Archive

Home Décor

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.

APPRAISAL1-master675

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.

720x479xchateau8.jpg.pagespeed.ic.0CU2kdobiT

720x480xchateau2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.GoYs4N5qNm

900x600xstaircase1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.f8hPvUJRZ8

900x600xchateaudoors.jpg.pagespeed.ic.S5TPt8LwDZ

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.

3_1286399055_ED_0406_Mustique_10-lgn-1

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.

trecontradesicily10

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.

016461ed4b43a85dfcc8cda63ee34e88

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.

PITER09BANANE0965_low-910x910

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.

14.+grey+and+white+march+2014+habituallychic

Photo: Habitually Chic

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

luxurybath

Photo: Cap Juluca

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

132-1024x730

A shower in Marrakesh.  Fantastic built-in bench.

45-720x1024

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.

d2b027e91efe2266e1ad3aff2a060463

Photo: Pinterest

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.

IMG_1840

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.

P1050072

One of the bedrooms mid-renovation.

IMG_1675

After.

_MG_7917

A bathroom before.

IMG_1836

After.

_MG_7936

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.

_MG_7828_MG_7879_MG_7876_MG_7884_MG_7888 _MG_7892_MG_7905 _MG_7924_MG_7933_MG_7941P1050086

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

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.

PalazzoMirror

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.

 

 

My sister, Daniella, is ten years younger than me and six years younger than our brother, Gerry.   We were old enough to remember the day our parents walked into the house with a new baby.  She had fine pair of lungs.

Later that night, my ten year-old self was annoyed.  Sure Daniella was an adorable baby and everything but hello, I had school in the morning.  I couldn’t sleep with all that noise.  I may have said something to my mom who gave me the classic Caribbean mother “you better stop with your nonsense” face.  I stopped.

I was in high school when Daniella started kindergarten.  Laning Avenue Elementary School had a Santa’s Workshop where kids could buy Christmas gift for their family and friends.

Gerry and I would take our gifts from under the tree, unwrap them and say loudly, “ornament, ornament, ornament!” as every year from kindergarten to fifth grade that is what Daniella gave us.  My parents still have those ornaments.

I think it started with Gerry, who said, “oh look, it’s another ornament. Ornament, ornament, ornament!” I have no idea why we found this hysterically funny.

Years later during the first Christmas day we spent with my future sister-in-law and brother-in-law, I busted out with the ornament thing (it really was an ornament) and my siblings and I lost it.  My in-laws to be glanced at each other, “what’s wrong with these folks?”

I don’t have room in my apartment for even a Charlie Brown tree, but I could buy an ornament or two.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Reindeer!  Love the scarves. Very snazzy.

jumping-jack-reindeer-ornaments-1Crate & Barrel

A classic bullicante glass ball ornament from Tiffany & Co for those with more champagne tastes.

Tiffany & CoTiffany & Co.

I don’t like mice at all but how charming are these ballerinas at Dédé Maison, one of my favorite stores in Rome.

dedeornamentDéDé Maison: Photos by me

Great matte finish on this silver ornament.

28ct-matte-fish-silver-glass-ball-christmas-ornaments-2-50mm-Linen n Things

Here are more mice with exceptional artistic abilities.

dedeDéDé Maison

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week!  Where has this year gone?

I am loving the autumn color explosion at the flower stands in my neighborhood.   I want to incorporate some of those colors into interesting Thanksgiving floral arrangements.

I thought, “What Would Martha Do?”

Lo and behold I found the ones below on her website.

Fantastic!

What a creative way to use vegetables, flowers, and herbs.  While this arrangement is perfect for Thanksgiving, it would also work all fall and winter.   You could swap in whatever is in season.

mla101904_0906_harvest_vert

 

This arrangement has less of a bounty from the earth vibe and is a little more dramatic and modern.  I wouldn’t put it on my dining table (it would block guests’ faces) but instead on the bookcase in my foyer.

fall-arrangements-2-mld108163_vert

 

Great colors in this rustic arrangement.  So warm and inviting.

ml_1103_grape_centerpiece_vert-1I knew Martha wouldn’t let me down.  To see other beautiful arrangements from Ms. Stewart, click HERE.

My friend Taiye finally had a break during her international book tour and was making lunch at her place.  I wanted to pick up some flowers.

I went to my flower stand in Campo dei Fiori but none of the flowers I had in mind were in season.

Instead, I decided to go with some peperoncini.

IMG_4338So simple, including the presentation.

I love the burst of color they bring to a room on a cold fall day.   I plan to pick up some red ones later in the week.

If you haven’t read Taiye’s critically acclaimed book, Ghana Must Go (La Bellezza Delle Cose Fragili in Italian), get thee to a bookstore or online.  It’s fantastic.

One of my favorite American stores has recently announced their collaboration with the incredible, Milan-based architect/interior designer, Paola Navone.  To say I’m a fan of her work is a huge understatement.

I would like to buy so many things in this collection.  The darker blues remind me of Rome at dusk or the color of the sky above the mountains in St. Martin.

I wonder how much it would cost to ship a few items to Rome.  Okay, I need to stop.  I once had to pay €40 to get a pack of Girl Scout cookies out of customs that my sister had sent to me.  I love Samoas but come on, that’s bananas.

I will have to appreciate this collection from afar.   It’s the very definition of Stylish Simplicity.

como-dessert-plates mallorca-linen-napkinsmallorca-serving-bowls

For more information about Paola and to see the entire collection, HERE is the website.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,840 other followers