Friday, December 30, 2011

Budget Kitchen Project

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My friend and bidness partner, Kris, told me I should intersperse my posts about old work I've done with my new projects. So much for trying to skate by on past accomplishments. Boy, she doesn't let me get away with nothin'.
Today, I will share with you guys what I worked on yesterday with my buddy Lissette.
In order to keep my mental health, I need playmates to share my project victories and defeats. Down here in Florida, I am lucky enough to have three; Lissette, Helene and Joanie. Sometimes I play with one at a time, sometimes two, and very rarely three.
Yesterday, Lissette and I attacked her kitchen with something I have wanted to do for a year, and Helene was more than happy to put her two cents in.
I have wanted to take the doors off some of her kitchen cabinets for an open shelf effect.
Here is the before!!!!!!!

Two years ago Lissette took down the wall of her weird pantry closet and opened the space to the kitchen. Our friend, Nika, who lives behind Lissette, was redoing her kitchen, and gave Lisette these two base and wall cabinets. I drew up the addition of the little open shelves, which Lissette then had added to the wall cabinets. She kept a small part of the pantry closet, and had a small door made that opened into it. Lissette had the great idea to have a glass door with the word Pantry etched onto it. I helped her pick out the font, and added the lines around the outside of the glass. The only reason I am telling you all this, is to make sure she doesn't forget, and start to think that she was the one who did the final design.

So, anyway, last year at about this time, I started pushing to take the doors off the wall cabinets. It is soooooo annoying when people don't take my ideas the moment they fall like pearls from my mouth.

I mean, come on, it was a good idea.


I helped her with the styling of the shelves, and Helen played too.
I took this picture today, and I just noticed some of the plates on the bottom right are missing.
I can't believe they had the nerve to start using this stuff!!!

Here's a shot with the lights on, I can't decide which picture is better...

I definitely like the first one better, thanks for helping me decide.

We're thinking about taking a page from Amy at Maison Decor, and using the bead board wallpaper at the back of the cabinets, and painting it a color.
Now we'll fight for another year on what that color will be.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My cottage dining room

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the following is an unpaid public service announcement........

Before I start today's post, I have a leetle request. As a new blogger, I would like to goose up my followers list, so if you read my blog, could you please add your name to the list? I would really appreciate it, and it would make me feel VERY popular!!!!!!!

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To continue the tour of my Watertown cottage....
Here's the dining room...................

Photograph from House Beautiful, shot by Eric Roth

This is another example of living with a house a little bit before you start ripping it to shreds. I was sooooooooooo young and stupid when I first bought this house, that I didn't like the corner cabinets. It was the 70's, when mylar and flock wallpapers were all the rage (oh, wait, they've come back around.....aaaahhhhhh!!!!! OH NO!!!!!). I actually wanted to tear out the cabinets. (major head slap!!)
Luckily, I didn't have the money to do this right away, so by the time I had saved some up, I had come to my senses.
Then I thought it would be a good idea to paint the chair rail a different color than the rest of the woodwork. At least, a coat of paint is an easy thing to fix. I was young and trying to reinvent the wheel.
I found this wonderful old hanging light (it's made out of pieces of translucent shell), and had it replace the boring brass colonial chandelier that was original to the house. I covered the walls in basket weave grass cloth (still one of my favorites, it's so warm and cozy).
I still have this table and chairs, here's a shot from my current dining room.....

Because my current home is mainly used in the summer months, I decided to go with a cooler color pallet, but I think I miss the warmer tones.
Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to do anything about it.

Here's a shot of my cottage table set for the House Beautiful photo shoot. I borrowed Hermes plates. I pronounced the name wrong when I went to pick them up form the Hermes store, and they laughed at me. Well.....I speak English, not French. (my father is probably cringing, as I took French for 9 years, starting in third grade. My school system thought that starting kids at an earlier age would facilitate their absorption of another language. Boy, I proved them wrong!!!)

This is before my silver plate flat ware from Pottery Barn tarnished!!!!
I am starting to think I need to buy some silver polish.
I have a lot of stuff that used to sparkle that is now just grey.
Kind of like the natural color of my hair.

This is a shot from the breezeway just outside the dining room french door. The lab is Amber, my brother's family's dog, and the retriever belonged to a client of mine, we borrowed them for the photo shoot. We needed dogs, since that was the theme of the shoot, and I'm not EVER going to have another one. I still haven't gotten over the last one. (Don't be leaving me comments about how a new one will heal my soul, luckily the condos where I live in Massachusetts don't allow dogs.) 

They are pretty cute though.
I'm standing just inside the door with some treats. That's why they are paying such complete attention.
God I love dogs.....
NO, I'm not getting another!!
I built that picket gate MYSELF!!!
When I did have a dog, I needed to enclose the back yard, and this was the way I kept her from escaping through the breezeway.

Next post will continue the cottage tour. We still have the bedroom, den and back yard, so come on back!!!
P.S. for some reason the spell check isn't working, so excuse any misspelled words, I'm sure there are tons.
Oh, good, the spellcheck came back on, so I fixed a ton of words.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

My cottage living room

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Today I will go back down memory lane and show you guys my
Watertown living room. Being the hound I was for getting my stuff in magazines, it was in local and national publications, so the pictures I have are from two different periods of time, which shows how the room evolved.
 Never dawning on me that I should learn how to take a good picture, (this was before digital cameras), I just worked on my rooms till I felt someone would take pity on me and send a big galoot of a camera man over and take some shots.

This shot was in the Boston Globe in 1993. Believe it or not, I was still collecting art to add to the wall over the sofa. Ya see, the wall wasn't COMPLETELY covered yet. Don't worry!!!!! I found more pictures to hang up which will be reveled in the next shot.
The walls were a camel color I had chosen when the room was first decorated in 1979. I chose it to match the sofa I had then. It didn't go with anything in the room, but for some reason it still worked. I guess it's picking up some of the brown tones in the different fabrics.

Then I decided it would be FABULOUS to have slip covers made for a summer look, to be removed in the winter. This is how my Mom did it, when I grew up, and how HER mom did it. It enables a room to have two distinctive feels for hot and cold weather, and it doubles the life of the fabrics. There actually was a time in history when people didn't redecorate just for the hell of it.

This picture is from House Beautiful, shot by Eric Roth                                        
I pasted the two parts of the picture together to make a full shot of my living room. It was a full page spread, so it was stapled down the middle. Just like a Playboy centerfold!!
I had EVERYTHING covered in cool looking materials. (cool, as in temperature, though they were very cool, as in, swell, nifty, dandy, devine. I checked the thesauras.) The chairs are covered in a Cowtan and Tout fabric that is one of my favorites. They are in my current living room, as is the coffee table/bench and rug.
I had new lampshades made with wonderful glass beads on the trim.
Here's a blow up of the shot, sorry it's so blurry, but it's the best I could do......
This is what happens when you just have old magazines to refer back to. How did we ever get along without this digital @#$&????

O.K. so................ here's the picture before I added it to the other one. This way it's bigger.......

I was so excited the day I found that painting of a dog that's over the mantle. It looked just like my mutt, (who I still miss to this day, and it's been 20 years since she died). She didn't have so much brown on her. Hey, I have a picture of us!!!!!!

Oy, I was so much younger than!!!!!
Those were the days that I bothered to put on make up. And a bra. What a waste of time.
Now I get up and just start blogging.

Back to the picture. The mirror over the mantle was another find that a client didn't want, SO I GOT IT FOR MEEEEEEE.......
Here's the other part of the picture.......

You can see how I reused some of these paintings in my current family room.

It's hard to see, but the walls have been wallpapered in an Osborne and Little paisley wallpaper in shades of cream and brown. It was very subtle, but added an extra degree of visual warmth to the space.
The needle point pillows of a pug, front and back view, were one of those needlepoint kits I got that is supposed to be made into a pillow the shape of a dog. HOWEVER.....I thought I would be very clever, and needle point the whole square and create a background for the dogs. This way I got two pillows out of one kit!!!!!
Oh boy!!!! Here's another blurry picture of the back of the pug.

Ya see, he's sitting looking at the ocean, with the hills at his back!!!!

I really need to find something else to occupy my mind.

Here's a shot looking in from the hall. God, I loved this room (and this house, I still miss it.) The lampshade is an old wooden lampshade frame I found with rotting fabric, so I replaced the fabric and added the criss crossing ribbons, and then stuck some old Victorian postcards that June lent me under the ribbons. I never gave the cards back to June. She finally accepted that I was a thief. I think she wrote them off on her 1995 income tax return as a lose due to theft.
O.K. I think that's everything I have on my old living room. Next up!!!! The dining room.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cottage kitchen continued

When I first bought my Watertown house in 1977, I was just beginning to develop my sense of style. I thought I would redo the kitchen that was original to the 1937 house with something more wonderful. I hadn't yet realized that NOTHING is more wonderful than cabinetry from the 1930's. I started looking around in kitchen stores for cabinets I liked, only to come to the conclusion that what I had was better than anything on the market. Over the years I have designed many custom cabinets, and I repeatedly referred back to the detailing of my little house in Watertown.
The kitchen had a built in ironing board in the wall that I never used, so I reinvented the cabinet for my spices and of course to display some DOGS!!!!! All the following pictures are from The Boston Globe Design Magazine, shot by Eric Roth

The bottom part of the cabinet holds my spices. I had a glass panel added to the top door to display my dogs.

The walls were covered with a Cowtan and Tout fabric that I had vinyl coated (like an old oil cloth), so it would be wipeable, and then paper backed, so it could be hung like wallpaper. DON'T DO THIS!!! Over time the weight of the fabric (because of the vinyl coating) pulled away from the paper backing, and it started pulling away from the wall. This is why designers try stuff out on their own houses first!!!!!!!!

When I found this fabric that combined my love of dogs with the blue color of my Mexican tiles, I had to have it. It's been discontinued; my favorite stuff always gets discontinued. No one else ever likes the things I do. What's wrong with the world????

Over time I have found some pretty weird things. I had a carved dog pocket that held a brush. For some reason, I bought this item with no idea what I would ever use it for. THEN I FOUND ANOTHER SIMILAR ONE!!! O.K., hmmmm, two of something must mean I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT A BRILLIANT WAY TO USE THEM AND SHOW THE WORLD HOW CLEVER I AM....

So I did what any normal person would, and had them made into wall sconces.
Then, to continue my normalcy, I had lampshades custom made and THEN I had my decorative artist paint them with dogs, fire hydrants and bones, all  gridded with leashes.
And don't forget the beaded trim I pulled off some Ballard Design lampshades with which to trim the suckers. Notice the little white scotty on top, it's a magnet.

Crowning the whole mess (oops, I mean design), is the SPEERT DOG HOUSE!!!!! My uncle Herman made this for my family when I was little. If someone was bad (like my Dad, singing at the dinner table) he got put in the dog house. Some joker stuck me in it for the photo shoot. In my present home, it's in the guest powder room, and after family dinners, it's always interesting to see if the dogs have been moved around.

I trimmed the window over the sink with left over bullion fringe and a wonderful vintage linen towel with, of course, A DOG on it. The carved white ring is an old picture frame I picked up for cheap somewhere. I'm always buying cheap stuff that I think is cool, having absolutely no idea how I will use it. Most of the stuff just sits around, pathetic and lonely till I give it away, or convince some poor client to buy it.

Not being able to stand a bare surface, I hung some plates on the sides of the wall cabinets.

I use small silver plate Paul Revere bowels for storage, here one holds some sponges. Of course, over time they tarnish (I really need to buy some polish) and start to look like @#$.

And finally.......
To finish the story on my cottage kitchen.......
Is this towel hook.
It was a small wooden carving of a dog holding a bone in its mouth. The bone was broken, so, I pulled it out and mounted the head on a little wooden plaque. It was my dish towel holder!!!!!!

Now, I'm tired of telling you guys this.....
It's a nice day.....
go outside and get some exercise.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Old Cottage Kitchen

Today I'm going to start down memory lane and show you guys the house I used to live in, in Watertown Ma. I LOVED THAT HOUSE!!!! But because I was going to be away 1/2 of the year in Florida (yay), I moved to a townhouse condo in a neighboring town. I still think about my old cottage, and miss it (even though it had NO closet space to speak of).
I will start with the kitchen, 'cuz that's were the ice cream is stored.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I like dogs. Most people would use extra shelving in their kitchens to store stupid stuff like plates, glasses, pots........NOT ME!!!!!! I LIKE DOGS!!!.
When I bought this little house, the kitchen just had a free standing apartment size electric stove standing next to the frig. So, I reworked the wall to accommodate all this stuff in the picture. I had the tile put up when I first bought the house in 1977, (I was 5 years old at the time). Mexican tile was very cool in 1977. Actually, I still like it, so there. Later, when I updated the kitchen to what is shown in this fabulous shot, I didn't feel like dealing with new tile, so I found a granite that would match. I felt very clever and frugal, until I was informed that this blue stone is THE MOST EXPENSIVE  granite in the universe. Too late, I had seen it, and I had to have it.
I had found the wooden carved dog bracket in some antique store (who can remember???? This was before the last ice age), soooooo...., I did what any rational person would do.......

The picture is blurry, 'cuz I had to blow it up to a larger size. I'm trying to show how brilliant I was in designing this shelf.

I had a stainless steel rod installed along the bottom for pot storage....

Oy, another blurry picture, due to blowing
up the image......

I designed the shelving to fit around my old school clock and dog lamp....... ( get ready for some more blurry images)

Eric Roth took all these pictures when my house was published in House Beautiful Magazine. He's a great photographer and started around the same time I did, which means I've known him for a very long long long long time.

I love this lamp, and still use it in my present kitchen.......

This shot was in the design magazine in the Boston Globe Newspaper. If I could get something published once, I didn't see any reason not to do it again, and again, and again.....
Here's another shot that was in The Globe

It's kind of blurry because I scanned it from old shiny newsprint paper.

The chopping block to the left of the stove I brought up with me when I moved from Atlanta in 1976. It was a gazillion pounds, and the movers charged by the weight of the load, but I was young and stupid, and I loved this old butcher's block. Talk about your unsanitary surfaces...... I used it to dump all my stuff on when I came in the door. Every kitchen needs a unload/dump area.
O.K. campers, I will resume this story in two days time, so hang on and come on back.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More of a Plaid Christmas (or how I nearly lost my mind)

Wow, I must admit I'm amazed and happy, that some of you guys still like the stuff I did EONS ago. If that is truly the case, then I will share a little more about what went in to June and me working on this house.

Let me start with the hall...................
It's only because we were (O.K..... still are) such good friends that we didn't come to blows hanging all the @#$& pictures on the walls.

 Let me just note at this juncture, that we hung them as part of our service with no extra charge. These kind of perks were part of what was covered in the mark up of all the crap, (oops, I mean high end items) we sold. Jim, our enterprising client, had a book of prints of Scottish men in kilts. Sooooo.....he went off on his merry way and had them framed and then delivered them into my lap and said "HANG THESE SUCKERS UP!!!!!" Actually, he didn't call them suckers, that's just my  own little embellishment to this story. IT TOOK US TWO DAYS!!!!!!!!! I think..... it was a long time ago, it may have just been one..... but I think it was two. LOOK AT HOW MANY THERE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!

And this is just the upstairs hall!!!!!! They had to ALL LINE UP!!!!!!! Vertically, horizontally, emotionally....
He had them matted in three different colors, the man was on a role, I tell ya. So we had to make sure that gold wasn't next to gold, and red wasn't next to red, and get where I'm goin'???

Here's the downstairs (I shared this with you just two days ago)

You were probably so busy imagining having to vacuum up the needles from the knocked over tree (TWICE) that you didn't notice all the prints on the wall to the right. AND THEY WENT UP THE STAIRS TOO........
By the time June and I had finished hanging these Scottish men from Hell, we were being really polite to each other. It was either that or start throwing punches. I don't know what her problem was, why couldn't she anticipate my every need??????? When I needed her to hand me the hammer, couldn't she just know?????? I mean, we had been working together SINCE THE STONE AGE!!!!!!!

I used to love tassels, the more the better, I stuck them on everything. Now I temper some of my urges and don't use them so much, but I wanted a little flourish to this chair when I had it redone. I called it "Betsyizing"

Here's a nice little shot for you guys who celebrate Christmas.......

It's an easy way to add some holiday cheer with a simple ivy plant. Buy a cheap little ivy plant that has some long tendrils.......
plop it in a pretty pot or basket.........
jam a stick into the soil of the pot.......
wrap the ivy around the stick and tie it with a pretty Christmas ribbon. VOILA!!!
O.K..... I didn't do this, I think Gary McBournie did, either that or the guy we bought all the Christmas stuff from. He was a florist.

Here's a different shot of this room than the one I showed in my last post!!!!!

We wanted the look of an olde Scottish library, so not only did I have the walls covered in plaid fabric, but I found a resource for lots of oil paintings that looked like they had been bouncing around for a while. They are actually new!!! (well new now, this was 1994, remember) The guy who sold them had a truck that was outfitted like a gallery storage unit and had the pictures on racks that we got to paw through and pick out what we wanted, haul them into the house, see what looked good and buy them right then.
As for the fabric, there is a wonderful store in Quechee Vermont called Scotland by the Yard ( Isn't it wonderful how everything has a website now???!!!
I wanted authentic tartan plaids, and boy!!! They gots them all!!!
We did the dining room up to the rafters in holiday stuff!!
Here's a picture!!!!!.....

I stuck more tassels on the back of the host and hostess chairs. I thought I was very clever.
We covered the walls in more old "master" paintings. Some of them were really good. I don't care how old or authentic something is, I just care if it looks good and the person whose home it goes into likes it.

Here's a different shot of the kitchen, we were very excited about the tartan patterned towel!!

The kitchen floor became one of my trademarks (in my little delusional mind). I take a cleanly sanded floor, add a wood stain of my choice (here it is golden oak), then apply one coat of polyurethane. Then I had it stenciled with a dark green glaze in a diamond pattern. I would draw out the floor to scale to work out the layout of the diamonds. Yes I am a control freak. Then I would have two more coats of poly applied. No, I didn't do the labor myself!!!! I was a high faloutin' designer!!!! (besides, I didn't have the time, 'cuz I was working all the time for my clients!!!)
The other end of the kitchen had a breakfast area, here's a picture!!!!

I came back later with my own photographer to take this shot and the next one. The photographer is Sam Gray, he does beautiful work.
Look at all the plates over the windows!!!!!
June and I really did get a little testy hanging these babies.
Why can't she tell WHEN I WANT THE #$% HAMMER????
O.K. Last shot is of a close up of the table, and then I'm done. If you look closely you can see how I used my little dogs as napkin rings.
It's beautiful here in FLORIDA and I'm going for a walk.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

1994 Christmas, sort of.....

Since it's that time of year (Christmas), I felt maybe I should post something that relates to the holiday. Since I'm Jewish, this will be on a story published about a job I did for some clients of mine who actually celebrated the holiday both in its true spirit and all its glitz, many, many, many, many years ago.
This was an article in Traditional Home Magazine, and since it was sold in 1994, I accept that the style is a little (hah!) dated. But the story is a good one, so I am going to mine it for all it's worth.
You gots to use what you can in blog land.

The gentleman of the house was from Scotland and wanted a touch of plaid in every room. Being one to oblige, I smothered him. There was plaid on the walls, there was plaid on the floor, there was plaid thrown over the backs of the furniture. If anything stayed still long enough, I covered it in plaid. He loved it (as least that's what he told me), and his wife Peggy was a real good sport. 
National magazines shoot their stories a year in advance, but it can sometimes take a little extra time to get the photo orders, so by the time the photo shoot order had come through it was the middle of January. Try to find a Christmas tree in the middle of January. Did I mention that this was a story on Christmas we had to shoot in the middle of January???????
We had to find a place that not only had a tree left over, but the other stuff we would need, like garlands and bows, etc. Actually, we just didn't need a left over tree, but one that would look O.K. in a picture. OY! OY! OY!!!!!
We found a place around an hour from me up on the north shore of Massachusetts. I went up there with the Traditional Home regional editor, Estelle Bond Guarelnick, to choose what we needed and cart it back to the shoot location. Now, if you know about real Christmas trees, you know what happens to them after they have been hanging around for a few weeks. THEY SHED!!!!!
So we gingerly strapped the thing to the roof of Estelle's car (she had me drive, I still remember this day clearly) and we went barreling back down Route 95 with it waving jauntily in the breeze. Since I didn't know that much about decorating a house to the nines in Christmas Cheer, I had to call in the big guns.
I had a good friend who was also a designer who just happened to be another Traditional Home Magazine favorite. You might know him. Gary McBournie. He came to my rescue. He LOVES Christmas decorating. We met him at the house with all our greenery and sparkle, and he went to town.
Not only was he kind enough to help, but he brought his plaid sweater vest so he could work as a prop also!!!
Here he is pretending to be at a party at their house.

Every one's laughing 'cuz it's not even Christmas. That's Peggy and Jim, the home owners and happy couple. That's June sitting down, she was my right hand and best friend. She ran my office and went to the movies with me when we had a slow day. Notice how I said  "WAS" my best friend. The @#$& retired on me, just 'cuz she's 13 years older than I am. I still allow her to visit me in Florida, because I am a gracious and loving woman, not one to hold a grudge. 'course, if she hadn't LEFT me, I wouldn't have retired either, and then I wouldn't be writing this blog, and you guys would be missing out!!!
Here's a picture of the Christmas Tree!!!!!!!!

Notice how sparse it is??????
The photographer's assistant knocked it over TWICE!!!!!!!!!
Then we had to redo the decorations and ribbon, AND vacuum up all the needles off the dark carpet. What an idiot. I can understand knocking it over once, I mean, I'm pretty klutzy, but TWICE?????
This tree was cut down over a month ago, it was FRAGILE!!!!!
Look!!! More plaid!!! The rug was custom made to match a traditional plaid called Hunting McLeod that I also covered the chair in. I thought I was very clever. To get a good price on the rug, we had to order a lot of it, so we put it in the living room, dining room and lower and upper halls as well as on the stairs.
Here's the living room, remember, this was 1994.......

For the last picture I will show you the kitchen, it's amazing how my taste has changed in the last 17 (yikes) years. Wait a minute, the only thing I really am not so happy about is the wood carving detail on the plate rack at the end of the island. So the look is a little dated for today, but I guess I still like it.

I like the look of the wreath hanging from the drapery pole. It's a nice way to add some visual warm to a long expanse of window in the winter.
I still like lamp shade hanging lights over kitchen islands, it brings a nice touch of softness to the hard surfaces.
And I still LOVE cabbage roses, always have, always will.

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