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concept, restoration & replication

behind the scenes in historic newport

Bringing a significant Newport Historic District residence into the modern day with upgraded systems while retaining its architectural integrity is an exciting assignment.  And a challenging one.  There are countless moments in the project when we—the architect and the builder—are faced with the now familiar question: how much do we invest in restoring an original element vs. creating a replica that carries the same story and delivers a more stable element able to endure the next 100 years?

The truth is, you have to pick and choose.  Carefully.

Too much replacement, however exact the replica may be, risks looking too new and inauthentic.  Too much rehabilitation to original elements can begin to spiral the project out of cost control.  The answer lies in carefully selecting those elements to restore, that provide high-touch/high-value to the project.  Restoring original details like the hardwood floor, windows and millwork features such as fireplaces, ensures the home retains its position as a historic home.

But what about interior doors, for example?  Should they be saved?  (I should mention – they are 1 3/4″ thick with a unique raised panel/chamfer detail and mortised hardware.  Every element is done right.) The truth is, we tried and found that so much modification to the doors the past 100 years left them patched, shaved at the bottom and so unique in sizing that they no longer fit our new plumb and true rough openings. The answer was to create exact replicas of the doors and refinish and reuse the original hardware.

These decisions require supreme collaboration amongst all project partners and we’re fortunate to be working with the A team on this one – Parker Construction Company and Patrick Ahearn Architect.  Not to mention fantastic, respectful clients who trust we’ve got their mission to balance restoration with modernization top of mind, every step of the way.

And as we make our way through stripping back and rebuilding this historic gem, we have the privilege of seeing these original details up close and personal and replicating to a tee.  A nice assignment, indeed.

Scroll through images below for a peek at our conceptual design and progress shots during construction.  We’ll share photos throughout our progress this winter/next spring as we deliver this home back to its family next summer, ready for the next 100 years of Newport life.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

Exterior Details, During Construction:

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Interior Details, During Construction :

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Our Interiors Concept:

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New Meets Old:

 

In Progress:

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meet team taste member Ashley LeFebvre

 

ashley.jpgWhen designing a home, there are so many opportunities for a client to breathe their own personality into their space. We encourage it and it’s always been one of our guiding service principles.

As a team we work hard to understand our clients’ unique vision and then refine it, synthesize it, and evolve it into a language that speaks directly to them. I get to illustrate that language in drawings that clearly communicate our design ideas. It’s magical to be a part of that team effort, everyday.

— Ashley LeFebvre

If you’ve ever benefited from a taste-generated 3D rendering, chances are you have Ashley LeFebvre to thank.  Ashley has been with taste since 2013 and since joining has steadfastly advanced taste’s drawing practice while simultaneously growing as a designer and contributor.  (We admiringly refer to her as our ‘tech whiz’ and lean on Ashley for far more than just drawing technology.  She has a knack for understanding technology architecture that never ceases to amaze.)
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After graduating from The University of Hartford with a degree in Architectural Engineering Technology, Ashley worked in retail design, using her space planning and technology skills to create product displays and merchandising designs.  At taste, she’s adept at using a portfolio of applications including CAD, Sketch-up, Photoshop and cutting edge rendering tools like Podium to create perspectives that instantly help clients understand a design.  (Not to mention the builders, craftspeople and artisans we work with.)
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Never one to sit still, Ashley can also be found in the field, collecting field dimensions and checking on framing and finishing progress throughout a project. Her close working relationship with taste Senior Designer Kevin Baker brings an understanding of construction, cabinetry and finish details that complement Ashley’s technology savvy.  Add to that, she works with taste interior designers to design and illustrate custom furniture pieces, lighting fixtures and intricate tile layouts.
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During her downtime, Ashley loves to take a break from technology to make art, read or garden. And as one of our newest taste newlyweds, she uses her abundant creativity to plan and host out-of-this-world dinner parties with her chef husband at their Connecticut home. Her wizardy never ends…
Only the best,
patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston
Radesca Residence Stairs
Radesca Residence Sitting Room
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scheme starters

taste designers share their favorite interior elements

 

 

 

 

Summer time has us scheming up rooms and homes from Boston’s South Shore (yes, we’ll work in Boston!) to Barrington to Westerly and boats in between.  The studio is brimming with new materials, furnishings and art as we scour, edit and assemble interiors for our client projects.  Often, we’re inspired by a rug, a piece of art or a fixture that becomes a starter scheme for a future project.  These starter schemes are throughout the studio (and in our designers’ imaginations) just waiting for the perfect opportunity to come to life.  Take a peek at the seeds of a room, ready to grow into a fresh space and reach out if one speaks to you!

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston
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“I love this antique Persian runner. The orange, blue and citron feel so fresh even though it’s 100 years old! The Serena & Lily console table is a piece that could work well in many homes; the grasscloth provides great texture and a coastal feel. The Hwang Bishop (made in Warren, RI) sculptural lamp would pair nicely, with its clean lines and rectilinear shapes.”
— Julia Reinalda

 

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Sources:

Antique Runner
 
Hwang Bishop Lamp
 
S&L Console

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“Making a coastal home feel fresh is one of my most favorite client assignments.  Layering graphic patterns with organic materials keeps it upbeat and in-situ at the beach.  And, as a dabbling artist myself, I always try and finish a room with original art, however small, to provide the integrity that only handmade objects bring.”

— Michaela Palmer

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Sources:
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“I like working with traditional shapes and patterns but add
an infusion of fresh color and interesting shapes to create happy, joyful spaces.”
— Wendi Dicely-Scalora
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Sources:
 

meet taste team member Michaela Palmer

 

 

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Designing a space is more than just the big reveal at the end. It’s about understanding how the space can evolve to fit the needs of the people or family living there. There are so many layers that make a house a home.  Embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

Michaela Palmer, Interior Designer

Many of you may know Michaela as our ever-calm and always reliable production manager who joined taste in 2014. As taste’s Production Manager, Michaela estimated, ordered, followed and received all the elements of a home—from custom furniture to tile to lighting.  She learned the many facets involved in the design process and how every dimension, finish and material selection counts toward the final outcome. This experience developed her deep appreciation for attention to detail and a firm belief that organization and precision, from conception to realization, ensures a high quality design experience.

You may not know that Michaela has a fine arts background, with a BA degree from Towson University and a degree in Interior Design. Her classical arts training and study of concept and color composition is revealed in her work everyday, as our newest interior designer. (Not to mention her incredible talent for hand-lettering; even her everyday note taking is elegantly crafted.)

In addition to her creativity and end-to-end understanding of the design process, Michaela brings a love of family and home-making to her client work. She and husband, Greg, live in Warwick with their sweet puppy Murphy. Weekends are often spent with her family and frequent trips to Boston to visit her sisters, nieces and nephew.

Whether starting with an empty room or a well-loved family home needing an upgrade, Michaela brings a balance of creativity and practicality when helping her clients realize their own home-making dreams. And for her, the reward comes when watching clients’ reactions as personalized furnishings she’s created are unveiled and made ready for their time with family. Well done, Michaela.

Only the best,

 patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston
Michaela at work on a soothing master suite.
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The big reveal…  Michaela commissioned these paintings by Dora Atwater Millikin for a favorite client.
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Michaela’s warm smile is ever present, especially during our annual holiday open house when we welcome children of all ages to create ornaments in our studio.
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Never shy to take on an assignment big or small, Michaela can often be found at a photo shoot lending a hand.  This time, it was art-spotting.
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Fine details are exciting!  Michaela brings the joy of discovery and detail to her client work.  Not to mention a ton of fun.

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DUNN with taste

Collaborator Spotlight

 

I was so pleased when Studio Dunn asked that I be a guest contributor to their blog.  Asher and his team are a go-to source for us – both for well crafted furnishings and exemplary client service.  We’re pleased to be a DUNN collaborator.  Here’s the interview that appeared on their blog earlier this week…

Only the best,

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1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your work. 

I first came to design in part due to my great love of color and the decoration of space. Over the last 15 years I have built a full spectrum interiors practice engaged with far more than décor. We focus on the life changes that motivate clients to remake the most fundamental and expressive space in their lives: a home. Whether clients are facing empty nests as children leave, building a new home by the sea, or updating their living space to reflect new visions, taste brings a wealth of resources and a sophistication of experience to create balanced, future-oriented and respectful interiors. Our best work reflects a process of collaboration, analysis and design at every level from the function and mechanical needs of space to its aesthetic character. Change is what draws us; beauty is what we leave behind.

I rely on classical arrangements of rooms, proportion and scale to right a home. Then, introduce modern details like layered lighting and sink-into sofas. As a result, our interiors exude a timeless quality and deliver equal parts comfort and function.

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2. How do you define coastal design? 

Coastal design is no different from other design styles that draw from nature and in doing so, create comfort and a sense of well-being. Making this connection with the external environment grounds us and reminds us that we are part of the larger, natural world. To achieve this on the coast, we rely on textural materials, references to water and a color palette drawn from the outdoors.

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3. Can you share your favorite design/decor elements from past projects? 

Natural materials, reimagined elements and original art are our trifecta we lean on time and time again when creating interiors for our clients. Natural materials often come in the form of stone such as quartzite and bluestone (we rarely use manmade alternatives) and high character wood species. Dunn’s Kingstown Stool is a favorite not only for its beautiful use of walnut, but its honest joinery and organic form.

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Reimagined elements bring a sense of history to a space and evoke positive memories for its inhabitants. For example, I’ll forever love the use of these porcelain art sink brackets on this Kitchen island.

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Lastly, original art always brings originality and a personal connection to our interiors, like this photo that captures a natural wood floor, a repurposed antique chair and original art by Neal Walsh.

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4. Yachts! Tell us about designing for yachts! 

We love designing the interiors of yachts – our newest design venture. While there are many similarities to residential design, there are a few important distinctions.

First, every element of the interior has a functional purpose on a yacht – some seen and some unseen. A loveseat, for example, can double as a handhold through a salon and a way to safely traverse from the galley to the cockpit while heeling. And the edge of a nightstand or table, referred to as the fiddle, helps to keep elements from rolling off surfaces while at sea. Oh and the open base of the sofa you’re imagining? Be sure it can incorporate the myriad of mechanicals that need to be hidden there.

Second, every inch and every surface matters. Creating a luxury interior in a space constrained, moving interior requires extreme precision and a hyper focus on the highest quality hard and soft materials. While a residential home has endless spaces to exude quality, a yacht has far fewer, so make the most of every opportunity to convey quality luxury.

Lastly, the project timeline on a yacht provides little room for error. When it sets sail and departs the shipyard after a project has been completed, its gone and you don’t have the chance to return to make adjustments or deliver that finishing element that was on backorder. Project management is crucial. (True story: We recently had a superstar window treatment installer agree to install during ‘sea trials’ when the boat was at sail and being tested to be sure it was seaworthy. It was crunch time and every hour mattered. Supreme collaborators like him help make the project timeline happen.)

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5. What is one piece of advice you find yourself telling clients on a regular basis? 

If you’re renovating a home, move out during construction. If you’re building and renting a home while your new home is being built, rent a home with a flexible lease. Despite everyone’s best intentions, project timelines get elongated. There are far too many humans involved in the build process to expect otherwise. Mistakes happen. Shipments are delayed. Products fail. Completion dates slip. Living out of the house during a renovation helps to move a project along. It’s the best piece of advice I give, benefiting taste, our collaborators and our appreciative clients.

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6. What is the most challenging aspect of interior design work? 

On any given day, our designers collaborate with 25-30 different builders, tradespeople and artisans. We need to know enough about each craft to maximize and often stretch its potential while always respecting the limitations. Communication and humility are key.

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7. What makes working in Rhode Island a unique experience? 

Hands down, direct access to exceptional craftspeople, artisans and fellow designers. We are so fortunate to have such talent in this state. My particular joy is discovering when your favorite millworker is working with your favorite wood turner and your favorite furniture finisher to complete a custom piece you’ve designed. There’s an active collaboration current always at work in Rhode Island that I’m proud to be a part of.

8. Who do you admire today in the architecture and/or design fields, and what are they doing that you admire? 

I’m a big admirer of Ilse Crawford’s work and design philosophy. She believes design is a powerful force that is often underestimated, misunderstood and trivialized. “It’s a mistake that [interior design] is considered a luxury to be applied if there is money left at the end, rather than an integral part of making and shaping new realities from the outset.” I couldn’t agree more.

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taste at work, part 1

busy in the studio, busy in the field

 

 

 

Team taste designers are at it again, fulfilling projects in all phases of the design/construction process as we enter into a busy late fall & winter season.  We’re so appreciative of New England’s seasonality and the added focus that comes this time of year in our coastal, summer community.  As we say goodbye to snowbird clients until next Spring, our heads are down in the studio and our boots are on in the field — preparing homes for the next summer season and for many, the next chapter of their lives with their families.

As always, we aren’t alone in our commitment to creating well-considered, well-crafted homes for our clients.  We are side by side with accomplished architects, builders and craftspeople all working together, with the same ethos.  When the days get dim and the temperatures dip, its these relationships that brighten our work and deliver a laugh – together.

Snapshots follow below from the studio and the field.  Check back next week for a peek at a few more projects underway and all benefiting from our hunkered-down focus this fall.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

 

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Kevin    Kevin’s leading the renovation of a classic Jamestown cottage, bringing together historic design details with energy efficient, advanced building practices.  Our designs started with perspective views of the interior and exterior prepared in Sketch-up, coupled with detailed drawings produced in CAD.  The trades are on-site now, roughing in plumbing and electrical in preparation for insulation in a few weeks.  Walls will be plastered in another month, providing a warm environment for interior finishes this winter and completion in the Spring.

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Candy    There are deadlines and then there are yacht design deadlines.  Candy’s working alongside The Fontaine Group on a refit of a classic yacht in time to set sail in early December.  (A yacht is a bit different from a residence – when it sets sail, its gone.  There’s no returning to the house in a few weeks to add a piece or two that’s been delayed!).  Furnishings are in production, the pewter bar top is being crafted, joinery is in the finishing stages and the art has arrived.  We will make the deadline, beautifully.

 

 

 

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Wendi    Wendi’s recently back from a well-deserved vacation in France with her husband, Peter.  (They are the most high energy, spirited empty-nesters you’ll ever meet!).  After trekking through the streets of Nice and Paris on bikes and mopeds, Wendi returned inspired and ready to infuse her projects with European quality and timelessness.  Coincidentally, we’ve started working with a client to renovate their new/old French-inspired home, providing the perfect opportunity for a palette of limestone, weathered wood, brick, iron and aged brass.

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julia-staff-photo-smallJulia  If you’ve bumped into Julia recently, you’ll know she’s expecting baby #2 in February — although you wouldn’t know that from her energy level.  More than ever, she’s bringing her high-spirited, love of design to her client projects, including a new construction home Patrick Ahearn home in Weekapaug, Rhode Island.  We love our client’s self-described affinity for ‘spritely’ fabrics and colors.  Julia’s sense of style and ability to artfully compose a scheme is delivering just the right amount of spirited sprite to this coastal home.

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Patti    As for me, I’m re-energized by recent design industry events that have given me a renewed focus on improving our design deliverables and ultimately, the client experience.  Let’s face it, a renovation or new build project is an intense experience for our clients.  They don’t do it everyday as we do.  More than ever, I’m dedicated to bringing the best talent, tools and project management to our clients so that they may find joy in the process of creating their home.  And, leave the worries to us.

Most importantly, I’m practicing this recommitment everyday while I lead projects ranging from the completion new construction coastal homes, to the renovation of a Normandy-inspired family home to the rework of a Kitchen for fellow designers I admire.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Coastal Home in the Final Finish…

 

 

 

 

Family Home in Concept Design…

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Historic Home Ready for Construction Start…

Radesca Residence Proposed Family Room

Radesca Residence Sitting Room

Radesca Residence Stairs

Kitchen Renovation for Special People…

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Block Island Family Compound, In the Making…

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helping out in houston

team taste lends a hand

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We’re all too aware of the devastation that Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have caused the past several weeks.  After endless images and news stories, we’re all feeling heartache for the families impacted and the urge to do something meaningful to help if we can.

Like so many, we have friends, family and associates in the Houston area and throughout Florida.  In the days during Harvey, I reached out to collaborator and cabinetmaker Jonathon Dahl, whose home is in the Houston area. He shared with me images of the flood waters as it creeped closer and closer to his house – home to him, his wife and children.

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Luckily, the water began to recede, leaving the Dahl family home untouched. Jonathon’s workshop (and therefore, livelihood) sustained flood damage, but with positivity and hard work, he was up and running again in a few days.  Then his phone began to ring…

At least 10 of Jonathon’s customers lost everything in the flood. And the last several days have been filled with Jonathon and his crew helping to clean out houses he reports as heart wrenching work.

To lend a hand to the families Jonathon is helping to recover, taste will be donating 100 design hours in the coming weeks to design cabinetry, select flooring and fixtures and create color palettes for new interiors.  Our collaboration with Jonathon Dahl is something I hope will alleviate a fraction of the stress the families will face as they rebuild their homes and their lives.  And, provide a bit of joy.

Let us know if you’d like to help out with a donation of funds to help the families Jonathon is serving in the Houston area.  We can all lend a hand.

In gratitude,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

 

Team taste is ready to help. This photo was taken in a Rhode Island home finished with Jonathon this summer.

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taste furniture in the making

Wendi attends Hickory Chair University

 

North Carolina is home to numerous furniture fabricators, including one of our top choices for fine furnishings, Hickory Chair. This week, taste team member Wendi Dicely-Scalora had the pleasure of attending a unique program for designers. She and designers from across the country spent the week at the Hickory Chair factory to learn about the behind-the-scenes creative process and the craftsmanship put into each piece.

On the experience, Wendi shared, “The opportunity to see up close, the hands-on production of Hickory Chair furniture, reaffirms my belief in the product. Every piece of wood used is carefully selected then crafted by hand, not machine, making each build a highly customizable and unique piece. Hickory Chair compliments taste’s desire to incorporate American-made, hand-crafted and artisan-quality products. They take pride in offering a customizable product to solve almost any need for the client and designer.”

Hickory Chair University allowed Wendi to view the process from prefab (the blueprints of the design) to leg creation, detail specifications, upholstery, base framing, shipping prep and, alas, the beautiful finished piece. She even had the pleasure of seeing the bare bones of one of our clients’ dining chairs before being sent for staining and upholstery.

Enjoy this selection of photos taken during one of Wendi’s facility tours. So much handmade care and detail goes into each piece and I am both pleased and assured that Hickory Chair continues to be a great source for taste and our selections in fine furnishings that will last for generations.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

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practice makes better

a progress report on our use of Sketch-up

In 2016, team taste more fully employed the 3D modeling tool Sketch-up than ever before.  From furnishing drawings to cabinetry detailing to full room interiors, we turned to Sketch-up often to work through the scale and proportion of our designs and illustrate our interiors. But it wasn’t always so…

Years ago, taste designer Kevin Baker and I used Sketch-up with some success, yet often found the rough edges of the design program caused more concern with our clients than answered questions. After receiving several raised eyebrows during client meetings, we took a step back and returned to relying on CAD to work through and convey our ideas.

Then — Ashley arrived.

taste designer Ashley DelVecchio renewed our confidence in the tool with her lightening fast speed and plug-in know how. She helped us turn rough sketches into well lit renderings – complete with wood finishes, tile selections and reflections in glass. Soon, we all began to rely on the program and the power it had to enrich our design process and help our clients envision— and build confidence in—our designs.

Our progress continues and we have big plans for Sketch-up in 2017. Stay tuned as Julia Reinalda joins the ranks of savvy Sketch-up designers and Kevin expands the use of the program to convey construction details.

A sampling of recent 3D renderings follow, to inspire and help envision your next project.

Only the best,

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Simple line drawings of a Kitchen island helped our clients imagine the functionality this additional cabinetry brought to their space.

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Renderings of this Kitchen helped us get the scale and detailing of this millwork design spot-on in this historic home. We intentionally restrained from adding additional color and material finishes so we could study the millwork profiles, without the distraction of other surfaces.

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We used this same monochromatic approach in this master bedroom. The lack of color helped us to study the millwork design, custom bed and additional natural light created by the mirrors on the wardrobe doors.

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Then, we used the same Sketch-up approach in the master bathroom at this client’s home. Larger and additional windows produced the abundant natural light our client wished for, and the renderings helped to confirm the positive outcome.

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We turned to Sketch-up once again in this rendering by Ashley. The illustrations provided taste clients with our vision to visually expand the shower with glass, and presented an option for natural wood upper cabinets, or painted. (We all decided the natural wood upper cabinets were best.)

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Kevin has been collaborating with local architect Mary Meagher on a cottage renovation, including the addition of second floor dormers. To help our Chicago-based client understand the options, Kevin’s using Sketch-up to develop massing models that are emailed to our client for review and consideration.

 

Ashley created these Sketch-up renderings of the cottage featured above, complete with artwork from the gallery at taste – patiently waiting to takes its place of honor at our client’s home this summer.

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meet team taste member Candace Langan

Get to know our design team and their contributions.

candace-headshot-white-shirt-LOW-RES“Timeless. Classic. Fresh. I would say these three words best describe my direction as I work hand in hand with my clients, helping to create beautiful spaces based on their individual taste and needs.”

Candace Langan, Interior Designer

I’d like to offer a warm welcome to Candace Langan who joined our team as an interior designer this week and expands our portfolio of services to include interior design for yachts.
Candace is an experienced designer specializing in yacht decoration and brings with her active client projects in the marine industry. Equally exciting, she brings a passion for fine linens and custom furnishings that complements our work here at taste, introducing new methods and resources to our practice.
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Candace grew up in a boat-loving family in Rumson, New Jersey, and has been associated with yachts all her life. Her first job was with Yachting Magazine as the organizer and manager of the company’s premiere events. During the ten years she worked for Yachting, she met and married the yacht designer, Bill Langan.
 
Candace was hired by New York Yacht Club’s America II syndicate to coordinate donor relations and events, and accompanied Bill to Perth, Australia for the 1987 America’s Cup challenge. Returning to the States, she started her own event planning company and after eight years in the business was asked to plan a party for Meryl Streep. Ms. Streep then invited Candace to be her personal assistant, a position she held until Candace and Bill moved their family to Newport, RI in 1997.
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A fashion design major in college, Candace found that what she enjoyed most about her work was designing and decorating event spaces. She decided to continue her education and improve her skills by studying interior design at the Rhode Island School of Design. To combine this keen interest in design with her love of the water and strong organizational skills, she opened her own yacht interior decoration company, Candace Langan Design.  In her 15 years in the field of design, Candace has completed all manner of projects for sail and motor yachts, from classic to contemporary styling, new construction or refits.

I’ve personally known Candace for  years and I’m thrilled she’s decided to join us. I’m confident she’ll be a great fit for our team and expand our commitment to exceptional, custom design.

 

Only the best,

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Candace worked closely with the client, the naval architect, and the interior architect, providing elegant furnishings throughout this new construction 142-foot yacht project.

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Candace’s designs for a client’s motor yacht refit provides comfortable spaces for cruising in this family’s home away from home.

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Candace also designed the interior renovation for the Italian luxury sailing yacht company Perini Navi’s US offices in Newport