Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Guest House on Martha's Vineyard

This post will finish up my wanderings down memory lane visiting the job I did for the Newhouses on Martha's Vineyard.
Separating the main house from the guest house was a deck that was the same level as the floors in both houses so that Wynn Newhouse, who used a wheelchair, could easily enter and exit both residences.
I wrote about the deck last week, and decorated it in a way that would relate to the guesthouse, as its double French doors opened onto the private outside seating area.
I repeated the wicker details from the deck inside in the living room.
Since I decorated this house for a story for Country Garden Magazine, I used lots of flower patterns and prints throughout the downstairs.
It was a good deal for the Newhouses, as whatever I used that they liked, they could get at my cost.
I did bring some of my own accessories over to the island for the shoot, as there is never enough 
to fill up shelves and table tops when doing a shoot.
As you can see in these pictures, I didn't lack for LOTS of stuff.
I decorated everything using catalogs.
This was before the days of shopping online.
Boy, it would have been so easy now.
Ballard Design was my go to for the botanical prints.
They didn't have quite enough individual prints, so I had to double up on some.
Since it was for a story, and not a client, I figured no one would notice.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that they are still hanging on the walls 25 years later!  
This was in the days before I designed fabric and actually had time on my hands to needlepoint.
I designed and made the round pillow with the no weeds message.
I wish I had made the red slash line thicker.......
Oh Well.....
The upholstered furniture was from Hickory Chair,
The green coffee table from Maine Cottage Furniture,
The white wicker chair with the magazine holder.......
I don't remember.....
this was a looooong time ago, and I'm an old fart.
The black metal table to the right of the sofa was an antique bar cart with small wheels  I convinced June, my office manager and besty, to buy when we were out trolling the junky stores. It ended up being perfect for her family room.
Well, I made her let me use it for the shoot.
(Notice that besty and Betsy are very similar in spelling????
That's probably why I'm so wonderful!!!!!)
This house had been the garage for the main house.
Les Brown, the architect I've been saddled with for most of my adult life that I work with, designed it to be a one bedroom with living room, wet bar and loft.
I wanted the walls to be planks of wood, and had to spend some time with the carpenters to show them what I meant.
They didn't understand the beauty of cracks!!!!!
So, we had to choose a nail that was the width of the cracks I wanted, that they could use as a spacer.
I had learned my lesson on a little house I redid in New Hampshire.
The carpenter was very proud of how he could make the would ceiling look like it was a solid piece of wood, that ended up resembling plywood, in my less than humble opinion.
He kept on assuring me that over time the cracks would appear......
What's the point of using boards if they end up looking like plywood?????
that's my take on that!!!

 I added a  flirty skirt to the small tufted chair and another needle point pillow, designed and sewn by MOI!!!
It says "sit down right here" the words are in the corners.
So it could say "sit right down here" .........
Being the great blogger that I is,
I just ran and got the pillow and took a shot using my iPad, 'cuz I be too lazy to get out my camera.
It's in the closet right by my desk,
where I'm sitting right now,
but I'd have to take off the lens cap.......
anyway, here's the pillow in all its glory, laying on my desk, as I type!
I made the pillow out of left over yarn I had, which is why it's a little of this and a little of that.

The white wicker table in the back corner was an antique that we found in a local store, we borrowed some things from local merchants for the shoot.
It may be from Maine Cottage Furniture......
OY, OY, OY, who can remember?????
I went a little trim crazy on the pillows. I loved the multicolored yarn fringe on the pink ones.
I still think this cabbage rose fabric is beautiful. It's so fresh in its coloring.
At the time of this story, which was in the late 90's, I had just started seeing multiple fabrics used on one piece of upholstery.
I was smitten!!!!!!!
So, I used a gazillion on the sofa.
The floral is on the tops and bottoms of the cushions, as well as the inside body of the sofa.
The inside arms are a large plaid.
The outside arms and the boxing on the cushions are a smaller plaid. 
And then, of course, there's the two more fabrics plus trims on the toss pillows.
Then there's the small all over pattern of the small button chair and a couple more patterns on the little footstool and the larger striped ottoman.
And contrast welting.....
I like to use a lot of pattern.....
has anyone noticed?????????
It's funny, because I just had the sofa and two chairs and ottoman in my family room all slipcovered in the same pattern as the wallpaper, so I have evolved a little......
probably not.
 Across from the sofa was the potting bench.
Catherine Newhouse was adamant that she wanted a potting bench.
I never saw her plant a flower, but she was very clear that she
I designed it to hold a farmer's sink with a faucet that looked sorta like a pump handle, all in keeping with the theme of the POTTING BENCH!!!!!
All the accessories on THE POTTING BENCH I brought from my home.
I wanted it to look like there were tons of vases and pots, ready to handle any cut flowers or plants needing some care.
I brought my zinc plant labels that I still use today in my vegetable garden.
 I used another basket to hold the trowels and rakes for gardening.
 Below are three shots from today that I found on Vignette Design Blog by Delores Arabian.
It now can be rented for a few weeks in the summer, and she stayed there!
 The present owners kept the floral prints on the wall and moved the living room table from the main house into this little guest house.
I wonder if they noticed that some of the botanical prints repeat?????
 This is how the POTTING BENCH looks today.
It's being used as a bar in the guest house, which is a wonderful use for my little creation.
I noticed that they changed the knobs.
Boy, I went to a lot of trouble to find those particular wooden knobs.....
(that's the first time I ever used LOL.....LOL)
The wooden countertop has held up well over the years!!!!!
 The outdoor deck is still pretty with the climbing roses flowering.
Non of the furniture I used for the photo shoot was kept.
that's if for Martha's Vineyard,
next week it's on to something else my tiny mind will unearth.
So on that note,
Latah, Gatah


Sunday, November 15, 2015

An Outdoor Secret Living Space on Martha's Vineyard

The Newhouse's vacation home had a garage on the street separated from the house by an unsightly patio.
The space in between the two buildings was an unappealing barren area 
that could be used for grilling or hanging out in privacy,
 sort of.....
since there was a scraggly hedge between 
this "terrace" and the house next door.
Les Brown the pain in the ass architect I've worked with for eons and eons and eons, etc, etc. etc.....
came up with a solution that would have been brilliant if I was the one to think of it!!!!!

Since this was a barrier free design because our client used a wheel chair,
 Les designed a deck that was the same height as the entrances to both buildings. 
Thus, creating just a small difference in surface between the floor of the deck
 and the floors of both houses.
In New England this is usually a no no,
 as the snow, and thus the water, can pile up in front of the exterior doors,
 so you have to be vigilante in snow removal. 
But if you're rich enough to have a waterfront home on the vineyard.....
 I guess you're rich enough to have the snow cleared from your deck if you want to get out the door.
But as this was mainly a summer retreat, that probably wasn't a problem..... 
I have to hand it to Les for the way he was able to make this area one of the nicest's aspects of the house.
The white board fence with the lattice along the top was placed on the property line,
 up against a scraggly privet hedge,
 leaving just a couple of feet between the deck and the fence.
 But since this was a deck and not a terrace, it was possible to plant rose bushes along the fence as the roots had plenty of good dirt under the deck.
 Tons of perennials were used to fill in the rest of the beds, creating a lush and colorful border.
Annuals were placed among them in pots that didn't show as the deck was higher than the ground and hid the pot. If they became scraggly and unsightly, they were just swapped out for newer fresher flowers.
This is a great trick for keeping a flower border looking full and pretty,
with no work for the lazy!!!!!
Trellises were mounted at intervals along the fence to support the climbing roses that would eventually run along the top, forming a beautiful visual barrier between this secret outdoor space and the neighbors larger, taller home.
A square cutout in the deck  allowed  the planting of a pretty Japanese maple to supply some shade in the hotter months.
Japanese maples are good choices for small spaces as they grow slowly and don't get too large (at least compared to a real American maple.....)

Country Garden Magazine had me produce a story for them incorporating the Newhouses deck and guesthouse.
So, these pictures are from that photo shoot.
As an incentive to the Newhouses....
anything that I chose that they liked, they could get at my cost, so it was a win-win for everyone.
The magazine got it's story.....
I got publicity.....
and the Newhouses got a good deal!!!!!

I designed the spaces from the serenity of my office,
 ordered everything from catalogs and had it shipped to the island, 
where June, my trusty office manager-assistant-best friend and I unpacked the crates and boxes and set up for the photo shoot.
The chaises I chose for the deck were from Lloyd Flanders, but I believe they are no longer made.
They looked GREAT!!!!!
but the pull out foot rests weren't that comfortable.
But since this was for a shoot.....
The fabrics chosen were all for outdoor use.
Since this was Soooooooooo long ago, I don't know it any of them are still available.

I set up a small dining area for the Newhouses to have an al fresco nook where they could enjoy a morning cup of Joe,
 or an afternoon cocktail....
For designing this spread, I had the best time pouring over catalogs, since this was a retail story and everything was to be easily purchased by the readers.
I fell in love with these silly toss pillows that have the saying
"You are my sunshine"
My dad used to sing that song to me when I was little.

the moral of this blog post is.....
go sing silly songs to your kids.
on that note,
Latah Gatah

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Martha's Vineyard Bedroom

Today I'll finish up with the main house that I did for Wynn and Catherine Newhouse on Martha's Vineyard.
Next week we'll go look at the guest house.
If you've been following this story, 
you may remember that this house had barrier free design,
 what some may call universal design,
 due to the fact that Wynn used a wheel chair.
So when it came to designing the master bedroom, I had to take that into account when choosing a bed.
 It had to be the right height so that he could transfer onto and off of the bed into his wheel chair.
We found a beautiful one that was waxed pine from Spain, but the standard mattress height would have been way too far off the ground.
Wynn and I spent some time figuring out what he liked best.
The advantage of designing for a specific disabled person, is that you can tailor the furniture and fixtures to him.
The furniture factory was willing to accommodate my custom dimensions, but of course it took longer to get the bed. 
This was in the days that waxed pine was all the rage and everything that had been painted was stripped and waxed.
How funny that now we are stripping off all the wax and slapping on new paint.....
I had to work on Catherine to get her to approve the wallpaper.
She was worried it would be too busy.
I thought it would make a pretty soft cocoon, counteracting the cathedral ceiling, which can sometimes make a room feel less than cozy.
This house may have been the first time I ever used sheers as the primary draperies on a window.
Remember, this was a gazillion years ago, and up until then I had only seen them as a secondary treatment to leave closed over the window all the time.
Since then, I have used them 
The painting over the bed was one that the Newhouses chose in a local gallery.
It's so annoying when the clients have minds of their own.......
I would have reframed it in a more traditional frame.....

In the master bath, I designed a sink that allowed Wynn to roll under the counter.
I drew funky looking brackets that a local woodworker made.
We found an antique Victorian curved top mirror that fit the space, and I had it painted white.
The towel bars had to be all at a low height, so Wynn could reach them.
The shower was a roll in stall where he could transfer onto the seat inside.
I continued the master bedroom wallpaper into the bathroom.
This is something I always try to do to unite a master suite, even though this bathroom wasn't attached to the master bedroom, but off the hallway as this was an old house.
I stole some more pictures from Vignette Design , a wonderful blog that wrote about the way this house house looks today with new owners.
It sometimes is for rent, and Delores from Vignette Design stayed there with no idea that I was the original designer.
Boy, what a small world!
Below is a picture of the bathroom in it's current life.
The mirror was kept, but the scones changed and they were able to add a long vanity that looks like it's from Restoration Hardware.
Upon closer inspection by moi.....
I see that the floors been changed to what looks like 12 inch carrara marble tiles.
I use small tiles in a bathroom due to the danger of slipping on a wet floor.
The advantage of a small tile is that the grout lines will interrupt your slide.
They used a trick that I have employed in bathrooms when the vanity extends under a window so there is no way to have a mirror over the second sink.
A shaving mirror on a swing arm is a fun way to fix that problem. 
Les Brown, the architect that I forced to work included in this project, worked with the landscape architect and the builder to devise the brick paths that were actually ramps for Wynn to access the house with no steps or thresholds to deal with.
Wynn used a super light wheel chair, and none of us could ever keep up with him.
I chose white outdoor wicker chairs with a little table for the porch overlooking the harbor.
Wynn and Catherine loved to see the activity in the water as both of them were avid boaters.
Below is a shot of the porch today.
They still have the same chairs and table but have refreshed everything with new cushions and pillows.
In Delores's shots of the house now, it's fun to see what is still being used that was purchased so long ago.
They kept the boat figurehead that we had hung in the front hall.
Below is a shot of my work.
And here is how it looks today.
The seat cushion has remained with the figurehead.
The sconces have changed as well as the window treatments to a more contemporary split bamboo roman shade.
Below is my work in the dining room. The walls were painted a simple blue as a backdrop for the toile plates we collected. 
This is how it looks today.
It has a more current look with a seagrass rug ad bamboo Chippendale chairs that have a more mid-century vibe.
They did keep the dining table and added it's leaf.
 I love the blue and white wallpaper that looks so crisp next to the white woodwork.
Instead of my patterned curtains, they have a simple white with a contrasting blue tape on the edge.
The tole sconces have been swapped for polished nickel.
I wonder if they kept the white oak server???????
In this picture there's no way to tell......
So that's if for this part of the tour.....
next week...(or the week after.....) we will look at what I did to the little house behind this one that used to be a garage.

Have a good week,
I now have to fold my laundry as it's Sunday and LAUNDRY DAY!!!!!
on that note,
Latah, Gatah

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Martha's Vineyard Kitchen

When I started to design the kitchen for Wynn and Catherine Newhouse, I needed to consider the challenges of barrier free design since Wynn used a wheel chair.
One important aspect of this project was to create a home that Wynn could use without it looking institutional.
I tried to incorporate the tweaks needed in a way that looked like they were just fun design elements.
Since this was Wynn and Catherine's vacation home, I wanted the feeling of the cabinetry to be whimsical and countrified.
So I came up with the slogan.....
As Wynn's MS continued to attack his body, we needed laughter and joy to fill this home.
One important aspect of the function of the kitchen was his ability to use the 
He loved his toaster oven and made a BIG point of having a special easy access area for its residence.
We found a simple country table that I set under the windows for just this purpose.
In the magazine shot, we moved it for editorial reasons, but the function of that little table was for the TOASTER OVEN.
Wynn was able to roll up to it and make his bagels with a schmear of cream cheese.
In the current owner's incarnation of this room, they've added another cabinet between the two windows.
I got the picture of the current owner's rendition of the space from Vignette Design's blog.

(BTW, if you don't follow that blog, she is doing an amazing renovation of her new home in California. Her landscape design is stellar!!!!!)
They've copied the legs of my cabinetry, but if you look closely, you can see that instead of creating a crown molding like the wall cabinets, they incorporated the window molding to wrap around the top of the cabinet, using my little half circle embellishment that I applied throughout the home.

Here's a closeup of the detail on the windows.
Boy!!!!I wish they had digital cameras back when I designed this home.
I could have really shown the details up close and personal for you guys!!!!!
Over the stove I designed a tile backsplash of a steam boat. Wynn collected oil paintings of steam boats and we hung them all around the house, including one in the kitchen between the pair of windows.
When I say.....I designed the backsplash.....
I mean I found the tiles and convinced Catherine to use them for the backsplash.....
To the left of the stove was the largest cabinet in the kitchen.
I wanted it to look like a freestanding hutch, so I added little brackets with a shelf for the splash of the piece, as well as making it all beadboard.
This was eons before everyone started doing this.....just sayin'.
The Traditional Home article was published in July of 1997, and I had been working on the house for 2 years, and it took a year for the magazine to print after the pictures.....
So I did this design in 1994!!!!!
Jesh, that's over 20 years ago.....
Someone stick a fork in me.....I think I'm done.
I used carrara marble for the countertops.
I can't tell you the number of times I've had the stone guys I've bought from over the years tell me not to do this.
I do it all the time.
Right now.....
as we speak.....(or read...).....
I have some in my very own kitchen just waiting for me to stain it!!!!!
I've had it for 11 years and it hasn't happened yet.
It's got lots of rings you can see in the surface when the light hits it a certain way, but that's because I haven't resealed it in all the years I've had it.
For the toekick, I measured how much room Wynn needed for his feet to fit under the cabinet.
The toekick ended up being 8 inches high.
To keep it from looking like a contemporary detail, I designed the big fat stubby legs to fit on either side of the piece.
The current owners painted the kitchen a deep chocolate brown that contrasts nicely with all the white cabinetry.
I had painted it a buttery yellow for a cheerful light and airy feel.
For the sink, I needed to design a way that Wynn could roll up to use it without it looking like a nursing home, so I designed a pair of
big honking legs!!!!!
Over the sink we stored the blue and white china we found to go with the house.
In the shot below, you can get the overall feeling of the room with it's cathedral wooden ceiling and beamed structure.
Since I don't like a vacuum.....
I filled the wall with stuff!
This was the oil painting of a steamship I had mentioned earlier.
We also hung a clock, because that's what you need in a kitchen.....
I had to have plates on the wall.
Catherine had collected these ship plates, so I felt they would just be great to continue the nautical theme.
Cause if one of something is good.....
I had seen a picture in a magazine of a wonderful circle pattern in a tin ceiling.
I couldn't find it, so I set my trust architect, Les Brown, to hunt it down.
I don't know how he did it, but he found it.
I love it for a couple of reasons.
It continues the circle them I used throughout the project in the architectural details.....
and it had a nautical feel to it that I just loved!!!!!
 I still remember the late afternoon when Les and I were working on the design of this kitchen.
He used to come over to my home/office/sweatshop and work with me at the drafting board.
He never brought his own pencil, so we were always fighting over who got to draw.
He chose these big brackets, and I remember it so clearly.
I had no idea that they were so large, not looking at the dimensions in the catalog he had brought.
They just looked really plain and boring.
Then he drew them in and 
I learned an architectural lesson that I still use to this day.
The scale of the brackets just blew me away.
on that note.....
I need to get back to my fabric design.
I just need to create one more pattern, and we can launch in the spring.
We were going to launch last spring.....
Then we moved it to the fall, now we are aiming more realistically for this spring.
I've gotten some of the patterns samples back from the printer and I am so excited I could  
just PLOTZ!!!!!
These are not going to be cheap, guys.....
and only available through designers.....
So I'm sorry if some of you were expecting to get them through this website.
But when they launch, I will be showing them to you all.
There will be a three yard minimum,
just right for adding some toss pillows to the room for a punch of ME!

Latah, Gatah

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Martha's Vineyard Staircase Details and Hallway

Continuing my story on the design of Wynn and Catherine Newhouse's Vineyard home.....

Opposite the entry window seat were the stairs to the second floor.
Less (the architect I worked with for several thousand years) wanted a half wall to separate the dining room from the entry rather than a full wall with a doorway which was what the house originally had.  This allowed more light to flow into both spaces.
 We needed the added posts to do something boring like hold up the upper floor.
He wanted just a couple of posts set between the two rooms, but it there is a way to gussy something up, I will whip out my trusty drafting board and pencil and go to town working on an architectural detail to make the home builder's life more difficult.
If you've been following along with the story about this house, you may remember that I used a circle motif throughout the whole design.
For the staircase railing I incorporated circles into the balustrade detail. 
It's impossible to see in these pictures from the scanned images I used from Traditional Home Magazine
 (see how I cleverly inserted the credit for the pictures???????)
but the vertical and cross pieces, as well as the circles had two small lines routed into them for a more Victorian look to go with the architecture of the house.
I spent some time drawing the newel post, as I wanted to have the feel of a captain's home.
I also use routed grooves in the ball at the top as well as on the lower part of the post.
 For the half wall, I boxed out the supporting posts with wood boards, adding a simple detail around 9 inches down from the crown molding I added at the top.
These two applied moldings created the look of a capitol for the column.
For the bottom, I added another simple crown molding flipped upside down.
I had the columns rest on the half wall that I paneled to work with the same paneling detail I designed in the dining room.
In the upper hall, we decided..... 
(I can't remember if it was Les or me that came up with the sky detail for the ceiling.....)
to paint a sky.
The builder had some artists he suggested, and we checked out their portfolios.
If I remember correctly.....(it's been a billion years since I designed this house), I ended up bringing my own painter over from the mainland because I wanted a realistic looking sky, not some cartoon rendition.
 Catherine and Wynn Newhouse, the owners of this home, were avid art collectors.
They loved combing the local galleries looking for paintings for their new residence.
They chose this piece that looks like an actual window painted in a tromp l'oeil effect, it even has an actual wooden piece at the bottom to give the impression of a window sill.
We hung it in the upper hall that was windowless to create the feeling of a window to the outside.
(I don't think it fooled no one)
 Less was able to add a small dormer into the roof line that shed natural light down the stairwell.
In one of the most genius filled moments of out trillions of years together, he worked magic on the inside and made it have the effect of a cupola by framing the interior space to look different from the actual roof line, creating a four sided extension above the natural ceiling line of the upper hall. So, instead of the dormer having a slanted ceiling, he flattened it out to fake the look of a flat roof. 
It was still slanted on the outside, it had just been frame to have the false ceiling on the inside.
I'm not explaining this well.....ARRRRGGHH.
He faked the eye out even more by setting fake windows on the three other walls that didn't look outside, just adding mirrors to them instead of glass.
This was why it was so important to have the ceiling painted like sky, the mirrors reflected the ceiling, really creating the effect of a four sided cupola.
 Here's a blow up of the detail.
I still have a couple or so more rooms to review in this house, but that's for next week.....
that's it for today.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
On that note,

Latah, Gatah
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