Author Archive for: Nicole

Aged to Perfection

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Decorating with found objects instead of purchasing something new from a store will give your design a dose of originality. Whether it’s a valuable antique or something you’ve salvaged, adding an aged piece can change the tenor of a room from flimsy and dull to solid and storied. 

I love the coziness of old books and vintage oil paintings, or textiles that are decadently rich but not pretentiously fancy. Lamps and chandeliers from bygone eras can make a very personal statement in a room. If you find an object that resonates with you, chances are that it will make a great conversation piece in your home.  

A piece with a patina will add a unique dimension to any design. If you want to avoid cookie-cutter sameness, try adding items with a history. Their imperfections might be the perfect thing to liven up your home.

Under The Big Top

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Formerly my home office, I created this bedroom for my Sweet Baby James to transition through his elementary school years in a fun, happy and creative environment. Loosely inspired by the big top circus, bold red and white stripes complemented by polka dots create a sense of whimsy. I wanted to capture my son’s personality without being trendy or too devoted to a theme. And it needed to allow plenty of space for sleepovers, toys, art, games, playing and of course, family dance parties.

I paired a round kids’ table with vintage chairs (a flea market find) to provide a space for any number of creative endeavors for little fingers. Colorful canvas bins, large buckets and shelving creates plenty of storage for toys, books, stuffed animals and so on. The small vintage sofa covered in a whimsical “circus” toile gives us a great place to sit, read, and snuggle, and twin beds make bedtime easy for overnight playdates.

Red accents are repeated throughout the design creating continuity and a happy design rhythm. Vintage touches (an antique measuring cup used as a planter, a lobster buoy and a musical rocking horse lamp) complete the room with character and charm.

I always encourage my clients to choose a sophisticated rug rather than something designed for children. It will tie the room to the rest of the house and ensure they won’t outgrow it. A nice rug adds warmth and texture, and a great place to sit and play. A simple rope with clothes pins hung low on the wall is also favorite trick of mine. It’s the perfect way to minimize clutter and display budding artists’ work.

Overall, I like bright and bold design elements and good lighting in kids’ rooms to foster a happy and creative space without feeling like it was ordered from a catalog.

Think Spring!

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Spring is a great time to freshen up our home designs. It’s also a fabulous source of color inspiration all year long. Rooms that remind us of spring are all about freshness and color.

I designed this kids’ bathroom using Benjamin Moore Bath & Spa paint in Hibiscus. The tile backsplash is a playful combination of white ceramic and stainless steel penny tiles. The custom cabinetry is maple. Small bursts of color in the accents add energy.

If you want to make a bright and sunny statement with your decor; paint, pillows, bedding, artwork and rugs are a good place to start. Just a few touches is all it takes.

Give your home a dose of freshness: Think Spring!




Calm, Cool, Collected

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Grouping accessories makes a statement. Placing them around the room individually simply doesn’t have the same impact, and often looks cluttered.

If you have a collection, or several items that are similar in some way, gather them up and display them together. When determining your arrangement an odd number of items is more visually pleasing than even. The number of things displayed shouldn’t overwhelm the space, so make sure you’ve chosen an area that’s the right proportion. Try putting your tallest piece in back and working forward with the smallest being in font. You can also group items by type, style or color.

The most important thing to remember when displaying each item is that if you don’t love it, or it doesn’t have special meaning, then don’t include it! A well-curated collection can be a wonderful and interesting addition to any design.

For more ideas on grouping collections visit

Lost Art: The Handwritten Note

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To my sweet surprise, I found a letter written in beautiful handwriting with an equally wonderful sentiment in my mailbox today. It came from fellow Designer Karen Newman of Pentimento Interiors in Newton, MA. She wrote to thank me for calling her back to share a design resource from my recent feature in Design New England Magazine. She was pleased that I had taken the time to call her back.

I’m so glad I did! What a lovely reward to receive an old fashioned note with elegantly curved letters and thoughtfully formed words. A handwritten note is one of my favorite things. I have always kept a box of blank cards in my desk drawer and, like Karen, will continue to uphold this waning but worthy tradition.

When is the last time you wrote or received a handwritten note in the mail?

Elevate Your Design: Delve Into The Details

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The right accessory or fixture is key to taking your design to the next level. It’s worth splurging on the small stuff. Just as a fab pair of shoes can elevate your whole outfit, great finishing touches will put your design over the top.

Choosing a stunning pillow, for example, can make an ordinary sofa or chair come to life. A quality faucet turns a simple sink into a showpiece. Antique or artisan containers add character that generic ones lack. Carefully selected hardware makes cabinets stand out.

Celebrate the details in your home design. Make it an opportunity to infuse your personality and style, and your design will shine!

The Purple Bottle Story

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My favorite summer pastime is antiquing on Rte 1 in Maine. Columbary House Antiques ( in Cape Neddick is a stop I make annually when searching for unique design finds. I always enjoy a chat with Donald and Jack, the shop’s charming owners. Today I came across a beautiful display of purple glass bottles that stopped me in my tracks as the sun passed through them on a simple shelf in front of the window. Glass can be such a beautiful design element when placed to catch the light.

As the “Purple Bottle Story” goes, these bottles were all manufactured before WWI and their distinctive color comes from Manganese, an ingredient used in glass-making until about the turn of the 20th century. Manganese changes color in certain light conditions. These bottles have been enhanced by exposure to a cobalt/ultraviolet light bringing out an intense purple from the Manganese.

Alone, or combined with other glass, these purple bottles would be stunning as vases or simply as light-catchers.

A Labor of Love

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I have nothing but happy memories of my childhood in New England. I wanted my kids to have a wonderful place to make their own memories, too. My husband and I found what is now our summer house in 2008. Even though it was in complete disrepair, we knew it was the perfect spot for us. It has been a labor of love to restore it, but it’s been so exciting to revive the old floors and uncover hidden details such as curved walls and stunning moldings. All the while, the kids have loved having a big yard to examine bugs in, having their grandparents next door and the beach just down the road.  The house fits us. I think you get a good sense of our family you walk in. You’re always apt to hear music and laughter. The article in the July 2012 issue of Design New England Magazine shows the house and my sweet little ones. It also demonstrates my philosophy that good design should enhance how you live.

IDS Designer of the Year:
2010, 2011 and 2012

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So happy to have been named “Designer of The Year” by the Interior Design Society (IDS) in both the Kitchen and Bathroom categories. The IDS Designer of the Year Award recognizes designers throughout the United States for design projects based on creativity, vision, function, ability to overcome challenges and visual effect. I’m proud to be one of them two years running!