Category Archives: Design Diary

Design Diary: Scandinavian Style Kitchen Renovation by Helios Design Group

I write a lot of one page design columns for Boston Globe Magazine. This one, published last fall with photos by Jared Kuzia, is one of my favorites. A restaurant industry couple hired Ariel Roth of Boston-based architecture and interior design firm, Helios Design Group, to renovate their kitchen in Jamaica Plain in a simple Scandinavian style, with an eye on the budget.

Roth started by moving the exterior door to the patio (and swapping it out for a full glass version that lets in light) in order to fit cabinetry and a new Wolf range with red knobs on a previously blank wall. Speckled penny tiles from Discover Tile are a fun touch that add a bit of color and interest. Love the inky blue walls? It’s Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue. The color allows the cabinets to stand out.

Speaking of kitchen cabinetry, Roth collaborated with local eco-friendly business Boston Building Resources on the cabinetry design, and donated the old cabinets to them for repurposing. The surface of the cabinets are done in simple white laminate, moments of exposed plywood edges, as well as the modern cut-outs in place of hardware, make them interesting. Roth says, “The plywood accents developed as we went along. The homeowners were into it, so at one point had exposed all the edges. Ultimately we pulled back and use plywood edge accents.”

Scandinavian Style Kitchen Renovation Helios Boston

Photo by Jared Kuzia

The homeowners initially fell in love with a $2,000 light fixture, but it just didn’t fit into the budget, so they decided on this acrylic orb. It’s the Bel Occhio 16 pendant lamp by Pablo Designs.

The Compass dining table from CB2 designed by Ceci Thompson  has an engineered wood high-gloss lacquered top and a glossy powder-coated, radial-shaped steel base. The red molded plastic chairs with wood legs are less expensive versions of the Eames fiberglass shell chair by Herman Miller.

While you’re down there, check out the floors. Roth used Avenue 12-by-12 cork tiles from APC Cork. This makes a lot of sense since it’s low maintenance and easy on the feet (they spend a lot of time in here). It also brings in an element of warmth.

Scandinavian Style Kitchen Renovation Helios Boston

Photo by Jared Kuzia

The above photo shows the rest of the sink wall. Roth enlarged the window to let in lots more light. You’ll notice that some of the kitchen cabinets are door-less, specifically in spots that are harder to access. These cubby-style cabinets are lined in charcoal Formica. The countertop is a quartz composite. “It’s a plane of solid grey that looks pretty with the cabinets,” Roth says.

Scandinavian Style Kitchen Renovation Helios Boston

Photo by Jared Kuzia

The photo above shows the other side of the range, and the adjacent wall. The bookcase makes use of a shallow space—an existing chimney is right behind it. They reused their fridge, which is right next to the bookshelf, in case you’re wondering.

Scandinavian Style Kitchen Renovation Helios Boston

Photo by Jared Kuzia

The shallow shelf is perfect for cookbooks, and a makeshift bar.

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Design Diary: Living Room by Meredith Rodday

Boston area interior designer Meredith Rodday, who you may know from her blog View From My Heels, transformed this formal living room into a light and airy space. I wrote about it here, in a recent issue of Boston Globe Magazine. I’ve included more about Rodday’s design and sources below. Photo by Jessica Delaney.

White Living Room With Colorful Art By Boston Designer Meredith Rodday

Jessica Delaney Photography

“I’m not known for formal rooms,” Rodday told me. As such her signature style of light colors with a coastal touch, was just what the homeowners were looking for.

They started by painting the room Benjamin Moore “Navajo White” to tie it together with the home’s family room. Using the warm, creamy white as a base, Rodday added soft white upholstered and warm wood pieces, a dark grounding coffee table, and pretty artwork for a pop of color.

All the fireplaces in the home had awful green marble, which Rodday replaced with classic Cararra marble. The blue/grey veining is reflecting in the gray striations of the Restoration Hardware Nahla rug , which adds a touch of interest but keeps things neutral.

The Lee Industries sofa is upholstered in Serena & Lily washed linen in sand. The McGee & Co. Blaine armchairs have a wood frames with a driftwood finish that adds a bit of earthiness. The baluster profile and finish tie into the Arteriors Everett table. Its oxidized iron-clad surface and base connects with the dark color of the large cocktail table, custom covered in navy Phillip Jeffries Juicy Jute grasscloth.

“The room is very large,” Rodday says, “We needed an anchor on the fireplace, which is off-center, and this worked well.” The Visual Comfort Morris chandelier with polished nickel finish further establishes the center of the seating area, without blocking the artwork.

The colorful artwork cements the focal point for the seating area and is the jumping off point for the accessories which bring color into the room. The piece is “Sapling Grove” by Peter Batchelder, an oil on canvas from Powers Gallery in Acton, Mass.

The indigo leafy vine pattern of the Belgian linen drapery, Novella by Massachusetts textile designer Ellisha Alexina, stands up to the painting without overwhelming it.

Rodday used the fabric for a throw pillow too. Other throw pillows include, from left to right, Susan Connor New York in Madu, Zak + Fox in Postage, Peter Dunham in Kashmir, and a cognac leather McGee & Co. pillow. The brushstroke lamp is by Jana Bek.

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Design Diary: Christmas Scheme by Marc Langlois

Boston-based interior designer Marc Langlois created this Christmas scheme for a family in Wellesley, which was published in the Boston Globe Magazine last month.

Neutral Christmas Tree Decor Marc Langlois

Photo by Michael J. Lee

Langlois runs fresh greenery throughout the house, and even coordinates the wrapping paper with the overall design scheme. The theme, starry night, is done in a tone-on-tone palette of gold, silver, and white. Langlois collects ornaments at craft fairs throughout the year, and uses twinkling white lights. The tree, a fancy fake one from Frontgate, is actually pre-strung with the lights.

Mac Langlois Living Room

Photo by Michael J. Lee

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S

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Design Diary: Fat Orange Cat Studio’s Moody Den by Wolf In Sheep Design

The last time we looked at the genius of Boston interior designer Alina Wolhardt, principal of Wolf In Sheep Design, it was to spotlight Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery in Harvard Square.

Last year in the Boston Globe column “Room to Love,” I wrote about this moody den that Wolhardt designed for Li Ward, the Boston pet and wedding photographer behind Fat Orange Cat Studio, and her husband Dan, photographed by Joyelle West.

Ward first met Wolhardt when she photographed Wolhardt’s rescue dog for the book Rescue Pets of Boston. Then, she photographed Wolhardt’s other dog at her house, where she had created a cozy man cave in a windowless room. Ward hired Wolhardt to do the same for her—a dark little sanctuary where she and her husband could hang out for  cocktails and an afternoon read. They dubbed it the opium den.

Wolhardt says, “It took a year to complete this small room but we didn’t want to just force pieces purchased online from various mass-merchandise stores. I really wanted each piece was curated very carefully and that most pieces had history. When trying to create an Old World feel, you can’t force it.”

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The dark wall paint color is Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10. Wolhardt says, “We designed their bedroom to be very light and airy so we wanted to create a ying yang type of thing where one side of this floor is white and the other side to be the opposite.”

Wolhardt went monochrome on the ceiling too, but in a wallpaper, ROMO Rocks in Metallic Eggplant, which has some sparkle to it. “It’s dark gray with some gold undertone sheen, so when the surface light is on, it creates a nice glow,” Wolhardt says.

That fabulous  light is the Soleil pendant by Suzanne Kasler forCirca lighting in antique brass, chosen to create a night sky-like feeling. The gold plays off the ornate gilt frames around the space.

“The idea for this room was to create an Old World, almost Victorian feeling with mixed styles, like the room had been curated over years,” Wolhardt says. The blue velvet settee is a Hollywood Regency style, sourced from an Etsy shop. Wolhardt directed the shop owner to refinish the frame in high gloss black. The cat’s name is Bingley.

The coffee table is made from the top of Ward’s childhood desk, trimmed with church railings salvaged by local Boston-based woodworker Nick Doriss of Doriss Design Workshoppe. Doriss also helped them hang a massive live-edge wood headboard that was originally a dining tabletop from Mohr McPherson. They repurposed that table base for the coffee table base here.

The heavy, carved dresser, from Ward’s parents, had been in their bedroom, but when Wolhardt spotted it she immediately asked to move it into the cave. She says, “We didn’t need to do anything to it. Even the mirror on this piece had an antiqued finish to it, which was perfect.”

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The artwork is a mix of pieces Ward already owned (antiquing is a hobby), coupled with pieces they found together at Brimfield. Wolhardt says, “We wanted to arrange the pieces like a gallery wall so that she can continue to add artwork as she finds more pieces down the road.”

The floor lamp base is a vintage piece with a new lacey lampshade made by Vintage Shades.

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

They found the marble top of the  side table at Brimfield and purchased the legs from another antique store. “Each piece has a nice little history to it,” Wolhardt says.

To make the room feel nice and cozy brought in many layers and textures. The jewel tone velvets on the upholstered pieces make it feel luxurious. The Cisco chair is custom upholstered in emerald green velvet, a nice contrast to the dark gray walls. Wolhardt says, ”

Wolhardt says, “Our mood board had jewel images as well as mussels. Mussels have dark gray shells in nice blue/green shades. I am always inspired by nature, and try to incorporate that into my designs.”

Layering the rugs adds to the overall womb-like effect. The rug on the bottom is a gold, distressed dyed antique rug and the top is a red and blue antique rug.

A distressed blue and coral vintage rug from Seed to Stem in Worcester is layered atop a large Oriental style rug from Anthropologie.

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The black and white photograph is from homeowner Li Ward’s “Ghost Bride” series. “She did a whole series of this woman in a wedding gown, photographed in a cemetery. When I saw the series on her website, I knew it would be perfect for this room.”

Photos by Joyelle West Photography

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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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