Category Archives: Design Diary

Design Diary: Boston Design Home at Turner Hill

It’s the last weekend to see the Boston Design Home 2015, located at Turner Hill in Ipswich. The Design Home benefits the Boston Children’s Hospital Children’s Fund, which supports the hospital’s areas of greatest needs that are not covered by insurance or grants, such as research, therapy, and community health, making it well worth the drive to this 300-acre bucolic setting on the North Shore.


The Turner Hill community centers around the property’s Elizabethan style mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1898, Charles Goodnough Rice and his wife Ann Proctor Rice commissioned prominent North Shore-born architect and Harvard graduate William Rantoul, who designed the Salem Athenaeum and the original Shreve, Crump, & Low building in Boston’s Back Bay, to design their home, inspired by European chateaus and manors.

Today the 50,000-square-foot brick mansion, which was renovated in 2008, is the private clubhouse of the Golf Club at Turner Hill.  Just 20 acres at Turner Hill are dedicated to real estate, planned by Somerville-based architecture firm KAO Design Group, Inc., Waltham-based landscape architecture and planning firm Ryan Associates, and Beverly-based Windover Construction.


The Design Home is a 2,500-square-foot clapboard villa in The Gardens section of Turner Hill.

Chelsi Christensen of Design East Interiors, who worked with Windover Construction to choose the interior details in all the newly built residences, was also the design coordinator of this year’s Design Home, working with Boston Magazine sponsors to outfit the townhouse.

The formal mahogany Craftsman style front entry door is by Pella Windows and Doors and the live edge bench crafted from ambrosia maple and steel is by local woodworker Ray Bachand of 60nobscot.


“This year’s look is a little more eclectic,” says Christensen. “The idea is that it’s home to an affluent couple who has traveled around the world.” Pieces, like the Asian-inspired chest in the entryway from 60nobscot transmit a collected vibe right from the start. The African mahogany piece features round Chinese surface hinges and a traditional brass faceplate that symbolizes  “Blessings for a Long Life.” The top is embellished with a colorful peacock feather—a symbol of immortality—painted by Terri MacKay. The colorful artwork is by contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s from Martin Lawrence Galleries.


The main floor has an open layout.  Circle Furniture decorated the living room in a neutral palette with accent upholstery fabrics that reflect the a taste for world travel. A sofa with nailhead trim anchors the space along with a soft blue patterned hand-woven Khotan rug from Landry & Arcari, which provided the rugs for the entire home. A mirrored bar cabinet with lattice detailing bridges the living room and dining room.


Darby Road Home decorated the dining space in rustic French country style.. A rectangular cerused oak dining table with fluted, urn-shaped legs is the centerpiece around which sit four mahogany and rattan chairs. A glass-front display cabinet with semi circular mullions echoes the kitchen cabinetry on the other side of the room. The polished nickel and crystal orb chandelier from Wolfers Lighting, which provided the lighting throughout, adds sparkle and a  silver and ecru “Armenian Dragon” rug provides subtle pattern.


Hand-blown Simon Pearce glassware graces the table along with hand-glazed porcelain dishes, all from the artisan’s Cavendish collection.


A natural stone-topped kitchen island illuminated by a trio of textured glass pendants runs parallel to the living and dining spaces. A chevron backsplash by The Tile Source comprised of skinny horizontal glass tiles in a variety of faux stone finishes mixed with metallic foil tiles is a dramatic backdrop for the white wood Omega cabinetry.


A deck off the back overlooks the golf course and pond. There’s also an adjacent screened porch for dining.


The clean, crisp master suite, located on the main floor was furnished by Circle Furniture. A platform bed with wood slat headboard has simple linens dressed up with gray and yellow solid and chevron print shams. Light bounces off the polished chrome bases of feminine sheepskin stools and the sleek polished steel bench.


An abstract painting from Martin Lawrence Galleries hangs over a contemporary eight-drawer wood dresser.


The fitness room upstairs has a LifeCycle and WaterRower.


Chelsi Christensen decorated the second floor guest room, which has an accent wall painted “New York State of Mind” by Benjamin Moore.


Darby Road made this small room into the perfect home office with an accent wall painted in Benjamin Moore “Black Raspberry.” A sleek, nickel-topped writing desk with cerused wood base that provides plenty of workspace. Artwork by René Lalonde.


Kerry Vaughn of Newburyport home furnishings showroom Red Bird Trading transformed the lower level, painted in Benjamin Moore “Black Jack”  into the ultimate hangout space. Ceramic floor tiles with a driftwood effect from The Tile Source run throughout.


The wine cellar’s mahogany shelving is stocked with fine French wines by Barton & Guestier.


An 11-foot custom wood shuffleboard table with metal legs and leather top is the centerpiece of the room. The Beni Ouraine hand-knotted wool Moroccan rug is from Landry & Arcari.


A leather sling chair on a wooden frame is positioned next to the game table.


Next to the game table, in front of a double-sided stacked slate fireplace wall, Vaughn created an  inviting sitting area outfitted with a tufted leather bench, velvet tufted ottoman, and an arresting black and white portrait by Andy Warhol from the Martin Lawrence Galleries.


An oversize wet bar has a one-of-a-kind glass backsplash reminiscent of Florentine endpapers c by local artist Connie Kolman of Kolman Artisan Glass.

On the opposite side of the stacked slate fireplace wall the space becomes bright and airy. High back swivel chairs are upholstered in gray cotton velvet. A mix of leopard, zebra, snakeskin, sheepskin, grasscloth, and tortoise accents add a sense of the wild.


The sofa, perfect for watching the flat screen TV, is slipcovered weathered linen. Sliders open to a brick patio with seating area, dining table, propane-powered fire pit, and a grill.


The terraced deck, furnished by Yankee Fireplace, overlooks Turner Hill’s original historic manicured parterres and ponds Just west of the mansion, the architectural style complements that of the mansion.


Michael J. Lee Photography

Turner Hill, 9 Stonebridge Road, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10AM to 4PM
$25. Full ticket proceeds benefit Boston Children’s Hospital.
Tickets may be purchased with cash or by credit card at the home on online here.


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Design Diary: The Press Hotel in Portland, Maine

In June I was invited for a stay at the just-opened The Press Hotel in Portland, Maine. An easy drive from Boston and eager to visit since I hadn’t been in too many years, I headed north. The Press Hotel is the first boutique hotel in Portland and it’s wonderful, with all the right touches, gorgeous art, and zero pretension. It’s also a great example of adaptive re-use, as it is the former headquarters of the Portland Press Herald, hence the name. (If you’re interested, I wrote a piece about adaptive re-use of commercial buildings for residences in last Sunday’s Globe, “Making New Homes From Old Workplaces.”)


The Press Hotel entrance is on a quiet side street in the Old Port District of Portland. The circa 1923 building was home to The Portland Herald Press until it relocated in 2010. Local developer Jim Brady who bought the building hired Manhattan-based  Stonehill & Taylor, which created the look for hip NYC hotels including Refinery Hotel, NoMad, and Crosby Street Hotel as well as a roster of more staid establishments, to design the interiors. It was definitely time for a boutique hotel in Portland. I love the city; it has an artsy waterfront vibe like a small pre-tech boom Seattle.


The  vestibule eases you from office building to boutique hotel, with the pairing of the original marble floor and metal rail and contemporary light fixtures and grid of woodwork.


The lobby has reclaimed wood columns, herringbone-tiled floors, and original coffer ceilings. Dark toned neutrals are accented with pops of deep orange. The carved ribbed design of the wood reception desk recalls the skeleton of a ship, a reference to Portland’s port and shipbuilding trade.


On the wall behind the reception desk is a large art piece by artist Matt Hutton of oversize, vintage-style painted wood letterpress type. Hutton is an Associate professor at Maine College of Art where he’s helped establish a top woodworking and furniture design program. The hotel showcases art from local artists throughout the public spaces and guest rooms.

The Inkwell Bar At the Press Hotel In Portland Maine

Courtesy of The Press Hotel

The Inkwell Bar in the lobby has a fireplace and walnut millwork, with some tables and benches that were made in local woods hops and and others  by metal craftsman.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

The wallpaper in hallways is a digital print of actual newspaper headlines from the Press Herald’s archives. Carpeting features a jumble print of typewriter keys.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

Detail of the newspaper-inspired digital wallpaper.


Detail of the jumbled letter hallway carpet.


This is the room where I stayed. The design is inspired by a 1920s writer’s office, though wood floors with herringbone area rugs give a residential feel. Prints by local artists decorate the walls.


My bathroom, featuring marble subway tile and wood shades. You can see in the mirror that the bathroom has a reeded glass door similar to those in historic newspaper offices.


Floating Danby marble vanity and contemporary faucet affixed to the backsplash.


The view to the Atlantic Ocean from my room on the 6th (or maybe it was the 7th) floor.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

A marble bathroom with freestanding soaking tub in one of the hotel’s nine suites.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

Another of the hotel’s 110 guest rooms.


Framed rugs by local artist/designer Angela Adams hang in the guest rooms.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

The backs of the leather office chairs at the desks in the guest rooms are embroidered with the classic phrase containing every letter of the alphabet: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

An installation of antique typewriters created by students at the Maine College of Art.


The typewriters up close.


Detail of a 3-D piece in the art gallery on the lower level.


A detail of an artwork in the gallery on the lower level.


A landscape photograph displayed in one of the meeting rooms.


Another landscape in a meeting room.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

One of the hotel’s well-appointed meeting rooms on its lower level. The spaces are designed resemble private residential libraries.


Vintage-style painted type letter signage.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

An old-fashioned Toledo scale from the Press Herald finds a new home in the hotel gym.


Courtesy of The Press Hotel

The lobby is sophisticated, appealing, and comfortable.


A whimsical display of suitcases in the lobby.


There’s also a 65-seat restaurant UNION designed by Miami-based Big Time Design and  run by Executive Chef Berry, who was on site at every meal making sure every last detail was perfect. 


I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner there and the food was delicious.


Morning tea and of course, the newspaper.


The original staircases were left intact,though didn’t meet code for current use, so just a portion is visible as homage to the building’s origins.


The property will be targeting LEED silver certification and will be part of the Autograph Collection, a group of more than fifty unique luxury hotels around the world.


The view from the roof deck of the penthouse suite.


The Press Hotel, 119 Exchange St, Portland, Maine

I did a lot of shopping at Portland’s cute boutiques. Post to come soon.

Photos by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot unless otherwise indicated.

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Design Diary: Tour The Verb Hotel in Boston’s Fenway

Last time I was in town I scored a private tour of The Verb Hotel with Elizabeth Lowrey, Principal and Director of Interior Architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects and stylish lead behind the redesign of this humble-turned-hip Boston boutique hotel, just behind Fenway Park. The architects worked closely with the development team to embrace the area’s legacy .

Initially slated for a tear down—the hotel had become a HoJos after all—Samuels became disillusioned by the shiny new development happening all over the city and decided to re-imagine the 94-room mid-century modern hotel, knowing it would add character to the revitalized neighborhood.

The Verb Hotel first opened in 1959 as the Fenway Motor Hotel in a neighborhood that by the thriving indie music scene. Over the years a multitude of clubs popped up on Lansdowne Street, along with the alternative weekly newspaper the Boston Phoenix and rock radio stations.


Developer Steve Samuels and hotelier Robin Brown enlisted “vibe conservators” Stephen Mindich, publisher of the Boston Phoenix, and David Bieber, WBCN Creative Services Director to consult with Elkus Manfredi on the hotel’s new look and feel, which pays homage to the rock scene of the ’70s and ’80s. Bieber dipped into his enormous personal archives of pop-culture memorabilia which the designers used to decorate the lobby.


The two-story modernist building, designed by architects Irving Salsberg and Ralph Leblanc, went up in 1959. Elkus Manfredi Architects honored the original building, retaining the footprint of the motel and guestrooms. The feel is that of an authentic motor inn, including a courtyard pool and cars pulled up outside the rooms.


The team stuck to a pretty strict budget. Easy upgrades like colored film by Solar Graphics were applied to the new windows to add rhythmic pops of color. In 1959 when the original motel was completed, different colored stained-glass windows formed solid vertical lines on its structure. Eventually, these windows were replaced and the solid vertical stripes of color became irregular. When replacing all the windows for the restoration, Elkus Manfredi deliberately retained the irregular Mondrian-like pattern.


The architects dressed up a front façade with vertical wood siding and simple landscaping.


A circular skylight in the lobby lets in light and provides a glimpse of a new high rise across the street.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Lobby Desk

The front desk is upholstered in tufted black leather. Amps and electric guitars are propped up beside it. Black and white geometric flooring by Mondo.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Lobby Banquettte

The lobby, with its deep blue walls and tufted yellow leather banquette custom-designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects broadcasts that it is indeed a Boston boutique hotel. Authentic vintage music ephemera, curated by David Bieber from his own collection, include backstage passes from the J. Geils Band, and torn $4.50 ticket stubs to a Blondie show at the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue. Framing done locally by Stanhope Framers. Triangular Island tables by Calligaris. Knoll Risom lounge chairs designed in 1943 by Jens Risom and sheepskin throw both from Design Within Reach.


Music posters and vinyl records along with a vintage jukebox.


Original brickwork was painted black using textured paint by Sherwin Williams.


If the lobby’s not crowded, guests can spin records on the yellow vintage Realistic-brand LAB 440 turntable. They’ve got 150 vintage local and national vinyl albums.


A display case in the breezeway connecting the main lobby with the guest rooms houses The Archives at the Verb,  curated from Bieber’s warehouse of thousands of pop-culture memorabilia.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Stairwell

Original brick walls were painted vibrant hues and treated to music-related stenciled sayings. Perforated steel railings custom-fabricated by MIW Co. Ipanema Multi-Bloom Pendant Lamp by Jonathan Adler.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Stairwell

“If the music is too loud, you’re too old.”

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Stairwell


Photographs of numbers from Fenway park were pulled together to form the room numbers on hotel room doors.


Illuminated signs on black walls in the hotel lobby.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Guest Room

Guest rooms are clean and crisp with integrated wood veneer headboards. Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the mid-century modern inspired furnishings, which were manufactured by Artco.


Framed Phoenix newspaper pages hang on the walls in each room.


Mid-century dot pattern drapery and a shot of pink from the window film.


Photo by Adrian Wilson

Like many boutique hotels, the contemporary bathrooms are simple but don’t skimp on amenities.
Tile by Dal-Tile.


The desk in each hotel room is equipped with a typewriter purchased on eBay. The desk chair is an armless Setu side chair by Herman Miller.


Best part: the hotel courtyard has a pool. The vibe is motor lodge, but really it’s like a hip resort, right downtown. Check out the green stands at Fenway in the background.


Period-appropriate colors were carefully chosen.

The Verb Boston Boutique Hotel Sign

The Verb Hotel, 1271 Boylston Street, Boston

Photos by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot

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Sneak Peek of Troy Boston Model Apartment In Progress

Last Friday I was granted entry into unit 1409 at Troy Boston, a new, “green,” luxury rental building in Boston’s artsy SoWa neighborhood. The apartment looks great; so sunny, with very appealing finishes, like cerused oak and lacquer cabinets, a white oak wood floor, and the best, a concrete ceiling. You might recall my post on creating the charcoal and blush color palette.


I thought I had so much stuff, but when I unpacked there was hardly anything. It didn’t even look like there’d be enough artwork.


I’m in love with the copper paillette pillow I found at H&M on sale for $7. Any thoughts on the dream catcher I made with fuzzy yarn and bamboo embroidery hoop?

A pile of textiles from H&M. The pillows are knockoff of a design by Hay. The pink throw is deliciously cozy.

Two coppery self portraits by Boston photographers Alicia Savage (left) and Laura Beth Reese (right).


Copper and black wire baskets also from H&M look pretty in the sunlight. Target sells similar wire baskets.


Heather McGrath’s Icelandic landscape printed on metal looks fantastic on the plywood divider.


A hammered copper tray on the flip side of the console table will hold a little bar set up.


Accessories: Canister with wood lid, wood trinket boxes with glass lids, copper sphere candle, fancy tonic water, and a print I made.


More H&M accessories. Rose gold & glass trinket boxes ($5 octagonal knock-offs of those little glass boxes by Iittala) and copper colored candle holders (also on sale for $5) that remind me of a Tom Dixon design.


All my bedding options, laid out. Charcoal and blush linen sheets and cushion covers from H&M, textural charcoal throw, velvet throw pillow and lots of pillow inserts from Ikea and a sweater knit blanket, plus even more gray sheets from Target. Sofa and rug on loan from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Boston.


More pictures soon.

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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.”


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.


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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