Nantucket Gray and Paula Broadwell

November 16, 2012



Ha!  Did that get your attention?  Couldn’t resist. Headed over to the historic Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Washington, D.C. yesterday to photograph one of my latest exterior projects.










Yes, this historic row house was ready for a major facelift. After testing numerous gray/greens we settled on Benjamin Moore’s Nantucket Gray for the brick body.  Take a look at the slate tiles on the upper portion- yes, they had been painted  a dreary BROWN.  We chose a medium gray (like the real thing) for that surface – Rock Gray 1615 and a darker version, Cheating Heart 1617 for the shutters.  A warm off-white — Grand Teton White AC-42 brought the trim back to life, especially on the dentil detail above the porch.








The porch ceiling on this house is a prominent surface because the house is elevated  with the ceiling very visible from the street.  A soft silvery gray with just a hint of blue was chosen- Pelican Gray 1612.  Steps and porch floor were repainted with a darker khaki River Gorge Gray 1537.   There is heavy stonework near the front entrance (not shown) which inspired some of the neutral palette.





We debated about removing all shutters but the owners wanted to keep them.  The addition of shutters on the lower level might make the house a bit more balanced… perhaps a future project.

Which brings me to…….. Paula Broadwell





So  yesterday, while photographing this project,  I encountered the media stakeout of the above.




Apparently, Paula has been holed up in her brother’s Georgian Revival mansion in Mt. Pleasant–all week.  Of course, I took note of the cheery yellow color and wasn’t wild about the porch ceiling treatment- a stained natural wood (blue would have been better). Just saying.




A few other snaps of neighboring beauties:







So… I hope Paula gets out of the house (and town) today and lets the neighborhood return to normal.  Just another interesting day in our nation’s capital. Take a stroll through Mt. Pleasant  this weekend … great history, eclectic architecture, color, and, for now, lots of cameras.


Happy Weekend!




Belle Haven Beauties

November 14, 2012



Yes, “tradition” is thriving in the Alexandria suburb of Belle Haven. While driving through yesterday, I couldn’t resist snapping a few of the stately homes there- especially striking in the late afternoon light with fall colors still ablaze.



The subtle use of color on this door, a very pale mint green, works with the weathered white brick.






Another example of a soft, gray/blue/green detailing on a brick exterior. Perfect.







It’s not uncommon to find smaller townhouses with a saturated red exterior, but this gutsy scheme (with landscaping) works on a larger scale here.






Classic white and black with a striking vermillion door.






Brick steps ground this beauty with a soft buttercream body, white trim, black shutters and a Chippendale storm door in soft blue/green.









Happy November— enjoy the riot of color while it lasts!


Color in Context

November 13, 2012



It’s a gray, rainy Tuesday outside my window– turning inward for some cheering up. Just a short little ode to “color in context“–  the interplay of color and pattern in these interiors is simply stunning. A few of my absolute favorites. Enjoy!



via houzz




via Ruth Burts Interiors




via anna spiro




via skirtedroundtable



via kristen buckingham

via schuyler samperton


via Rita Konig


via a well dressed home


via Katie Rosenfeld Design



Want more? Check out my curated Pinterest Board  “Pattern and Color”  for more examples of stunning interior color combinations.





Railing against the “Chair Rail”

November 5, 2012



Well, here in Virginia, the center hall colonial is everywhere.  This architectural style is really quite lovely and the decorative trims found in it, when properly scaled, usually enhance the space.  And I do take a very deep bow (or curtsey) to Mr. Jefferson, whose Monticello (below) is perhaps my favorite house in the world.



via Elle Decor


And there are the historic townhouses I encounter in Old Town, Alexandria and Georgetown where the original trims have been replicated in restorations or are still intact. Those get a total pass.

But, I can’t tell you the number of homes I tour, where trims and moldings do NOT enhance the space. They often make no sense in terms of architectural context or are simply not scaled properly. Trims such as crown, window casings and base are not as noticeable when the scale is off.  But then there is ~chair rail~ .  According to master carpenter,  Brent Hull, “Chair rail is the most misused and abused molding in new houses today.”  Well put, Brent.  In the images below, we see spaces where chair rail works–  usually paired with wainscoting.



Here the proportion feels right, with the wainscoting  grounding the hallway. The color treatment is subtle with contrast (dark floors) and the focus on texture.



And in this beautiful room (below) designed by Katie Rosenfeld,  scale, balance and furniture placement make the high contrast horizontal line work.


via Katie Rosenfeld Design


In this space the trim is hefty and substantial and works to “section” the space.


via Hansen General Contracting


So, trims look fabulous in these spaces.  But what doesn’t work is the flimsy, psuedo-colonial, high-contrast horizontal line which does nothing but distract and draw the eye.


via Houzz



via Flickr


I have, on occasion, suggested that the chair rail be removed.  But another way to make it “go away” is to simply paint it out in the wall color.  The designer Sheila Bridges did this in her own gorgeous Harlem apartment. Notice how the eye goes to the striking mantel, tile surround, furniture and art. The wainscot adds weight and texture without being a distraction.


via NYSD



via NYSD


And here, designer Kay Douglass “disappears” all of the trim except for the mantel. There is no hard and fast rule for painting trim. I have many great examples of trim and walls in the same color on my Pinterest board here.

Just keep in mind that the eye is always is drawn to the area of highest contrast.  It is often best to highlight beautiful trim but not always.


Kay Douglass via Veranda



So… long live the gracious center hall colonial and its decorative moldings… but only when scale and color are right.



via Brooke Gianetti