Current Crush – Shawn Henderson

The third floor (which is almost sheetrocked and causing a lot of excitement around here) has a bit of a different slant than the rest of the house.  (And I’m not only referring to the pitch of the ceiling.)

My rooms have always had a modern this, a contemporary that, but they do seem to end up looking like cottages furnished from rummage sales no matter what my original intent.

The boys’ rooms are a better blend. They don’t allow chintz, of course – or rusty things, for that matter – so their spaces are more mod than mom.

Since the third floor will house my sometimes-home oldest, it makes sense that it has a more modern sensibility.  Still, I find that in the hardware and lighting I’ve ordered so far I want much cleaner lines.  The plan for the space relies heavily on black and white and the texture of wood.

Which is why I’m drawing so much inspiration from New York-based designer, Shawn Henderson.

Warm comfort combined with cool sophistication is always a winning combination in my book.

I’ve followed Henderson’s career from the beginning and have always been a fan, but I’ve noticed recently that every single thing I see of his on Instagram and in print is a complete and total home run.

I just hope he doesn’t mind my stalking.  I still have a kitchen to do someday.

All images courtesy of Mr. Henderson.

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Happy New Year!

Camillas in blue and white porcelain HG 1.03

Wishing you the very best 2018!

The image, above, photographed by Maria Robledo, is from House & Garden, January 2003.  I flipped through a few issues to find something I liked and I was not surprised to find that there is so much design that holds up fifteen years on.  I’m going to start publishing one vintage image on Fridays.  Please note that if you subscribe and do not want multiple emails, there is a weekly options for your subscription.  


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In the In-between

Mrs.B Half Finished Full Bath

This time of year always has a strange in-between sort of feel to it.  We’re past Christmas and Hanukka, which are impossible to ignore even if you celebrate neither, and not quite to the new year, which always holds the illusion of a fresh start.  It’s not really as if we believe 01-01 will be magically different than 12-31, but it has a clean sound to it and, well, why not?  Fresh starts must start somewhere.  I think the image above of the second floor bath sums it up.

Bath(ish) Straight Ahead

There is a lot complete on the third floor renovation, and there is a lot undone, including – sometimes – me.  The bathroom, tucked just under the eave is shaping up.  I can see it in my head already and I think it is going to be pretty swell, but my contractor keeps using the words, “fine for kids.” I’m not sure he shares my vision.

Closet (whew)

We did make a spot for the closet, which was something of a last-minute save.  My contractor is mystified about the amount of storage I think I need. “What are you going to put up here?” he wonders.  Ah.  Christmas decorations, off-season clothes, pillow forms, fabric remnants.  I can’t wait.

North facing mess

And the windows are in.  Already there’s a remarkable change. Even with today’s single digit temperatures, it was comfortable up there with no heat.  (There will be heat. Swear. It’s coming.)

New Windows and Bookcases

My contractor is also indulging flights of fancy such as bookshelves on the landing at the turn of the stairs.

“Do you need them?” he asked.

“Bookshelves? Oh, yes,” I answered.  “Always.”

He paused in a way that I’ve come to recognize as resignation more than agreement.

“Then you’ll have bookshelves.”

Perhaps the bookshelves will be complete just before – or maybe after – the as-yet-unfinished cabinet in the second floor bath. Certainly in 2018.  2018 is going to be our year.

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Right on Time – Book Reviews

I hate it when people start talking about “last-minute” shopping.  Shopping is shopping and it doesn’t really matter if it happens six months, six days or six hours before you need the thing for which you’re shopping.  So, if you still have some design enthusiasts on your list, I’m recommending the following.  (Plenty of time.  No need to fret.)

If you’ve had the pleasure of stumbling in off the street and through the shop and up the stairs to the wonderful cabinet of curiosities that is Deyrolle, you’ll enjoy each and every image of this new book.  (I mean your sister-in-law will or best friend or whomever receives it.) Photographer Francis Hammond has captured the magic of this place in A Parisian Cabinet of Curiosities: Deyrolle by Louis Albert de Broglie.  I do regret that the book itself is not larger, but it is a lovely reminder of a few hours well-spent.


The thing that has made Houses That We Dreamt Of: The Interiors of Delphine & Reed Krakoff a constant on my night stand and desk is that while it appears at first glance as entirely aspirational – Louis, Lalanne and Line Vautrin trip across the pages – the work is remarkably translatable.  There are great lessons here about placement and restraint – including the appeal of a white wall – as well as a clear personal commitment to creating not just house, but home.


I read the New York Times on paper everyday.  Sure, I read the news on the app while still in bed, but the good stuff I read at the dining room table with my first cup of coffee.  The best parts are the homes in the New York Times Magazine.  I have the previous compilation that was printed in 1976 and am now thrilled to have Home: The Way We Live Now on my shelf.  That this house, the home of Jill and Brian Faherty the founders of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. is featured is nothing short of kismet. The third floor renovation has benefited from their product.


In general, I don’t accept books for review unless I think I’ll cover them.  There’s no need – I have a book storage problem as it is and I have no interest in simply acquiring.  The digital layout of Studio KO’s monograph was stunning, but I wasn’t sure it was a good fit for Mrs. B.  Ultimately, I could not pass it up.  The architecture is so clean and simply stunning that I wanted it in my library and thought you might, too.  Even the oldest, in his third year of architecture school and a consummate critic said, “These guys are good.”


This book is for the purist, the enthusiast, the fanatic.  So many of us start picking up a magazine, painting a wall, looking for fabric and end up needing to know more.  There are essential books for every design library and this, Renzo Mongiardino: A Painterly Vision is one.  Classic decoration at its finest, Mongiardino’s rooms are rich and layered.  Studying his work will elevate your aesthetic even if you shy from the ornate.


I’m reminding you, too, that Gil Schafer’s A Place to Call Home is a must-have, as is Miguel Flores-Vianna’s The Haute Bohemians, which will surely be a classic.

So there you have it. Something for every design crazy on your list from your niece with her new starter home to your eclectic neighbor for whom you can never find just the right thing. And, maybe there’s a little something to soothe your soul at the end of all the running around.

To that end, I do encourage you to shop your local book store, but I’ve included links here to make things easy.

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A Place to Call Home

As my project progresses in fits and starts, I am turning to my favorite architects and designers for advice.  Not the actual people (that would make me a bother), but piles of books that I know hold the answer if I only look.

Gil Schafer’s first book, The Great American House, tells me everything I need to know about bathrooms, for which I’m very grateful.  His newest book, A Place to Call Home, has answered other questions for me in a deeper way. We visited last week about his book and its perspective.

In his introduction Gil is quite candid about his childhood and how the homes of his mother and father were quite different, but meaningful and inspiring in their own ways.

“I moved around a lot,” he told me.  “Looking back I realized that you live differently in different places. The best houses respond to that.  The houses I grew up in looked different, felt different, lived different.  They should.  You have to determine what is going to make you feel at home.”

It can be a curious place to be, to be an outsider involved in someone else’s journey home. I wondered if he prefers renovation or new construction.

“We tend to get involved in renovation very selectively.  Renovations can be challenging and we always ask ourselves, ‘Can we solve the problem?’ When we design new construction we have to write the story. We want the house to have an old soul.”

Schafer’s new home in Maine is the last story in the book and certainly one of my two favorites. He says being the client had its own challenges.

“It was hard in that I couldn’t use the same tool kit.  The house is modern, so I couldn’t just pull out my favorite moldings. I had to stop and think, ‘What is the right thing to do.’ And while the site is amazing, it wasn’t instantly pretty.  I had to figure out how I was going to fix that.”

Schafer’s advice is clear no matter the scope of the project.

“Focus on what’s appropriate.  Try to understand the building.  I always want a building to look as if I hadn’t been there.  I’m working on a new project with Bunny Williams in San Francisco. It’s very complex.  We’re removing and reinstalling paneled rooms and plaster ceilings. But when it’s all over what people will see is Bunny’s beautiful interiors.

That’s what we’re trying to do – create a natural evolution.  Our work should be invisible and inevitable.”

Gil Schafer’s new book, A Place to Call Home, is as engaging as his interview.  You’d be wise to make it a part of your design library.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli International.  Principal photography by Eric Piasecki.

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