Sunday, October 28, 2012

Country Swedish - Fine Gustavian Reproductions

Last Thursday had me in Connecticut picking up a dining room table for a client at Country Swedish. I relish every opportunity to visit the showroom and see what treasures are currently in house. Owner Cecilia Dahlbeck, who has been at the company's helm for the last 10 years, kindly lets me also nose around the warehouse.

This Gustavian Daybed upholstered in cheerful yellow is utterly charming.

Drawing inspiration from 18th-century Scandinavian and European designs, the Gustavian period in particular, the company's fine reproductions are designed with careful attention to scale, proportion and ornamentation but made to suit modern living. The Maglö Armchair is a perfect example of the exquisite details Country Swedish is known for.

The furniture is produced in Sweden by craftspeople preserving the tradition of Scandinavian furniture making and design. The company's beds, here the Vasa and Christinelund styles, are absolutely stunning.

Each piece in the collection is unique and individually crafted from the highest quality raw materials - traditional woods such as beech, birch and pine - using techniques and skills practiced by a select group of artisans. Cabinetry features dovetail joinery.

This is my own Sorgenfri Desk and Gustavia Chair. I love that the interiors of the drawers are painted. This attention to detail is a hallmark of Country Swedish.

In the showroom, a Sofiero Breakfront Cabinet.

The quality of its painted finishes sets Country Swedish apart from all other manufactures of reproduction Swedish furniture. There is no equal in the marketplace.

And lest you think all the finishes are variations of grey and white, here is the Gyldenholm Corner Cabinet in blue. See the many available finishes and colors here.

This child's Astrid Chair is absolutely darling and the contemporary fabric which the seat is upholstered with shows how versatile this style of furniture really is. It works in formal or informal and traditional or contemporary interiors.

To see the entire Country Swedish collection visit the website. In addition to furniture the company has a gorgeous array of mirrors - I have a serious weakness for these - as well as fabrics, wallpaper and rugs. And feel free to contact me for more information.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Norwegian Hillside Cabin

It's getting to be that time of year when I start dreaming of the perfect ski house. We've bought season's passes for the local ski area, the gear catalogs are arriving, and the night air has that certain smell. I just want to experience it all in a mountainside house.

This renovated Norwegian cabin has a great mix of modern and traditional elements. Situated on a hill, the house's strategically placed glass 'walls' take advantage of long-range views. Spare, light, and having a supply of Icelandic sheepskins to cozy up with, I can see this making the winter here seem a little less like an endurance test - which it does at times - and more like a long season to be savored .

From an article by Kari Osvold in Interiør Magasinet, photography by Mona Gundersen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Church Street Reno

On Tuesday our renovation story was featured on Desire to Inspirebeing a perfectionist and frustrated editor/art-director I wanted to share it here in my own way for those of you who did not see it. If you have been following for a while, some of the interiors will be familiar, but I suspect you will be surprised by what they looked like when we bought the house.

Built in 1913, it was a traditional and modest Vermont village house with a single-story, one room 1980’s addition accessed from the kitchen. There had been few improvements made (no existing duct work directing heat to the second floor, just a large grate in the floor of one of the bedrooms allowing heat to rise from room below) and anything that had been added was displeasing (rough built-ins and an ill-positioned wood stove.)

Here is Church Street as we first saw it:

And after the work.

We built an addition containing a mudroom, powder room and garage on the first level and an office, laundry room and master bedroom suite above. The addition was designed in the vernacular of the original portion and of this region. It replicates how this style of house would have historically evolved as rural families grew. We copied details from the old section, such the flat panel interior doors and oil-rubbed bronze hardware, and used them in the new section.

We took some walls down to the studs, moved doors to make spaces more functional, and gutted the second floor bathroom as well as the addition.

In the original kitchen was the door to the basement. We sealed that up to make room for more cabinets and created a new access from the garage.

This was the former addition off the kitchen that had been a bedroom suite:

And the area during the demolition:

The new kitchen.

The actual cooking area is quite small compared to that in our old house where we had a 48" (double oven, six burner plus grill) stove. Prior to to planning this renovation I had spent a week with my sister in England where we produced exquisite meals in her even smaller London kitchen and I realized we didn't need big appliances to eat well.

The original dining room from which we removed the built-in cupboard, wood-stove and brick surround:

And after.

Throughout the house we upgraded the crown molding and baseboards to a more substantial size but one that was still in keeping with the proportions of the rooms.

The Living Room before. We took out the bookcase that was not worth saving.

And after.

Throughout the house the floors were sanded down and finished with a water-based polyurethane that has a matte finish.

The second floor had three small rooms (one was very small) and a bathroom that also housed the washer and dryer. We turned the tiny room (the green room at right) into a closet and connected it to the center room and we flipped the closet from that room into the bedroom on the left.

The landing before:

And after.

We kept the walnut flooring we found on the second floor. It was in good condition so the expense of replacing it was unjustifiable. I like floors either very dark or very light and I decided I could live with some of each.

Cutting into the tiny room that became a closet.

Flipping the existing closet to the other room.

And our daughters bedrooms.

Sophie resembles and shares her father's gregarious and ebullient personality. Serena resembles me and shares my quiet and introspective nature. Which room do you think belongs to whom?

The girls' bathroom before:

During the demo:

And after.

We created a linen closet in the bathroom by claiming a space originally accessed by a small door in the hall outside.

Efforts to tighten up the old part of the house included replacing all the windows with energy efficient ones in the same ‘six over one’ configuration of the originals and insulating the foundation. It was aesthetics that made it essential for me to replace the exterior cedar shakes with wood clapboards.

When we bought the house I thought it looked like a sea shanty. It was a sad and neglected ugly duckling, and to someone else it might have been a tear-down, but I knew right away we could make it beautiful.

If you are interested in seeing the additional rooms in the new part of the house they can be found here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Entertaining At Home with Go Home

For a client who entertains regularly I recently outfitted a bar with decorative accessories from Go Home Ltd. A rep from the company, which specializes in vintage-inspired home furnishings, asked if I would contribute a post to their blog and I am sharing here as well for those of you who might need a little inspiration for the upcoming season of holiday entertaining.

To complement the client’s classical bronze sculptures of the deities Mercury and Fortuna, I used the Mykonos Hurricanes and Mykonos Pedestal Bowl which feature a timeless Greek Key motif. The wide, shallow bowl is the perfect showcase for seasonal botanicals.

And as I have said before, I love the liberal use of candles. These hurricanes are a nice size - not too big but still dramatic.

The Vintage Hotel Wine Cooler is a chic alternative to an utilitarian ice bucket,

and the mirrored Butler’s Tray reflects a festive shimmer and provides a functional surface that protects the painted top of the bar cabinet.

I think a self-serve bar sets the mood for relaxed entertaining. Having guests mix their own drinks is a great way to encourage mingling and you can focus on greeting friends. And I recommend offering a seasonal cocktail in addition to the usual choices - it is a sure way of spreading good cheer.