Archive | February, 2012

The Details

28 Feb

I’m helping Allen (neighbor/friend/outstanding real estate agent) with a few projects around his house, first and foremost the revamping of his kitchen. Allen sent this picture my way with a note asking me to check out the tile. I like that tile. I like the whole thing. Well, for good reason: this kitchen belongs to Tommy Smythe, you know, Tommy Smythe from Sarah’s House. He’s brilliant. Of course, we like this kitchen.

Many times I’ve stared at this kitchen as a source of inspiration. There’s so much to notice, so many details. I have such an appreciation for this particular work. As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

Let’s take note of the details–I mean, design.Black and White

This kitchen is beautifully balanced, don’t you think? I like the dark lower cabinets and white upper cabinets.  The dark-painted window frames/muntins and door create interest make the space less stark. And, it’s nice to see windows with different patterns.  Rather than going busy and distracting, the herringbone pattern draws the appropriate amount of attention to the floor, which is a really nice compliment to the dark cabinets.


I can’t think of anything that would look better there than that antique, mildly rustic table. It brings a bit of warmth and comfort to the mix.


Cabinets that climb to the ceiling tend to make a room feel bigger. Notice the glass doors: they aren’t everywhere, just used on the wall near a door. Glass doors create a sense of visual space. Using glass doors by the door establishes continuity and creates a sense of airiness in along that wall. So, if you’re thinking of using glass cabinets, use them wisely: place them well and fill them with lovely things. My rule is to go all white or all color. I have very little middle ground in my life.

Okay, let’s notice a few more details:

  • the wine rack–the one that isn’t above the refrigerator–because your eye follows it from floor to ceiling (or ceiling to floor) it creates a sense of height, which is really nice
  • the built-in workspace/desk with a small bench that keeps the space open
  • the pulls on the cabinet drawers
  • the taxidermy above the pantry door
  • the light fixture you might or might not have chosen but manages to pull it all together and to the center as good light fixtures should

And, finally, the stainless sink and counter space is a nice break from marble.

All credit is due: Tommy Smythe (Design) // Michael Graydon (Photos)

Isn’t this a classy and comfortable kitchen? What’s your favorite detail?


Fight Your Way Through

25 Feb

This is true. It’s true of writing. It’s true of building houses. It’s true of rearranging your furniture and hanging things on the wall. It’s true of my day job in marketing. Do a lot of work. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you close that gap. Here’s to repainting the room, rewriting the sentence, rethinking the wallpaper. Do a lot of work and your taste will catch up with your work.

Paper, Paper On One Wall

2 Feb

Color meets pattern–that’s the beauty of wallpaper. It’s an instant addition of personality, depth, and color. And, it’s a hard decision.  We all know it took me a year to choose a pattern, and still, I could be swayed. But, here’s the best advice I’ll ever give you: live with it.

Buy samples, tape them to your wall and live with them. Leave them taped to the wall for weeks. If you think you’re starting to like the pattern, if it “feels right” with the rest of your house, if you walk into the soon-to-be wallpaper-clad room, see the sample and think you belong here, then you are almost ready to commit.

But not yet.

I think you should buy another sample of the same pattern and hang them up side by side so you can feel a little more of the paper’s impact. There’s a huge difference in a sample and a wall. Whatever you do, do not veer from your true style and color palette. Don’t go bolder than you are, you’ll just hate it. Don’t go simple if you’re not simple. You’ll just walk into the room and think, this is so plain.

Or, you could ditch this advice, be utterly brave, and go with it.

Or, you could do one wall, an accent wall, in paper. Take a look at these beauties!

Emily McCall

Apartment Therapy


From the Right Bank



Mary’s Dwellings


Inside-Out Design

Back to my house, my wallpaper, my life–this is my bathroom, the bathroom I’ve had every intention of dressing in wallpaper. But then I started thinking, I want some wainscoting, beadboard, or something to break up the pattern and serve as a back splash for the sink.

So, in came the “back splash” in that mimics the treatment in the hallway (without the chalkboard). An in-process photo for you:

Now that the wainscoting is up, the walls are ready for wallpaper. Last weekend I unrolled the paper and, get this, the paper didn’t match up. (Unlike wallpaper that you buy by the roll, Dwell Studios prints and cuts the wallpaper for each wall, you enter the measurements for each wall and they make the paper.)

So, I took this picture and emailed Dwell Studio and wrote: I am nauseous. Please tell me you can help me. I pretty much acted like I was dying of this error. The next day Robby (from Dwell Studios) left the warmest voicemail, full of sympathy and readiness to find a solution. Apparently Robby knows he’s charming as he emailed saying, “I left you what I hope sounds like a charming, supportive voicemail….. We can figure this out together, and I look forward to being a part of the solution!” Should Robby ever move on from Dwell, I think he should consider a career as a therapist. (Hat’s off to Dwell Studios for possibly the best customer service ever.)

I am confident that Robby will help me sort this out. But do you know what I’m thinking now…

Maybe I should just paper the accent wall? Don’t you just love those walls of pattern and color?