Sunday, February 28, 2010

Coastal New England Ocean Oasis

One of my favorite parts of writing Willow Decor is getting to know the many other talented designers, architects, artists and residential photographers that make these beautiful spaces come alive. Meeting photographer Jamie Salomon was one of these special connections. Whether you are aware of it or not, you most likely have already seen his work. It has been featured in many magazines including, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Gardens, New England Home and several others.
He shared with me this wonderful cottage renovation on the New England coast. As you can see the home is located out on a peninsula. At high tide it becomes an ocean oasis. Though small, it is filled with everything you need to relax. The main room above features a kitchen nook and desk area.
Decorated in soothing whites and grays it is impossible not feel your tension rush away with tide. The cottage is sparsely decorated; intentional so you take in the spectacular ocean views. Here is the couch area from a different angle. I love the whitewashed walls which remind me of sun -bleached driftwood.
Opposite the seating area is a ladder to the loft above and a daybed tucked below. As you can imagine the views from every direction are breathtaking.
Here is a close up of the daybed overflowing with soft pillows. The wonderful sconces provide just the right light for curling up with a good book. With this view I am quite sure I would never leave - it gives a whole new meaning to word "bed-rest"!
Except of course to sit out on the deck and cast my line - Perhaps fish for dinner??
Have a wonderful relaxing weekend!
To see more of Jamie Salomon's work click here.
(photos J. Salomon Photography - not to be copied with out permission)
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Antique China

Today is the 79th Tablescape Thursdays over at Between Naps on the Porch, so I thought I would share with a you a recent gathering I had where I used my antique Johnson Brothers green china.

You might remember that one of my goals of my Butler's Pantry renovation was to build some beautiful glass front cabinets to house these precious antiques. You can read all about the Butler's Pantry here.
But what good is China if you are only going to look at it behind glass? I decided to set it out for everyone to enjoy. You can see the antique soup tureen above.
I used Lemon Cypress trees as the centerpiece and pulled out my Apilco chocolate cups for individual arrangements at each place setting. I just put in a spring of greens and some berries.
You can see the bone dishes on the right - we used these as interesting bread plates.
And the covered dish held butter pats I made in pretty butter molds. I should have taken a photo of those!
I'll reveal the rest of the Dining Room on Monday but until then remember to enjoy your china and don't just keep it hidden behind glass.

Head on over to Tablescape Thursday to see more wonderful tables!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

About the Italian Chandelier!

Many of you have emailed me asking more information about my chandelier. My interior photography is ever evolving (aka. not very good) and many of you wanted better photos. I was unable to get them because of the light. If you click on my photo above it should enlarge and give you more detail. But, if that does not work for you, I did have a few professional shots of the chandelier in my inspiration files.
The chandelier is made by Niermann Weeks. It is called the Italian Chandelier and comes in both 9 arm and 12 arm sizes. The photo above shows what is considered the standard finish - a distressed, chippy white. My chandelier was custom finished in an antiqued silver - it has a beautiful depth of color. Niermann Weeks has many many different finishes to choose from.
This photo from Things that Inspire via Anne Hepner gives you a very good shot of the piece. This example shows the fixture with shades, which I opted not to do. Here you see how nicely it looks in an informal room. This photo from Things that Inspire via Caldwell Beebe gives you a clear picture of the crystals that surround the fixture. I like the sparkle the singular strand brings to the room. It add a interest but its not too fussy. This room is also lovely, though a bit more formal than my breakfast room, but notice the similarities in the chair style and curtain selection.
I am sure you recognize this room from Better Homes and Gardens, which has been all over the blogs. Here you can see an example of the 12 arm style.
Niermann Weeks writes about the Italian Chandelier on their website.
They first found antique sconces, which led to the design of the chandeliers. They mentioned that English designer Nina Campbell hangs the Italian chandelier in her own bedroom, and every time she’s moved, it’s moved with her. The photo above is not Nina Campbell's bedroom, but another gorgeous room from the talented Catalano Architects.
Holly at Things that Inspire did a wonderful, comprehensive post on the Joe Niermann and the Niermann Weeks company. To read more about it click Here
The Niermann Weeks Company also writes an interesting article about how the design of the Italian Chandelier came about. To read more click Here.

To read more about my Breakfast Room click Here. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Reacquainted

I love to find designers who have a look and style that is fresh and fun, but also traditional. Designers who have a coastal look that is so wonderful and leaves you wanting more. So I was thrilled to be reacquainted with the work of Molly Frey from Marblehead, Massachusetts via House of Turquoise. (if you have a moment do go over and see all Erin's wonderful posts - I never miss one!!) I say reacquainted because I had also seen Molly Frey's work via Bandelle and had put that wonderful post in my saved file in the summer. When I went to Molly Frey's website I was reminded once again how much I admire her work. I have saved clippings from many of her rooms which have appeared in Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens, Renovation Style and New England Home.

She has a wonderful coastal style. Fresh and clean. She also writes a blog! Do take the time to see of more of her beautiful rooms. She has an incredible talent -and it's wonderful escape from these cold New England winters.

And don't forget to spend some with Erin at House of Turquoise!

(all photos: Traditional Home (photographs by Michael Partenio) & Molly Frey Design)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Breakfast Room and Family Room Reveal

When I bought my house I knew we would need to enlarge the kitchen and family room area. The previous owners were empty nesters and although the layout worked for them, it was not appropriate for our growing family.

This before picture was taken during our home inspection. At this point the previous owners had removed much of their family room furniture - all that remained was their small kitchen table and some odd chairs. You can see that the wall of windows was about 3 feet beyond the solid wall. A larger table would have ended up looming into the Family room space. So, when we were ready to renovate we pushed back the wall and added an additional nine feet to create a dedicated breakfast room. Here is the breakfast room after!

We recessed the ceiling and added beadboard and crown moulding to match the treatment we added in the kitchen.
I vacillated for months over the light fixture, but finally decided on the Niermann Weeks Italian Chandelier with an antiqued silvered finish. (Actually I vacillated over spending the money or not spending the money - I always knew it was just perfect) In the end, it was my husband's sage advice that made me order it - "You will look at this everyday, all day, for years - buy what you love!" I am so glad I listened to him (He says its one of the only times!)
Here you can see that we added three windows on each side to keep the original feeling.

I found a wonderful Belgian wrought iron table with old wood top that fit the space perfectly. Wisteria had a bench that was just the right size and I topped it with a grainsack! The linen curtains were a steal, only $20. a panel, a close-out from Country Curtains; all they needed was a little doctoring.
You might remember that at this time I also took out the over head cabinets between the Family Room and Kitchen area and removed four lower cabinets to create more of a center island.
Here you can see how much better the space feels. Removing the upper cabinets also allowed you to see the recessed ceiling area in the kitchen. We spiffed that up a bit by adding the beadboard and crown moulding details.
Here is the Family Room before. This is directly across from the center island. The size is deceiving as the back wall is over 13 feet wide.
Here is the Family Room after. We added the window on the right to match the rest of the back. It was a great addition as it brings in so much light to what used to be a shadowy area. The mantel above the couch I found in the trash on the side of a road many years ago. It has an original workman's label from 1881. What a find!! I just love the feeling it brings to the space. Lamps are from Aidan Gray and the mirror is from Wisteria - It came in gold so I silver leafed it one afternoon.
Here is the before looking from the Kitchen area out toward the Family Room area. Notice the wonderful ceiling detail that was hidden from view before we removed the upper bank of cabinets.
And here is another photo of the after. Notice the addition of the crown moulding. The chairs are my old yellow club chairs, slipcovered in the same close-out linen from Country Curtains- a steal at $6 yard. I think they are bit oversized, but until I find what I am looking for they were an inexpensive fix. Here is the TV cabinet - notice the size of the TV that fit in it.

We added a gas fireplace, mantel and surrounded the area with crown moulding. We also placed a much larger TV above. Winter is long here so the fireplace makes the space so much more cozy.

This is the full view of the new space if you are standing in front of the fireplace.

From this...

To this...
(click to enlarge)

A final thought - I have received some email recently about rooms done by decorators that are considered "high-end" and not accessible to the average person. I just want to share with you that not all things that look expensive actually are expensive. Beauty does not have a price tag. Do not be afraid to mix $20 curtains and mantels you find in the trash with expensive chandeliers, or reproductions from mail order catalogs with real antiques. Trust what you love and it will all come together. It's not about the price, it's about surrounding yourself with things you enjoy.

We really enjoy our new space - I hope you do too!!
To see more of my house click here.
(all photos Willow Decor please do not copy without permission)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Historic Barn Restoration

What do you do with an old, dilapidated barn? The rear of this barn had actually collapsed and had to be rebuilt. Here is the before picture.
The wonderful people at Landmark Services, who are well versed in restoring and renovating, really brought this barn back to life. The barn had significant work done including new insulation, plumbing, siding and trim. The doors were replaced to add to the "carriage house" style. The original stone walls were kept. As if the this outdoor renovation wasn't thoughtful enough the owners added a wonderful gem...
A fabulous spa like lap pool. Notice the skylights and spectacular wall of decorative stone work!
I also love the french doors. The gliding barn door adds such charm.
Wouldn't you love to escape here?

See other transformations on Between Naps on the Porch -Metamorphosis Monday!
(all photos landmark services)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Here's what you're saying!

It's always so interesting to me which topics resonate so strongly with readers - No upper cabinets in the kitchen is one I have received an incredible amount of email and comments about over the past few days. Readers, bloggers, designers and kitchen enthusiasts all have sent me their opinions and many have sent on photos. This kitchen from Southern Living turned up both in my inbox and on the Gardenweb! Everyone agreed the windows were wonderful. This kitchen won high marks because of its size, it is so large the storage aspect would not be compromised. Another kitchen from Southern Living with a similar feel, though this kitchen had a mix of windowed walls and storage walls. Having both seems to be a popular trade off. Linda Banks of Banks Design (one of my favorite designers) contacted me. She mentioned she wrote an article over 15 years ago in the now defunct, Decorating and Remodeling Magazine, shunning upper cabinets. She continues to limit their use in her kitchen designs. Here is a beautiful kitchen she did in CT.
Linda built free standing cupboards for extra storage. I love the mirrored fronts. To see posts of more of Linda's work click here.
This kitchen by Smallbone found its way to me via a reader in New Orleans. She thought I also might like the industrial stools. (which I do!) Notice the height of the ceilings in this kitchen - I think it adds to the drama. Many of these kitchens highlighted different types of storage - Here we see a copper pot rack on the wall. This could easily free up a lower cabinet for dishes. This kitchen is from Plain English. Many readers also mentioned that omitting the upper cabinets is easier when other types of storage are available. This kitchen from HGTV shows a Hoosier cupboard.
Photos of European kitchens came my way - here is another one from Plain English. This is a favorite of mine, I love simplicity and warmth in this kitchen. Another blogger directed me to architect Ruard Veltman who often sans upper cabinets. Isn't this kitchen fabulous?! Here is another angle of this great room! Notice the wonderful inset shelves on the left.

Most readers agreed that having a Butler's Pantry or large wall of cabinetry allowed the rest of the kitchen to be freed up to allow for windows. Veltman outdid himself with this striking wall of cabinetry.
This wonderful paneled wall turns into a trove of hidden cabinets. Spectacular! To see more of Veltman's work here. To see more on Butler's Pantries click here.
Thank you all for commenting and sending on the photos. It seems the overall verdict was that people preferred the natural light. And if space allowed, they wanted to at least incorporate one wall of windows. Let's wait and see then, if this does in fact become a trend!