Pretty in Pink: A Portsmouth, NH Brownstone

When I see a pretty front door, I’m not likely to forget it, even though I’ve admired too many front doors to count. There’s something about a door painted in a knock-out color, surrounded by tons of flowers, that sticks with me. That’s why I got excited when I saw this real estate listing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This is one of the home’s notable entrances:


I’d recognize that door anywhere, and I knew I had a picture of it from the last time I visited!


As soon as I saw the bright pink front door framed by that deep blue, I fell in love. The colors of the facade combined with the flowers and sky blue bench (that matches the shutters!) creates a whimsical, lively atmosphere in the courtyard. If ever there was the perfect setting in which to use this color scheme, this is it.

Of course, the homeowners’ love of color is not checked at the door—there’s plenty more inside! (You didn’t think a house this colorful on the outside would be boring on the inside, did you?)

The foyer is painted a bright, cheerful blue.


Sunny yellow cabinets stand out in the kitchen. The backsplash tiles coordinate perfectly.


I would love to know what inspired the homeowners’ choice of cabinet color and backsplash tile. Were they inspired by a home or kitchen they saw on vacation? Did the idea come from a magazine, or simply their imaginations?


The kitchen and dining areas seem to be connected, so the purple chairs are a smart match with the bright yellow cabinets. These hues are opposite each other on the color wheel, which means they are complimentary. I love it when I can see what a homeowner was thinking when making color choices!


I’m a huge fan of this red library, and red is not usually a color I’m drawn to. It looks like it has a healthy dose of orange in it, which softens it a bit. What do you think—could you relax in this room?


I’m also loving these greens—they look so fresh and happy. This is the kind of room that would feel warm and spring-like even on a frosty winter’s day along the coast.


This living area is painted a subdued periwinkle blue. Compared to the other rooms in the house, dare I say this color is the least interesting even though it’s still very pretty?


The shower tiles in this bathroom are so cute! I wish they had been used elsewhere, perhaps as the vanity backsplash. This room is quite busy with a mix of decor styles. If I bought this house, I’d find a way to make the shower tiles the main design element.


There’s another bathroom in a complimentary color scheme with a stand-alone tub. This bath also has a lot of tile! My favorite element is the clawfoot tub—it looks so sweet in peach.


Back to the exterior, there’s a second entrance that is even more colorful than the pink door. You didn’t think it was possible, did you?


Here’s another view, pulled back for full effect. It’s a completely different house from this side in contrast to the other entrance, isn’t it?


I didn’t post photos of them here, but the bedrooms appear to be the only rooms in the house where the homeowners’ use of color was much more conservative.

When I spotted this house years ago, I wondered what the inside looked like. Now that I know, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m curious to know what the buyer will do—will they embrace it, whitewash it, or strike a balance somewhere in the middle?

For more photos of the interior, take a look at the listing here. All photos of the house are from the listing unless otherwise noted.

Design with Depth: Shawn Henderson's Layered Looks

In my design posts on this blog, I talk a lot about layered looks and eclectic design (mostly because my favorite designs are layered and eclectic). Sometimes the word “eclectic” gets confused for “eccentric,” and they’re two very different things. When I define a space as eclectic, I’m describing a room that looks collected and varied (think contrasting concepts of old/new, high/low, traditional/modern) yet purposely chosen so that there’s an obvious relationship between the architecture, furnishings, and finishes.

I discovered an excellent example of layered, eclectic design when I stumbled upon this photo the other day:


This is the apartment of New York-based interior designer Shawn Henderson. Despite being featured on Maine Home + Design’s website, his apartment is located in New York City—tricky, eh? The decor looks perfect for a quaint little cottage tucked away in New England’s northern reaches. The original caption states that Henderson’s goal was to decorate in keeping with the apartment’s early 1900s construction date, and according to this article, I’d say he hit the nail on the head.

While Henderson’s own home incorporates a mix of classic and contemporary styles, his portfolio shows a mostly urban clientele with polished (and perhaps more formal) taste. His projects outside the city appear to incorporate his penchant for blended interiors, though. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots from his portfolio.

In this first photo, I adore the simplicity of this space, from the architecture to the kitchen cabinetry. The bones scream “cottage” while the furniture and lighting say “I’ll never move out of the city!” The combination of country and midcentury styles is really fun.

Next up, the addition of shiplap on the wall of this room adds to the country charm, although the view is certainly making its own contribution. The midcentury furniture makes the space look relaxed and comfortable while steering it away from any shade of shabby chic. It is a chic room, but it’s not pretentious or stuffy at all.

The stone fireplace takes center stage in this next room. Notice how clean the architectural lines are—the ceiling openings and cased doorways are very minimal. The texture of the stone provides a lot of warmth and contrast, further supported by the rustic beams visible in the next rooms. The furniture skews modern but not cold, with natural woven seats on cantilevered bases.

Everything about this next design is stunning. I’d love to eat meals in a sun-filled room like this. What I first thought were long benches lining both sides of the table are actually individual sculpted metal chairs. Quite the mix of materials at play here!

This is a different room in the same house as the previous photo. The juxtaposition of various materials continues in this living room.

Last but not least, the next house is in Montana, and again we have a window framing a breath-taking view. There are plenty of rustic elements in this scheme, but in no way does it veer toward campy. The striking statement chandelier along with the metal staircase and black steel-framed window give this country retreat an edgy flair. I really love the stool with the metal base and what appears to be crushed velvet upholstery.

I appreciate the way these interiors embrace multiple styles of decor to achieve an eclectic look that isn’t strictly cottage or farmhouse or mountain lodge. For Shawn Henderson, layering retro with farmhouse or rustic with midcentury brings together contrasting styles that, in these examples, compliment each other nicely and create visually interesting spaces.

Check out more of Shawn’s work here and here.

All images taken from Click through each photo to visit his website.

Making Waves: Beach House Style

Is beach brain a thing? I think I’m suffering from it, especially with all the hot and humid weather! All I want to do is go to the beach and park myself there with a good book, soak up some sun, and splash around in the ocean every so often. That’s what summer is all about, right? Hot days and warm nights and hopefully a little bit of time cooling off in the water.

Needless to say, envisioning a dreamy beach house is part of the very serious beach brain condition. What I love about beach style is that it can take so many different forms: surf style, shabby chic, cottage, rustic. Whether you choose to keep it casual or dress it up, it’s a look that can be infused with tons of color or mellowed out with pale hues.

I recently found some designs that put a twist on typical beach style—some perhaps intentionally, and others perhaps not! One of them is this entryway by Seldin Design Studios of San Francisco, which also happens to be where this residence is located. San Francisco may not immediately bring the beach to mind, but its water views and access are a big part of the landscape, so it’s not an unlikely influence. This space is vintage beach chic—the wallpapers above and below the chair rail are the perfect balance of casual and formal. The woven details on the mirror and table drawers add extra texture, and the subdued wood tones make me think of driftwood and sand. The vase of wildflowers brings to mind the random flora that sometimes grows along the beach in patches of grass. It’s possible that the beach had nothing to do with inspiring this design, but I could definitely see using this space to inspire a pretty beach house.


This dining area by Helen Bergin Interiors, based in Marblehead, MA, is full of natural elements and sandy colors that are totally beachy but far from stereotypical. The whimsical fixture over the table is a subtle nod to the home’s seaside location.


In Manhattan Beach, CA, Waterleaf Interiors used a bright peacock green wallpaper with metallic accents on the inside of this bar cabinet. I love the formality of the elegant barware, traditional kitchen cabinets, and marble countertops combined with the retro, midcentury colors. It’s grown-up but with a touch of surf style.


This bathroom, also by Waterleaf Interiors, is refreshing in pink and blush hues. I’m not sure I would think to use pink in a beach-inspired bathroom, but it makes so much sense. There are pink sand beaches, after all! The classic subway tile in this shower has a lovely sheen to it that reminds me of mother-of-pearl, and the pattern on the wallpaper echoes the shape of both sea plants and pebbles. Even the knob on the drawer has the texture of an urchin shell.


I’m always drawn to spaces where a mix of styles are used, so naturally this powder room by Nicola’s Home, a designer based in Yarmouth, Maine, appeals to me. This is such a thoughtful combination of modern and vintage mixed with elegant and casual. And it’s topped off with that fantastic oyster shell mirror, which is just perfect for a home that’s close to the ocean.


This bedroom by the same designer has a similarly eclectic look. The yellow and citron accents bring a lot of warmth to the space, and the room has a distinct seaside feel to it despite its minimal use of blue. It’s a great example of using texture and pattern to evoke a sense of place.


Tracery Interiors, a design firm located in the Florida panhandle, also chose citron for this beach-side bedroom. When you stop to consider how sunshine plays a big role in a good beach day, it’s no wonder that shades of yellow can successfully evoke a beach vibe. The decor helps reinforce that idea with the tortoise shell on the wall and items on the sand-colored nightstand. The geometric patterns in this room give it a formal look, but the bright colors and natural linen fabrics on the bed and lamp shade help keep things feeling cozy instead of stuffy.


All of these interiors are imaginative and distinct. They do, however, share some common elements such as weathered wood, woven baskets, uplifting colors, organic accents, and a mix of punchy and subtle patterns. If you had to choose one of these photos to jumpstart your beach house design (and potentially cure your case of beach brain!), which one would it be?

Color Story: Earthy, Rich, Bold + Textured

I went to Providence the other weekend for the Festival of Historic Houses and toured a handful of incredible homes in the city’s Paterson Park neighborhood. What a treat! It’s a tiny area made up of just a few streets, and it’s bursting with charm and personality. Every house in the neighborhood, whether it was on the tour or not, oozed curb appeal. Colorful front doors, inviting porches, creative gardens—there was something to admire about every single house!

Given my background in residential interior decorating, I was excited to see the inside of the homes on tour, as well. My favorite house was drenched in color and pattern. I could tell that the owner had done her homework. Each room had a color story, and she had installed some fantastic little surprises in the form of patterned draperies in several rooms, an antiqued mirror backsplash in the butler’s pantry, and playful wallpaper in a tucked-away powder room and hall (oh, and on a ceiling, too!). Walking from room to room felt like a treasure hunt because there was so much to discover and admire.

The decor reminded me of projects by some of my favorite designers like Katie Ridder, Bailey McCarthy, Steven Gambrel, John Robshaw, and Seema Krish. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it was to see someone embrace color instead of painting every room white! Don’t get me wrong—white can be wonderful, and it has its place. But using color (and using it well) requires planning and coordination and commitment—the things that make up a thoughtfully designed space.

I left the tour inspired to find more designers who decorate this way. I had to wade through a lot of white walls and shiplap to find them, but I was successful! I thought I’d share my findings here for those of you who might also be craving rich colors and texture.

First up is Indigo + Ochre, a design company based in Brooklyn. Their tile game is on point. That kitchen backsplash is so vibrant and cheerful. In the powder room photo, notice how much texture is apparent in the floor tiles, the sink and wall surfaces, the hardware, and the mirror frame. Even the hand towel is made of beautiful dyed linen threads.


Isn’t this sliding door incredible? It’s such a refreshing take on the oh-so-ubiquitous barn door. First of all, it’s blue—YAY for saturated color! Secondly, the lattice screen and carvings give it visual interest beyond the bright color. I would take this door any day over a standard Shaker-style barn slider! It’s a work of art. I also appreciate how it forges a connection between the two rooms in the photo. It really allows the rugs to stand out, whereas they would be lost and look pretty bland if this door was plain white.


Robin Henry Studio is another designer I discovered in my quest for colorful interiors. Her portfolio reveals a knack for combining eclectic design elements with both bold and subdued colors. The result is rooms that feel timeless yet very much of-the-moment.

The room below features some classic midcentury furniture against the bones of traditional architecture. The pouf and side table are decidedly Moroccan while the lighting spans a variety of styles. The wallpaper, while bright and intensely patterned, nearly reads as a solid when you stop to analyze all of the other elements working together. The design is exciting yet also completely seamless.


I adore the use of the color in the following spaces. This kitchen is awash in soft green and blue hues with shades of red in the floor and woodwork, which provide a counterpoint for the cool colors.


Things are amped up quite a bit in this space with a much bolder blue and shimmery gold-green backsplash. This butler’s pantry feels modern, but it’s actually grounded in quite a bit of traditional detail.


In a totally different room, this leafy green gives the impression of being nestled in the treetops.


Here, a library is painted a similar punchy green. It’s both vibrant and soothing—enveloping the space in one color creates a cozy atmosphere. Consider how different this room would feel if the green had been used sparingly against a white background. Such contrast would have created a livelier, more charged space. Instead, we have a room that feels very intimate and relaxed.


At some point, I came across the Instagram account of Reath Design, and before I knew it, I had tumbled down the rabbit hole of scrolling through their entire feed plus the whole website. I mean…wow. WHOA.

These interiors feel so organic to me. I know for many people, “organic” conjures images of white rooms with big windows, light wood tones, and streamlined furniture. For me, it means earthy, grounded, and inspired by nature. There are undertones of William Morris in the wallpaper with hints of Anthropolgie-esque bohemian decor fit for both a laid-back surfer’s beach house or an English gardener with a penchant for Farrow & Ball. In other words—it’s about LAYERS! I am forever in awe of designers who are able to successfully combine two seemingly opposite sensibilities.


Reath Design’s outdoor spaces are just as special as their interiors. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I want to read each and every one of these short stories.


All of these designers have woven color into their interiors in fun, surprising, and elegant ways. What do you think—do you have a favorite among these three designers? Have you recently discovered anyone doing amazing things with color, texture, and natural elements?

Road Trip: A Return to Lehigh County

During my most recent visit to the Lehigh Valley, I was reminded just how splendid this little corner of the world is. The fact that you can drive around on random back roads and find gorgeous buildings like this is one of the reasons I love this area so much:


This stone mill is located in Lower Macungie Township and is situated directly on the Little Lehigh Creek, which would have been a prime location when it was still in use. Some records refer to it as the Neumeyer grist mill, most likely for the builder, Conrad Nuemeyer. Other references call it Laudenslager’s Mill. It was built in 1831 and operated as a flour mill. I didn’t know any of this until after I got home and Googled the name of the road where it’s located and “stone mill.” It’s amazing what you can learn with a little curiosity, isn’t it?


I happened to be driving by the mill as the sun was going down, and a soft, golden light streamed through the trees, casting a warm glow on the building. It was the perfect light for snapping a few pictures on my phone. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the farmhouse that also shares the property.


At Kalmbach Memorial Park, also in Macungie, I spotted one of the two Singmaster barns in the area. This one was built sometime around 1850. The current iteration has a bright white exterior with deep green doors and trim, as well as two distinct hex signs above the second floor windows.


The property was originally the John Singmaster farm, later purchased by Fred Kalmbach, Sr., who loved the land’s natural beauty. The barn and house are surrounded by woods, fields, gardens, and a small stream. Kalmbach was adamant about the land being used as a public park after his passing, a place for the community to gather and appreciate nature. According to the park’s website, the property hosts lots of educational and recreational programs for adults and children.


I couldn’t help but notice how quiet and peaceful the park is. My car was the only one in the lot, so I think I had the place to myself. I took my time strolling through the gardens, down to the water, and into the woods and through the fields. I appreciated how the signs throughout the park reminded visitors that it’s a place intended for quiet reflection.


Not much farther afield is Kospia Farms. I noticed this garden center the first time I visited, and I would have stopped if it hadn’t been pouring rain. I made a point to go back this time and wandered through the greenhouses and retail shops. The colorful sign below caught my eye—I especially love the arrow pointing towards the dog! Much to my dismay, I only spotted the dog as I was driving away. He looked like a friendly pup eager to greet his visitors!


Get a load of these succulent planters! This might have been my favorite section of the nursery. The variety of plants and containers creates a whimsical, perfectly-imperfect look, and the longer you look at the display, the more details reveal themselves.


Who knew cinder blocks could look so magical? I don’t know if this arrangement happened by design or as a matter of convenience, but I love the combination of the lush plants with what’s basically an unremarkable construction material. It works especially well as part of the larger display grouped with the tree stump, the Jonathan Adler-esque planter, and other containers. I’m also in love with all the prickly pear cacti!


Later in the weekend, I went to the farmers market in downtown Emmaus followed by a trip to Funk Brewing. I passed this brick house while walking through a back alley to get to Funk. You never know what you’re going to find when you take the road less traveled, right?!


Funk Brewing was a great spot to hang out. I went with my husband and dad, and we sampled every beer on tap AND had some of the most delicious poutine from a food tent pop-up that set up shop for the afternoon. I didn’t take pictures of the food, which is a shame, but also maybe a blessing in disguise because looking at pictures of it would make me want to eat fries smothered with cheese and gravy nonstop!


I not-so-secretly want one of those Lehigh Valley Brewers Guild signs.


My trip to Lehigh County was for a family visit, so all of my exploring happened by chance. It just so happens that there’s a lot to do here, and you’re never far from pretty scenery.