Friday, April 30, 2010

Maison des Jumeaux - the renovation of our country home

Maison des Jumeaux (House of the Twins) is our country home that we have lovingly renovated over the last five years.  It has been a huge undertaking!!!  As it always seems with old houses, there is always more to do...

Here is the story of the renovation.  Over the next few posts, I will be showing "before" and "afters".  I am starting the the heart of the house - the kitchen and family room.

A view of the pool and pool house

Bet you are wondering what the Empire State Building has to do with the story!!!!
Well read on....

As you can see from the list above the renovation was a daunting task.  Working with an architect,  I redesigned portions for today's family lifestyle but still blended with the original architecture. Another goal was to take the dark french normandy to a lighter, sunnier place.

This is the original kitchen before renovation.  On the surface, it appears to be a nice kitchen but underneath it all were layers of bad redo's since the 1960's.  All the cabinets were old and painted over many times and the flooring was a wood laminate that had been laid over vinyl.  The room is really large and the layout for cooking was very awkward.  In between the keeping room and kitchen was a dividing wall and a wet bar.   The kitchen was originally used for "the help" and never thought out as a cook's kitchen.

Here is the keeping room before renovation.  As you can see, it is very dark and old looking.  This is the furniture of the previous owners - not my taste!  (Don't want you to think that is my decorating- ugh) Notice the small window above the couch.  It is going to change.

We gutted the two rooms right down to the studs and started over.


In the photo above, you can see that we enlarged the window in the family rooms to brighten the space. Custom mahogany windows with insulated glass were made for  entire  front of the house.   Each window was hand made and fitted on site by a european craftsman.

Now for the after.....

Renovated foyer complete with limetone  floors.

Another view of foyer as you enter ...

Completed kitchen with oak and walnut cabinets.  

Another view showing open shelving, hammered nickel farm sink and island.

The chef's kitchen is comptete with professional range, warming drawers, two dishwashers, sub zero fridge/freezer, wine cooler and coffee maker.  There is also a baker's cabinet, walking pantry and mudroom that I will show in next post.  Too much for one post!

Next to the formal dining room, there is a dry bar with deep storage for linens.

Floor to ceiling cabinets showcases  glassware is a focal point as you enter the space.  It lights up like jewel box. 

Breakfast area defines the line between kitchen and family room.

Now for the family room...

The open hearth fireplace is the such a special feature.  It can never be replicated because of today's fire codes.  Can you see how different the space looks with the new large mahogany windows.  So much more light!!

As I said, there is still so much more to do to complete the design.  This my sample board showing all the  fabrics that will eventually be incorporated into the design.

Here is a shot of the turret.  We had to remove the exterior and insulate it.  Before the renovation, the turret acted as a wind tunnel that brought cold air downstairs.  We were freezing.  Now it is toasty warm! 

There is so much more to see in the renovation of Maison Gemeux.  I am just getting warmed up!!!  I hope that you will stop by again to see more!!

Au Revoir for now!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Follow up on Ralph Lauren Paints

After writing the previous post about Martha Stewart Paints at Home Depot, I received the following email from Ralph Lauren Public Relations.  I thought I would share....

Dear Melissa,
Hi, my name is Ali and I am on the PR team at Ralph Lauren, specifically focused on Ralph Lauren Paint.  I occasionally read your blog and am writing to comment on your recent post regarding Ralph Lauren Paint and the brand’s status at The Home Depot.  Ralph Lauren Paint has introduced an exclusive distribution program for select Independent Paint Dealers. The same superior Ralph Lauren quality paint will be available through local Independent Dealers throughout the United States.  We are excited to enter a new stage in the life of our brand, and wanted to make sure you were also informed about our plans.  Please visit our Store Locator at to find a store in the New York area.
Thank you for your continued interest in Ralph Lauren Paint.  I would love to continue our communication and send you our latest color palette and information regarding our unique specialty finishes.
Thank you again for your time.
Ali Ginnel
I am so glad that Ali Ginnel contacted me since I have always love Ralph Lauren paints.  I think that the Ralph Lauren red hues are especially great.  RL has more red options than most other brands and everyone is terrific.

Go here:  and put in your zip code to fine a dealer near you.

Au Revoir for now!

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's like Garanimals for Painters

Martha Stewart has a new line of paints at Home Depot.

Each of the 298 colors has a series of coordinating colors that go with them for foolproof decorating!

There is even symbols to coordinate the colors --JUST LIKE GARANIMALS!  (You remembers Garanimals, don't you?)

On one of the TV segments last week,  Kevin Sharkey, her decorating editor,  showed a sample of a large rectangle of one predominant paint color and at the top of card a fold over flap with the suggested ceiling color and a bottom flap for the suggested trim color. He said the swatches will be available at the Home Depot.  Fool proof!  Yet, not very creative....

I personally love to pour over paint colors and try to come up with unique combinations.  That is truly fun.  But, I do think that this is a great idea.

You know...Martha really gets around.  Originally, her paint line was sold through Sherwin Williams.  Then, it disappeared at SW and was sold as a Valspar product at Lowes.  Now, Home Depot.

The Martha Stewart Paints at Home Depot takes the place of Ralph Lauren paints.  You can only buy the Ralph Lauren special effects paint at Home Depot.

Don't despair if you have painted a room in your house with any of the brands and they are discontinued because most good paint stores can access the formulas or have a fan deck to color match.

Au Revoir for now!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lovin' a little girl's tea party!!!

I have always loved anything  heirloom or vintage!  Combine it with a tea party and I am in heaven.  For many years, I have collected magazine clippings that inspire me.  Here is one from Victoria magazine, 2000.  So perfect for spring!!

It is a southern belle birthday party complete with heirloom dresses, parasols, ribbons. lace and daisies. Be still my southern heritage heart!!!!
Each  table is covered in a yellow gingham seersucker tablecloth topped by a flower-sprigged cotton tablecloth. Each placesetting has a bunny themed plate and a napkin ring made to look like a baby bracelet along with daisies.  Tucked in next to the napkin are little white gloves.


Every little girl is dressed in her heirloom dress and given a flower halo and a battenburg parasol!

The patio chairs are gussied up with tulle and ribbons!

Royal Dalton Brambly Hedge plates are used for sandwiches and cake.  Cake is made in a domed cake pan and the hat rim edge is the upturned portion of a paper plate.  It is then placed on a vintage hat stand.

Bite sized flower shaped sandwiches are served.

A Victorian-styled carriage is the perfect place to receive the birthday presents.

Party favors are little limoge boxes filled with a miniature ceramic birthday cake.

One day, I  would love to open a children's shop that has everything from heirloom dresses, party dresses, party favors etc. along with a children's design studio plus a tea shop next door!  Designing for children is so fun since I can let my whimsical imagination run free! 

Au Revoir for now!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The winner of the giveaway!

Hi all. I have had a busy week but will be posting a design blog tomorrow.  In the meantime, the random winner of the beach bag is "the gardner's cottage".   Congrats and I will need you address to send you the bag.  Send me an email or leave it in the comment section.

Au Revoir for now!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Les Toiles Du Soleil and a "Beachy" giveaway

I visited a wonderful shop in NYC that I want to share with you.  The name  is Les Toiles du Soleil.  It is a happy and colorful fabric store that was founded 150 years ago in a small town in the Catalan part of France called Saint Laurent de Cerdans. 

The shopkeepers, Sandrine Guibert and Jean Luc Carrucciu are a delightful husband and wife duo from the Catalan region that brought Les Toiles du Soleil to New York City in 2008.  The shop is located at 261 West 19th Street. There is also a website that you can order the items from.  To view, go here.
Above is the collection of subrella fabrics.  They are perfect to brighten any outdoor space!

They also have 100% cottons that are great for upholstery, curtains, roman shades,  etc.

The fabrics are still made on the traditional looms to keep their ancestral quality.

Here some samples of items that are made from the fabric:


Deck chairs

Espadrilles in many colors!  Les Toiles Du Soleil is well known in Europe for their Espadrilles.

I could not resist these red, green and orange ones!  Had to buy to go with:

This red jacket!  (The colors are off in the pictures, but they are a perfect match.)
I am going to wear the shoes and jacket with jeans rolled up to show the shoes and white t-shirt.

Tori Burch is showing a very similar shoe in her 2010 summer collection for double the price!

Les Toiles also make the fabric into great napkins, tote bags, and beach bags.

There are stuffed bears and bunnies, too!

Here is a little designer hint- if you want to order samples from the Les Toiles Du Soleil website.  Because each fabric is 72" wide with a large repeat, a swatch is not going to be large enough so order a 9" piece.  It will cost a little but will be worth it.

Sandrine told me that many people come in to buy just enough for a pillow because they are afraid to use so much color BUT they seemed to always come back for more.  The fabrics are so bright that they enliven the mood of your room.  Especially, she says, when it is gray and cloudy outside.

 I can totally see these fabrics in a beach house,  a kid's playroom or bedroom.  If you have white slipcovered furniture, add mitered striped pillows in the bright colors for the summer season. To die for!

NOW, for the giveaway!  I am going to give a Les Toiles Du Soleil beach bag to one lucky reader.  Here is all you need to do:

  1. Leave me a comment.
  2. Become a follower.
  3. Add me to your blog list and let me know that you added me.
It is that simple!  A winner will be chosen randomly.  I will put all the names in a bowl and have one of my kids draw the winner. (I know too many of you to choose myself!)   Please, make sure to leave an email so I can email the winner.  I will name a winner on Wednesday, 4/14.

Here is the bag!!  Sorry for the "not so great" picture, it was getting dark outside when I took the photo.  I promise the bag is yummy!  

Au Revoir for now!