A Pure Baby Shower

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image Lauren of Pure Style Home and Michele of My Notting Hill

 

One of the design blogosphere’s most beloved blogger, Lauren, of Pure Style Home, is having a baby – her second – and today we are all giving her a virtual shower hosted by Michele of My Notting Hill.  Lauren is a young interior designer who writes both a beautiful and an intelligent blog – a rare combination.  She is full of talent and ideas and this year it has been great fun watching her turn her 70s era split level house into something we are all envious of.    It seems almost every day Lauren is posting about what she has done to her house this time – what she has changed, painted, moved around, bought, created – she is the artist, her house is her canvas and we are her captive audience. We all watch her decorating, amazed at her joie de vie, all the more amazing because she has totally renovated her house while pregnant the entire time.     She is a stager extraordinaire and there’s not a catalogue around that wouldn’t  hire her in a minute to style their photos, she is just that good.   She makes her own house look like it came straight from the pages of a magazine.   She especially loves using a trio of laboratory beakers as vases in her house photography -  she moves the beakers to and fro, from room to room to room – putting all different kinds of leaves in them, or flowers, or she might just leave them bare.

 

 

imageLauren’s living room, a month ago, with the fabulous blown up etching in the dining area

 

 

image The living room – today - with its newly stenciled walls.   The beakers make an appearance here on her mantel.  

 

 

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The dining room with the fabulous art work.   This room has totally changed since her new chairs and curtains have finally arrived! We’re anxiously waiting to see them!

 

 

imageLauren’s kitchen with the great iron chandelier she bought after spotting it on a shopping trip with the famous Eddie Ross.   I love her pantry “door.” 

 

 

imageHer adorable breakfast room – all styled for dinner – her plates match her wallpaper, of course! 

 

 

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Lauren’s collection of laboratory beakers make an appearance on her living room mantel.

 

  imageHere the beakers have been moved into her master bedroom! 

 

 

imageAnd here, on the dining room – the beakers hold herbs.

 

And so, for my shower gift – I am giving Lauren and her new baby a brand new set of laboratory beakers for the nursery – now she can style the room and not have take the baby’s beakers away to use in another room, for another photo shoot!   Enjoy Lauren, and much health, happiness and love in your future!

 

 

365.15 by Vaedri1.

A new set of laboratory beakers for the nursery!  Enjoy Lauren!

To attend the baby shower, be sure to visit My Notting Hill HERE.  To read Lauren’s blog The Pure Home, go HERE.

Branca + The Skirted Roundtable = Love!

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image Branca’s first book – gorgeous!

 

Nobody works a piece of Fortuny better than Italian born Alessandra Branca.   When I started my Top Ten Designers list, I couldn’t wait to put Branca first.   Her signature style – her reds, her blacks, her deep yellows, her stripes, her trims – it is all so appealing, sophisticated yet welcoming.  She is a premier interior designer with boundless energy and a steely determination to get her interiors just right down to the last detail – and trust me, all those details take an enormous amount of hard disciplined effort.   No surface, not one inch, is left untouched in her rooms – yet they’re not fussy looking nor overdone, rather it’s all just beautiful eye candy.   Her new book is gorgeous too.  Oversized, heavy, and loaded with achingly beautiful photographs by Thibault Jeanson – it is THE book to get this holiday season.   One picture – a scanned image of an early job  done in her 20s is so perfect, so wonderful – that it makes me want to give it all up.  Knowing I’ll never be what she already was way back when, is enough to make me want to retire. 

 

 

image The absolutely adorable Alessandra Branca – a personal favorite!

 

When we booked Branca on The Skirted Roundtable, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and trust me  - she didn’t disappoint.  Despite living in America for her entire adult life, she still retains a charming Italian accent and her infectious voice is filled with emotion, displaying a true joie de vie.   Despite all her success, she gives the impression that nothing is more important than just being a mother and a wife.  To listen to Branca’s interview, go HERE.  If you have the book, you might want to grab it as we discuss a few of the rooms with her.   But mainly, Branca talks about her aesthetic, her mother, her loves, her life, her work ethic, her goals.   Enjoy!

 

 

image The October House Beautiful featured a new Alessandra Branca interior.

This townhouse in Chicago, where Branca also lives, is owned by a young couple.  Branca said she took her time finishing the interior – the mirror above was a hunt that lasted three years.  Notice the chest – it’s French with Japanned drawers that were a later addition.  The art glass was purchased by the owner and placed here, after the initial installation – something that Branca loves to see her clients do. 

 

Photography by Thibault Jeanson

 

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The Living Room

 

The gorgeous drapes are trimmed in a blue velvet – Branca often uses Italian Stringing, a method of holding back curtains without any obvious visual means.  Skirted tables are another signature look of hers.   A faintly patterned wallcovering can be seen between the windows.  Branca says she rarely does a plain wall and prefers upholstered walls in the noisy city for their calming effect on a room.   The floor is covered with a natural textured rug.  

 

 

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The Dining Room.

The dining room is so cozy – a patterned Bennison fabric covers the banquette and grasscloth is used on the walls to further warm the room.  The light fixture is a surprise - a mid-century design.

 

 

image The Family  Room.

Here, Branca quilted the sofa’s fabric – something she does to lengthen the life of a fabric especially when it will get much use.   The bookcase is gorgeous and is filled with objects found at Branca, her shop in Chicago.  Again a textured paper is used in this room.  Branca’s favorite, a stripe is used for the window covering.  French doors are utilized throughout the townhouse to let more light circulate throughout.   The colors in the townhouse are a departure for Branca whose signature is black, red, and warm yellow.  Here she used a muted blue/gray with cognac. 

 

 imageThe Lounge.

This room was arranged for entertaining.  Here Branca’s signature colors make an appearance – the deep yellows with touches of red and black.  The trim is lacquered black for drama.   The walls are upholstered in a Raoul Textiles paisley, another pattern Branca adores.   The floor is covered in a patterned textured rug.   This room looks like it might be found in a Moroccan or Turkish hotel.  Just beautiful.

 

 

branca1 The Master Bedroom.

The quietly elegant master bedroom is a vision in silvers and grays, a true departure for Branca.   She used a muted gray and white Fortuny at the windows and on the walls in the alcove.  The chair is one of a pair by Jansen.  The floors were ebonized for more sheen.  

 

 

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The Guest Room.

 

The guest bedroom walls are a lacquered soft green.  A glorious English Regency sofa was placed in front of windows that are covered with Conrad woven shades.  The three piece coffee table is from Branca.  She brings her signature touch of black into the room with the lacquered doors and windows. 

 

 

branca6 The Guest Bedroom Suite.

Branca designed the fabulous headboard with its large brass nailheads, inspired by a visit to Morocco.   Again, a simple skirted table is used with a striped fabric.   Branca told us she likes to use only natural fabrics – linens, cottons, wools.   

 

To order Branca’s book – go HERE.  All, Branca stated, ALL proceeds are going to charities she has handpicked that benefit children.   After listening to her talk about her family it’s easy to understand her love of children and wanting to improve their life.   To listen to The  Skirted Roundtable conversation with Alessandra, go HERE.

(Due to Thanksgiving, I am running behind here – the new show with Judith Miller is already up – too – but if you haven’t listened to Alessandra’s, do so first, THEN listen to the new show with antiques expert Judith Miller.  I promise to get caught up!!!)

Seattle: The Portrait House

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This past summer I wrote about The Bennison House, a wonderful two story Georgian in the heart of Houston that was designed by Jane Wood who hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan?!??   Jane has twice lived in Houston during her married life and still retains close ties here.  But she has also called other places home:   Colorado and Kansas, for instance, where she  lived around the corner from Mrs. Blandings.   Moving around means you have friends and clients  scattered about and Jane thinks nothing of traveling cross country to do her design work.   So when a former Houstonian moved to  Seattle and asked Jane to help with her house on the northwest coast, the far away locale was never an issue.   Besides, the house in Seattle was a dream – a job that comes around once in a lifetime – if you are lucky.  And Jane was lucky.  

The dream house in Seattle’s Mount Baker Historic District is a classic.  Built in 1922 by Walter R.B. Wilcox, the 6,000 sq. ft. house is located on a half acre lot that overlooks gorgeous Lake Washington.  Mt. Baker’s  layout, with its stately architecture  and winding, shady streets, was designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers (who just happen to be related to blogger Liberty Post!)  When Jane’s clients saw the house for the first time, they had to look beyond several ill advised renovations, a sea of carpet everywhere including bathrooms, and the atmosphere of general neglect that lingered over the property.   The would-be owners had the wisdom to recognize the great bones and fine architectural details that were begging to be awakened.  The project took a year to complete.   The kitchen and bathrooms were gutted and rebuilt under Jane’s direction, with help from the expert contractor Paul Kohl and architect Jay Lazerwitz.  There were surprises along the way, as there always are, but one – a boarded up fireplace that revealed itself in the master bedroom closet – was especially delightful!   

 

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  The house was given a fresh coat of paint – in a soothing  soft gray.  This spring new landscaping will be going it. 

 

Today, the house looks nothing like it did on that first visit – the walls are all painted in shades of white for continuity.   The hardwood floors have been exposed after decades of being hidden.     The property with its spectacular lake views is secluded by masses of trees making fussy window treatments unnecessary – instead, daylight comes streaming through the mullioned windows basking the house in the warm sunshine.  The mood is quiet and refined with none of the glamorous flourishes that might have tempted another owner.  It is an inviting family home where every room is thoroughly lived in and enjoyed.     The owners and Jane Wood proved to be a perfect match.  Jane’s aesthetic leans heavily towards the casual – her style is defined by linens and cottons, slipcovers and seagrass.  She likes to mix in dressy accents with all the worn finishes.  Her palette is mostly monochromatic – “a hundred shades of white” - with punches of tobacco browns and mossy greens.  There is nothing dressy or superlative in her designs, no added trims on pillows and hems.  Certainly, she doesn’t do sleek contemporary, she prefers antiques, deeply cushioned down upholstery, and highly livable rooms where children and dogs are as welcomed as adults.   Jane’s design philosophies meshed so well with her clients that much of the furniture they brought to the new house was kept – with the absolute approval of the designer.   Jane describes the house as having a “minimal and primitive” feel.    She further says “it has a very clean, almost austere look without being cold, modern or stark, instead it is warm and European.  We chose a very neutral, almost Swedish style of paint colors, not only to set off their antiques and collection of portraits, but to also give a sense of continuity and calm.”    Jane’s description of the Seattle house sounds remarkably similar to the description of her own style.  

 

 

 image The Entry Hall.

Upon entering the front door, a large, wide entry hall with a gorgeous stairway greets you.  The staircase is the focal point of the house – all rooms lead off of it.    To the immediate right is the living room, to the left is the dining room, and straight ahead is the library/family room.

 

 

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When entering the house, the backyard is exposed through the library’s windows.    The beautiful wood doors were stained instead of painted to create a contrast to the white walls. 

 

 

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A view back towards the front door from the library.  Notice how the stair steps are stacked – an amazing architectural feature. 

 

 

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Most of the furniture in the house has Houston roots:  the mirror is from Annette Schatte and the sconces came from Jane Moore Interiors. 

 

 

 image The Living Room.

 

The living room is entered from the foyer through two sets of French doors.   The sofa has a wonderful George Smith linen.  Two French chairs from Brian Stringer Antiques sit opposite the fireplace.   Above the mantel is a pair of paintings – wedding portraits. 

 

 

 

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A close up of the beautiful mantel with its subtle carvings.   The paintings set the mood in the house – several other canvases of the same genre are found throughout.

 

 

 

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Looking back into the entry hall and through to the dining room, which also has French doors.  The console came from Brian Stringer Antiques in Houston. 

 

 

 

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Against the back wall is a Swedish Mora clock from Tara Shaw Antiques.  Leading out the French doors is a covered porch that opens onto the brick terrace – with its view of Lake Washington.

 

 

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A close up of the vignette at the back corner of the room.   The couple collects white ironstone which is placed around the house.

 

 

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The Back Covered Porch.

Leading off the living room is the covered porch which opens to the brick terrace.  To the right is the library.   The brick terrace runs the length of the back facade.

 

 

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The brick terrace runs the length of the back of the house.   The house sits high atop a hill and the lot is terraced down towards the lake which creates the need for the retaining wall.   At the lower level is a swimming pool.   There is also a pickle ball court near the front entrance of the property.   What a view!

 

 

 

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The Dining Room.

Back inside – at the left of the front door is the dining room.  As with most rooms, there is a fireplace, here with a cream colored stone surround.

 

 

 

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The Dining Room:

This is my favorite room in the house – I just adore it!   The limed table is from M. Naeve in Houston.   The lantern is fabulous – as are the wicker chairs with their aqua linen fabric.   Notice how Jane painted the moldings a slightly grayer color than the walls.  

 

 

 

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A close up of the beautiful antique mirror and bench from Brian Stringer Antiques.   Notice how beautifully Jane does her cushions – deep, deep down, the way it should be!  Excellent!  

 

 

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And the view facing the back wall, with its plate rack filled with antique pewter and pine console, both from Brian Stringer Antiques.    I absolutely love the wicker chairs and the mood of this room

 

 

 

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BEFORE:  a view of the kitchen which was gutted.    This view looks into the breakfast room.

 

 

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BEFORE:  the kitchen looking out towards the brick terrace.

 

 

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AFTER:   The kitchen today.  

 

The tile floor was replaced with wide planked hardwoods and wooden beams were added to the ceiling.   Jane chose a hood made of stucco for over the range.   To the left is the butler’s pantry displaying the couples large collection of Asiatic Pheasant transferware.  The door knobs were found old at Second Use Building Materials in Seattle.  Notice the other hardware on the pantry and doors.    All the hinges, knobs and locks were special ordered - unfinished.   Jane and the owners wanted an authentic looking brass and a large search ensued with help from The Furniture  Connoisseur in Houston who  suggested a  finish to tarnish the new brass so that it looked old.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

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On the counters, Belgium bluestone was used to give the kitchen a very crisp look.   The open shelving was non negotiable by both Jane and the owners who love the convenience and display possibilities that comes with them.   Notice the wall hung faucet in polished nickel.  

 

 

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An antique copper pot holds seasonings while ironstone pitchers hold utensils.    More copper pots are stored on the range.  

 

 

 

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The antique counter from Watkins Culver is used as an island.  In Houston, the top was concrete which proved too heavy to move cross country.  Instead a honed white marble was placed on top of it in  Seattle which proved a better choice for the high contrast look they were seeking.   The door leads out to the back brick terrace. 

 

 

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Looking towards the breakfast area and the sitting area.

 

 

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Past the breakfast table is the sitting area, vintage French leather chairs with linen upholstery sit astride an antique gateleg table.  

 

 

 

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Looking back towards the island and the kitchen.  Through the sink's window you can see the top of the garage which sits below the house.

 

 

 

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At the bar is a collection of white ironstone. 

 

 

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Across from the breakfast table is the pantry with its charming lantern.

 

 

 

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The Back Terrace.

On the left is the library’s window.   Further down is the kitchen and breakfast room.    Below, you can see the top of the garage – a charming compound of two separate buildings with a greenhouse in between.

 

 

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The Library.

And finally – the library/family room which looks out to the back terrace.   The furniture is all freshly slipped in linen.   The striped dhurrie is from Carol Piper Rugs in Houston.   The paneling is stained which adds to the cozy feel of the room.    Notice the beautiful carvings in the paneling – the columns, the molding – this workmanship is rarely seen today.

 

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And looking the other way, back towards the entry hall, you can see the primitive pine desk and the wonderful marble fireplace. 

 

 

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The Stairwell.

Ready to go upstairs?   The staircase is certainly the focal part of the house.  It is simply beautiful – a true work of art.  

 

 

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Highlighting the stairs are four original portraits – all of one family.  These portraits were purchased from Brian Stringer Antiques and were sold as a set – the family could not be separated!   Aren’t they wonderful?    An electrified antique lanterns lights the area.

 

 

 

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At the end of the landing, entering the master bedroom suite, is this vignette with its gray painted mirror, lantern and old washing basket.

 

 

 

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In the dressing area of the master bedroom suite is a primitive pine desk, a lovely mirror, and a piece of ironstone. 

 

 

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The bed is finished with Chelsea Editions fabrics, checks and embroideries.   A set of framed botanicals hangs above it.

 

 

 

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The view of the lake is out the windows, again uncovered.   Another portrait hangs in this room – this time a charming little girl and her pointer.  

 

 

 

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Chairs covered in a Chelsea Editions check sit next to an antique gate leg.  Notice the wavy top – you can’t reproduce that age!   A large pine armoire is on the right. 

 

 

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BEFORE:   The master bedroom with the same view – and acres of carpet.  

 

 

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Looking into the master bath, with its marble surround tub.   French doors keep the room open to the light.   The windows in the bathroom are a few that needed covering – Jane opted to use half shutters here for an authentic touch.  What a beautiful picture!

 

 

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BEFORE:  the master bathroom, carpeted with mirrored doors.   A big surprise came when a boarded up fireplace was discovered here!

 

 

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Today, a simple stucco mantel surrounds the long forgotten fireplace, now exposed in the master bathroom.  Wouldn’t you love to take a bath in a room with a fireplace?!!  The sconces are from Jane Moore Interiors in Houston.

 

 

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The sink with a honed marble countertop and open shelving below.  The vanity is so classic looking, simple yet elegant. 

 

 

 

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The couple have two daughters.  This beyond adorable bedroom is done in pale lavender and green painted furniture.

 

 

 

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I would have loved to have had this bedroom when I was a little girl – with my own fireplace and bathroom!    I really love the chair with its scalloped hem and the ruffled edged mirror.  Too cute!!  Notice the apothecary chest in the bathroom.

 

 

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BEFORE:  The same view as above.   That wallpaper!  And the carpet covering all the hardwoods – hard to understand.    But still – the beauty of the windows and the view and the fireplace is hard to ignore even here in the before picture.

 

 

 

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Here you can see how the house sits above the lower level of the property.  The two garages are joined in the middle by a greenhouse.   There is a large basement and its window can be seen here.    In fact, the entire brick terrace is actually the roof of the lower level – which is easily seen on Bing satellite.   The window shown here I believe is the one above the kitchen sink.

 

 

image The garages and greenhouse.  When spring comes – the landscaping is being installed and all the brick will be power washed – according to Jane.   The greenhouse is so romantic looking - I would have small intimate dinner parties here with candlelight. 

 

 

 

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The swimming pool, past the brick terrace, on a lower level of the property. 

 

 

 

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And one last look at the wonderful view of Lake Washington.  

 

To read more about interior designer Jane Wood and to see her portfolio, please go HERE.

If you are lucky enough to live in this beautiful city – there is a Mt. Baker Historic Neighborhood Home Tour this weekend.   This house is on the tour, so be sure to go!    The open house is scheduled for Saturday, December 5 from 10 am to 4 pm.  For more information, go HERE.

And finally, a sincere thank you to the homeowners who graciously opened their beautiful house to Cote de Texas readers and another thank you to Jane Wood, for all your help with this story!