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Upscale Downsizing

Posted by on September 17, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Upscale Downsizing

It is hard to believe that 3,500 square foot of living space could be considered “downsizing”. But when you have lived in a 10,000 square foot house for over 15 years, going from 10,000 feet to 3.5 feet — is definitely a downsize! But going smaller can still be upscale. Location: Mahoney Farms, Sudbury, Massachusetts. This home is part of a small group of town houses adjacent to conservation land,  and embodies a traditional, classic style with custom features. Designer associated with the project: Dena Hamilburg of Hamilburg Interiors, Wayland, MA. When project was designed: 2016. Why this project is interesting: Fifteen years ago, Interior Designer Dena Hamilburg had worked with her clients, James and Kristine Melvin, on their 10,000 foot, custom-built dream house in Carlisle, MA. At the time, the couple was in their late thirties, and had three small children. The Carlisle house was beautiful and expansive, including (among other features) two family rooms, a wine cellar, and a billiard room, as well as manicured grounds and acres of land. At Christmas time the home was transformed into a magical, Martha Stewart-like vision. Recently, Dena was asked to help her clients create an equally exciting vision for a new phase of their lives. Now in their early fifties, they no longer wanted the upkeep of a large landscaped property and home. Although Their three children were either leaving for college or soon to to graduate, the Melvins felt that it was important for each of them to have a room of their own to come home to. The Melvins did not want to move to the city, and so opted to stay in suburbia. When they found the 3500 square foot townhouse in Sudbury,  they viewed it as a potentially ideal solution, and acted upon it immediately. The townhouse was then in the final stages of construction; this  permitted some important changes, which were costly but definitely yielded a more upscale result. The townhouse had some inherently, distinctive architectural elements, including large pilasters, custom built-in bookcases, vaulted wood ceilings, and three fireplaces. The kitchen was not at the desired levels of quality and style, however, and needed gutting and serious. The cabinets were replaced in a painted-wood finish and the granite countertops were changed to quartz. A small marble subway tile added sparkle to the monochromatic kitchen as a backsplash. Removing a short wall between the kitchen and informal livingroom opened things nicely. Although many  people do not want fully separate dining rooms these days, the Melvins decided to transform the 16×16 foot room adjacent to the kitchen into their dining room. The new dining room was less traditional and formal than they had had in Carlisle, but perfect for family meals, entertaining friends, and holiday celebrations. Most casual dining  is done around the circular kitchen island.  The addition of two large barn doors, flanking the opening to the dining room, delight the eye by leading visually to an actual red barn in the distance outside. Another important upgrade was the replacement of the strip oak flooring throughout the first floor with wide white oak planks from Carlisle Flooring. The upstairs flooring remained in the standard oak, and was stained to match the downstairs in a medium gray custom stain provided by Carlisle. A more relaxed family...

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Find Your Own Sparkle For the Holidays and Throughout the New Year

Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Find Your Own Sparkle For the Holidays and Throughout the New Year

It occurred to me one evening recently while driving at dusk that the majority of the people in my neighborhood put an enormous effort into decorating their bushes and trees with Christmas lights, mostly white. It seemed that the profusion of lights had become a universal means of welcoming in the spirit of the holidays and was a great deal more widespread than I remembered from my youth. While holiday decorations run the gamut from beautiful and tasteful to over the top, the light and glow that they produce can translate well at any time of year.  The glistening of silver and mirrored items can add dazzle to any corner of your home, whether it be holiday related or not. A silver wall covering used in a dining room or powder room radiates elegance as seen in the Gracie wall covering above. Silver urns are especially beautiful when they are resplendent with winter greens and berries. They can look well for several weeks and reflect a charming winter look It is best to  remember to use balance and unity when you are selecting sparkling decorative accessories, but be sure to have lots of fun in the...

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Decorating Around The Fireplace For The Holidays

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Decorating Around The Fireplace For The Holidays

As temperatures drop and winter hovers, we find consolatation in our romantic images of winter and the holidays. One very human instinct is to yearn for a warm spot. Home is indeed where the hearth is! Beyond the physical warmth coming from oil, gas, or solar, we look to the fireplace, as an important anchor of a room. A comfortable chair or two with an ottoman creates a cozy nook for lounging or reading and balances the other upholstered pieces around the room. Throwing a splash of color from a a beautiful throw is great for snuggling and can serve as a wonderful accent color. For many people, the ritual of building the fire itself is most important. A log basket is practical to have close by and can also be a decorative element. Since arranging chairs around the fireplace can be tricky, make certain you have adequate space for the necessary fireplace tools and firewood. It is definitely worth investing time to find the perfect accessories for the fireplace mantle, such as large candlesticks/and or hurricane lamps. At the end of the day, when the gift wrap is crumpled up and the table is cleared, what lingers in our minds is the laughter, the stories and all the light-hearted banter around the fireplace. These are the moments that become the treasured memories of our past. Dena Hamilburg is the owner of Hamilburg Interiors and  www.myinteriordesigncenter.com. She welcomes any questions you might have concerning interior design. You can e-mail her at...

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Monochromatic Can Be Memorable

Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Monochromatic Can Be Memorable

The definition of a monochromatc-colored room is when one color is used throughout the entire space. If designed skillfully, however, a monochromatic room is hardly monotonous or boring.  In fact, a room created around one color can in many instances achieve a look that is  more dramatic and has more of a cutting edge than a room of many colors. The main advantage of using only one color is that the sameness produces unity and harmony from the onset. The talent in creating a truly stunning monochromatic room comes in using several other contrasting surfaces that will pop. Introducing a shot of a second color in two significant accessories, such as a large bowl on a coffee table, some pillows, or an end table, is sure to soar and excite the...

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The When And Why Of Wallpaper

Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The When And Why Of Wallpaper

When (and why) to incorporate a wall covering into an interior design scheme? Good question! Specifically, why would one choose wallpaper over paint? The most obvious reason to use wallcovering is simply to add another layer to the decorating mix. A well-chosen wall covering often can add pattern and interest to an otherwise uninteresting space, especially one lacking architectural detail. Wall coverings also can create the illusion of a more spacious room, if selected cleverly. Rooms that can often benefit from wallpaper are powder rooms, dining rooms, and guest rooms, as well as small spaces (such as hallways) which could otherwise be ignored. Most importantly if you are considering wallpaper, please select a hand-printed or good quality one. You don’t want it to look as though it needs to be replaced with paint! Several years ago when I was redecorating my own family room, I had a major decision of whether to paint, glaze or paper the walls. In my professional work with clients, I tended to choose paint or a decorative finish for a “cleaner” look.  Somehow this personal decorating decision was different, though, as the family room was open to our new kitchen, and I wanted to coordinate the two rooms. With much thought (and legwork), I selected a William Morris paper (“Windrush,” pictured with this post) in a gold/thyme colorway. The multi-colored pattern set off the cream-painted and glazed corner bookcases, lined with books and mementos, and helped me to achieve my goal: The look of an English country home’s library. Playing off of the furniture-quality, beautifully figured cherry kitchen cabinets, the paper created a sophisticated, yet cozy feeling. I have never regretted my decision to paper this space, and I have enjoyed it daily ever...

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Pillows Talk

Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Pillows Talk

Many people think of pillows only as accents, as mere afterthoughts to the overall design of a room. However, this is not so…. Great looking pillows say lots about a room and its quality. Well chosen pillows provide visual exclamation points, and can even inspire the entire color palette of a home.  Colors radiating from a multi-colored print on a pillow can then flow to other rooms, creating color balance throughout. Pillows’ motifs can also contribute to the theme or look of a home (eg., seaside, sporting, or garden), adding personality, wit,  or even whimsy to the design scheme. From an economic vantage point, splurging on an expensive fabric, and then fabricating it into a custom pillow, often makes a lot of sense. The yardage per pillow is minimal (between 3/4 and 1 yard per pillow, though usually with a 2 yard minimum.  Less expensive fabric on a sofa will instantly look better when some beautifully fabricated down pillows are placed against the back cushions.(And please get 80-100% down fillig for your pillows; foam will not do.) All in all, the addition of a few sumptuous, custom-made throw pillows will add great quality to your entire room, and give you lots of bang for your...

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Window Treatments: Less Is More…(Sometimes)

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Window Treatments: Less Is More…(Sometimes)

The word on curtains these days is that they are more minimalist in design.  This trend was highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article titled: The Comeback Curtain.”  The article compared a popular design trend of multilayered etheral fabrics on windows  to the layering of  sheer blouses over camisoles.  “The window look is sexy”, said Interior Designer Mindy Miles Greenberg. As emphasized in the Journal, translucent, softly layered window treatments are showing up in suburban as well as urban homes, as energy and cost efficient alternatives to old-fashioned curtains and blinds. The clean lines offer no frill, puddles, or decorative valences. Less fussy, airy curtains in my opinion, are often appropriate in certain situations and are visually lovely, but they do not always replace the look, feel and value of a sumptuous traditional curtain. A custom window treatment, well fabricated by a professional workroom, is a decorating investment, and will most likely last at least 10-15 years.  Spreading the cost over this time, therefore, is not as prohibitive as the Journal article suggests. If well chosen, curtains in a room provide, color, pattern, and tactile warmth.  Windows dressed with a beautiful fabric provide visual impact.  When properly designed and sewn, curtains can become the Birken bag of a room. Certainly, trends in curetains change, according to the decorating fashions of the moment.  Styles shift from very elaborate designs to more simplified veersions to none at all, and back again. Both approaches to solving the window puzzle have their advantages and disadvantages, and can be tackled effectively with the help of a competent, professional Interior designer or...

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Old Is New Again

Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Old Is New Again

The contemporary designs of today’s art, interior design, and fashion are almost always rooted in historic origins. The old styles are reinvented with a twist of the current moment. We recently attended a lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts addressing this topic, titled “Quote? Copy? Update?” In examining three different works of art— Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Andy Warhol’s Mona Lisa and the Starm Twins’ Mona Lisa—the lecturer stressed that all three artists defined their work through their own interpretation. The same observation can be applied to trends in the interior design industry. In my travels throughout the wings of fabrics and wall coverings at the Boston Design Center, I found three distinct motifs that have been reinterpreted for today’s market: Paisley: What was often dull and formal is now fresh and vibrant. An example is Link’s blue and white fabric, “Palm,” in ocean #44. Little Print: The sweet, small “filler” print used in country rooms, which nearly vanished from most fabric lines, has resurfaced as a more striking geometric and contemporary pattern, as is evidenced in Mally Skok’s fabric, Roh Flora-multi. Remember when shopping for little prints to look for bold. Velvet Flock: As hard as it is to believe, velvet flock, a dark and dreary wall covering from the Victorian era, has been reproduced by Osborne & Little. Their version (Fontette W6012-01) looks new because of the vibrant color and pattern. Using this type of pattern on an accent wall with contemporary minimalist furniture looks very...

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The Color Purple

Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

The Color Purple

If you haven’t been a huge fan of the color purple, you could find yourself suddenly loving it. Why your change of heart? Purple is everywhere! The color permeates the pages of the current interior design publications and fashion magazines. Wall coverings, upholstered furniture, accent pillows, even advertisements for Botox are set against a purple background. In last month’s Architectural Digest, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s living room features two sleek cream-colored sofas, contrasted with sumptuous purple pillows. Duralee, a company known for designer fabrics, devotes an entire advertising page in House Beautiful to showcase an array of pillows in geometric fabrics, popping from a white background—and yes, they are all shades of purple, violet and fuchsia! Since it is virtually impossible to avoid being influenced by the design trends we see around us, my professional suggestion is to limit your purchases of the color of the moment to smaller items such as pillows, accessories, or even a foot stool. Generally, you should select more neutral tones for your larger upholstered pieces. If you still feel you can’t resist that purple sofa, try not to give into that impulse. Instead, try something like a gray fabric with a purple or deep eggplant tint. These colors are more timeless. They are classic choices that will not necessarily be long forgotten tomorrow. Do you have any design questions? Contact me...

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Grass Cloth Today

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Grass Cloth Today

Grass cloth has become a generic term for all natural wall coverings like Kleenex is to tissue.  Actually its use in decorating has been popular for decades but the papers of old were often muddy- colored slubby silk textures. Today there are hundreds of fresh contemporized weaves and colors in wall coverings that can include paper and raffia. These papers are equally effective in contemporary as well as traditional spaces. I recently installed a Phillip Jeffries ltd Japanese paper weave (look for product number 1713), in color harvest in a formal library surrounded by rich mahogany built ins and upholstery covered in luxe Schumacher mohair, Old World Weavers velvet and Brunschwig & Fils wool paisley fabrics. The juxtoposition of these different entities was refreshing and somewhat unexpected yet very elegant. Even a little bit of grass cloth can have a huge impact in a room. Installing it above a chair rail can be cost effective, because you use less of it but does not dilute the impact. Natural textured wall coverings are usually priced by the yard, not the roll, so they can be somewhat pricey, but the results are well worth it even...

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