Design Diary: Emily Kumler Travelista

I recently profiled Emily Kumler for Stuff Magazine. Emily, 31, is the co-owner of Prep Cosmetics. Turns out Emily is also quite skilled in nesting. She designed and decorated her 2,000 square foot condo in Cambridge, Mass., where she lives with her teacup Yorkie, Rocky.

ek-mainPhoto: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

Emily’s kitchen is outfitted with all the best appliances. She knows she’ll never recoup the money she spent, but doesn’t mind eating the loss. She says, “Having these appliances is sort of ridiculous, but I love cooking. And it’s so nice to have people come over and not want to leave.” Emily is quite the hostess; like her grandmother, who was a fantastic cook, she loves to entertain. She even whipped up lunch for me – steak salad and the most delicious lemon cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. (I ate three!)


Photo: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

The custom cabinets have plenty of storage space for her myriad of spices, appliances, and collections, like the aprons and Starbucks mugs she brings back from every country she visits. Have a birthday coming up? Sometimes she gives them as gifts. She says, “A mug from the UAR. . . it’s just so random.”

ek-lrPhoto: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

Emily is not afraid of color, thanks to her mom, who encouraged her to look at books filled with paintings by well-known artists to develop her sense of aesthetics. Emily loves Matisse, so likes to incorporate his palette of blues, greens, and orange. The orange velvet sofa was her grandmother’s, given to her by her mom for her birthday. The leaded glass cabinet doors are original to the building.

ek-lr2Photo: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

I love the way Emily uses the little cut out as a bookshelf. You get a glimpse of the chandelier, from Brocade Home, which is the same ones that hang in the Prep retail stores. The chair is a real Eames lounge (yummy), and the vintage poster, from International Poster Gallery on Newbury Street, was a gift from her parents.


Photo: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

Emily’s bedroom is an ode to Rome, her hands-down favorite city. When she studied there in high school she lived in a dorm that was an old monastery. She remembers, “We had these huge windows with no screens, just big shutters. I used to sit in my window and read all the time.” So, when Emily found a set of old shutters in antique store in Somerville, she snatched them up. Her painter made a matching pair for the other window. She also hung a shuttered mirror from Wisteria (not pictured). Emily’s sister thought she was crazy to paint her room in what she called a “hell fire orange.” But Emily loves the combo with the blue shutters. The combo (and crackled texture) is very Tuscan. She says, “I love that in Italy, people aren’t scared to put bold colors next to each other.” (If you’re wondering, its a C2 Tangerine base with C2 Babylon mixed with a crackle inducing glaze painted on top.)


The painting above Emily’s bed is “Dive” by P. Murphy, which she bought at a gallery in the West Village of New York City. She loves to swim and finds the image very calming. The bedding is from Garnet Hill; the lamp with fringe shade and the chandelier are both from neighborhood shop Boutique Fabulous.


Above left: The bathroom has cute built-in cupboards that are original to the building. The shower curtain is Marimekko. Above right: Emily wanted the TV room to be a bit dark and cozy; the paint color is Benjamin Moore Aurora Borealis. Besides, green makes her happy, and it goes with all the other colors she loves. On the walls are the covers of old magazines that she started collecting when she knew she was going to buy a place. Most came from a used bookstore near her parent’s house in Maine.


Left photo: Tim Gray for Stuff Magazine

There are three small areas that Emily papered with William Morris Iris, ordered from England through Sanderson. The inspiration here was her mom. The home in which Emily grew up has lots of it. Above left: Emily’s study, complete with a chair from Crate & Barrel which you can also find in her Prep cosmetic boutiques.
Emily, the lucky duck, has a balcony off her study that her friends jokingly call her cabana. Who can blame them, with its Sunbrella curtains, daybed, and quaint cafe table? She eats out there almost every night in the summer, if she’s home, and naps out there on weekend afternoons. She admits, “It feels like a vacation.”

Design Diary: Andrew Spindler’s Magic Garden

birdseye-and-ext1Back in the fall I visited Andrew Spindler at his Cape Ann house. It is absolutely spectacular, inside and out. The assignment was for the the “Outdoor Living” issue of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and the piece, “Magic Garden” ran yesterday. Spindler is an antiques dealer with a shop in Essex, Mass (you can also find him on 1st Dibs). The Globe story focused on the terrace and incredible garden, but the inside of the house is amazing too. (Above photos: Eric Roth)



Can you believe that when they bought the place, which was built in 1937, it was wholly unimpressive, and a bit of a wreck? Spindler and his partner added the stone terrace at the back of the house, the second floor balcony, and the widow’s walk. There’s Spindler walking out one of the sets of French doors, which they also added. Originally there were just some dinky windows and an aluminum door that opened to a few concrete steps into a yard. They built up the land about seven feet to create the granite terrace. Spindler describes the building as one done with “old-fashioned brute strength.” I can imagine lounging there all afternoon.


The teak furniture is by Henry Hall. The stone table is a found slab of stone. The sculpture; how I adore the sculpture. It was conceived in 1947 by Walker Hancock, who created Prometheus at Rockefeller Center. Spindler and his partner found the plaster cast Hancock had modeled, and then had it cast in bronze in upstate New York. It’s the only bronze cast of this work. They own the original model for this work as well; it sits on the mantle in the living room.

globe-spindler-view-to-ocean-2-copyPhoto: Eric Roth

The original owners were avid gardeners, but by the time Spindler and his partner took up residence the grounds were pretty much in disarray. Now, the grounds and gardens are unique, with all sorts of rocky paths, water views, places to sit and lots of charming natural features.


Top left: Stone orb from an architectural salvage shop at the top of the stone steps that lead from the terrace to the garden (Photo: Eric Roth). Top right: Pyramid-shaped Euonymous bush is a very classical element in this otherwise wild wonderland. Middle left: A wall of granite with a bench fashioned from found slabs of stone. Middle right: Petra, an outbuilding that Spindler likens to a “little Hobbit house,” that was part of the original property, sold off, then reunited by a recent purchase. There’s an outdoor fire pit, perfect for “Survivor”-esque gatherings. Bottom left: A dramatic gnarled (and dead) Japanese white pint tree that has grown around the boulders, conforming to its shape. Bottom right: A fragrant juniper tunnel makes a lovely secret passageway.

japaneseThe garden tour ends with a Japanese garden that includes a bridge between two man-made ponds. Plantings include Japanese maples, Japanese umbrella pine, dwarf juniper, a pear tree, a crabapple and white azaleas and peonies that bloom in springtime.The owl, mounted outside the kitchen door, has eyes that light up.

globe-spindler-kitchenPhoto: Eric Roth

The kitchen opens onto the Japanese garden. It’s painted a deep aubergine. Spindler says this about the effect: “The dark color puts outside in high relief. It’s almost as though you are in a darkened theater looking out.” The light fixtures are outdoor lanterns from a property in Palm Beach.

kitchen-cabinets The stained glass panels of the kitchen cabinetry were found at an architectural salvage shop.

drThe dining room paneling is recycled chestnut church pew backs ; the floors are salvaged wide plank chestnut. The Prarie glass windows have a strong affinity with Japanese design and Frank Lloyd Wright, as do the Arts & Crafts style furniture. The tapestry is a petit point landscape made in 1972.


Photo: Eric Roth

Isn’t the chaise longue in the living room divine? It’s an Anglo-Indian teak and inlaid ivory piece. Spindler says, “The house is about experiencing the nature the light, water, air.” This is indeed the perfect spot for such.

You can see the garden room in the background. They painted the furniture the same color as they painted the outdoor trim, a sort of sea foam green.

The tiles on the floor were made by the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown, PA. There are similar specimens in the European galleries at the MFA and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The frieze (c.1910) is by Jonas Lie, an artist with a strong Gloucester connection. It was originally made for a Viking-themed room in a lodge in the Adirondacks, which was apparently all the rage in the 19th century. Below is a photograph of this very frieze, in its original Adirondack installation.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Design Diary: Carrie’s Floral Lab

picture-10This morning I made a little field trip up to Lynn to check out the studio/loft of floral designer Carrie Chang of Floral Lab. (So that’s where Wonderland is.) In addition to working with traditional fresh flowers, Carrie creates arrangements and floral sculptures using preserved flowers. No, not dried flowers, preserved. The flowers are grown in eco-conscious conditions in South America, then treated so they last for about a year. They feel good, almost like fresh, not at all like dried, and the colors are fantastic.She’s the first one to bring these interesting blossoms to the U.S. Apparently they’re all the rage in Japan and Europe. (Carrie herself hails from Hong Kong. Check out her brother Gary Chang’s Hong Kong apartment in “24 Rooms Tucked Into One” in the NYT.) Here are some shots from her space, as well as images from her portfolio.



Design Diary: Erin Gates At Home

By New York City standards, the 1,400-square foot condo in JP that interior stylist and blogger Erin Gates shares with her husband Andrew and their two little dogs isn’t all that small. Or so points out our dear friend Jen, who lives in a tiny studio in the Village with her husband Luke, just upstairs from her in-laws. However, as my husband constantly reminds me, we’re not in New York. Really?

Erin’s place is quite the showpiece, in a very accessible, Domino magazine sort of way. And, she did everything totally on a budget, with the exception of a little splurge here and there. She did it herself too – painting walls, painting actual paintings, refinishing furniture inherited from Andrew’s grandparents, and scouring estate sales and design-conscious chains.

I loved the trendy but sophisticated hi/low sensibility so much, I hired her to help me with our condo. The piece I wrote about her home, “Small Is the New Black,” is on the cover of today’s Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. Both Erin and the interiors look fabulous.

Here are the photos, shot by everyone’s favorite photographer, Eric Roth.


Above left: The cover shot – Erin and Baxter in the entry. The painting is an Erin Gates original – she was a studio art major at, coincidentally, Connecticut College (I went there too, but graduated sooo much earlier).

Above right: Erin sitting in her brand new, wanted it so badly, Louis Ghost Armchair designed by Philippe Starck. The Kelly green walls were inspired by a page in Domino. The zebra print rug is from West Elm. The blue artwork in the background is a framed piece of wallpaper.


Above: Erin has inspiration boards hanging in her office, filled with all sorts of fun images. (I took these photos, not Eric.)


Above: Standing in the living room, looking into the dining room. I can’t even tell you how many inquiries Erin and I received about the bookcases. Listen up people, they’re the Sapien Bookcases from Design Within Reach. They’re actually on sale right now, $168.30 – $253.30. West Elm makes two similar models, the Cadman Spine and Spine Wood bookcases, and CB2 has the Array (in grey and orange). They’re less expensive, but not quite as sturdy.


Above: A full view of the living room. The sofas and chairs are from Boston Interiors. Who knew they had such clean-lined pieces? The rustic coffee table was a splurge from Crate & Barrel. The white pedestal side table is a Saarienen copy, called the Trumpet from Target, just $24.99. The white vase on it is a Jonathan Adler knock-off – IKEA’s Färm vase, just $1.99. The starburst mirror above the fireplace is from Pier 1. The curtains are from JC Penney – apparently a great source for custom drapery. The luscious Oriental rug was on loan for the shoot from Landry & Arcari, with the expected hefty price tag. Erin’s mom bought it afterwards!


Above: The dining room table and chairs were hand-me-downs from Erin’s husband’s grandparents, who relocated from Chestnut Hill to Sea Island, Georgia. Erin painted the pretty chairs white, and recovered them in an $8/yard zebra print fabric. When they bought the condo, the paneling in the room was a dark stained wood. Against the advice of their realtor, Erin painted them white. In the background is a glimpse of the glass-fronted pantry, which is what sold Erin on the place.


Above left: The pantry, Erin’s favorite part of the house. She papered the back in Jonathan Adler’s Bamboo Reverse wallpaper in white and metallic silver. A pricey paper, but she only needed a small amount. Notice the bamboo Roman shades on the window? From Target. Erin and Andrew built the wine storage slots and added the wine fridge – there were cabinets there originally. I love the vintage French opaline glasses as much as Erin does. “I’m literally mad for them,” she told me.

Above right: The bedroom. I adore this room. It’s so pretty and peaceful, and I love the grey accents. The funky grey ikat pillows are from Fabricadabra (did you see them in Daily Candy? Thanks for the tip Erin!) The double prints over the bed are framed pieces of vintage Schumacher wallpaper. (A wallpaper designer left loads of vintage samples to Erin’s dad.) She has French Provincial style dressers that are equally romantic, plucked from the grandparents. The Venetian crystal chandelier is from Great Chandeliers. It was only $100, but a real pain to put together. Here’s a funny little tidbit: When I visited the bedroom was yellow. Erin made her husband paint it blue the weekend before the shoot. What a guy!


Above left: Here’s Erin and Baxter in the entry again, this time we’re seeing the wall across from the bench. Erin scored the buffet for just $75 at an estate sale in JP that she happened to stumbled across. The interior was originally a sunny yellow, but she repainted the two end interiors turquoise. Atop sits her cherished Fu Dogs, found on Ebay. The arrangement of framed photos and artwork on the wall above includes all sorts of fun memories, like their wedding, the store her grandparents founded when they came here from Ireland, and a fun silhouette of Baxter, that Erin made herself. (See closeup below.)

Above right: The kitchen cabinetry and appliances are not so snazzy, but Erin made the seating area plenty spicy, with the black and white scheme and saffron runner. She loves her plate wall, with $1.99 plates from Home Goods. The blackboard is from Home Goods too; the frame was gold, but she painted it white. This seems to be one of Erin’s favorite pastimes! When I visited the Mandarin orange branches were on the mantle, but they look perfect here.


Above left: Erin’s handiwork, a silhouette of Baxter on a grassy background. (She sent me this image the weekend before the shoot. I think she made it to give the picture wall some punch.)

Above right: Erin’s brother, Sean Tubridy, who is a graphic designer and photographer, sets up and shoots these very clever Polaroid portraits, using LEGO figures. This one is a bride and groom, posed in the same way as Erin and Andrew’s favorite wedding picture of themselves. Sean also started the artsy and clever website Save Polaroid.

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