Sunday Bouquet: Coreopsis Against Grey Shingles

Yellow Flowers In Cape Cod

Photo by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot

Coreposis picked from my in-laws’ garden
against the grey shingles of our Cape house.

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Designer Spotlight: Visiting Sea Bags In Portland Maine

Earlier this summer I visited Portland, Maine on a press trip at the fantastic new (and first) boutique hotel  in Portland, The Press Hotel (blog post coming soon). During my free time wandering the streets of this charming seaport city I saw a sign down by the harbor for Sea Bags Maine.


I had forgotten that Sea Bags, which makes colorful totes from recycled sails and rope handles is based in Portland.


I wandered down a dusty wharf road replete with pick up trucks and fishy smells.


Abandoned building with boarded windows and peeling paint has a great patina.

The Sea Bags shop and studio at Custom House Wharf, Portland, Maine.


The front section of the building offers lots of different styles of Sea Bags for sale.


I find the rope handles a bit too clunky, but they’re sturdy and authentic.

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Behind the racks of Sea Bags I spied sewing machines and supplies.


Women at the machines were constructing Sea Bags from sailcloth.


And sewing sailcloth appliqué designs, like this sailboat.


You can trade used sails for bags through the  Sea Bags recycling program.


A metallic gold star Sea Bag design.


Industrial size spools of New England ropes in natural and navy.


And more ropes.


Bins of materials


More Sea Bags accessories.

Read about Sea Bags’ newest retail stores in Rockport, MA and Cape Cod in The Boston Globe.

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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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ARTmonday: Stefanie Klavens How We Live

Like many of the artists whose work I feature and own, I discovered photographer Stefanie Klavens at the School of Museum of Fine Arts sale in Boston. One year I was eyeing the photo of the two double beds (second photo below). It looks to me like a dreary motel room, though it’s titled Guest Room. I was attracted to the colors and the color fields, along with the general downtrodden, or at least severely outdated, decor. My husband very much didn’t want me to buy it. I didn’t.

That’s ok, because the following year I purchased the gold-hued living room photo of Klavens called Henry’s Paintings. I didn’t make the connection between them then, though now looking at them, it’s obvious these two interior photographs were taken by the same photographer. It’s hanging in a grouping of four photographs in our family room over our sofa, in a sort of compositional echo.

My favorite work of this mostly interior photography series that Klavens calls “How We Live,” is the first image here. To me, the pink and green living room interior really stands up. Swap out the art and preferably the shag rug (though a hip inhabitant could make it work) and you’re all set. Anna’s Parlor could work too, with its Jonathan Adler vibe.

Klavens describes the series as “the small-scale drama of everyday life.” She dubs them “portraits of people through the places they inhabit,” depicting “life captured as still life.” Klavens is inspired by “banal” and “mundane” scenes that hide clues about how people live. She says, “The images are empty and uninhabited, yet one senses a human presence just out of reach.”
In addition to this interior photography and similar exteriors of swimming pools, hotels, and the like, Klavins has photographed a series called “Theaters and Drive-Ins.”
Stefanie Klavens studied at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she received a BFA and was awarded a Traveling Fellowship. Klavens has an upcoming exhibition this summer at the 555 Gallery in South Boston.

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Pink & Green Living Room

Formal Room

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Motel Room

Guest Room

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Wood Paneled Parlour

Anna’s Parlor

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Gold Living Room

Henry’s Paintings

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Seventies Kitchenette


Stefanie Klavens Interior Photographs Animal Print Bed

Blue Room

Stefanie Klavens Interior Photograph Pink Tiled Bathroom

Pink Tiles

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ARTMonday: 27 Rainbow Artworks

In honor of the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, here are 27 artworks featuring rainbows, because #lovewins.


Charlotte Chisnall    RainbowSociety6


Zee Tucker    Taste the Rainbow  •  Society6


Landon Nordeman    Nice Pants  •  20×200


Jan Sowarby    No.S124 Floating Rainbows    Serena & Lily


Adine Stix    Harbor    Serena & Lily


Cissy Chen    Rainbow Dip  •  Saatchi Art


2sweet4words Designs    rainBOW    Society6


Bridge Fahy    Jibboom  •  Saatchi Art


Carrie Marill    Bird Power  • 20×200


Mel Bedggood     Rainbow Baby  •  Saatchi Art


Timothy Blewitt    Memories Lie Over the Sea  •  Saatchi Art


Ivana Vajman Jackson     Over the Rainbow  •  Saatchi Art


Julie Hansen    With the Waves    Serena & Lily


Jessica Snow    Color Stack Series #5  •  20×200


Lisa Congdon    Lovebirds •  20×200


Serhii Bilyk    I-Horizon (Landscape with road, sun and rainbow)  •  Saatchi Art


Thea Altmann    Home Is Where My Heart Is  •  Saatchi Art


Katherine Blackburn    Rainbow Girls in Brooklyn  •  Saatchi Art


Kristofir Dean    Silvery Sky  •  Saatchi Art


Stacey Meacham    Salt Water Taffy    Minted


Matthew Shelley     Rolodex 2    Uprise Art


Budi Kwan    Uphill Battle  Society6


Kristi Hoodjer    Rainbow    Saatchi Art


Mariana Ionita    Crossing the Other Sea    Saatchi Art


Mia-Nelle Droschler    Rainbow    Saatchi Art


Damian Hoar De Galvan


Corali    RainbowSociety6

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