BOSTON LOFT LIVING AREA

By Sara

We are headed to Nantucket to visit our dearest friends in a few weeks and I'm getting so excited.  I am thrilled to be heading back to New England for a bit  and it's reminding me how much I loved our home in Boston.  

I've showed you guys the master bedroom, master bathroom and built-ins from the loft in previous blog posts.  Now I'll show you the living area.  It's impossible to break up the living area into separate rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen, entry).  They are all one.  Loft living at it's finest.

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When you walk through our front door you find yourself standing in the middle of our kitchen.  I tried to define the space as an entryway with a great Herman Miller bench and coat hooks from anthropologie.

That's the kid's bedroom (post coming) next to the entryway bench.

Our HUGE kitchen island.  This is the only space besides our master bedroom that has a color on the wall.

Those two chairs were a craigslist find from years ago.  My husband is so proud of them.  $175 for the pair.  And how about the Fiddle Leaf Fig?!  It's the only plant I've managed to keep alive for any significant amount of time.  The person who bought our place actually bought the plant as well. 

Across from the Island is my husband's grandfather's hutch.  Next to it is the kid's bathroom.

Close up of the dining room/game area behind the living room.

Standing at the built-ins looking toward the master bedroom.

The art above the TV.  I put a shelf there to show off some meaningful artwork and the awesome original columns from the old spice factory.  The spotlights highlight the impeccable plaster work done there. 

My husband is a music fiend.  The rest of his guitar collection is in storage.  We're going to need a bigger wall...

The view from the Piano.  Staring toward the built-ins with the kitchen to the right. 

Thank you for revisiting with me.  I miss it terribly, but am so excited to be designing a new home for my family!

 

KID'S BATHROOM DOOR

By Sara

I spoke a bit about why I decided I didn't want to buy new construction home in this blog post back  in December.  I truly wanted to make this home our own and felt like my best shot of that was with an older house.  The thing is, this entails a lot more than just creating your own floor plan and choosing your favorite tile.  For me (and a lot of designers) this means bringing in custom created pieces that you won't find anywhere else.  Conversation pieces that really stand out.

Enter my children's toilet door.  

My contractor looked horrified when I told him I was going to recycle a door and make it look like a vintage public school door.   He is used to more high end clients that like things shiny and new.  It took him the better part of the year we have worked together on this house to realize that I was dead serious when I said to "leave the original shitty in."  I'm still not convinced he's happy about it.  

So here's is the project.  The children's bedrooms, playroom, and bathrooms occupy the entire 3rd floor of the house.  It's all theirs.  My design inspiration for this floor was a high school. Their long, 25 foot hall reminded me of a school corridor. Simple as that.  

Since I couldn't really do glass classroom doors for their bedrooms (turns out kids like their privacy too - even at 4), I decided to create an old school door for the shared bathroom on the floor. I wanted the kids to share; I grew up sharing a bathroom with my sisters and it made us closer. Or stronger. Or something.

Here's how the door started.  

$45 at a salvage store in Chicago called the Rebuilding Exchange.  If you're in Chicago, check it out.  There is so much renovating going in the city and this place saves doors, sinks, light fixtures, hardware, cabinets, etc. from the buildings getting gutted all over town. 

I found this doorknob on ebay for around $40.  Ebay had a million NY Public School doors but this was the only Chicago that I found. Major score. This picture is taken in my car because I clearly had to rip the box open as soon as I picked it up at the post office.

Next I went to my wood refinisher and told him to remove the wood panel at the top, stain the whole thing black (stain, not paint - I wanted to be sure you could still see the wood grain), and install the hardware. This process cost about $400. Finally I went to my glass guy and had him make a piece of "toilet glass".  Again, had to explain it a few times.  He also questioned my choice of glass saying that it was usually just used in patio furniture.   I laughed.  Patio furniture and public bathrooms, perhaps.

For obvious reasons I didn't want clear glass and I felt that this textured glass had more of a vintage, institutional feel than typical frosted glass.  This piece of the project ended up costing $150.

Here's how it turned out.  The first picture is still in the shop with the plastic on the glass and the second one is when it's waiting to be installed in the house.  It wasn't the most economical of projects ($635 + my time) but a brand new solid wood door would have run me around the same and it's these little details that make this house feel like its mine.

What do you think?

LP RENOVATION UPDATE

By Sara

Okay, this post has been a long time coming.  Like a VERY long time.  I am re-emerging from a winter hibernation with both house and personal news.  Added to the list of rooms to design and blog about is a new nursery.  Already 7 months along now if all goes well this little lady will be joining us in October.  We are all very excited. This also continues the tradition of us doing too many major things at once.   Other examples of this chaos are when my husband  finished and defended his PhD dissertation a week before our wedding, when we bought a condo and moved 2 weeks before our daughter's birth, and when my husband sold his company a few days before our son was born.  Keeps us on our toes.

So, back to the house! Its tagged as #LPRenovation on Facebook and Instagram though I haven't posted nearly as much as I should.  There's only so many pictures of partially finished walls and tile one can look at.  But we have reached the point when lighting is going in, plumbing fixtures are being installed, millwork, trim and paint is happening and sooooon I will get to add some of the finishing touches like wallpaper, furniture, and window treatments.   This 7 month belly is making me super nesty but I'm trying not to rush into any decisions. Design takes time and sometimes finding that perfect piece takes longer than I'd like, but it's all worth it in the end.

The first floor took a lot of space planning.  When you're renovating you have to try and imagine how you are going to use the space.  This was especially difficult for us because we've only lived on one floor before and now we'd be living on 4 narrow floors with a lot of stairs in between. 

Here's where we are (apologies for the poor quality iphone photos).  We're actually a bit further now than the pictures show but it takes me forever to get these up.  Below you see the cut out for the front doors but they're actually in now!  This is the view looking forward from the back of the living room.

Below is the view looking to the back of the house from that same spot.  There will be a custom built-in bar in that niche on the left. The kitchen will be in the middle of the house with the stairs off to the right.  This was my attempt to get everyone to use the entire first floor.  People typically congregate in the kitchen and adjacent rooms, so my hope was that by putting the kitchen in the middle of the first floor we would be just as likely to use the front of the house as the back.  By having the basement open to the kitchen we can yell to the kids to come up for dinner and hear them playing downstairs. Fingers crossed that this all goes according to plan!

This is our little addition.  Its just a small space but it allowed us a fireplace, a wall of windows for tons of natural light (they face directly west) and a mudroom/closet.  That niche on the left is for firewood because my husband insisted on a wood-burning fireplace.  I assume this means he plans on cleaning said wood-burning fireplace, too.

Here is that addition from the backyard this winter when they were building it.  You see it added a small room off the back of the house, and a roof deck off the second floor master bedroom.

Can't wait to show you more soon!

 

 

DISSECTING A ROOM

Posted by Sara

I've written before about my love of Pinterest here.   It is an incredible source of inspiration and one of the best sources of "house porn".  But, like wide-angle shots of a teeny house, it can also be dangerous, especially for a designer.  My clients routinely will show me a room on Pinterest and say "I want a room that looks like this."  Here's the thing, folks: no one lives in a Pinterest room.  Those rooms straight out of Elle Decor, House & Home, Lonny, etc. are PERFECTLY styled to look like PERFECT people live there, but they don't.  Two seconds after the photo was taken someone sat on the sofa and left a butt-sized dent in it. Then they took off their sneakers and left them in a pile on floor which were then tripped over by a few kids who ran through leaving a trail of toys and mayhem in their wake. Real rooms look like real people live in them and that's just not fit to print.  

All that being said, in order to take the picture in the first place a beautiful room was created. And we looooove creating beautiful rooms.  

Beautiful rooms are layered.  In my favorite rooms you will see multiple textures, colors, materials, lighting, life, and art.  Below is an inspiration room recently given to me by a client that I've 'dissected'.

 

Room by Evolve Residential in Boston

Room by Evolve Residential in Boston

Here is just A LITTLE bit of what's in there.  I tried to keep this post from being too overwhelming so I limited this dissection to 15 parts.  

1. Big Bang Suspension Light  

2. Benjamin Moore Paint in Graphite

3. Art is an extremely personal thing to have in your home.  Never copy someone else's art choice unless it really speaks to you.  For the sake of this post I found this sketch on art.com.

4.  Twig Sconce by Global Views

5. Henry Sectional from West Elm

6. Velvet Pillow from Room & Board & Velvet Striped Pillow from Overstock

7. Annika Table Lamp by Mary McDonald

8. Side table by Worlds Away

9. Jute Rug from World Market

10. Winston Coffee Table by Worlds Away

11. Garden Stool

12. Singer Ottoman by Lily Pulitzer Home

13. Bertoia Bird Chair

14. Striped Swivel Chair (the original one in the photo is a custom velvet fabric, the velvet is one of the reasons this chair is such a standout.  This piece is the less expensive/more available option)

15. Jules Etagere by Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams

The next stage of this room would include coffee table styling with books, bowl, etc., floral arrangements (note the white flowers on the side table next to the lamp in the original photo), a basket with more throw pillows or a throw blanket, and lots and lots of accessories on the etagere.    The key is to decorate whatever room you're working on in stages so as to avoid getting completely overwhelmed. 

Have a room that you want dissected?  Link to it in the comments and we'll see what we can do!

And if you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact us about our design services.

 

A clean slate

By Sara

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  One of my new years resolutions is to blog more.  Like most resolutions it has the potential to start off strong and then dissipate, but I'm really excited about this year for Gild & Wit.  Amy and I are living in the same city for the first time in 15 years (no joke!),  I am building my dream house for my family, and the Gild & Wit family is growing (Amy will blog about that news soon too).  These are exciting times and I can't wait to share more with all of you.  

Now, about that house...

Designing a house from start to finish is both completely exhilarating and entirely terrifying.  First, the exhilarating.  With an empty shell to work with you aren’t stuck designing for awkward corners or small weirdly shaped rooms.  Of course you do have to work around things like duct work and plumbing, but overall, the freedom is incredible.  This leads to the terrifying part. If an outlet is in the wrong place, a recessed light placement feels “off”, or you wish a door opened the other way it is all. your. fault

This brings me to what I’ve been working on in my house these past months.  What everyone loves about design is beautiful fabrics, wall coverings, tile, lighting and furniture.  But even the most beautiful pieces in the world won’t save a poorly designed floor plan.  Here’s how the project has gone so far.  We bought the house in June. YAY!  We were scrambling a few weeks later when some issues with our initial architect left us searching for a new one.  But, through the miracles of decisiveness and pure luck we had all floor plans completed AND permits submitted and approved by the end of August.   It is now January and our house looks like this. 

 

Okay, so it still requires a little bit of vision. See, a lot has happened in and those framed-out walls.  There are plumbing runs, all new HVAC, new electrical wiring, a basement dig out and newly poured concrete, steel beams in the ceiling allowing for wide open spaces in a not-so-wide row house, and new windows.  WOOT!  On the design end, door styles have been chosen, lighting plans completed, plumbing fixtures ordered, kitchen and bathroom cabinets designed and ordered, and tile patterns chosen. I have yet to order a single piece of furniture and yet have worked on this project every day.  It is truly a labor of love.

More to come as the walls are finished! I plan to share regular renovation progress so that I can share the process, vent my frustration, and have you become my sounding board.  I can’t wait to share!

THE LP RENOVATION

By Sara

When we made the decision to pack up and move to Chicago last April I immediately planned a trip to look at houses.  I flew out in May and with the help of an awesome realtor (hi, Patsy!), spent 3 days seeing 24 houses around as many Chicago neighborhoods.  It was both exhausting and awesome. By the end of the 3 days I knew exactly what I wanted. Sadly, it didn't exist.

Chicago lots are 25' wide.  Free standing homes are built with gangways on either side so houses are extremely narrow. Due to the tight lot width, new construction tends to look exactly the same: you enter into a tiny, almost unusable living room, followed by a dining room, a kitchen, and then a family room in the back. It gets really old really quick. The housing boom in Chicago has lead to many of the old homes getting torn down and being replaced by the cookie-cutter houses. My friend Cally accompanied me on one of the days of house hunting and she couldn't believe how similar all the houses were. We began differentiating the houses by which faucets and tile they had as these small features were the only things that separated one property from another. Cally said it best: "I feel like you could buy one of these homes on Amazon, they're all the same".  Little boxes all the same.

Standard new construction house.  Drive around any neighborhood in Chicago and you will see tons of new houses going up that look just like this.

Standard new construction house.  Drive around any neighborhood in Chicago and you will see tons of new houses going up that look just like this.

 

Since choosing things like tile and faucets are what I do for a living, it seemed really silly to let some developer do it for me.  Also, it broke my heart a little bit to move into someplace that was completely new.  No history to the home, nothing for me to remodel or renovate.   Don't get me wrong, I would have wallpapered, painted, and decorated the &%*@ out of that 'little box', but by day 3 I just knew that wasn't what I wanted. 

When I called Alan to tell him I'd found our house (yes, he sent me out to Chicago alone) he was very skeptical to say the least.  I had found the "worst house on the block" on a quiet little street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. The only reason why it hadn't been torn down by a developer was because it was a row house and shared a masonry wall with the house next door.  I loved it.  It was built in 1886, just a few years after the great Chicago fire.  It had a ton of history, was solid masonry and was just full of potential.  And, it had a yard.

The yard.  Don't fret, the fence will be replaced.

The yard.  Don't fret, the fence will be replaced.

 

Now it is our house and I love it even more.  It is an old 3 flat that previous owners turned into a single family home in the 90's.  The thing is, they did a fairly terrible job.  The 1st floor consisted of two bedrooms and an office, the 2nd floor featured the living room, dining room, and kitchen, and 3 more bedrooms were located on the 3rd floor.  The home felt really awkward and separated.  Not good for a young family. The plan was to move the living space to the 1st floor, turn the 2nd floor into a master floor, and dig out the basement.  In May I presented this to Alan as a 6-9 month reno. Start to finish.  

I can tell you now that the reno has exploded (figuratively speaking) and we have gutted the place entirely and are adding an addition.  We are renting an apartment in the neighborhood because the house doesn't have interior walls, let alone luxuries like plumbing or a kitchen.   A few months into the renovation I realized that this could really be my family's forever home, and it was more important to do it right than to do it fast.   Gut renovations are not for the faint of heart, but man are they exciting and if you do it right, sooooo worth it.  

I'm so excited to share the story of the renovation with you here.  More coming soon!

 



OCEAN OF TRANQUILITY

Posted by Sara

Remember the deal of the century from this post?  Well as much as I loved Amy's idea of taking out our kitchen to highlight it, my husband wouldn't let me.  Something about ruining resale value...blah blah.  Anyway, I ended up making a home for it in our master bedroom at unit 101.

My master in 101 was fairly large.  Easily fit a queen sized bed, 3 huge ikea Pax wardrobes, a dresser, and the midcentury loveseat.  When I designed this room my husband asked me to please keep the "stuff" to a minimum.  He said he wanted an "ocean of tranquility" and so that's what I tried to create for him.  Bedrooms are super important.  If you don't have a relaxing place to wind down at the end of the night, you won't get that great night sleep, you will feel cranky and frown and inevitably get wrinkles.  Or something.  

The first thing I did in designing the room was choose a soothing wall color.  The rest of our home was bright white except for an accent wall in our kitchen so I decided this was the one room I could paint entirely.  I chose Benjamin Moore's Grey Owl, a warm but still neutral gray.  I love this color.  It transformed the room and seemed to subtly change color as the light changed throughout the day.  

After the paint I found some super simple furniture from Ikea.  There are times to invest in special keep forever pieces and there are times to get thee to Ikea. This was one of those times we knew that this setup would be temporary; our plan was to upgrade to a king-sized bed in our next home.  The bed we selected was white and birch wood and included much needed storage.  It was also solid wood which was a great bonus considering most Ikea furniture is constructed out of particle board. 

After paint and furniture, we just needed a rug, art and styling.  I took my husband's request for an ocean seriously and found two beautiful photographs of the water. I then had them framed on a large scale to seem as though you are looking through a window onto the waves. Finding a 9x12 rug at a reasonable price point is no small feat but I was able to get this rug in a 9'6" x 12'10" size for under $500.  It is super soft and was just the neutral foundation for the room I was looking for. I found a lamp on clearance at Jonathan Adler in beautiful blue-gray tones that also reminded me of ocean waves and then I styled very minimally from there.  I included only what we needed on the bedside tables and a touch of art and whimsy on my husband's dresser.  Neutral bedding and soft lighting on our bedside tables finished the space. 

 

My husband's grandfather built this dresser.   It will be in all of our bedrooms forever.

My husband's grandfather built this dresser.   It will be in all of our bedrooms forever.

I love this bedroom.   Such a sweet retreat.

MY FAVORITE BOSTON PLACES: THE FLOWER MARKET

By Sara

Despite my worries, I have to say the move to Chicago has been fairly seamless.  The kiddos are loving Chicago and the close proximity to family.  We live right by a huge park, the zoo and Lake Michigan.  Ms. P's preschool is 2 blocks away.  G&W has a new office in the South Loop. And the fall weather has been positively fake and DEFINITELY false advertising for the winter to come.  Of course it doesn't hurt that Amy and I get to see each other whenever we want too.  All in all,  the family is doing great; we can't thank you all enough for all of your support in this major event!

That being said, I miss Boston terribly, especially some of my favorite stores and warehouses. One of my favorite spots in Boston was the flower market.  Located less than a mile from Unit 101, it looks like a typical warehouse from the street but inside it is sooooo beautiful.  I loved wandering the aisles seeing all the gorgeous floral loot. My favorite flowers are the ones that you usually can't buy in store.   I love wild blooms with unique shapes and textures that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story.   The flowers there aren't usually priced much lower than the ones you can buy in normal retail shops but there is a lot more variety.  Here are a few photos I took during my last trip to the flower market before a summer styling shoot.  

Ranunculus are some of my favorite flowers to style with.  Their organic shape and the curves of their stems are always gorgeous in photos.

Ranunculus are some of my favorite flowers to style with.  Their organic shape and the curves of their stems are always gorgeous in photos.

Purple waxflowers are also a favorite.

Purple waxflowers are also a favorite.

I love the black center in Anemones.  So modern and chic.

I love the black center in Anemones.  So modern and chic.

Roses are always classic.  The key to making sure they don't look cheesy is using them when the blooms are wide open.

Roses are always classic.  The key to making sure they don't look cheesy is using them when the blooms are wide open.

So many succulents!

So many succulents!

Cabbage - the perfect plant for a kitchen style shoot.

Cabbage - the perfect plant for a kitchen style shoot.

The most beautiful hydrangeas ever.  They look like snow.

The most beautiful hydrangeas ever.  They look like snow.

Here is the loot I came home with.   I choose a warm, summery color palate and played with height, texture, and bloom size.   All in all, a very successful trip! 

Here is the loot I came home with.   I choose a warm, summery color palate and played with height, texture, and bloom size.   All in all, a very successful trip!