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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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how design works: post-project stories

A post project check-in

 

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of presenting alongside Jeff Soderbergh, Creator of Custom, Sustainable Furnishings, at the Newport Art Museum during Design Week.

DESIGNxRI’s Design Week is an eleven-day event that celebrates innovative design and architecture throughout Rhode Island. The fantastic team at DESIGNxRI offers talks, tours, luncheons and events such as the Drinks With Designers, where I discussed How Design Works and shared projects with unique challenges/solutions.

To prepare for the talk, I found before photos of three client projects that have been completed for a year or more now, then shared the before photos with my clients to jog their memory of the spaces pre-renovation.  Then, I asked them for insight on how the spaces were working for them now, compared to before, and posed these questions:

— How have the rooms changed your views/relationship to adjacent interior rooms? And to the exterior?
— How has the lighting/layout/finishing changed the way you use the space?
— What happens in these spaces now, when family and friends gather, that didn’t happen before?
— What work gets done in these spaces now, that didn’t flow as well before? Why?
— Any unexpected life moments with your children that have resulted from these improved spaces? With friends?
— Any aspect of the design that you were unsure of that you’re glad you incorporate?

The stories I received in response were generous, heartwarming and incredibly fulfilling as a designer.  Here’s one of those projects – a master suite in a whole house renovation that is living up to the promise of sanctuary for my clients.  And, creating sweet memories.

These client stories are a reminder that thoughtful design can transform our lives.  Sometimes the change is sweeping, sometimes it happens in small, incremental ways that add up to easier, meaningful living. Either way, design remains a powerful tool for better living.  How can it be harnessed in your home?

Only the best,

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Artist Spotlight: Christian Potter Drury

painter of the natural world and its unseen details

 

 

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We were honored to feature Christian Pottery Drury’s inspiring work at our Gallery Open House in August.  Here’s a snapshot of Christian and a preview of the pieces currently hanging in our gallery. If you’re a local, please stop by to view in person…

Christian Potter Drury comes from a long line of artists. Her relative Allyn Cox spent two decades painting the murals in the Capital rotunda in Washington, DC, and her father was the art book publisher Clarkson N. Potter. Christian spent her childhood in New York City and London and summered in Jamestown, Rhode Island, where she now resides.

Drury trained at London’s Sir John Cass School of Art and at SUNY before embarking on a long and successful career as an Art Director at newspapers, notably the The Los Angeles Times, and most recently the Wall Street Journal.

Christian has drawn and painted since she was 13. Two years ago she returned to painting full time.  We’re so fortunate she did.

Enjoy and be inspired, as we are everyday as we take in the subtleties and messaging in her work.

Only the best,

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Christian Potter Drury – In the Deep Dark Forest You Will See a Golden Light – Acrylic, Pencil, Watercolor, Varnish – 30 x 30 inches

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Christian Potter Drury – en famille – Acrylic, Collage, Pastel, Ink, Watercolor, Varnish – 16 x 20 inches

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Christian Potter Drury – Buds – Watercolor, Acrylic, India Ink, Collage, Varnish – 8 x 8 inches

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Christian Potter Drury – Opera Coat for David Lynch – Gouache, Acrylic, Pencil, Collage, Varnish on 100% Cotton Arches Paper; 300 lb – 36 x 30 inches

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Christian Potter Drury – Rogue Wave – Acrylic, Collage, Pencil, Varnish – 16 x 16 inches

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Christian Potter Drury – High Tide – Acrylic, Pastel, Pencil, Varnish – 24 x 24 inches

 

 

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Christian Potter Drury – Tulipus (sp.) Margarettas – Acrylic, Pen, Watercolor and Pencil – 30 x 30 inches

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Christian Drury – Mount Wilson – Gouache, Watercolor, Pastel Collage – 24 x 30 inches

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Christian at an Open Gallery Night this past August with her piece Tulips (sp.) Margaritas

locally grown

how an abundance of local talent was tapped for this custom cottage

Everyday we are reminded of the deep pools of design and artisan talent that reside in our tiny state.  (Earlier this week, I ran into three local artisans ready to excitedly share news of their newest projects/work during a 10-minute run into the coffee shop for a mid morning tea.  No August vacation time for these busy artisans!).
Many of the artists and craftspeople we work with went to RISD and are (thankfully!) staying in Rhode Island to launch their careers.  Others are coming from New York, realizing that there are contemporaries here with whom to collaborate, while enjoying the lower cost of living and seaside benefits of the Ocean State.   Like any state, we have our issues.  But access to world-class designers and artisans isn’t one of them.
With commitment, I’ve actively developed my working relationships with local artisans and craftspeople for the past 12 years of my business.  And now my fellow taste-designers are doing the same.  It’s become a guiding principal of our practice.
So nothing gives us more pleasure than these words from a client: “I really want to work with as many local craftspeople as possible on this project”.  Amen.  And so we did.
Here’s a pictorial review of this Little Compton, Rhode Island project and a shout out to the local artisans and craftspeople who helped make this interior happen.
Only the best,
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before & after kitchen interior design renovation
Studio Dunn walnut counter stools are pitch perfect in this simple and honest Kitchen.
Big thanks to Stephen Plaud for lending their craftsmanship to the Kitchen cabinetry.
And that’s a Dora Atwater Millikin painting peeking into view on the wall to the right of the Kitchen.
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Our friend David Ellison at Lorimer Workshop contributed his talent and unerring eye to the dining table, living room console and coffee table in the open Living/Dining Room.
We worked, once again, with O&G Studios and arrayed their chairs around the dining table, providing a no-worries approach to summer dining, just in from the beach.
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Lorimer Workshop‘s coffee table nearing completion at their shop.
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The coffee table at home in the Living Room.
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Lorimer Workshop built the console and the grasscloth covered parsons table, to perfection.
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The console at home in the Living Room.
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The restrained and edited O&G Studio‘s Atlantic Lowback chair is perfect in the lower level of the home.
O&G Studio‘s luggage rack is a welcoming and functional accent in the guest room.
Dunes and Duchess designs and creates their line of home accessories in nearby Connecticut.  Our client loves their Lakeside chair in this custom color and poppy upholstery.
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Whetstone Workshop created this newel post cap for us, to punctuate the walnut and stainless steel balustrade.
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Michael Boulay crafted this headboard and nightstand designed by our own Wendi Dicely Scalora.

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.

taste team members Wendi Dicely-Scalora, Kevin Baker and Ashley Delvecchio

Gibson Building Company, General Contractor

Stephen Plaud, Kitchen Cabinetry

Rustigian Rugs, Living Room Area Rug

Allied Floors, Countertops

Brassworks, Woodstove

Michael Boulay Woodworking, Bedroom Headboard and Nightstands, Sink Vanity (not shown)

Kyle Caldwell, Photography

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,

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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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in the home stretch

three projects nearly ready for the summer season

Spring is in the air and that means we’re busy finishing summer homes for the now in-sight season. I admit, I love this next six week period leading up to Memorial Day.  A deadline junkie, I thrive in the final days of finish construction.  We’re up to our necks in finishing details, questions, problem solving and client pleasing.  And the builders, artisans and craftspeople we rely on are right there with us.  These are the days that test productive collaborations.  Inevitably what binds us during trying moments is our shared unending commitment to quality – even in the face of a looming deadline.

Here’s a sneak peek at three projects entering the final finish phase – each is a hive of activity right now.  Many thanks to Dave Brown, Steve Demetrick and Bob van Cleef for leading the crews at each of these homes.  It may look like there’s still lots left to do, but that’s all part of the exhilaration in the coming few weeks…

Stay tuned for finished photos later this summer after our clients return from their winter roosts and settle in for the summer in their new spaces.

Only the best,

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#1.  A restored cottage by the sea for oh-so fabulous clients and their daughters.

picture-window-with-view-bedroom-east-sideA view to the sea.

library-2A view to the Dining Room.

brick-accentAn orderly laundry area takes shape.

shower-tile-placement-master-bathThe master shower nearly complete.

 

#2. A chic pool house for long-standing and long-appreciated clients.

pool-house-main-room-counter-sink-and-pendantWalnut trimmed cabinetry in the Kitchenette.

pool-house-bathroom-tile-vanityTerrazzo countertops in the Bathroom.

pool-house-main-room-crystal-knob-hardwareFinishing touches in glass.

pool-house-main-room-tile-floorA glass mosaic floor resembles the pool itself.

#3.  A historic home designed for a fun loving family who loves to throw a party.

brick-layoutBricks are carefully laid out and prepared for installation on the mudroom floor.

built-insBookcases are completed and nearly ready for our client’s collection.

kitchenNext to go in: everything, including the Kitchen sink.