Design · Interior · What is Living Lovelier?

LIVING ROOM TRANSFORMED: Next in Creating Charisma in a Classic Charlestown Condo.

Time to cozy up in the living room.

I have shared the transformation of two of the rooms, the entryway and kitchen, in the fabulous Charlestown Condo: Let’s hang out in the living room now.

Here is where we started

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And here is where we landed…

 

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Note- the final piece of (gorgeous) furniture which conceals the AV wiring was on special order from Mitchell Gold at the time of the photo shoot

The living room and the kitchen share an open floor plan, so it was important to make them complimentary.

We carried the same colors, Ben Moore Cumulous Cloud and Grey, into the living room. Sleek chrome and glass throughout accentuate the already bright space. Both keep the room airy.

The living room furniture, from Mitchell Gold, are neutral (my FAVorite);  The light gray textured sofa and “taupe-y -alabaster” leather chairs are elegant and timeless, yet contemporary. The honey woodwork adds a dimension of warmth to the palate, too.

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Mr. C is mad for Harley Davidson so, OF COURSE, we found a vintage, black and white print which we hung prominently over the sofa.  It was well displayed.

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A collection of neutrals takes on life when paired with all different textures and finishes: Velvet, chrome, crystal, sheer drapes, mirror, glass, sparkle, wood, pops of unexpected color (we used plum) and black and white.

Old family photos personalize the room and the pillows and throws make the room more livable and inviting.

One of my favorite “finishing touches” to a living space is pillows.  Those featured are from West Elm.  Also, draping a few soft throws (from West Elm and Home Goods) here and there is an invitation to cuddle up and gather together. So, the room is elegant but also, warm and comfortable.

 

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There you have it!

What are we going to do next? We will visit the library in the following and last part of the series, Creating Charisma in a Charlestown Condo.

Sparkle on, Friends!

 

What is Living Lovelier?

A Lovely New Year

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Happy New Year, Everyone!

It has arrived and is in full force; 2017.

So, what has been up since the ball dropped, friends? Have you made (and reconsidered) any resolutions?

I chose not to make New Year’s Resolutions. So many of us say that we are going to lose weight, go to the gym, stop eating carbs, make our beds, stop swearing (not sure why) and on and on. My experience is that they are a recipe for feeling let down and unsuccessful. Let’s resolve to STOP STOPPING things. Let’s do things instead. Like design!

A New Year may be an invitation to try new things; things which bring joy and make stuff better- like life, or relationships or HOME.

HOME.

Maybe this is the year that you will make those subtle (or not so subtle) improvements to your surroundings. Maybe your ho-hum white paint needs to move over for its vibrant replacement. And that sofa!

Let Livinglovelier help. Tell me what to do.

How about breathing new life into your living room? New paint, pillows, and accents can transform a room.

What about choosing new paint colors? Something as simple as a change in color can be transformative.

Let’s select some new fabric for your window treatments or for that chair you have wanted to re-upholster for so long.

What about staging a room? Let’s empty that cluttered catch-all of a bookshelf, organize it and give it some pizzaz.

One other thing! If 2017 is the year to sell your home, I can help. Please let me get my hands on your house. I will stage it to look it’s best and get the optimal price for your sale.

The clock is ticking. Let’s get to work.

livinglovelier@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Living Lovelier?

Creating Charisma in a Classic Charlestown Condo: Kitchen!

Onward!

Last week I shared the transformation of the entryway of the Charlestown gem. Today, I am excited to show you the metamorphosis of the kitchen.

The kitchen was quite lovely. It had good bones: Beautiful cabinets, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors.

The challenge was that it was so, well, heavy! We needed to lighten it up. As mentioned in the last post, giving the illusion of more space has everything to do with keeping clean, sleek lines, fluidity and blending all the parts and pieces. We had some amendments to make.

Here is where we started:

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  • Beautiful cabinets but lackluster cabinet pulls
  • Drab yellow paint
  • Where is the backsplash?
  • Striking granite but dark, dark, dark!
  • A useful island but much, much too small
  • Traditional leather stools which were perfectly fine but too substantial and dark.

And here is how we rocked it:

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  • Kept the beautiful cabinets but replaced the ho-hum pulls with sparkly crystal knobs. Yay! (When the afternoon sun pours in, the kitchen is full of prisms- what is happier that that?)
  • Covered the drab paint with Benjamin Moore Gray (so much more delightful)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Charlestown selected a fabulous backsplash and gorgeous quartz countertop with which I immediately fell in love. Stamp of approval!

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  • Created MUCH more dining area by enlarging the island which was then, topped with the striking quartz. No kitchen table required, thank you very much.

Look how lovely these new streamlined, contemporary and chic stools are!

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The kitchen is lovely! But, not only that, it works well. The blueprint is practical and the set up allows for everyone to gather around while the chef does the magic.

The kitchen is the heart of the home.

Next up? The Living Room!

Sparke On, Friends.

What is Living Lovelier?

Creating Charisma In A Classic Charlestown Condo; Entryway!

IMG_0714Charlestown is the oldest neighborhood in Boston and one of my favorites. Rich in history, it is home to the Bunker Hill Monument, The Charlestown Navy Yard, and The Constitution, otherwise known as “Old Ironsides.”

For all you movie buffs, parts of the Oscar-winning movie,“The Departed” was filmed in Charlestown.

I have had some significant run-time in C-Town. My former interior landscaping company, Louisburg Gardens, Inc., was headquartered there for almost twenty years. I lived in the neighborhood for a year, too.

A fabulous couple contacted me through LIVINGLOVELIER. They recently purchased a newly renovated, bright and delightfully airy condo nestled in one of the most historical sections of the neighborhood.

The owners were recent empty-nesters and decided to move from the suburbs into the city. They downsized from their house to a two-floor condo.

It was a blank canvas, and they wanted an extra pair of eyes to help make it their own.I was excited to return to my old ‘hood for a new project. I readily accepted the challenge. My charge was to help them to re-define the entryway, the powder room, the office, the living room and kitchen.

Urban living opens the floodgates to a plethora of cultural offerings, fabulous restaurants, convenience and “buzz.” That said, life in the metropolis, the land of plenty is expansive when one walks out the door. But on the inside, at home, square footage can present some challenges.

Even though their condo was a generous size, we needed to utilize every inch in the most efficient and practical way.

The lower level of the condo has an open floor plan, blending the kitchen and living room. It is flanked on one side by a perfect little entryway and on the other, a lovely study.

We needed to define each area ingeniously and keep each part unique yet maintain the fluidity. In doing so, we maximized the footprint to make it look more expansive than one would think.

Let’s get rocking. What better way to share the transformation of this gem by beginning with the entryway?

The entryway needs to function as the red-carpet of the home, exuding character and style. But it needs to work, too. It is the space that transforms one from the hustle and bustle of the urban buzz to a place of repose; The sanctuary.

It is the part of the home that says, “Welcome.”

Here is what it looked like before we started our facelift.

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The bulky, dark leather bench served as a holding place for her purse and mail as well as a place to sit and put on footwear.

Notice the hanging coats which were visible from the kitchen. The look was somewhat cluttered.

The umbrella needed a home

The paint was in perfect condition but lacked character and punch.
The rug was dark and utilitarian.
The artwork was doing its job to hide the mechanical box, but not perfect for the area above the bench.

The existing set- up was perfectly functional but we needed to add pizzaz. These people are fabulous and their home should reflect just that.

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This stuff deserves a place of its own. Right?

My clients had chosen their paint colors prior to my arrival: Benjamin Moore Cumulous Cloud and Gray. In the interest of keeping the footprint fluid, we continued the colors throughout the first floor, just adding punch.

Metallic Bronze was the chosen accent color. We striped the far wall of the entranceway (the wall visible from the kitchen.) This added depth and dimension.

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The wall with the bronze metallic paint against the Benjamin Moore Cumulous Cloud gives it pop, character, and pizzaz!

The coat hooks are proportioned and to scale. A whimsical chrome boot is placed conveniently by the door to umbrellas.

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Look at the sturdy, funky fur bench supported with chrome legs. The artwork highlights the glam in the bench- Don’t you think?

It has been more than fun working with Mr. and Mrs. Charlestown. They have welcomed ideas outside the typical and been receptive to edgy and stylish accents.

This was just the beginning of the path of transforming the condo to their home, reflecting their style, personality and the fact that they are seriously cool people.

Thanks, K and D!

Stay tuned. Next up: THE KITCHEN.

Sparkle On, Friends.

Design · Interior · What is Living Lovelier?

Creating Charisma in a Classic Charlestown Condo; Entryway!

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Charlestown is the oldest neighborhood in Boston and one of my favorites. Rich in history, it is home to the Bunker Hill Monument, The Charlestown Navy Yard, and The Constitution, otherwise known as “Old Ironsides.”

For all you movie buffs, parts of the Oscar-winning movie,“The Departed” was filmed in Charlestown.

I have had some significant run-time in C-Town. My former interior landscaping company, Louisburg Gardens, Inc., was headquartered there for almost twenty years. I lived in the neighborhood for a year, too.

A fabulous couple contacted me through LIVINGLOVELIER. They recently purchased a newly renovated, bright and delightfully airy condo nestled in one of the most historical sections of the neighborhood.

The owners were recent empty-nesters and decided to move from the suburbs into the city. They downsized from their house to a two-floor condo.

It was a blank canvas, and they wanted an extra pair of eyes to help make it their own.I was excited to return to my old ‘hood for a new project. I readily accepted the challenge. My charge was to help them to re-define the entryway, the powder room, the office, the living room and kitchen.

Urban living opens the floodgates to a plethora of cultural offerings, fabulous restaurants, convenience and “buzz.” That said, life in the metropolis, the land of plenty is expansive when one walks out the door.  But on the inside, at home, square footage can present some challenges.

Even though their condo was a generous size, we needed to utilize every inch in the most efficient and practical way.

The lower level of the condo has an open floor plan, blending the kitchen and living room.  It is flanked on one side by a perfect little entryway and on the other, a lovely study.

We needed to define each area ingeniously and keep each part unique yet maintain the fluidity. In doing so, we maximized the footprint to make it look more expansive than one would think.

Let’s get rocking.  What better way to share the transformation of this gem by beginning with the entryway?

The entryway needs to function as the red-carpet of the home, exuding character and style. But it needs to work, too. It is the space that transforms one from the hustle and bustle of the urban buzz to a place of repose; The sanctuary.

It is the part of the home that says, “Welcome.”

Here is what it looked like before we started our facelift.IMG_6623

The bulky, dark leather bench served as a holding place for her purse and mail as well as a place to sit and put on footwear.

Notice the hanging coats which were visible from the kitchen. The look was somewhat cluttered.

The umbrella needed a home

The paint was in perfect condition but lacked character and punch.
The rug was dark and utilitarian.
The artwork was doing its job to hide the mechanical box, but not perfect for the area above the bench.

 

The existing set- up was perfectly functional but we needed to add pizzaz.  These people are fabulous and their home should reflect just that.

 

IMG_6625

This stuff deserves a place of its own. Right?

My clients had chosen their paint colors prior to my arrival: Benjamin Moore Cumulous Cloud and Gray. In the interest of keeping the footprint fluid, we continued the colors throughout the first floor, just adding punch.

Metallic Bronze was the chosen accent color. We striped the far wall of the entrance way (the wall visible from the kitchen.) This added depth and dimension.

IMG_0714

The wall with the bronze metallic paint against the Benjamin Moore Cumulous Cloud gives it pop, character, and pizzaz!

The coat hooks are proportioned and to scale. A whimsical chrome boot is placed conveniently by the door to umbrellas.

 

IMG_0717

Look at the sturdy, funky fur bench supported with chrome legs. The artwork highlights the glam in the bench- Don’t you think?

It has been more than fun working with Mr. and Mrs. Charlestown. They have welcomed ideas outside the typical and been receptive to edgy and stylish accents.

This was just the beginning of the path of transforming the condo to their home, reflecting their style, personality and the fact that they are seriously cool people.

Thanks, K and D!

Stay tuned. Next up: THE KITCHEN.

Sparkle On, Friends.

 

 

What is Living Lovelier?

What My Beacon Street Client Had to Say about LIVINGLOVELIER….

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Listen to what she said.

“Creative, insightful and receptive to feedback. These are just some of the qualities Mary possesses as, what I like to call, a personal curator for living lovelier. When faced with the dilemma of how to decorate my rental apartment I turned to Mary for guidance. She took, what was for me, an overwhelming, anxiety-ridden task and translated my inner design aesthetic into a reality. She has the vision for those who need help bringing their thoughts and dreams into a reality. On top of all that, she comes ready to listen and receive feedback from her clients. Mary truly sparkles! “


And this is what I say. “THANK YOU!”

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A while ago I wrote a post about a client in Boston;   A young, professional woman decided to claim her rental apartment as her own. By identifying her taste and listening to what she wished her home to be, we collaborated and accomplished just that.

Her budget was conservative, so we re-purposed much of her furniture, parts, pieces and then added some spunk and a touch of glam.

We incorporated fresh new fabrics, bedding, appointments, a plethora of pillows, a shag rug and many artifacts she has gathered through her travels abroad.

The result was a jewel tone and white theme with glimmer and proof of her extensive travels.  The final product reflects her personality, design-taste and interests.

She loves her urban pad, and I loved working with her.

SOOOOO…

  • If you need another set of eyes, I am available for staging.
  • If you are ready to take the leap and want a new look, let’s start decorating.

I am currently working with clients in Boston, the Metro West and Merrimack Region.

Sparkle On, Friends.

 

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What is Living Lovelier?

Survey Says! Fried Chicken; My Boys #1 Favorite!

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My boys love fried chicken!  Of all of the “Food Challenges” they have presented to me, this one was the greatest challenge.

Believe me; I have the scars to prove it, and I have cooked through a LOT of vegetable oil.

I am a northern girl. Fried chicken does not come easily to me. With trial and error, I have finally arrived at what the boys consider the gold star.  IT IS A WINNER , WINNER….

Whip this up with some homemade waffles- recipe attached (I am not kidding,) and some sweet corn on the cob which is now in season, and you will be the belle/beau of the ball!

 

FRIED CHICKEN

WHAT YOU NEED:

Two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
One teaspoon kosher salt
Two teaspoons of Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A dash of paprika
Two extra-large eggs
One tablespoon milk
1 1/4 cups Panko bread crumbs
Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
Olive oil

WHAT TO DO:

  • Remove the chicken from the package and pat dry (no need to rinse)
  • Place one chicken breast on your cutting board and slice across each breast so that your have approximately three 1” filets. Repeat with the second breast.
  • Place a piece of parchment paper over each filet and pound the chicken until it is about 1/4” thick
  • Place a plate, and then a bowl then another plate on the counter
  • Mix the flour, salt, and pepper on the first plate
  • Beat the eggs and milk in the shallow bowl
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and paprika together and put them on the third plate.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan and heat until the butter is melted and the oil is hot but not smoking
  • Toss the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture
  • Then, dip each fillet into the egg mixture shaking off excess.
  • Dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, covering all sides
  • Place the filets in the oil and butter mixture and cook in batches for about 3 minutes on each side until cooked through. Be careful not to crowd the pan
  • Remove the crumbs from the pan between batches and Add more butter and oil as needed
  • Remove the filets from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  • Once all the chicken has been fried on each side place it into a preheated oven at 375 until the internal temperature reaches 165.
  • Enjoy!

 

 

WAFFLES

Step aside, Bisquick.  These waffles are sweet, airy and dee Eee Lish.

WHAT YOU NEED
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
One tablespoon white sugar
Four teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

WHAT TO DO:

  • Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, just until smooth
  • Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.

 

Enjoy, y’all-

Sparkle on, Friends!

 

 

 

Design · Interior · What is Living Lovelier?

HOME made; My LOVELIER Foyer

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Here is the third in my Home-Made Series!

Let’s leave my LIVING-lovelier- ROOM and transition into my foyer.

My Federal Style Brick end home, built in 1810, exudes charm and antiquity.  One gorgeous detail of my house is right when you open the front door; The foyer.

The decor was not quite our cup of tea, so we started the process of bringing it up to date with an eclectic but classic feel.

BEFORE

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Here is what we did:

  • Got rid of the floral and striped orange wallpaper
  • Removed the dusty- rose runner
  • Painted the stairs, risers and banister
  • Stripped both doors
  • Refinished the floors

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Here is one side of the double stairway before.

The antique light fixture was lovely but out of scale so we repurposed it in the guest room.

The plush carpet was tired, so we took it up

 

 

 

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Another view of the paper which is on the stairs between the second and third floors.

 

The prep was quite a task!

We had to be cautious of the prep work. Covering over horsehair plaster can be tricky. The contractors spent days getting the hallway and foyer ready for paint.

 

 

 

 

Look at the doors. They needed A LOT of TLC.

 

AND TA- DAAA!!!!

After

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The original wide pine floors make me very happy indeed.  I wonder how many people walked on them over the years?

I purchased this steamer trunk (now I have three!) at a neighborhood yard sale for a whopping twenty five bucks.  Look to the far right of this photo. You can see a sliver of the trunk with which a family member of  my mom-in-law immigrated from Finland. Grammy’s steamer trunk had its cameo in my previous post, “Welcome to my LIVINGLOVELIER Room.”

The console is from Restoration Hardware. I love the juxtaposition between the rustic wood next to the chrome accents and light fixture is

Now, look way down. That is my daddy’s childhood wagon.  He was born in 1932. That has pulled precious cargo for eighty-four years!

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My six-year-old niece, Katherine, in her grandfather’s childhood wagon. I know. She is precious.

Bringing new life in the foyer was an exciting project, despite the work.  Now, we love opening our front door and welcoming all who enter.

Sparkle on, Friends.

Catering · What is Living Lovelier?

Spring Party Time!

Party! Enjoy your guest and let me take care of the food part!

 

There is so much to celebrate at this time of year.  Hosting a party can be exhausting and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.  Do you need a hand?  Let’s get on it and plan your menu.

Hire me!

I have been busy at work planning delicious dishes for events such as graduation parties, showers, and first communions.

Let’s plan your fab menu: Brunch, Hors D’Ouvres, Lunch or Dinner for up to 75 guests.

Sit back and relax and leave the cooking to me.

Please message me livinglovelier@gmail.com

Sparkle On, Friends!

 

 

What is Living Lovelier?

Survey Says! Popovers; My Boys #8 Favorite!

 

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Popovers are sadly becoming a thing of the past, so to speak.  Once prevalent at “Old School” restaurants which are famous for classics such as New England Clam Chowder, Chicken Pot Pie and, of course, Prime Rib, the popover, much like that genre of restaurant, is a dying breed.

I really can’t get my head around it. What a shame.

For years, I dined with my dear dad at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston.  The highlight of each evening, other than his company? Yup. The popovers

Whenever we have a family party, I am sure to whip up a whole bunch.  My Godfather loves them, and I hate to disappoint.  We have our fill, and I send him home with the rest in sealed zipper bag.  They are super reheated in a hot oven.

What does one do with a popover? Many things!  Shmear some butter on them, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with powdered sugar or plop a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and drizzle some hot chocolate sauce.

I caught my Andrew making a “tenderloin-hot-pocket-popover” last night. You can envision it. I am sure of it.

Making popovers is serious business. It may seem easy, but it is a bit tricky. Everything must be JUST SO or else it is quite possible that your recipe fails.

You have to measure precisely your ingredients. And those ingredients, for the most part, must be at room temperature. The oven must be at an exact 425 degrees.  You need to preheat your pans and most difficult of all?

You. Must. Not. Peek!

That’s right. There is no peeking or hammering or doing the cha-cha in the kitchen during the baking process, or all shall fail. Literally.

I will let you in on another great trick- buy yourself a great popover pan or three! (I have four, myself.  That way I can cook up 24 popovers at a go (using a double oven.)

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When you fill your pan, be generous. I filler up three-quarters of the way.  Look at these babies.

HINT- Williams Sonoma has awesome popover pans, just in case you were wondering where mine came from.

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Make sure you set your rack at the lowest setting leaving enough room for them to rise.

I tried many different popover recipes over the years; Not on of which has produced one as light, airy or heavenly as Ina Garten’s.  The Barefoot Contessa has this dialed in.

So, when it comes popovers, I  am a firm believer of the adage. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”

THANKS, Ina!

Sparkle On, Friends.

 

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Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Three extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease aluminum popover pans or Pyrex custard cups with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

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