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Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello, Boston!

John and I are completely smitten with our new apartment in Boston. It's just one bedroom, but it's pretty spacious and full of gorgeous architectural details. The decorating is still coming along, but in the meantime, I'd like to share some close-ups of the details that sold us on the apartment, as well as some "before" photos:

Handsome millwork surrounding the (sadly non-working) living room fireplace 

The (also sadly non-working) fireplace in the bedroom, which is my jumping off point for the design of the room  
Close up of door and crown molding 
Some seriously before quality photos, clockwise from left: kitchen, living room, entry, and dining area: 

And the number one selling point for us...outdoor space!


These should be some seriously good bones to work with. I'm in full-on decorating mode with lots of new projects to share, so please check back again soon!

xo, Christine

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Amalfi Coast

John and I had the amazing fortune of vacationing for three days on the Amalfi Coast leading up to our friends' June wedding in Rome! We spent one night in Positano, and then met up in Ravello for two nights with friends who were also attending the wedding. The combination of great friends and a stunning location made it one of the most memorable legs of of our three-week long trip. 

View from the courtyard of the Palazzo Murat in Positano
An hour from Naples and in the shadows of Mt. Vesuvious, the Amalfi Coast is a treasure trove of small towns made up of colorful buildings nestled into hillsides that overlook the Mediterranean. The water views are only rivaled by the vistas of the towns themselves, built into the steep cliffs like tetris pieces. Truly spectacular!
Palazzo Murat
I could go on and on about the beauty of this place, it's food (the cheeses!), and it's people (beyond friendly!) but I think I'm going to let the photos speak instead. I'll just say, the Amalfi Coast was one of the most stunning locations I've ever been, and I can't believe I was lucky enough to visit. I experienced three of the most luxurious days of my life there, and will dream about this magical place for years to come. There are 13 villages along the Amalfi Coast, and we only visited two, so I hope to return someday to see the rest! Please have a look, if you'd like:
Pool at the Palazzo Murat

At Palazzo Murat-my first time ever seeing one of these Dr. Seuss-like trees, which I think is a white floss silk? 

An amazingly refreshing iced Limoncello cocktail. Lemon groves line the steep hillsides of the Amalfi Coast, so lemon is all over every menu. The smell of the lemon groves is intoxicating! 

Sunset in Positano. No filter! Such great light 

Departing Positano by ferry to Amalfi 

View from the winding road from Amalfi up to Ravello 

This was breakfast at our hotel in Ravello. The fresh-squeezed juices, mozzarella, and cappuccino...take me back!!
Stunning entrance to the Palazzo Avino
Walking around the town of Ravello with John-doesn't he match the scenery perfectly? ;-)  
The Duomo, in the main village square
Palazzo Avino's Beach Club on the Mediterranean,  a 15 minute ride down the hill from the hotel 
Inside the Palazzo Avino 
Looking down at the Mediterranean from the Palazzo Avino 

















Next up, Pompeii and Rome!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Istanbul

Between winding down in DC, moving, and all sorts of traveling, I apologize that I haven't found the time to sit down and write a proper blog post. But I'm back, and eager to share what I've been up to!

Earlier this year, John and I started planning a trip to Rome for our friends’ June wedding. One thing led to another, and we ended up with a three-week trip to Turkey, France, and Italy! I’ve posted some photos on Instagram, but because we packed up our house and moved six days after returning from our trip, I haven’t had time to share them here. I'm still processing the past two months..such a total whirlwind, and a complete visual feast. I can't wait to see how what I saw on our trip will impact my design work down the road. 

Today's post: Istanbul! While booking our flights to Italy, we discovered that the least expensive tickets we could find were on Turkish Air with a layover in Istanbul. With no expectation that it would actually work, I created a multi-trip itinerary on kayak.com with a 4-night stop in Istanbul. The price of our tickets actually dropped, significantly. It was an offer we couldn't refuse! 
New Mosque in Istanbul, from the balcony of Hamdi restaurant
Gorgeous fountains like this are outside every mosque 
John fell in love with Istanbul on a family trip there when he was 19 and has been talking it up to me since we first met. Over the years, each description of Istanbul included yearnful reminiscing about the Grand Bazaar... specifically, the ritual of going into a shop and drinking endless cups of tea, kept flowing by boys who race through the Bazaar balancing small glasses and sugar cubes on silver trays, while you talk and at some point, maybe settle on a price with the merchant for whatever object you're admiring. Upon our arrival in Istanbul we headed straight to the Grand Bazaar so that John could re-live and share this nostalgic dance with me. Without a map and on memory alone, he wove us in and out of narrow streets, up a hill, and into the Bazaar.  The "Grand" Bazaar is aptly named...it is enormous! The main thoroughfares are very crowded, and can be a bit overwhelming. Our favorite spots in the Bazaar were the small, quiet courtyards, or, hans - former merchant's inns, tiny oases in the large market that weren't always obvious...you had to stumble on them, and I found it challenging to find the same han more than once!  
John completely blissful in a han in the Grand Bazaar 
A veteran of the Bazaar, John's advise was that we use our first afternoon there to scope it out without buying anything. It was a daunting task, but I somehow kept almost all my Turkish Lira in my purse the first day and bought nothing except for a few kabobs. We returned on our last day to purchase items that caught our eyes, including Turkish towels, some jewelry, and a kilim. I really had no intention of buying a kilim, but we sort of fell into a shop, and as tends to happen with us, one thing led to another, and after many, many cups of tea, and a very persuasive vendor...
Our Kilim!
We didn't plan too much leading up to this trip, so most of our days were pretty wide open. We spent lots of time simply walking around exploring, sightseeing, eating, and drinking. We crossed the beautiful Bosphorous countless times, and paused throughout the day to listen to the call to prayer that echoed from mosques throughout the city. I really love to travel this way, as I think it leaves your days open to the unknown. However, in retrospect, I would have planned a little more in terms of pre-purchasing tickets/tours for the major sites of the city, as the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque all had 3-4 hour waits for tickets that prohibited us from getting inside them. We weren't too disappointed, because we definitely plan on returning to Istanbul again in the off-season. Here are some of my favorite images from our days spent wandering!

Sunset over the Bosphorous from a ferry 

Detail shot of Iznik tiles, found throughout mosques in Istanbul 

John in front of stunning doors at the Blue Mosque. Wondering why we didn't try to beat the line and sneak in through these? ;-) 

Looking up in the New Mosque 

Inside Leb-i Derya, where I had my favorite meal in Istanbul

View from Leb-i Derya
Mesmerized by this bone inlay cabinet in the Grand Bazaar 

I loved this rug, and thought it would look fabulous in an all-white, modern room


Garden of an antique store in Cukurcuma, Istanbul's antique district
View of Galata Tower from our hotel room
View of Galata Bridge 
Detail of the preppiest-looking Kilim. Regret not buying it! 
Breakfast in Istanbul was hands down my favorite meal of the day. French fries for breakfast? Yes, please! 












Next up, Italy! 


Photos by Christine Gasparich 

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Little More on the Basement

As promised, I thought I'd share a few additional views of the basement renovation from our real estate photos. The house is now under contract...hurray/boo! Excited for this new chapter but sad to leave the beautiful home we worked so hard on. I'm obviously still a mixed bag of emotions over this...










Our friends Molly and Adam stayed here for a few weeks before they left on their year-long overseas adventure. As one of the world's leading experts on our basement, Molly had a few questions about the new countertops and carpeting that I thought merited a follow up post:

Dumb question but can you chop food directly on wood block countertops

I used to think that there was no such thing as a dumb question, until I read this one. Just kidding! It's a very good question, and I've spent countless hours reading online threads that debate the answer to this because I have no life it is my job to. I've come to the conclusion that it's mostly a matter of preference whether or not you decide to chop food on your wood countertops. It won't necessarily discolor the wood, but you will see knife marks. If you only ever chop in one spot, it might look strange to have just one area with lots of scratches. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I'd probably hate the way that looked. I would just use a cutting board. So the short answer to your question is "yes you can," but if you came to my house and tried to chop anything directly on my wood countertops, I'd probably ask you to leave and never come back. (I'm joking...any friend who comes to our house and offers to chop vegetables is always welcome back!)

Seagrass carpeting: Is it durable?

Seagrass is shockingly durable. Since it's made of natural materials, it's also quite stain resistant. An important thing to keep in mind about seagrass is that because it's a natural fiber, it's susceptible to mold. So you want to be careful not to get any water on it. If you do, you can just blot the spot with a towel and use a hair dryer to dry it and you shouldn't have any problems.

Is it soft under your feet?

You wouldn't want to lay down on the floor with your cheek against it and take a nap, but it certainly doesn't offend the feet. It's not the absolute softest, but it makes up for that by being beautiful and inexpensive. For places you really do want to be super soft underfoot, such as a seating area or where you step out of bed in the morning, I recommend layering a soft area rug over the seagrass, like I did in the basement bedroom:



Can you vacuum it?

You can and should vacuum it as much as you would any other carpeting.

I'd love to learn what other kinds of carpeting you like the best/would recommend to clients. If given the option, would you always prefer hardwood floors?

Sometime in 1989, I went on a crazy rampage with Play-Doh. I smeared it deep into the brown/rust-colored shag carpeting in my bedroom. When professional cleaning equipment proved powerless against the hot pink Play-Doh, my parents were forced to rip out the wall to wall carpeting, revealing beautiful hardwood floors underneath. Was this the manipulative scheming of a three-year-old decorator in the making? I'm not sure. But I do know that intentional or not, it was my first victory against ugly carpeting. I was smitten with hardwood floors, and still am to this day! I'm really just not a fan of carpeting, obviously with the exceptions of seagrass, sisal, jute, etc. If budget were no option I'm sure I  could find some really lovely wool carpeting that I wouldn't hate. See here. However, I could really only ever imagine using wall to wall wool carpeting in a bedroom or a playroom. And at the end of the day, I'll still always prefer a beautiful rugs on hardware floors over wall to wall carpeting.


xo, Christine


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Basement Before and After!

At long last, the basement before and after shots that I've been promising for months! I haven't had a chance to do a formal photo shoot yet...just have been snapping away with my phone. I'm so excited to share these with you...I hope you don't mind some grainy images! First up, the kitchen area:













All in all, we didn't change very much. We kept all the same appliances and cabinets. The major change is the wood block countertop, which replaced a tile countertop. We also changed the wall and trim colors throughout the basement. The walls are now "White Dove" by Benjamin Moore and the trim is "Super White" by Benjamin Moore. I usually use White Dove for trim. However, I wanted the walls to remain white and still have some contrast against the trim. I didn't want to go too dark with the wall color, so I choose the creamier white dove for the walls and went for the really bright Super White for the trim. I really like how it turned out.  Here's a before photo (from when we purchased the house):

And after:
For the countertop, we chose an unfinished maple block and had it stained with Safecoat's DuroStain in "Cedar," and sealed with Safecoat's "SafeSeal." So far it's held up really well. I absolutely love the color. 

We also had this little shelf installed which serves as a place to store everyday dishes and glasses. I think it's a great spot for my favorite little Tivoli radio. If I were a guest staying here, I'd be so content just to make a cup of coffee, turn on NPR, and curl up with a good book on the sofa. I might not come upstairs. Sorry, hosts! 

Stretching back, here's a view of the little seating area. You can see that we installed new wall to wall seagrass carpeting. John and I both adore it, and plan to use it in our next home. It also smells fantastic! 
From another angle:
And here is the before (from the real estate listing before we moved in): 

We set up a desk area where the TV/gallery wall used to be. Because we're only here for a little bit longer, I decided not to duplicate the gallery wall again, even though I really loved it! But I think this works for now! Especially with the addition of the Schoolhouse Electric Lafayette Lamp. Most girls save up for shoes or purses...I splurge on lamps. No regrets! Staring at this thing brings me more joy than is probably healthy. 
This lamp elevates everything around it. It says to the $40 Ikea desk it's sitting on, "don't worry, I've got this."   
I should have some wide-angle realtor photos soon that I can share on here which will give you a better idea of the overall space, so stay tuned for more later this week! 

xo, Christine