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keeping craft alive: spotlight on urban electric

the urban electric co. of charleston, south carolina

We have long relied on Urban Electric Co. for exceptionally crafted lighting fixtures – all bench made to order and to our specifications.  Seeing their company featured in a recent article in Business of Home and learning more about their dedication to nurturing the next generation of artisans makes our support of their company that much stronger.

With thoughtfulness and intention, they recruit artisans from diverse backgrounds and engage them in a 12-18 month apprenticeship program to become craftspeople.  (Currently, half of the 40 craftspeople working in the shop are women.)  Based on their contributions and craft, there’s a clear path to become senior craftspeople and eventually master craftspeople with the company.

This is exactly the approach we need to keep craft alive in our field, and in our country.  We couldn’t be more proud to support Urban Electric and other artisans dedicated to the revitalization of craft.  Join us!

Only the best,

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Urban Electric Co. featured in Business of Home:UE article taste

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Urban Electric Co.’s Yolanda, at our client’s home overseeing the installation of their fixtures.

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Urban Electric Co.’s fixtures featured in just a few of our many client homes:

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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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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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reflections on summer: new work by Dora Atwater Millikin & Susan Strauss

 

 

 

Our fresh coat of paint has dried and we’ve refreshed the gallery at taste, complete with new work brimming with images of warm days and nights.  Dora Atwater Millikin and Susan Strauss return to the gallery with bold and lively new work, just in time for summer.  Be sure to stop by the gallery at taste, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5 pm, to view Dora’s and Susan’s new selection of paintings.

About Dora…

Though not unfamiliar to our walls, we are pleased to show new work by the Massachusetts artist Dora Atwater Millikin. Known for her roadways, summer camper series and the geometry found in everyday life, we’re pleased to present a new series of early morning, evening and coastal scenes.

Dora Atwater Millikin Artist“Ordinary, mundane objects are featured, not omitted, and the works are meant to engage scenes of contemporary life that transcends the everyday. My urban subjects depict objects associated with a more leisurely life and are in direct contrast to nature.  Their titles such as “No Parking” or “Parking this side only” allude to the complicated network of rules and privileges installed to maintain order in an overly congested world.
As site specific as the places in my paintings may be, hopefully, anyone can relate to the universal nature of their activity.  What is my message?  My message is to find the rhythm and beauty in the world around me and to give an interpretation of life in my time as seen through my eyes.”

Also no stranger to the gallery at taste is Susan Strauss. Her loose, dynamic style captures the essence of the scene. Strauss brings a new set of small works featuring spring and summer hued landscapes to our gallery along with several large pieces that demand the center of attention.

susan-strauss-with-art-at-taste-grand-opening“Each new painting is fresh, open to risk and growth. I paint from direct observation of both inner and outer landscape.

Simply put, I am painting to make visible both seen and non-visual experiences, to explore their interconnection and to reveal their universality. 

My goal is to be present in my life and my paintings.”

In other gallery news… summer Gallery Nights will be back on July 20th and August 17th. Mark your calendars!

Thursday, July 20th :: 5 – 8 pm

On July 20th, we’ll feature the layering, textural artist Coral Bourgeois and her mosaic collaged pieces, Kelly Jo Shows’s unique Portrait of an Artist shoe paintings, local artist Christian Potter Drury’s playful, eclectic story pieces, and Jessica Pisano, whom you may recall is a sought after seascape artist. Jessica’s new series features birds in flight in her highly crafted and articulated oil techniques.

 

 

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Thursday, August 17th :: 5 – 8 pm

August 17th brings Debby Krim and The Colors of White photography study featuring the relationship between positive and negative space, Rhode Island artist Vanessa Piche who has added the Summer Tides and Gannett Summer boating series to her ever-popular shorelines and marsh paintings, Wendy Wahl’s 3D pieces made from unbound pages of discarded encyclopedias, and Tiffany Adams’ organic ceramic sculptures inspired by nature.

 

 

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Enjoy this glimpse of our current show with Dora Atwater Millikin and Susan Strauss or drop in anytime Monday – Friday between 9am – 5pm to view these stunning pieces in person. And as always, take advantage and “try before you buy” to view pieces in your home or office.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

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Dora Atwater Millikin – 8pm – oil on linen – 20 x 48 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Door, Drum – oil on linen – 28 x 20 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Night – oil on linen – 36 x 20 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Street Light – oil on linen – 30 x 20 i inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin  First Thing  – oil on linen – 24 x 36 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Morning – oil on linen – 36 x 20 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Night Driving – oil on linen – 20 x 28 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin –  Vortex – oil on linen – 48 x 72 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Summer Place – oil on linen – 24 x 30 inches

 

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Bellow Docks – oil on linen – 28 x 16 inches

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Dora Atwater Millikin – Beach Street – oil on linen – 28 x 20 inches

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Susan Strauss –  Sky or Reflection? – oil on panel – 28 x 36 inches

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Susan Strauss – Exceptional Summer Moments – oil on panel – 12 x 16 inches

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Susan Strauss –  Pardon Gray Trees (left)  – oil on panel – 11.5 x 5 inches

Susan Strauss –  Pardon Gray Trees (right)  – oil on panel – 11.5 x 5 inches

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Susan Strauss – The Speed of Summer – oil on panel – 36 x 40 inches

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Susan Strauss –  Wonderful Place – oil on panel – 12 x 12 inches

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Susan Strauss –  Iconic – oil on panel – 12 x 18 inches

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Susan Strauss – Early July – oil on panel – 11 x 14 inches

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Susan Strauss – Entrance  – oil on panel – 12 x 16 inches

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artist spotlight: kelly jo shows

an artist and her many shoes

 

Last summer brought new artists to taste. Among the fresh talent were paintings by the unique portrait artist Kelly Jo Shows represented by Candita Clayton Gallery. Kelly Jo takes an unconventional approach into her creations, focusing on shoes rather than faces to represent her subjects’ personality. The shoes she’s given display wear from all walks of life. Some are hard-worn, speckled with paint, classy, comfortable (like bedroom slippers), dressy, or a multitude of colorful converse sneakers. Each is as individual as their owner, and Kelly Jo Shows captures this through her detailed portraits.

I’m excited as this summer approaches to be working with Kelly Jo on a commissioned family portrait (think shoes instead of head shots) that will perfectly complete the interior of our clients’ summer home. Kelly Jo has just the right amount of modern sophistication and unique style to create this young family’s portrait. I’m looking forward to the process — reviewing the shoe choices, delivering these carefully selected pairs to Kelly Jo, and watching her transform them into two-dimensional perfection.

Enjoy a sampling of Kelly Jo Show’s portraits below. She has more wonderful portraits on Candita’s website, and a great look behind the scenes on her Instagram page at @fearnoart11. Be sure to check both out.

Only the best,

patti watson interior designer taste interior design decorator rhode island boston

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A shot inside her studio.

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A completed commissioned piece drying on her easel.

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Portrait of Artist Billy Childish by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist Candy Chang by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist John Casey by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist Mark Ryden by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist Martha Coburn by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist Patrick Finster by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist The Art Guys by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of Artist TMNK by Kelly Jo Shows

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Portrait of artist Alan Neider by Kelly Jo Shows

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in review (times three)

in good taste throwback

 

Our blog posts have touched on many aspects of design—before & afters, inspirations, the driving forces (our designers), top-notch collaboration efforts and our gallery of talented artists. In reviewing this past year’s blog posts, we noticed a trend…your favorite posts were some of our favorite posts!

Your top three favorites were all “before & after” treatments to three very different residences—a turn of the century residence near Brown University, a nearly one hundred and twenty year old Jamestown home and a Little Compton summerhouse a stone’s throw from the water. All assembled here for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy the posts, all over again.

Only the best,

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before & after: a chic treatment for a providence classic

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before & after – a welcome home, at last

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before & after: modern beach cottage

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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,

Patti-Signature-Top-Bottom-Margin-WEB

 

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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from the designer desk of candace langan…

Taste designer Candace Langan has been working her yacht interior magic once again…  For the past few months she’s been on a sprint to help our California-based client and new owner of a classic super yacht reinvigorate the vessel and personalize for his chapter of ownership.

Our client acquired the then ‘Timoneer’ this summer and in addition to renaming her ‘Catalina’ he brought his western aesthetic to the 147′ yacht originally designed by Dubois Naval Architects with interiors by John Munford.  How did we successfully blend our client’s request for a California-clean palette and polite insistence for “no blue, please” with a classic cherry yacht interior?

Candace relied on a textured and neutralized palette with accents in tomato red and crisp browns to complement the rich wood tones.  Blue and white carpet came out and was replaced with a subtly patterned geometric rug.  Florals were replaced with a collection of small scale prints and textured fabrics.  Tufting was removed and replaced with tight backs on sofas and headboards.

Now, Catalina boasts a clean and textured canvas – ready for our client to personal with art and collections from his travels at sea.  All aboard!

Only the best,

Patti-Signature-Top-Bottom-Margin-WEB

Yacht management firm Jon Barrett and Associates oversaw the refresh of Catalina and the hull painting in a warm Benjamin Moore gray.  Our client was so pleased with the new hull color we used it as a launching point for the interior color palette.

 

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The teak flooring was refinished and a new gray grout was installed to complement the  stainless steel accents around the flush floor lights, railings and diamond inlays found in the upper salon.

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Candace developed a neutral upholstery palette with accents in tomato red and crisp brown tones to complement the cherry interior.

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The Upper Salon allows guests a near 360 degree view of the horizon, whether at anchor, surrounded by gorgeous Bahama-blue oceans and islands, or sailing to the next destination.

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Polished perfection from bow to stern…thanks to the new Catalina crew.

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Below deck, auburn throw pillows give the Main Salon warmth amidst the softer hues in the chevron gray and cream fabric selected for the curved sofa. Custom-made window treatments in a subtle monochromatic pattern echoes the eggshell-striped shades specially made to fit the brass light fixtures.  The palette extends and evolves in the cabins, with warm red and leafy green accents.

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Cream and olive custom upholstered head and side boards makes for a serene atmosphere where guests can unwind in the evenings. The embroidered bedding from Sferra gives a luxurious feel to the stately guest cabins.

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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,

Patti-Signature-Top-Bottom-Margin-WEB

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