The bathroom was handicapped accessible and outdated. Moving the shower and expanding it with a seamless glass door made it the focal point of the bathroom. The shower subway tiles are honed marble. Flooring is natural stone. The layout allowed for double pedestal sinks to complete the look.
Savoir Faire Home recently completed a total renovation of this lovely 1950's Garrison Colonial in downtown Andover. Our goal OUTSIDE was to update the look without changing the structure of the house. This home has good "bones"! Replacing the red clapboard with cedar shingles, putting in new black windows and floor to ceiling ones on the first floor and updating the front door went a long way in changing the look of this home. New landscaping, granite steps and walkway and black shutters completed the look.
The front of the house – the dining room, kitchen and living room – were all separate rooms and very dark. My goal was to open up the space to allow more light in and make the space more useable. We pulled the wall back in the dining room and took out the built in china cabinet. This opened the space into the kitchen. The floors are stained in 50% Jacobean and 50% Ebony.
Removing the wall between the kitchen and family room further opened up the space! An open floor plan immediately updated the first floor. The counter top accommodates 5 counter stools. Cabinets are all custom in "Grandma's China"- a wonderful soft grey. Countertops are honed marble.
Next up, is the bathroom update!
When my husband and I found out that our daughters would be away for most of the summer, we decided to hit the road as well. Our first stop was Vienna, Austria. The last time I was in Vienna was almost 30 years ago. I had remembered little about Vienna except a Saturday morning flea market filled with great finds and delicious food. At the time, my sister and then brother-in-law owned a large antique import business. They traveled extensively all around the world and filled entire containers with some of the most amazing pieces. I managed to find the same market on this recent trip. Every Saturday morning at the end of Naschmarkt is an "antique" market. Wow, how times have changed. Instead, It appeared that people had cleaned out their closets, rolled all their belongs into a bed sheet and dumped it on the ground. So much for merchandising! I did manage to see some amazing crystal chandeliers and glassware for sale. And keep your eyes out for an old woman selling antique table linens and grain sacks. Her prices were reasonable and she was willing to bargain!
My favorite find of the day....sweet poppyseed bread just like my grandmother used to make. My grandmother was born in Czechoslovakia and wasn't much of a baker except for her poppyseed and nut breads. She would make this sweet paste out of the poppy seeds and then roll it into a bread and bake it. I actually managed to put one in my luggage to take back to my 89 year old Mom. I'm looking forward to seeing the smile on her face once my mom takes a bite out of the poppyseed bread!
Also on my list of favorite things is an ice cream shop called EIS. I love ice cream and can't resist a good cone every now and then. This shop makes the most amazing ice cream from farm fresh ingredients. Try the pumpkin seed oil ice cream.
I know it doesn't sound the best but the flavor was just like eating sweet pumpkin seeds. If you are traveling to Vienna and looking for an excursion you must also go to MELK. This town sits high above the Danube and is just exquisite. With it's cobblestoned streets and romantic architecture it is a welcome respite from the heat of the city. Try any of the apricot made products from this area. The glazed apricot seeds were my favorite.
Next stop Budapest!
This has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It's certainly my favorite. Most of the city was bombed to pieces during WWII and the following Soviet "liberation" but much was rebuilt to replicate the original designs. Budapest has a certain pre-war charm and it's easily manageable on foot. First stop on my list was the central market. The central market is an old railway station converted into food and craft stalls. I have never seen so many kinds of salami and sausage in my life.
Many of the sausage and dried meats are seasoned with Hungary's world famous paprika.
The stall owners are all willing to give you a sample. The local handicraft at the market is also quite extensive. Some of the specialties include embroidery and cut work pieces, hand-painted household items and decorations, hand-painted eggs, unique handmade Christmas ornaments and much much more.
The prices are a little steep here but you can still find some great bargains. If you can appreciate that many of the pieces are handmade, then they are worth the price. We also took a day trip to a local artist colony and found much of the same but for less money.
My favorite was a sister and brother team selling some of the most amazing hand-embroidered items. I bought tons of hand embroidered placemats and napkins for the store. The owner was so sweet and gave me a hand embroidered wall hanging with a Hungarian "home blessing" as a token of her appreciation.
I would also suggest the Saturday morning flea market in Budapest called Petofi Csarnok. Many of the craftsmen and women come from the countryside to sell their wares. I met a young man selling antique embroidered linens. He told me that his grandfather had traveled the countryside for many years during the war and would buy hand embroideries from local villages. He is now in his 80's and wants to sell many of his pieces in order to have a comfortable retirement. He was so proud to be doing this in memory of his grandfather. I left his stall with two giant bags and a big smile. I love these kinds of finds! I am looking forward to selling some of these amazing pieces in my shop and you can expect some very special holiday items.
If you should ever come to Budapest don't miss the Terror Museum. It's one of the best museums I have ever been in my travels all over the world. This museum covers the Nazi occupation and the Soviet rule over Hungary. Though the subject matter is sad, it's a sobering reminder of the atrocities of war. You could easily spend a day here so leave yourself plenty of time. On a lighter note....I would skip the mineral bath houses that Budapest is famous for. My husband was dying to go so I reluctantly joined him. Imagine taking a bath with the Hungarian Army? That's what it felt like as I stepped into a warm crowded pool with 100's of the city largest and hairiest men. I counted down the minutes and than got out in search of another pool that was a bit cooler and less crowded. I found one indoors that was much less crowded and much cooler that was mostly filled with older women doing water aerobics. Little did I know that hygiene was such in such high regard when I was ordered out of this pool because I didn't have the required bathing cap. I couldn't believe they were concerned about my hair in the pool when most of the men swimming were covered in it.
Well so much for that!
Savoir Faire Home now has Farmhouse Pottery from Woodstock, Vermont. This beautiful pottery is handmade, microwavable, oven and dishwasher safe. The clay and glazes are lead-free and from 100% American mined materials. Each piece is made to withstand the most demanding everyday use. Beauty and function in one!
Stop in for a visit.
On the Road....Again!
I returned from Asia and had just enough time to unpack, wash my clothes and pack again. I am in Atlanta on a buying trip for both the shop and some exciting new design projects. Today, I focused my attention on a lovely home on Goose Rocks Beach, ME. My client and her family have just finished a light and airy addition to the family room. The goal of this space was a larger place for her family to gather and additional sleeping space for frequent overnight guests. The room is filled with luscious stone washed linens in taupe, oyster and a soft sea foam green. We covered the daybed cushion in Linara from Romo fabric. This linen comes in 337 color ways and is washable. The color is Mineral. We paired it with three custom 28X28 Euro pillows in a striped Romo fabric from the IZORA collection. The pattern name is Melia and the color is Celeste.
My challenge was finding some great accent pillows that were textured, "beachy" and pulled the whole project together. I was so excited when I found these great pillows from V Rugs and Home. V Rugs and Home sources the finest Belgian linens and custom makes each pillow to your size and color specifications. Knotted fringe reminiscent of nautical rope, two dimensional geometric and braided appliqués make these pillows perfect for the project.
The finishing touch was this washed linen throw blanket!
North Shore Magazine write up!!
"While Savoir Faire Home specializes in sophisticated home styling, the shop is certainly not limited to furniture. Mer Sea Soaps, a variety of French candles, dishes and other housewares, and even handmade pottery and linens all adorn the shelves of Savoir Faire, which feels more like a cozy and impeccably designed home than a gift shop. Experienced staff are always on hand to give design advice or recommend the coolest new pieces to spruce up a room."
Every time I come to Asia I am always amazed at the quality of the craftsmanship of the local artisans. The weavers are no exception. The weaving village near Bakong employs illiterate women and gives them ability to rise above the poverty that surrounds them. It's amazing that I am able to communicate just enough with the manager, a women in her early 40's, and end up with a finished product that is both unique and of the highest quality. I just reviewed samples of some placemats I am having made for the shop. They are being made in a luxurious heavy cotton in beautiful grey,taupe,brown and blue. I can't wait to decorate a table with these beautiful linens.
An evening stroll through the streets of Siem Reap are filled with the hustle and bustle of the night markets. The scents coming from open fire cooking are everywhere. Fresh herbs and spices indicative to Southeast Asia fill the air. One in particular always caught my attention. I love the taste and the smell of lemongrass. Many of the hotels and restaurants burn lemongrass oil to keep the Mosquitos away but, also for it's clean refreshing scent. Just a few drops of this essential oil heated over a flame fill an entire room. I headed out to the Ta Pouk Village ceramics center to have some beautiful oil burners made for the store. Last time I brought some of the back they sold out in one weekend.
I am back in a country I love, doing the other work that I find so rewarding. Five years ago my daughter and I happened upon a organization that helps young girls from the poorest Cambodian families get a high school education. Little did we know how much our lives would change. In so many countries around the world, young girls have little chance at an education when compared with their male peers. They are destined for a life of unspeakable poverty and abuse. As a mother of two teenage girls who have been fortunate to have been raised with the opportunity to get a great education, it was hard to look away.
So our journey began in a small group home for Cambodian teenage girls in the Siem Reap Provence of Cambodia. Here 29 girls are given a chance at a better life. They all come from similar backgrounds of abuse, poverty and neglect. They also all have one thing in common. They wanted so desperately to get an education but were forced to stay at home to help earn money for their families. Against many of the wishes of their families, they come to live in this group home for the chance to break the cycle of poverty.
Meet the girls of the P.A.G.E. House.
The Program for the Advancement of Girls through Education.
PEACE FROM CAMBODIA
Savoir Faire Home is pleased to be mentioned in New England Fine Living Magazine's first ever issue! Thank you, Linda Calder, Founding Publisher for highlighting
Savoir Faire Home in the article,
"These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things"
I couldn't find the right sconces for a project. I wanted them architecturally interesting, an old looking patina and a great Swedish feel. All I could find was these black and gilded wood sconces. They just weren't right for my clients project.
Making your own chalk paint is simple.
1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris
1/3 cup of water
1/2-3/4 cup of acrylic paint
Mix well and add more water or plaster
to get the desired consistency
Then I added some Benjamin Moore Crisp Linen sparingly over the base coat. I did not want to cover the base coat completely. I added just enough of the second coat to give the sconces some dimension.
Finally, I brushed the sconces with a light coat of dark wax. Be careful not to put too much on your brush! Lightly drag your brush over the surface and wipe off any excess. The wax seals the paint and gives the sconces an aged finish. Voila!
This client requested a soothing yet sophisticated palette for the master bedroom.
I found this great bed from Oly Studios. It was traditional in it's overall styling but we added some great detailing to give it an unexpected twist. We added some silver paint on the wood carvings and then used a textured Threads fabric from Lee Jofa that had a subtle metallic feel.
Next a decorative artist faux painted the fireplace mantle and the red brick around the fireplace to give it an aged look. Then I added a carved antique wood panel from France over the fireplace. The silver Belgian candlestick complete the look.
This bedroom has all the elements of a signature Savoir Faire Home room design . It combines the old and the new and balances the silver and metallic finished with the aged wood.
This sunny room was updated from a child’s play room to accommodate teenage children. The client was looking for a more sophisticated space as this room is off of the family room and kitchen.
My goal was to add drapery panels in order to anchor the room without blocking any of the beautiful light from streaming in. The large windows behind the sofa are separated by a large section of wall. I used the drapery panels to cover the wall space to create an illusion of an additional window. The drapery stacks back off the windows and lets the light shine in.
The rug is custom made from Akara and was sized to order to fit perfectly in the space. I chose a thick "sweater" rug to balance the soothing palette with some great texture.
The drop leaf table fits nicely into the space and with the leaf up, doubles as a homework desk.
I clearly remember the day when I decided that corporate America was no longer where I wanted to be. Endless meetings, ever increasing short deadlines and countless nights on the road away from my family all lead up to one defining moment for me. Being creative was the reason I joined the corporate work force to begin with, and ironically, it was increasingly draining any creativity from me. I knew it was time to make a change. So I said goodbye to a 22 year career and decided to do something on my own.
In 2005, Savoir Faire Home in Andover MA opened it's doors. Savoir faire, a French term, means to “know how”. Growing up, I was fortunate to travel extensively with my family and my French heritage meant I was automatically drawn to anything French, but in particular, French style. French style continues to give me great inspiration but my continued interest in travel and exploration inspires me every day. From all corners of Europe to the Southeast Asia I find inspiration in the colors, textures and even the scents of my travels.
Whether I’m designing a room or merchandising my retail store, I look to create something that’s unexpected and interesting. I let my head and my heart do the work without the restraints of any design rules. My style has been described as relaxed, sophisticated and natural. Layered textures and colors give my rooms both unique style and attitude.