Monday, September 28, 2015

A Martha's Vineyard Vacation Home

in the past month I've seen bloggers write about the house I started designing in 1995.
It's now owned by different folks and is being rented by the month. It's also
  been redecorated, but some of the things I did are still in the house.
In particular; all the renovations and interior architectural detailing.
Les Brown (the architect I used for almost all my projects) and I started  fixing this house 20 years ago.
It was a small haborside cottage without much character and in need of some love.
We trashed it and reinvented it by gutting and adding on to it.
It's been so long that I can't remember what it looked like when my clients, the Newhouses bought it.
The view below is from the back of the house that faces the harbor.
When we stated it was on a steep weedy hill.
Catherine and Wynn Newhouse hired a local landscape designer who worked out this lovely terraced effect so that Catherine could have a perennial flower garden.
I found the wonderful Bob Timberlake Adirondack chairs that we placed at the bottom of the hill.
The bay window that juts forward in a point on the second floor was added by Les.
He wanted it to relate to the prow of a boat.
He had to do some tap dancing with the local authorities to allow that to be added.
I never thought it looked like a boat, but Les's mind is a mysterious and bewildering jungle.
This bay was a niche in the master bedroom. I had a desk build into the space and it worked to make a wonderful little place to write and look out at the view. 
This is how it looks today, for some reason some of the hedges have been left unclipped and I think that that may obstruct the views from the interior entry window seat that sits in the lower level of the "tower". 
But other than that it looks the same, even down to the weather vane.
This is Wynn and Catherine with their psychotic Siamese cat.
I had worked for them for years, doing their three condos in the Back Bay of Boston before they bought this house.
Wynn had MS, and by this time he was using a wheel chair.
Everything in the house was designed to be barrier free, which is the term for handicap accessible. 
But first, let's talk about the psychotic cat.
One week, Wynn and Catherine were going to be gone on a trip, and they asked me to take their cat for the week.
I love animals, so I said "No problemo!"
it was a BIG PROBLEMO!!!!!
The cat had become unbalanced and aggressive.
It kept attacking me, no matter what I did.
I remember sitting propped up in my bed, reading the morning paper when he came into the bedroom.
I refused to look up (or down, in this case) thinking if I ignored him, didn't look him in the eye, he would just 
It didn't work.
He jumped up on the bed bit me and lept away.
I was starting to really freak out by this time.
He was absolutely terrorizing me.
I've never been afraid of a cat before or since.
I wanted to cry.
Luckily Wynn hadn't left for the trip yet, he was going to meet up with Catherine.
She had already made her escape left for vacation.
He said to bring the cat back, not to worry.
He had a van that had been outfitted for his use, so he drove out to my house.
Got the spawn from hell into the case, whereupon I fell to my knees in relief, and he left my home.
since my house wasn't set up for wheel chair access, I had to find two neighbors to carry the chair into the house with Wynn in it, and then carry him back out.
Ah, the adventures of an interior designer!!!!!
I once took care of Steven Tyler's cat for three months when his family home burned down.
That was a completely different situation, I loved that cat.
She was WONDERFUL!!!!!
The first thing Steven did once the fire fighters had the fire under control was run back into the house and search for the cat.
He found her in the basement.
When I got her it took a week before she stopped smelling like smoke.
He had been working out in the barn behind the house when he heard his wife screaming for his help.
She was VERY pregnant at the time and couldn't climb down the rope ladder that they had for emergencies.
She was holding her toddler in her arms on the balcony outside their bedroom.
He climbed up the rope and got them both down to safety.
He was a real hero that day.
(this picture was taken a gazillion years ago.....)
One time when the band was on tour, she stayed with me for a couple of weeks. 
(the cat, not the wife)
My neighbors wondered what the @#$ was going on when they saw a long black stretch limo pull up in front of my house.....
a liveried driver get out.....
reach into the back seat.....
and pulled out a cat carrier that was delivered into my waiting paws.
(no, that wasn't normal, he had just taken the family to the airport)
I've also taken care of dogs.....
When my Watertown home was in House Beautiful, they wanted a picture of me on my front stoop with a dog, since the article was about my love of dogs.
I borrowed one that I took care of from time to time.
Tom and Terry Hamilton (Areosmith's bass player) had two little dogs that I LOVED.
I have such a soft spot for West Highland Terriers.
before you ask.....

Boy, I really went off on a tangent down memory lane.
This wasn't at all what I meant to write.....

Back to the Vineyard house.
It made the cover of Traditional Home, which never hurts my ego.
At the time I thought that Architectural Digest might have been interested since Wynn Newhouse was the son of Si Newhouse who owned Conde Nast Publishing that owned Architectural Digest.
No such luck.
They didn't want any nepotism.
Below is the living room that looks out to the water. Les designed the ceiling and I designed the fireplace bookcase and mantle. I laid out how I wanted the tiles set and chose delft blue to work with the blues we used in the downstairs.
The wall scones were custom colored to work with the palette.
I hung that little delft blue plate in the middle because it just seemed like the thing to do!!!!!
I found some pretty brass ring pulls that we screwed into the ceiling and I had the draperies made with ties so that they could be hung that way.
I wish I had a closeup, it's a cool detail.
The rug was a hand looped custom design that was made in the Philippines.
I designed it to work with the floral fabric on the two club chairs.
This wasn't the way the floor plan was really laid out since it had to accommodate Wynn's wheelchair, but for the magazine picture we rearranged the seating group.

I used a circle motif throughout the house in a lot of the detailing.
The construction crew was great.
No matter what drawings I threw at them, they were able to build it.
I didn't once hear "Lady, that can't be done".
I don't draw it unless I know how to build it.
Men don't like it when I have to explain their jobs to them.

Below is a shot of what it looks like today.
I stole borrowed this picture from Vignette Design Blog by Delores Arabian.
If you don't follow her, she has a wonderful blog.
She wrote that it was recently shown in New England Home Magazine, so I think that's where the picture is from.
I don't quite understand the furniture in front of the fireplace, but maybe they did that to create more seating, since this is a rental as well as a vacation home.
I like the sisal rug in this room, and the woven chairs are fun.
They kept the painting but changed the wall sconces going for a more neutral contemporary look.
However.....they let my little plate stay on the mantle!!!!!
I also "borrowed" this picture from Delores, I think she might have taken it when she was staying at the house.
The new owners have replaced the plaid sofa with a pair of white square lined slipcovered ones.
All the furniture is new, as a matter of fact.
notice the little window to the left of the fireplace.....
see the circle in the middle?????
I used circles EVERYWHERE I COULD!!!!!
That's it for today.
I will be showing lots more of this house coming up in future posts, so stay tuned!!!!!
on that note,
Latah, Gatah

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A New Chandelier for Connie!!!!!

We accomplished my goal!!!!!
After I wrote the post on Connie and Chris's kitchen....
 showing how beautiful everything was looking except for the chandelier that was chosen....
 before we had established the direction we wanted to go in the decorating....
Connie realized the chandelier had to be changed.
So we went to work on Chris......
Here's the picture of the kitchen with it's current chandelier.
I turned to 1st Dibbs and spent the next 10 years few hours of my life looking at a ton of chandeliers.
I found several that I had Connie check out.
The first one was a good possibility, 
but the finish was very chipped, and not  in a way that would work with the room.
The next option was a crystal and wood one that we both thought was very pretty.

Then I found a stunning one that was whimsical and charming and intriguing and pretty and 

So I then tried for a simple iron one, but it didn't work with the blues of the room.
continuing in the iron category, I found this baby, but it was too long for an 8 foot high ceiling.
Even if we took out the linked chain in the middle.

Well.....I didn't give up and found this one that was interesting and charming, but the scale was too large.....

I found this one that was long so it would work over a rectangular table, but not too
 tall so it would fit in a room with 8 foot ceilings.
It is gilded iron and we will change the crystals to a more sophisticated look.
I'm not a fan of  faceted crystals.
I like rock crystals, 'cause they rock!!!!
In my Betsy brilliance.....
I thought of photoshopping them into the picture of Connie's kitchen, so that we could be sure we liked the look of what we chose.
First I had to get rid of the iron chandelier.
Not a great Photoshop job, but then I'm not getting paid.....
Next I tried to add the first one.
Not bad, but it looked too predictable and I wanted something a little less ordinary.
So we tried the crystal one. It was very pretty, but it sort of disappeared. 
It didn't make a strong enough impression.
The one below is the one I fell in love with, before I looked at the price tag......
Connie was the one to point out how much it was.....
It's not my money, so I don't care!!!!!
You have to suffer for design!!!!!
This one (below) was too large, I Photoshopped it in smaller than it actually is.....
I think.
It's pretty cool looking.
But too big.
Then I tried this one, it was just too much mass.
But pretty!!!!!
Connie wanted something with a lighter feel.
this next one was perfect!!!!!
I am going to find old crystals like this.....
And redazzle the chandelier a la Betsy.
Here's another stunning side by side comparison for your viewing pleasure.
I might hang it a little lower.....
I'll have to see when I get back down to Flerida.
It might be a little larger than I have it shown.
Or a little smaller. (I hope not....)

on that note,
Latah, Gatah


Sunday, September 13, 2015

How to Hide an Eyesore (or why did the builder do that to my house????)

As you know....,
Connie and Chris bought their new home almost two years ago, so I guess it's not so new to them anymore.
But for me, who never moved until I went away to college, that's brand new.
I still think of my condo as my "new condo", even though I've lived here for 11 years at this point.
But I had lived in my previous home for 27 years, and thought I would leave it feet first.

when they bought the place 
(instead of buying the farm, which is not always desirable....)
they purchased some of the previous owners furniture.
In the sunroom they bought a sofa, two armless chairs and two ottomans covered in an
 off-white linen.
Below is the realtor's picture of the sunroom.
They must have taken the arm chairs, because we don't have them. 
What we have are these.
We added the Swedish painted table that we found at a local antique store, and used some of the gourd lamps that I chose for Connie's beach house.
I've never been a fan of armless chairs.
I need a place to rest my old fat limbs to take the stress off my old fat shoulders. 

The double doors at the end of the room entered into the master bedroom.
Since Connie and Chris have a lot of company.....
(translated as having a blended family with SIX KIDS between the two, with accompanying grandkids.....)
(plus the occasional friends....)
Connie didn't want an access directly into her bedroom.
There  is another way to enter the master suite that is off the living room through the secret doorway in the bookcase.
Don't tell anyone,
it's a secret.
Isn't that clever?????
  All it needs now is a big sign that says
"KEEP THE #$% OUT"!!!!!

Here we are, with these ginormous double doors into Connie's bedroom.
Putting a table with a ship on it wasn't fooling no one!!!!!
Not a great look.
I put on my thinking cap and suggested we have a humongous folding screen made to cover the whole dealio.
Besides, it would soften the space, since Connie was being difficult and didn't want any draperies on the windows.
I wanted to add airy white sheers.
She was having NONE OF THAT!
I found a beautiful blue and white fabric that had a stripe as part of the pattern.
I had found this as a toss pillow fabric, but then I had the brainstorm about the screen.
We wanted the stripe to be the predominant design element for the fabric, as it would seem more beachy and floriday and like that there.....
For those of you who will ask the name of the fabric, here ya go.
I had my buddies at Drape It make the screen, as we hadn't been overly impressed with the local workrooms.
The damn thing was so heavy that it was like shipping and moving a sofa.
The doors disappeared!!!!!
So, then we had to figure out what to place in front of the screen.
This was my solution.
Connie is still moving stuff around.
I took a bunch of their family photos and started pinning them to the screen.
I thought it was a STELLAR look, but Connie felt it looked messy.
We need to hang something on the thing, but she is not caving.
Damn her autonomy.

Here's one of my famous side by sides!!!!!

I wanted to add an armchair by the sofa, so we used one she had from her old living room, to see how another chair in the space would feel.
She will continue to drive me crazy with the furniture choices and arrangements until she caves and does it my way.

Back on the dining area chandelier, you all should be happy to hear that we are in the process of looking for a replacement.
Since I wrote my last blog, Connie can't go into the kitchen without cringing when she looks at what is currently hanging there.
I have found a possibility, so stay tuned.

On that note,
Latah Gatah

Monday, September 7, 2015

Adding Fabric to Connie's Eating Area

OK Kampers....
today let's look at how we added the finishing touches with fabric to Connie and Chris's kitchen eating area.
I was working off the colors of a fabric from the previous owners.
Connie bought the family room draperies from them when she bought the house, and they were made out of a really beautiful fabric, but the color blue was
 really really really really
 hard to match.
The were hung in the family room area on the other side of the kitchen from the eating area.
even though they weren't right next to each other, the fabrics were in the same large space and needed to relate.
I had to look through the whole Boston Design Center before I found a fabric that not only was the same color blue and tan, but would work with the existing pattern.
I finally lucked out with a simple stripe that had the casual feel I was going for, yet worked with the more formal antiques.
Don't ask me who it's from, I can't remember 'cuz I have lost my mind.
The big score, though, was when Connie and I found the host and hostess chairs.
They were antiques and had been reupholstered in a beautiful crewel fabric.
I feel like an idiot because I didn't take a picture of the back of the chairs.
The backs are covered in a tan small check that matches the tones of the room.
These chairs were not cheap, because they had been recovered.
if we had to reupholster them to make them go with the space, it wouldn't have been a good use of Connie and Chris's moolah.
The fabric worked perfectly with the other colors and patterns in the room.
I would never have thought of looking for a pattern like this if I had to redo the chairs.
It was serendipitous that what was on them was better than my tiny brain could have envisioned. 
(like my water mark????? I blew the picture up.......)
The whole space was coming together and starting to feel cozy and pretty and a good place to chow down to some serious grub.
I would like to add a seagrass rug to go under the table, it will make it feel more complete as a separate space, and finish off the look I am going for.
(from which I am going. I have a horrible habit of ending sentences in prepositions.)
(It's better than ending a sentence in a proposition.....)
My goal this winter is to convince Connie and Chris to change the chandelier.
We (Connie) wanted something fast and economical to hang over the table.
But now that the rest of the room is done, it's not of the same design  level as the other pieces.
leave a comment telling Connie to change the chandelier!!!!!!

on that note,
Latah, Gatah

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