Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's Shakin'?

It's been a while since I shared updates on our apartment (or anything for that matter...yikes! sorry!)  Things are steadily coming together, and I like that the space is starting to feel very "Boston," with a twist. The landlord did a major paint job with oil-based paint before we moved in, and we just finally reached the point where you walk through the front door after being away for a while and it smells like us instead of paint fumes (aka, the result of cooking for two months with abundant amounts of butter and garlic!)

Starting with my best foot forward...I'm happy with how this little corner of the living room is coming together, full of antiques from John's family...a Shaker chair from his grandmother, a painting of his great-grandfather's resting hands, an antique Japanese tansu, and clam shells. (Shakers...reminds me there is a fascinating article in this month's Down East about the last remaining Shaker community in the country, which is in Maine and only has three people left. Read it, but don't forget to come back here afterwards!)  I'm working on finding a jaw dropping fabric for a lumbar pillow for the Shaker chair (I'm hoping it will put the shake in Shaker...a twist in this otherwise very traditional vignette) and then I think I'll be finished with this part of the room! 

We originally were only going to bring a few boxes of books with us to Boston and leave the rest in storage, but after just a couple weeks here we decided we really missed our books! We weren't ready to commit even to Elfa shelves again, so luckily I found the perfect parsons style bookcases at Target. It worked out that two of them sit perfectly flush together in the nooks flanking the fireplace. Done and done! 

In another corner of the living room I'm working on a bar situation. We've had this wonderful West Elm tray stand for years now, but I've found my eyes straying to other bar carts. I'd like another shelf underneath to store mixers and some glasses. But for now this works fine! 

Speaking of West Elm, we just installed this fantastic Rubicon Jute Rug from West Elm. It's playful and neutral and was just what the doctor ordered in this room. I'm still searching for the right coffee table so am not ready to pull back on this shot and show you the whole living room quite yet. I've been thinking of squeezing the trigger on this table for a while, but can't quite commit. What do you think? 

In the bedroom, I keep going back and forth on how the mantel should look. Right now I have one of my grandmother's paintings displayed, but I think I may switch it out for a smaller painting and more knick knacks. The mantel is just at eye level, across from the bed, so I like the idea of displaying some of my favorite small, foraged things--feathers, rocks, keys, tiny vases. I'm very inspired by these two mantels:
Left: Via; Right: Via
Or maybe a monochromatic collection of green objects? So many possibilities...but that's the great thing about easy to change!  

xo, Christine 

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