Category Archives: Design Diary

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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Design Diary: Spa-Inspired Bath in Boston

I featured this spa-like bathroom designed by senior architect Barney Maier of Feinmann Inc., a Boston area design/build firm, as a  Room to Love in the Address section of The Boston Globe this past fall. I love the simplicity of the design, and would happily spend hours in that tub, which happens to be in the same neighborhood as my own condo (which is glaringly devoid of such luxury).

The project combined two units into one, and transformed the original kitchen and bath of one unit into this new master bathroom. A wall across the middle of the room separates the tub and shower area from the sink and toilet side of the space. A new, elegantly curved wall allows for breathing room so people can pass by. It’s hard to explain, so scroll down to the diagram at the end.

Zen Bathroom Design By Feinmnann In Boston

Maier designed the clean-lined, floating  shelves, which were manufactured by Showplace Cabinetry out of cherry wood and stained dark brown. The pair of stacked, minimalist towel bars in satin-nickel are Cinu by Ginger. The wall is clad in matte white tile. Recycled-glass mosaic tile by Kamet, in a blend of light green, black, white, and taupe covers the curved accent wall.

Zen Bathroom Design By Feinmnann In Boston

The shower wall, back wall and backsplash are done in Ferro White by Sant’Agostino 12-inch-by-24-inch tiles . Instead of bull nose tiles, stainless steel was used on the tile edges and shelving trim for a sleek, contemporary look. Matte black-porcelain Ceramica Sant’Agostino Ferro 12-inch-by-24-inch tiles ground the airy space. A wooden bath mat adds warmth and reinforces the overall spa feel.

Zen Bathroom Design By Feinmnann In Boston

The floating custom-made vanity is on the flip side of the shower wall.

Zen Bathroom Design By Feinmnann In Boston


S H O P  the  L O O K 
from StyleCarrot affiliates. 

Contemporary Square White Porcelain Sink

Above Counter Lavatory Sink

Ginger Cinu Towel Bar

Kohler Choreograph Floating Shower Shelf

Gray Wood Effect Porcelain Floor Tile

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Designer Spotlight: Architecture & Art Inspired Jewelry by Jessica Biales

My friend Jessica Biales, who is a Manhattan-based jewelry designer, has just debuted a brand new collection. True to form, these newest pieces are based on art and architecture, a common source of inspiration for Biales. (I typed at least one or two architecture papers for her in college. On my electric typewriter.)

Earlier this year she released her Scissors Collection inspired by Matisse’s work in last year’s MoMA exhibit “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.” Her most popular earlier work includes  signet rings and slice rings. (I have a rose gold slice ring with tavorites, a green gem.)

The current collection offers modern rings, bracelets, and pendants in sterling silver and gold. Pieces echo artist Josef Albers’ colorblock square paintings, steel sheet metal sculptures by David Smith, and the inverted architecture of The Whitney Museum by Marcel Breuer, and Rothko’s meditative abstracts.


Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Paintings by Josef Albers

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Painted steel sculpture by David Smith, Untitled, 1955.
Ballad Hoops, Jessica Biales Jewelry

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry\

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Whitney Museum of American Art designed by Marcel Breuer.
Pendant necklace with pavé diamonds by Jessica Biales Jewelry.

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Abstract paintings by Mark Rothko. 
Colored diamond bead necklaces by Jessica Biales Jewelry.

Jessica Biales Architectural Jewlry

Jessica at work in her studio.

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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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