The Lake House, post #1

Am I actually blogging about the 2002 film with you and Keanu Reeves about a time travelling mailbox?  

Not this time.    Although their ‘lake house’ was crazy awesome and probably architecturally important, but i’m too busy researching for my actual lake house to research who built this one:

Instead this is the first post documenting a house i’m redoing in Upstate New York, which is indeed…. on a lake. For the sake of privacy my clients will now be called, ‘Felicity and Ben’, in homage to one of my favorite fictional and real-life couples, from a very under-rated late 2000 -2005 tv show.   IT’s NOT ACTUALLY KERI RUSSELL AND SCOTT SPEEDMAN, just using fake names….i’ve already gotten so many emails. 

You know the plot; good looking New Yorkers who fall in love and move to Brooklyn and listen to a lot of Sara Mclachlan songs about how there love is better than ice cream.  Despite the rumours that she lives with her contractor husband and she and Scott Speedman broke up 7 years ago, i’m pretty sure its not true and they share a brownstone with Noel.    

Here’s the story:  ‘Felicity’ approached me (through the blog, via design star) about redoing their weekend house a couple hours north of the city.  At first i was hesitant to take on a massive job across the country, but Lana told me how cool they were, and ‘cool’ gets you far in my book. Not the kind of cool where you know the Olsen twins, but the kinda cool where I don’t have to explain my jokes with a ‘jk’ afterwards because they get it. i decided to fly out and meet them, and see how the chemistry was.  

Those of you who work for yourselves, but very closely with your clients know how important it is to like your clients.  It directly effects how much you like your job. And the love of your job effects your general happiness, so i don’t take on any that feel like ‘hard work’, even if it is.  Yes, i realize that i’m very, very lucky to be able to be such a snob, but I worked with 26 different clients this year and the weeks where i didn’t have a ton in common with the homeowners and their styles were the weeks that were more difficult – conversely the weeks that i loved the clients and their styles were complete and utter joys and i was so sad that they were over.   

Back to Felicity and Ben. Here are the two questions i always ask during the first meeting:  ‘How do you want the space to look?’ and then, ‘How do you want the space to feel?’  And yes, they are different questions and often conflicting.  

For ‘looks’, here is what we came up with:  A modern, yet classic, California inspired house with a Japanese bent and youthful edge.     

And here’s what that means:

Modern = not a lot of ornate detail, more streamlined, straight, and masculine furniture.  It doesn’t have to be specifically mid-century, but more sleek than traditional.   

Classic = The fixtures and finishes would be more classic, less contemporary.  Think penny tile, instead of glass mosaic (of course).  Stripes instead of modern graphic patterns.  I don’t want it to scream 2012.

California = Comfortable, casual, large scale, approachable, light and airy, but warm.  Think Napa, in the summer.   (yes this is very different than ‘modern’ which is where the fun begins.) 

Japanese = Simple graphic shapes and lines, organic woods, natural fibers, washed vegetable dyed linens, but clean and crisp.  Not a lot of clutter, but still warm. 

The edge? this couple is young, hip and unpretentious, so yes there needed to be a couple things to throw it off and make sure its not perfect.  Because you know i love throwing things off, and i’m anti-perfection.  

As far as how they wanted it to feel, they said:  Comfortable and casual.  Bright and happy. Clean and warm, full of personality but low- maintenance.  A respite from the city.  A place where they walk in a feel immediately relaxed and ready to make memories with their kids.  100% inviting. 

So here are the first round of inspiration pics that i showed them:

This was their favorite ‘feeling’.  It’s happy and casual, modern but doesn’t feel strictly ‘2012’. Its modern, but definitely has that Japanese vibe.  

Super fresh, bright, clean, yet warm. This is Amy Nuensinger’s house, one of my favorites in the world that i’ve ever been in.  Clean lined furniture living furniture living with lots of  organic moments.  And yes, i say ‘moments’ a lot in my design process.  It could be a drinking game amongst my assistants.  Except then they would get drunk and therefore not do their job and then i would have to fire them for me saying ‘moment’s a lot, which seems unfair.  

Light and airy, and I swear to god, they asked for the blue/white and green color palette (which yes, is mine….)

They loved the combination of organic woods with modern clean lines. Obviously they are completely opposite styles (in color and finish) which is exactly why they look so good together. Worn wood, meet high gloss white enamel coated metal.  You two are very, very good friends.  

Ah, there’s the edge. Not crazy, but yes, there will be some gold here and there.  Nothing warms up and edges up a space more than vintage brass.  

The kitchen – classic shaker cabinets and drawer pulls, but brushed brass instead. You know it. 

Penny tile, porcelain pedestals….

And unexpected moments here and there. 

So here are the facts:

The project is a renovation that includes but is not limited to: all new wood flooring, new cabinets and counter tops, new lighting everywhere, new bathroom tile, sinks, tubs and finishes, painting throughout the house, a free standing claw foot soaking tub in the master bedroom, a new huge picture window installed in front of tub, plus furnishing and decor for the entire house – 1 living room, 1 dining room, 1 tv nook, 1 kitchen, 1 mud room, 3 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms.  Replacing all hardware, all doors and adding radiant heating underneath the new flooring.  

It’s a lot and its ever so exciting.  

We began demo in January and should be done May 1st.  The budget is tight, but doable. There won’t be a lot of DIY-ing, but just great pieces with reasonable prices because i’m a ridiculously good (and dedicated) shopper. 

And you, my friends, will get to watch/read the whole thing unfold.  Lots of befores and afters, lots of product linkage and lots of mood boardy type things. Regular ‘design porn’ is what we like to call it.  

Stay tuned. 

Next week i’ll post the ‘before’ pictures with my design plan.  And they are really good ‘before’s, involving a really terrible flip where the contractor did some of the most questionable in taste (and common sense) things i’ve ever seen.  I’m talking gluing two small drawer fronts onto one large drawer with a huge handle in the middle of both.  Can’t find pictures right now, but its awesome.   

Jeff Lewis would flip out. 

So whatcha think? Can you get behind ‘Modern Japanese California Edge?

  1. When I read this post I was so excited that you were flying across the country to work on our house in upstate NY! The fact that your inspiration photos are nearly the same ones I have bookmarked was an awesome bonus and why I know we'll get along so well. Then I remembered that our house upstate is not on a lake. And we haven't actually hired you. Yet.

  2. Andee

    You had me at Felicity. I loved that show. But truly, this sounds amazing and I'm so glad you are sharing the process with us. Can't wait to see more.

  3. Sunne

    I'll be watching it unfold and trying to suppress my envy that they get YOU to redo their whole house! Next stop, my house in Nashville, TN!

  4. Sunne

    P.S. Felicity is on the streaming version of Netflix and it's even better the second go round! The episodes w/ the long hair being better than the short hair, of course.

  5. Christa

    I love the style direction and swipes here — It's going to be great.

  6. Nick

    I'm so crazy excited about this…..man, I need to calm down

  7. Caitlin

    I am so excited I could spit. I cannot wait to see it all! Its gonna be great!

  8. EmilyHS

    How exciting! You and Orlando kept mentioning this elusive "lake house." I'm so glad you will share the details with us. But don't forget to share YOUR new house too! I'm having my house painted in the next few weeks and I'm intrigued by your Oyster Shell (?) walls….

    p.s. For months you've had me rethinking the lack of vintage brass in my house ;)

  9. Pam

    awesome! I 've seen that Ione Skye bedroom in a few magazines over the years, and have always loved it.

  10. FYI… The Lake House "house" was a set design. No real house ….
    With all of the glass and sun reflected off the lake it may have made
    a really great oven!

  11. Katy

    I can't wait for the before and after pics! Also, I refuse to believe that Felicity and Ben aren't real people.

  12. Lauren

    YAY! I can get behind anything you do! Can't wait to see the progress.

  13. I can't wait to see it. I hope that one day I'm rich enough to hire you to do my house!

  14. I'm so incredibly excited to watch this unfold… I imagine that it's going to be the awesomest (is that a word?) lake house that ever was and I'm going to be so very jealous of "Felicity" and "Ben".

  15. Andrea

    you just defined my style and i had no idea!

  16. Felicity and Ben will always be my most favorite couple EVER! Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for the Lake House!

  17. AJ

    Throw "Classic Modern Japanese California Edge" in a 1927 Tudor and that's pretty much what I'm trying to accomplish. Cannot wait to be inspired by your project!

  18. I'm behind in commenting, but I LOVED Felicity. Great show, even if the end of the series got weird (I always felt it should have just ended a few episodes earlier with Been moving to CA, before the weird time travel bit).

    Also, super stoked to see how this Lake House unfolds. Sounds like a great couple with great style inclinations.

  19. Errk, and by Been I of course mean Ben. Dang typos.

  20. Everything looks good even if it doesn't look luxurious or what, just making it organize and clean would be good.

  21. Very modern approach of interior design. I love the design as well as the furniture used.

  22. Stephanie

    Is this going to be on hgtv? If not this, you should totally convince them to let u take on a season like this. I love your style and I am obsessed with Sarah's house too because it's all one asthetic going into a whole house and not just one room. Would love to watch your version!