Design Diary: Stylish Office by Realm Interiors

A separate office is probably the most coveted space of 2020. I wrote about this office in the Boston Globe Magazine in the fall. Realm Interiors designed the office for a mom when they re-thought the open layout on the first floor of the family’s Winchester, Massachusetts. home. With three kids and a puppy, she really cherishes this chic space.

Office For a Woman With Writing DeskPhoto by Joyelle West  / Styling by Kaylei McGaw

The small room off the entry had been an eyesore of a playroom before Liza Kugeler and Laura Ogden of Realm Interiors made it over as  a stylish office with dark, saturated walls painted Farrow & Ball Studio Green.

A sculptural, wire-brushed, bleached oak desk from CB2 sits center stage atop a graphic black and white rug, and Serena & Lily’s capiz honeycomb chandelier hangs above. The Serena & Lily woven rattan armchair adds an element of breezy while  tongue-in-cheek Kate Moss poster, “Life Is a Joke” by photographer Craig McDean reflects the homeowner’s interest in fashion. She loves that it feels so much like her.

Get the look of this stylish office by Realm Interiors:
Stylish Home Office For Women

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Fancy yourself a decorator? Kelly Wearstler can up your game >

Design Diary: Bookshelf Styling Tips from Designer Valerie Darden

Designer Valerie Darden of Brexton Cole Interiors solved two issues in her Northern Virginia home with one bank of bookshelves. She and her husband  loved every feature in their new home, save for a diagonal wall near the entry, just around the corner from the stairs. Not only was it dead space, the wall had an ugly air vent, a thermostat, and outlet, and light switches. (Scroll down for the before photo.) An investment in custom cabinetry and masterful shelf styling hid the jumble and created a functional and beautiful feature wall. 

How To Style Bookshelves

Darden balanced old and new to create an chic mix of art and objects among her collection of design books. “As much as I enjoy new and shiny items, I love to venture to Loudoun County to search for vintage art, books, and decorative objects,” she says. One of her favorite sources is Lucketts Market and Antique Center. 

 As for new books, Darden tends toward  fashion, travel, photography, history, and architecture titles by Assouline. For contrast she adds older books from her thrifting adventures. Here’s a fun pairing: “I’ll place a Chanel book next to a 1950s book about ladies etiquette,” she says.

Here’s a pulled back view for context:

And a before photo from the same perspective:

Careful configuration allowed them to hide the ugly grate behind a cabinet door.

Cabinets That Hide An Air Vent

Then the fun part: Styling the bookshelves.

How to Style Bookshelves

Valerie Darden’s Tips for Perfectly Styled Bookshelves

• For a not-trying-too-hard-to-be-perfect vibe, arrange some books vertically and others horizontally. Also, place larger books with smaller ones.  

• Incorporate your favorite candle. Dardens’s favorite candle is Diptyque BAIES. “I love to burn the candle wax to the end, then use the glass as a vase for roses,” she says.

•  Pair high and low.  Along with that pricey Diptych candle, Darden’s shelves hold a H&M vase and a  gold-framed vintage painting scored at a local yard sale for $10.

• Pay attention to scale. A small sculpture in front of a large book draws the eye in. And use mostly odd numbers  of things.

• Metallics are a must. “When I began decorating my shelves, they looked bland,” Darden says. “Then I placed a  decorative brass paper weight on top of three books and it immediately came  to life! “

• Plants too. “Small succulents have done wonders by adding color and a peaceful feeling,” Darden says.

Photos by Valerie Darden

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Design Diary: Desk Refresh for Zooming

Are you still Zoom-ing? Did you re-adjust your workspace to make it easier?I know you spruced up your backgrounds (I hope so anyway), but what about the nuts and bolts of the computer and iPhone situations?

When StyleCarrot partner (and Boston-based company) Wayfair suggested we collaborate on a sponsored office envy post for a desk refresh this fall, I  realized it was time to ditch my yoga blocks and other precarious props for more stable desk accessories

I found a couple of desk accessories on Wayfair that allow me to work remotely with ease (and beauty). As you’ll see from the images, I did not need a desk or desk chair, but I discovered some tech accoutrements in the school furniture and business furniture sections. And I certainly took up the opportunity to prettify the decor.

Here’s the setup in my workspace. When I’m recording a webinar, which I prefer to do in my dining room, I can easily bring my new laptop lift and collapsible phone stand downstairs. (And, I use it by my bedstand at night.) The faceted vase makes the trip too, looking gorgeous in my art and floral-filled background.

Desk Setup For Zoom Meetings

Collapsible Iphone Stand

Collapsible Iphone Stand

Collapsible Iphone Stand

Desk Setup With Iphone Stand For Zoom Meetings

Desk Setup For Zoom Meetings

Photos by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot, LLC

I’ve done two webinars for Boston Globe Magazine—one with Boston designer Holly Gagne detailing how to create a calm space in your chaotic home and the other with New England designers Jodi Schwartz, Tyler Karu, and Heather Alton on kitchen redesign tip. These would have come in handy. Well, I’m prepared for the next one.

Desk Tech Accessories From Wayfair

1 Origami-Inspired Ceramic Vase
2 Multipurpose Monitor Stand
3 Foldable Universal Phone Holder

Design Diary: Patio Makeover by Robin M. Anderson

What do you do when you have a decrepit screened porch that you just don’t need? Robin M. Anderson counseled her clients to dismantle it and transform the square footage into an outdoor room. I wrote about this  patio makeover by Boston designer Robin M. Anderson  for  Boston Globe Magazine this summer, and have been meaning to share it.

Tonight my husband and I cranked up the gas fire pit and shared wine and ginger flank steak rice bowls on our patio, thus reminding me to get this online already. I’m guessing Robin’s clients are getting cozy by the outdoor fireplace right about now. That fall chill is definitely in the New England air.

Covered Patio Outdoor Fireplace Outdoor RoomPhoto by Sabrina Cole Quinn

Collaborating with Boston architect Diane Lim of Lim Design Studio, Robin transformed uninsulated, little used indoor space to an often enjoyed outdoor haven. Removing the walls had a bonus effect too—sunlight now streams into the home’s entry.

While the brick of the patio was pre-existing, Robin filled in the area under the roof with bluestone pavers, creating an outdoor rug. The beadboard ceiling stayed in place (there’s a room above).

For furniture, Robin channeled her bohemian tendencies with the client’s traditional New England tastes for a coastal california appeal that is as stylish as it is family-friendly. A piece of salvaged wood from Fan Pier in Boston adds age to the chimney and hanging ferns make the whole tableau look lush.

Shop this outdoor room to create a patio getaway for yourself. Here are Robin’s top sources for outdoor furnishings and accessories:

Morocco Armchairs & Morocco Armless Chairs
Madura Woven Coffee Table
Renee Patio Rug
Campania Pillows
Seeded Glass Wall Lanterns
Flynn Round Rattan Mirror (similar)
Artificial Hanging Ferns (similar)

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Get your garden gorgeous with outdoor accessories from Terrain>Outdoor Accessories Outdoor Furnishings Garden Furniture

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