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before & after – a welcome home, at last

a historic gem regains its strength and stands ready for another generation

What does it take to purchase then restore a nearly one hundred and twenty year old home and make it conducive to modern life?    P  a  t  i  e  n  c  e.    There’s no other word for it.

Yes, it takes funds and a team of design/build professionals and a cadre of craftspeople and the support of a community (e.g. forgiving neighbors).  All of those components are mission critical, without a doubt.

But for a moment, I’d like to salute the people at the very center of it all.  The people who endured, the people who made endless decisions, the people who trusted and the people who devoted several months (ok, nearly two years) of their life to the project.  The people who invested in a historic home and in doing so, have ensured this part of our town’s history stands strong for another one hundred years.

The people who took several, continuous leaps of faith along the design/construction path: m y   c l i e n t s.

They deserve recognition and a sincere thank you from our community for their investment in one of our historic properties.  It takes an enormous commitment to take on and see through a project like the one you’ll see below.  I know, because I’d like to believe I’m there to help them along the way when faith is tested, tempers are short and renovation surprises seem to be around every corner.  It’s exhausting for them, and sincerely my pleasure to be involved in every aspect of the project.

After a rest from the decision-making, we’ll resume later this fall to furnish and decorate their historic house by the sea, now ready for the next hundred years.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

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An addition to the back of the home created a family room and 2nd floor bedrooms, completed with fireplaces.

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Karl Sauerbrey, architect, envisioned a solarium on the west side of the home while extending the front porch to the back yard.  The enhancement enables our clients to nearly walk around the entire perimeter of the house on the porch.

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The north side of the porch now extends to the side door into the Kitchen, ensuring an easy flow from inside to out.

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A new dutch door at the front provides the same sea breeze into the Living Room the original door did for a hundred years.

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The once remodeled Kitchen was reimagined with custom cabinetry, soapstone countertops and beadboard ceilings.

 

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The beadboard ceiling extends into the Mudroom and a brick floor was chosen to resemble that of an original porch floor, now incorporated into the interior.

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Historic elements like the newel posts, balusters and rails were restored to nearly their original beauty, save a few nicks here and there.

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The bathrooms express my client’s whimsy and love for pattern.

 

Many thanks, as always, to the team of pros made this possible.  With too many to mention, I’ll include just a few.  To all others who contributed, we send our sincere thanks.

Karl Sauerbrey, Architect

taste team members Kevin Baker, Julia Reinalda and Michaela Doehler

Yankee Housewrights, General Contractor

Jutras Woodworking, Kitchen and Mudroom Cabinetry

Zuerner Design, Fireplaces, Master Bedroom and Bathroom Cabinetry

Michael Boulay Woodworking, Library and Music Room Cabinetry

Valen Coble, Front and Side Dutch Doors

Atlantic Landscaping, Land and Hardscaping

Aaron Usher, Kevin Baker and Reagan Baker, Photography

before & after: how to celebrate your (home’s) age, gracefully

a skillful renovation that was just enough to embrace, not undo, the past

When my clients walked into our gallery last Fall to share they had purchased a home in our island town and wanted me to work with them to help update the interior, I could barely contain my excitement. (Anyone remember that scene in Love Actually when Laura Linney’s character had to hide behind the stairs to jump up and down with excitement before returning to her boyfriend to continue their romantic evening?  It was JUST like that.)  This is a couple who have impeccable taste, have renovated/decorated six homes in the past twenty-three years together and are hands down just fantastic people. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Then I saw the house…

And the excitement rose. In addition to being exceptional people, they can spot an exceptional home, even in the rough. This was one of those. On the coast, but nestled into a woodland setting, it has all the advantages of a water view, but the privacy and protection of a country home — complete with mature gardens and a stone outbuilding perfect for the gardening shed. The interior needed more natural light, expanded views to the water, a new kitchen and bathrooms and careful editing. What it didn’t need was a total gut and rebuild project, and my clients knew this and held the line throughout the design and construction process to ensure we kept every bit of character intact while improving the home.

Foster Associates architects reworked the floor plan to fix flow problems, enhance views and add functionality. We finished what Foster started, selecting the right combination of finishes and materials to embrace the original details of the house (be sure to get a good look at the ceilings) and our clients extensive collection of antiques, from near and far.  Chuck Millard’s team of master builders and carpenters executed the renovation to a tee, resisting the urge to fix the eccentricities in the house and embrace the age, just as my clients’ mandated from day one.

And I’m so thankful they did. Take a peek at the before, during and after photos below.  Now, nine months later, I still need to contain my girlish excitement with the project.

Only the best,

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The breakfast room benefited from built-in cabinetry and chic chinoiserie furnishings.

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Simplified details and natural materials returned this cottage Kitchen to a space that emphasizes casual gatherings.

 

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The ornate was edited out of the original kitchen and replaced with generous proportions and classical finishes.

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The original balustrade and ceilings were lightly restored to retain all of the character, including cracks in the newel post caps that conjure a story about the house and its inhabitants over the past one hundred years.

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The fact that my clients’ furnishings and collections fit so perfectly into the new/old house is a testament to their unwavering curation and commitment to good taste.

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The Powder Room refresh includes a bamboo chest repurposed as a sink vanity and a light-hearted lattice wallpaper.

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The second floor hall boasts a fantastic view to the water, thanks to new windows supported by a built-in for treasures.

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The master bedroom is a serene getaway thanks to trim upholstered furnishings and a peaceful dollop of blue.

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The master bathroom is neat and efficient and a perfect complement to the master bedroom palette.

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Many thanks, as always, to the team assembled to help bring sophistication and style to our clients’ home.

Foster Associates, Architect

taste team members Michaela Doehler and Ashley DelVecchio

Charles Millard Inc., General Contractor

Apex Kitchens, Kitchen Cabinetry

Rustigian Rugs, Area Rugs

Reagan Baker, Photography

 

Artist Spotlight: Meet Vanessa Piche

Oil Paintings for the Coastal Home

 

As daylight continues to extend into the evening hours, my thoughts have turned toward last summer’s monthly open houses and the cheerful conversations and laughter shared by all who visited. Not only did we enjoy hosting pleasant company and showing off our new space, local artists featured on our gallery walls joined in on the festivities.

With a lovely time had by all, I’ve decided to continue with Open Gallery/Studio nights this summer. Look for upcoming dates, beginning Thursday evening, May 26th, just before Memorial Day Weekend.

Our July Open Gallery/Studio night will feature the talented Vanessa Piche of North Kingstown. Her coastal landscapes provide a calming essence and a warm quality to our gallery vignettes and would be the perfect addition to private collections. Below, find a sampling of Vanessa’s pieces the gallery at taste will be showcasing.

In other exciting news, we’ve added a gallery of artists and their work to our website! Click or stop by to view our artists’ pieces on-line or in person at 17 Narragansett Ave.

Only the best,

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Vanessa Piche

 

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“Each painting is a conscious creation that feeds my soul. Paint on the brush and strokes on a canvas are just as important to me as air in my lungs and water to drink. The creation process is like planting a seed…something beautiufl grows out of your initial inspiration that makes people stop, look and connect with the world around them.”

 

Vanessa is a passionate Plein Air artist who captures her emotional response to the world around her. Citing “nature as her temple” and painting as a “self reflective practice,” she sees each painting as a conscious creation that feeds her soul. Vanessa competes in nationally recognized Plein Air competitions around the United States and her paintings are in private collections around the world. In 2015 she won the Making Waves Volvo Ocean Race Art Competition and was the 2015 U.S. Artist for Volvo Ocean Race. She spends most of her time painting in New England, Maryland, and Indiana. Vanessa resides in North Kingstown RI with her husband and daughter.

 

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Vanessa Piche – Before Sunset – Oil on Panel – 11 x 14 inches

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Vanessa Piche – Morning Autumn Ranch – Oil on Canvas – 24 x 12 inches

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Vanessa Piche – Quiet Marsh – Oil on Panel – 8 x 10 inches

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Vanessa Piche – Galillee Wharf – Oil on Panel – 8 x 10 inches

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Exterior Comforts

Outdoor fabrics and furnishings that don’t compromise comfort.

It’s hard to believe April is just around the corner.  With temperatures climbing toward the 60s, many of us are thinking about dusting off our stored patio furniture and readying to move outdoors. While we still have a few more weeks of chilly nights, now is the time to think about how you’d like to update your exterior dining and entertainment areas, secluded meditation spots and the deck of your sea-going vessels.

Preparing your furnishings for coastal elements–constant fog, rain and harsh sun rays–should be at the top of your check list with priority given to fabric selections. Gone are the days of drab khaki on everything. With technological advances and the creation of mildew-resistant, fast-drying fibers, the possibilities are endless. Adding bright dots, bold pinstripes, playful chevrons or tactilely-impressive weaves to outdoor spaces has become easier because of the multitude of textiles now available, both under hand on slip-covers, decorative pillows, seat cushions and dining linens or under foot with rugs, large and small.

Below you’ll find inspirational images sampling some of the go-to sources we use to beat the wear-and-tear of coastal elements — whether entertaining inland or relaxing sea-bound.

Enjoy!

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The outdoor Soleil line from Kravet is both appealing and comfortable.

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Just a few of the blue, beige and cream fabrics available from Lee Jofa’s Solarium line.

 

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Eden fabrics by Rosemary Hallgarten lend classic appeal to outdoor dining and relaxation as seen in the photos above.

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Solids make a bold punch in this pleasant palette of ocean blues and driftwood, adding aesthetic pleasure to these comfortable Chatham woven furnishings from Kingsley-Bate.

Thibaut outdoor fabric selections lend endless possibilities to dressing up any exterior space.

The Kos Rug by Rosemary Hallgarten brings earthy hues underfoot making it a versatile foundation for exterior dining spaces as well as conversational seating areas.

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Aqua-infused outdoor fabrics from Robert Allen bring sea-inspired hues inland.

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Recycled sails also make a statement and are naturally conducive to the elements. Re-Sails  provides many unique options to dress up your outdoor play space.

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Don’t forget the family pet! Dash & Albert designed their versatile outdoor Wouf so everyone in your family can enjoy relaxing outside in comfort and style.

 

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in good company, a shout-out to Brassworks

A public note of thanks to a Rhode Island company that consistently delivers exceptional quality and personal service.

I have a fantastic client who is a human resources executive at IBM.  While working on her home, our design sessions would inevitably spill over into lively conversations about family, travel and occasionally provide a glimpse into the successful practices IBM uses to nuture its assets – the people who’ve made that company great for the past 100 years.  One of IBM’s practices is to make a shout-out to an employee or group who stands apart from the rest.  While careful to thank everyone for their contributions, I admire this practice of calling attention to an exceptional individual or group.

(I’ve since made shout-outs on my team when someone has gone above and beyond.)

Today I’d like to do the same for Brassworks in Providence, RI.  If you’re a Rhode Islander and have embarked upon a residential construction or renovation project, you’re likely to already know Brassworks.  They are the go-to resource for fireplaces, door hardware, cabinetry hardware and solving tricky problems of just about any kind that have to do with metal fixtures.  And, like an increasingly rarified retailer, they maintain a showroom (!) where you can actually see and touch these parts and pieces that make the finishing difference in a home.

As designers, we appreciate Jeff Nelson and his team for their patience, accuracy, dedication to get it right and all the early morning and late evening emails to help make the details happen.  They are consistently generous with their knowledge and talents and a true pleasure to do business with.  Thanks Jeff, Rhonda, David, Mark, Joe and everyone at Brassworks for your unending collaborative spirit.  At times, our projects would undoubtedly grind to a halt without you.

A sampling of just a few of the many residences we’ve done together follow below.

If you don’t know Brassworks, be sure to visit the showroom where you’ll be warmly greeted and pleasantly surprised with the quality that harkens back to days gone by.

Only the best,

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This Town and Country fireplace insert by Brassworks was the starting point for the design of this fireplace, surround and mantel.

 

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I adore the Chesney fireplace baskets available at Brassworks.  Here, we used the Baird Basket in this historic home.  Brassworks also restored an original, 100 year old fireplace basket found in this home, and retrofitted it to accept gas logs.  We lovingly returned it to the Library fireplace where it originally lived, now supporting gas logs instead of the original wood.

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Leather wrapped drawer and appliance pulls finish this media room Kitchenette perfectly.

 

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And, we continued the theme in the adjacent Powder Room, complete with leather strap towel holder and hooks.

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This Rocky Mountain Hardware sourced from Brassworks finished this outdoor shower we designed perfectly.  Lockable from the inside, the hammered brass with matte finish will weather nicely during coastal summers and stand up against icy winters.

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These oil-rubbed bronze pulls ranged from five inches on cabinet drawers to twelve inches on the cabinetry-front appliances. This provided unity throughout this client’s kitchen and paired nicely with these complimentary knobs.

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Brassworks installed this cylindrical soapstone stove in our client’s coastal home. The stove rotates 180 degrees allowing a great fire view from the Dining area, the Kitchen or the living space. Its soapstone body provides radiant warmth for all to enjoy, in all seasons.

Why Take On the Task of Custom Design?

Elle Decor’s View on the Patience and Payoff of Custom Made

As much as I love pouring through my shelter magazines every month and dissecting nearly every design detail of every room shown, my most favorite page is consistently the Editor’s Page. When Margaret Russell, Ann Maine, Clinton Smith or Michael Boodro share their opening remarks, its as though I’m meeting with a good friend for tea and we instantly pick up where our last conversation left off. We get excited about the same topics, giggle at the same jokes and get exasperated at similar daily hassles and joys.

This couldn’t have been more true than when I read this month’s Elle Decor’s note from always on-point Editor in Chief, Michael Boodro. He goes right to my heart and talks of the highs and lows of embarking on a custom home. “…custom made connotes luxury and yields pleasure.  But it also demands patience.  It costs more.  And more often than not, it is a pain in the ass.”

Exactly!  I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’m sharing his editorial page with all of you.

Rest assured, there is payoff to the (sometimes) pain.  As evidence, I’m so fortunate to have dear clients share with me all the reasons why they are pleased they committed to the custom design process — after they’ve taken residence in their newly built or renovated homes. I even have a client who witnesses a joyful moment every day with an interior moulding detail, the scale of a room, the profile of a handrail or an overhang on her windows and then shares these with me. (You know who you are and I adore you.) These moments are the payoff for committing to and sometimes enduring the trials of custom design.

But make no mistake, it is a commitment. Custom made requires patience and dedication to creating something uniquely yours that expresses you, fits you and even grows with you in time. (A good design can do that.) It requires collaborating with your architect and designer probably far beyond what you even imagined, to get it right for you.

It also requires working with people who share your dedication and speak your language. And get excited when they read an editorial like this one and say out loud as I did, “Yes – that’s so true!”

Enjoy Michael’s comments and a few examples of our custom designs – created for and with some of our most favorite clients who enjoy all the benefits of custom made, now that the hard work is done.

All the best,

Patti-Signature-Top-Bottom-Margin-WEB

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This traditional kitchen defines “custom”. Details stand out in the island cabinetry and its artful brackets, the glass china display with its sliding doors and diamond fretwork, the coffered ceiling with customized mouldings and the built in wine fridges flanked by a matching paneled freezer and refrigerator.

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Close up of the custom moulding in the previously mentioned photograph.

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This Newport library boasts mahogany paneling, built-in bookshelves complete with a library ladder and a handsome burl wood fireplace surround all crafted by Joe Yoffa. taste designed the fireplace screen with our favorite blacksmith Jay Christman, lending a customized and complementary design element in this cozy space.

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This unique and custom-designed glass shower enclosure frames beautiful marble tilework in this Providence home. Elegant moulding follows the simple curves of the glass wall and soaking tub, making this master bath a spa retreat for the owners.

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These custom built-in cabinets built by Stephen Demetrick, double as a bookshelf and media storage system. When not in use, the toe-kick drawers and cabinet doors can be closed to seamlessly blend with the paneling running the perimeter of this stately study.

Photo Credit: Robyn Ivy Photography,  LeFebvre Photo

 

custom details: mad about metals

Our love of hand crafted metal has become a growing material of choice in our custom designs for clients.  Hand-forged iron, bronze, stainless steel and even pewter have been incorporated into interiors of late.  Here’s a peek at a few of our favorites…

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This rolled-steel bed finished with a zinc patina is a custom design of ours, in collaboration with Whetstone Workshop.  Currently in production, we expect to install in our client’s newly renovated master suite the Spring.

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These pewter countertops are new to our library of materials.  We’re eager to incorporate them into a bar – inside or outdoors.  The pewter naturally patinas, providing even more character over time.

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The installation of this newel cap at a taste-designed beach house in Little Compton, RI, crafted by Isaac Juodvalkis of Whetstone Workshop, is the perfect punctuation in a  modern coastal home for a young family.

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This textured taste-designed beam bracket partners well with the farmhouse beam running along our clients’ ceiling.

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The simple-lined frame of this glass table accents the inlaid medallion in the floor beneath.

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Isaac of Whetstone Workshop fabricated this steel base for the scrubbed ash top and bottom shelf provided by Lorimer Workshop.

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Jay Christman, our go-to blacksmith fabricated this taste-designed hand rail and baluster in iron.

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These textured samples offer an assortment of choices for customization.

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Jay Christman masterfully designed this iron handrail transition and curve that’s a pleasure to use, while offering strong support up and down the stairs.  The delicate iron balusters bring a lightness to this small back stairway that may have been visually crowded with a wood handrail and balustrade.

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This table’s concave base in brushed stainless steel is a perfect fit in this bay window breakfast nook.  We paired the base with a locally crafted dining table top by Lorimer Workshop.

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Stainless steel shelving lends a modern edge to this traditional all-white kitchen, one of our all time favorite kitchens and a frequently saved image on Houzz – 43,000 saves to idea books and counting…

How could you bring the character of metal into your home?  Be inspired!

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meet taste team member Julia Reinalda

Get to know our design team and their contributions.

 

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“There’s an easy understated beauty in what we do. We don’t ask for attention but instead work with our clients to create something simple and elegant that people live in and love.”

Julia Reinalda – Interior Designer

 

Following her arrival at taste in 2011, Julia gained broad experience as a Design Assistant and later stepped into the role of Production Coordinator. In this position, she oversaw the custom production process following the design phase, working closely with vendors to customize and fabricate every element of a client’s interior renovation, a level of detail unique to taste.
While she continues to work with vendors on custom projects, she is now assuming greater responsibilities in the interior and installation stages for multiple residences, working closely with taste founder Patti Watson and Senior Designer Kevin Baker from the concept to completion of rooms and entire homes.  Julia’s greatest strength lies in her ability to visualize and oversee the fabrication of custom furnishings ranging from lighting fixtures to custom iron beds.  Her limitless imagination and tenacity to see through the myriad of details during the design process delivers delighted clients time and time again.
Julia received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Dickinson College in 2008 and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Interior Design Program. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, an Alaskan hunting guide, their two dogs and their baby girl.

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Julia discussing design possibilities with Wendi and Kevin.
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A recent colors and materials palette by Julia.
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Julie’s design of this lacquered coffee table with lucite base came to life through models and collaboration efforts with Rhode Island company Jutras Woodworking and California Acrylic Design.

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Installation day for this beautiful braided jute rug.
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The beautiful slate in the foyer of this classic shingle style home mimics the ocean palette just outside.
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Julia partnered with Skipper Steve Morris from Nautical Chart Wallpaper to customize the Jamestown wall coverings for this Three Sisters bathroom. The coastal design is complete with porthole mirrors in both the shower and above the vanity and the ocean blue penny rounds tiling the floor.
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The windows overlooking the Narragansett Bay wouldn’t be complete without the customized roman shades designed by Julia.

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Cabinetry adds a masculine texture to this cozy office/study designed by Julia and Patti.
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This grown-up room is ready to be enjoyed…

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before & after: a chic treatment for a providence classic

A redressed interior as stylish as our clients.

 

 

There’s never been a better example of taking a cue from your clients’ wardrobe when designing their interior than this project for longstanding Providence East Side clients. Simply stated, he’s dapper and she’s chic. And the interiors of their turn of the century house near Brown University needed to capture their style, intellect and appreciation of art. We started by replacing traditionally patterned wall coverings and area rugs with modernized floral motifs in bold color combinations.  Faded wall colors were swapped out for richly saturated hues that beautifully present the art. And dated fixtures made way for refreshing variations on crystal and brass. The result is a composition as rich as our clients are interesting. And one that resembles the collection of hues, textures and patterns hanging in their own closets – for a perfect fit.

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The metallic accents on the Asian-inspired wall covering in the vestibule beautifully coordinate with the gilded sconces, finished with a black shade.

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A custom runner by Rosemary Hallgarten welcomes guests in the Foyer and sets the pace for the artful interior.

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An updated variation on crystal takes the place of the traditional chandelier in the Foyer.

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The acanthus striped grasscloth continues up to the second floor.  A wool & sisal blend runner updates the stairs while bringing comfort underfoot.

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A classic floral drape in modernized shades of black and gray speaks to the acanthus leaf on the grasscloth.

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A Wendyll Brown painting takes center stage over the fireplace while a Gretchen Dow Simpson piece to the right is accented by the velvet jewel tones in the Living Room.

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A custom designed fluted lacquer vanity, finished with lucite legs, brings sophistication and storage to the Powder Room.

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Wall to wall carpeting in the Library was removed to reveal original hardwood floors. The new area rug and wall color sets the perfect backdrop for a Michael Rich painting opposite the front windows.

 

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A Peter Diepenbrock sculpture stands proud in the bay window of the updated Dining Room.

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Our clients’ Dining Room table – where traditional and modern elements come together to reflect their stylish aesthetic.

Many thanks, as always, to the team we assembled to help bring sophistication and style to our clients’ home.

taste team members Kevin Baker and Meryl Chaum

Stephen Demetrick, General Contractor

Jutras Woodworking, Cabinetry and Millwork

Rustigan Rugs, Rosemary Hallgarten and Landry & Arcari, Area Rugs

Candita Clayton, Artwork

Kyle Caldwell, Photography

Robyn Ivy, Photography

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before & after: the studio and the gallery at taste

Images by Kyle Caldwell

We’re nicely settling into our new space since opening the doors to our upgraded studio and gallery in August.  One of my most favorite moments the past few months has been watching the incredulous expressions when people familiar with 17 Narragansett Ave. BEFORE the renovation walk into our new space AFTER.  Many are speechless.  When they find their words they share that the gallery and studio are welcoming, warm and inspirational.  I couldn’t be happier.  If you aren’t a local Rhode Islander, here’s a look at the before and after photos.  If you are a local, please stop by, say hello and see the AFTER results in person.

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Our new front door, decked out in taste red.

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The gallery at taste during and after the renovation.

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The gallery at taste and our studio during the dust and after the dust settled.

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The walls came down then went up to create new areas for art, furnishing vignettes and a bright library.

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Our conference room was designed to make meetings feel like a conversation at the Kitchen table, complete with comfy chairs for long design work sessions.

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The first floor studio space provides flexible work areas and an easy-access materials library, where we host clients and invite them to participate in the creative process.

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Layers of artwork, samples and materials provide endless inspiration.

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Our second floor studio space provides a sunny, quiet work environment for our designers.  And, a deck for a little fresh air and the occasional Friday evening cocktail.

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