All About Drawers

I always look to incorporate as many drawers as possible in my kitchen designs. Drawers frequently offer easier access and more storage than many of your traditional cabinets. But how about in mudrooms and entries? Everyone needs a “junk drawer” – even kids! So in this location, I try to incorporate them there as well… right down to personalized knobs!

Giraffe knob soccer ball knob Lion knob Basketball knob

In bedrooms… consider building drawers right into under-eave space. The built-ins give you additional storage without taking up floor space with another piece of furniture.

Built in bedroom drawers

If you have old drawers, there are lots of fun things that you can do with them.  Here are two creative ideas…

Lydia’s Café — one of my favorite local cafés here in Wolfeboro, NH — had a great idea to gain some additional shelf space. See what they did?

shelf hung on wall for storage

Take the drawer from an old dresser or hutch, turn it and hang it right onto the wall. If you have some carpentry skills (or know someone who does!), consider adding a few shelves. Depending on the depth of the drawer, these can be a unique bookshelf, a great spice rack or (as seen in Lydia’s) the perfect spot to store extra cups and lids for coffee to go!

Drawers can even be used as a kind of artwork. Take a look at this front view of the registration desk at Chicago’s Lincoln Hotel. How cool is that?

Drawers in Lincoln Hotel front desk

Do you have other great ideas for using drawers? Feel free to share using the comment link under this post!

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Match Your Storage Space to Your Stuff

You know that saying “A place for everything and everything in its place”? Some say that phrase may have originated in the nautical world to promote conserving space and keeping things tidy on a ship. It makes sense since every inch counts on a boat. But every inch counts in your home, too.

Clutter is stressful, unsightly and inefficient. No matter how much we may try to pare down our “stuff”, it has a way of creeping out unless we actively plan storage space with our possessions in mind.   Closets, shelves, cubbies, drawers, and key pieces of “functioning” furniture will all contribute to the storage spaces you need. But make sure to think this out as part of any renovation or redesign plan.

storage space by Wentworth Style

Analyze how you use the items that you want to store. Ask yourself:

  • Do I use this enough to justify giving it prime real estate in my home?
  • Is this item so bulky that it gets more valuable space than it really deserves? Could it be stored someplace that is harder to reach to free up prime space for smaller items that are used more frequently?
  • If I buy in bulk, can I store some of the item in a primary location and the remainder somewhere else?

With one of my current commercial clients, we actually took that last question a step further and placed a note on the bottom of the stock stored in a main area to tell the user where the remainder is stored. (Planning for those forgetful moments we all have!)

When I design a kitchen, I actually accompany the design with a document that outlines where I suggest each item be stored. This planning is done up front because it also works as a great check list for the renovation. My client reviews the plan before we get too far into the process and often says “oh… but I also have this and we need to figure out where it will go”. The list helps us make sure that we have a home for everything.

It all gets back to making the space you live in (or work in) feel good!
Our lives are all crazy… remember how important it is that the spaces we spend time in feel “just right” to us.

Here are a few photos from Houzz.com to inspire you!

 

My Architectural Field Trip to Chicago

Chicago is often compared to Boston, so I was sure I would love it if I ever got a chance to visit. Well, I finally got the chance! And yes, it was everything I imagined and hoped for!!

Hands down, the highlight of the trip (beyond visiting with our oldest son, Matt) was the Architectural Boat Tour on the Chicago’s First Lady. The tour is run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation with docents who are foundation volunteers. Their enthusiasm and knowledge was fantastic!

Chicago’s architecture was shaped by the Fire of 1871. This disastrous event ended up being somewhat of a positive (from an architectural and urban planning standpoint) because it gave a second chance in “designing” a city. Planners were able to identify what had been flaws in traffic flow, building designs and things as simple as set backs and building scale.

The city today gives you the chance to see every type of architecture, style and design that is out there. But somehow it works! How come? Because designers paid attention to surrounding landscape, the intended use and scale.

For example, in the shot below, buildings show three architectural styles, but they are visually tied together through the materials used, the transition between buildings and repeated decorative detailing.

Chicago Skyline by Wentworth Style

In the next photo, the section to the right is an addition, but by renovating and restyling the roof, the two buildings are tied together and create a “calmer” flow. This is often the same thing we do when designing residential additions — but on a much, much larger scale!

Chicago building ties addition together

From a renovation standpoint,  the Chicago Athletic Hotel stood out. Formerly the Chicago Athletic Association, the hotel’s newly renovated building features a game room, an amazing “library” and Cindy’s, one of the hottest new restaurants and bars in this land of amazing food and drink.

The renovation included substantial historic restoration work, like the original tile floor and lots and lots of woodwork, as seen in the photos below.

Chicago Athletic Association tile floor renovation

Chicago Athletic Hotel Woodwork

For me, one of the greatest inspirations was the lighting! Many of the light fixtures are the originals — just rewired and refurbished. I love the trend back to industrial, retro looking fixtures like the ones you see here.

antique lighting fixture

lighting at Chicago Athletic Hotel restaurantotel

renovated lighting fixtures

My trip to Chicago gave me lots of great ideas! I’ll be sharing more inspiration as I travel to other areas in the months ahead! Stay tuned….

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My Favorite New England Artist (and My Sister)

Artwork is a very important finishing detail in every home. The art that you love reflects who you are and what brings you joy, encourages contemplation, or sparks your own creativity.

My very favorite New England artist is Elaine Sullivan Chamberlain. She also happens to be my sister. For many years, I took her talent for granted because she has always been that good! I tease her that her attention to detail began when we were little and she made acorn people with little outfits on! Really? (yes!)

Lanie lives in Massachusetts. She has an incredibly varied portfolio and resume, and works in a wide range of mediums. As a few examples…
• Portrait illustrations of political figures such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Bill Weld and Newt Gingrich that have been featured on the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, New Your Times and Chicago Tribune;
• Painted portraits for business and public figures such as Richard Egan (founder of EMC) and Walter Cronkite (news anchorman)
• Artifact and painting restorations for the Peabody Museum (at Harvard University) and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
But it is her paintings that take your breath away most of all.

When I am working on a project and need the perfect piece of original art for a perfect spot, Lanie is the first person I go to. Often she paints just because she loves an image and is compelled to paint it. Sometimes — if I beg and she has the time — she will paint on commission for me. I even get to be her “artist rep” when people contact her for work! (Anyone who lives in Groton,MA has been blessed to see one of her paintings hanging in the lobby of the Groton Public Library as you enter… and many of those people want a painting just like THAT!)

Just look at this work! (And yes, the image of the stones is a painting!)

New England Artist Elaine Chamberlain

Barn painting Elaine Chamberlain

painting of barn window by Elaine Chamberlain

Painting of MA barn by artist Elaine Chamberlain

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New England Porches (and Front Stoops)

New England porch

Our winters last so long that we New Englanders want to make the most of every warm day. Maybe that is why we love our porches. Porches are a great way to extend living space into the outdoors. In the case of front porches, they do double duty as a place to relax in the summer while working year-round to keep rain and snow off your guests’ heads when they come to the front door.

A porch adds style and function to a house for relatively short money. Particularly if an exterior is a little plain, a porch can make the house look more appealing. When I can, I always incorporate a porch into renovation plans!

Most porches that I add fall into two categories: entry porches or screened porches. With all of our summer insects, screened porches are essential if you want to relax outside with a good book without constantly swatting black flies or mosquitoes. Here are a few things to think about:

Entry Porches:
Entry porches are a visually appealing way to provide cover over the entry door for protection from bad weather. When done in the correct scale, an entry porch also gives a visitor the clear message of where they’re supposed to go when arriving to a home.

Wolfeboro NH front entrance before renovation

BEFORE

Wolfeboro NH front entry remodeled fron

AFTER

If you have the space, don’t skimp on the size! The most welcoming entries have space for a few chairs and pots of greens and flowers. If a true covered porch doesn’t work, still keep that front stoop concept in mind. A larger area to stand on at the front door is more inviting than a small landing that makes you feel as if you might fall off with one wrong step.

Screened Porches:
If you’re like me, a screened porch may be your favorite “room” in the house. To make the best use of the space, plan the screened porch as if it were a regular room. Think about how you and your family will use the space. Be sure to map out furniture layouts, lighting, locations for electrical outlets, ceiling finishes, and access to both the indoors and the outdoors.

New England screened porch

If you are building a new screened porch, consider adding an outdoor fireplace. It is a beautiful way to take the chill off. The ambiance and comfort cannot be underestimated!

Whether you are creating an entry porch or screen porch, here are three essentials to consider:
1. Make sure the size of the columns / posts are in scale! A common mistake is posts that are too small for the scale of the structure.
2. Think out the style of the railing. If you have a wonderful view, be sure not to block it with the railing!
3. What is the style of your home and porch? Rustic? Old fashioned? Cottage style?  The style will dictate the posts, ceiling style and finishes that look as if they belong.

Here are a few photos to get your creative juices flowing!

 

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