -- but still --that's a lot of black. I am hoping he chooses to break it up a bit. Loving these commodes. Book-match?
My client also really liked some of the etageres and servers at Ritter. The neoclassical one with the boobies, I don't care for personally as much, but maybe because I am a girl, I don't see the need for boobies on furniture. When I told my brother-in-law about the piece, he liked the idea of boobies on furniture. (Of course he did.)
Mid-day, I picked up my niece after school. She took notes to make sure we collected tear sheets of all the items my client liked and was offered candy and cookies everywhere we went. One showroom scared her. When you are nine, life-sized sculptures of lions are not whimsical.
I am also completely in love with Bernd Goeckler's pottery and lamp collections. This bowl was one of my favorite things I saw hands-down. Not for my client, not his taste.
When I showed him this bowl, he said jokingly, "I thought you are here for me? Take that time you spent showing me that bowl off the bill." I asked if he'd buy it for me as a present. But then later I saw a set of 6 chairs at Yale Burge for 28K that I told him those would be a better present. (Decorating humor)
This just installed for a client's pied-a-terre in Cambridge. I did their bathroom and kitchen a few years back. They live in Asia most of the time. They come back regularly for business.
Their taste runs clean and Asian-inspired, which is a style I enjoy and don't get to do all that often here in traditional-leaning New England. The sectional and ottoman were from their former home in Japan. Their old bookcase and desk they had simply outgrown. Plus the bookcase was too small and Cd stand were taking over the living room. So I designed this built-in for them along with an above the desk storage area. We made compartments for the CDs and books as well as AV equipment, taking all those measurements into consideration in the design. The desk is from Jesper.
My personal decorating is no joy. I love decorating for other people, but the process is not much fun when it's for my own home. After a year-and-a half of living here though, I am making progress.
I finally retiled the bathroom floor. They were black and white 12" x 12" set on the diagonal. My black, curly hair needs to be swept everyday to keep the white tiles looking clean. I hated it since the day one, but my designer pal, Jeff, suggested to wait and see if I got used to it. I replaced it with a sand-colored porcelain that should hide everything and blend with the oak floors in the rest of the house. By the way, whoever said setting black and white tile on the diagonal makes a space looked bigger took that comment out of context. It's all about the specific application. You cannot imagine how much bigger this space looks now.
Since the plumber had to come to reinsall the toilet anyway, I figured why not replace the goose neck faucet which splashes everywhere (I hate that.) and the terrible shower head. Oh, and the toilet that clogged all the time? Say hello to Toto. Those small changes should make a BIG difference.
I had my my grandma's chairs re-upholstered. Such special chairs: I grew up with them and am honored to have them in my home. I have childhood memories sitting on my grandpa's lap in these chairs. There's probably a picture somewhere of that. He always made us read aloud to him. When we misprounounced something, he'd scold, "Diction!" We still joke about that.
More fresh in my mind is the image of my grandma who retired at 85 and lived until 97, sitting in this chair everyday with her New York Times tucked in between the seat cushion and the arm. Towards the end, she wasn't so mobile, so she spent a good part of the day in the chair reading and napping. Gram's chairs were originally a gold stripe so I kept them a stripe and changed the color. The new fabric is from Carleton V.
Here's my sofa bed from Avery Boardman. It's beyond comfortable for sleeping and sitting. It is simply not true that sofa bed cannot be comfortable. It was expensive but worth the splurge. That came just in time for my sister's summer visit. PS check out the pattern flow match. Be still my (decorator) heart.
On the docket for the fall and winter:
Press is always good! I was contacted a while back by HGTV for an article on furniture arrangement basics.
You can check out the slide show and my advice here.
Things have been CR-azy busy despite the "bad" economy. I did a photo shoot with Eric Roth a while back and am finally getting around to posting the new work.
This is from a Belmont Hill project. Historic home. Client likes soft colors: gold tones + green-ish blues, as you can tell. Loves wood too! Pretty happy with how things came out.
These days everyone seems to want an ottoman. Something about them says cozy. Right now I have 3 custom ottomans in the line at the upholsterer. All are very large. I am working on one now that is 52" x 40". It will allow everyone in the seating area to put their feet up on it. We're using a saddle colored microfiber for its durability and family-friendly features.
We decided to do some inset stitching to break up the mammoth size of the thing. So the question becomes: where does the stitching go? There's no classical shape to refer to, no cannon, no rule. The only way to figure it out is to draw it up and look at it. So I made a template. The paper kept curling and mugs did the trick to hold it down. Now that's a technical problem solver if ever I have seen one.
When I got to the upholsterer, he had made a template as well. Seeing both was interesting. Everyone has a different eye. I had made my stitching 2" apart and 6" from the edges, while his proportions were a bit different. We ended up re-working the details to be in between both of our ideas.
By the way, I am going to get some of the pattern paper Walter has. You can see below, it's the coolest stuff. It has dots on it as a guide and it did not curl up. Never seen that paper used before and I have been in a lot of work rooms over the years. I love seeing new things.
Here's a secret you might not know: I used to be an elementary, classroom teacher. Yup. I was Ms. Koplovitz, your 4th grade teacher
Math was my favorite subject to teach -- just as it was when I was a kid. I was one of those girls who was good at math.
There was one thing you could bet on: When you taught adding fractions, some kid would invariably complain: when am I ever going to use this? Convert fractions and add them? I am never going to do it in my life.
Well, Mr.-Smartypants-4th-grader, I use this skill ALL the time. Yesterday, I had a template scheduled for a fire place surround for my Cambridge job. Here is a mock up of the column design we are doing on the face of the mantle.
It was all about eights, sixteens, halves and quarters. Calculators make it more confusing because you have to convert to decimals and then back. An Excel spreadsheet would have made it easy, had their been a computer handy. (There wasn't).
So, I just took out a pencil, lined up those fractions and added. Old school. Yup. Math and Design go hand in hand. Or rather arithmetic and design...and certainly geometry and design. 2 trains traveling at different speeds? Calculus? Not so much.
What happens when you find a dining room table that you like, but something about it is not quite right? You go custom.
My client was taken with an ebonized, antique dining room table we saw in New York. Unfortunately, it had some details that didn't work for him. With nothing on the market remotely similar that I could think of, we set out to find a crafts person who could make us something that would satisfy. We've been working a lot with M-Geough on this project so Holly thought that Keith Fritz would be a good match.
Keith's love of furniture is apparent. His skills and taste level, impeccable.
I hate the way people throw around the word "passion." It's become so trite, so new age: gardening is my passion. Seriously? But, this guy has a calling for what he does. Here's Keith (in salmon), my client and Holly.
See the black chip samples on the table? That's what we are doing. The top of the dining room table will be in a rift sawn oak with a wax technique that forces white into the grain. You can see the samples on the table. Those are the ones that look kind of gray. Keith is making a checkerboard pattern of squares inset in a darker border, which are similar to our antique inspiration table.
Holly and I were not initially crazy about the samples; I didn't want to show them to the client. But he wanted to see them, so we brought them out. The client wasn't disappointed in the samples though, just requested some shifting. So Keith listened to the feedback, bounded down to his truck like a happy school kid, got some solvent, and then right there in the showroom altered the finish until the client was happy. It was like Benihana with paint thinner.
I am so excited about this table. I don't know if I will be able to bear waiting until the end of the summer (or September) until it's done. We are also doing 2 end tables in the living room by Keith, and perhaps this coffee table, converted into an ottoman.
Watch AbbeyK on TV on New England Dream Home!