The Beauty of Built-Ins

I incorporate built-ins in almost all of my projects because they are a great way to add space-saving function and visual interest. There are so many ways to use built-ins in every room! Here are just a few:

Living Rooms and Family Rooms — Shelves are a perfect way to store and showcase books, framed family photos, interesting souvenirs from travels and so much more!

living room built-in storage

Kitchens — Shelves are clearly great for storing cookbooks, but what about adding a lamp? Or a piece of artwork? Or using them to store serving platters and dishes?

kitchen built-in storage Wentworth Style

Mudrooms — Shelves and cubbies are a classic way to contain all the clutter that accumulates close to the door. Consider adding designated areas for outgoing mail, books on local hikes, or that all-important phone charging location!

built-in mudroom storage Wentworth Style

Bar Areas — Sure you could add more cabinetry, but open shelves on an accent wall or even in front of a window can be more interesting!

open bar and kitchen storage Wentworth Style

The key is to treat built-ins as a visual accent and extension of the room, rather than just as storage space. Consider drawing the eye by painting the back wall of a built-in with an accent color or covering it with beadboard or reclaimed wood. When you arrange items on the shelves, think about their visual impact. It takes time and a careful consideration to transform open shelves from mere storage to an inviting showcase. And don’t forget lighting! Accent lighting can transform your built-in from a dark corner to a work of art.

When you get it just right, built-ins can really make the room!

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 to inspire you!


New England Home Design Treasures: Cornish Trading Company

People who know me laugh when they hear me say this: I hate shopping. Really.

But I DO love exploring and discovering the just right thing, for the just right space, for the just right feel in a home. I stand by my philosophy that your home is a special place that should be filled with special touches that just bring a smile to your face.

You may find things that you like in chain stores, but I feel the really special items are found in one-of-a-kind shops that tend to be off the beaten track. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite New England sources for home design treasures in the months to come, but I wanted to start with one of my MOST favorite places. Now that spring is here, the Cornish Trading Company in Cornish, Maine has re-opened for the season.

Cornish Trading Company source for Wentworth Style

The Cornish Trading Company is amazing. There is a wide array of styles (or what I refer to as “levels of rustic”. Some things will work great for a seasonal camp – other items for that renovated old home – others for a more traditional home that needs something a bit out of the ordinary).

It’s a co-operative shop (meaning multiple dealers) run by a great couple, Mike and Lisa Fulginiti. Their energy and creativity is clearly well represented by the dealers they let participate in the store. And as I spoke to Mike the other day, he was planning his trip to this spring’s Brimfield Antique Flea Market. This means more treasures on the way to Cornish!

Below is a shot of a wonderful new treasure… it’s an 1800’s clock that hung on the Town Hall in Morrisville, Vermont. Not sure this will end up inside or outside of the North Main Street project but watch for it… it will end up somewhere!

Oversized clock found by Patty Cooke at Cornish Trading Company

Here’s the link to their web site:  And make sure to make a day of it with lunch or dinner at the BEST restaurant … Krista’s! (Save room for the chocolate cake!!!)

unusual home furnishings Wentworth Style

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Decorating with Vintage Postcards

antique photos for decorating

A client recently asked me if I knew of a good place to find antique photos of summer life in New Hampshire. Her question made me realize how much I love decorating with vintage postcards. The postcards not only have some wonderful images… they often have a “story” on the other side. It is fun to see the wonderful, script handwriting, the date of the postmark, where they were sent, and the personal messages that often tell great stories of days gone by.

I usually find vintage postcards in antique stores or even some consignment shops. Though the quality can vary, the postcards often are in great old frames. When hung up in a grouping they look wonderful! Antique postcards can also be eye-catching “filler” for small, odd sized spots where there is not room for a large piece of artwork, but the space needs something.

I often select a few cards and have them framed at the local framing store. I typically do these in a long, vertical shape as a way to fill a thin area of wall space that needs some interest.

On a recent project, I took my decorating with vintage postcards a step further. The kitchen on this project had “bin” style drawers with glass fronts. You’ve probably seen these drawers filled with dried beans or pasta (or sometimes flour or nuts) to create the look of an old-fashioned farm kitchen. Well… I didn’t want to do that! So first, I put in a bunch of antique doorknobs left over from the project. It looked pretty good… but I was worried that the weight of these (heavy!) old knobs couldn’t be good resting against the glass.

So… I selected a few antique postcards I had of Wolfeboro, NH. I took them to a copy center and enlarged the images. Then I inserted the enlarged vintage postcards in the drawer fronts. I made sure to use color images to add zip to the lower section of cabinets. They draw your eye from across the room and add a fun bit of local history to an old house.

Take a look…

decorating with enlarged vintage postcards

enlarged vintage postcards in kitchen

What do you think? Could you picture decorating with vintage postcards in your home? Click the comments link at the top of this post to start a conversation if you are viewing this post from the home page of the blog, or scroll down to leave comments and share the post if you are on the main page for the post. Can’t wait to hear from you!

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