Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Only 145 days until summer...but who's counting?

As I sit through what has been declared as an "historic storm" here on the Northeast, I find myself dreaming of pools! While I do love a good snowstorm and the idea of snuggling up by the fire with my family, I can't help but fantasize about some really fun and exciting pool designs.

If you are dreaming of installing a pool in your yard this year, it's best to get started on your plan, at least visualizing it, sooner than later! 145 days may seem like a long way until summer, but it will be here before we know it!

Here are a few tips I like to give my clients before we embark on a pool design project:

* Pools do not necessarily bring greater value to a property, but if they are esthetically pleasing and akin to their surroundings, they will certainly bring greater value to the homeowner and in turn, perhaps the property.

* Make sure you are well informed. Pools generally cost more than you think! Take into consideration hardscape, drainage, slopes, plantings, lighting, fencing, and waterfalls. You may also want to think about special add-ons like Pebbletec finishes, salt water systems or floor vacuums. While not all of this has to happen at once, it's smart to take it into consideration. Sometimes pools are like homes, it's better to see how a space lives and breaths for a while. I do recommend getting in as much decking material (which can also be grass) as you can in the beginning, as kids seem to be able to track in mud from a mile away!
* A planting tip we learned was to keep large leaf plantings away from the splash line. When the large leaves get wet they can get burned by the sun. Low grasses are a good choice.

* If you aren't going to hire a professional landscaper, I would at least suggest getting a consultation. While many plants, trees and shrubs look good right now, your want your pool to last a lifetime. And it is costly, in more ways than one, to move that Norwegian Spruce later on down the road!
Novi Landscape Architects
* Just like you would with an interior design, you should space plan for your pool design as well. Track the sun, take into consideration grade. It will shock you to see how sloped your flat backyard really is! How far should the pool be from the house? Attached spa or not? (If you live in the Northeast, I'd recommend detached. We cold weather people seem to love to hop in the spa when the snow if flying, not when the mosquitoes are out!) Kids or no kids? Diving rock? Where do you like to sunbath? How much seating do you need? How about other activities? Fire-pits are very popular and help extend the season. Pergolas and outdoor seating for dining are among other popular features.

Take a look at a few of the pools I designed last year! In this award winning pool design our goal was to make the pool look as if it belonged there all along. Using the existing surrounding landscape as our inspiration and guide, we set off to use as many earth elements as we could.  

In my opinion, what makes designing outdoor spaces truly special is that it's live! As many of you have heard me say, "What does the house want? What is it saying to us?". It is even more important to listen outside. You must be in harmony with what your site has been and what it wants to be. Sourcing locally and using native plantings just makes good and common sense. Understanding your soil and the impact that the construction will have on your site is important too. What will the impact on the wildlife be?

True story...after installing my own pool, we had to start a daily frog patrol. In the end, we built a relocation pond on the other side of the property for repeat offenders. Frogs were happy, we were happy!

Two of my favorite days during a pool project are the day we choose our boulders and the day we place them. I am a firm believer that everything has an energy, a life. Stone also has a history, a story to share. Quite often I will see a rock from afar. Next I try to examine it from all of the angles I can see (it's actually exciting that you can't see all of the sides, you just never know!). I will then just sit with it, hands outstretched on it and listen. Sometimes for quite a while! (This is the point where the nice young forklift operator starts to give me strange looks and wonders if I'm ok!). That is exactly how I ended up with the wonderful diving rock with blast holes in this photo. It fits perfectly into the space and has a nod of approval. We even noticed in the photo that there's a little ghost fish, popping up to take a look! How fitting!

As always in any of my designs, I do my best to incorporate the earths elements and to also use green, recycled materials.

Maybe it's time you sit in your backyard and listen with all of your senses (ok, maybe wait until the snow melts!). It will tell you what to do!

Don't forget to also check out my Pinterest board Pool & Patio Design for more photos and inspiration!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

There's a place for everything, and everything has it's place

How many times did your mother tell you, "There's a place for everything, and everything has a place!"? Well, she certainly had a point. But let's be perfectly honest...some days it seems virtually impossible to figure out the best "place" for everything. And if you are anything like me, that's especially true for my home office. We often refer to my office as "Command Central", however, if you saw a picture of it, you'd wonder how I get anything done! Some days it's shocking to me how much paper has accumulated on my desk, and it feels overwhelming to figure out where to begin to sort through it. So, in my effort to "be a better version of me in 2015" I decided it's time to tackle my home office.

It is possible to be organized and stylish.
Functional, yet pretty.
Practical but not boring.

Source: Ballard Designs
Who's office is this anyway? The first step in creating a usable home office is to determine who will be using the space. Is it completely for professional use, or is it a place for a parent to use the computer...until the kids come home and need it for school work? Once you determine the primary user, then you'll have a better understanding of how many work stations you'll need and what kind of equipment or files will you need to house?

Source: Houzz.com

Source: Houzz.com

Where can I put my home office? Now that we know who the primary owner will be, it should become more clear as to where your home office should be located within your home. Do you have a guest room that could be repurposed as an office? Do you want it on the first floor so that you can tend to kids and pets? I love the idea of tucking an office into an underutilized space, such as under the stairs or in a closet. But I do realize that's not always practical. So a dedicated spot in a living room, kitchen or guest room works just as well too!

Source: http://interiordecorating-idea.blogspot.com/2012/09/home-office-design-decorating-ideas.html

Source: paperblog.com

Source: HGTV.com

Source: HGTV.com

Source: HGTV.com

Source: BHG.com

Source: BHG.com

What kind of furniture and storage am I going to need? "NO!" it doesn't have to come from the office supply store down the road  (and perhaps shouldn't). There are so many great products out there to get you and keep you organized. It doesn't have to be boring! In fact, it's important that your office reflects your style and feels like a "happy" place to go to work.  That being said...there are some really cute office products from Martha Stewart and Poppin.

In terms of furniture, I recommend that you get the largest "desk" that will fit in your space, because let's face it..you can never have too much workspace! Again, your desk need not be from an office supply store. Get creative here! Is there a table you just love? Perhaps you have an old piece of furniture around that you want to paint. Just bear in mind that you will need to fit a computer, very likely a printer, and space for your files.

There is an amazing article on Houzz, that I found incredibly helpful in terms of the size of furniture you need and the necessary space to accommodate a home office. Check it out here!

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

Source: MarthaStewart.com


Source: swiftsorchids.com

Source: Potterybarn.com

 If you have the space, shelving is always a good idea. It provides storage and order to all of the "things" that wind up in your office. And the possibilities are endless as to how you can create a beautiful yet useful shelf. Hang some artwork on the front of you shelves. Paint or wallpaper the back of your bookcase for some added pop of color and personality! Use a less traditional style of shelving, like the one pictured below using shadow boxes. Try something different!

Source: hgtv.com

Source: themetapicure.com

Source: dejondreamhouse.com

Source: plushemisphere.com

Source: centsationalgirl.com

Give it some personality!  This is your space! In order to be happy where you are working, your space should reflect your personality. Make it cozy with an upholstered chair. Better yet, add some extra seating so others can join you!

Source: carlaaston.com

Source: quintessenceblog.com

It's still only January, plenty of time to make good on that New Year's resolution to get your office in order. And now you have a little added inspiration to create a pretty, yet functional workspace. Don't forget to check out my Home Office Décor Pinterest board. Just click here!
Of course, if you are still trying to figure out where to put your stapler, maybe you should give us a call! We'd love to design an office for you!
Speaking of offices....stay tuned! I am setting up a new office space for Mandeville Canyon Designs. Pictures and announcements to come soon!


Remodeling and Home Design
Remodeling and Home Design

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pantone's 2015 Color of the Year~ Marsala

I should have seen the signs.....

The iridescent pomegranate jacket that reached it's arms out to me in the gift shop at Longwood Gardens (I resisted, but only long enough to have to pay shipping later on). The glasses of Malbec cradled in my hands over the holiday season. The enthusiastic encouragement to a client about Ben Moore's rich red titled Dinner Party (and with equal enthusiasm a chandelier that screamed, "Brass is Back, Baby!).

And, of course, I should have known because my heart color is Garnet Red. A heart color is not necessarily a color you wear out or even design with. It's more about an inner desire.

For me the stage was set this new year when Pantone introduced it's 2015 color of the year~ Marsala.  

I had been using it and contemplating it for years. As perhaps many of us have.

The adjectives go something like this: Heady, Complex, Earthy, Complete, Sensual, Intelligent, Delicious... well you get the point. But I think the one that speaks to me the most is Universal

We love Pantone for their forward thinking, unapologetic donation of color choices, but let's face it, we don't all look good in Emerald Green (the cast of Wizard of Oz as the exception).

This years color is the exception. This wine colored wonder actually looks just as good on men as it does on women.

It comfortably crosses geographic and ethnic backgrounds. Carrying a balanced mix of undertones, it is equally comfortable working with all colors. 

It brings about a balance, a tolerance, and a harmony. Perhaps it's giving Pantone a bit more credit, but I'm thinking they have hit upon a color for our times.

So, how do we invite this heavenly hue into our homes?

Well, a color of this nature will always be welcome to the dinner table (although the science of romance tells us that it would also be welcome in another room with horizontal surfaces).

Image from the Design Home

If an entire room seems a bit too ambitious, most of the housewares industry has picked up on how versatile this color will be. From warm stoneware  
Crate and Barrel 

to cool coffee makers to even a collapsible filing rack, it's easy to sneak this sumptuous shade into your daily routine.


I will be adding a collection of pillows into a clients home with some subtle wine colored tones weaved within the design. 

Surya~ To the Trade

Don't feel like you need to commit to that color alone. There are some fabulous color combinations coming out that balance out grounded nature of Marsala.

One of my favorites is adding a splash of aqua or orange to the mix. Think Sangria.

Found on Pinterest

Glassy Baby

And if you are needed a little inner strength and affirmation, choose to slip a little Marsala on your finger or around your neck. 


The shade brings strength, purpose, and decision. 

A former boyfriend once asked me what I would rather have for Christmas, a microwave or a garnet ring. While I was happy he saw I had a practical side, I am even happier that when I open my jewelry box, there is not a microwave in sight.

Found on Pinterest
Take Marsala out for run. Slide it across your lips, drape it around you, snuggle into it and let it work it's universal magic. I promise, it's going to grow on you.

Living in Color,


P.S. Don't for get to find us on Facebook and check out my new Pinterest board ~ Meet Marsala~ Pantone's 2015 Color of the Year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Year with a View

If you are anything like me, you can't figure out how you misplaced 2014! Last winter seemed like it hung on forever and then thankfully we had a luxurious stretch of near perfect weather that seemed to slow the pace down for just a moment. That is until we tumbled head long into the holidays (which for the team on the Holiday House Tour started in February!).

I wanted to take a moment and share with you some of my favorite projects from the past year. We were fortunate enough to create luxurious master baths (when the family reptile isn't doing laps in the floating tub, that is).

All photos by Nat Rea

Romantic master suites complete with double sided fireplaces. 

A kitchen worth loving again.

And, our crispest little cottage yet, with a nod to Jonathan Adler and Paola Navone.

We took complete advantage of that summer sun and created some fabulous backyard adventures complete with diving rocks, 

decks made with rice hulls and olive oil (no, really!)

 and sparkling blue bottoms to spark the imagination.

We finished the year with a special gift. Months of preparation and dedication paid off in the first annual Exeter Area Holiday House Tour

Photos courtesy of Jaye Carr
Five stunning homes designed by five talent designers, florists, and scores of donated accessories inspired almost 300 touring guests from far and wide.

Photos courtesy of Jaye Carr

All the proceeds went to Womenade of Greater Squamscott, an extraordinary non-profit serving the needs of families throughout the Seacoast Area. 

Photos courtesy of Jaye Carr

Our committee was humbled and awed by the selflessness of all who were involved and couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity.

Stay tuned for a preview of 2015, coming soon!

We now look forward to another bountiful year filled with kitchens and baths, cabins and yet another pool. But most of all we look forward to what makes this business so much more than a business. We look forward to working with the best clients in the world. 
And if you are wondering who that might be? 
Yes, it's you!

Happiest of New Year's to all!

If you have a moment, check out our Best Of 2014 video, you might just be in it!