Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our next home improvement project

This is our front door... for now.

We decided not to paint the front door when we moved in because we thought we might need to replace it due to its age.  So, we've lived with a quirky purple door for a few years... but, now the time has come to rip it out.  It's not just about chipping paint... opening and closing the door has become quite a chore and the air leakage is getting worse every minute.  

We started by looking into the cost of simply replacing the door and storm door (which lost its hydraulic hinge a few months ago, and now swings out 180+ degrees each time you open it).  But, once we learned what is involved in a "full tear" (tearing out the door frame, jamb, etc.), we realized that we should simultaneously replace the decaying wood paneling on the front half-octagon portion of the house - and finally update the light fixtures.  Since we plan to replace the front door with a door that only has a few windows at the top (for privacy and safety), we were concerned about darkening our foyer too dramatically. My colleague, a seasoned home renovator, had the clever idea to add windows.  So, today, our contractor came out, measured, and taped off the locations of the potential new windows (see blue tape in photos below). 

So many decisions - in not so much time!  We're scheduled to have the work done sometime in the next month or two.

Here's the to-do/to-select list:
  • Front door and storm door - materials, style and color;
  • Hardware (handles, locks, knocker, kick-plate, peep-hole and mail-slot);
  • Color and design for the new siding (to replace white paneling);
  • Sconces (2 side sconces) to replace overhead globe fixture, and coordinating post light;
  • Placement, size and style of windows;
  • House numbers; and
  • Interior window treatments for 2 new windows.
I will be sure to keep you posted on all the various selections.  Would also love your input!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let me introduce you to 12 devonshire...

12 Devonshire Place, that is... our home in London in 2004-2005 (and my inspiration for the blog title). 

Unfortunately, I waited until moving out day to capture the front entrance, hence the packaging materials and doors wide open.  I loved those glossy black doors that welcomed us each day.
Finding a flat to rent in London was quite an adventure for us... I forgot the final count, but am guessing we looked at upwards of 40-45 places over at least 8 weeks.  We bid on several - only to be disappointed or gesumpted.  Luckily, just as we were about to max out on our "transitional" corporate housing, we found the perfect place!  Sure, it was a little dated... but, it had SO much character, and was in a fantastic location (the heart of Marylebone) - I was smitten.  Our landlord was also kind enough to replace some of the carpeting and partially renovate the kitchen just before we moved in. 

Photo quality is pretty mediocre, and please overlook my amateur decorating attempts at the time... but, the apartment just had so many wonderful qualities - I was excited to find the photos and post them. 

Those ceilings and windows had me at hello.  I remember browsing the fabric offerings at my beloved John Lewis, thinking I would freshen up the living room with new curtains, only to find that such a project would cost a very pretty penny (pence?)!  Looking back now, I actually kind of like the curtains.  They remind me of Robert Allen's Eleria.

The mouldings were just exquisite - and those frescoes were such a unique element.

Unfortunately, this was not a working fireplace.

Other than the yellow sofas, the furniture was our own that we shipped to the UK from NY.  As you can see, the scale of most of our furniture was suited much better to a converted studio apartment in Manhattan than to this grand London flat with soaring ceilings!  The yellow dancing teapot set above the t.v. was another incredibly sweet surprise gift from Mr. 12devonshire early in our relationship.

We bought the large floor mirror and mantle mirror on Portobello Road.  They survived the trip to the States and now happily reside in our dining room and living room, respectively.
This was the little kitchen table where we would eat our yummy Waitrose treats and look out the window.
This was the view from our kitchen table window.  I miss sipping my coffee and looking down at that incredible courtyard.
Oh, how much fun I would have decorating that apartment today (especially, if cost were no object)!  To start, how about a dramatic chandelier... and antiqued mirror cut to fit in the fireplace?  Maybe some built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace, classic wall sconces in antiqued brass, hardwood floors, and beautiful antique silk rugs.  I might steer toward low-profile, modern and sleek for the sofas, to contrast the ornate architectural details and emphasize the ceiling height.  I'd have fun and add something in lucite... but, also perhaps a pair of antique gilded french armchairs.  If I had an incredible art collection, I'd have the walls painted white.  Otherwise, perhaps a light soft gray.  A grand piano would reside by the window, the main seating arrangement would be centered on the fireplace, and some lovely plants would warm up the space.  Hmmm, I might have to start scoping out London real estate!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Picture ledge inspiration

After posting about the colorful picture frames/ledge that I saw in Italy, I came across this great shot of a Vicente Wolf room...

Like most of his spaces, the palette is neutral and the vibe is organic.  I love the banquette seating, rustic table and mix of artwork.  If I were incorporating a picture ledge in a main living space, I'd go with Vicente's neutral approach.

But, in a breakfast nook or playroom, I'd opt for something more colorful like this:

Aerin Lauder's home via Elle Decor, photo by Simon Upton
Here, the frames are all white, but the colorful artwork - including children's art - is bright and cheerful. 

The photo that I showed on Friday would be another way to achieve a similar look - all black
& white photos in various colored frames.

I tried to incorporate colorful frames with my girls' artwork in our kitchen, if you recall... unfortunately, that little gallery wall did not last long. I had used command strips to hang the frames in order to avoid putting multiple holes in the wall.  Well, one by one, the frames came tumbling down - startling us with a crash each time.  And, when I went to remove the strips, I actually pulled off a few large sections of the paint.  Eek!  So, we've gone back to the chaotic-but-wonderful masking tape approach to hanging the girls' artwork, hiding the pulled-off paint spots.  I'll have to snap a picture for you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Italy Part IV: Shopping & Design

We visited the Solimene factory in Vietri sul Mare (the "ceramic capital" of the Amalfi Coast), whose cheerful and whimsical traditional dishes I have always admired.

photo from Divertimenti.

Mr. 12 devonshire spotted these fun chevron dishes!  Too bad they were not for sale (and too bad the lady who worked there was rude to me when I asked about them!).

After browsing through about a dozen ceramic stores in town, I picked up this cute trio of cannisters:

I also poked my head into a few design shops here and there.

These photos are from the home section of a boutique that had beautiful clothes and shoes.  A bit anthropologie-esque. 

Notice the glass cloche?
The next few were taken in a modern kitschy cute design shop. 

Love this colorful way to display black and white photos.  This seems easily DIY-able with some IKEA frames, spray paint and a picture ledge.

So many unique serving sets in versatile and classic white.

I liked this oil & vinegar/ salt & pepper set.

This cute set of espresso cups came home with us (the top cup was in the dishwasher when I took the photo - thankfully, the whole set made it home perfectly intact).

The color scheme was described on the box as "Granny."  I'll admit that I can go for a little "granny chic" now and then. 

Several of the restaurants in which we ate had design elements that I looked forward to sharing on the blog, such as the coral chandeliers and beautiful tile floors at Buca Di Bacco in Positano...

The creative use of a galvanized bucket at a restaurant in Cava de Tirreni...

The stunning marble floors, white leather chesterfield chairs, grand floral arrangement, and schmancy bathroom at the jaw-dropping Grand Hotel Quisisana, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch in Capri...

And, the all-white shimmering jewel-box of a restaurant (Biancoro), where we enjoyed a delicious final meal in Naples before returning home...

where they had an original way to keep wine cold...

and, where we did ourselves in with THIS dessert...

Remember my love of (addiction to) Nutella?  This is called "Nutellini"... fried dough, drizzled with (doused in) Nutella.
On that delicious note, my little series of Italy posts comes to an end.  It was so wonderful to spend the week with family, exploring the gorgeous region, eating way too much delicious pizza and pasta and taking in all the spectacular views.   It's also been fun to re-live it all these past few days as I wrote my blog posts.  I can't believe the trip has come and gone and it's back to reality on Monday (we're still not quite over the jet-lag)!

Have a great weekend!