Design Diary: A Fire Pit For My Patio

Wayfair Sponsored Post Firepit Patio

I’ve been sheltering with my family on Cape Cod. After isolating in our condo in Boston for two weeks, we decided to pack our cars with food and supplies, and head to our house in the woods. We have plenty of space here, which we appreciate given we have two teenagers, along with fresh air, and no communal doorknobs. We are very lucky. I hope you are also healthy at home.

While the magnolias bloom in Boston, the Outer Cape landscape is quite a bit starker. Normally, we arrive here in early June, always surprised to see that the plantings around our patio are still sparse. Sometimes it’s much colder and rainier than one expects in June, even in New England.

April has gifted a few gorgeous, crisp and sunny days, along with many stormy ones. There are some daffodils (which seem out of place for the environs; much too manicured for the wilds of the National Seashore) and some forsythia. I’ve even seen a spot or two of dark purple. The only true moments of color, other than the sky and ocean, are  the pine trees and  lawns. As you can see from these pictures, my yard is no exception.

I added a firepit to my patio on Cape Cod

When StyleCarrot partner (and Boston-based company)Wayfair suggested we collaborate on a patio refresh post this season (last year’s patio post is here), I  immediately started browsing for the outdoor living section for propane fire pits.

Sure, we could use some sofa-like seating for entertaining, since we only have two loungers and a bistro table, but even more, we need warmth. Since we’re out here in what feels a bit like winter, I figured, let’s try to make the most of it. So a fire pit it would be.

I love the concrete fire pits you see at boutique hotels, but good ones can be pricey. I wanted something that would last. I settled on a large square propane fire pit. It’s a bit bulky, but it’s sturdy and gets the job done.

Firepit with cheese platter

Yesterday was our nicest yet. I assembled a plate of snacks and wine from our local winery. (I shot this during the day, prompting my son to ask if I was day drinking.) The platter made for a nice lunch; I actually set the wine aside for later. I’m always on deadline. The fire threw enough heat that I could work outdoors, actually.

Backyard Ideas with A Fire Pit

Polyresin + stainless steel propane fire pit by Orren Ellis, Wayfair.

MORE:  See StyleCarrot’s patio refresh post from last July
for flowers in bloom + ombre summer sky.

Photos by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot, LLC

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.

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.

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

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