Thursday, September 18, 2014

Maine: The Way Life Should Be

I've spent a few sweltering summers in Washington, DC with zero vacation days left, landlocked (the Potomac doesn't count) behind a cubicle, living vicariously through Facebook photos posted by friends whose summer vacations involved any combination of sand, water, boats, cabins, ice cream cones, trashy novels, passports, and lots of day drinking. John and I maneuvered our schedules a year in advance to give us some serious time on an island in Maine this summer. Knowing what it feels like to be the girl stuck in an empty office in August with her teeth chattering, cursing the air conditioning because she's still soaked to the bone from sweating through her shirt in the 5 minute walk from her house to the bus that morning, I was conscious not to post too many cool, breezy Maine photos on my Instagram account this summer. Obviously the guilt didn't stop me because I still posted a bunch, but I definitely had some internal dialogues like "hmm, maybe I don't need to post another blue sky photo, or this selfie of me housing a lobster roll on a boat #toomuchbutter #maineproblems? "

But now that summer is winding down and everyone has moved on to apple picking and pumpkin spiced lattes, I hope I'm safe to share some photos I took this summer in Maine without seeming too obnoxious. Really not much interior design in these photos, but I do find lots of inspiration outdoors, and hope you enjoy these little collages of Maine eye candy:

(Clockwise from left) Flowers, fruits and vegetables picked from the garden where we house-sat. An island in the Penobscot Bay. Dahlias from my in-laws garden.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Furniture Relocated

I can breathe a sigh of relief because it seems our furniture is adjusting to our new surroundings just as well as we are. The dining area is the only space in our apartment that I feel comfortable enough to share with you so far. When I took this photo, just behind the camera lens (who am I kidding? iphone.) the living room was full of boxes, laundry, bubble wrap, and all those plastic things you buy at the Container Store when you move to a new home thinking "this is the place where I'm going to finally get my act together and get organized, and really do it this time." Oh, the magic of photography! I set this part of the room up quickly so that my eyes could at least rest on something serene amidst the ugly chaos of unpacking/settling in/returning unused items/broken dreams to the Container Store.

We've moved quite a few times in the past several years, and I've noticed that when friends come over just after we've first moved in, they often play a little game where they try to identify which furniture came from our previous home, and where it used to live. Maybe my friends are strange, but I figured that if that if keeping tabs on our furniture is somehow fun for them, maybe it would be interesting for you as my blog readers to see how our things transitioned from one place to the next. And again, who am I kidding? Most of you reading are my friends, so I know you'll love this! 

Clockwise from left: 1. Convex Mirror lived in our guest room in DC 2. Cowhide rug from our office 3. Antique column plant stand from our living room, which we're using here for keys 4. Wishbone chairs from our dining room.  Our farmhouse table didn't work in the new space, so we purchased an Ikea Docksta table, a knock off of the Saarinen Tulip table.

So far the dining area has surpassed all my expectations. It sits in a curved window and is right next to a main thoroughfare of the apartment, so I thought we'd be constantly bumping into chairs. But not the case! It's a perfect fit. Plus the light here is great, so I've been using it as a desk. The chandelier isn't anything to write home about, but it's an antique, brass and I don't hate it (plus we're just renting) so it will stay. New (inexpensive--rental!)  window treatments are a must, but all in good time. 

Hope to see you back here soon! 

xo, Christine 

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

More after the jump...

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!

More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


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 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

More after the jump...

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