Category Archives: Design Diary

Design Diary: Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover by Heidi Pribell

Cambridge-based interior designer Heidi Pribell breathed a new and colorful life into a dated, dilapidated, and absolutely dreary multi-family home, transforming it into a thoroughly fantastic single family residence for a family that re-located from out-of-state. I wrote about this colorful makeover in the Boston Globe Magazine “Makeovers” issue in February 2014, shot by one of my favorite local interior photographers (and the first one I worked with in Boston) Eric Roth.

Pribell got her hands on the 3,600 square foot interior once  Oldenburg Architecture and contractors Dattilo & Reidy completed the structural work, which included opening up the main living space and improving the flow. Since the family preferred to stick to a tighter budget when it came to furnishings, Pribell knew most of the wow factor would come from color. Pribell says, “I am so passionate about color, I can nearly taste and hear it.”

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Pribell’s rich and rosy palette was inspired by a trip she had recently taken to Mexico, most specifically by wildly blooming bougainvillea in its yellow, orange, red, and magenta glory. The trim in the living room is painted in a color Pribell describes as “a hot, cardinal red,” then toned down with an uneven application of glaze. Pribell transformed a closet into a light-filled home office with built-in desk, accessed by French doors.

For furniture, Pribell paired a gray sectional sofa from Crate & Barrel (scattered with store bought pink and orange pillows) with yellow hexagonal side tables from West Elm. A stylized floral black rug grounds the space. All the furniture in the house was newly purchased, with the exception of the two armchairs, which the wife inherited from her great grandmother. Made from dark, polished wood with mustard upholstery, they hardly blended, so Pribell had them painted with several coats of that same hot red paint and glaze, and covered with a fun fabric by Romo.

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The columns dividing the living and dining room were original to the house.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

For the dining room wall Pribell used sorbet shades of butterscotch and salmon, again inspired by bougainvillia. Pribell says, “As bougainvillia grows and ages, the petals transform from yellow orange to magenta.”

The indoor/outdoor striped rug is perfect for family living. The white dining extension table with curvy legs—the Regency by Calligaris—was purchased at local furniture store City Schemes. Pribell says, “I love the rococo nature of it.” Swirly orange chairs from Indonesia have ikat print cushions about which Pribell says, “I think they’re kind of soulful; and they relate to the Arts & Crafts nature of the home.”

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

Pribell clustered six mirrors from Global Views above the Asian style sideboard to help bounce light around the room.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

Walls were removed for an open layout.  The orange Kartell barstools were a splurge, but they loved the color and flexibility they provided, since the kids were different sizes and growing.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

The white kitchen was already designed when Pribell came on board. She added funky red lacquer hardware.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

The master bedroom was originally two rooms, so they broke down the wall to enlarge it. The vintage light pendant, made from clear fishing line on Lucite, purchased at local modern design shop Abodeon, adds character. A persimmon door leads to a balcony.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

The master bathroom walls are covered in large format marble tiles from floor-to-ceiling, thanks to a major sale at Tile Showcase. They added a custom Silestone countertop to a store bought vanity. The floor is done in cotton candy-colored penny tile. Pribell says, “It’s extremely small for a master bathroom, but it has the graciousness of a 5-star hotel.”

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

On, the first floor, which has essentially the same layout, the color scheme is repeated, providing a perfect atmosphere for the kids who use the space to watch television, do art projects, and practice piano.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

The downstairs living room provides the family with another, slightly more casual, hangout spot. The swirly vine rug is by Dash & Albert and the coffee table on casters is the Strind from Ikea. “The downstairs space really caters to the kids,” Pribell says.

Colorful Cambridge Home Makeover By Heidi Pribell

The exterior entry doors are persimmon and the porch ceiling is lilac.

Pribell says, “I wanted the home to seem fresh and crisp and have a modernism about it, but not be devoid of character. The homeowner is very theatrical and energetic; this house became an expression of her personality, and I think that’s what delights her most.”

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Recreate the style of this colorful makeover by Heidi Pribell with pieces from StyleCarrot partners.

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Design Diary: Girl’s Study by Erin Gates

Elements of Style blogger and interior designer Erin Gates designed this lovely work space for a nine-year-old girl  in Newton, Mass. Gates decorated most of the rooms in the family’s house, which are featured in her book, but recently went back to update this room. I wrote about it in a StyleWatch column for the Boston Globe Magazine, published this past Sunday. More decor details and sourcing links (some of which are StyleCarrot partners) included here. The beautiful photos are by Boston-based photographer Sarah Winchester.

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The goal was to create a space sweet enough for a young girl, but modern enough that guests would feel comfortable there (and so she wouldn’t quickly outgrow it). The starting point was the existing purple/grey wall color Benjamin Moore Coastline. The color was a perfect match for the large scale, Arts & Crafts influenced Farrow & Ball Lotus wallpaper, which the client had had her eye on for some time.

A tufted grey velvet daybed from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child anchors the room. She points out, “A daybed is comfortable for reading and doesn’t take up as much room as a bed with a headboard.” (I also like this more streamlined grey velvet daybed from World Market.)

Rather than opting for more obvious silver-toned accents, Gates used gold tones for contrast. Visual Comfort’s French Library wall lamps in antique brass from Circa Lighting provide plenty of reading light and cord covers eliminated the need to hire an electrician to hard wire them.

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They found inexpensive butterfly prints, which were under $20 each, on Etsy, which Gates custom framed in gold metal frames. Gates says, “We looked for art in purple tones that we could layer on top of the wallpaper, and these have a nice, girly feel.”

Gates mixed three different pillow patterns against the dramatic pattern of the wallpaper. The European squares are a painterly geometric ikat and the smaller geometric is by Pindler & Pindler. The pairing of these prints provide a nice combination of softness and structure. Kelly Wearstler “Sea Urchin” fabric by Groundworks from Lee Jofa adds an organic element to the mix, while providing some texture.”The secret to mixing,” Gates says, “is to use a monochromatic color palette and play with scale.”

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An inexpensive gold side table echoes the finish of the brass sconces. In choosing a table height to work with the swooped arm of the daybed, Gates advises it be somewhere in the middle of the high and low point for ease of use as a nightstand and side table.

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It was important that a desk provide enough room for more than one person, so Gates positioned the white lacquer Parsons table from West Elm perpendicular to the wall. The hammered brass table lamp and the gold frame around the linen-covered pinboard from Pavona Interiors on Etsy ties in with the gold accents on the other side of the room.

Gates opted for a grey velvet side chair instead of a rolling desk chair since it would function better on the carpet. The homeowner already owned the purple pagoda pillow from the Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler collection at JCPenney.

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The tall and narrow metal bookshelf on casters from CB2 is the perfect dimension for the space between the windows, leaving a bit of breathing room on each side so the curtains don’t bunch up behind it. The family already owned the Eames rocker.

Makkas Drapery Workroom in Framingham, Mass.made the custom ivory and gray linen curtains. (They made the pillow covers too.)  “Custom drapes look so much more finished, so I always advise going custom if it’s in the budget,” says Gates. She opted for a Parisian pleat, which is the only one she uses, preferring the clean lines that are less fussy look than a traditional pleat, which fans out at the top.

Gates hung the curtain rods as high as possible, right under the crown molding, to add height, which is important in rooms with eight- or nine-foot ceilings. As for the length, she says, “I like them to just kiss the floor. Puddled drapes just collect dust.”

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Design Diary: Contemporary Beach House on Plum Island

This contemporary beach house on Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass., designed by Boston-based CBT Architects, belongs to woodworker Mark Richey and his wife Teresa Richey. I wrote about it for Boston Globe Magazine in “Taking it to the Beach” back in July 2013. With the gorgeous weather we’ve had this week in Boston, I thought it was a good chance to finally post it, with photography by Trent Bell.

The Richeys purchased the cottage shortly after having relocated their business, Mark Richey Woodworking, enjoying it for short spurts while commuting from their home in Essex. A few years later, when they were ready to downsize, the couple hired Richard Bertman of CBT Architects to transform the cottage from a casual short term retreat to a full time residence.

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Following extensive research to address coastal conservation concerns, they built a new structure on driven steel pilings atop the existing basement, which allows water and sand to move freely under and around the structure. The result is a 1,962-square foot, three-story contemporary beach house with Alaskan yellow cedar shingle siding.

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The third floor lookout tower offers a 360-degree view of the water and island. The entire room is clad in fir to resemble a ship captain’s quarters, and is Mark’s own handiwork.

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The second floor master bedroom and bath both face the ocean—this was a must-have for them.

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The main level has an open floor plan. They didn’t want it to feel like a big sterile glass and plaster box, so Bertman used a warm palette of earthy materials that echo the colors of sand and beach grass. The fireplace surround is done in a textural green stone from Iran, which is also used in the kitchen. The walls and cabinetry are a mix of quarter white oak and zebrawood veneer. The floors are porcelain tile with a wood-like texture.

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The extensive deck, which follows the natural contour of the landscape, was built around an existing dune, and is constructed of a dense tropical hardwood similar to ipe,which will weather to grey. Check out the recessed cedar hot tub on the right. The couple often enjoy soaks on cold winter mornings. (Must get one of those.)

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Mark designed and fabricated the beautiful curved bench from South American mahogany. 

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Photography by Trent Bell

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Design Diary: Historic Nantucket Home by Elizabeth Georgantas

Let’s pretend it isn’t way too cold outside for April and take a trip to Nantucket. I wrote about the renovation of a classic kitchen with industrial details in this historic Nantucket home for the Boston Globe Magazine two summers ago.

Elizabeth Georgantas of Boston-based PEG Properties & Design and her husband and business partner, Peter, renovated and restored this 4,096-square-foot “in-town” historic house on Nantucket. Built in 1765, the home is believed to have been dismantled, rebuilt, and enlarged around 1820. In designing the interiors, Georgantas was careful to respect the home’s early roots while still incorporating modern-day amenities.

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Many beautiful features of the original house remain intact, like the wide plank, heart pine flooring and the 12-over-12 windows. When Georgantas and her husband purchased the house, the beams were covered under casing and a dropped ceiling. She uncovered the beams and added a couple of extras for balance.

On-island kitchen and bath design firm Nantucket House Fitters did the kitchen cabinetry. The three-quarter-inch-thick Carrera marble countertop is from Boston area supplier Cumar Marble & Granite.

The oil-rubbed bronze industrial style pendant lights are by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort and the industrial style counter stools are from Leostine. The range is from French manufacturer La Cornue’s more modestly priced CornuFe line.

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Georgantas found the hutch at Furniture Consignment, a second-hand furniture shop in Chestnut Hill and had a carpenter rework the shelving in order to accommodate the television, which is mounted on an oscillating arm. The Westmore milk glass collection is from Brimfield

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A plate wall comprised of brown & white transferware.

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The brick patio is right off the kitchen. Georgantas paired an antique French marble-topped baker’s table she discovered online with vintage-inspired steel chairs. A giant clamshell planted with succulents doesn’t require much upkeep.

Rather than replacing the white cedar shingles, Georgantas had the exterior of the house power-washed, a decision that not only cut costs, but kept building materials out of landfills. Georgantas says, “We try to do as much possible to be green when we build.”

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The period-style dining room has a long worn-wood table, tall ladder back chairs and a pair of historic oil portraits.

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The original owners, Mary (Coffin) Starbuck and her husband Nathaniel, called the Parliament House. The pair led the Quaker movement on Nantucket, and the first meetings were held in their living room.

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An Oriental area rug adds color layered over a neutral, beach-appropriate sisal rug. About the furniture Georgantas says, “I didn’t need the furnishings to be historically accurate. I like the blend of comfortable, simple, current day furniture and period artwork.”

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Rich wood furniture and accessories with simple lines, along with the thoroughly present day yet charming white sofa are comfortable yet perfectly in place in this historic Nantucket house.

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The family room has a modern patterned rug, rustic wood coffee table, old-fashioned clear glass table lamp, and comfortable neutral sofa.

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A gallery wall of botanical prints lines the staircase.

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An iron canopy bed seems both fresh and modern and perfectly appropriate.

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A marble-topped antique dresser holds used books and historic objects.

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Vintage luggage stacked in a bedroom provides extra storage.

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A wood framed headboard with a vaguely French flavor is upholstered in blue linen  blue and white throw pillows in a subtle floral print add a wash of color in a bedroom.

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Rattan shades add texture in a guest room while blue and white ikat pillows and throw pillows with a slightly Asian flavored floral print add color and pattern.

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An early American antique chest sits at the foot of the bed, which has an upholstered headboard with nailhead detailing.

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This bathroom has been updated with marble tile flooring and polished chrome hardware, but the antique style vanity lends an historic air.

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Built in beds and a window seat in a children’s room.

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Design Diary: Moody South End Condo by Evolve Residential

Almost two years ago Tom Egan of Evolve Residential introduced himself to me with photos of his business partner Josh Linder’s 609-square foot, parlor-level condominium in a 19th century Victorian townhouse in the South End. Since then I’ve gotten to know these guys (who are soooo nice and incredibly talented) and feature more of their work.

We included this project,photographed by Joe Keller, in the Makeover issue of Boston Globe Magazine, The similarly moody 900-square-foot two bedroom condo in the South End belongs to Linder’s friend. He steered him towards buying it, knowing it could be fab. Of course, now it is. Adding period trim, dark paint on the walls, and a mix of contemporary and traditional furnishings, Linder transformed the nondescript space into the perfect refined bachelor pad.

Linder describes it as “elegant but very masculine” saying, “We wanted to make sure when you walked in that it was obvious that a man lived here.”

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Linder treated the whole space to Evolve Residential’s signature grey walls. The medium grey walls in the living room are done in Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke. The  ventless ethanol fireplace is entirely new. Linder chose a period mantle and painted it a glossy black—Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone.

The 13-and-a-half-foot ceilings easily accommodated the Flos 2097 chandelier, about which his friend was entirely skeptical until he saw it installed. But friends don’t doubt friends, and so he kept his mouth shut until the end, when he confessed. “He gets it now,” Linder says.

Linder and the homeowner poured through his collection of photography books to come up with a fun combination of images to use on the seat backs of the French bergere chairs. These portraits, which made them smile, are both by Richard Avedon. Linder says, “We like to have one piece in every living room that is conversational.”

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Graced with tall windows, and even taller ceilings, the space is airy and the layout needed only minimal tweaking. Plus, there’s a fantastic view of the Hancock from the living room. The quilted black leather sofa on the left is a reproduction Joseph Hoffman Kubus sofa. The crushed gray velvet settee is by O. Henry House, the rug is grey sisal, and the grey lacquer coffee table is a custom piece.

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The existing cherry kitchen cabinetry needed replacing, but they kept the black granite countertops. The new black cabinets, which run all the way up to the ceiling were constructed by Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks and painted in Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone. The Moroccan inspired tile on the backsplash is from Tile Showcase and Calcutta marble tops the counter on either side of the range.

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The grey walls in the entry are painted in Benjamin Moore Hearthstone. The Empire chest is from Autrefois Antiques in Brookline and the pair of glass lamps are by Barbara Cosgrove. Hanging above is a charcoal drawing by New England artist Martha Lloyd.

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The homeowner grew up in a house with a cozy, dark wood room that he really liked, plus he has tons of books, so they transformed the second bedroom into a library with black walls. It’s Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone, the same color as the trim in the living room. Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks also did the library bookshelves.

 They used the smallest sleeper sofa they could find in a queen. It’s a stock piece from local store Circle Furniture, but they had it reupholstered in heathered Ultrasuede.  The homeowner says, “My guests say the memory foam mattress is more comfortable than their bed at home.”

The abstract is another Martha Lloyd painting. Linder says, “We endearingly call it ‘the coffee stain.'”

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There are real candles in the Rococo style gold sconces.

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The natural grass rug is from West Elm and the sleek glass desk was an online purchase.

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Linder describes the bathroom as “horrifying,” so they gutted it. They used a simple white mosaic tile on the floor with a beautiful Afghani war rug from Yayla Tribal Rugs in Cambridge, which is much more intimate and refined than bathmat.

Linder used gold sconces here too, and also added a gold leaf frame to the recessed medicine cabinet in order to bring the elegant French feel into the bathroom.

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When they demo’d  the bathroom they discovered an extra 10-inches of space behind the tub which they took advantage of to create a large walk-in shower with a frameless glass enclosure. The large-format, horizontal shower tile from Tile Showcase looks like rustic wood and the bench and shower curb are honed black granite.

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The master bedroom is a tailored and masculine cocoon done in lush fabrics, bold lighting, and elegant, unfussy furniture. The grey walls are Benjamin Moore Timber Wolf. The all metal Global Views Turned Pendant Chandelier replaced an ugly ceiling fan.

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The custom upholstered headboard has nailhead detailing. The gray bedding is Thomas Brien for Target but the throw pillows are custom. Linder says, “One pillow cost the same as the entire bedding set, but as a mix it works beautifully.” Linder found the black marble topped vintage chests at the Cambridge Antiques Market and repainted them an inky blue.

The homeowner requested total darkness for sleep so Linder mounted three thick, blackout-lined, floor-to-ceiling custom panels from Holly Hunt to the underside of the soffit. He loves it, saying, “It could be a brilliantly sunny day, and I’d never know it.”

Photos by Joe Keller

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