Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Progress - Our Backyard

On Sunday, I blogged about the progress of our master bedroom renovation, and today I will share the Number One reason we bought our house... the backyard. Well, not necessarily the physical backyard, it's a disaster, but... we are on the waterway. Zero bridges to bay, which in Miami/Coral Gables real estate lingo means prime real estate.
When my husband and I learned we would be moving to Miami for his work, the first thing he said was, "If  there is any way we can buy on the water, that would be my first choice." However, on our budget, that was not an easy request. I looked for six months before finding our home. Long story short, we lucked into our home after it fell out of contract (at a price that had it outside my radar), and was relisted with a drastic price reduction. The major renovations necessary played a key role in the lowered price, but as a design enthusiast who loves a renovation, I was ready to take on the project. So obviously we scooped it up!

My husband, a Miami native, grew up fishing and now that we are on the water, he can have his own boat right in the back yard! Needless to say, he thinks he has died and gone to heaven. :) There are so many fun things to do in Miami when you have a boat... fishing, setting up stone crab traps, lobstering, shrimping... Plus there are remote little islands and sandbars, perfect for a Sunday afternoon picnic, and restaurants you can boat to for dinner, Venice-style.

Our back yard had this dreadful wooden deck when we bought it. I am not a fan of wooden decks, and this splintery old mess had seen its better day.
So out it went!

 We will fill in the recesses with sand and grass, and then create layered steps going down to the dock. The rotting dock will also be replaced eventually.

Mark D. Sikes

Peter Fudge

We are also constructing a huge covered patio, which will be decked out in pure Palm Beach Chic-ness. During the lovely South Florida "season" - roughly October through April - most entertaining takes place outdoors, and I predict we will be spending the bulk of our time on our future patio. Here are a few of my backyard and patio inspiration pics.

 Ruthie Sommers
Our patio will definitely have a haint blue ceiling. In the south it is believed this blue ceiling keeps evil spirits away. It's also believed to fake bugs and insects out. They think it is the sky, and won't take up residence on your porch.
Ruthie Sommers 

Meg Braff
You know I simply must have that Santa Barbara Designs pool umbrella, which I blogged about here.

Celerie Kemble

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Our patio will also be decked out with a pair of circa 1970s peacock chairs, identical to these! I found mine (in mint condition) on Craigslist for $200, what a deal!
Stay tuned for more construction updates... I think I'll show you our drastic kitchen transformation in progress next. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chinoiserie Chic in Florida: The Backyard

Today, Beth from Chinoiseric Chic provides us with a stunning backyard makeover as part of her ongoing virtual renovation of the historic Chinese Village home in Coral Gables, Florida. Click here to learn more about this truly unique home.  As my husband and I are in the midst of our own real-life Coral Gables renovation, it is easy to see how Beth's inspiration boards have influenced me. Check out Beth's inspirational Hollywood Regency master bedroom here in comparison to the progress I'm making on our master bedroom, which I blogged about yesterday. Now I would love a pair of fabulous hand-painted Chinoiserie panels, such as these, to flank our bed!

Tomorrow, I will provide an update on our backyard... our pool needs to be refinished, and I'm thinking we need this fabulous Greek key trim. Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of this series, and a recap of Beth's amazing work.

We move outside today with a makeover of the backyard. Every Florida home needs a swimming pool, so I have put in a beautiful Greek key pool. The Chinese Chippendale wrought iron furniture in Chinese red from The Well Appointed House has outdoor cushions in blue and white stripes and a Chinoiserie dragon fabric. The pool will be surrounded by a collection of blue and white Chinese garden stools and topiaried plants in Chinese fishbowls and Chinese red wrought iron tree boxes. Next week, we conclude this series with a makeover of the front entrance and courtyard.

Backyard of the Chinese Village House

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In Progress - Our Master Bedroom

Yesterday, my husband and I headed up to West Palm Beach to pick up my latest Craigslist treasure... I have been searching for a dresser for our master bedroom for well over a year now.  I wanted something vintage, of course - either Hollywood Regency or Palm Beach Chic - but also large enough for maximum storage.  This stunning Hollywood Regency beauty fit the bill, measuring in at a whopping 84" long! And you can't beat the price at just $150!!

 The dresser is scratched and has a few nicks... Does anyone have any great ideas on how to restore? All of the gold detailing is brass, and I do not want to paint over it. I want to keep it white, so I'm thinking about having the color matched at Home Depot, and then just sanding and touching up the bumps and bruises. Thoughts???

I have blogged here about my vision for our all-white master bedroom... our color palette will be a neutral oasis of white, ivory, beige, champagne and gold. So far, we have a custom tufted sleigh bed, upholstered in cinnamon glacé sateen by Donghia, white and ivory linens, two mirrored Borghese nightstands, and now this dresser! This pair of vintage French mirror chairs (only one shown below) was in our Dallas living room. The color is a bit off in the picture, but the shimmery beige silk is almost the exact same color as our Donghia bed.

sneak peek of our bed, in progress
our nightstands
pair of vintage French mirror chairs
Now I need your help! Which rug would you choose for the room I am creating?...

1. Leopard

2. White geometric

Please weigh in!

I am also considering this armoire, but I would want to paint it white... What do you think?

Now on a final, and not so glamorous note... Here is what our master bedroom looks like now!

From this view, you can see where my husband's closet will be. This was previously the master bath.
This isn't the best shot, but we are combining the two previous master closets to make one large closet for moi. :)
This was a bedroom directly adjacent to our master. We are turning it into one large master bath.
Here is what the master bedroom looked like in the MLS listing, yikes!! If you look closely, you can see that we also pushed the bathroom (now closet) wall back, as it previously jutted out and inverted where my closet(s) will be located. The new closet doors will be repositioned so that our bed will fit in between, thus facing the opposite wall as the bed in this picture. You cannot tell from this picture, but we have a lovely view of the water from our master bedroom. I will blog more about our backyard later this week! :)

We certainly have our work cut out for us!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Susan Kroeger Ltd & The 2013 Lake Forest Showhouse & Garden

Last month, I blogged about a recent Palm Beach shopping excursion and my visit to C. Bell. One of the fun things about shopping in Palm Beach, Florida is you never know who you will run into. I missed Carleton Varney at C. Bell by about five minutes, but I had the great privilege of meeting the lovely and imensly talented decorator, Susan Kroeger, an icon of Chicago’s North Shore. Susan’s design studio and boutique are located in Winnetka, IL, but she also has an office in South Florida. 

Susan and I instantly hit it off, and it was clear that we shared a similar design esthetic. I am a huge fan of her work, and I was delighted when she sent me a sneak peek of the amazing guest bedroom she designed for the 2013 Lake Forest Showhouse & Garden, opening today.

The Guest Bedroom, by Susan Kroeger Ltd,  is a study in contrast and tranquility.

The furniture is carefully edited and balanced, combining antiques with modern. Here the focus is on the Louis XVI bed in a gilded fruitwood finish with fluted corner posts, ribbon & reed frame and a grand tailored canopy of white linen.  Modern white lacquered night tables with scallop fronts and silver tassels complement the gunmetal grey metallic grass cloth.
The gilded, black lacquered Louis XV desk anchors the room, balancing the abstract black and white prints on the opposite wall. Two low Louis XVI style slipper chairs, dressed in neutral linen, flank the black lacquered fireplace. A white lacquered table provides a surface for books and magazines so that the arrangement is, above all, comfortable and functional.
Below are a few more of my favorite images from Susan's portfolio, including a fabulous Boca Grande, Florida, beach bungalo. I dream of one day owning a beach house in Boca Grande!!

Boca Grande Beach House
Boca Grande Beach House
The 2013 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens chose a spectacular estate on the shores of Lake Michigan – built in 1916 by David Adler – for this year’s showcase home. The 15,000 square foot villa includes breathtaking views and a tremendous courtyard. The Showhouse is open April 27 through May 19. To learn more, visit lakeforestshowhouse.com. 
Click here to learn more about Susan Kroeger, Ltd. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Scandalous White Grand Piano

One of my sweet readers recently sent me the following query…

“Would you mind giving me your thoughts on white grand pianos? Our aesthetic has always been old Florida and with this new renovation we’ve got lots of green and white with mirrors and touches of pink. Our house is small so a huge black instrument would be like the 800 lb gorilla in the living room. My family and friends on other coasts tell me pianos are black, deal. Any thoughts?”
My immediate response was that I love white pianos! I mentioned Marilyn Monroe’s white piano that Mariah Carey purchased at the 1999 Christie’s auction of Marilyn’s personal belongings.

Marilyn’s white piano, roped off in Maria Carey’s apartment, via.
And also this fabulous Jonathan Adler white piano…

I advised my reader it is her home and she can do whatever she wants with it – that is what makes decorating such fun, and I quoted Dorothy Draper – “I'll always put in one controversial item, it makes people talk.”
However, my reader’s next response prompted further investigation…  
“I’m a fan of Jonathan Adler of course but don’t want to be Liberace... (his dog's name actually!) I agree it’s our house, and we should do what makes us happy, I know. But it’s something that scares me. My friends from my NY days asked if I’d ever seen a white Steinway. Well, yes, signed by John Lennon. Not my idea of a design pedigree (as much as I love the Beatles). But of course, I could get a Yamaha... If you have the inclination and/or time, I would love your opinion. I’m not as big a fan of Dorothy Draper’s colors but love Meg Braff and Miles Redd - esp the boxwood breakfast room. So pretty as opposed to kitchy, which Adler can be. Is a white piano too kitchy? You’re there on the spot in Florida with access to the design concepts of old Florida (Lilly Pulitzer - Steinway did a Lilly piano but too wild. Lilly herself had black.)”

Well, I had no idea white grand pianos were so controversial! I found the following comment via Yahoo! Answers:
“Universally, those earnest about music seem to wholly prefer the black piano or the natural wood finish, sometimes blonde wood, most usually darker wood. White pianos are almost universally considered as 'vulgar,' Hollywood cheesy, or downright bad taste - i.e. an instrument treated as a decorated item, trivializing the object, and de facto, trivializing music. But if your living room is all 'white white white' (sounds like a hollywood deco / early moderne set for some starlet's boudoir - also a bit Casino, vulgar hotel or whorehouse-ish) it might be the way you want to go.”
Say what?!?! I even found a pretty heated chat room via Piano World on the white piano debate.
John Lennon “Imagine Series” Limited Edition, modeled after the white Steinway & Sons grand piano that John presented to Yoko Ono on her birthday in 1971.  
Elvis had a white grand piano too… this is not helping my case.

Lilly Pulitzer’s black grand piano (far left)

Lilly Pulitzer 50th Anniversary Jubilee Steinway & Sons grand piano
I recently blogged about Boca Grande, Florida's historic Gasparilla Inn decorated by Mimi McMakin – Celerie Kemble’s mother. It doesn’t get any more “Old Florida” than Boca Grande and the Gasparilla Inn, and sure enough... they too have a black grand piano.
Grand piano at the Gasparilla Inn 

Surprisingly, I had a terrible time finding images of white pianos. When it comes to purchasing a grand or baby grand piano, the safe and traditional choice – even here in Florida, birthplace of Palm Beach Chic – seems to be black. Here are a few chic white pianos I was able to round up…
What's not to love about this room, via Domino magazine?!

Adelene Keeler Smith Interior Design

Sara Hopkins

AMI Designs

This room with its white (and painted) piano, via The Peak of Chic, looks fresh, current, and totally Palm Beach Chic – despite being from the 1970s. I personally love this look (minus the painted fruits and vegetables). 

While this obviously is not a grand piano, I love the way the white blends into the pink and green color scheme (although the décor is too Shabby Chic for my taste).
Apartment Therapy says, “For those who are looking to bring a piano into their homes in an updated way, incorporating unexpected color is a fun and certainly conversation starting way to do it.”

The white piano bar at the JW Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa in Capri, Italy. 

"I Live my Life” (circa 1935) starring Joan Crawford. 

Please weigh in! Would you buy a white piano? Apparently, the resale value is terrible, so if you are looking for a bargain on a grand piano, you can probably find a white one for a song on Craigslist!
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