Monday, February 28, 2011


Sometimes, a post needs no description....just enjoy. :-)
(This is one of the pieces Johnny plays in the movie Chocolat - Minor Swing by Django Reinhardt).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lipstick Gypsy

Ok, gypsy girls, here's another fabulous find!  Lipstick Gypsy is a very talented and creative jewelry artist whose designs rock my world.  Check her out on Etsy or on her Blog

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Romantic Bathrooms

It's going to snow tomorrow - again!  It's been a rough winter here in New England, and my cold muscles crave a long soak in a beautiful bathtub.  Naturally, it would have to be a claw foot tub!  While I love both looks, my favorite is the black one in the second photo (and that sink!  the chandelier!).  Which do you prefer?  Light or dark?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Home Design Ideas - 3 Tier Kitchen Island

A 3 Tier Kitchen Island is a simple Home Design Idea I have used many times over the years.  Most kitchen islands tend to be one tier or two.  On a single tier island one counter provides kitchen prep and eating / serving purposes.  On a two tier island one tier is the cooking counter and the second tier is the eating / serving counter.  I like to add a third tier because it adds another dimension and offers more storage possibilities.  See below for a few examples.

Three tiers - one for kitchen prep, one for eating and serving and one for storage.  Here we used glass doors for display.   I like the way the taller tier "anchors" the other two counters.  It also helps to define the edge of the kitchen from the hallway which is to the left.
Here (in our Excelsior Farmhouse) tiers on both ends "capture" the kitchen and eating counters.  The eating counter is highlighted with a natural walnut surface.  The taller end cabinets also provide another display surface.
Another simple example (from our Midwest Living Farmhouse) with a curved serving counter.  The taller end cabinets also help to conceal kitchen clutter from the living room beyond.  This is a good design strategy within an open floor plan.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moonlight Photography

Presenting the work of Moonlight Photography!  Her images are so lovely and mystical.  To view more or purchase, visit her Etsy shop:  Moonlight Photography

The Value of an Architect 2 - Architects have great Tools!

A recent project I am working on at Ron Brenner Architects gives me another example of how a good designer can add value to a project. The home is in the Design Development stage, so the basic form and plan have been finalized but the details are still being adjusted. The images below illustrate how Brenner utilizes 3d visualization tools (in this case Google Sketchup) to study variations in design to communication options to the client. With better visualization the client is able to make more informed decisions.

The image above depicts the completed Schematic Design - a classic midwestern farmhouse exterior. Narrow gable forms, 1 1/2 story height, shed porches and box out bays, white clapboard siding, black shingle primary roof and galvanized metal porch roof.

This image depicts a taller plate height and a modification of the roof eave detail to provide more of a midwestern greek revival aesthetic.

Image above represents mostly a color study variation of the original farmhouse vernacular design but also makes subtle adjustments to column sizes and porch beam detail.

This last image depicts the concept of an "original" brick farmhouse being added on to with subsequent white clapboard additions.

The Value of an Architect

While at my regular job - Ron Brenner Architects - I received a phone call a few days ago. It was from someone who had been designing their own cabin. Subsequently the design was given to a builder who's draftsman tried to complete the design and drawings. Well it turns out that he did not like the design. He was still enamored with the floor plans, but not the exterior appearance. The image below is of the original design.
I was asked to see if I could take a shot at improving the appearance of the home without significantly altering the floor plans. He also wanted to maintain the basic chalet style roof line that he had started with. I agreed to work on an hourly rate basis to provide the services. I modeled the plan quickly in Sketchup and did several minor alternatives. In the end we landed on the final solution as shown below.

Hopefully this is illustrative of a little bit of value an Architect can bring to a project. They can turn an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. Good design is not easy. It takes training, creativity and experience. There are many aspects of design that need to be considered including:
  • form
  • scale
  • proportion
  • rhythm
  • pattern
  • texture
  • shade and shadow
  • color
  • spatial qualities
  • quality of light
  • function
  • circulation patterns
  • furniture placement
  • construction related issues
  • cost / budget
A good experienced Architect will be considering all of the above while creating beautiful design solutions for you. So next time you decide to build a new home, or remodel an existing one; you really ought to consider hiring a design professional. Your project will be better off for it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Swing Kids - The Lady in Red

This is for all the swingin' hepcats and dames out there...a clip from one of my favorite movies, Swing Kids. I love to lindy!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home Design Ideas - Cozy Fireplace

Here is a another post from our Home Design Ideas category.  Create a Cozy Fireplace with an Inglenook layout.

Below is an interior remodeling of a home I did a couple of years ago.  The house was a classic 1950's Ranch - enclosed spaces, dark, uninviting.  As part of the remodeling we opened things up, brought in more natural light, and added a few more traditional details to the living room and other spaces.

The Living Room was the one large space in the house.  It was actually uncomfortably long which made planning an intimate furniture arrangement difficult.   So on with the Inglenook idea.  Think of an inglenook as a cozy kind of alcove space; which is exactly what we created.  See the pictures below.

The Inglenook was created by adding the new formal opening with columns just a few feet in front of the fireplace.  This served to shorten the room while still maintaining an open view to the fireplace.  In fact it even strengthened the fireplace as the focal point in the room.  

On either side of the fireplace we crafted a bench with recessed bookshelves above.  Detailing of the fireplace surround, paneling and columns is a spare level of traditional.  Color tones are subtle allowing the natural wood floor and brick fireplace to stand out.
All in all we were successful in creating the type of space our client was looking for - Simple, Unique and Elegant.

Copyright 2011 Simply Elegant Home Designs

Monday, February 14, 2011

Faerie Wedding

I love creative theme weddings.  I love faeries.  The combination is ultra-magical and fun!  The images below were from a wedding designed by Tricia Fountaine and photographed by Elizabeth Messina.  Romantic and dreamy!  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Ok, so it's been quite a while since I've been able to really sink my teeth into a novel (Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George was a tough act to follow).  That is, until Sepulchre came along.  It has all of the elements I love in a novel - history, thrills, art, romance, mystery, the supernatural - and is set in one of my favorite places:  France.  Ms. Mosse's writing is lush and her pacing excellent.  Below is a synopsis from Fantastic Fiction...

An elderly priest brutally murdered. The body of a young man floating in the River Aude. A nervous woman sitting in a damask-draped room. A smiling man in the shadows. Four different people, scattered across France, scattered across the ages. The only link, the painted tarot cards they hold... SEPULCHRE is a spellbinding adventure that carries us back from the present day in the French spa-town of Rennes-les-Bains, first to the 19th century, and then further back into the stories of the ancient kings buried there with their treasure. For those who stumble upon the cards, unravelling the mystery of the painted deck will take them on a treacherous journey of forbidden knowledge, the power of the church and the pull of the occult. A tale of strange music, personal ruin, murderous greed and age-old secrets - prepare yourself to turn over the cards... 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring Woodland Faerie Necklace

In honor of spring (it is coming, isn't it?), I'd like to offer a special incentive for the person who would like to give my Woodland Faerie necklace a new home...purchase this charming sprite and receive a free gift!  All decked out in spring green and earthy brown, she's ready to take a walk in an enchanted woodland with you!  Here's the link:  faerie necklace

Le Theatre - Boston Opera House

The theatre has been a part of my life since I was a little girl.  I studied ballet for many years, and would always look forward to those magical nights when I could attend a professional performance.  I was fortunate enough to grow up near Boston, a city that appreciates and indulges the arts, and their theatres are ornate and elaborate in the European tradition.  The Boston Opera House was recently renovated and is now the home of the Boston Ballet.  It is my favorite theatre; so lush and beautiful, I never want to leave...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Home Design Ideas - Squatty Front Door!

Here is a Home Design Idea for you - Buy a Squatty Front Door!

I had someone call me yesterday looking for some advice (not one of my own clients).  She told me that her house is in construction, and she is very concerned about her front door.  "The framed opening for the front door looks out of proportion - it looks squatty".  The door was to be about 40" wide x 6'-8" high, but she is now uncomfortable with her decision.  I could actually feel her agonizing over it.

I told her that the proportion of the door may in fact look squatty now, but might not once the door is actually in place.  That's because the door has paneling, details and textures within it that begin to visually alter it's own proportions.  You also need to look at the door in context with it's surroundings because it needs to be in balance with the overall composition.  I have a feeling she is just staring at the door opening only, which is a common issue amongst homeowners during construction.  This is where a good design professional could help her gain confidence in her decisions.

Here is a Cape Cod style house plan I designed with a "squatty" front door.  3'-6" wide x 6'-8" tall.  Looking at the door in context with the surrounding composition, it feels about right.

The vertical paneling treatment, vertical wood grain pattern and the dentil detailing below the glass all conspire to break down the visual width of the door.  The result is a "squatty" door that does not feel so.
So the moral of this particular story is twofold:
  1. Always consider design issues in their full context.
  2. Hire a design professional.  He / she can save you much agony.

PS - The Cape Cod House Plan illustrated here is available for purchase at  Lakeland Cape Cod

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I'm in lust with animal prints (faux, naturally), so imagine my glee when I stumbled upon an online shop/blog devoted exclusively to all things animal print!  My favorite is leopard - I have scarves, throw pillows, shirts, a jacket, even an umbrella in leopard.  Check out the leopard print CAR below (how fun would that be?).  If you love a walk in the jungle like I do, you must check them out:  Animal Print Essentials