Book Review : Out East – A Glimpse of Southhampton Design

Far removed from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan is the respite on the beaches of Long Island, filled with the beautiful homes of the Hamptons.  Jennifer Ash Rudick, hailing from the Southamptons herself, has written a wonderful testament of old and new architecture and styling coming together in her book Out East: Houses and Gardens of the Hamptons.  With photography by Tria Giovan, Rudick highlights a number of Southampton homes, cottages, and gardens, describing not only their styles but the history behind the homes and owners.

Rudick describes the homes featured in this book as having many variations of style, but all having “a common lack of showiness and vanity” (17).  These residences reflect on the personalities of those who dwell within them, making for a wide range of visual elements.  The first home is named “Chez Louise”, a Hampton home with classic elegance and American vibe.

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Following is the “Kilkare”, a home hidden away in deep fog right next the Atlantic; sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?  The owners attempted a modern reevaluation of the home without taking away from its original character and charm, which is something many homeowners desire to do, since the bones of a home often offer their own flair and sentiment.

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Departing from the classic feel, Rudick includes a fun home deemed the “Vibrant Shelter”, and island house which she claims was inspired by the artists Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly.  Bold colors and clean, minimalist lines define the spaces, making obvious references to their artistic counterparts while delivering a totally different attitude than some of the other homes in Southampton.

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Aside from the bigger, flashier homes, there is also a list of cottages included for a look into a slightly different style of Hamptons living, one which requires less square footage but lacks nothing in design.  One such cottage is in Sag Harbor, a nineteenth century colonial home furnished beautifully with dusty gray-blue tones and gold accents, making for a relaxed yet refined space.

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Towd Point is another of these cottages, and to me felt reminiscent of a beach condo down in South Texas.  The rope details and nautical theme are so quintessential to an island experience, and were used refreshingly in this cute home.

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Something completely different is found in “Into the Blue”, a cottage Rudick included in this segment, in which the owner wanted a blue and white theme.  Each space is packed with details, working together to create a chic, paisley wonderland.

Not only does Rudick do an amazing job weaving together stylistic elements of each unique home in her writing, but the pages and pages of beautiful photography are great to use for personal inspiration.  The stories behind each home and its eventual design make the book not only informative, but narrative–a great read for designers and others alike! This coffee table book from Vendome Press is a must for interior designers & enthusiasts out there!

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Modern Living: Chalet Style Book Review

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© Modern Living – Chalet Style by Claire Bingham, published by teNeues, $55, www.teneues.com.

The crisp chill of Alpine air conjures the desire for a big, cozy fireplace–perhaps if you’ve been skiing or hiking around in the mountains, you know this sensation.  Comfort, warmth, and shelter are the natural human response to high altitudes, concepts which author and journalist Claire Bingham explores in her book Modern Living: Chalet Style by Teneues.  Oriented around design principles that deliver an authentic Alpine chalet experience, Bingham highlights the most important elements of these homes and resorts and how they can be implemented, regardless of location. So here are some tips!

VIL_8507 Photo © Philip Vile, Design Nicky Dobree

Broken down into segments discussing each space (kitchen, dining, bath, etc.), Modern Living gives both design details specific to each area, while also tying them together with broader ideas that can be integrated throughout a home.

1/ One of the biggest concepts for a proper chalet is its feeling of a “nest”, or “cocoon”.  Bingham uses these terms many times throughout, emphasizing the importance of the chalet as a relaxing, inviting space which practically swaddles its inhabitants with warmth and comfort.  These vibes are expressed through the use of both rustic and contemporary elements throughout the home, intermingling earthy textures and palettes with minimalism and stainless steel.

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2/ Wood, leather, and furs are the three big buzzwords for the chalet living space.  Bingham recommends layering these different textures to create an inviting social space (with a fireplace, of course!).  She also labeled the kitchen as a social “extension of the living area”, utilizing wood but keeping the textures minimal and the features dark.  The brilliance of this design is that the kitchen is both a warm and welcoming space, but can also fade into the background as the living or dining becomes the main focus of a gathering.

3/ Speaking of the dining room, Bingham lays down the law regarding proper chalet style: Table. Is. Everything.  Well, maybe not EVERYTHING, but having a massive wooden table as a centerpiece to your Alpine dining experience is crucial.  The focus remains the same in this space, emphasizing comfort (big upholstered chairs) while also being mindful of style (rustic mix-matching or a fusion of styles).

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4/ Extending towards the inner sanctum of the chalet, Modern Living offers us many examples and ideas for the most comfortable room of the home: the almighty bedroom.  Leave behind any notions of rigidity or hardness, and think SOFT.  Spacious soft bed, luxurious soft furs and blankets layered one upon the other, fluffy rugs, and furniture you can just sink into…these are the staple comforts of the bedroom.  Bingham even offers us tips for how to make your own (cruelty-free) fur throws, a little DIY that will be specific to your taste.  Style-wise, she advises to either go homely or minimal, depending on your aesthetic; both work.

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5/ I love the way she describes the bathroom as a “dark, enchanted cave”.  It makes the space sound more like an ethereal experience than a real place, and perhaps being in the bathroom should be an experience!  Similar to the other spaces, Bingham suggests a focus on texture and tactility, using combinations of stone, wood, and ceramics.  As exciting as designing a bathroom is, we are instructed to consider ergonomics before details, which may be difficult for the impatient of us…but in the end, a functional bathroom is crucial to maintaining that feeling of comfort and relaxation.

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Having guided us through a vision of the Alpine chalet, Bingham tantalizes us with images of indoor pools, home gyms, and other design elements such as “crazy paving” and decorating with rosy quartz.  These extra elements contribute to the function of the chalet as a rustic palace of well-being, a place to unwind and escape the outdoor elements.  The feeling of being wrapped up in a snug, earthy environment is exactly what this type of home promises, and Bingham helps us get there both verbally and visually.  Modern Home: Chalet Style is an absolute must on the reading list of both designers and those looking to create their own palace of relaxation.

Written by Sophie Gilliam.

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Elements of Modern Country

When designing homes for my clients, I see a common thread. They all want their spaces to be warm & inviting; casual, comfortable, unpretentious and where you can put your feet up without worry and judgement. Hence the surge of the modern farmhouse and enter modern country or new country. It’s rustic living without being too rustic, it’s simple, yet it’s filled with furnishings that screams a “passion for craftsmanship allowing the natural materials to shine through.” I came across this book that celebrates all of that and more; Modern Living | New Country by the amazing interiors journalist & design writer Claire Bingham {she was the Homes Editor for Elle Decoration UK and her work has been featured in international glossies, including Vogue Living and Architectural Digest}.

There are tons of eye-candy in this book; you’ll find a Moroccan villa, a French chalet, a Nordic log cabin — the book re-interprets what “country” is. But my best takeaways are the practical tips to achieve this look, here are my Top 10.

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Let’s examine what I mean by each one, shall we?

1/ Layers: The lived-in look is all about layering and mixing & matching. Love 2 rugs for your living room? Why not layer & use them both? Have so many textures going on & think it may be too much? The answer is “No.” Go ahead and have linen, velvets, kilims & sheepskin all in one space.

2/ Whitewash Walls: In the era of shiplap {thanks Joanna Gaines}, whitewash walls takes it to another level of rustic. Don’t think whitewashing can be done to wood only, essentially any surface can be whitewashed — sheetrock walls, brick, anything!

3/ Vintage Tub: I saw lots of them in this book & for good reason. They are just so adorable & gives a bathroom so much character. A simple refinishing is just what a vintage tub needs but if you find one, don’t get it refinished to where it’s too pristine; the wear & tear should still shine through.

4/ Ticking: That casual fabric made of cotton & textile used in the old days to cover mattresses & pillows is now used as upholstery,linens & napkins, cushion covers & even drapery. I’m rather partial to red ticking. See some of my fabric obsessions here & here.

5/ Functional Spaces: This seems like a no-brainer but how many of us have spaces in our homes that literally have no function? In a modern country home, each space is important. The stair landing may hold a cabinet storing extra linens or a wall niche may hold firewood logs.

6/ Natural Hues: The organic tones of wood, the crisp whiteness of clouds, the ashen gray & black hues of burnt firewood.

7/ Salvaged Rustic Pieces: What is country without rustic pieces right? A factory cart turned into a coffee table, lighting suspended on old pulleys, old barn doors turned into wall art, the list goes on.

8/ Wood Beams: Of course, right? Get some reclaimed ones while you’re at it. It will be perfect!

9/ Rethink Wood Floors: Real wood floors — it’s timeless, it’s classic. But give it a modern twist — mix it with other materials. By now, you’ve probably seen a lot of the tile-wood combo where the tile bleeds on the wooden floors {or is it the other way around?}; you would need a geometric tile & at Fireclay tile, the possibilities are endless.

10/ Linens + Slipcovers: Dress your seating in this type of fabric — they just spell comfort.

More eye candy ….
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From top left: 1. A white bedroom with canopy makes for a New Country bedroom dream 2. A rustic French chalet makes way for a Rococo bed 3. A very Scandinavian Living room 4. A glorious nook

The verdict for the book? Two thumbs up & five stars — you will not be disappointed with a whole slew of inspiration & heaps of practical tips — to making the most of small spaces to lessons in layering. Go get it at Teneues or it’s here on Amazon too! It’s a must have for every design enthusiast & a perfect coffee table book.

Modern Living New Country Book

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Book Review: House Proud | Louisiana Style

With Louisiana just a couple of hours away where I lived in Southeast Texas, there’s an unmistakable air of the Bayou lifestyle; from the food to the Cajun slang. What you don’t see though is the French-inspired architecture and homes that speak of unique stories like the ones you see in New Orleans. I am a big NOLA fan! I clearly had the best Rum bread pudding here and they make the best hurricane drinks as well; but most of all, I’m in love with the cobblestone walkways where you can catch a ghost tour anytime of the week, the quaint stores in the Garden District and the lovely homes, from palatial French-inspired to Grand Victorians, Greek-revivals to shotgun houses. All that and more is featured in the book by Interior Designer Valorie Hart, House Proud | Unique Home Design Louisiana.

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I did have preconceived notions about this book. I thought it was going to be a collection of glorious and even grandiose homes that is absolutely out-of-reach for us common people. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Valorie took me inside homes where you won’t feel an air of pretense, where color is in abundance and where you’ll find furnishings that don’t seem to go together and yet they amazingly do {and so beautiful at that}. It does give hope to all of us, showing that it doesn’t matter where you live; big or small, luxurious or modest; great design can happen anywhere!

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Blue walls, green ceilings.

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Eclectic French with rustic feel {deer head} & a skeleton, why not?

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A  cozy sun room.

The book is full of ideas and inspiration. According to the designer, Valorie, “The people of Lousiana makes their homes welcoming, whether it’s at a humble farm table or at a fancy Chippendale dining table under a glittering chandelier. Here, decorating is a way of life.” Her words are spot on! We can learn so much from the pages of this book.

From House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, © 2013, published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com. Check out Valorie’s blog here.

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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