Blogging the York, ME Show House – Best Laid Plans!

by Meredith Bohn | July 2nd, 2013

The nature of interior design in general, and Designer Show houses especially…is that the designer has to be able to ADJUST!!  Items are late or unavailable, plans have to be modified due to circumstances or hidden details that pop up, and sometimes something that looked good on paper, just didn’t work as well as the designer hoped.  Things happen and we have to solve the problem and roll with the punches…..

One of the plans I made was to write more often about my experiences during the course of the prep for the 2013 York Historical Society show house this year, and best laid plans, as they say….often go astray!!  So, here we are less than 2 weeks until the opening and I haven’t written as much as I planned, but let me bring you up to speed…

I am working on two spaces in this year’s house on Kittery Point, ME- we are calling it “Secret Cove”- the first floor Sitting Room, Kitchen and Dining room, one very large open space with a somewhat unusual layout and relationship to the adjoining rooms.  I am also designing a very special little space at the top of the main stair and the skylight-lit open staircase leading to it.  oldyork.org/Visit/showhousepreshow.html

"Before" shot of kitchen showing dark green walls and white cabinets

“Before” shot of kitchen showing dark green walls and white cabinets

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Top floor sitting area- I’m calling it the Lady’s Retreat”

upper staircase leading to the "Lady's Retreat"

upper staircase leading to the “Lady’s Retreat”

Though I start out with a very clear vision of what I plan for the spaces, it is always exciting to hunt for the components and details that really bring that vision to life.  This year I was again fortunate to have the paint and wallpaper donated by Farrow&Ball.  Farrow & Ball paints are very high in pigment and create a wonderful depth of color and the wallpapers are all hand-blocked. This gives them a much richer dimension than a digitally printed, flat design.  We were very fortunate this year as F&B has made their paint and papers available to all the designers in the Show house, and they will even be giving color consultancies during the weekend of July 2o-21.  I used over 16 gallons of paint in my spaces as I was painting the walls, ceiling and trim throughout!

Progress in the Kitchen/Dining/Sitting area! That's a LOT of Paint!!

Progress in the Kitchen/Dining/Sitting area!
That’s a LOT of Paint!!

Many thanks to my great painting contractor- Bob Gagnon with Architectural Coatings Company as my spaces presented special challenges!  we have also been challenged with the wet and humid weather…everything feels sticky as we move closer to the finish.  We had a long day today as we had lots of items that are getting to the finishing stages.  The wallpaper is up and looking great, the lighting fixtures from Lighting by the Sea are really exciting and make a special impact in the Kitchen/Dining space….many, many thanks to Alan and Brienne for all their help and their great eye!  I am very pleased with the items already put in place, and I am really exited about the rest of the choices that I have made.  I think that it is maybe a little harder to admit that some of my original plans have not worked out, but the reality is that it has forced me to be even more creative and think outside the box…I have had to stretch myself and I think it has resulted in an even better pair of rooms.

Breakfast nook and bookcase in progress

Breakfast nook and bookcase in progress

 

My main idea with this blog post is to check in with the progress of the house, show a few sneak peaks, and hopefully create a little curiosity as to what I am creating!!  As with all “works in progress” the ACTUAL end product is not always clear in the middle of the process.  The best way to describe it is that when you have a very clear idea of the end point, and always keep it in front of you….great things happen!!

 

upstairs bookcases

upstairs progress with bookcases

I am really happy with the way things are shaping up in the upstairs room, and the color is just how I imagined it would be….a soft green that offers a bit of a surprise to the eye and I am unbelievably pleased at how it looks with the focal point coral fabric…I think it is striking the exact note of surprise and beauty I hoped.  The Kitchen/Dining/Sitting rooms on the ground floor are an interesting contrast – using black, gray, and other neutrals,  I think they are an unexpected combination, and the rooms are another visual surprise!  I am also quite happy with how the antiques mix with the modern pieces in a completely comfortable, and yet completely fresh combination….

progress kitchen sitting room

Sitting area of kitchen-sneak peak of some items

The outside views are amazing from every vantage point and I will finish this post with the outside focus-  stay tuned for some more updates after the holiday!

window view kittery 2013

the view from the top window-with gorgeous coastal views of Piscataqua River….

 

Happy 4th of July!!  And we would LOVE you to make plans to visit Secret Cove from July 12-Aug 17!

secret cove

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

The Color of Stone- The Black, Tan and Grey Story

by Meredith Bohn | May 9th, 2013

Ever since I can remember, I have been drawn toward stone houses.  At first, my attraction had to do with the solid sense of history, the sense of richness with stone that one does not get in a simple clapboard or shingle construction.  Then, as I experienced the interior of a stone construction, I was especially drawn to the thickness of the walls, creating deep window embrasures, just made for a cat to sit in or a possible opportunity for a window seat to curl up and read.

Classic Pennsylvania stone colonial.

Classic Pennsylvania stone colonial. I love the range of color in these walls-beautiful!

cotswold stone

Cotswold stone cottages

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Even better, a whole street of Cotswold stone cottages- the range of colors is easily seen. Cotswold stone is often described as having a warm golden glow-so the shades are warm, rather than the colder grey tones.

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Wadden House- cool grey “Purbeck” stone, almost silvery with the lighter lichen adding another collection of grey shades-stunning.

 

More recently, as I have explored the long dream of living in England, I have  seen more and more houses filled with character and charm and most of these have been stone…. but I realized that I was being drawn to the color and texture of the stone and seeing something I had not noticed previously- a color scheme of natural subtlety- a range of shades in tan, grey, charcoal, black, and even creams and gold mixed in.  Tour the grander houses, the great “Country Houses” of England and one sees interior spaces that use the stone walls as the only finish, no other paneling or other surface decoration- this has lead to “stone” being used as a color name in many paint lines, another indication of the decorative color scheme possibilities.  “Oxford Stone” and “London Stone” are in the warm family of grey shades, but they are terrific neutrals to start a color scheme and they mix well with other “natural” colors, as well as with black, charcoal, cream or white.

 

 

Farrow and Ball paint- Oxford Stone

Farrow and Ball paint- Oxford Stone

Farrow and Ball paint London Stone

Farrow and Ball paint London Stone

Exploring the idea of color schemes taken from nature, I was struck by how these colors either allow me to use them to liven up a soft color palette or soften a bold one.  One of the boldest color schemes is black and white- very high contrast and modern in many instances, yet the addition of the stone neutrals relaxes the scheme and creates a timeless interior.  Take a neutral color scheme of natural colors and textural shades like straw, wheat, pale tan stone and deeper golden-tan stone shades and add a pop of bold color like orange, clear red or bright blue and green and you have something interesting and lively.  My friend and fellow interior designer, Linda Holt of Linda Holt Interiors, recently attended a design seminar on new color trends and it was fore-casted that beige is back as a strong color trend.  After such a strong trend of grey the past few years, this may sound like we are leaving that color scheme behind, yet if you look at the beiges and browns mixed in with greys and charcoals in the stone walls above, I see this as a continuation of the “natural” trend, with the patina of age and wear softening, and easing, the color schemes into something that creates a restful, relaxed ambiance.

Black and white and cream softened with patina and the use of natural stone- serene and calm

Black and white and cream softened with patina and the use of an antique mirror and natural stone- serene and calm, very simple and yet not feeling cold or bare.

 

The entrance hallway shown here has a similar color palette of greys and charcoal, but again softened with the use of natural materials and textures, perfectly suited to the mountain cabin location.

Mostly greys and black, yet a soft natural group of textures and finishes- very well suited to the mountain cabin location-Nancy Warren Interiors

Nancy Warren Interiors

I am particularly drawn to rooms with actual stone walls as color palette inspiration.  These spaces appeal to my love of history and an older concept of room decor, furniture placement and surface decoration-they lead in unexpected design directions for today.

Beautiful stone walls and fireplace as a backdrop to the simple blue and white chairs

Beautiful stone walls and fireplace as a backdrop to the simple blue and white chairs

 

modern use of natural stone palette- very soft neutral effect

modern use of natural stone palette- very soft neutral effect

 

This next room is open to the hall with the classic stone floor of white and grey stone, so here are several surfaces-all adding the layers of texture that add depth to the monochromatic color scheme.  There are warm greys in the wall and some of the wood furniture, the pale grey on the woodwork and doors is a warm tone, as well.  The cool greys in the fabrics on the upholstered furniture and the floorboards, plus the frosted silver grey of the etched glass in the doors and the crystal chandelier, add sparkle and contrast.

room with fireplace

Multiple shades of grey with natural beams and wood floor, along with the patina on the painted doors create a harmonious and subtle palette.

The following room has a much warmer look with the softness of the fabrics and window treatments, and the touches of gilt add warmth as well.

wonderful mix of fabrics add interest to the general palette of grey neutrals

wonderful mix of fabrics add interest to the general palette of grey neutrals

Touches of gilding or the glint of the metallic surface is another choice to add interest to a neutral color scheme, and this is also found in nature.  As I mentioned, Cotswold stone is often described as golden, and most of us have seen elements of silver or pewter in the rocks we see every day, so this is a wonderful way to create sparkle and interest in these neutral schemes.

Gilded frames on an antique paneled wall, along with a "fancy" chair next to a rustic table...all natural surfaces with wear and tear.

Gilded frames on an antique paneled wall, along with a “fancy” chair next to a rustic table…all natural surfaces with wonderful wear and tear.

grey walls and fabric bench- but the genius is adding that orange trim and the mix of the art-Kate Spade Foyer

grey walls and fabric bench- but the genius is adding that orange trim and the mix of the art. The pillows are a perfect choice, adding that tracery of black and creamy white – Kate Spade foyer

One of my favorite “natural” combinations is black and tan.  It is a classic in fashion, leather goods, military uniforms and safari motifs.  We see it so often that I think we might take it for granted- but it is certainly timeless and yet always there are fresh ways to interpret the color scheme.  Whether simple blocks of color or complex patterns and textures, I love its versatility.

 

simple color palette of black, tan and cream

simple color palette of black, tan and cream, fairly minimalist, yet with a great use of texture in the elements- Ashley Goforth Design

Black and tan color palette with multiple elements of style- Nate Berkus Design

Black and tan color palette with many layers and multiple elements – Nate Berkus Design

The contrast of dark stone colors with bright pops of color can be found in the original inspiration of the stone structure in the natural surroundings, and I have been seeing it with new eyes when I look at other interior spaces – especially with the use of colorful artwork contrasted with natural colors and surface finishes.  Not only is the contrast in the color, but also in the contrast between the man-made and the world of nature.

Stone Dovecote-beautiful dark tones of the stone stand out against the fresh green of the pasture

Stone Dovecote-beautiful dark tones of the stone stand out against the fresh green of the pasture

Folk Art bird paintings in unexpected places add a delightful quirkiness to this personal space.  Pops of color as well as the glints of metallic surfaces highlight the natural backdrop

Folk Art bird paintings in unexpected places add a delightful quirkiness to this personal space. Pops of color along with the glint of metallic elements, in addition to the high gloss of the wall and floor add very interesting contrast to the naturalistic rendition of the birds

There are many opportunities to explore the grey, black and tan color story in smaller vignettes as well -  using silver or pewter accents, giving the texture and surface interest of metal, natural elements such as coral, driftwood or branches, and incorporating the patina of antique or rustic furniture.

entry way spot

Entry Vignette repeating a predominantly white color palette with black, grey and brown accents.

Shells, coral and pen and ink drawings highlight a natural black grey and ivory color palette

Shells, coral, and pen and ink drawings highlight a natural black, grey and ivory color palette

There are so many ways to execute these natural or stone inspired color schemes, I hope that I have at least inspired you to look around you when searching for a color scheme.  It can always be that a fabric has the colors that inspire you, or a well-loved painting or other artwork- but look to nature and see what other contrasts or combinations you may find.  I will leave you with one final image of one of my favorite color palette combinations – deep seal brown and warm grey, with a pop of beautiful blue!

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One of my rooms in the York Historical Designer Show House is being created with this natural stone palette, be sure and visit this year’s lovely house, and stay tuned for more posts on the transformation!

 

 

 

 

Understanding the Texture of Design

by Meredith Bohn | April 21st, 2013

Recently I attended 2 seminars addressing different aspects of design and the design business that, as usual, led me to examine what I do (and often, WHY I do it)! The first seminar that I was fortunate to attend was in Winter Park, Florida (a post should be dedicated to that terrific city, just because it is amazing all by itself) The Friends of Casa Feliz hosted the 7th annual Colloquium for Historic Preservation and I was back among the environs of my architectural studies.  This year the subject was the architecture of James Rogers Gamble and James Rogers Gamble II and the guest speaker was Paul Goldberger, who I have admired since I read his work on skyscrapers and other articles in the NYTimes, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere.  While we had several interesting discussions as to why preservation was and is important, what constitutes “good” architecture and why it matters,  I was most struck by the panel discussion on the work of the two architects.  These two men, uncle and nephew, could not have been more different in era and work, yet as son and grandson “Jack” Rogers explained, what makes good architecture great is this sense of place, context,and texture.  In residential design, whether it is the exterior or the interior of a building, texture is what elevates the ordinary to something that is meaningful and moving.  Something that we respond to on a deeper level.

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Here we have a riot of detail, Palladian windows crushed next to portholes, roof lines, turret, columns all crowded together on one home- totally overwhelming. This is an example of More=Too Much!

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Interesting, but not in a good way! Here the mistake is expensive materials used unwisely. Badly proportioned entry and windows with uncomfortable scale and size.

typical oversized home with lack of texture and details on brick, window trim, over-sized windows, and badly proportioned entry.

Typical over-sized home with lack of texture and details on brick, window trim, over-sized windows, and badly proportioned entry. This home looks like attempts were made with texture on the brick pattern surrounding the doors and defining the floors, but they fall short, and it looks unbalanced.

A lack of texture is one of the major and defeating problems of the typical “McMansion”.  The details are flat and uninteresting, usually under-scaled and out of proportion.  Details on an exterior of a home can be terrific on a small or modest home and elevate it to something charming, expressive and interesting, and details on a large sprawling and expensive home can still be inexpressive and uninteresting, no matter the level of expense.  So if it is not about money, what is it?  It is quite simply, good design.  Attention to detail means that it is historically appropriate and well proportioned at the very least, and that is not about richness of material or cost of labor, but everything about scale, shadow lines and reveals and materials that have texture.

Contrast that with the work of the two architects of the Colloquium.  James Rogers Gamble is responsible for many of the gothic buildings that define the campus of Yale University.  Even allowing for the differences in our period to that of late 1800′s and early 1900′s and the choices we make when determining a style of a building, these buildings have a universal language that we can all appreciate and they are the epitome of detail and texture.  More importantly for the purposes of my thoughts on this subject are the residential buildings of James Rogers Gamble II, working in Winter Park, FL.  James Rogers Gamble II was an architect that followed the “old-school” apprenticeship route to a practicing architect, but was something of a renaissance man of intense curiosity and awareness of the world around him.  His homes built in Winter Park during the 20′s and 30′s were not about massively expensive materials, and massively sized homes, but attention to detail and texture were superb.  These houses are delightful to the eye, moderately sized, yet perfectly proportioned.  The interior of Casa Feliz, perhaps his first  “important” home for Massachusetts industrialist Robert Bruce Barbour is delightful, spacious and yet very simple, in keeping with the style of Andalusian farmhouse that he was patterning the home after.

An example of multiple shapes and details that create an interesting facade and does not overwhelm it.

Spanish Colonial Residence-An example of multiple shapes and details that create an interesting facade and does not overwhelm it.

Beautifully proportioned, large, yet not overwhelming, beautiful texture of brick and other materials to create a sense of history.

Casa Feliz-Beautifully proportioned home. Large, yet not overwhelming, and the beautiful texture of brick and other materials to create a sense of history.

Also built during the Depression as an Apartment complex, Rogers II inteded this to look like a collection of buildings like a little village.  The "cluster style" housing that we are seeing more of today. But here we see a terrific use of texture to create interest with the smooth stucco of the stairs against the rough texture of the brick wall.

Barbour Apartments-Also built during the Depression as an Apartment complex, Rogers II intended this to look like a collection of buildings similar to a little village. The “cluster style” housing that we are seeing more of today. But here we see a terrific use of texture to create interest with the smooth stucco of the stairs against the rough texture of the brick wall.

Even in a "Modern" style the proportion is excellent and the details are clean and simple and in keeping with the Less=More philosophy

Even in a “Modern” style the proportion is excellent and the details are clean and simple and in keeping with the Less=More philosophy

 

All these images and discussion lead me up to the importance of that same texture and detail in interior design.  The second seminar that I participated in was on the features and principles that make a room worthy of being published.  What is involved in the evaluation that an editor brings to judge interior design work? The same principles of design in architecture, apply to the work that I do.  Scale, proportion, detail, texture, AND getting them right is the most important skill that I and my fellow interior designers bring to the table.  The difference between a nice room and a terrific room is the sum of those details.

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Wallpaper panels designed and added to perfect the proportion and scale of the room. York Designer Show House 2012, Master Bedroom, Meredith Bohn Interior Design
Greg West Photography

 

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Paint colors on walls and ceilings were selected to create a better proportion to the space and to create a soft, restful ambiance. Farrow and Ball paint throughout enhances the light and adds a depth of color that is unique to their paint formulas.
“Skylight” on Walls, “Borrowed Light” on ceiling.
Greg West Photography

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Corner detail showing wallpaper panels and relationship of the detail and proportion to the window and ceiling. Meredith Bohn Interior Design
Photo by Meredith Bohn

 

Each room that I design calls me to address the details, whether to correct a proportion problem, balance the furniture in the room, or even to solve a traffic flow difficulty.  The choices that I make are all designed to create a space that functions well for the client.  But, more importantly, I believe that the homes we live in should be beautiful, meaningful, and nurturing.  The places we live are the places that enrich our lives and we respond BEST to homes and rooms that are made up of our history, our future and our spirit.

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Texture is not only in traditional or “full” rooms- this space is calm and serene, yet full of color in the artwork, multiple textures and materials in the furniture

Copy of carlisle-house-05

Eric Cohler designed the living room for This Old House in Carlisle, MA.  Here is a different example of texture in the materials. Patina in the original beams of the barn, and mixed with the rough stone stucco of the fireplace chimney along with the modern traditional shapes and fabrics of the furniture.

A flat, mundane,  “4 walls and a ceiling” do nothing for our spirit, and it is not about how much money we spend.  It is about the layers of texture and detail that we enjoy without really knowing why a space feels good.  The cozy corner that calls us to curl up and read, the warm, inviting kitchen that we use to feed ourselves, our guests and family, the welcoming entry that functions well and invites everyone into OUR space.  It is not about only “traditional” style, or layer upon layer of “stuff”.  A simple, spacious modern home can speak volumes to the occupants about light and color and can be just as welcoming.

My goal as a designer is to create spaces that are as distinctive as my clients.  To find that one thing that most means HOME to each of them.  The principles of design are my tools.  Balance, proportion, texture, architecture and architectural style, period and history all combine to help us define what each of us call HOME.

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Personal, welcoming spaces speak to all of us.

black and tan-meredith Bohn Interior design

Layers of texture, patina and detail create interest even with a restricted color scheme

fresh air

Light, Air and Simplicity speak to all of us- and that is the universal truth of good design.

If you would like help creating a home that speaks to YOU, contact me! Meredith@mlbinteriordesign.com

 

Inspiration- What is the Connection between Vermeer, Venice, 2 Hamptons and a Banks-Pye?

by Meredith Bohn | March 24th, 2013

Inspiration.  What is it?  And, where does it come from?  I recently read  some articles that spoke about the writers’ inspiration and it got the wheels turning for me.  I also read a beautiful blog post written by Elle Cole  (a lovely designer I know from Dallas) regarding  beauty and Barbara Barry that got me thinking about who inspired me in a similar manner? There are many images I see from other designers that I certainly acknowledge as inspiration, Miles Redd, Darryl Carter, Mary MacDonald, Phoebe Howard and Tobi Fairley to name several, but I was trying to get to the heart of the matter and ponder what did I SEE that really influenced and generated INSPIRATION?  What image or images that became more than beautiful work, or a beautiful room, or intelligent architecture?  To me, great inspiration stops me cold, pierces my heart, makes me catch my breath.  I look at it and instantly see everything in detail and yet everything is perfectly distinctive and absolutely RIGHT for the space.   It has soul.  I could not imagine changing a thing in the room, or detail in the building.  The inspiration comes from these spaces and REQUIRES me to reach for that distinctive beauty in the rooms that I design.  Not slavishly copy them, or elements from them, such as color palette, or a particular vintage style of furniture, but create a space that says the same perfect thing about the home and the owner, and the elements in the space.

One of my favorite artists is Vermeer.  Of course, most museums and curators would say that he is a great artist, but what is it about him that inspires ME?  First it is is his choice of subject, the intimacy of the captured moment, the interior life that he portrays in his work.  I also love that his images are small, they require you to come closer, to see each detail.  He captures moments that are quiet, intimate or usually unseen or unnoticed.  They are peaceful and serene and cause me to mentally relax and enter the scene.  There is nothing in the paintings that shouldn’t be there, nothing extra, everything precisely where it ought to be.  I believe that a room should do the same, cause you to relax, feel at home and want to come closer and be more a part of the space.  The details are important!

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

I often say that I see inspiration whenever I travel, and usually I mean that I see many houses, monuments, building details, and even landscapes that become part of my visual memory and thus influence my designs.  The beautiful light of early spring in England, along with my beloved National Trust houses and their wonderful jumble of interior belongings, both humble and grand.  The details on every building that is unique to the European scene.  The fabulous golden light that is the Italian Tuscan hillside.  The hot, brilliant sun bouncing off the white plaster buildings of Greece and Spain, and recently, the cool, grey serenity of the Swedish Gustavian room.  All these become part of the things that I have seen and that create combinations and juxtapositions in the rooms I design and the details that make up the whole.

And then there is Venice…..La Serenissima…..whose beauty and age and architecture are so beautiful they make me weep.  Literally.  All those feelings that I describe, I felt in Venice.  I had to laugh at myself many times as I found myself walking around with my mouth open, and literally clutching my throat with wonder.  This city has a FEELING that is indescribable.  I LOVE London, I LOVE Sienna and Florence, I LOVE New York, but Venice took me and grabbed me by the heart and the thought of her makes me weep with the joy of her.  Vicki Archer of French Essence had a wonderful post today with pictures that brought me right back to that fabulous city, and I cannot wait to visit again.  I try and create that sense of wonder and beauty and heritage with all the work that I do.

St Mark Square

St Mark’s Square- Vicki Archer photo

The Grand Canal and Santa Maria Della Salute- Vicki Archer Photo

I mentioned many designers above, and as I said, they certainly inspire me.  I see many things in their work that I try to emulate, that surprise and delight me.  Miles Redd and Tobi Fairley with their use of surprising color and combinations. Darryl Carter and Mark D. Sikes with their calm, traditional vibe that is still clean, and modern, with a restrained color palette.  Mary MacDonald and her truly glamorous vision of modern traditional, contrasting with Phoebe Howard and Charlotte Moss and their restrained. and yes, ladylike, Southern graciousness.  The work of all these designers expands my vision and makes me work harder every day to achieve their polish and verve.

Mark D. Sikes

Mark D. Sikes

Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley

Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss

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Darryl Carter

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Miles Redd

And then we come to….The Hamptons.  By that I mean the great Mark Hampton and his incredibly talented daughter, Alexa.  I had the privilege of hearing Alexa Hampton give a presentation at the Boston Design Center and I was alternately awed, charmed and amazed.  I had seen a number of her rooms and design work in books and articles, as well as her father’s work and I knew it was excellent.  Her father is an icon, but Alexa’s design aesthetic speaks right to me in a way that no one else’s does.  She was speaking about her book and the design process she uses for her work and  it was very informative, but even more amazing was her educated, classic and yet, ever so fresh, way of using that language of design.  She is erudite, and every detail, from the choice of fabric and floor plan, to the frame on a picture and the arrangement of the art on the wall is impeccable.  Every image she presented had a distinctive choice and solution that was perfect for the space and the client.  I believe that to have all that skill, taste and drive, accompanied by the wickedest sense of humor on the planet- in a word is…Astounding!  Look here at a deceptively simple room as far as elements, but the use of the texture of the velvet, the patina of the stone sculpture, the books and the casual, obvious comfort and approachability of the room is perfect.  As with Vermeer, there is absolutely nothing here that is not perfectly at home and does not belong, and if you do not instantly want to come into this room and want to kick off your shoes and relax-then I will eat my proverbial hat!!

Alexa Hampton

Alexa Hampton

And last , but not least, is Rogers Banks-Pye.  He worked at Colefax and Fowler and is largely unknown to the general American public.  I first saw his work in “Interior Inspirations” which came out the year after his death in 1997 and is quintessential English, yet he defies this simple description.  His work has humor, detail, precision and yet a casual elegance that I strive for in my work every day.  Where Alexa Hampton could be said to have a classic rigor to her work, his is the casual ability to “break” rules at the same time he is inventing some of his own.  I was mesmerized by his rooms, his fearlessness in the use of pattern, trims, pottery and china, accessories. his rooms look “thrown” together, yet they are anything but.  This is not the “studied” casual elegance of the elite, this is truly inspired use of materials and letting a room organically speak of the inhabitants.  I read a comment that called it “grand and gracious in one fell swoop” ( Thank you,  Daniel J. Shigo of La vie interieure Blog- “one fell swoop” is an expression which was an absolute favorite of my parents and that says SO much!)  I want every one of my rooms to have those elements- intimacy, graciousness, and a touch of the grand….

 

 

Roger Banks-Pye

Roger Banks-Pye

“Always make a dark room, darker” – Roger Banks-Pye

As I said, he was not afraid to break rules, or to create his own!  I am not always going to advocate that the rooms should all be dark, but it reminds me to take a look at ALL my options and not just assume that a certain color or orientation is the only “correct” way.

 

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Drawing Room- Roger Banks-Pye

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Sitting Room- Rogers Banks-Pye

“Always scale up, not down.  Everyone is always terrified of making things too big.  If in doubt, make it bigger, not smaller” – Roger Banks-Pye

Blogging the York, ME Show House 2013

by Meredith Bohn | March 17th, 2013

This is first of several posts I hope to write commenting on the design and creation of the spaces that I am doing for the York Historical Society Designer’s Show House (York, Maine).  I have always found the articles that I have read about the creation and execution of a design very interesting, I and hope you will as well.  I recently read a great post about the selection of artwork for a Show House Dining Room for the Kansas City Design Show House by my friend and colleague, Tam Stone which I thought was fascinating.

I thought I would begin with the selection of the rooms(s) and express what I chose and why I selected those spaces for my submission.

When touring the home selected in Kittery Point, ME – I was struck by the absolutely breathtaking site on the high bluff over the water, as well as the interesting connection of the house with the sloping lot.  This house basically steps up the hillside and almost every room has a view of the water, so my design needed to take advantage of the great light and striking views.  The entry floor for the show house will be the first floor which houses the kitchen, dining and sittings rooms as well as the Master Bedroom, mudroom in the back and a large storage Butler’s Pantry.  The main stair in the house climbs right up through the middle of the house and is lit by a large skylight which bathes the interior with great natural light.

Second floor sitting area showing central stair

Second floor sitting area showing central stair

 

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Main Kitchen/Dining area

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Main Kitchen/Dining area looking back toward Entry

The Kitchen, Dining room and Sitting room on the first level is a wide open space and the design choices need to make sense throughout the whole space.  The house is a newer construction and this is the central gathering space that so many families look for when purchasing a home.  While the current color scheme needs updating, the whole space is generous, but still very cohesive and the proportions are nice.  There are quiet corners available, and the working areas are comfortable and well thought out.  I felt that this room offered many opportunities to showcase a wide range of design ideas, as well as show what was possible to pull such a varied space together.

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Sitting area off Kitchen/Dining

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Breakfast Nook area off Kitchen/Dining

At the top of the staircase is a wonderful sitting area, currently set up as an office.  This room has the most beautiful view of the water and you really have a sense of being up in the treetops.  I simply fell in love with this area, the view and the light were spectacular!  I felt that the dramatic curved dormer ceiling was calling out to be highlighted by a great color and I wanted to present something in my design that was a complete surprise for the visitor.  Here is the picture of this space before we do our work.  (all of these images of the house are showing the “before”)

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Sitting room at the top of the stairs, currently set up as an office.
LOOK at that water out the window!!!

As you can tell, these two particular areas really held an interest to me and these are the spaces for which I presented design proposals.  This year is the first year that the York Historical Society has made available furniture from their collection that we can use in the space.  There is a beautiful, black Windsor bench that is a very clean version of this old design.  It appears quite modern, even though it is vintage. There is also, a set of tiger maple dining chairs that I am very excited to incorporate into the design!

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I was very inspired, as I always am at the seacoast, with the wonderful, natural colors of the salt water marshes, the seabirds and the rocky shore that we have here in New Hampshire and southern Maine.  The shades of creamy white of the sea foam and white caps, the really wonderful tans and grays of the rocks and sand and marsh, and the black and deep gray of the edges and shadows all work together to create that sense of restfulness and yet, invigoration of the seashore!  This year I created a proposal that takes these neutral tones and I put together a room design that is bright and clean -  Modern and traditional at the same time.  I was also inspired by the wildlife at the seacoast and I am incorporating birds and bird images in what I believe is a fresh and interesting way.  This is one of the Audubon prints that I will be using, and I also found some gorgeous John Gould prints of seabirds. (This artist is considered the English version of Audubon and is also considered the father of Australian bird study, as well as working with Darwin as he was studying his finches.)

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I don’t want to give away too much, but on my next post I will detail some of my progress on the Kitchen/Dining/Sitting room.  I will also give you a few more details regarding the furniture, paints and sponsors from the local area.  I hope you will “stay tuned”.

The room at the top of the stairs with the spectacular view is going to be a very different space than the one you see here!  This time my design proposal was inspired by a fabric and its colors.  Remember that curved dormer?  I didn’t want to follow the crowd and do a sky blue ceiling – I believe that there are many other choices to do a fresh color without always doing seaside rooms in shades of blue and white.  I LOVE blue and white, but I wanted something unexpected, and yet still fresh and light.  I DID want to incorporate a “trendy” color that I have been seeing quite a bit, but not because it was trendy, but because it was unexpected in this space.  This fabric was full of color, traditional in style, but totally modern in color palette.  Here is small picture of that portion of the proposal board, showing the fabric….but just a sneak peak!

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Coral!!

WELL, we are off and running! As I mentioned, I hope to do several posts detailing the progress and many, many thanks to the York, ME Historical Society for selecting my proposals,  and putting their trust in me for this Designer’s Show House, it is a wonderful honor! We will be working on the house from now through the 4th of July, and I hope you will consider visiting our wonderful New England seacoast this summer!

For more information, please look at their website for the dates and times as well as special events planned around the tour.  This year is the 24th Design Show House and “Secret Cove” promises to be beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luscious Red

by Meredith Bohn | February 16th, 2013

A rich, strong red is one of my very favorite things. We all know how striking it is on a beautiful woman, whatever her age, and it does the same in a room décor. It adds a depth and interest that no other color adds. We are always drawn to it, and I believe that it is as important an element as an accent of black.

Whether it is the classic combination of a LBD (little black dress) with striking red lipstick, or a rich lacquered chest, porcelain in oxblood, or a single accent element in an otherwise quiet or subtle room- Red is always right in my world!

Red can be as classic as a shiny vintage car, or as warm and romantic as red roses with blue and white china. It can be modern and clean like brilliant red glass sculpture, or as traditional and mysterious as rubies, rich red wine or ruby red velvet.

Some of my favorite accents of red!

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A single pop of strong color adds interest and personality!  And a striking door does the same for your home….

 

 

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Nothing says European chic like a cafe with fabulous red chairs! Get the same effect in your home with a set of red stools or seat cushions.

bohemian, world tour red

Timeless style in a room that speaks of world travels and bohemian interests- wrapped in cozy red from top to bottom.  Texture, antique art and a classic oriental carpet are all part of the mix.

 

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Everyone has seen a country quilt in red, but here it is elevated by the large applique pattern, a striped rag rug and great red frames….repeating an accent color is important for a finished room.

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red in a mix of patterns is always a good idea- but here it is mixed by a master-Cameron Kimber.

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Two different examples of how to create an outline in red, banding a curtain in a simple style and outlining a chair with decorative trim and interesting detail.

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In and otherwise light colored room, the deep shot of red leather picks up the pops of color in the large modern artwork.

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The great Miles Redd knows how to use his namesake color to fabulous effect, the red frame balances the strong color used in the art and the cobalt blue chest of drawers.

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This is one of my very favorite examples of the use of red in an otherwise quiet and serene room with a palette of mostly white.  The patina and finish on these great red doors add a stunning focal point.  They lead our eye into the space beyond, and draw us in.  Interesting how a “hot” color like red actually adds to the serenity of the space here.  The same is true of the kitchen below.  The patina of the cabinet finish in red complements the rough plaster of the walls to create a rustic and refined combination.

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Who can resist the beauty of red?  I know that I can’t!

Shades of Grey

by Meredith Bohn | June 24th, 2010

I have recently been doing several projects that involve new paint color choices, and with the interest in the design world focusing on Belgian design…shades of grey seemed a natural direction to take.  Driftwood, linen, faded whitewashed panelling, stoneware, all share this muted color palette, and the use of these colors brings a strong sense of serenity to a room.  This color palette is also seen in Swedish design, although in Sweden it tends toward “blue-er”  shade of grey and as we go south the color tends to trend “warmer” into blends of grey and beige tones.

Tried and True Paint Colors in Shades of Grey:

Benjamin Moore-Revere Pewter, Grey Owl, Abalone

Farrow and Ball-Pavilion Grey, Mouse’s Back

When looking for inspiration think of faded, softened and aged wood and fabrics, marry this with the shine of glass and silver, add in some greenery and some metal pieces with a patina of age and you are on your way!

If you thought designers:

by Meredith Bohn | June 18th, 2010

  • Cost a small fortune
  • would get rid of some or all of your furnishings
  • would overwhelm you and your home with a look that isn’t you
  • were “pushy” and “over the top”

I hear these types of comments frequently, especially the idea that designers and decorators take over and in the end, your home doesn’t feel like it is yours.  My approach is quite different. I work with you to make your home reflect you and your family’s lifestyle. The best place to make decorating decisions is in your own home. I tour your home, room by room, to discuss your decorating needs and tastes. I then help you translate your ideas into a finished look with appropriate fabrics, furniture and accessories. By planning together, we eliminate costly decorating and design mistakes, and develop a plan and budget that is comfortable and tailored to you.  One of the most common questions that I am asked by a client is “What would YOU do?” or “What would YOU pick?”  I always respond that the best choice is the one that is comfortable for the client.  I see my job as an editor, helping the client sort through the multiple choices and find the design details that reflect their individual style…key point being that it is the client’s style that needs to be reflected, NOT the designer’s.

Believe me,  I will vigorously lobby for something in the design that I believe will make a strong statement, something that will create a distinctive point of view…but I always have the ultimate goal of creating a design that reflects the client’s vision, style and personality.