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Archive for November, 2008

Subtle Tones

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Modern Romance

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As everyone is experiencing the uneasiness of current events, the hope that is out there on the horizon is like a beacon for us to focus on. It is almost impossible to not have some anxiety about what is happening in our economy, even if the impact has not yet been directly felt. The whole world is trying to spend less, re-think it’s priorities and make use of what already exists. New projects are being postponed or pared down––that new addition or luxury kitchen has now given way to the cosmetic renovation which could be simply a repainting of the cabinets in many cases. Many things have been the mother of invention, and a big one right now is having little or no money for a renovation budget. It is time for everyone to roll up there sleeves and get creative.

The good news is that times like these challenge our creativity, which is how we grow. A few weeks ago I wrote about being mindful visually: well this is an expansion on that concept. First of all, everything that before might have been thought of as used, or junk, or old is now green. The new terminology is reclaimed, recycled and sustainable. It is not only vitally important to the health of our World, it can also fashionable, so go through your stuff and make a list!

I like to make lists–so in this case I would make a list with three catagories: 1) what to keep, 2) what can be refurbished and 3) what to get rid of. I talk about taking an inventory in my upcoming book, and the importance of knowing exactly what you have to work with––for example, that tired old lamp you have might be great with just a new shade, and the coffee table you’ve had for years, and are so used to looking at, has great lines, so a new paint job or refinish would update it and give it a whole new lease on life.  Look at your rooms, your desks, your wardrobes and see what you can create from what you already own. I guaranty we all have more to work with than we realize! An example of this is a woman who took all of her family’s old stained and worn cashmere and wool sweaters then cut them up into squares and sewed them together in a quilt like manner. She wound up making the most beautiful and interesting throws and blankets imaginable out of the ruined clothing. It was so successful that she expanded the line by rummaging through goodwill bins and now makes bags as well. The point is is that times like these call for the ingenuity that we are known for, so reclaim, recycle, and create! My dear friend Jocelyn Mason, who designs and creates the most beautiful bags using reclaimed leather, has a saying “if you can’t get out of it, get into it!” Which pretty well sums up where we all are in these trying economic times. So buck up, take stock and get creative.

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005Featuring a large painting over the fireplace by Christine. Simple textures and hues make up this room.

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I was once asked to describe “New England Style” to a person from the Midwest. I got to thinking about all the influences that create that very distinctive North Eastern architectural and interior design style, and being rooted in history is obviously what first comes to mind. Colonial, and then later Shaker influences shape the foundation of New England Style. A minimalism, or an austerity was born from the idea that form follows function, however form was to be derived from the English architectural ideals of proportion and scale. The other component is superior craftsmanship. Historically, New England’s seaport towns were home to the finest boat builders in the world. Skilled craftsmen abounded and this was seen in everything from sea captain’s homes to fine furniture and cabinetry. As the modern world has demanded a more comfortable lifestyle, the strictness and severity of a historical New England style has softened, and a warmer more inviting way of living has been incorporated into classic design. What has not changed however is an appreciation for superior craftsmanship. The premier cabinetmakers, custom furniture makers and builders in the country still hail from New England, and there is a standard of quality that is very rarely seen anywhere else.

dining

dining

custom furniture using reclaimed lumber

custom furniture using reclaimed lumber

solid cherry, custom shaker style bed
solid cherry custom shaker style bed

NewEngland stained glass artisan
New England stained glass artisan

solid cherry custom kitchen cabinetry with local NewEngand hewn granite.

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