BEFORE & AFTER: A GEORGETOWN KITCHEN

While I’m on a roll sharing updates (can’t stop, won’t stop), how about a before and after? A few weeks ago I went back to DC to photograph this kitchen, and though I should have probably waited to reveal on my refreshed website, patience is not one of my virtues.

This project is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, first, because the clients are really wonderful people who not only undertook the renovation of this Georgetown kitchen while living in NYC, but also remained cool as a cucumber when I learned we were relocating to Raleigh and trusted me to manage the project from afar. And, lest I forget, all while pregnant with their first child!

So, not only are they the epitome of patience and grace, they also had vision. Let me paint the picture. This kitchen is on the lower level of a historic Georgetown row house and was in need of some TLC.

The floor plan was choppy, broken into three rooms–a breakfast room, the kitchen, and dining room which leads out to a beautiful walk out garden–but, with a dropped ceiling and narrow passages between rooms it felt dark and dated.

Yesterday I railed against the over use of open floor plans, but if ever there was a space that benefitted from taking down some walls, this was it.

before: standing in the kitchen looking into the new breakfast room

 We removed the wall between the kitchen and breakfast room and on the opposite side of the kitchen moved a fireplace stack to allow for an enlarged opening between the kitchen and dining room. Instantly the light poured through and the space felt twice as large!

In the breakfast room we added a built-in banquette with under seat storage. I had the black and white ticking stripe on the upholstered cushions laminated with easy clean up in mind for my clients’ little one.

Giving a nod to the original herringbone brick, I selected a faux wood tile to avoid potential moisture issues hardwoods could have posed laid in the same pattern.

before: the breakfast room

Much more inviting than where we started, right?

In the kitchen, my client knew she wanted dark cabinetry and we landed on a black shaker style with un-lacquered brass hardware which ground the otherwise neutral space. The perimeter countertops are quartz, and the island countertop is walnut.

As in many city homes, space for laundry is a challenge, so we tucked these smaller units on the opposite side of the kitchen. The long run of countertop above offers ample space for folding.

One of my favorite elements in the kitchen are the blackened steel and walnut open shelves I designed and had fabricated by Brooklyn based, Coil & Drift.

 After we had done so much work to lighten and open up the space, I felt it was important not to weigh it down with heavy uppers. One shelf is five feet long and the second four feet so there’s still plenty of space for storage.

One last pretty shot of the banquette.  I can’t wait for my clients to be able to enjoy mornings here with their little one (they’re still NYC based and rent the home). 

Photos by Laura Metzler

LITTLE ANIMALS

Jungle Wallpaper | Chandelier | Changing Table | Pajamas | Zebra | Frames

Continuing with Monday’s theme of things I keep meaning to blog about, let’s chat about this jungle wallpaper. My love for scenic wallpapers has been well documented, and the soft palette of this one is especially beautiful. Feeling inspired, I decided to pull together a quick nursery design for a little explorer.

When ceiling heights allow, I love to use statement fixtures in spaces other than the dining room. This boho chic chandelier (on sale!) picks up the soft pink of the wallpaper perfectly. A changing table with linen drawer fronts adds another layer of texture. Top it with bone inlay frames to display your special new photos to finish off the look.

The oversized plush giraffe seems to be a popular choice for nursery decor as of late, but I’m also partial to the zebra. If this were my own nursery, I might print out some black and white photos from the South African safari we took for our honeymoon, but you can get the same look (actually, even cuter!) with this “peekaboo animals” photography collection.

P.S if you want your animals to have a little more function, don’t miss this adorable laundry hamper!

MCGRATH II IN MANHATTAN

I wanted to leave you with something beautiful before I jet off on Sunday and this McGrath II project shared by Architectural Digest certainly fits the bill.

I’ve posted about the mother daughter design duo before–and may even be venturing close to fan girl territory–but there are certain designers that inspire me to be better (writing that all I can think of is this scene): Tom Scheerer, Markham Roberts, Ashley Whittaker, Mark Sikes, etc. and McGrath II is solidly among that group.

What I admire most about their work is the attention to detail. Those details–note the strapping on the chairs and box banded pillows above–are what take a project to the next level, making it completely unique. The details (in my opinion) are why you hire an interior designer.

Chatting with some of my designer friends, we’ve been lamenting the increasing homogeneity of interior design, but McGrath II’s projects always feel fresh and unbeholden to trends. Incorporating antiques and modern art gives each of their projects so much life.

Let’s all agree to push back against the pull of instant gratification and wait to find those perfect pieces. The end result is so worth it.

 The gut-renovated kitchen is a masterful mix of traditional and modern. Inset shaker door fronts pair with more contemporary slab style drawers with sleek pulls.

This space may be my favorite moment in the entire apartment. I love how McGrath II was able to create a sense of coziness in the shotgun style living space by bookending it with seating areas. The silk grasscloth wall and matching silk grasscloth lampshades are next level–again, it’s the details, people!

I love the contrast of the mint Farrow & Ball wallpaper with the chocolate toile Quadrille arm chairs in the master bedroom. A clean lined bench adds a touch of modernity to an otherwise traditional space and subtly echoes the apartment’s steel windows.

The master bath was inspired by bathrooms the clients had admired in European hotels. The custom millwork on the vanity mirror is yet another thoughtful detail that elevates the space.

I’m such a fan of sophisticated children’s rooms and this one is no exception. Lavender and cranberry pulled from the custom Roman shade in a Raoul fabric is an unexpected color combination. The ultimate baller move? A soft pink Christopher Spitzmiller lamp on the shared nightstand. Start ’em young!

Visit Architectural Digest to read more about the project and I hope you have a wonderful week! If you’d like to follow my Parisian adventures, I’ll be oversharing on Insta.

OLIVE YOU

Pantone may have declared Greenery the color of the year, but lately I’ve found myself gravitating towards a moodier hue: olive. It started as I’ve been hunting for an olive green sweater to pair with a fab two tone faux fur stole (no longer available, but seen here) I was gifted for Christmas.

The sweater hunt has been unsuccessful (this and this were contenders but still not quite right), but my affection for olive hasn’t waned. In fact, it’s expanded to interiors. Whether you’re a minimalist, or unabashed advocate for color, olive is exceedingly versatile.

I love the warmth the velvet bolster provides to an otherwise crisp and cool living room designed by Betsy Brown. Red and green normally screams seasons greetings, but a chic London Fashion week ensemble and library designed by Charlotte Lucas prove the combination can be anything but.

Now if I could just find that perfect sweater…

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INSPIRED BY: ZUBER PANORAMIC WALLPAPER

For some designers “making it” might mean a magazine cover, but personally, I have a bucket list of dream fabrics and wallpapers I’m dying to use. At the top of that list: Zuber wallpaper. When I’m finally able to use a Zuber wallpaper in a project you’ll know I’ve really arrived. 😉

Founded in 1797, the prestigious French manufacturer produces the most exquisite panoramic wallpapers all woodblocked by hand using blocks carved in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

The production of the wallpaper is a laborious process involving painting an undercoat, applying the woodblocks (one color at a time with a days rest in between!), and finally outlining the design by hand in gouache. It’s truly a work of art.

Zuber specializes in panoramic papers–scenes that carry across a room without repeat–and were traditionally meant to be installed above a dado (the lower third of the wall–below the chair-rail). My personal favorite is Decor Chinois–shown above with a rare pink ground.

If you’ve seen this month’s House Beautiful you’ll spot Decor Chinois in the home of Biscuit owner, Bailey McCarthy.

Decor Chinois again in the entry of a project designed by McGrath II.

The walls of New York’s historic Gracie Mansion (home to Mayor Bill de Blasio) decorated in Decor Chinois and juxtaposed with a room full of West Elm furniture–this was an interesting read on that choice.

Another favorite scene is Hindoustan, an exotic print with elephants and camels.

Lisa Fine decorated her mother’s Houston home with Hindoustan. The inlaid bench with its silk velvet ikat cushion pairs perfectly with the paper.

Another McGrath II  project (they seem to have hit the Zuber lottery!) featuring a beautiful Zuber paper and even more gorgeous Georgian architecture.

Perhaps the most famous installation of Zuber in America can be found in the Diplomatic Receiving Room of the White House. Jaqueline Kennedy saved the circa 19th century paper, Views of North America, from demolition and brought it to the White House in 1961. It’s still hanging today.

If I’ve left you coveting some Zuber of your own, I found a panel of Decor Chinois available here!