Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship And Renovation: An Island Apart From The Rest.

Part Six

In general kitchen's are not easy, but this kitchen was especially challenging because of it's previous function as a porch. It had to function efficiently as a four season space while we preserved its original architecture. Limitations on ventilation for the stove location left us fewer options, while heating/ac issues also had to be addressed. After many arduous hours of planning with the home owner and contractor, the layout was finally all set...with the exception of the island. I knew I wanted the island to feel like a large family table, so that immediately ruled out a long bank of cabinetry. We played with the seating placement and eventually we decided on wrapping seating around one end of the island, which would mean we needed legs for support as cabinetry would support the opposite end. Two inch blanco Carrara marble would serve as counter surface, so sufficient support was crucial. 

Amazing how sometimes the magic is right in front of you!

Four years prior, while living in the south end of a Boston, the home owners purchased two old rusty gate posts from an antique dealer in Ipswich, Massachusetts. When they moved to their current home, the gate posts lived outside on the patio as garden Sculpture.  One evening while relaxing on the patio one of the homeowners realized that the two gate post could be repurposed to create the perfect legs for the island!! This detail is just one of the elements in the kitchen that are a true and unique reflection of them as it tells their story. 
A work in progress...

More to come... - Michelle

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship & Renovation: Brimfield Flea Market.

Part Five

Once we had a new kitchen location and vision, the prowl began for goodies to outfit the space! It was very important to me to keep the space looking like a reflection of the owners. A perfect blend of old and new, with a little something unexpected thrown in! So off to Brimfield we go!

This one of the many great tents that day. My favorite piece at this tent was the propeller! I wish I had it now for the den in their house. Oh well...I guess we'll have to make another trip!

It was an early September morning when we hopped in the car and drove west to the largest antique flea markets in the country located in Brimfield, Massachusetts.

Along route 20, for one mile, you'll find 6,000 vendors waiting to sell you just about anything you can imagine. This is one of the most eclectic markets around! Brimfield is a melting pot of antiques, reproductions, kitsch and a lot of very interesting outfits and people...I love it!!

On this trip we stumbled upon a vendor "Pascal" from Atlanta. He had a wonderful tent filled with beautiful home accessories and furnishings. We pined over two wing chairs for the longest time, but eventually we set our sights on a 4 ft tall, French (brass) - 6 lite lantern fixture that would eventually grace our kitchen project! It is now the jewel of the kitchen and a constant reminder of the wonderful day we had at Brimfield!

Can't wait to share the big reveal! More to come... -Michelle

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship and Renovation: Kitchen Epiphany.

Part Four

Ten months after meeting my new neighbors, I felt as thought I'd known them forever. We shared many great times together which consisted of, late night conversations, gardening projects, wintry Sunday dinners (always with a roaring fire) to late summer lunches on the patio with music filled air as we sipped on great wines. There was always an impromptu visitor or two or three, turning an ordinary day into an unpredictable evening.
The rear of the house and once open porch.
During this time, there were many conversations about rescuing their home from the existing 1970's look-a-like kitchen that was installed in 2002! On their own, they had already begun this project prior to our introduction. They had a basic kitchen plan from a big box retailer and had taped out an Island plan on their kitchen floor. Initially I kept my thoughts and ideas to myself, respecting their direction. They both had a sense of style all their own, I didn't want to impose, but this was a challenging project and eventually they asked me to chime in. I tried not to dominate the discussions with my ideas.  These were my friends first, not my clients. However, I did the best I could in trying to help them find their thoughts were restless.
 Shawmut, "the perfect dog," stands on the imaginary island in the old kitchen.
After a long day in August 2013, I put my head on my pillow but could not fall asleep. I was reviewing a few meetings we had with a contractor friend of mine who I suggested help us with the project. He had some great ideas for the current kitchen space but something still was not sitting right with me. This was a beautiful big house with a small kitchen that fell short of facilitating all of their needs...then suddenly it hit me! The current kitchen space just wasn't big enough! We were in the wrong room! It would never suit all of their needs and didn't rise up to how they lived. There was a family room that was not being used to its full capacity, it would soon become the focus for me.

Originally the family room, which is located in the rear of the house, was an open porch with supporting columns that was eventually enclosed. It showcased a bead board semi-barreled ceiling that framed a grand palladium window. There was not need for another moment of indecision! YES! This is our new kitchen!

That night with some hesitation, I sent a late night text. Although I felt this was the best way to go, I always expect a mixed bag of emotions from a homeowner when broaching on a new direction. The text started with, "What do you think about relocating the kitchen to the family room?" Well, all I can say is, the excitement on the other end kept me up all night! I could not imagine the kitchen being any where else. Time to scrape all previous plans and get to work!
 Once the open porch, now enclosed family room...soon to be the new kitchen.
Barrel ceiling, palladium window and columns reveal the rooms history.
Shawmut oversees our landscaping project in the spring of 2012. More to come...  -Michelle

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship and Renovation:The Flask!

Part Three

Early to rise as I was running errands on a Saturday morning in the summer of 1998, a yard sale would distract me from my mundane chores. I stopped to parooze hoping to find something out of the ordinary. There were some interesting pieces, one of which was an old Flask. I wasn't in the market for a flask, nor did I need one for any particular reason. However, there was something special about this old beverage container. It sported a silver cap and was wrapped in well worn leather that bared the La Crosse marking on its underside. I don't know why I felt so inclined, but I purchased it and I held onto it for 16 years, until one day in 2013.
La Crosse Draper flask
While visiting neighbors at an open house, a discussion about my friends home was holding my interest. Apparently, the family who original built my friends home were, John Draper and his wife back in 1902. In fact, many of the neighboring homes belong to various members of the Draper family. All beautiful, some stately, would give one the impression that the Drapers lived very well. To this day the Drapers run and operate The Draper Knitting Co., which produces a wide variety of textile based products.

As I listened intently, a thought came to mind...

The next day, I opened the red Chinese sideboard where I kept little treasures that I rotate for display and found the flask. Although it was old and worn, I knew that if I gifted it to my friend JD and AD, they would see the beauty in it and appreciate it. You see, the day I bought that flask, I bought it from a yard sale that was held on their front yard. The women who sold it to me had mentioned that the flask once belonged to the Drapers. It seemed to me that it was only right to take it home.  

Today, I can tell you it is appreciated and even gets used on occasion. For some odd reason, this makes me very happy!

More to come.... -Michelle

*Referring to our home owners as JD and AD to respect their privacy.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship and Renovation: The First Invitation.

Part Two

In December of 2012, I attended a holiday party not far from my home. It was the first formal invitation my husband and I received from the homeowners. The house was nestled comfortably on a generous one + acre parcel and setback approximately 100 ft. from the street.This stately brick 1904 home and its circular driveway exhibits grand curb appeal for all who come to visit. Steps onto the main entry are anchored by supporting columns necessary to feature the grand balcony above. Charles Mingus and jazzy blue notes play from outdoor speakers, gently escorting its guests toward the pristine front door.

Beyond the entry, I became energized and excited by the mix of traditional, vintage and industrial elements. The living room walls were painted a pewtery grey with a beautiful white fireplace for a focal point. A gold French oval mirror adorns the wall above mantel. A pair of collected leather chairs sit to the right of the fireplace, separated by a small occasional table. Directly across from the chairs, a large sofa flanks the opposite side of the fireplace and is set in front of a pair of extra long windows with crisp white casements. In the corner, an elevated large red Paris subway sign reads, "METRO." A 5' high free-standing wine rack guards the entryway, while most of the furnishings rest in their proper places on a red and navy oriental rug. The vibe is cool and current and it's evident that the owners have a story to tell.

It was a memorable evening in so many ways. There was no shortage of great food, atmosphere or fabulous music. What I found most impressive was the hospitality and sincere energy of the hosts and their friends. My expectations were exceeded by the warmth and welcoming arms of everyone attending. Little did I know...that night would be one of many more shared moments with these two lovely gentlemen, who I now refer to as dear friends.

The next few post will touch on our journey and our collaboration to complete the renovation of their new home and all the fun we had along the way!  More to come...  -Michelle

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Journey Of Friendship & Renovation: A long walk.

Part One

 My connection to this house and its residents all began with a long walk...

It all started on a well rehearsed brisk October walk. A route taken many times before with Nancy, my dear friend and walking buddy. Our walk was nearing its end as we approached one of my favorite homes on the historic and scenic way. We both spotted the couple we assumed were the new home owners. Spontaneously Nancy and I proceeded to greet them with a long overdue "Welcome to the neighborhood!". Our brief introduction turned into a two hour tour and visit. We repeatedly insisted on leaving them to their day, but quite frankly we were all having such a great time it was hard to pull ourselves away. This was the beginning of a friendship between myself and two lovely transplants from the south end of Boston, which ultimately led to a dreamy kitchen project that became a labor of love.

                                                More to come... - Michelle

Illustrations are my own and enhanced via Waterlogue.