This Way Home Flips!

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I have been dying to share some incredibly exciting news – and it’s finally time. I just flipped my first house! I call this project the Brackett House, and I documented the entire renovation from start to finish. Today’s post introduces the house, but there will be much more to come, so please check back soon! Let me rewind for a moment. I started house hunting in the spring of 2016, and my parameters were fairly specific: an older home in need of restoration located in a desirable community. Inventory is really tight in the Boston area, and it’s not unusual for an open house to attract over a hundred people. So to my strategy: I targeted houses that were so run down realtors didn’t dare hold an open house, and I avoided properties with high tear-down potential, i.e. small houses on oversized lots. I didn’t want to get into a bidding war with a developer. I actually had two accepted offers before I found the right …

The Firmdale Project Reveal

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The Firmdale Project is complete! This master bedroom makeover in Boston has come a long way. Check out the introduction to the Firmdale Project to see where we started. The original bedroom did not function well. It was trying to play too many roles– bedroom, closet, office, and library– all at once. Books from the large shelving unit were piling up on the desk. The desk was crowding the bed and making it difficult to access the en-suite bathroom. The dresser and bed were nestled in so tight, there was no room for a second nightstand and the dresser drawers couldn’t be opened fully. Our main priority was to pare down the room to its essential role: bedroom. We relocated the books and desk to another part of the house (and my clients actually undertook a massive book donation drive!). We moved the bed to the long wall opposite the windows, which suited the room’s dimensions much better. This change allowed us to upgrade from a double to a queen …

The Lorimer Project Part III – Design Plan

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We’re nearing the final stretch at the Lorimer Project! Click here to see parts I and II. The challenge was to turn a nondescript white shell of a condo into a place that would reflect my client’s style: colorful, creative, and bohemian. She wanted a chic, unfussy, but collected look. We started by layering rich patterns and textures, then we combined rustic, age-worn, and hand-crafted items with polished, refined pieces.  The design plan for the main room. In the main room, we chose a white-washed wood paneled wallpaper which immediately added warmth and interest.  Our custom-designed kilim loveseat, with its bold colors and patterns, is balanced by a pair of laid-back leather and velvet armchairs. The Beni Ourain-inspired area rug is layered with a super soft faux sheepskin. Finally we interspersed metallic accents, like a vintage brass arc lamp and copper pendant lights, to give the room a touch of glamour. To integrate the loveseat’s bright color palette into the dining area, we found a funky boucherouite rug with bands of pink, orange, blue, and …

Chair-itable Donations

Luca Furniture Before and After, Thrifting 1 Comment

“I’m in the Book” by This Way Home. Photo by Elaine Frederick.  Every year, the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) hosts a charity auction featuring upcycled, creatively reimagined chairs from designers and artists around the world. The event is officially called Take A Seat, but we have affectionately dubbed it “the chair-ity.”  This year’s entries from the New England IFDA chapter benefit the Women’s Institute of Housing & Economic Development, whose mission is to “promote economic opportunity and build strong communities by developing safe, affordable, and supportive housing for individuals and families.” It’s a worthy cause and a great excuse to get creative. I found my chair while trolling craigslist (what else!). It’s actually a vintage telephone bench, also known as a gossip bench. Back in the day, you would set your rotary landline on the built-in table and sit on the bench for a leisurely phone chat. You could even store your phonebook on the table’s lower shelf. Pretty handy piece of furniture, huh?  I …

Trendcasting: Geological Genius

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A large agate mural is the focal point of this breathtaking bathroom from JSE Interior Design.  The design world’s flirtation with geological decor has grown into a full-blown love affair. Rock forms, minerals, geodes, and– most commonly– agate have truly stolen our hearts. Why are we so drawn to these elements? Take agate as an example.  Agate is simultaneously chaotic and systematic; it forms highly irregular organic shapes, within which are aligned perfect parallel bands of color. This balance of tumult and order is so pleasing to the eye, I can’t imagine the design community will abandon the trend any time soon.  JSE Interior Design, helmed by owner Jared Sherman Epps, created the breathtaking bathroom shown above. They used a custom waterproof panel from Alex Turco on the back wall of the shower in lieu of standard tiles. The freeform organic shape and vivid blue of the agate mural perfectly complement the room’s sleek minimalism. The oversized scale of the mural demands your attention, while beautifully framing the room’s two windows.  Strata Study wallpaper …

The Lorimer Project Part II – Kilim Loveseat

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Work continues on the Lorimer Project, a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Click here for an introduction to the project. As my client and I began to develop a design plan, we soon decided that the apartment’s main room needed a bold statement piece to anchor the seating area. My client loves Turkish kilims, traditional flatweave rugs which have been produced in much the same manner since ancient times. Flatweave rugs are thin enough to be used in lieu of conventional upholstery fabric, so I suggested we use kilim rugs to cover a loveseat. She loved the idea, and we got to work! My first task was to find the perfect loveseat for the project. I hunted high and low, through vintage and new merchandise alike, in search of the right piece. In the end, I discovered Kim Salmela, a wonderfully imaginative furniture designer out of Los Angeles. Her pieces are hand crafted and highly customizable; and Kim’s own aesthetic is bold and globally inspired, so I knew she would …

Introducing: The Firmdale Project

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I recently started work on the Firmdale Project, a master bedroom makeover in a Boston townhouse. My lovely clients, a married couple with two adult children, have not updated their bedroom in decades. In fact, they purchased their Depression-era bedroom set in 1980 and have been using it ever since. Both husband and wife are practicing lawyers with little time to focus on home improvement, and the accumulated clutter of many years has taken over their small bedroom. They are more than ready for a bedroom refresh!  Let’s start by taking a look at the bedroom on Day One. A three-piece 1930s bedroom set, which consists of a double bed and two dressers, is the room’s foundation. The set is in adequate condition, aside from a broken post on the footboard; but ultimately, after 35 years with this furniture, my clients are eager for a new look, and they would like to upgrade from a double- to a queen-sized bed.  This cramped corner caught my attention. There …

Shopping Guide: Chicago

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Forget Oprah, deep dish pizza, and the Cubs. Chicago is all about architectural salvage. When buildings are dismantled or renovated, architectural artifacts– like corbels, doors and fireplace mantels– are often removed in tact and sold to salvage shops. These upcycled gems can be incorporated into remodels and new constructions or restorations of historic structures. It’s no surprise that a city like Chicago, with world class architecture, would also have outstanding architectural salvage. So when I took a recent trip to Chicago, I made sure to visit the top rated salvage stores in the city.  Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood, is housed in a remarkable 80,000-square-foot showroom. The inventory is vast and eclectic; they carry everything from theater seats to gargoyles, religious artifacts to neon signs. Architectural Artifacts is an incredible resource for one-of-a-kind items and special statement pieces. My favorite finds included a 19th-century blue and white Delft tile mosaic, which depicts Frans Hals’ Married Couple in a Garden, and a gorgeous French art deco wet bar …

Trendcasting: Lacquered Walls

Luca Inspiration, Trendcasting 1 Comment

Lacquered walls are a long-standing design tradition, but in recent years, they have been making a resurgence. Designers like Miles Redd, Steven Gambrel, and Markham Roberts have helped reintroduce lacquered walls to the popular landscape. The highly reflective finish of lacquer creates dimensionality, particularly when combined with a deeply saturated color like sapphire blue or emerald green. The liquidlike sheen is sumptuous, dramatic, and opulent. True lacquer, as opposed to high gloss paint, must be applied by skilled professionals. The reflective finish magnifies any imperfections, so expert prep and application is a must. Check out some of my favorite lacquered walls below!  Orange lacquered walls via Atlanta Homes Magazine.  Left: Aerin Lauder’s sophisticated black office via Elle Decor. Right: Blue-grey lacquered walls in Steven Gambrel’s W. 10th Street townhouse.  A peacock blue butler’s pantry from Lee Ann Thornton Interiors.  Emerald green lacquer via ArkPad.  A striking home library designed by Steven Gambrel.  Left: White lacquered walls pop against black herringbone floors, via Westerman Farm. Right: Miles Redd’s navy blue lacquer, via Apartment Therapy. 

Get the Look: Tropical Leaves

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Tropical leaf prints have long been a design classic, thanks in large part to two iconic wallpaper patterns. Martinique wallpaper, designed by Don Loper in 1942 for the Beverly Hills Hotel, features banana leaves in a rich forest green palette. Brazilliance wallpaper was designed by the one-and-only Dorothy Draper for the Greenbrier Hotel. Although similar to Martinique, Brazilliance has more saturated colors and accents of sea grapes amidst the banana leaves.  A side-by-side comparison of the iconic Martinique and Brazilliance wallpapers. L: Bathroom via Apartment Therapy. R: The Greenbrier Hotel via The Glam Pad. Tropical leaf decor lends an air of retro glamour to any room. Banana leaves and palm fronds make for gorgeous wallpaper and upholstery, but you can also incorporate the motif through lighting fixtures, artwork, and accessories. Here is some tropical inspiration for your home!  The Martinique wallpaper pairs beautifully with black and white. Via Sarah Sarna.  Black lacquer doors and Brazilliance wallpaper make for a bold, graphic hallway. Design …