Decor, Travel

A Mid-Century Condo in Palm Beach

This weekend I’m writing to you from a 20th floor balcony in sunny Palm Beach. (Brag much?) The brother of one of my good friends was kind enough to loan us his condo for a girls’ weekend. After I finished swooning over all their amazing vintage furniture finds (I’m not kidding. I gasped and then hugged a credenza when we walked in), I quickly snapped a few pics to share with you. Take a look.

(Sorry for the crappy iPhone pictures. It’s all I had. I’m writing this from the WordPress app on my phone and I can’t figure out how to edit them. I think they’re all a little crooked…which I might just blame on the mojitos!)

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The wall color is Barely Teal by Benjamin Moore (which btw is the same color as my kitchen ceiling which I’ve sadly never shown you. Sorry!). Every person on the trip was trying to figure out a place to put it their homes. It’s just so pretty and soothing.

Thanks again to our hosts for loaning us their beautiful place!!

XO

Sue at Home

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Decor, Home

A Remarkable Renovation: 43 Church Street in Westborough

Last summer when we were visiting my parents in Westborough, Massachusetts–the town I grew up in (remember I told you about it here and here?)–I drove past this stunning house on Church Street and it stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn’t believe that I had never noticed it before. Well, that’s because it didn’t look like this when I lived there. 43church 225

Back when I lived in Westborough,  it looked more like this.

43 church as it was

Lucky for me, the stunning house had a sign out front that said 43churchst.com. So, I checked it out and found the story of how Michael Fitzpatrick (a very talented wood furniture maker) and his wife, Dr. Jean Keamy, had purchased the house with the intention of renovating it and bringing it back to its former glory. I mean, look how gorgeous it was back in 1880.

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Their website is great and it shows lots of process shots but I was dying to see it inside, so I emailed Michael and asked if he would let me–and the Sue at Home readers–take a peek. He could not have been more gracious and welcoming so the next time I was in Westborough, Pablo and I went to take a look. (Yes, it’s taken me over 6 months to write this post. What can I say, it’s got a LOT of pictures.)

They brought the exterior of the house back to its original style except for the addition of this porte cochere on the side. No need to Google it. “Porte Cochere” translates to Carriage Porch.  (It’s like a fancy carport.)

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Here’s the back of the house.

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As they were building the porte cochere, some birds decided to make it their home so they continued building around the birds and now they’ve got permanent houseguests. See that little square in the picture below? That’s how their little feathered friends get in and out.

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 Michael restored and built reproductions of all the exterior millwork himself. (See more about that in this video.)

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I especially loved the pale blue painted porch ceiling. Let’s go inside, shall we?

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While they respected the aesthetic of the original structure on the exterior, they opted for a more modern interior with an open floor plan and a focus on function. I loved all of the clean simple furnishings.

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The floating stairs–that connect all four levels–let in tons of light.

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This little sitting area connects the living room and kitchen.

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I love how the color of the mid-century chairs is picked up in the kitchen backsplash.

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The center column in the house, which has a small bathroom and an elevator on this floor, also includes this built-in bookshelf. (Note the wood carved grate. Yup – that was made by Michael, too. It’s the details like this that make this house like no other I’ve ever seen.)

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Here’s Michael showing us the diary of Mary White Forbes that they found in the house.  The entries are dated 1850-1857.

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The kitchen is a story itself. Every single shelf and drawer is completely thought out and made for full function.

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The wood veneer is Black Palm from Ecuador, a renewable resource. (Now’s a good time to mention that 80% of the materials that were taken out of the house at the time of demo were recycled to other homes around New England.)

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Adjacent to the kitchen is the dining room. That low table on the right is one of Michael’s designs made for a show at the Fuller Craft museum.

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Check out these small “floorlights” that connect to the basement below. (Remember those. You’ll see them again.)

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These amazing doors (from Thailand, circa 1780) were bought at auction. They lead to…

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…a small music room in the back of the house.

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Now, let’s go downstairs.  This spooky little pod is the entrance to the future darkroom.

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Of course, we had to go inside.

They’re also working on a screening room that hasn’t been furnished yet. And the little space below is the future wine cellar. See those little skylights? Those are the floor panels we saw in the dining room above.

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I can’t get enough of these beautiful steps. Let’s go upstairs again.

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Here’s another one of those Michael Fitzpatrick grates.

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The entrance to the master bedroom.

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Here’s the TV in the bedroom. On the right is a jewelry box that Michael made for his wife as a wedding gift. This house is a fully wired “smart” house. I think the coolest feature is the keypad near the bed where they can put the house to sleep with the touch of a button: the garage locks, all the lights turn off and the thermostat sets to a predetermined temperature. Need the use the bathroom in the middle of the night? No problem. Motion detectors track their way back to bed and turn off the lights as they’re no longer needed.

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Of course the tub is surrounded by wood.

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Now, let’s go all the way to the top floor.  There’s a large TV room that has a balcony.

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The teak woodwork in the upstairs bathroom was my favorite.

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Out on the balcony, we get a better look at those shingles and the stunning millwork.

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And before we leave, we need to take a look at Michael’s wood shop in the back garage. There are lots of plans to renovate this space next.

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One of Michael’s beautiful veneer topped tables.

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Some more tables with mid-century hairpin legs.

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I’d like to thank Michael for the tour of his beautiful home.

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There are so many other rooms that I didn’t show here because they’re yet to be finished so stay tuned to 43churchst.com for Michael’s updates.

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home, My house

Photo Wall or My New Favorite Thing In My House

I first told you about my obsession with oversized photo displays back in October 2012 when I spied this awesome picture from Palihouse on Dilly Dallas.

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Just to recap: I know that displaying personal pictures might not be #1 on every decorators must-do list (in fact, it’s usually on their NO list) but to me personal pictures are the way to keep a home looking, well…personal. And here’s the thing: I take a LOT of pictures. So, instead of picking a few great ones, framing them, hanging them up and calling it a day, I take a lot and then… they sit in my computer (and on Flickr and Shutterfly). The good part is that I don’t have to make any decisions (yeah!) but the bad part is that no one else gets to see them. And that’s just wrong. I mean, how can I keep pictures like these to myself:

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So, I thought long and hard about how to do my photo wall. Should I create photo wallpaper like this Tribeca home by Rinaldi Interiors?

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Nope. Too permanent. I want something that’s changeable. That certainly rules out something like this. I mean, how could I choose just one picture?

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Hmm…maybe a mix of small frames, like this. (Yup, that’s Soph modeling in LHJ!) But, nah. Again, it’s too permanent and too much work to use the huge number of pictures I want to use.

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So, I decided to just cover a wall with pictures. No frames. Nothing permanent. I even thought about painting on some magnetic paint and then using tiny magnets but I figured there was an easier way. Tape. Just little rolls of Scotch tape on the back of each pic. But it was a little more methodical than just tape and pictures. Here is how I made it happen.

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Step 1: Set some rules for the pictures you want to include. Color or black and white? All horizontal, all vertical or a mix of both? Various sizes or just 4×6? Just immediate family, extended family or include friends, too? I decided on:

– color pictures (I mean, how could I go black and white when I’ve got a kid with baby blues like Lily’s?)

– a mix of horizontal and vertical (because I clearly have problems editing)

–  just 4×6 (to keep it to a graphic grid)

– and only immediate family. I know that family part might be confusing but there are other places to display extended family and friends and I wanted to keep this more focused.

Step 2: Order Prints. I took quite a few long nights on the couch going through all my pictures and ordering HUNDREDS of them. I figured that it had been years since I had actually ordered prints so even if some pics didn’t make it into the mix, they were still lots of favorites so it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra prints on hand. (I highly recommend using a print plan on Shutterfly to keep the cost down.) You can imagine my joy when this arrived:

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Step 3: Edit into groups. First I split them into horizontal and vertical pictures and then I created three sub-categories: 1) Sophia without Lily (could include me and Pablo), 2) Lily without Sophia (again, parents are okay), and 3) Miscellaneous (could be just me and Pablo, all 4 of us, just him, just me, or the two girls together). Now I know this sounds slightly insane (or let’s just say it…totally anal)  but there was a reason for the madness. I really wanted to include an equal number of each kid. Because you know they’ll be counting! And when one kid has been around for 8 years and one has only been around for 5, you can end up with an uneven mix.

Step 4: Use a level to mark your middle line and start taping. I just used one quick roll of scotch tape on the back of each one as I placed them. I tried to keep it balanced with colors and close-ups vs. pulled-back shots. And I tried a balance of posed and candids. And even a good mix of various ages. It looks random but there was a method to the madness.

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I used the level again every few rows to keep myself on track but I just eyeballed the distance between the pictures. Once I had 4 rows of vertical pictures (with 16 in each row), and 4 rows of horizontal (with 11 in each row), I noticed a problem: I had a lot more horizontal left over. So, I added a few extra rows of horizontal on the top and the bottom. And I have every intention of adding more rows over time but don’t tell Pablo: he thinks there are plenty already. But let’s face it; is he really going to fight seeing more pictures of his kids? I think not.

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After I stood back and took a look, I had to move a bunch around to keep it balanced. But once I had them in the places I wanted them in, I retaped each one with a piece in each corner. And there you have it: my new favorite thing in the whole house.

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We love sitting at the dining table and looking at all the awesome memories. And guests really love it too. It’s certainly a conversation piece!

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Let’s take a closer look at some ridiculously geeky stats about the 141 pictures that made the cut:

106 were taken outdoors (that’s 75%!).

There are 56 pairs of sunglasses, 44 bathing suits, 27 hats, 11 Halloween costumes and 5 appearances by Sophia’s beloved silver sequin-covered cardigan.

Almost half were taken close to home in New Jersey or New York, while a whopping 23% of them were taken in Aruba (more on that here and here). Obviously, we like taking pictures on vacation because 19% were in New England and another 19% were in Florida. Nevis and the Bahamas round it out with one each.

I already mentioned that there are 87 pictures of each of the girls. There are 25 of Pablo and only 17 of me. And the reason for that lies here: I took 84% of them.

(Ignore the spiders on the lamp. I took these in October!)

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So, I guess the take-away from those stats is this: I’ll continue to get outside to get some great shots, I’ll never take a vacation without the camera, and I need to give someone else the camera more often.

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So, tell me…how do you display your family pictures? I’m currently working on a display of extended family pictures in our hallway. The plan is to use all black and white photos and solid black frames with mattes. Wish me luck!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S Congrats to Katie who won my Minted giveaway!

crafts, Decor, Entertaining, Home, My house

Spooky Decor

Just in time for our annual Halloween soiree, I finally got the house all spooked out and ready. I started with spiders in the light fixture and a black scarf draped over my painting to make it look a little less pink.

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A lot of the decorations were left over from last year, like the little spiders, the tablecloth and the cobwebs. This year, I added lots of Martha Stewart Crafts that another editor gave me at my day job.
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All of the wine bottle decorations are from Martha Stewart. You can find them here.  The little owl papers just stick on the front of the bottle. Sophia said they all reminded her of Harry Potter.

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For the witchy wine, I combined the sticker from this kit with the witch’s hat from this kit.  My pumpkins are fake ones from Target that I spray painted and glued glitter onto.  (You know I’ll never spray paint a real one again after what happened last year!)

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The girls made the creepy hands at an event at Sophia’s school. They’re just medical gloves filled with flour.

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My favorite of the wine bottle decorations was this awesome vampire collar. We added fangs from the photo decor kit too.

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Sophia made the striped planter at the Y.

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Those ghosts in the back are the party favors for the kids. I just trimmed plain white lunch bags to have a ghost shape on top and Soph drew on the eyes.

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My glitter skull from last year is sitting on the front windowsill surrounded by brass candlesticks. (And of course, some pretty carnations. They’re my go-to party flower because they’re cheap, pretty and they last a loooooong time.)

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The girls colored pumpkins with metallic paint pens in lieu of carving.

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Our front foyer table holds this little glass pumpkin (another Target find) filled with lots of essential Halloween toys like glow-in-the-dark teeth and spider rings. (Because you can never have enough spider rings!)

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A little ghost that Lily made in pre-K last year hangs out in the den on top of a bowl of shells. Sometime between last Halloween and now, he lost an eye. But I think it’s a good look for him so we’re going with it!

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I also did a couple of the Halloween crafts featured in the October issue of Ladies’ Home Journal so I can talk about them for an upcoming TV appearance on Better TV. This is all day job stuff but I’ll let you know when it’s airing. (Follow Sue at Home on Facebook to hear all about it!)

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Up in Sophia’s room, she had a blast spookifying her place with this photo kit from Martha Stewart.

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Of course, that was before she switched her costume a few minutes before the party. As I told her the first time she changed her mind about her costume, “You can be whatever you want as long as you can put it together from things in this house.” I’m happy to help buy/build/hunt for costumes but not when she changes her mind two days before Halloween! (BTW: She’s a cat–obviously–and Lily is Chee Chee from Teen Beach Movie. When I posted this picture on Instagram, I tagged Chrissie Fit, the actress that plays Chee Chee, and she liked my picture! It’s scary how excited that makes me but you need to understand that this movie is like an Oscar-caliber film in my house and Chrissie Fit is like our Meryl. I don’t even think the girls understand how cool it is!)

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And when they’re not being as cute as can be, they can turn up the spook and scare the crap out of you too!

Halloween 2013 BLOG

XO

Sue at Home

Home, Travel

Travel: Brevard Zoo

Well, it’s October and I’m finally getting around to writing posts with pictures I took in August. Would you say I’m a little bit behind? Yes, I would say so.

Anyway…back in August I took the girls to Florida to spend a week with my parents at their house. When we go there, we like to spend lots of time just swimming in the pool and chilling with Mimi and Papa but I always make sure I squeeze in at least one visit to the Brevard Zoo. Confession: I’m a little zoo obsessed and I can tell you that the Brevard Zoo is one of the best I’ve ever been to.  It’s not huge but there are tons of animals and lots of interactive opportunities.  In our week long trip, we ended up going there four times – twice for the animals and twice for the Treetop Trek obstacle course. (I’ll share some pics of that soon too.) 

But for today, here are just some purty pics of some of the animals at Brevard Zoo.

I took about 50 shots of this beauty. It was like he was posing for me!

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One of my favorite things there is the giraffe exhibit. You stand on a pavilion high off the ground and feed crackers to these beautiful, kind, and gentle creatures. It’s totally surreal.  Of course, the day we fed them my camera battery was dead (CURSES!) but I snapped this quick pic of one when I went back. See one of our more successful giraffe feeding visits in this post.

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The flamingos are by far the smelliest exhibit but they sure are beautiful. Not sure why we refer to them as pink flamingos because they really are more of a salmon or coral color.

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There was some thunder rumbling in the distance so lots of the animals were grouped together like these guys. Even though it’s a picture of a flamingo butt, I think this could be really cool in a large scale print.

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These are actually white rhinos but their daily mud baths keep them pretty dirty.

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This bald eagle was amazingly large and regal looking.

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I hung out with this river otter for about 20 minutes. I had such a blast just watching him swim in and out of his little pool. (I like to think he was watching me too.)

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He was so cute I wanted to take him home!

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Sometimes nature makes the best colors. Case in point–this hyacinth macaw. He reminded me of the bird from the animated movie Rio.

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You’d think an anteater is really ugly (and his snout is certainly not very pretty) but I was surprised by how beautiful his fur was.

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Speaking of ugly, I give you…the vulture.

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I fed some seeds to a bunch of pretty cocktiels. I love their blush!

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The alligator feeding is always a highlight.

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And even bigger than the alligators are the crocodiles. This girl’s name is Lily!

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Feeding the lorikeets was another highlight. You buy little cups of pureed fruit and they come and land on your arms and peck out of the cup. I had little claw marks all over my forearms but it was totally worth it.

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This thing was totally creepy but I loved that it had feathers in such a gorgeous rainbow pattern.

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XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home

Mimi and Papa’s New House: Almost Done

We just got back from Clinton, CT where we got to check out my parents new house for the first time since July 4th. It is thisclose to being done. And it’s so beautiful that I’m just bursting with excitement for it to be finished! Sure, it’s coated in a layer of dust (from lots of sanding) and it only has a few pieces of furniture (my moms brand new stuff from Ethan Allen) but it’s so spectacular that I had to share a few detail shots. If you want to check out some process shots first, check out this post.

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I took the girls to check out the beach down the street (which can be seen in the distance of the balcony pic above) and they absolutely loved it. I’m sure we’ll spend many summer days there next year.

Congrats Mom and Dad!

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home, My house

House Tour: The Man-ish Cave-ish Den

I have a secret. We have a room that I’ve kind of kept hidden from you.

Meet our den.

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Being that this is the room Pablo spends most of his time in, it’s the closest thing we have to have a man cave. Granted, it’s the most well lit man cave in history but still…it’s his. And it’s super hard to decorate! Why? Well, for starters he insists we leave the wood paneling in place. (Seeing some cool wood paneled rooms on Pinterest has shown me that it’s possible.) Plus it’s long and narrow and has a weird layout:  a sliding glass door at one end, a fireplace at the other end, a wall of windows along the back, and finally a wall with a doorway and a weird opening to the kitchen.

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The room was an addition that the previous owners built and it’s a full service space for us: a den for lots of TV watching, an “office” for Pablo (this is where his laptop lives), a music room (his piano and guitar hang out in here too), a casual dining area (though we eat most meals in the dining room, we do like to eat here at our Ikea Docksta sometimes), and now it’s become a storage space for me with the addition of a new credenza (which I’ll tell you about in a minute)…oh, and it’s our fireplace room, too!  And if that weren’t enough function for such a small space, it’s also the room that you walk through to get to our deck and backyard so we can’t pack it too full of furniture.

I’ve given you a couple peeks into the room before. Like, remember when I told you about the thrift shop chairs that I painted red?

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And you learned all about our Suzani-covered ottoman recently, too.

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But I haven’t revealed much else because…well, I’m still working on it. For a couple of years, it was seriously just the couch, piano, and TV in here. (Side note: Looking at this pic now, I see how badly that blue table in the back needs a lamp. With so many windows and recessed lighting, we just never needed the light but I think we just need the shape.)

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But I’m thrilled to say it’s finally coming together. Hey look, there’s something hanging on the wall (details in this post)! Lots more art should be coming soon. I promise.

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And the mantel is an embarrassment. That one frame is hung way too low. (I think I stuck it on the nail that was already there! Sad.) Or maybe it should just be propped up and not hung at all? Thoughts?

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Pablo has a nice view from his spot on the couch into the land of not-wood-paneled dining room and living room.

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We’re on the fence about the TV. Tell me: do we hang it on the wall above the piano? (Which is certainly convenient because the cable cord is over there.)

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Or does it go above the credenza where the tape marks are? (This was our preferred spot but after I realized it would be a cable cord nightmare, I’m pushing for above-the-piano.)

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Oh! And let’s talk about that purty credenza, shall we? It’s vintage but we had it refinished and painted white. I know some people think it’s sacrilegious to paint such a beautiful vintage piece but with wood walls and a wood floor, we didn’t need any more natural wood.  We got it from Forgotten Furniture. (They’ll deliver so check them out online here.) We also got the mid-century dresser in our bedroom and a new headboard for Sophia from them. Their prices are amazing.

I had been looking for a mid-century credenza for this space since we moved in 2 1/2 years ago. The problem wasn’t finding something I liked, it was finding something I liked and could afford. Nice vintage credenzas that I had seen were in the $900-$2000 range. Another option is this mid-centuryesque one from BDDW that sells for a whopping $11,800.  (Umm…I don’t think so.)  We actually got pretty close to getting the Dumont from West  Elm but I know with shipping, that $699 price would have blossomed so I’m glad we didn’t do it. This one came to us by luck. The sellers had something similar but they sold it so when we went to see them to get Sophia’s headboard (solid wood, Depression-era for $75!) I asked if they had anything else similar. Rich showed me a picture of this one on his phone (before it was painted and refinished) and told me he would sell it for $300 “as is” or $400 painted. We bought it on the spot, sight unseen! He delivered it to our house two days later looking as good as new and we were both thrilled. I’m now using it to store some of the “office paperwork” that used to live in the attic. (Remember, I don’t have an office or desk of any kind so my papers and office supplies are all over the place. A girl needs a place to put her washi tape!)

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But let’s be real, this room is far from done. There are still plenty of things wrong in here. Like this eyesore of an air conditioner that’s stuck into the wall. We rarely use it but don’t want to be left with a whole in the wall if we take it out. I’m thinking about sticking a big plant in front of it. Or building something to hide it, like this genius DIY.

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And then there’s this ugly tile that’s in the little windowsill into the kitchen. Ick.

den-047Oh, and I think worst of all is the whitewashed paint job on the window trim.  It just looks dirty and gross.

See?

den-041Now let’s talk about the serious lack of decorating. Poor Pablo gets stuck with my cast offs from other rooms, like this weird grouping. (I hate that little man but he’s been with Pablo for years so we’re stuck with him.)

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I don’t mind this vignette but it could use a little love. The coral is from Aruba so it holds a special place in our hearts. (Remember when Lily used it to make some art for her room?)

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And of course, he has to store all his man stuff in this room. Those weird things in the back are push-up paddles. (Ya know. Cause you can’t do a push up without a twisting paddle? Whatever. He looks hot so I shouldn’t sweat the technique.)

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And now here’s another little secret: I took these pictures a month ago and I’ve actually fixed one of the problems already. Reveal coming soon!

Hint. Hint. Consider this the “before” shot.

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For more den-spiration, follow my Mid-Century Man Cave Inspiration board on Pinterest.

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. It’s the time of year to start thinking about yummy pumpkin baked goodies so check out one of my favorite recipes ever. Click below to be taken to the deliciousness!

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Decor, Fashion

The House of Versace

Back in high school and college, there was not a designer I worshiped more than Gianni Versace. You need to understand, this was the time of the Elizabeth Hurley safety pin dress and the ads with megawatt supermodels with one name like Helena, Linda and Christy. (Man, do I love this image. )

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Versace played an interesting role in my life when I was spending an uphappy semester at UCONN (nothing wrong with the school, just not the right fit for me). That fall, it was a Versace exhibit at FIT that lured me to NYC for a weekend. I saw the exhibit, fell in love with the school (I was already seriously in love with NYC!), and convinced my parents to let me transfer schools (again!) so I could spend my final college years in NYC. Best career move I ever made. Thanks Mom and Dad!

That same year, Versace purchased Casa Casuarina, a spectacular mansion in Miami. Image via Born Rich.

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Years later, I was an assistant at ELLE when I heard that he had been murdered on the steps of his mansion. I can still picture where I was when I heard the news.

I was heartbroken and vowed to visit Miami one day to pay my respects. Well, a few years later I took that trip to South Beach and was floored with the location of Casa Casuarina. For anyone who has never been there, his manse was right on South Beach, in the middle of all the tourist traps and right across from the public beach. Needless to say I was still dying to get behind that gate.

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Then a few years ago, I had the chance to get inside. I was back in Miami when I found out that the mansion had become a hotel and restaurant so I decided to visit for lunch. And this week when I heard it had been sold again (more on that in a sec), I had to go and dig up my pictures from the visit. Check it out:

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Everywhere you looked, there was opulence.

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How beautiful is that tile?

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I didn’t get to see the whole space–the restaurant was in the courtyard–but I was able to take a look at the pool area. These steps lead from the courtyard to the pool.

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Just a little plunge pool. No biggie.

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I can’t imagine the time it would take to do this kind of work. (Note: This is so not my style but I find it fascinating. Don’t you?)

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In case you forgot who’s house you were in.

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Courtyards are such a European concept. I wish we had more of them in the US.

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But the most ridiculous, over-the-top, display of ostentatious behavior was the restaurant’s bathroom. (Image via Born Rich.)

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Yup, you’re seeing that correctly. It is in fact a carved marble toilet with a gilded lid.  Ah, Gianni Versace. You were one-of-a-kind.

And it seems that Versace has been popping up a bunch in this past week’s news.

VERSACE IN THE NEWS #1) I heard that the mansion was sold to the Jordache Jeans heirs for $41.5 million. That’s a lot of denim.

VERSACE IN THE NEWS #2) On October 5th Lifetime will air an original movie, “The House of Versace” starring Gina Gershon as Donatella and Enrico Colantoni as Gianni. Image via MyLifetime.com

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Gina’s got the lips down. Image via ABCnews.

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I love this guy and think the casting is great. (Enrico, I’ll forgive you for Just Shoot Me, which was the worst portrayal of a fashion magazine ever, because of your fine work on Veronica Mars.) Image via Styleblazer.

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VERSACE IN THE NEWS #3) Check out Donatella’s latest collection that was shown last week during Milan fashion week. I’m missing the jewel-encrusted bustiers but I still think it’s pretty great. Runway images via style.com

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XO

Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

Suzani Ottoman Goodness

Meet our ottoman.

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It came to us at a price of zero dollars which is my favorite kind of price. (We were lucky enough to snatch it up when my parents moved on to bigger and better things.) But unfortunately, I wasn’t that into the washed red cotton skirted slipcover that came with it so it sat naked (slipcoverless) in our den for longer then I care to admit.

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I considered a million different options of how to cover it. A slipcover? DIY upholstery? Professional upholstery? And most importantly, what fabric?

Perhaps a suzani?

I had fallen in love with vintage suzani textiles ever since I stayed at the Colony Palms hotel in Palm Springs. “Delicious” designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard (of Million Dollar Decorators fame) plastered the hotel with suzanis–as headboards, in picture frames, as throw pillows and just draped all over everything. (Images via colonypalmshotel.com.)

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Pretty fabulous, right?

Then I spotted this image over a year ago on a blog and saved it on Pinterest with the text: “I’m thinking the mid-century man cave needs a little boho printed love. Maybe cover the ottoman in a Suzani?” (Just goes to show how long brewing a makeover can be!) Note: I pinned it from another site who used it without crediting it (booo!) so I just did a little Pin-research to find the original source. It was done by a writer named Kevin Austin from Style at Home. It was originally a coffee table!

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But the problem is that this crazy idea of mine was going to go into our den, a.k.a. The Mid Century Man Cave, a.k.a. Pablo’s room. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s generally very agreeable about all my design choices (see proof in I Have a Hot Pink Chair!), but this is “his” sanctuary and he wasn’t fully convinced about how the suzani would work with our Ikea black and white striped rug. Until we saw this:

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It’s the home of Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors featured in HGTV magazine. (I seem to be talking about Amber ALL the time lately, like here and here. Is this becoming a serious design crush? I would say so.)

Alas! This was the visual help I needed to convince Pablo but then came the next hurdle…how does one buy a suzani?

I considered lots of different sites and did a bunch of research and ended up finding a REALLY AFFORDABLE one on eBay. I snagged it for only $45 plus $30 shipping. (What? Do you have a cheaper shipping method from Uzbekistan? Yeah, I didn’t think so.) And considering that I looked at some that were well into the hundreds, I think $75 is a fair price to pay for something hand embroidered.

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Looks pretty similar to this one on Wisteria for $900, dontcha think? (It’s no longer available. Does that mean some moron actually bought it?)

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A few weeks later, we found this little bundle of joy on our doorstep.

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It was sewn closed and dotted with some kind of brown doody-looking substance that had hardened to seal it up.

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But inside it’s unique wrapping (and two protective layers of plastic bags), there it was in all it’s hand-sewn gloriousness.

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Look at the detail from the back. It’s stunning!

See that seam going across the upper left corner? That’s because several women in the family will stitch different sections and then they’re joined together later. Don’t worry. You can barely tell from the other side. (But ironically, you can see the seam in the $900 Wisteria one shown above!)

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But I was a little sad to see that if I centered the red medallion on the ottoman, I would lose all of that beautiful detail at the edges. So, I considered covering it off-center, like this pic below so I could get at least two of the edges on it. (I now know that was dumb and would have been sacrilegious to my beautiful suzani. Don’t worry. I saw the ere of my ways.) After considering a DIY (I mean, I even had out the staple gun and some scissors), I chickened out and decided to have a pro do it. And I am so glad I did.

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Garwood Interiors knew just what to do to center the medallion and preserve the edges of the suzani. Isn’t it a beaut? (And soooooooo much better than what me and my staple gun would have done!) And he only charged $150. I don’t really know if that’s a lot or a little for work like this but it felt totally worth it to me.

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And now she’s sitting in the man cave (the most well lit one in the world) with her new friend the vintage credenza (but that’s another happy story for another day).

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I like how the brown embroidery around the red medallion, ties into the brown couch that–until now–had nothing to do with anything else in there.

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I know I owe you a lot more pictures of the room. It’s one of the places that I’ve barely shared with you (aside from a peek during the blackout after Sandy when we were dancing in the dark and when we looked at my spray painted chairs) but I promise that some “in progress” pics are coming very soon.

Thanks to my parents (who are celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary today! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!) for giving us the ottoman. And thanks to you for reading this way-too-long post!

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home, My house, Shopping

Batik Pillows from Etsy

I’ve got a problem. It’s an obsession really. You see, I need new pillows for my living room couch and once I saw these beauties from Amber Interiors I couldn’t think of anything else.

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They’re dark blue batik with hot pink stitching and that pretty much means they’ve got my name written all over them. But there’s a problem. Let’s take a closer a look at this pillow named Sally.

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Do you see the problem? That’s right. She’s $195! Oh Amber, I love your shoppe but I do not have $600 to spend on three pillows. So, I did what any smart shopper (AKA poor shopper) would do: I went to etsy. It didn’t take much–just a quick “batik pillow” search–to find a couple great shops.

First I spied SiameseDreamDesign which has lots of batik pillows (and bonus: their prices are more in the $28 range)! There were lots that I liked and I highly considered these two.  (Click pics for direct links.)

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But I kept searching and finally hit the jackpot with OrientalTribe11.  A little pricier (the 16×16 ones are $40 and the 20x20s are $60) but I felt like they were closer to the Amber ones that I so coveted. I bought these two but there are lots more like them:

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Hmmm…that second one looks kinda similar to our old friend Sally. Let’s take a closer look.

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Damn, I love Etsy.

And yes, I know I said I was buying three but I think I’m going to wait until I get the first two and then figure out what else I need. As excited as I am about my cheaper find, I still think Amber (interior designer and seller of the $195 pillows) is a genius so I’m going to follow her lead and make sure my pillows aren’t all too matchy.  I mean, did you see this beautiful pillow pile when her place was featured on Style Me Pretty Living last week?

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You’ve just got to check it out. Her whole place is a study in contrasts. It’s all crisp and clean with beautiful ethnic accessories.

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Can I move in?

Stay tuned to see how the living room shapes up when my new pillows arrive! More on the living room here.)

All Amber Interiors home pictures via Style Me Pretty Living photographed by Bryce Covey.

XO

Sue at Home