All of the wooden elements of this dining room—table, column, beams, side table—glow against the grey tones of the patterned rug and faux paneled wallpaper. The wood becomes richer and the shadow-like elements look sharper. The oversized sunburst mirror provides a focal point, with the bronze, French style chandelier and sconces adding delicate curves as well as a diffuse, soft light. The high contrast palette adds to the perceived height of the space. And provides an almost physical aura of calmness and tranquility that pervades the entire home.
We’ve made considerable progress on my client’s large, open plan kitchen. Walls have come down, a ceramic tile floor has been installed, and most cabinetry and countertops are in place. The ceramic flooring looks like stone but is easier to maintain, helpful given the habits of young children and pets. The island offers plenty of storage and will seat five; a dining table out of the photo will seat twelve. One cabinet in the rear of the top photo is the pantry, the other opens to a desk with plugs for multiple cel phones, iPads, etc. A wine cooler fits underneath. In the center next to the space for the fridge is a built-in Miele coffee maker with water supply piped in.
In the bottom photo four floating stone shelves will be set on a fully tiled wall with indirect LED lighting. The sleek Mieli gas range has a three in one oven: microwave, rapid cook and normal, plus a warmer drawer.
This state of the art kitchen will offer beauty and convenience in equal measure. I’ll post photos as soon as it’s done.
Sometimes change can be liberating. My husband and I have decided to sell our home in West Orange and move to an apartment in downtown Montclair. No more snow removal. A short walk to everything from foreign films to restaurants, bookstores and interesting boutiques. The freedom to take off whenever we want just by locking the door. A chance to start with a clean sheet of paper to create my dream apartment, answering to nobody but my husband, who, it must be said, is very easy. The classic building has high ceilings, big windows and views of Manhattan. I fell in love with it while working on a project there, and my client, who happens to be a real estate agent, mentioned there was an identical apartment coming free a few floors down. The fact that it needs a lot of work makes it perfect. So I’ve become my client’s client. Hopefully we’ll embark on a complete renovation next month, and move next March. I really do feel liberated. Of course it’s early days, and there’s much work and uncertainly ahead, but that’s all part of the adventure. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
When I first saw my client’s renovated farmhouse I was intrigued by the unusual layout. A stone double fireplace juts into the living room like the prow of a ship. The hand-hewn beams on the ceiling and walls add further character, while the open plan offers interesting possibilities. In short, I couldn’t wait to get started.
The family loves the outdoors, and they wanted a useful, understated, attractive design using durable materials. Working in counterpoint to the colonial era framework, the design features a lively mix of the contemporary and traditional.
Upon entering you see an inset wood burning stove faced by four club chairs in textured wool with brown leather seats. My first nod to the outdoors is the animal skin-like fabric covering the chairs, and an animal skin rug that helps define the seating area. The trays atop the ottomans provide storage or, when flipped, allow for comfortable leg stretching. A more traditional skirted table and chair provide the link to the second of the three seating areas. This alcove, with the second inset fireplace, is dominated by the baby grand piano, with a large ottoman covered in another pattern of faux animal. There is one fabric used on all the windows, a linen with embroidered diamond pattern.
Across the room is the final seating area, with comfortable sofa, two oversized leather ottomans and quilted leather swivel chairs. The ottomans with their leather straps are evocative of a bygone age of travel, perhaps an African safari. The whole room has echoes of outdoor adventure, combined with an up to date elegance.
My clients sold their impressive house in South Orange, and are dividing their time between a home in LA and an apartment in Montclair. The building in Montclair was constructed in 1901, with high ceilings, oversize windows and plentiful light. The views of Manhattan are dramatic, especially at night. I loved the opportunity to work in a space so full of character. Now that we’re almost finished it’s interesting to contrast the before and after views.
The design mirrors my clients’ sophistication, the elegant, contemporary feel accented by antique accessories from their collection. The large sectional has bench seat cushions for a sleeker look, opposite two swivel chairs covered in a Greek key velvet and linen fabric. The colors are pale grays against white moldings. Lighting includes a pair of ceiling fixtures in alabaster and antique torcheres. The dining table is a custom piece in glass with wood borders to reveal a decorative base. Dining chairs are covered in velvet and linen with a geometric pattern, a nice counterpoint to the fabric on the living area chairs. The custom cabinetry displays an antique dinnerware collection.
There are still significant pieces to come, but I think the overall design direction is clear. The Montclair building is a classic and I’d like to think my design will stand the test of time as well.
Starting work on a complete, back to the studs renovation of a 1970s ranch style home in Livingston. The home is attractive to my clients because the one story layout and generous dimensions suit an airy, contemporary design. The plan includes all new plumbing and lighting, wood floors, enlarged bathrooms with new fixtures, and a new family room and remodeled kitchen. Walls will be opened and the remodeled entry way will feature a larger door and glass transom.
I love my clients, having worked with them on multiple projects, and the contractor and craftsmen are all experienced pros that make my job a lot easier. The space may be little more than a skeleton at the moment, but in my minds eye I see a light, minimalist, modern oasis that fits my clients to a tee.
The Romans conquered the Provence region of France two thousand years ago, and the ruins of many of the structures they built are ubiquitous. Some of the sites have been rebuilt many times, to become country homes that survive today. Some have been thoroughly renovated and turned into vacation rentals.
I’ve always wanted to stay in one of these ancient, yet modern properties, and I finally got the chance. My friend held her annual family gathering at a beautifully restored villa near Aix-en-Provence. She graciously invited us to join her. We stayed for two days of sun and culture, and it was everything I imagined. The villa’s indoor kitchen is supplemented by a fully outfitted outdoor kitchen and dining area adjacent to the swimming pool, encompassed by weathered stonewalls and columns. A narrow canal leads to a Japanese style fishpond. The canal is home to dozens of frogs whose full-throated cries at times threatened to drown out dinner conversation. Day trips in this heavenly part of France include medieval monasteries and walled cites perched on cliffs.
Sun and culture; Provence provides this mix in spades.
We are strolling down the main street of the tiny French town of Lauris near Aix-en-Provence when my friend Beatrice notices a gentleman watering the hanging plants on one of the buildings fronting the street. He informs us that he is the owner, the home is for sale, and would we like a tour? Of course we would, and as we enter this extraordinary home time slows to a crawl. We step into a foyer with a 1940s tile panel, a dress display wearing a Renaissance gown, and a marble staircase leading to the bust of a woman in front of an antique mirror. The rest of the home follows this pattern: a blend of styles and eras that create a casual yet richly cultured patina.
In the lower level the owner found a hidden chapel behind a thick wall, possibly for secret masses held during the wars of religion in the 1600s. On the top level there’s a charming half covered verandah with a large glass and metal colored panel as divider. I can visualize intimate candlelit dinners discussing Voltaire and Rousseau.
The owner, a retired French diplomat, is ready to sell and, while his home is atmospheric in the extreme, it’s so personal, so idiosyncratic, that, while I loved to visit, I wouldn’t want to live there. Besides, when I buy my Provençal retreat, it simply must look out on a field of lavender.
My mother and I succumbing to entreaties of bistro owner in San Rafael.
Long, long lunch (the best kind in France) in the old city in Nice.
Food must be good in restaurant this authentic.
Precarious petit restaurant in medieval city of Gordes.
Another, more spacious Gordes eatery.
Fish and chips to die for at Thames-side pub. My daughter-in-law is reading about food.
Italian place in London with brilliant antipasti and, uh, complex decor.
Three future World Cup stars in London pub.
We’re not focused on food when we travel to Europe. Well, not exclusively. But as these pictures show, we did manage to spend quite a bit of time sampling the cuisine during our trip to Paris, Nice, Aix-en-Provence and London. There were plenty of long walks as well, and I’m pleased to report no significant weight gain. Must be the small portions.
Passed by a shop in London with conflicting signals: women’s shoes in the window and tempting chocolate confections on the shelves inside. Turns out the very real looking shoes in the window are entirely made of chocolate. Not sure why they decided to create chocolate shoes, but it does give you a great excuse to put your foot in your mouth.