photo Whaling-City-Cottage-8-2015_zpsoygeotsf.jpg

Lake George 2016

We’re back!!!  From two bananas weeks at Lake George.  Chocka-block full of cousins, fun, swimming, SUP-ing, cliff jumping, junk food and drinking rose during the day instead of water.


For the last three years, a gaggle of my cousins have rented THIS awesome house in the historic Glenburnie enclave on Blair’s Bay in northern Lake George.  It’s a beautiful spot at the end of the road on a rocky peninsula in the shadow of Anthony’s Nose.  You can see the house and boathouse in the background in the picture below.

Me.  SUP master.  I think it’s those softball and figure skating thighs that help.


Our raft.



Oligotrophic glacial lake where you can see 30 feet down?  Yes please.


This year we rented stand up paddle boards and it was the best idea everrrrrr.


P-I-M-P…  Leah Brown.  Smoke show.



This hottie.  M. Lang.


About to eat a gut-busting load of fried food at Wind Chill Factory in Ti.


Chilling at Adirondack Camp, across Blair’s Bay, where some of our crew were campers and counselors years ago.  It’s the bomb!  Like Parent Trap on crack.  June thinks she’s going there next year.  Yeah, just need to hit that Mega Millions first.




The gorgeous gene pool of BK Porterfield




And to my cousins whose pics I stole off our ADK 2016 photo share, you probably sat on me and farted when we were kids… we’re even.

Till next year.  Sigh.



screen porch progress

I swear, we’re actually trying to finish this project before winter.  Nothing like working full-time and wrangling two kids to set your pace to “glacial.”

Okay so what’s been happening…..

We covered the ceiling with beadboard panels from Lowe’s.  They come in 4′ x 8′ sheets which we had to cut and puzzle together to fit the ceiling.  Thankfully the gaps don’t show too much with the dark paint because it is impossible to get these sheets to line up seamlessly.  Perfection this is not.


While we batted around the idea of tearing down the ceiling so the room would be vaulted the full height of the roof, we’re not sure what’s up there and are kinda scared to find out.


So a 7.5 foot ceiling it is!  Which doesn’t leave much room for a light fixture, especially a lantern style like I had my heart set on.

This was my top choice but then I realized the 15.5″ height was probably too big for the space.  We don’t want people whacking their head or having something block the view.  But isn’t she pretty?


lamps plus


I ended up getting this one instead – it was slightly smaller and half the price to boot.  Still, all Charleston-y and elegant though.



And I’m sticking with my original plan to paint the porch black!  This idea has been stuck in my brain for a few years after seeing Susan Hable Smith’s porch in Southern Living.  I think she used Farrow and Ball’s Studio Green.


Then this room in Elle Decor sealed the deal.


After a very short color search – this was the only one I tested – we went with BM Black Forest Green in semi-gloss.  The little bit of sheen makes a huge difference, bouncing just enough light around the space and making the green-black really deep and rich.


Then we got suckered into scraping the door of about 12 layers of paint.  The heat gun was the only thing that worked.  Even the most Acme death goo paint stripper couldn’t put a dent in it.


This is the best we could do.  But I put oil based primer on it yesterday evening….and it’s lookin’ pretty good!

I’ve also been scouring Craigslist for freaking ages looking for vintage rattan/bamboo porch chairs.  Like digging foxholes through that mother.  Not surprising but nothing met my long list of criteria – matching pair, open weave but not too open, natural color but not too orange, thick cushions, within 50 miles away, not too spenny, etc.  Then these chairs from World Market went on bananas sale and it seemed like a good time to crawl out of my CL burrow.

chair porch

The wood will warm up the dark paint on the porch and the cushions are super thick with bleach-able covers.  All the vintage chairs I saw needed new cushions or new cushion covers ($$$).

These chairs are in need of a black and white striped pillow, for sure.  Maybe this one from Pottery Barn?


Or something with thicker stripes?



Our porch sofa is also from World Market – the Himara which we got a few years ago (they don’t sell this model anymore).  This is how we knew the cushions on the chairs would rock.  They’re the same ones.

sofa porch

Once I figure out the furniture layout, I can start thinking about side tables, coffee tables, garden stools, etc.  The porch isn’t big (12′ x 12′) and the doors/pathways chop things up.


If we cram everything to the left, it gets pretty tight.  The drawing below isn’t to scale but there’s essentially no wiggle room.


I think we need to spread things out more.  This feels more balanced.

spread out

 I’m also trying to convince my husband that we can DIY a concrete top coffee table similar to this.


But do a concrete overlay treatment on the top instead of a super heavy brick-o-concrete.  I wish I had video of the look Nick gave me about this idea #somebodyneedsanap.  And I need a fairy godmother with a arsenal of power tools.

Next up: paint ALL THOSE MULLIONS.  I would say I need wine but I’m not sure boozing and fine motor tasks are a good mix.

Thoughts?  Criticism?  The name of a good wood worker in my area?  What do you guys think?



screen porch {paint it black}

It’s been 3 months since we tore out the rotting trim and screens from our screen porch in the backyard and we’re finally making steps toward rebuilding it.  I know, we’re really blazing through this project.


That flood light is positively prison-like.  My plan is to center the junction box in the pediment and replace the light with a gooseneck barn light.



You can (barely) see our new sugar maple here on the left.  Grow little buddy!  Grow!

Clearly I’ve been experimenting with color.


One big question is…..what color to paint the trim, ceiling and doors/wall/sidelights?  I want the whole porch to be one color, something bold and dark to envelope the space and make it cozy.

porch1jersey ice cream co. via design sponge

porch2muskoka living

I’m going with Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore.  It’s a beautiful green-black.


Painting those mullions may cause me to lose my marbles but it’ll be worth it.


And yes, the outside of the screen porch trim will be painted the same dark color as the inside.  Eventually the exterior of our house will be white without shutters and I thought it would be cool to make the screen porch stand out.  Like this gorgeousness.  Oh, a conservatory?  Don’t mind if I do.


In typical jumping the gun fashion, I already planted blue hydrangeas along the front of the porch.

IMG_5934We planted the same sized Endless Summer hydrangea at our old house – in similar light conditions – and they got big within a couple years.  So…fingers crossed.

There won’t be much dough left over for decor or a crazy screen porch reveal.  Except in my mind.  But here’s a rough mock up of my plan for the vibe.

porch mock up

Black rattan chairs (Craigslist gods, please smile on me), zinc topped coffee table, neutral outdoor rug, ceiling lantern, garden stools, striped and patterned pillows, plants, etc.

Am I crazy to paint the whole thing black?  What do you guys think?  My husband did the”whatever you think is best, dear” thing.  But I’ve trained him well when it comes to design stuff.  I need an unbiased opinion.



client living room transformation

I recently worked with a client in Dartmouth, MA on transforming their family room and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  Wanna take a peak?  Please excuse my terrible BEFORE photos.  It was nighttime and my clients were in the process of building the barn wood TV nook on the right, hence the chaos.


Pink slipcover sectional, dark blinds, slightly coastal decor.


Their family room is open to the kitchen and it’s the room they spend the most time in.  They wanted a space that was polished but laid-back and durable enough to handle kids and pets.

Here is the AFTER…



We lowered and simplified the fireplace mantel with a single, stained piece of wood.




The styling is still in progress but it’s a big change, right?  A huge thank you to my client for giving me a chance and trusting me.  And apologies to her husband who really, really wanted a huge leather sectional and cow hide ottoman….and did not get them.  😉

If you’re interested in transforming a space in your house, email me at



chartreuse velvet

My brain refuses to learn how to spell chartreuse.  I screw it up every time.  But the scientific names of hundreds of marine animals are uselessly floating around my head.  Thanks, UMM.

Okay, so….in my eternal quest to furnish our house and not go broke, last week I snagged a great vintage chair off Craigslist for $40.


Welcome to my seafoam nightmare.  And the smoke/dust/evil spirit marks we uncovered on the walls once the wallpaper was down.

A similar version at Anthro goes for a cool 1,300 bucks.


It goes without saying that my chair needs to be recovered and the arms and seat cushion need oomph in the padding department. But it’s solid and weighs a ton.  Since fabric and upholstery services cost a pretty penny, I want this chair to be classic, have longevity and be able to move around the house over the years.  The living room, the master bedroom, maybe June’s room.  So of course, chartreuse velvet is the answer, right?  Limey hues are my jam, I can’t resist ’em.

4e5a69124b6714c80536e255772ffd4blorenzo castillo

I ordered a few samples, including Jaclyn Smith Hollywood Velvet in Cactus which I thought would be the top contender based on the internet photo.


But in person the Cactus was too….cactus.  Too green, not enough yellow.


Jaclyn Smith “cactus” is on the right and Tonic Living citrus velvet on the left.  The Tonic Living color is exactly what I’m going for – citrus-y, more yellow than green.  I ordered one more sample though, so we’ll see how that compares to the Tonic Living fabric.

Fresh-Lime-Green-Velvet-6749-Toulousevelvets direct in Fresh Lime Green

Eventually our living room will be neutral with warm white walls, wood, jute, brass, blue and white, touches of black, green and gray.


LR set

I also finally decided on a color scheme for the hutch in the living room.  Some of you love this gray-khaki color and suggested just wallpapering the inside, which is a great idea, but I wanted more depth and presence since the walls will be neutral.



hutch colors

Mohegan Sage BM // Lookout Point BM



And whose kidney do I have to sell for some of these?


Bunny, Bunny, Bunny.

Eventually I envision a pair of patterned armchairs opposite the sofa but our living room is ginormous so there’s plenty of other nooks to fill.  So for now the chartreuse (see?  I typed it reallll slooow) chair will be in the there.

What are your thoughts on going bold on the chair?  Would you go with a more classic color?





front yard makeover

It all started with the wonky lamp post.  We weren’t planning on tackling the front yard landscaping right this second but then my husband got a wild hair about the lamp post and it all snowballed from there.

IMG_5258the view of our front yard last summer

My plan was always to scrap the lamp post.  It’s not like our front yard is so wide we need a beacon to lead people up to the house.  It’s the city – we’re a stone’s throw from the sidewalk.  A big lantern sconce to the left of the door is a better choice.  Something to balance the powder room window on the other side.

IMG_5274removing the metal railing was the right move!

This Allen + Roth beauty from Lowe’s is high on style but doesn’t break the bank.  Sold!  I got the 22” tall version.


BUT in order to figure out the exact sconce placement, we need to finalize plans for the front door, like removing the useless shutters and beefing up the trim.  I also want to paint the trim and front door the same color to amp it up more, especially since we’ll be going shutter-less eventually, when we paint the house white.

Holly’s color scheme is one of the options I’m considering.  Warm white siding, gray door and door trim, black accents (lighting, door hardware, plants….more on that later).  And she used our exact Allen + Roth sconce here.  How gorgeous is this?

holly mathis grayholly mathis

I love the simplicity of this matching door and trim.

gray front doorlisa tharp

In a surge of optimism, we started taking down the door shutters.

What the lazy bullshit is this???  Sure, let’s just paint around the shutters.  Turns out they did this on all the shutters, except the one to the left of the door.


The former owner’s mother is cuckoo and does slow drive-bys of our house on a daily basis.  She doesn’t stop to chat mind you, just slowly drives by and stares at us, even when we’re outside.  I may need to give her the finger next time.

Since we’re definitely NOT painting the house this year, we need to short-term this action.  Eyeball the width of the soon-to-be wider trim, put the sconce up in generally the right spot and color match the siding so we can paint over the shutter tan line.  For now.


Okay, back to that snowball effect.  We then ripped up the last of the pachysandra and discovered more peony shoots.  Last year I moved some peony bulbs from the forest of pachysandra so we’d have matching bushes flank the walkway.


The one on the right was established when we moved in and I’m not sure why they didn’t plant its twin on the other side.  Symmetry, people, symmetry.  So we put the newly-discovered bulbs in on the left side with the ones I transplanted last year to beef it up.  I expect the new bush won’t flower this year (too stressed) but it’ll be fine in the long run.

And we moved the purple mophead hydrangeas from the walkway and put them next to the blue lacecap hydrangeas that flank the stoop.

Then my husband says “Remind me again your plans for the walkway.”  Dwarf boxwoods and little limes, baby!


The dwarf English boxwoods we planted were only $8 each at Lowe’s.  I need to add one or two more to each side though, to make more of a hedge.


The bed on the left, behind the soon-to-be planted little limes, will get tightened up and grass planted there. To more match the bed on the right.

It’s Friday!  We’ll be gardening all weekend.  I can’t wait!

What are your thoughts, guys?  Are we on the right path?



changes in the foyer

Slow decorating is alive and well around here.  Like a sloth’s pace.  In part because I don’t want to impulsively make decisions I’ll probably regret and because furnishing a house is redunk expensive.  Our old house was half the size of the new one so we didn’t have a lot of furniture.  Living here a year, its taken time to figure out what we need, based on functionality and layout.  But I recently pulled the trigger on a few items that are flexible enough to move from room to room, so the thrifty worry-wart grandma that lives inside me isn’t twitching too much.

Our foyer is loaded with doors and doorways – it has eight, which is insane – so there are only two spots where furniture can go.

To the right of the front door.



And under the stairs.  Yeah, I still haven’t finished painting the stairwell.  Let’s not talk about it.



Right now the black console table is under the stairs, which is opposite the foyer closet.  So many doorways here.  The one on the left is the foyer closet.  The one on the right is the powder room.


Even with our glorious mudroom, we still use the crap out of this closet for extra coats, shoes, 400 hooded sweatshirts and paper towels, among other things.


The hideous snake skin wallpaper is…baffling.  If it was up to me, I’d be ORC-ing the snot of the closet right now but our tore-up screen porch (*cough* husband) won’t let me.  That little hobbit door is one entrance to our laundry chute.  Why they stopped putting these in houses, I’ll never know.  The other entrance is upstairs in the linen closet.

Given its proximity to the closet, the spot under the stairs is probably better served by a bench.  As it is, I just plop down at the bottom of the stairs to put my Converse on.  Uncombed hair, Chuck Taylors, an affinity for mozzarella sticks….apparently I’m still 12 years old.


IMG_5775bench  // garden stool  //   rug

Much better.  It needs a second pillow though.  Possibly this one from Spark Modern.





For the spot next to the door, I’ve been debating a lucite console table for a loooong time but was gun shy about being too trendy (I’m not cool, we know this) and besides the one from CB2 costs a lot of clams.  I can’t spend $400 on something that’s basically invisible.  But this spot needed light and airy so when I spotted this version on sale from Urban Outfitters, I jumped.



And it does not disappoint – it’s super heavy, sturdy and the quality is top notch.  This is not Lee Press-On Nails acrylic.  This is Lee Radziwill’s lucite vanity with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel chilling at her feet.  Or some other classy shit.


Now I’m hunting for a 3×5 antique rug for in front of it, to soften things a bit.


A big piece of art would be great here but I like the mirror – it brightens up this dark nook and acts like a window, reflecting the view of the office and screen porch.  The mirror is vintage faux bamboo from a junk store in Peabody, Mass that I painted Aurora Borealis BM.



I’m loving the change, both functionally and form-wise.  It still needs warmth and personality though, to look lived in and worn in.  Loved.  Slowly we’re getting there.  It’s starting to feel like home.  Not the 1950’s nightmare, a strangers home, we moved into 16 months ago.

What do you guys think?  Good changes?




The downside of buying a house that’s barely been touched in 60 years is super evident in our overgrown yard.  It’s bad, guys.  The backyard is a nightmare of weeds, ivy, thorny bushes, and out of control Wisteria that’s eating our neighbor’s cedar trees (I’m genuinely scared of Wisteria), plus we had to cut down two huge dead maples last year.

Take a look at this mess.  Notice the stump of former rotted tree in the back corner.  I need a back hoe.


Our other victim.


This fella had major heart rot and had to go.  I seriously cried.  But the base was hollow in the middle and I’d rather not have this fall on the house and kill us.  The plan is to plant a new red maple in the same spot this fall.

The amount of landscape design we have ahead of us is overwhelming and there are a few spots screaming for vertical gardening.  So it’s no surprise that climbing plants are catching my eye lately.

I’m thinking of trying diamond-shaped espalier vines on the back of the garage, probably with honeysuckle.  Though first I need to paint the house and garage a warm white.






 Our chimney is another spot I’m eyeing.  Currently it has a climbing hydrangea at the base, which would be a super fricking excellent idea IF this spot didn’t get blazed in afternoon sun every day.  The hydrangea leaves were brown by mid-summer last year.  I think we have to find a shadier spot where this baby can thrive.

Perhaps on a pergola over our garage door.  This should only take about 50 years.


Or climbing the house somewhere.



But I still love the idea of something gorgeous and cottage-y climbing our chimney.  Maybe New Dawn roses.



 This will only be our second summer in the house, so we’re still getting of sense of what plants we want and where they should/could go.  There’s a lot of landscaping work ahead of us this year.  If only spring would actually arrive.  The fact that there’s currently snow on the buds of our lilac bushes is not cool.



black or white

The exterior of our house is currently painted a blah gray-green.  I don’t know why the former owners loved sage like it was their job but they did.


This is last summer when we were taking down the metal railing on the front stoop.  I would’ve yoinked those shutters down a year ago but the previous owners painted the sage color around the shutters….so it’s white underneath.  Solid d-bag move.

Obviously the sage green isn’t doing anything for me but it also doesn’t make our plants jump out at you either.  My original plan has been to paint the house a warm white like China White BM or Swiss Coffee BM.




I’d give my left nut to have black metal windows in our house.

a63e1e94f8566e18b7cba5fa74343cbacontinent in a cottage

736b68f0ce660f2955491f2a122125e6the inspired room

589736d450f910581c1574f40a124df2princess anne county

Holy crap….this climbing hydrangea!  All the heart eyes.

Our climbing hydrangea is currently stunted and not happy at the base of our west-facing chimney.  It turned fully brown around mid-summer, probably getting too fried in the afternoon sun in this spot.  We gotta move it, maybe to the other side of the house and let it climb the siding.

So paint the house white is the plan.  Unless….you know what else makes greenery stand out?


This entire house is gorgeous.


Espalier vines and old man painting?  Badass.



a9f80a18814368ddf281a79c8d724595fresh exchange

doorsixteen_blackhouses_detroitdoor sixteen

What would you choose?  Black or white?  I’m still strongly leaning white for a bunch of reasons but the black is very tempting.



painted plywood subfloor

Oh…if only there was oak hiding under the green monster.


It’s no secret that my biggest regret about the new house is that it doesn’t have hardwood floors.  The original builders dropped bank on pink and yellow porcelain everywhere – plus 8 massage jets in the pink coffin of a shower – but hardwood floors…..nah.  Why put down something timeless when you can blanket the joint in emerald carpet?  So it’s on us to fix the situation.  Our plan is to install hardwood floors and finish them on-site ourselves in the dining room, living room and kitchen in the next few years, as we renovate.


In meantime, I couldn’t take the old and nasty green carpet in the dining room any longer.  So a couple weeks ago we finally got it out of there.  The subfloor was in good condition so I convinced my husband we could paint it as a temporary solution.  Despite the confidence I shined him on with, this idea had my skeptical too.  Would it be durable?  Would it chip easily?

But we forged ahead and the folks at Benjamin Moore led us to this porch and floor paint.  Here goes nothin’….


Oh yeah, muuuuch better.  The color is Aegean Olive BM.  It’s warm and earthy and mimics the look of hardwood.  A thousand times better than the green carpet.  It makes me smile every time I see it.


The can said it took 7-10 days for a full cure, so we decided to believe it and keep the room off-limits for 10 days.  However when the new seagrass rug arrived at Day 8, I caved and put it in there.  So far no problems with chipping.



Now the put the furniture back….

Next up we’re pulling out the planter box thing in the bay window and making it a proper window seat.  For the cover I’m thinking neutral.  A box edge cushion in linen-like performance fabric with navy piping.

I can’t believe we lived with that green carpet for a year.  Shudder.  I mean, sneeze.  So far the finish has been very easy on the feet too.  No splinters from the plywood.  And no, we didn’t sand it first.  I think the primer and 3 coats of porch paint helped with that.

So what do you think….are we crazy?  Do any of you have painted floors?