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Design Diary: Contemporary Beach House on Plum Island

This contemporary beach house on Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass., designed by Boston-based CBT Architects, belongs to woodworker Mark Richey and his wife Teresa Richey. I wrote about it for Boston Globe Magazine in “Taking it to the Beach” back in July 2013. With the gorgeous weather we’ve had this week in Boston, I thought it was a good chance to finally post it, with photography by Trent Bell.

The Richeys purchased the cottage shortly after having relocated their business, Mark Richey Woodworking, enjoying it for short spurts while commuting from their home in Essex. A few years later, when they were ready to downsize, the couple hired Richard Bertman of CBT Architects to transform the cottage from a casual short term retreat to a full time residence.

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Following extensive research to address coastal conservation concerns, they built a new structure on driven steel pilings atop the existing basement, which allows water and sand to move freely under and around the structure. The result is a 1,962-square foot, three-story contemporary beach house with Alaskan yellow cedar shingle siding.

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The third floor lookout tower offers a 360-degree view of the water and island. The entire room is clad in fir to resemble a ship captain’s quarters, and is Mark’s own handiwork.

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The second floor master bedroom and bath both face the ocean—this was a must-have for them.

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The main level has an open floor plan. They didn’t want it to feel like a big sterile glass and plaster box, so Bertman used a warm palette of earthy materials that echo the colors of sand and beach grass. The fireplace surround is done in a textural green stone from Iran, which is also used in the kitchen. The walls and cabinetry are a mix of quarter white oak and zebrawood veneer. The floors are porcelain tile with a wood-like texture.

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The extensive deck, which follows the natural contour of the landscape, was built around an existing dune, and is constructed of a dense tropical hardwood similar to ipe,which will weather to grey. Check out the recessed cedar hot tub on the right. The couple often enjoy soaks on cold winter mornings. (Must get one of those.)

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Mark designed and fabricated the beautiful curved bench from South American mahogany. 

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Photography by Trent Bell

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Designer Spotlight: Lauren Wells

The Most Stylish Bostonians 2015 issue of The Boston Globe Magazine hit newsstands on Sunday. This year I interviewed two very stylish Bostonians, Philip Saul of men’s lifestyle boutique Sault New England in the South End, and event planner/stylist/gorgeous girl Lauren Wells.

Lauren, who started out in advertising following graduating from UMASS, launched Lauren Wells Events via Facebook in 2013, after planning her own wedding the year before. She grew up in a creative household with a party planner mom and handy dad, so it comes naturally to her. She is incredibly talented, with a fresh, modern aesthetic that mixes an earthy and boho vibe, infused with fun.

I’ve included a smattering of images from her events portfolio below. You should also check out Lauren Wells on Instagram (laurenswells), which is where I discovered her last summer. I’m more than a little obsessed. I kind of want to be her in my next life.
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View More: http://mossandisaac.pass.us/shoshana-eli

View More: http://mossandisaac.pass.us/shoshana-eli

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Design Diary: Historic Nantucket Home by Elizabeth Georgantas

Let’s pretend it isn’t way too cold outside for April and take a trip to Nantucket. I wrote about the renovation of a classic kitchen with industrial details in this historic Nantucket home for the Boston Globe Magazine two summers ago.

Elizabeth Georgantas of Boston-based PEG Properties & Design and her husband and business partner, Peter, renovated and restored this 4,096-square-foot “in-town” historic house on Nantucket. Built in 1765, the home is believed to have been dismantled, rebuilt, and enlarged around 1820. In designing the interiors, Georgantas was careful to respect the home’s early roots while still incorporating modern-day amenities.

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Many beautiful features of the original house remain intact, like the wide plank, heart pine flooring and the 12-over-12 windows. When Georgantas and her husband purchased the house, the beams were covered under casing and a dropped ceiling. She uncovered the beams and added a couple of extras for balance.

On-island kitchen and bath design firm Nantucket House Fitters did the kitchen cabinetry. The three-quarter-inch-thick Carrera marble countertop is from Boston area supplier Cumar Marble & Granite.

The oil-rubbed bronze industrial style pendant lights are by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort and the industrial style counter stools are from Leostine. The range is from French manufacturer La Cornue’s more modestly priced CornuFe line.

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Georgantas found the hutch at Furniture Consignment, a second-hand furniture shop in Chestnut Hill and had a carpenter rework the shelving in order to accommodate the television, which is mounted on an oscillating arm. The Westmore milk glass collection is from Brimfield

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A plate wall comprised of brown & white transferware.

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The brick patio is right off the kitchen. Georgantas paired an antique French marble-topped baker’s table she discovered online with vintage-inspired steel chairs. A giant clamshell planted with succulents doesn’t require much upkeep.

Rather than replacing the white cedar shingles, Georgantas had the exterior of the house power-washed, a decision that not only cut costs, but kept building materials out of landfills. Georgantas says, “We try to do as much possible to be green when we build.”

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The period-style dining room has a long worn-wood table, tall ladder back chairs and a pair of historic oil portraits.

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The original owners, Mary (Coffin) Starbuck and her husband Nathaniel, called the Parliament House. The pair led the Quaker movement on Nantucket, and the first meetings were held in their living room.

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An Oriental area rug adds color layered over a neutral, beach-appropriate sisal rug. About the furniture Georgantas says, “I didn’t need the furnishings to be historically accurate. I like the blend of comfortable, simple, current day furniture and period artwork.”

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Rich wood furniture and accessories with simple lines, along with the thoroughly present day yet charming white sofa are comfortable yet perfectly in place in this historic Nantucket house.

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The family room has a modern patterned rug, rustic wood coffee table, old-fashioned clear glass table lamp, and comfortable neutral sofa.

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A gallery wall of botanical prints lines the staircase.

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An iron canopy bed seems both fresh and modern and perfectly appropriate.

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A marble-topped antique dresser holds used books and historic objects.

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Vintage luggage stacked in a bedroom provides extra storage.

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A wood framed headboard with a vaguely French flavor is upholstered in blue linen  blue and white throw pillows in a subtle floral print add a wash of color in a bedroom.

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Rattan shades add texture in a guest room while blue and white ikat pillows and throw pillows with a slightly Asian flavored floral print add color and pattern.

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An early American antique chest sits at the foot of the bed, which has an upholstered headboard with nailhead detailing.

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This bathroom has been updated with marble tile flooring and polished chrome hardware, but the antique style vanity lends an historic air.

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Built in beds and a window seat in a children’s room.

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Design Diary: Moody South End Condo by Evolve Residential

Almost two years ago Tom Egan of Evolve Residential introduced himself to me with photos of his business partner Josh Linder’s 609-square foot, parlor-level condominium in a 19th century Victorian townhouse in the South End. Since then I’ve gotten to know these guys (who are soooo nice and incredibly talented) and feature more of their work.

We included this project,photographed by Joe Keller, in the Makeover issue of Boston Globe Magazine, The similarly moody 900-square-foot two bedroom condo in the South End belongs to Linder’s friend. He steered him towards buying it, knowing it could be fab. Of course, now it is. Adding period trim, dark paint on the walls, and a mix of contemporary and traditional furnishings, Linder transformed the nondescript space into the perfect refined bachelor pad.

Linder describes it as “elegant but very masculine” saying, “We wanted to make sure when you walked in that it was obvious that a man lived here.”

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Linder treated the whole space to Evolve Residential’s signature grey walls. The medium grey walls in the living room are done in Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke. The  ventless ethanol fireplace is entirely new. Linder chose a period mantle and painted it a glossy black—Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone.

The 13-and-a-half-foot ceilings easily accommodated the Flos 2097 chandelier, about which his friend was entirely skeptical until he saw it installed. But friends don’t doubt friends, and so he kept his mouth shut until the end, when he confessed. “He gets it now,” Linder says.

Linder and the homeowner poured through his collection of photography books to come up with a fun combination of images to use on the seat backs of the French bergere chairs. These portraits, which made them smile, are both by Richard Avedon. Linder says, “We like to have one piece in every living room that is conversational.”

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Graced with tall windows, and even taller ceilings, the space is airy and the layout needed only minimal tweaking. Plus, there’s a fantastic view of the Hancock from the living room. The quilted black leather sofa on the left is a reproduction Joseph Hoffman Kubus sofa. The crushed gray velvet settee is by O. Henry House, the rug is grey sisal, and the grey lacquer coffee table is a custom piece.

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The existing cherry kitchen cabinetry needed replacing, but they kept the black granite countertops. The new black cabinets, which run all the way up to the ceiling were constructed by Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks and painted in Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone. The Moroccan inspired tile on the backsplash is from Tile Showcase and Calcutta marble tops the counter on either side of the range.

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The grey walls in the entry are painted in Benjamin Moore Hearthstone. The Empire chest is from Autrefois Antiques in Brookline and the pair of glass lamps are by Barbara Cosgrove. Hanging above is a charcoal drawing by New England artist Martha Lloyd.

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The homeowner grew up in a house with a cozy, dark wood room that he really liked, plus he has tons of books, so they transformed the second bedroom into a library with black walls. It’s Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone, the same color as the trim in the living room. Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks also did the library bookshelves.

 They used the smallest sleeper sofa they could find in a queen. It’s a stock piece from local store Circle Furniture, but they had it reupholstered in heathered Ultrasuede.  The homeowner says, “My guests say the memory foam mattress is more comfortable than their bed at home.”

The abstract is another Martha Lloyd painting. Linder says, “We endearingly call it ‘the coffee stain.'”

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There are real candles in the Rococo style gold sconces.

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The natural grass rug is from West Elm and the sleek glass desk was an online purchase.

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Linder describes the bathroom as “horrifying,” so they gutted it. They used a simple white mosaic tile on the floor with a beautiful Afghani war rug from Yayla Tribal Rugs in Cambridge, which is much more intimate and refined than bathmat.

Linder used gold sconces here too, and also added a gold leaf frame to the recessed medicine cabinet in order to bring the elegant French feel into the bathroom.

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When they demo’d  the bathroom they discovered an extra 10-inches of space behind the tub which they took advantage of to create a large walk-in shower with a frameless glass enclosure. The large-format, horizontal shower tile from Tile Showcase looks like rustic wood and the bench and shower curb are honed black granite.

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The master bedroom is a tailored and masculine cocoon done in lush fabrics, bold lighting, and elegant, unfussy furniture. The grey walls are Benjamin Moore Timber Wolf. The all metal Global Views Turned Pendant Chandelier replaced an ugly ceiling fan.

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The custom upholstered headboard has nailhead detailing. The gray bedding is Thomas Brien for Target but the throw pillows are custom. Linder says, “One pillow cost the same as the entire bedding set, but as a mix it works beautifully.” Linder found the black marble topped vintage chests at the Cambridge Antiques Market and repainted them an inky blue.

The homeowner requested total darkness for sleep so Linder mounted three thick, blackout-lined, floor-to-ceiling custom panels from Holly Hunt to the underside of the soffit. He loves it, saying, “It could be a brilliantly sunny day, and I’d never know it.”

Photos by Joe Keller

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S H O P  the  P O S T

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Design Diary: Boys’ Bedroom Makeover by Robin M. Anderson

On Sunday Boston Globe Magazine published a boys’ bedroom makeover I wrote called “Let’s Hear It For the Boys.”  The column features the home and work of local lifestyle blogger Robin M. Anderson, with photos by local Boston photographer Sarah Winchester of Sarah Winchester Studios, who also deserves a big thank you for pitching me this fun project.

Robin M. Anderson (she used to blog under Diary of a Yummy Mummy) lives in three bedroom condo in a converted school in Cambridge with her husband, two sons, and a guinea pig. became interested in design. When they first moved in, she hadn’t yet become interested in design, picking finishes she came to hate, and mundane furnishings, like the living room’s brown microfiber sofa. Eventually she picked up a paint brush, and since then, there’s been no stopping her.

Last September, they decided to move their 3-year-old son out of the nursery into a bedroom with his 7-year-old brother, so Anderson took the opportunity to execute a full-on boys’ bedroom makeover. She started from scratch, doing everything herself with help from the boys. The room is adorable and everything in it is affordable. Anderson says, “It’s their room, so I really wanted them to feel comfortable.” That says, she has a strict no sticker policy. “They’re allowed to put them on the back of the door, but nowhere else!”

Let’s tour Robin M. Anderson’s boys’ bedroom makeover:

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Step number one for the boys’ bedroom makeover was to paint. Anderson describes the walls’ original color as “ light Kermit green.” When they had a flood and had to repair and repaint anyway, she chose Farrow & Ball Parma Gray. The boys helped with the first coat.

She says, “Paint is my first thing because it doesn’t cost much, as long as you’re willing to put the time into it. The original paint in the condo was not well done. I realized I was repainting a color I don’t even like. Paint is amazing. Our bathroom has been like nine different colors. And the kids get into it.”

The teepee, a birthday gift when her youngest turned one, was originally set up in the nursery. Now it’s a cozy place for the boys to read. Anderson’s father won the surfboard that’s propped up in the corner in a raffle. It belonged to a well-known surfer, and he had it signed before gifting it to his first grandson.

There are five large, tall windows that needed draperies. Ten custom curtain  panels would have been really pricey, so Anderson purchased 10 white curtain panels and a few navy ones, and asked her dry cleaner to sew a strip of navy panel to the bottom of the white ones to create cost-effective, extra long colorblock draperies. “All my friends are doing this now too,” she says.

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Anderson strung the teepee with owl lights from ModCloth that once adorned the family’s Christmas tree. The dinosaurs in residence are usually found in the bathtub.

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It was important to Robin that the boys’ bedroom makeover reflect the family’s heritage and interests. A Swiss flag, framed at the Central Square Blick in Cambridge, her go-to spot for affordable framing, hangs to honor her husband’s birthplace. “He’d love to move back someday,” Anderson says.  Authentic Swiss army blankets are another nod to his heritage. She says,”You get the blankets when you join the army, which is obligatory there.”

Over the other bed, school pennant is clustered with a photo of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, a call out to the family’s love of skiing, and an autographed surfer photo that was a gift to her son from her dad. On the other wall, a deceptively luxe-looking red faux snakeskin frame (also done at Blick) displays a print signed by Dr. Seuss that Anderson found on a trip to New Orleans. She hopes her son will pass on to his own kids. She says, “It was my first and only legitimate art purchase.”

The shelves, which are actually floating shelves, needed brackets to accommodate the slightly curved wall here. Anderson says, “The white metal brackets looked awful, so I spray painted them navy. I’ll spray paint anything; it’s my M.O.”  She and her son painted the lower half of the wall with chalkboard paint. She struggled with the trim that caps it, going back and forth to Home Depot for supplies and assistance. She says, “It was the first time I used a level.”

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The mid-century modern style Ellipse beds from Land of Nod are layered with a mix of prints. Anderson loves pattern on her clothing and in her decor. She says, “I used as many patterns as possible without being obnoxious.” The star sheets are from Pottery Barn Kids and the whales from One King’s Lane. The pillowcase in the back, with monsters on skateboards, came from Target; her son is a big skateboarder.

Anderson was able to incorporate inexpensive second hand finds into the boys’ bedroom makeover. She bought the dresser from friends for $50, lacquered the scratched top in navy, and swapped the knobs.

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All the boys’ toys are in their room, with the exception of some Legos. Big canvas storage bins on the other side (not pictured) hold the Nerf guns and stuff. She had a closet company build out closet with shelves to accommodate all the toys. As soon as they outgrow clothing or tire of toys, Anderson ships off the stuff to her sister.

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Her older son made this baseball in an acrylic box at school, when somebody from the Red Sox visited the classroom. She says, “They dirtied the balls, signed them, and put in a box. It’s his prized possession.” Soldier bookends hold up current reading material.

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Robin Anderson and Phineas the family guinea pig at her feet.

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 Boston Globe Magazine    Sunday, February 15, 2015 

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