I’ve worked with a lot of interior designers as a writer, and my I’m lucky because my experiences have been 99 percent excellent.
One of the loveliest interior designers in Boston is Newton-based Vani Sayeed. She has such a nice. kind, way about her while at the same time is always absolutely professional. And I’m not just saying that because she brought me back this gorgeous scarf from India.
I wrote about this summer home she designed on the Vineyard for Boston Globe Magazine last summer, and more recently she contributed to this decor trends forecast for the Matouk Linens blog. Vani is also an artist. I just discovered these intaglio prints on her site so thought I’d share.
Untitled • Intaglio Print & Chin Cole’
Rickshaw Ride • Intaglio Print & Mixed Media
Rickshaw Ride in the Rain 2• Intaglio Print & Chin Cole’
Quilted 3 • Intaglio Print & Mixed Media
Spring 2011 • Intaglio Print & Chin Cole’ with Acrylic
Spring 2012 • Intaglio Print & Chin Cole’
Infinity Gold• Intaglio Print & Chin Cole’ with Gold leaf
New England Design Works kitchen and bath designer Karen Swanson is a master at small house living. She owns this perfect little house in Manchester, Massachusetts which I wrote about for Boston Globe Sunday Magazine “Small Spaces” home issue on June 7, 2015 in an article called “Party of Three,” photographed by James R. Salomon.
Swanson lives in this cedar shingled, 1,200-square-foot home (exactly 600-square feet on the top and 600-square feet on the bottom) with her daughter and son after downsizing from a 3,300-square foot place across town last spring. Swanson bought the house from an older gentleman, and it was kind of a disaster, with racoons under the floor, which was lumpy, but Jim O’Neill of O’Neill Fine Building squared her away.
As a kitchen and bath designer, she is adept at efficiently fitting everything one needs into the available space, which came in pretty handy. Small house living is a snap for Swanson. She says, “There were absolutely no compromises.”
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges to laying out the small house. The front door wouldn’t have closed if the sofa was even an inch longer. She chose the Bantam sofa from DWR not just for its length, but because it isn’t too deep, but it’s still comfortable. The Martini side table in antique brass from West Elm can be moved easily where needed. One of the great things about a smaller home, she says, is that she sees her kids a lot more.
The wall with the mural is the first thing one sees upon entering, so Swanson knew she wanted to make a statement on it. She originally imagined concocting a backlit forest scene based on the one in the restaurant at MoMA, but it proved too tricky. When she spotted this Kenneth James wallpaper mural at local design shop Watters & Brown, and realized the five strips that comprise the mural was the same size as her wall, she decided it was fate. Plus, at $350 she figured she could change it if and when she tired of it.
The oak table is Ethnicraft from Boston design store Lekker and the red chairs are the Sabrina chairs by Casprini purchased from Room & Board.”Red’s my favorite color,” Swanson says, “so they were perfect.” Plus, since they’re so light (they’re actually indoor/outdoor plastic chairs), they’re not difficult to wrangle when she has extra folks for dinner and it’s necessary to move furniture around to accommodate everyone.
The ceramic work artwork is by Next Step Studio, which Swanson discovered at the AD Home Show. Wall mirror from West Elm.
The galley kitchen is only 75-square feet but Swanson has all the storage she needs, and it looks beautiful. Despite the kitchen’s small size, it was wide enough to make the cabinets on one side 30-inches deep (vs. the standard 24-inches deep). This made all the difference, especially for bulky items such as pots and pans, which all fit in one drawer. (Scroll down for the kitchen layout.) The floor-to-ceiling pantry also houses the toaster and microwave. She opted for a full size Wolf oven knowing she’d regret it if she went with a smaller model.
This is the kitchen wall one sees upon entering, and it’s visible from the living room, so it was important that it look good. The lift-up cabinets, which are 18-inches deep, store the food processor, stock pot, slow cooker, and such.The fridge is a 27-inch wide SubZero with two freezer drawers, which she adores. The cabinetry is painted maple and the pulls are from local hardware showroom Raybern.
The first design element Swanson chose for the house were the Walter Zanger glass tiles from Tile Showcase for the backsplash. The countertop is white Silestone. An inset stainless steel troughs holds wine, oil, cutting boards, and sometimes plants.
In order to ensure she’d have ample counter space in her small kitchen, Swanson decided on a two-burner induction cooktop. The stainless steel shelf holds all the everyday dishes and mugs, plus some food storage containers. Both the shelf and trough were fabricated at Weiss Sheet Metal, the same place that fabricated Julia Child’s kitchen now installed at the Smithsonian.
Swanson used a sink with an integrated drain board so that it could be centered on the window ,even though the sink base is not. This allowed her to squeeze an 18-inch dishwasher to the right of the sink.
White pendant light from Rejuvenation. Shelf from West Elm. Artwork from the local Montserrat College sidewalk sale. Polka dot Roman shade made from Scion fabric purchased at The Martin Group in the Boston Design Center.
Orla Kiely wallpaper (also from The Martin Group) covers the master bathroom, which also functions as the first floor powder room. She designed the vanity for optimum storage, taking into consideration the variety of sizes of bathroom items, like soap, deodorant, and Band-Aid boxes. She placed the sink off center in order to maximize counter space.
The right side houses three drawers, each a different depth and the left side is a cabinet made to look like drawers in order to match the other side for a neat, symmetrical appearance.
The master bedroom is on the first floor; sliders open to the deck and backyard.Playing off the citrus hue of recently reupholstered 1940s chairs from local consignment shop Stock Exchange, Swanson used inexpensive yellow polka dot fabric from Calico Corners for the draperies. The Tripod table from West Elm, was previously used in her daughter’s room as a desk. She sometimes works here if the kids are watching television in the living room.
The kids bath on the second floor doubles as the laundry room. A fiberglass shower unit was originally wedged under the sloped ceiling. Swanson swapped it for a washer and dryer cleverly concealed by sliding barn-style doors. The oil painting, from local consignment shop Stock Exchange, pictures a pink house on the road to Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass.
The oil-rubbed bronze finish of the new Anderson windows works nicely with the exterior trim, painted Benjamin Moore Gropius Grey, without being an exact match. The landscaping and back deck were already in place, along with creeping hydrangea on the rock ledge. The gravel yard means no lawn to mow. The persimmon front door hints at what’s to come. Swanson says, “I love that the house is subtle on the outside but inside there’s an explosion of color.”
• • •
S H O P the P O S T
Get Karen Swanson’s look from StyleCarrot partners >
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.
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.”
Pribell clustered six mirrors from Global Views above the Asian style sideboard to help bounce light around the room.
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.
The white kitchen was already designed when Pribell came on board. She added funky red lacquer hardware.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
• • •
Recreate the style of this colorful makeover by Heidi Pribell with pieces from StyleCarrot partners.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.'”
There are real candles in the Rococo style gold sconces.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
On Sunday Boston Globe Magazine published aboys’ 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:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Robin Anderson and Phineas the family guinea pig at her feet.