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I’m always curious about abandoned houses.  I wonder who lived there and what happened to the house.

Renovating an old house, especially one that hasn’t been lived in for a while, is not an easy task.  Last week, two stories about two very different renovations were in the spotlight.

First up, the New York Times  wrote about the controversy surrounding the William Mason House in Thompson, CT.

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Photo: New York Times

Famous interior designer Mario Buatta bought it twenty-two years ago.  The Mason house is a gorgeous example of Gothic Revival architecture and was built in 1845.

At first, people in the small town were excited that a designer like Mr. Buatta bought the home. They believed the home was in good architectural hands.  However, no work has been done in years.  The house has become a horrible eyesore and is falling apart.

Everyone knows historic renovations are tricky and things take time.  However, Buatta’s dismissive attitude has alienated the town.  He has worked on massive mansions four times the size of the Mason house which has thirteen rooms.

The house is located right on the village green.  I understand why the residents are not happy with the snobby and arrogant “Prince of chintz.”

Now for a more uplifting tale:

David Lebovitz linked to Messynessychic’s post about Australians Karina and Craig Waters on his Facebook page.  In 2013 the couple purchased the Chateau de Gudanes, an abandoned 18th century mansion in the Midi-Pyrénées.  The chateau had been on the market for over four years.

While many people dream of taking on a project like this, the reality is that the renovation and upkeep for a place with ninety-four rooms is enormously expensive.

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Those stairs!!  The height of the ceilings!!

Click over to Messynessychic to see additional photos and learn more about the renovation.  I cannot wait to see their progress.

A few weeks ago I went to Anguilla to check in on one of my projects.  The build is going very well.

When I think of the mood for a beach house, the first thing that comes to mind is relaxation.

I’ve been looking at books in my library and pulling images from the internet for inspiration.  The bathrooms don’t have to be from a Caribbean beach house but must have some elements that would work in that environment.

There are many decisions that have to be made. What kind of finishes? What color? If we use tile, what size?

While this is a house in Anguilla, the style will not be British Colonial.  It’s too formal for a beach house.  There will be touches (like a mahogany four-poster bed) of course but mixed with a contemporary spin on Caribbean design.

Below are few spaces that caught my eye:

This bathroom is from a home on the tiny Island of Mustique.  I love the natural feel of it.  We’re already using poured cement for the kitchen counter tops. To use it again in the bathrooms might be too much.

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Photo: Elle Decor

This large en-suite bathroom in a Sicilian villa has a stone sink.  Love the simplicity of the shower stall and the use of wooden stools.  This is a newish boutique hotel.  I must see Rocca delle Tra Contrade in person.  The photos are stunning.

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Photo: Rocca delle Tre Contrade

I’m not a fan of shower caddies.

Our clients for the Tuscany project were very clear that they wanted built-in spaces for shampoo, soap, etc.   If it’s early enough in the build/renovation, I recommend going in this direction.  Just make sure there’s a slight slope, so water doesn’t pool in the space.

A partial wall works for this project.  It never gets cold.

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Photo: Elements Of Style

Getting away from the neutrals for a minute, this bathroom from the La Banane hotel on St. Barths is very bright and colorful.

A fun design like this might be a great idea for one of the smaller bathrooms.  Or the powder room.  In a large space this color and pattern would be not be relaxing to me.

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Photo: Villa La Banane

Brass fixtures are having a moment.  I like them in this bathroom.  I look at all this tile and worry about cleaning the grout.

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Photo: Habitually Chic

I LOVE outdoor showers.  The ones at Cap Juluca in Anguilla are fantastic.

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Photo: Cap Juluca

A more traditional style at Oscar de la Renta’s former home in the Dominican Republic.

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A shower in Marrakesh.  Fantastic built-in bench.

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Photos: Mark D Sikes

I don’t know where this house is but I like the contrast of the stone-tiled floor with the black contemporary trim on the windows and with the lines of the tub.

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Photo: Pinterest

The award-winning Fathom Magazine is celebrating Sicily this week.  I’m trilled that I get to join in the festivities.

IMG_4629My article is about Sicily and the solo traveler.

When I booked my trip, I didn’t think it was a big deal that I was traveling alone.   Then once everyone and their mother kept saying, “Wow, you’re going to Sicily by yourself?!”, I started to get nervous.

You can read about my Sicilian adventures HERE.

The entire series is fantastic.  I want to book a trip now.

 

How funky are these chairs?

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I am a big fan of Kelly Wearstlers commercial work, yet the Viceroy in Anguilla took me by surprise.

A few years ago I met clients for a drink at the bar.  At first, when I walked in, the décor seemed so “uncaribbean” to me.

Then I walked around.  It IS very Caribbean.  Wearstler’s use of natural materials, her color palette, and the subtle nod to more tradition Caribbean design makes the Viceroy one my favorite hotel spaces.

This hotel is huge and could easily feel very corporate (thinking of a certain hotel on the Dutch side of St. Maarten that ruined one of the best beaches on the island).

Instead it’s unique and jaw dropping gorgeous.

Not a bad place to meet for drinks, especially with a locals’ discount.

I have more meetings this weekend about my Caribbean project.

Feeling very inspired

Buon weekend!

 

 

Last year I wrote about the vacation home in Tuscany I’m working on with architect Domenico Minchili.

Our clients had some photos taken and below are a few of them.

First, a before shot of the living room.

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After.

The room is so much lighter.  The new “old” floors make a huge difference as does the paint color.  I was consumed for days regarding which shade of Farrow & Ball white was the best white for the  walls.  We decided to use Skimming Stone.

The chairs were custom made by Tondini & Radicchi. So were all the draperies in the house.

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One of the bedrooms mid-renovation.

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After.

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A bathroom before.

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After.

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Wider shot of the living room.  The sofas, coffee table, and sconces are custom.

The studio.

This room receives little natural light.  Many people assume that a small dark room must be painted a very light color in order to make it look bigger.  Not true.  It seems counter-intuitive but going darker gives a small room more depth.

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One of my Italian friends called this décor, “Relaxed Chic.”   Another friend said it was “Casual Luxury.”  Both work for me.

Every bedroom, and its bathroom is unique, yet the entire home is cohesive.

The paint is from Farrow & Ball.

Most of the new furniture was custom made.  We also sourced pieces from Flamant, Barthel, and small shops in Rome and Tuscany.

Our fabric sources were, Dedar, Ralph Lauren Home, Kathryn M. Ireland, and Pierre Frey.

If you would like to know the specific colors or more information about the fabric or furniture, please feel free to ask me in the comments section.

This property is available for vacation rental.  It’s in the heart of the Chianti region surrounded by vineyards.  The views are stupendous.

For more information (and some exterior photos), please visit the luxury rental  Abercrombie & Kent website.

Photos by: Mario Flores

Before my first trip to Italy, nine years ago, I had to cut my vacation short.  The production company I worked for decided to shut down, permanently, two weeks before Christmas.  Happy Holidays everyone!

I was going to scrap the entire trip but my family was very worried about my mental state and insisted I go.

I decided to travel to only one city for just one week.  I narrowed down my choices to Rome or Florence.  One of my good friends in L.A. is a hardcore Italophile.  She proclaimed that I was a Rome person and should save Florence for another trip.

I’ve been to Florence twice. The art is stupendous and the city is beautiful.  Yet each time I felt anxious and couldn’t wait to return to Rome.  It’s not as if Rome is a laid back place.  However, Florence is a much smaller city and cannot handle the hordes of tourists and study aboard students.

Well, I need to get over it because I must see the new Portrait Firenze.  The architect/interior designer is Michele Bonan.  I’ve written about how much I LOVE his work, especially, the newish J.K. Place in Rome.

The hotel is owned by the Ferragamo family (the Lungarno Collection) and is located in the heart of the Historic Center. It has only thirty-six rooms and killer views of the Ponte Vecchio. It’s scheduled to open this spring.

I could think of worse places to have an aperitivo.

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This bathroom! The double shower heads, the warm marble, the tub, everything.

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Sigh. No words.

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Yes, please.

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Photos: Lungarno Collection

Everyone (who is everyone, really?) says print magazines are so over.  Dead.  Morte.  It’s all about the online space.

Sorry, but I still adore magazines.   I prefer to hold a magazine in my hands rather than read the same content on the computer/iPhone.

I’m very curious about the new magazine, PORTER, from the online powerhouse, Net-A-Porter.   They didn’t have to create a print version of the magazine.  I’m glad they decided to.

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It’s interesting that PORTER will shoot clothes by designers that are not available on Net-A-Porter, such as Chanel.   To me this (along with feature articles about traveling, design, the arts, tech, etc.),  sends a clear signal that PORTER is going to be a proper magazine, not just another venue for online shopping.

It will be sold in sixty countries.  While the company is based in London, the magazine is written in American English.

Given the consistently awful news about the state of print media, I’m excited to see Net-A- Porter take this risk.

I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

I love decorating with mirrors.  That said, I’m a little over the sunburst ones.   They are everywhere.

I was looking for a mirror for a client, when I saw this beauty from one of my favorite furniture designers, Julian Chichester.

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This London-based designer has so many pieces I would love to have in my home.   I don’t own a palazzo but I think this mirror would work in a variety of décors.

The eglomis frame is stunning and not ornate.  This is truly stylish simplicity.

 

 

We are smack in the middle of the Hollywood awards season.  For fans of film, and/or fashion, these are glorious times.

Every season, a few people really stand out.  Some, unfortunately, stand out for all the wrong reasons and then there are stars like Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o.

These two actresses have been killing it on the red carpet.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that they share a stylist, Micaela Erlanger.  This has been a break out season for her as well.

I love that both woman wear clothes that fit their personalities.  Sometimes on the red carpet it looks like the clothes are wearing the star.

While it’s true most of the clothes are borrowed, there’s still no excuse for ill fitting garments.  One thing I’ve noticed with both Michelle and Lupita is the fit of their clothes.  Perfection.

How beautiful is this Oscar de la Renta dress?  On someone else it could’ve seemed too old fashioned but Michelle’s make-up and accessories keep it fresh.

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  Photo: OscarPRGirl

The detailing at the neckline and the color of this Gucci dress is stunning.  It’s a great color for Lupita’s complexion.

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Photo: E! online

I’m very curious to see what they will wear for the Oscars.

I recently saw Blue Jasmine.  Cate Blanchett is so outstanding, you forget the plot holes in the movie.

I haven’t seen all the other Best Actress nominees’ performances yet but if Cate wins the Oscar I wouldn’t be surprised.

The wardrobe was amazing as well.  I read that the costume designer, Suzy Benzinger, had a budget of only $35,000.  Most of the clothes were borrowed and every time Cate dropped the Birkin (which belonged to Benzinger and cost more than the entire budget) on the ground, people on set gasped.

Beautiful Chanel jacket.  Poor Jasmine.  She was bananas.

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Photo: Collider.com

How stunning is this red Carolina Herrera dress?  Love, love, love, it!

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Photo: indiewire.com

Stylish simplicity in a linen dress by Façonnable.

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Photo: NY Daily News

I have a completely different build from Ms. Blanchett.  I’m not sure how any of these clothes would look on my short self, but I can dream about the accessories.

Buon weekend!

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