Saturday, April 16, 2016

Powder Room Renovation

Are you a fan of wallpaper? I am! So are many of my clients. Wallpapers can add that additional pattern, texture and depth. I'm getting ready to paper a historic home's living room and study in two iconic 19th century William Morris designs. Hope to share soon.

If you're on the fence about wallpapering, why not try it in a guestroom, office or powder room? These rooms allow you to experiment in a less prominent setting and/or on a smaller scale. If the paper turns out to be a mistake, it can always be removed.

Recently, I helped my friend (and client) Ceane renovate her powder room, which now features a stunning wallpaper. First, take a look at the before photos:
Measuring 63" x 45", the room is small but not tiny. Let's start with the positives. There is a good-sized window that brings in natural light as well as fresh air. The existing shutters are handsome and easy to maneuver for privacy. Plus, the 9' ceiling adds volume to what could be a claustrophobic space.

Now for the issues. The oversized sink basin is a bit deep; the door barely clears. Stylistically, the fluted pedestal base is too formal for this vintage farmhouse. Next, notice how the chrome light fixture clashes with the gold mirror. The light fixture is also mounted too low. And that Colonial-ish pineapple wallpaper? Too dated for Ceane's young family! Oh, a piece of it is missing along with the rest of the toilet paper holder :( Time for a renovation!
Here is the newly renovated powder room featuring a Galbraith and Paul Lotus wallpaper. The pattern is a fresh interpretation of classic paisleys. By the way, a large pattern can make a small space feel more interesting, so don't be afraid to experiment with scale. An antique silver gilt mirror from my shop fits perfectly within the narrow wall space, and its cool tone looks striking against the colors. A small pedestal sink with canted corners is reminiscent of bathroom furnishings from the early 20th century. Its backsplash is a bonus; practical for Ceane's three young children. The toilet is from the same collection. For the new light, I selected a satin nickel fixture with cool glass shades that have a vintage vibe. Note the light is mounted much higher than the old one. With such a tall ceiling, why hug the mirror? Now there is room for both pieces to breathe.
Hope you enjoyed this project. Sources:

-GALBRAITH AND PAUL LOTUS SMOKE WALLPAPER
-TONE ON TONE ANTIQUE FRENCH MIRROR
-SCHOOLHOUSE ELECTRIC DAVIS DOUBLE SCONCE
-PORCHER SINK AND TOILET
-BENJAMIN MOORE SIMPLY WHITE ON TRIM
-BENJAMIN MOORE BLACK PM-9 HIGH GLOSS ON DOOR
-UNION HARDWARE (BETHESDA, MD) FAUCET SET AND TOILET PAPER HOLDER

See more of Ceane's beautiful home here and here. A BIG thanks to Ceane!!

Cheers,
Loi
PS - For more, please check out my INSTAGRAM

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Arrangements in White

Is there a prettier season than spring? Just walk outside and behold: all of nature is in BLOOM! So grab your clippers and bring a few branches, blooms and buds to enjoy inside. Even in the simplest vase, it's sure to cheer up any room.

Speaking of vases, I recently teamed up with a group of friends on INSTAGRAM to each create a spring arrangement in a white vessel. Other than using a white container of our choice, there were no rules. We wanted to show that in a ubiquitous white vase, the possibilities are endless. The creativity from the group was inspiring as well as overwhelming. See for yourself and, remember, bring the beauty of spring inside now!
For mine, I kept it simple with branches of cheerful forsythia, the harbinger of spring. Clipped from the garden at our new home, the branches are casually dropped in an antique white ironstone pitcher. Note the pitcher's height balances the tall branches. With lemons piled on a footed cake stand, the pops of yellow are pure sunshine, especially against the wall of white china at my shop.     
Kelley Nan, who created and coordinated the White Vase Challenge, masterfully mixed fruit, flowers and foliage in her captivating centerpiece. Such happy colors! A special thanks to Kelley for inviting me to participate.
Randi Garrett's arrangement of roses, clementines and eucalyptus foliage in a classic urn-shaped vase is lovely. And elegant. Note the asymmetrical layering of the eucalyptus for movement. Marvelous, Randi! 
Shauna from The House of Silver Lining also incorporated fruit. Plus, she tucked in veggies for an arrangement that's original and stunning. The trailing parsley is charming.
Now let's check out a few arrangements with tulips, starting with this artfully layered vignette from Erin at The Sunny Side Up. Erin's vermilion tulips in white look especially striking against the weathered wood. The entire ensemble is beautiful and organic.    
A mix of tulips, lilies and other spring favorites in a crisp white pitcher is timeless and fresh. It's from Jennifer at The Grace House. Gorgeous, Jennifer!
Gathered from the garden. That's Jennifer from Decor Gold Designs' fabulous signature style. In a footed compote, Jennifer loosely interspersed greenery amongst tulips in her carefree, garden bouquet. Divine!  
Keep it cool. The glamorous Deborah Blount designed a floral creation that shines in shades of purple, lavender and blue. Positively dreamy. And breathtaking!
Next is Tamara at Citrine Living's combination of hydrangeas, roses, pears and artichokes in a gleaming white bowl. I can envision Tamara's gorgeous piece anywhere - from the dining table to a foyer console. What a classic!
Let there be light. Annie at Zevy Joy selected soft whites and pastel pinks for an ethereal centerpiece that's bright and beautiful. With her garden as a backdrop, it simply says spring.
Now a grand masterpiece from Janice at Fig and Twigs. This is floral architecture at its finest. A true piece de resistance from Janice. 
Hello, sunshine! The talented Bree from Z Design at Home put together this vibrant yellow-and-green arrangement. I love the texture as well as movement. Such a happy statement.  
The last group of friends went white with a twist. Oscar from Oscar Bravo Home channeled zen with his bonsai and moss covered bowls. Totally unexpected. Totally cool. That's Oscar! 
Speaking of unexpected, I have to hand it :) to Sandi and Shalia at The Spoiled Home for originality. Brilliant! No wonder these ladies have nearly 100K followers on Instagram.
With an enchanting home on Cape Cod, Sandra Cavallo drew inspiration from the sea. Her giant clamshell, nestled in a sunny corner, is overflowing with pink perfection. Stunning!

Cheers,
Loi
PS - For more, check out my INSTAGRAM.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Patina Farm Book

At last, spring! I've been looking forward to the return of songbirds, fresh landscapes, and brighter days. I love the sights, sounds, smells and sunshine this time of year.

I've also been looking forward to the release of a very special book: Patina Farm! Written by my friends, Steve and Brooke Giannetti, acclaimed architect and designer, Patina Farm is more than a design book. It is a celebration of the Giannetti farm where old meets new, form meets function, and indoor meets out.

Their home as well as farm buildings are all newly built. But thanks to the use of antiques and reclaimed materials, the result is a soulful patina evident everywhere. Just step into Brooke's office where antique wall panels take center stage and become a stunning backdrop, while concealing a closet of necessities. Like the other rooms, the office enjoys uninterrupted views of the garden. There is seamless harmony between house and garden. 

Speaking of the garden, the Giannettis thoughtful mix of ancient trees on the property plus new beds of rosemary, lavender and roses is not only beautiful but clever. They refreshed and relandscaped respectfully.

Here is a preview of Patina Farm:    
So beautiful!! Signed copies of Patina Farm can be ordered here.
Cheers,
Loi

Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Maine Home

How many more weeks did Mr. Groundhog say until spring? It's been such an extreme winter in DC. I'm getting restless. At our former home, this is the time I start checking on my early bulbs for signs of life in the garden. Come this spring, I'm excited to have a fresh plot to plant. Yes, Tom and I have found a new "old" house - a cozy Tudor with lots of period charm. And yes, it needs some work. Stay tuned for the full renovation.

As mentioned previously, I have more "on the move" news to share. Tom and I have decided to downsize in Maine as well. Like our friends, the Crawleys at Downton, we are simplifying and consolidating :) Actually, we have acquired a Castine cottage in need of a major renovation. That means there will be not one but two reno projects ahead. (Okay, we admit to being serial renovators!) So we'll be putting our large, historic home on the market soon.

With 4,000 sq ft, our home, known as the Ca. 1804 Stevens House, is too big for just the two of us, especially since we're only summering there. (BTW, an efficient radiator heating system plus six wood-burning fireplaces make all the rooms wonderfully warm during the winter.) The historic rooms, preserved with architectural details, are light and airy courtesy of the soaring high ceilings and many windows. And, they flow graciously from one to another thanks to an open floorplan. It's a comfortable 212-year old home that's been meticulously updated for today.

Some info:
- 4,000 sq ft on 1/2 acre lot
- Formal living and dining rooms 
- Updated kitchen with gas range, new dishwasher, new microwave
- Expansive, open great room with sitting and breakfast areas
- 5 bedrooms (2 with en-suite baths) 
- 3 full baths, 1 powder room
- Second floor library / office with walls of custom built-in bookcases
- Screened porch which converts to sunroom
- Barn with loft / studio over a garage for boats / 2 cars 
- 10' + ceilings on main floor
- 6 wood burning fireplaces
- Long, wide pine floorboards and painted floors
- New washer and dryer 
- Entire exterior newly painted
- New roof
- Gardens with mature perennials, shrubs and trees
- Extensive hardscaping with locally quarried granite

In addition, it is one of Castine's important homes with a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. Nathanial Willson had it built, and sold it to Mason and Sarah Shaw in 1810. The Shaws then sold it to Dr. Joseph Stevens in 1821. Originally built in the Federal style, architectural changes in the Victorian taste were made in the late 1800s. A third floor with Mansard roof was added. During their 60 years there, the Stevens family frequently hosted the American Luminist painter Fitz Henry (Hugh) Lane. Lane, a close friend, spent many summers with the family while painting Castine Harbor as well as the coast of Maine. Lane is considered to be one of America's greatest marine painters.

Below is a painting of our home depicted by Lane in 1859:
Compare it to this photograph taken in 1871. The front entry is different; as are parts of the fence. But the most dramatic change is the chestnut tree. 

Here are three works of Castine Harbor painted by Lane from 1851-56:
Now let's see our house today, starting with the freshly painted exterior. I chose a crisp palette of white, gray and navy. The gray and navy blue are in high gloss.
From spring to fall, the garden beds flanking the granite steps overflow with perennials including alchemillas, delphiniums, geraniums, hostas, lupines, phlox, etc. Recently, I introduced native ferns throughout the property. Guests always comment on the lush plantings and handsome stonework. The steps are all carved granite.
This Victorian bay window was added in the late 1800s. During the winter, all the windows are protected by custom storms.
Two views of the barn, which is now a garage with a studio loft above. The barn is connected to the house via the sunroom (that converts to a screened porch during the summer) and kitchen addition. We usually park in front of the gray barn doors (where the land is flat), and enter via the sunroom. There is a small mudroom just before the kitchen .
For this tour, please come in through the front doors. Welcome!
To the right is the sunny living room. Like all the other rooms, this one enjoys double exposure with windows on two sides. The Federal mantel was scraped back to reveal its early painted surface.
I've furnished with a mix of old and new, keeping the decor casual and a bit coastal. Many of the antique ironstone and shells came from the local shops in Belfast, Ellsworth and Searsport. The plush, down-filled seating pieces, all new, are extremely comfy. And with slipcovers, cleaning is a breeze.

Tom and I are entertaining the idea of selling the house furnished to make it a turnkey transaction for the new owners.
Across from the living room is the dining room. Again, a mix of antiques and new furnishings. Although the American Federal corner cabinet is from Pennsylvania, it looks like it could be original to the house - perfect fit, and very similar pinewood as the floors. Over the mantel is a piece of driftwood picked up at a nearby beach. I love incorporating found objects from nature! The huge 19th century schooner hooked rug is from Pumpkin Patch Antiques in Searsport.
Here is the kitchen addition. We had the cabinets repainted in Benjamin Moore's White Dove. Granite for the countertops was quarried from nearby Deer Island. Notice the reclaimed soapstone sink from Portland. 
Next to the kitchen addition is the breakfast room, which was where the original kitchen was located. There is a massive brick fireplace, complete with bread oven, for cooking.
At the other end of this open great room is our sitting area. The wide pine floorboards extend from the sitting area all the way to the kitchen. They add such warmth to this expansive space. 
Let's chat about the decor here. I went with a classic blue-and-white scheme. All the maritime artwork came from antiques shops throughout Maine. The lamps were originally pots from Pottery Barn; I had them converted.  
Upstairs on the second floor is a library / office and two master suites. Both bedrooms have their original Federal dadoes as well as fireplaces. Here is one of them.
An unusual hooked rug, patterned after a stained glass window, hangs over a collection of vintage American flower doorstops on the mantel. I love elevating objects into art.

To the right of the fireplace is a door leading to an en-suite bath with closets.  
On the third floor are three more bedrooms. This one has twin beds from Ikea. I furnished entirely on a budget....read more here.
All the windows on the third floor are placed within the mansard roof's dormers. In addition to being charming, they flood the rooms with light, and bring in that fresh Maine air. Our guests enjoy sleeping under duvets with the windows open.

Speaking of fresh air, let's end our tour in the screened porch (breezeway), which converts to a sunroom. The 12 panels can be fitted with screens or glass. Rain or shine, this room is bright and cheerful, and enjoys lovely views of the garden. 
Whew! That was a long tour...told you the house is big. We'll be officially listing it soon. Anyone interested? Please let me know :)

Before I sign off, I want to mention that our home plus 17 other properties will be on the 2016 Castine House and Garden Tour. Please save July 13th on your calendar. Click on website for more info: CastineHouseTour.com
Cheers,
Loi
PS - Find me on INSTAGRAM