Life By Design. Inside and Out. Fourth Edition.

This is the Fourth Edition in a series of creative perspectives about life and the design process from Garden Designer, Heather McLean and myself.  You can read Heather's blog here!

This summer I took a day to stop and be inspired in my own backyard.  Heather came to Boston and we had the opportunity to look at an historical home and garden together to create this edition of Life By Design.  Looking Back for wonderful Inspiration for Today! Join us for a little history tour ... and lots of classic design tips!

The Longfellow House, home to Henry and Frances Appleton Longfellow was built in 1759 and became home to the Longfellow's in 1843.  The house also served as General George Washington's headquarters during the Siege of Boston from July 1775 to April 1776. Pretty Fancy lineage!

For some reason, I was anticipating a far more austere interior.  What I was delighted to find was a beautiful mixture of styles that were the direct result of personal treasures, American colonial pieces that represent their love for the past, items brought in from world travel and interests, a huge influence of Japanese and Chinese style resulting from Charles' (their oldest son) twenty month travel in Asia.  He shipped over 20 crates of furniture and decorative items to their new home in Cambridge.  Wouldn't I have loved to be on the receiving end of those crates!!

The Collection. The Detail.  

Wallpaper.  Gallery Wall.  Altar Table.  This 'trend' is just as spot on today as it was in the 1800's! Wonderful staying power!

A beautiful Chinoiserie Corner ... Fauteuil chair, garden stool, and matching drapes.  

Crown moldings everywhere and in the non-minimalist style ... a little added punch for the cornice.  Crown. Metal. Fringe. Tassels.  Alrighty then!

A detail shot of the floral drapes in the French corner.  Braided trim ... with a beautiful wallpaper backdrop. I know, wallpaper comes and goes.  But overall, it is a trend that will never truly go out of style.

The curator didn't know who made the wallpaper, but I found it very fresh in its' old fashioned way.  Fun fact that the original chinoiserie wallpaper is still in tact underneath this one.  It dates back to the mid 18th Century.

One of the highlights of the house for me was this bamboo trim around the wall.  Brown grass wallpaper with a bamboo molding.  Fabulous!  Another interesting move in the house is that they ran out of library space for their books.  So several windows were turned into bookshelves.  While I am never one to forgo a natural light source, it worked in this house ... with window treatments and all!  Just shows what we'll do for a good collection!

A close up of more detail.  The mouldings were everywhere.  While in some cases this might be a little ostentatious ... it really didn't feel that way in this house.  The architecture is beautifully over the top, but the furnishings actually very simple which resulted in a restful balance.

Another detail ... in the bedrooms there were "indoor" shutters that had a spot to tuck away into the frame around the window seat.  I am a huge fan of the plantation shutter, but this may have trumped that love!  Try to ignore the black out shades put there now to preserve the colors and textures as much as possible!

And oh how I love a good lock!  Don't overlook your HARDWARE!  I want a door to be SOLID, the locks and knobs to have substance when you touch them.  Otherwise ... why have the door??? 

Thanks for stopping by to take an impromtu Design History Tour with me ... Nothing we do is really new, just a different spin. Taking from our past and making it relate to today's lifestyle.  I love being reminded of how our history is laced with beauty.  

Travel is one of the most inspirational things I can do to fire up my creativity and allow me to look at things differently.  But I try not to forget that there are many treasures right in my backyard!  

In the words of Longfellow ... 

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
    To stay at home is best. 

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
    To stay at home is best. 

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
    To stay at home is best. 

Pop over to Heather's blog and see what we found in the Garden here at the Longfellow House!


Life By Design. Inside and Out. First Edition.

This is a first in a series of creative perspectives about life and the design process from Garden Designer, Heather McLean and myself.  You can read Heather's blog at:

One of my most sincere goals in approaching each design plan is to find something that makes each space personal for my clients.  The space I leave behind is about them, not me, Since I started my Interior Design business, I can read a house, almost from the moment I walk in the door.  It has nothing to do with the furnishings, it's a feeling.  I am no psychic, but have been in enough homes over the years that I can just FEEL.

There are varying degrees, I have worked with big families, small families, single people just starting out and empty nesters downsizing.  Life is chock full of changes and as long as there is a strong love ... the tie that binds ... I have watched families move mountains, literally and emotionally.

My job is to provide the "set" for the real life play that goes on 24/7.  Designers are an integral part of the project for as long as it goes on.  Sometimes it is a quick turn around, some projects I have worked on for years.  But when our job is done, we are no longer a a part of the play.  Just the set designer that leaves the outcome to the real players.  

This might be self indulgent, or weird to some, but I leave a part of me in each project.  My best projects, as I've said before, are the ones where my clients trust me and just let me "go".  Those get the most from me, time, energy and love.  I approach them all, while yes ... I am being paid ... as a gift I am giving.  Lives are busy, kids get sick, parents grow older and need more attention, jobs are demanding, weddings are taking place.  If I can leave a thoughtful space when I am done, where at the end of the day my families come home and feel a sense of peace and love in their home, I have done my job. 

And, in turn, I take them into my heart and home with me at the end of the day.  

Making the World More Beautiful.  One Room at a Time.


Dining Room Progress.

Sometimes I feel like the Cobbler.  I am so busy designing and decorating others' homes and I forget ... or truthfully, put off because I cannot make up my mind ... the finishing of my own home.

This past week I made HUGE progress in my Dining Room.  HUGE? You ask ... yes.  I chose a chandelier.  Now you have to understand that this has truly taken me two years. 

And then, the Deal Breaker.  Every year our neighborhood has a Progressive Dinner to kick off the holiday season.  First Weekend in November.  Always.  And I was prepared to take some apps and a bottle or two of wine.  And I got the call.

Kim, can you host 10 at your house?  WHAAAAAT??

Yup.  this is her ... Don's office and our perfectly good fan.  Yup.

Now I got this call a week before the dinner.  I immediately texted my favorite electrician.  HELP!!!  I need you this Friday to install a chandelier, can you come?  

CRICKETS.  NO ANSWER.  Did I mention he WAS my favorite electrician???  And by the way I didn't even HAVE a chandelier.  

So at 5 pm Friday night when I finally had the chandelier in my hands,  I reached out to a recommended electrician.  He and I texted back and forth for about 2 hours.  We were both having cocktails and really not paying attention to one another, but I needed him and he is just that responsible!

Saturday morning, he arrives at 10 am ... I am cleaning around him ... and he is wondering why on earth he accepted this job!

But boy am I glad he did ... party went off without a hitch and I marveled over my chandelier all night ... and truthfully ... still feeling pretty good about the whole thing!

Sometimes you just need a big PUSH!  Did I mention I have a NEW favorite electrician?  

Um Hmmm.

Happy Week my friends ... now back out the door to get everyone else's home in order!

Making the World More Beautiful. One Room at a Time.