Getting personal with photography

One of the most important things I strive for when designing any interior space is to have a beautifully designed and functioning room but I also want the home to reflect my client’s unique personality. Often times I look to accomplish this by reusing or re-purposing  beloved family heirlooms, art work, or by displaying a collection that is meaningful to the homeowners. 

Sometimes though, there are no family heirlooms or meaningful collections to work with. In this case, one thing I like to do for my clients is to create something special for them using my photography skills. Today I want to share three different photography projects I did that were very meaningful for my clients yet all three were very simply executed, and might give you an idea for a project in your home.

The first photography project I did was actually for my very first “big” design job back in 2012. I was only about nine months into my business and I was hired to completely furnish a condo for a recently divorced man who was literally bring nothing but his clothes. The dining area of the condo was part of the kitchen and the homeowner had very specific requirements for a dinning table. It had to be of a certain length and width 99% of the time but twice a year had to expand to accommodate a large crowd. After searching for WAY longer than I should have, I finally convinced him we needed to have the table custom made. 

This is where the story gets interesting…and quite long. The short version though is that the furniture maker sourced the wood from the old Birds Eye Freezer factory in Gloucester Ma. This is the very place where flash freezing was invented and produced America’s first frozen vegetables. The factory had been abandoned since the late 40’s and was only weeks away from being raised to make way for a new boutique hotel. The completely freaky part of this story is that unbeknownst to either myself or the furniture maker was that my client had an ancestor who had worked in the factory back in the 1930’s. 

Linda Holt Photo

So, the table shown above sits in a condo by the sea and is made from the wood which once lined the freezer of the Birds Eye Freezer Company (aluminum was eventually used and the wood freezer became obsolete. Here’s where the photography part comes in. Shortly before they knocked the building down I took a series of photos of the decaying factory and chose three to frame and hang next to the table. (I also gave him several unframed ones as well.)

At the time I had no idea I would one day be writing a blog about this so unfortunately I don’t have a better image of the photos themselves. I can report that my client was very moved by my surprise.  He found it so meaningful to own a table made from the wood of such an historic factory, that an ancestor had worked in, and that next to the table are photos of the factory itself…Cool right??

My next photography project was just recently completed. On my first meeting to discuss a new client’s project, the husband pulled out these six books. He said he didn’t know how or if I could incorporate the books into my design but his recently deceased dad was a well known Indian author and had written the series. These kind of family items are gold to me. I placed them all directly on the existing black leather sofa and took a quick iphone photo. These treasured books became the inspiration for my entire design. The colors drove my color scheme and although the books were only small paper back sized, I knew I wanted to bring them to prominence and give them a place of honor in my client’s home.

Client’s book collection written by his dad

Once my design plan was approved, I asked to borrow the set of books. I  took a photo of each book on a white back ground (white construction paper) and had them blown up by one of my favorite companies called Fracture. Fracture prints photos directly on glass and they arrive ready to hang. I enlarged them to a 20″ x 16″ size and the day of the install hung them on a tall thin wall just off the entry. Boy were my client’s both surprised and thrilled!

Fracture glass photos

Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography

My final example is not yet installed so I don’t want to give too much away but I am working with an awesome client/friend on her “piano lounge”. I asked her to give me several of her absolute favorite and most meaningful sheet music cover pages. This is one that she chose as being very meaningful. I especially like the hand written notations as it makes the piece even more personal.

I photographed each sheet cover and then imported the photos into Photoshop. I’m really not a Photoshop expert and I didn’t know exactly what I was even going for but after playing around for awhile I settled on the image below.

sheet music pixelated and colorized

Art work created by Linda Holt

This piece along with two others will be hung above the sofa. Each one is a different color based on the room’s color scheme. I used Fracture to print my images on glass for this project too and at the moment they are sitting in my office waiting for our install day.

Three very different clients, three very different projects and three very different “stories”. That’s what I love most about design. Every client and job is different yet everyone has a family story that is a part of who they are and it’s what makes a house a home. I feel honored I was able to by bring three stories out into the open in my client’s homes through photography.

Would love to hear from you! Which of my three projects is your favorite?

 

 

Bar carts and table settings you do not want to miss!

Wow, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind for me. Nine days in Berlin, home, three hours sleep then off to the Boston Design Center for the next five days to install, style and participate in Boston’s first Designer fundraiser for the charity Heading Home To Dinner.This first of it’s kind event was a HUGE success with both a cocktail party and gala selling out. There were many designers on the planning committee but three need to be singled out for their vision and planning that lead to such a successful event; Mally Skok, Elizabeth Benedict and Kristen Rivoli.

The charity Heading Home to Dinner is Boston based and it’s mission is “to end homelessness in greater Boston by providing a supported pathway to self-sufficiency that begins with a home, together with critical services such as life skills, financial literacy, and job training”. 

The event was held at the Boston Design Center in a huge open space with cement floors and huge windows that let in tons of light over looking Boston harbor. The tables were arranged in the middle of the room and the bar carts were lined up against the windowless wall. The room looked beautiful but it was somewhat of a photographer’s nightmare. I did my absolute best shooting the tables and carts (with my iphone) but with the sun streaming in on two sides, many tables had harsh back lighting and there was poor lighting against the wall where the carts were. To complicate the photography even more there was always something distracting in the background or someone was in the background.  I did my best though so in no particular order, feast your eyes on some very creative, beautiful and “no two alike” tables and bar carts.

Elizabeth Benedict, Safari Style

I love that Elizabeth used two floor hides as table runners. The binoculars and blankets on each chair also are a wonderful touch….and the FLOWERS!!!

Kristen Rivoli: Hygge under the stars

Kristen Rivoli used the Danish word Hygee as her theme. Her table celebrates the simple pleasure of dinning with friends at home or out.

Mally Skok: California Dreaming Lunch Party

Mally Skok’s table wowed me with lot’s of plants and blue glassware. I heard she designed and then had the plates made in Africa. They are gorgeous!

Kathryn Pearce: Cerulean Serendipity

This table by Kathryn Pearce was such a pretty table. I loved those turquoise goblets and pink flowers.

Pamela Copeman: Claude Monet at Giverny

This is the table that I was lucky enough to be seated at for the gala. It was magical dinning under the twinkling flower gazebo. The designer, Pamela Copeman, is an accomplished artist besides a well known designer and the fabric on the chairs as well as the table topper were custom made from an origional oil painting she created just for the event.

Kristin Paton: Let them eat cake

This one had lot’s to look at as well and was so much fun!

Megan Pesce: The artist collaboration

Megan Pesce partnered with her artist friend who painted a custom canvas table runner. I loved the way Megan accessorized with paint tubs and brushes.

Renee Rucci and Julie Wood

This table designed by Renee Rucci and Julie Wood had so many thoughtful little details it needed to be carefully studied so as to not miss anything. Julie took the opportunity to showcase her new fabric line featuring maps of coastal New England.

Dennis Duffy: Alice’s Acid Tea party

Crystal dishes of “Quaaludes” added some humor to this colorful table.

The bar carts were equally as varied.

Holly Joe design

Holly Joe’s theme was Cocktails in Shangri-La

Rachel Reider

Rachel Reider partner with Dunes and Duchess and styled “an Enchanted Evening” with this new bar cart that was just introduced as part of their new line.

Kim Macumber

Kim Macumber’s Summer Cart is perfectly styled for summer cocktails on the front porch. 

Justine Sterling: Modern Island

Justine Sterling mixed colonial, modern and tropical elements for her festive backyard bar cart.

Michelle Cortizo: New years Champagne

Michelle Cortizo styled a new Years Eve bar cart that I would love to ring in the New Years with.

Kelly Rogers

Kelly Rogers styled her bar cart for a Tanglewood picnic for two. Don’t you just love that fox pillow?

Rachel Dunham

This retro bar cart was filled with all sorts of cool things but I especially liked the vintage glassware.

Lastly, here is my Nantucket brunch in the garden bar cart.

Linda Holt: Nantucket Brunch in the Garden

This was the very first time I have ever done anything like this. I will be honest it was a little a scary because there were some very big names and design firms involved. I had more than one sleepless night worrying I was in over my head. It all turned out great though and I had a wonderful time. I also learned how stressful it can be when things don’t go as planned. Let me just give you a hint with the word “leakage” and you might be able to guess to what happened.

I’d love to hear from you. Which is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

Jazzing up our white box apartment

If you’ve been following me through this blog you know that my husband and I recently downsized from our big suburban home to a very small urban apartment. It’s hard to believe but we have been here almost four months now. For the most part we love our new small care free life style. The apartment is the perfect location for us but being a rental we are forbidden from making any changes and that includes painting the walls.

Side note* If we owned this place the very first thing I would do is rip out those short little 26″ kitchen cabinets and bring those babies right to the ceiling!

white room dark floor no windowsNot being able to paint the walls has been tough for someone like me who loves color. The long wall to the right of the photo is where we have our sofa and I have covered it with art work so for now I have made peace with that wall. The wall that continued to bothered me though was that back wall. I was desperate to add a pop of color there to add some life and visual interest.

I looked at removable wall decals and temporary wallpaper options but I didn’t see anything that really excited me. I envisioned something really bold that would pop against my marine blue lacquered dresser that was against that wall. I had more or less given up until Spring High Point Market when I discovered product designer Jill Seale. I first spotted Jill’s fabrics from across the room and made a beeline right to her booth.

Jill Seale fabrics: Linda Holt Photo

Her fabrics are a riot of color and pattern and I when I found out she designed wallpaper and that it could be had in a removable option I was sold. Well…kind of. I was so worried about doing anything to the walls and loosing a very hefty security deposit that I made Jill send me a sample that I left on the wall for a few weeks to see how easy it was to remove. It was just as advertised, easy on, easy off and it left absolutely no residue or stickiness on the walls. 

This past weekend my husband helped me put it up and other than getting on a rickety ladder to reach the nine foot ceiling it was SO easy. It took less than an hour from start to finish. I chose Jill’s green Algae paper.

I am so thrilled with the result! It adds so much life to that dark back wall and when we move out of the apartment I will simply peal it off and no one will ever know my secret!

Here is the “after”.

Linda Holt Photo

The crowning touch is the fabulous mixed media painting by my good friend Susan Siefer. This painting was inspired by her trips to Morocco and the blues in the painting were made with pigments she brought back from Morocco.

accent wall with blue chest

Linda Holt Photo

I know you all want to see the rest of the apartment but I am not quite “there yet” for a full photo reveal. I’m working on it though and will soon (I promise). This accent back wall though has made such a difference in my happiness level.

I would love to hear what you think!

To find out more about Jill Seale and Susan Siefer you can check them out below.

 Jill Seale at www.jillseale.com 

Susan Siefer at www.susansiefer.com or IG : @susansiefer-art

One last thing, I will be taking a couple weeks off from blogging because on Saturday I leave for Berlin for ten days. I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram because I will be sharing lot’s of images and iphone photo tips while there.

 

A master class in window treatments from three Summer show houses

Now that Summer is behind us and the kids are back at school I have been getting phone calls from new clients wanting to get their home ready for the upcoming holidays. The number one thing on their wish lists are new window treatments. Having just returned from visiting three different show houses I have to say, window treatments are taking on a main role in decorating. No more wimpy thin drapery panels that I remember from some of the show houses even just a few years back. Instead, I saw room after room of full luxurious panels and roman shades and the one thing they all had in common was some kind of embellishment. 

The Coastal Living Idea House  that I blogged about HERE was designed by Mark Sikes and although I loved his use of blue of white and the many layering of patterns, my favorite design element in the home were his window treatments.

blue drapery with leading edge trim

Linda Holt Photo

Gorgeous wide trim on the leading edge was on every panel and most had top banding or trim as well.

Roman shades with trim

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Sikes also layered his windows with natural fiber shades which added texture but also helps protect the fabric from the harsh sun.

blue and white floral drapes

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Luxurious pattern matched blue and white panels had trim along the top that coordinated with fabric trim running under the molding. The home has so many amazing details like this in every room. Speaking of details, Sikes even covered his drapery pull wand with matching fabric. Now that is something you don’t see very often…if ever!

fabric covered drapery pull

Mark Sikes:Linda Holt Photo

Natural fiber shades and a wide band of decorative trim added to the charm.

drapery panel with trim

Mark Sikes: Linda Holt Photo

Last week I visited the Hampton Designer Show House and this year there were two homes to tour. Each was very different in look and feel but the one commonality were statement window treatments in every room. Even the bathrooms were adorned with statement drapes!

Linda Holt Photo

Unless you are looking at the above photo on a large screen you won’t be able to see but pink pompom trim runs down the leading edge of the panels.

These sweet roman shades were trimmed with little crystal beads. They were so pretty glistening in the sunlight.

roman shades with crystal trim

Linda Holt Photo

I love the way these shears mimicked the lines of the layered custom molding that was throughout the home.

White shears with black trim

Linda Holt Photo

Eddie Ross trimmed the Roman shades in his room with a contrasting nail head tape.

Roman shades with nail head trim

Eddie Ross design: Linda Holt Photo

Rather than a sewn on tape, these panels in Rajni Alex’s room had a geometric design embroidered directly onto the edge of the fabric. (notice the rug is also embellished on the banding cloth).

orange drapes with embroidery edge

Rajni Alex Design:Linda Holt Photo

When you add trim to a drapery panel you need to decide where it should be placed. Some designers like to put it right at the leading edge of the fabric but others prefer it inset a few inches like this drape below.

winow panels with decorative trim

Linda Holt Photo

I did notice that Mark Sikes placed his trims right at the leading edge of the fabric on all his panels.

patterned drapes with decorative trim

Mark Sikes design:Linda Holt Photo

The one thing I should point out is that these beautiful trims and tapes add considerably to the cost of the drapery. In some cases the trim is even more expensive than the fabric. It does make for a beautiful statement piece in the room though and often times that makes it all worth it.

Lastly, I want to share one more trend with you that I have been seeing in both magazines and spotted at all three show houses I visited. The table skirt is back!!

blue and white table skirt

Mark Sikes:Linda Holt Photo

The one above was in a bedroom at the Coastal Living Idea House and the one below is from the Hampton Show House.

table skirt

Linda Holt Photo

I had this exact same style of table skirt in my own home back in the early 90’s. It’s a great way to add some color and pattern and also doubles as storage underneath. One thing I will leave you with is that sparse rooms and minimalism seems to be on the way out and layered rooms with “more is more” is making a comeback.

After just having downsized and donating 70% of our belongings I am very conflicted about this trend. Personally, I am loving me new very edited small living….however those window treatments are beyond beautiful!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on embellished window treatments but also what do you think about table skirts making a comeback? Do you like the more is more look?

 

 

 

 

Coastal Living Idea House: Blue and White all over

Last week I visited the Coastal Living Idea House in Newport RI to see the house that Mark did. Designer Mark D. Sikes that is. It was everything I could have imagined and it came as no surprise to hear that the house has been sold along with most of the furniture, drapes and decor. The lucky new owner scored big and will take possession of a blue and white dream house.

Mark Sikes is known for both his love of blue and white and his use of stripes and the idea house has it all wrapped up in one beautifully designed coastal home. I took lots of photos on my iphone and in a few cases the lighting was not optimal (as in really terrible) but I think you can still see the rooms fairly well.

Blue and white cabinets: Linda Holt Photo

My friend and I started our tour in the kitchen and loved the on trend two toned painted cabinets in blue and white. Bright white quartz counter tops on the perimeter kept the kitchen light while the oak stained island brought in some warmth and an organic touch.

Kitchen: Linda Holt Photo

There were thoughtful custom details throughout the house such as the pleated fabric shade on the kitchen chandelier.

custom lamp shade: Linda Holt Photo

and fabulous white pompom trim on the buffalo checked drapes.

kitchen window seat: Linda Holt Photo

Every detail was carefully thought out.

drapery detail

The living room is open to the kitchen and was designed with casual entertaining in mind. White sofas with blue welting and plenty of blue and white pillows signaled to sit down and relax.

great room: Linda Holt Photo

The patio and pool is just off the living room.

Linda Holt Photo

The hallways were decked out in navy blue and white stripes and iron lanterns.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

All the bedrooms were chock full of personality with lot’s of prints, patterns and gorgeous window treatments. Just like the kitchen and living room, they were all done in blue and white. 

Linda Holt Photo

Decorating a room with lots of odd angles and eves can be challenging. I loved that Sikes embraced the sharp angles and wrapped blue and white buffalo check fabric all around.

Linda Holt Photo

The girl’s bedroom was equally as energetic with navy and white trellis wallpaper and a roomful of blue and white botanicals.

Linda Holt Photo

I understand that all this pattern might be too much for some, but for a second home like a beach house I think it’s a lot of fun.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The bathrooms were also blue and white and again, had interesting details. The stripes on the floral window fabric became inspiration for outlining the ceiling, walls, and even the tile floor with a matching blue stripe.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The basement is all set for game night and the fabric  upholstered walls made it so cozy.

Linda Holt Photo

The landing between the second floor bedrooms was probably my favorite space in the house. It looked out directly to the ocean and between the art work, the sofa and the carpet it hit all the high notes for me.

Linda Holt Photo

It really is an amazing home and if you are local I urge you to check it out and see it before the new owners take possession.

How about you? What is your favorite room?

 

 

 

Aviva Stanoff: My latest designer crush

I recently meet a designer who’s creativity and innovative work is so inspiring I wanted to share her designs with you. Her name is Aviva Stanoff and her back  story is as interesting as her one of a kind designs. Aviva grew up in California, in a small town nestled between the beach and old growth redwoods and then spent Summers tending flowers in her grandfather’s Buddhist Temple in Japan. These two dramatically different worlds became the “best of both worlds” and developed within her a deep reverence for nature.

Below is a photo I took while at High Point market last Spring in Aviva’s showroom.

Aviva Stanoff showroom: Linda Holt Photo

Aviva works a lot with crystals and has some spectacular lighting that she created for Currey and Company, one of which is hanging above the bed. The photo below is from Aviva and shows her painting the 700 lbs of Selenite wands she hand fitted together to make that one of a kind head board. Can you imagine??? It totally blew me away.

Aviva Stanoff High Point market

Besides lighting design, Aviva’s signature is pressing real objects into fabric. Sea fans, corals, minerals, lemon leaves, and crystals are among the many objects she uses. Aviva’s fabrics celebrate nature’s imperfections and things like bug bites on the plants become a cherished component of the final product. 

Aviva Stanoff : Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

Minerals and crystals are pressed into the pillow fabrics below.

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

 Each pillow is unique and a work of both art and science.

Aviva Stanoff:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff Design:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva has a lot going on and just recently introduced a line of outdoor pillows using her same signature process of pressing objects into fabric. 

I am totally smitten with her and if you want to see more of her work you can check out her website Here. 

Of course one of my first questions was “how do you do this?” but her lips are sealed and I can understand why.

What do you think? Aren’t her designs amazing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I updated a 32 year old kitchen without replacing the cabinets

It’s been a while since I have written a before and after post but today I have a good one for you. I recently completed a kitchen make over for a lovely couple who had a challenging request. They wanted a fresh looking updated kitchen but they did not want to replace the cabinets or the appliances. When I went to see their kitchen for the first time it was indeed dated. They had designed the kitchen themselves 32 years ago when they first purchased the home. 

The kitchen was quite large and nice and bright but the white laminated cabinets, white laminate counter tops and white 4″ x 4″ back splash tiles made it feel cold and somewhat hospital like. The only color in the room were the dated red metal blinds.

Before photo dated kitchen white laminate cabinets white tile

BEFORE

What my client’s loved about their kitchen was the layout. They are both passionate cooks and initially designed the kitchen around their cooking and entertaining needs which they said has not really changed. Although the cabinets were old they were solid wood and of high quality and in surprisingly good shape. Their insistence to keep the cabinets was somewhat related to budget but even more of a factor was that they did not want the dust and disruption of ripping out what they felt were perfectly good cabinets. The appliances were also staying because they were less than two years old (except for the cook top and trash compactor).

BEFORE photo of dated kitchen with white laminate cabinets and counter tops

BEFORE

They did request a smaller tv in the kitchen because they like to watch cooking shows while they cook but their old boxy tv ate up too much space and was an unsightly black hole.

Before photo of dated white kitchen with TV in cabinets

BEFORE

The one area that didn’t function for them was this desk tucked into a small wall at the back of the kitchen. The deep overhanging laminate counter top became a clutter gathering zone and the clients never used it as a desk. What they did need was a recycling center as you can see by the newspapers and bags collected on the stools. Also, the cabinets below were so shallow and it was such a hassle getting into them that they were essentially useless.

BEFORE photo of non functioning desk in dated kitchen

BEFORE

So, my clients asked me to come up with a plan that would allow them to keep the cabinets and appliances, find a spot for a smaller TV, and create a recycling center where the desk currently was. Also on the wish list was: new counter tops, new flooring, new back splash, hardware, sink, faucet, an induction cook top and a wine cooler to replace the trash compactor.

Here is the new updated kitchen.

Gray subway tile back splash white cabinets , open shelves in kitchen

AFTER Emily O’Brien Photography

To give the kitchen a little more visual interest and to break up three full walls of cabinets we removed the upper cabinets on the sink wall and used budget friendly subway tiles on the entire wall. Two sturdy open shelves hold their everyday dishes and new blue and tan roman shades pick up the colors in the adjoining sun room.

white cabinets, open shelving, subway tiles, cork floor white kitchen

AFTER-Emily O’Brien Photography

Now I know it’s hard to believe these are the same cabinets but they are. My contractor kept all the cabinet boxes but replaced the existing laminate doors and drawers with new shaker style wood doors and drawers. On the sides of the cabinets that were exposed he applied a thin sheet of plywood over the laminate and it was painted to match.

The floor decision actually ended up being the most challenging. The homeowners were on totally opposite pages about what they wanted. One wanted tile, the other wanted wood and neither wanted vinyl. After weeks of weighing multiple options we ended up choosing a solid warm gray colored cork. The floor has the appearance of a wood floor but is soft and there are no worries about water spills. It was easy to install as it came in planks that snapped together just like engineered wood floors. Both clients got what they wanted. 

The new induction cook top is Bosch .

gray subway tiles, open shelving, Beale pull down faucet, quartz counter tops

AFTER

The faucet is the new Beale pull down touchless faucet by American Standard.  We chose Top Knobs for the hardware and the new counter tops are Silestone Blanco Orion quartz.  Quartz was a great option because my clients loved the look of marble counters but wanted something that would wear like iron. We also eliminated the curved counters and corner cabinets and squared it off for a cleaner and more modern look.

Silestone Blanco Orion

This is what I came up with for the TV. We replaced that origional open box with a full length new door which added extra hidden storage and the TV is now mounted on the side cabinet and can be flipped out or pushed flat as desired.

white cabinets, roman shade, tv in kitchen, white refrigerator

To fix that non functioning desk area, we replaced the existing shallow cabinets with brand new deep cabinets that house smooth gliding, pull out recycling bins. These are the only cabinets that are new.

white kitchen cabinets quartz counter tops

AFTER

They now use that area as the coffee station with recycling below. We also replaced the flat trim with something more traditional and truer to the style of the house. 

Here is the before one more time

BEFORE

and the after

AFTER

Once again the before:

BEFORE

And the after:

AFTER

I want to go on record and say I would not recommend keeping thirty year old cabinets when doing a kitchen make over but in this particular case it worked and my client’s have absolutely no regrets. The final addition will be a new 15″ wine cooler just to the right of the sink where the trash compactor is now. They don’t plan to make the purchase until this Summer though and I didn’t want to wait that long to get photos.

Lastly, I know the limitations of my iPhone so a huge thanks to architectural photographer Emily O’Brien for the AFTER photos.

Please let me know in the comments below what you think.

 

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