Monday, December 8, 2008

House Voyeur: Cozy and Classic in Cambridge

More Ways to Waste Time reader Kate Flaim (who writes an awesome food blog called Kate F____, Girl Reporter) recently wrote in to share her lovely 1,200-square-foot Edwardian apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I instantly fell for the classic architecture and comfortable ambiance of the place, not to mention Kate's skill at putting together interesting assemblages of art and found objects.

And though I'm a California girl at heart, seeing the photos of Kate's home looking so cozy and welcoming -- as well as the blustery New England weather glimpsed through the windows -- makes me miss the holiday season back East.

Here, Kate takes us on a virtual tour of the charming home she shares with her husband, Ben:

"Our building was built in 1901 and was always meant to be apartments, which we liked after seeing lots of strangely subdivided former single-family homes. It’s pretty classic: Lots of detailed moldings, an ornate fireplace mantle with lovely tile and a patterned cast-iron liner, and formal entertaining spaces. There’s a clear distinction between the front of the house and the servants’ quarters in back -- the butler’s pantry, pantry, kitchen and my tiny office (once the maid’s room) have simpler flooring and very basic trimwork compared to the rest of the apartment.

My style is a cleaned-up flea market/traditional mash-up. I was really inspired by the elaborate moldings and formal architecture of our living room, which drove me to reach for a comfortable but traditional style that wouldn’t clash with all that detail! In a place with simpler lines, I would probably have veered in a slightly more modern direction, but I do love to be surrounded by interesting things.

I've learned to accept that it’s OK to love stuff, and that there’s a middle ground between straight-up midcentury modern and 'Anthropologie chic.' The spools of silk thread are from the Paris flea market, the clothespins are from the Brimfield Antique Show and a shop in London, and the pewter cup is a local flea market find.

I think it's important to take your time and have fun moving things around. It took three tries to get the furniture placement just right in the living room.

Our furniture is mostly antique or vintage. The midcentury chairs in front of the window, the round walnut occasional table, and the red firewood bin, for instance, are from the Time-Life Building in New York, where I used to work. Before the building was renovated a few years ago, I had a chance to scavenge from the emptied floors -- totally legal, thank you very much! The paint color we used in the living room is Benjamin Moore's Silver Fox.

Last winter I was in Paris for work, and Ben joined me for the weekend. We made our first real art purchase there: a small 19th-century painting (above right) that we both fell in love with. I can stare at it for hours. The porcelain mushrooms are from Velocity Art and Design.

I found these rocks in Maine this past summer. The coral is from a trip we took to Puerto Rico.

I love making new tableaux on the mantle, usually when the seasons are changing and I want new colors in the space. Most of the accessories are from flea markets or family. I had some great Thrift Karma on a trip to my home state of Oregon last month -- I scored an awesome little lamp for $5 and a bunch of cool tiny brass candlesticks, which I’ll use on the mantle for Christmas, for 50 cents each.

We love all the vintage details in our home: stuff like the old intercom and call-button from the dining room -- sadly, neither works anymore! The downside to all that vintage character is that a lot of things are just harder to do. Hanging the chandelier (which is from Restoration Hardware) took several visits from the electrician because the old gas-pipe in the ceiling came down too low for the cap to fit over it, so he had to order a new one. And we couldn’t get dimmers because the box in the wall was too shallow. We painted the dining room Puritan Gray, also from Benjamin Moore.

The dining table is from Pottery Barn, and the bookshelves are from IKEA. We added height-extensions so they go almost all the way up to the crown molding and have a more built-in look. We’re midway through a refinishing project on the chairs, which we bought at Brimfield; they were our best bargain so far. And a couple months ago we bought a piano for my husband, who's a great musician. It was a splurge, but I am rewarded every night when he plays while I cook dinner.

I’m totally obsessed with our butler’s pantry/pantry storage combo; I am so spoiled and never want to go back to storing everything in regular kitchen cupboards. The original drawings are by Kate Bingaman-Burt, and the espresso cups are Wedgwood Black Basalt.

We did the kitchen almost entirely ourselves: I really love to cook, so we decided to get great appliances and save on IKEA cabinets, sink, and butcher-block counters. (I say, skip granite counters! They’re hard and noisy and will chip your dishes.) My white enamel Viking stove makes me happy every time I use it, plus it echoes the original white enamel stove that was in the kitchen but that we weren’t able to keep. The dishwasher is from Bosch, and the cabinet-depth, French door fridge is from Jenn-Air.

We had the electrician and plumber rough in the new lines, then designed and assembled the cabinets and built the fridge surround with the help of my talented brother. God bless IKEA, but putting together their kitchens is a pretty advanced task. Still, the cabinets, counters, and sink were an amazing deal compared to everywhere else we looked, and I think they look great. The cabinet knobs are from Restoration Hardware.

Hanging the shelf in the kitchen took a whole weekend, because we were trying so hard not to pull down the horsehair plaster walls. Speaking of horsehair plaster, let’s just say I’m really, really grateful for the picture rails in many of the rooms, and there isn’t much on the walls in the rooms without it! The paint is Benjamin Moore's Beacon Hill Damask, the 'Manshroom' print is by Amy Ross, and the Tea Revives You print is from the Keep Calm Gallery.

We’re framing loads of family photos and gradually want the hall to be salon-style with several layers of pictures. We’re using wood frames from Target’s Home Collection. The paint color is Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter.

This is my home office. We created a magnetic chalkboard with 5 or 6 coats of Rust-Oleum magnetic paint primer, one layer of regular primer, and one layer of chalkboard paint. The Hello, Stranger print is by Dan-ah Kim, Lola is by Andrea Marshall, and the Oregon print is by Ryan Jacob Smith.

The paint in our bedroom (and also the office) is Woodlawn Blue from Benjamin Moore. The custom wood blinds are from Smith + Noble.

My advice: Instead of stocking up on accessories at generic home stores, buy something that you really love whenever you’re somewhere new. That way, your home will always remind you of the experiences you’ve had and the people you love."

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful home with us, Kate! Now, what time should we plan to arrive on Christmas Eve?

P.S. Want to see more? Click here for a peek inside other readers' homes.

10 comments:

Arlynn said...

Such an amazing space!!! The use of colors, accessories & the combination of new & old is a winner : ) Love it & a great bit of inspiration, as I work on my own home, thanks!

EmElle said...

Gorgeous!

Bridget said...

Lucky me! I actually DO get to arrive on Christmas Eve! Kate is my very best friend and her excellent taste and delicious cooking inspires me every day.

beachbungalow8 said...

HUGE house envy right now. I have to come back and examine each photo.

Laurie said...

oh, i'm so jealous. every room is beautiful! we have a ways to go! i had never considered woodlawn blue, i might have to consider that for a room now, i love it!

Jane Flanagan said...

Gorgeous space. I love how it comes off classic but when you look close there's lots of quirk and personality.

Pravina Studio said...

Oh my god. That place is absolutely incredible!

Anonymous said...

I feel so calm after taking a peak inside this home :) Well done!

kay* said...

what a gorgeous home. i love all of the great architectural details and the way the homeowner has decorated with them in mind.

Abbey Goes Design Scouting said...

beautiful!

 

©Copyright 2007-2014 More Ways To Waste Time and Leah Hennen. All Rights Reserved.