Category Archives: Design Diary

Design Diary: Waban Victorian by Robin M. Anderson

I profiled this Victorian home in the Waban village of Newton decorated by designer/blogger Robin M. Anderson in the September issue of Boston Common magazine. The article was one page, but I have plenty of room here to take you on a wider tour, with additional photos and links to some of the pieces Robin used (some of which are StyleCarrot partners). Photography by Sabrina Cole Quinn.

Robin M. Anderson Project In Boston Common Magazine

The 4,500-plus square-foot house belongs to Robin’s friends, who enlisted her help with furnishings in the foyer, formal dining room, and great room once  Nancie Chamberlain and Laurel Laliberte of Chamberlain & Laliberte Design Associates had wrapped up renovations.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Victorian Foyer

The family mainly uses the mud room, but visitors enter through this foyer. Robin chose a hand-turned wood pedestal table from Restoration Hardware to anchor the center of the space.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Victorian foyer

A Ben and Aja Blanc Half Moon Mirror with handspun silk, mohair, and wool fringe hangs over the refurbished fireplace. Candlesticks are from The Line.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Victorian Entry Console

Opposite, black and white photograph, “Mist Mounain 2” by Kate Schermerhorn hangs over West Elm burl console on a metal base with polished nickel finish. The atmospheric photo pictures a Costa Rican mountain top, which Robin jokes she chose in order to leave her mark, since she and her husband own a home in Costa Rica.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Dining Room

The formal dining room opens on the left of the entry. Robin designed around the Phillip Jeffries Rivets wallpaper which has actual silver rivets on the elephant manila hemp, and Heracleum II chandelier by Bertjan Pot for Moooi, both of which the homeowner had already chosen with Chamberlain & Laliberte. Robin aimed to keep the room light since it is a small space, infuse some glamour, and make sure it felt young and comfortable enough for kids could be included in meals there. “I wanted a throwback feel of old school dinner parties,” she says.

The antique mirror is a nod to original elements of a historic home. Robin used personal tidbits on the mantle including a family crest, a drawing of Canada that show where the homeowners are from, and an illustration of the original house that Robin commissioned from an Etsy artist based on an 1800s drawing from the town records department.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Dining Room Sideboard

An Aero marble dining table from Restoration Hardware is surrounded by blue velvet upholstered Gage dining chairs from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. A Biddew Norie textile from Senegal framed in Lucite hangs above a Maxim Panel sideboard from RH Modern. Jonathan Adler pottery and sculptural brass Globo table lamp are fun accents.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Dining Room Bar Cart

The hand-knotted Serena & Lily Niles rug has a pattern that hides fallen food, which is useful with little kids. The custom roman shades are made from Eskayel fabric and the 1930s French Trolley bar cart is from RH Modern. Hanging on the back wall is “Namibian Landscape Dusk” limited edition photo by Australian artist Kara Rosenlund.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Great Room

The family spends most of the time in the great room. The house originally ended at the header, but they added an addition onto the back, making it a much more family-friendly space. The RH Cloud sofa is upholstered in an indoor/outdoor Perennials textured linen weave. The “Mediterranean”seascape is by , LA based photographer Max Wanger and the cloud-like limited edition print “Dreams” by Miami-based Jonathan Brooks from Minted hangs above it. They painted the window trim black in this room to match the kitchen cabinetry.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Kitchen

Chamberlain & Laliberte designed the kitchen, but Robin found the leather and walnut Bacco by Omar De Biaggio counter stools from DWR, which is what prompted the homeowner, whose original inclination was to go more contemporary, to ask for help with the rest of the house.  Robin knew that organic materials would warm up the room. The homeowner chose the Modern Agnes pendants with gold interiors by AERIN for Visual Comfort.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Breakfast Table

When the table that the homeowner originally ordered didn’t quite work, Robin found this one, the Crate & Barrel Monarch walnut dining table. “It’s very durable which is important since they eat all their meals here,” she says. The black Tucker chairs from Serena & Lily, an iteration of a classic Windsor, play off the black cabinetry and window frames. Robin framed Eskayel wallpaper to add playful pattern on either side of the window above the sideboard.

Robin M. Anderson Waban Great Room

The addition has a cathedral ceiling with a skylight, complete the Beaux Arts style 72-inch Cannele chandelier in burnished brass from Restoration Hardware, which echoes the high round window. The Seville chair in camel leather from Room & Board is inspired by the iconic Barcelona chair designed by Mies van der Rohe. Although the homeowner isn’t a fan of color, Robin loves it, especially navy, so she snuck in some moody navy Eskayel pillows.

The homeowner loves everything Robin did. She says, “I wanted everything underdone, which I think is tough to do and still feel pulled together. Robin does it very well.”

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Design Diary: An Airy Kennebunkport Beach Retreat

I wrote about this airy Kennebunkport summer home on Goose Rocks Beach for the Boston Globe Magazine‘s Summer Living issue, published Sunday, June 18, 2017. Rob Whitten of Portland, Maine-based Whitten Architects designed the house and Nicki Bongiorno of Spaces Kennebunkport did the interiors. Photos by Trent Bell. (Some affiliate links included to help you source pieces you might love.)

Modern Beach House In Kennebunkport Maine

The interior is beachy and fresh with clean lines, done in a palette of sand, sea foam, and blues. The pearlized glass backsplash adds a touch of color, without stealing the spotlight from the view. “We tried to keep things blended, so nothing would stand out,” Bongiorno says.

View Of Atlantic Ocean From Maine Beach House

The starting point was to maximize views of the Atlantic Ocean. The hand block printed throw pillow covers are Kyoto by Serena & Lily.

Mudroom WIth Grey Tile And A View In Kennebunkport

Textured tiles by Walter Zanger runs from the front entry  back to the mudroom, in an effort to keep water and sand from straying onto the wood floors in the main living spaces. Shiplap painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove runs throughout.

Modern But Comfortable New England Beach House Living Room

Low-slung RH Modern sectionals are upholstered in Perennials indoor/outdoor fabrics, as are  the cushions on the built-in benches. The fireplace surround is bluestone.

Beach House Dining Room With Oak Table And Turquoise Chandelier

The oak dining table is RH Modern and the chairs are Janus et Cie indoor/outdoor, a perfect blend of modern lines, family friendly function, and comfort. The pair of Mini Diva glass disc pendants by Regina Andrews are the wife’s favorite part of the decor.

Bunk Room In Beach House Kennebunkport Maine

A nautical-style bedroom has two sets of built-in bunk beds trimmed with edge-grain fir with a clear finish.

Game Room With Ping Pong Table

Under the eaves of the table tennis cum, Whitten added built-in trundle beds. Those drawers aren’t for socks, they hold mattresses! The glossy white West Elm console tables with blue acrylic adjustable swivel stools are great for arts & crafts projects on rainy days.

Serene Bedroom WIth Ocean View In Maine

The master bedroom is an oasis that’s all about the ocean. I love the Seema Krish “Mahalaxmi” pillows, block-printed and embroidered by hand in India. (You can read about my visit to Krish’s former Boston studio here.) The soft blue Pine Cone Hill chambray duvet is cozy and doesn’t distract from the view. The raffia dresser is by Serena & Lily.

Neutral Clean Line Bathroom In Maine

The neutral master bath echoes look of the sandy beach. The custom floating oak vanity is topped with an Athens silver cream marble slab. The polished stainless steel Dorenbracht faucets have simple curves, as do the  RH polished chrome sconces. The taupey wall tile is also marble.

Modern Girls Bedroom In Turquoise With Swing

The couple’s seven-year-old daughter wanted a bedroom inspired by seaglass. The turquoise bed and turquoise-fronted nightstand are from Room & Board. It’s a queen size, with a twin-size trundle underneath so adult guests can sleep there. Yes, that’s the Melati hanging chair from Anthropologie, which happens to be on sale right now.

Beach House Boys Room With Ocean View And Lobster Theme

The nine-year-old boy’s requested a lobsters and buoys inspired bedroom. Those are real buoys hung above the bed.

Green & Blue Beach House Guest Bedroom

The guest room bed and nightstand are from Room & Board. An aqua Serena & Lily Pickstitch Matelassé quilt covers the bed.

Seaglass Inspired Beachy Bahroom

The round tiles in the guest bath shower—Glazzio Tile Moonstone Mosaic—were the first thing the homeowners decided on for the house. ir first decision were those round tiles. Seaglass knobs add a beachy touch to the vanity.

Modern House On Goose Rocks Beach In Maine

Whitten insisted on an expansive porch, which he considers the essence of coastal living. The exterior blends classic New England materials (cedar shingles) with contemporary ones (standing-seam metal roof). The homeowners love a contemporary aesthetic, but didn’t want to the house to stand out.

Landscape architect Emma Kelly collaborated with Whitten, adding ample storage under the porch. Lush plantings and a fire pit finish the property perfectly.

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Design Diary: Teen Blogger Gets a Makeover

I profiled the bedroom makeover of local teen influencer Alexa Curtis in the January 29th issue of the Boston Globe Magazine.

Curtis, who’s 19 and writes the affordable-lifestyle blog A Life in the Fashion Lane, came to her 500-square-foot North End one-bedroom apartment basically empty-handed, save for clothing and photos. Luckily she met designer Jenna-Lyn Croteau at the South End Open Market, who agreed to take on the project for a budget of less than $1,000.

Croteau, who’s 22, is a student at Boston Architectural College and the founder of the furniture restoration and design firm, Recycle Refinish Reuse. (She also assists the fabulously talented Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design, who just designed the new Flour Bakery.)

Jenna created Alexa’s white and gold look with a little money, lots of DIY finesse, and a handful of freebies Alexa was able to score in exchange for exposure on her blog.

Teen Blogger Alexa Curtis' Apartment Makeover - Bedroom

Photo by Samara Vise for the Boston Globe

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Alexa loves to display photos of her friends. Jenna clipped Polaroids of Alexa’s travels around Europe, including the Cannes Film Festival, to three rows of linen string above the campaign style nightstand. There are more snapshots tucked into a holder on the other wall, next to four enlarged photos in frames bought on clearance from HomeGoods that Jenna painted white. The Soho cityscape above the bed is from Minted, by Austin-based photographer Kaitlin Rebesco.

Jenna transformed aa 50-cent vase from the Salvation Army with gold spray paint. Croteau made a wall-hung headboard from plywood, foam, and quilted fabric. She even made the covered buttons. She has her own table saw, jigsaw, sander, and drill in her home workshop.

Ethan Allen supplied the bedding and throw pillows. (White bedding was a must since Alexa use the bed as a background for photographing outfits.) The diamond-pattern throw is from Walmart, and the Moroccan-style rug from Wayfair.

The tufted leatherette chair with nailhead trim was a splurge that Jenna found on Craigslist for $100; definitely their biggest purchase. Room & Board provided the black sheepskin pillow. The curtains are from Ikea; the rods were already there when Alexa moved in.

Teen Blogger Alexa Curtis' Apartment Makeover - Work Space

Photo by Samara Vise for the Boston Globe

Jenna set up Alexa’s workspace on the other side of the bedroom. Responding to one of Alexa’s inspiration photos, Jenna made the desk by placing the top of an old trunk on the legs from two stools. A piece of found glass lets Curtis display snapshots underneath.

The Herman Miller fiberglass desk chair was a roadside find that was orange and very scratched up until Alexa primed and spray painted the seat white and the legs gold.

Jenna spotted the sparkly gold @ symbol at T.J.Maxx, which became the starting point for the art wall, which includes a print from Alexa’s dad and a pineapple print from Minted.

Alexa purchased the tall, mirrored chest from Overstock. Jenna revamped the dark metal honeycomb frame of an $8 mirror from the Salvation Army with white paint.

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Design Diary: AutoCamp in the Sonoma Redwoods

I love the idea of communing with nature. AutoCamp knows what I mean. Offering Airstream trailer experiences as well as luxury tent accommodations, the California-based company does glamping right. Scoff all you want. You’ll never find me at a campground, but why shouldn’t be able to contemplate the great outdoors on my own terms?

AutoCamp has two locations, one by the beach in Santa Barbara, and this one, by the Russian River, 90 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma, sold as a modern retreat in the Sonoma redwoods. There are Airstream trailer suites designed by Lauren Geremia of Geremia Design and glamping-worthy tents as well as a mid-century modern clubhouse. You get WiFi, Malin+Goetz bath products, Casper mattresses, Schoolhouse Electric lighting, and pet-friendly options.

I totally want to go to AutoCamp (but I’ll probably leave my cat at home).

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Foodie Friday: Saltie Girl

Tinned fish is about to become a thing in Boston. Brand new Back Bay restaurant Saltie Girl, brought to you by the local MET Restaurant Group, opened June 1 complete with raw bar and a tinned fish menu. MET Restaurant Group president Kathy Sidell (who by the way is Stephanie of Stephanie’s sister, who knew?) was inspired by tapas bars in Barcelona.

The skinny sliver of a space (just 30 seats, galley style, with four banquettes down one side and the bar down the other) is located adjacent to MET Back Bay (it used to be its private dining room). It’s a much needed addition to the neighborhood, which mostly lacks cooler restaurant concepts.

The Saltie Girl interior is design perfection. And I mean perfection. Even more impressive, Kathy Sidell decorated it herself. She is responsible for all of it: the Moroccan patterned cement tiles for the bar backsplash, the turquoise fish scale tiles that clad the bar itself, the perfect aqua paint color, the rope wrapped columns, the glossy wood banquettes, the copper light pendants, and the travel photos

As for the food, it is also exquisite. Gorgeous and insanely delicious.  Chef Kyle McClelland (a culinary artist) works behind the bar to make the cold offerings, while hot dishes, overseen by MET chef David Daniels, come from the kitchen downstairs. Oysters are shucked barside, obv.

New Back Bay Restaurant Bar Saltie Girl Moroccan Tile

The bar is the restaurant’s focal point, and an on trend thing of beauty. Its back wall is lined with Moroccan patterned cement tiles(#trendalert); glass shelves hold the liquor. See those copper pineapples? (#trendalert)  Exotic drinks for two are served in them. The second time I was there a young couple was sharing one, but it seemed rude to intrude upon their moment for a photo.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Raw Bar

The bar is lined with aqua fish scale tile (#trendalert) by Mercury Mosaics. The first portion of the bar is dominated by a raw bar. Glass canisters hold garnishes and sauces are served in apothecary-like bottles with medicine droppers (#trendalert) .

Boston Bar Saltie Girl Serves Bloody Marys With An Oyster

Bloody Marys are topped with a raw oyster (#trendalert) . The straw is stainless steel (#trendalert) , which I quite appreciated. (I have an unreasonable aversion to black plastic straws.) The clipboard (#trendalert)  lists the raw bar offerings: various oysters, clams, shrimp, king crab, and sea urchin.

Oyster Platter At Boston Raw Bar Saltie Girl

Two young women sitting next to my husband and I at the bar ordered this spread of oysters. I did ask them if I could take a photo. Note the medicine dropper condiment potions.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Banquettes Rope Wrapped Column

Four banquettes line the deep turquoise (I’ll ask Kathy for the exact paint color) wall parallel to the bar. Columns are wrapped in thick rope. Worn copper pendants illuminate marble tabletops.

Travel Photography Boston Restaurant Design Saltie Girl

Kathy told me the name of the photographer who took all these travel shots (his day job is a globe-trotting position for Ralph Lauren), but I cannot recall. I will find out and update.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Raw Bar

The floor is a simple white hex tile with black grout. A dozen industrial style metal stools(#trendalert) are used for bar seating. A handy black pipe means your legs don’t dangle.

Tinned Fish Display At New Boston Restaurant Saltie Girl

Back to the tinned fish(#trendalert). They’re imported from Europe and the packaging is pretty. Options include tuna (for the unadventurous like me), sardines, anchovies, trout, and mackerel.

Tinned Fish Clipboard Menu New Boston Dining Experience Saltie Girl

Time to order. Raw bar and tinned fish on a clipboard. Salads, sandwiches, and hot dishes on a paper placemat, diner style (but definitely not diner prices).

Tinned Fish Served On Slate Slab At Saltie Girl

Obviously we had no choice but to order a tinned fish platter. Lamely, we got tuna, though I understand the mackerel is easy to eat too. Cockles are not for me. The tinned fish is served on a slate slab (#trendalert) with crusty bread, pickled peppers, some sort of delicious jelly, and OH. MY. GOD. The BEST homemade butter I have ever tasted. There went my diet.

Black Salt Grey Salt White Salt Boston Restaurants

And to make everything even better, Chef Kyle (complete with requisite tats (#trendalert))  treated us to a trio of exotic sea salts (#trendalert). A black lava salt (from Hawaii maybe) with a smoky flavor, a grey sea salt, and a white. I’ve probably not mentioned this on the blog before, but butter and salt are basically my two favorite foods.

Tinned Fish Served On Slate Slab At Saltie Girl

As you can see we ate every bit of that tinned tuna fish, jam (#trendalert), and butter. Okay, I got seconds on the butter.

Chef Kyle Serves A Salad At Saltie Girl In Boston

Next,Chef Kyle McClellan serves my husband a salad.

Green Salad At Saltie Girl

Have you ever seen such a pretty green salad?

Stone Crab Toast At Saltie Girl In Boston

Both times I ate at Salti Girl I ordered Stone Crab Toast with burrata and avocado. There is a whole section of toasts (#trendalert) on the menu. At $10 it’s a good deal; very filling. It melts in your mouth and tastes heavenly.

Best Tuna Tartare In Boston

My husband, who is much more disciplined when it comes to sticking to his diet, ordered the tuna tartare. Scrumptious. Those purple flowers are chive blossoms.

Moroccan Tile Backsplash At Saltie Girl Restaurant In Boston

Another shot of the Saltie Girl bar (aka, my husband’s new neighborhood haunt).

Travel Photography Adorns The Wall At This New Boston Restaurant

Some more travel photos above the banquettes. Looks like Capri.

Tinned Fish Packaging At Saltie Girl In Boston

Tinned fish packaging is cute and pretty. That squid looks like a Disney character.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Pop Up Towel With Check

At the end of the meal, there is this Japanesque presentation — a wood block with water and a compressed cloth.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Pop Up Towel With Check

Voila. It rises. Pull it apart and wipe your hands.

New Back Bay Restaurant Saltie Girl Canned Fish Tin

The bill and an empty tin. A mermaid is the Saltie Girl mascot. There’s a carved one mounted at the bar too.

Saltie Girl Restaurant In Boston's Back Bay Has Raw Bar Tinned Fish & Great Design

Saltie Girl, 279 Dartmouth Street at Newbury Street, Boston

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