Tag Archives: Boston interior designers

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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Fine Print: Erin Gates’ Elements of Style Book

Erin Gates sent me an advance copy of her new, very first design book, Elements of Style: Designing A Home & A Life. I’ve been browsing through it for the last couple of weeks, thoroughly enjoying the photos of the rooms she decorated for herself and clients, studying her style charts, and catching up on her life. The tone is easy, breezy, much like her blog, with plenty of personal tidbits interwoven through her design adventures and accomplishments.

Erin’s come a long way since I first met her, on assignment for Boston Globe Magazine in early 2009 after she sent me scouting shots of  the place she and Andrew rented in J.P. It landed her on the cover, and it’s still one of my favorite stories, not just because Erin and her house looked amazing (thanks Eric Roth for the excellent photos), but because Erin was full of enthusiasm and money saving tips.

Her blog and business have exploded and her design skills honed, while her excellent attitude and work ethic prevail. Congratulations Erin Gates!

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Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life by Erin Gates
Available October 7, 2014 (Simon & Schuster) $22.14

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Photo by Michael Parteni

Erin’s used this buffet over and again. She bought it for $75 at an estate sale and painted the inside turquoise (you can see that iteration in Erin’s place in Jamaica Plain, which I wrote about for Boston Globe Magazine, March 2009.) She went orange for the South End. Now it’s lined with malachite wallpaper.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

This is my favorite room. I’ve long been a sucker for a library dining room with Saarinen table and a fireplace. The sheepskin rugs nesle perfectly into those acrylic chairs from IKEA. The client stuffed the fireplace with little logs, which add some rustic texture; plus the circles are an excellent contrast to the stripes on the rug.

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Photo by Michael Partenio

A sunroom with violet ikat cushions on barley twist chairs and Buddha on custom made brass base.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Love this cerulean blue wall behind the banquette upholstered in the ever popular Chiang Mai print by Schumacher. Those Cherner chairs work well with the fabric’s twisting design and earthy colors.

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Erin provides some charts with formulas for achieving different styles.

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Erin’s favorite paint colors. You’ll have to buy the book to get the exact names. Ok, I’ll give you one: Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.

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Photo by Michael Partenio

I love how despite the graphic black & white rug and bedding, Erin’s guest room is totally feminine. Pale pink walls (Benjamin Moore Blanched Coral), a starburst mirror, and mirrored side tables will do that. Swiss dots + a boho throw + Nordic rug + Hollywood Regency glam. And somehow it all works.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

This bedroom is interesting too, with its tufted headboard, chocolate brown linens, Asian-themed toile wallpaper and fretwork bookshelves, plus a leopard print bench.

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Photo by Sean Litchfield

Nursery with a black accent wall went viral on Pinterest.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Oh, this Madeline Weinrib rug again, this time in brown. It seems to work everywhere! (Tip: IKEA makes a black & white version.) I generally don’t like tan stone (only contractors do!) but Erin makes it work in this space where they’re stuck with it.

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 Photo by Sarah Winchester

Erin’s parents Connecticut home. I wrote all about her mom’s garden for Boston Globe Magazine, April 2013.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Erin and Andrew Gates with the doggies.

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G E T  the  L O O K

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Design Diary: Leather District Loft by Michael Ferzoco

Michael Ferzoco of Eleven Interiors has made a bit of a specialty sprucing up living spaces for single men. That’s not to say he doesn’t deal in couple, families, and women—he does—but recently I’ve written about a couple of so-called bachelor pads” that he’s designed.

This one, which appeared as “All That Glitters” in Boston Home (photography by Michael J. Lee) is owned by a doctor who moved to Boston from Richmond, Virginia, where he lived in a four-level Italianate row house. When he relocated, he decided to seriously downsize, purchasing a 994-square-foot loft in Boston’s Leather District for him and his two large dogs. He now lives there with one mix breed beagle named Daisy.

After living there 13 years, he consulted interior designer Michael Ferzoco about upgrading his furnishings and re-imagining his kitchen. While he still loved the “gritty” feel of the neighborhood, he wanted a more luxurious living experience once he stepped inside. He says, “I wanted a place that felt like a very comfortable—but chic—hotel suite.” Ferzoco infused grandeur into the small space.

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Ferzoco left the four large windows bare, so the space is bright all day. He helped the homeowner “vigilantly edit” his belongings. They kept the pair of mid-century modern leather-and-wood armchairs that the homeowner purchased at a yard sale in Texas. They also kept the large mirrored Scandinavian armoire from the 1800s, which the homeowner had purchased from close friends. Ferzoco steered him to replace his sofa with two new Minoti “Hamilton” sofas from The Morson Collection in Boston, which the homeowner had been admiring for a while.

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The mirrored console from Horchow pre-dates Ferzoco. The homeowner purchased years ago in what he calls “a two martini moment,” on the advice of a friend. He couldn’t believe how large it was when it showed up. It definitely adds a spot of glam.

Suspended track lighting by Bruch highlights artwork by local artist Sand T. Kalloch. Ferzoco says, “I’m not into recessed lighting; it makes the ceiling look like Swiss cheese.”

The homeowner says, “I  lean toward clean lines, but I also have an affinity for older things with classicism,” so they kept the clawfoot Baker dining table and chairs, which he purchased after finishing his residency. The chairs are upholstered in gray gabardine.

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The emerald green and gold Bisazza mosaic tile backsplash goes all the way up to the ceiling. Chilmark Architectural Millwork made the glossy white lacquer cabinetry. The countertops are Caesarstone in Arctic White. The LEM Piston stools are from DWR.

The homeowner found the mid-century Austrian J.T. Kalmar chandelier, made from thick panels of textural crystal, in a consignment shop in Germany on a side trip from Russia.

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The homeowner already had the chartreuse Emma Gardner rug. The marble-topped Minotti cocktail table was purchased along with the Minotti sofas from The Morson Collection when they went on sale. The mobile-like  “Crescendo Chandelier” by Tech Lighting suffuses light across the room.

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The glass brick wall behind the sofa is pre-existing, dividing the entry from the living space. Contemporary artwork makes for a fun backdrop for the bottles.

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The homeowner purchased the cowhide when he lived in Texas. He bought the “L’Instant Tattinger” print on eBay. The wavy maple screen is by Knoll.

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The framed red silk tapestry from the early 1900s is a family heirloom.

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Master bathroom.

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The homeowner had the leather tiles in oxblood from Ann Sacks installed shortly after purchasing the loft, to give the place some character. He says, “I figured the room has no light anyway, so why not embrace the dark richness?”

Photography by Michael J. Lee

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Design Diary: Boston Pied-a-Terre by Ana Donohue

I wrote about this the 1,600-square-foot, contemporary Back Bay condo, decorated by Boston area interior designer Ana Donohue, for New England Home in the article “Urban Oasis.”  Boston photographer Michael J. Lee took all the photos.

The homeowners, who live in Bermuda, purchased the two-bedroom as a pied-a-terre so they’d have somewhere to stay while visiting their two daughters, who attend boarding school in New England. Ana was recommended by a friend, and worked with the wife to create a contemporary home-away-from-home that has a similar feel to the family’s Bermuda residence.

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The walls were already this deep charcoal, and since there’s tons of light, they decided to leave it. Plus, dark walls would provide a dramatic backdrop for the light-colored B&B Italia Charles sofa by Antonio Citterio and Cassina LC2 armchairs, purchased at Montage.  The mirrored cocktail table is from The Morson Collection. Newton-based art consultant Jacqueline Becker chose artwork throughout.

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The floors, however, were a different story. Stained a rich walnut, the homeowner wanted them lightened. The contractor thought they were crazy, but embarked on a long bleaching process that left the floors a lovely, creamy shade of white. Everyone loves them.

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Donohue chose a silvery rug from nearby Landry & Arcari to keep to a uniform palette. The homeowner told me, ““I didn’t want a Persian rug, or a busy print; it would make too much of a statement.” She also preferred to leave the windows bare. Donohue added color and pattern with Missoni throw pillows. Donohue chose a pair of alabaster-topped turned walnut  Jonathan Adler Buenos Aires side tables in different sizes.

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In the dining area, Donohue used a classic white marble Saarinen dining table and Saarinen Executive dining chairs. A Foscarini Caboche Suspension Lamp designed by Patricia Urquiola hangs above, casting an amber glow.

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A Jonathan Adler Bond desk is in front of a window; the Lucite legs makes the burled mappa wood top appear to float. Behind it, barely visible, is an Kartell Mademoiselle chair, also with Lucite legs.

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The upholstered bed in the master bedroom is from DWR and the sleek dresser from Italian Design in Brookline. Bedding from Bloomingdale’s.

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Stacked horizontal tile in robin’s egg blue is from Ann Sacks, and the contemporary walnut vanity and faucet from Billie Brenner in the Boston Design Center.

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The girls wanted fun colors in their bedroom. Ana found a brightly colored wire side table and bedding at Home Goods. The Jonathan Adler zebra rug in orange adds pattern.

Photography by Michael J. Lee

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Design Diary: Kate Patterson’s Brookline Home

I just got back from a gathering at the home of Brookline-based interior designer Kate Patterson. The house is absolutely stunning; Kate has incredible talent. We met last week via email as I was trying to organize a mini school bus. Turns out her son just started 7th grade with mine. It also turns out that she hosted the breakfast for the Fall 2013 issue of Boston Home magazine, since her house is featured.

The house, which is on a city street across from a park—with a distant view of the Prudential and Hancock buildings, dates from the turn-of-the-century, and was a complete mess when they bought it. Kate and her husband hired architecture firm Warner + Cunningham to help with the plans, CW Design for the custom cabinetry in the kitchen and master bath, the Remodeling Company to gut the place, and Faith Michaels of Faithful Flowers for landscaping. Obviously, she decorated it herself.

I want to move in. Probably the best I can hope for is an invite back. The first 7 images of Kate’s home are from the magazine, photographed by Trent Bell. Then, my Instagram snapshots from this morning.

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Above photos by Trent Bell

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