By the Sea

The owners of this stately seaside retreat didn’t have to look far for inspiration. To begin, their interior designer, Eileen Marcuvitz of Plum Interiors with locations in Newport, Rhode Island and Naples, Florida, tries to translate her clients’ thoughts into a design that embodies the feeling and flow they desire. In this case, she says, “They wanted the living room to reflect back the colors they see out their window of the sky and blue green of the ocean.”

Another goal for the more formal space in the 8,500-square-foot residence was for it to feel elegant, serene, and comfortable, says the designer who describes the interiors as refined yet comfortable, elegant yet functional, and clean yet richly detailed. “Featuring a serene palette and sculptural shapes, it’s classic with a modern sensibility,” explains Marcuvitz.

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Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

“When people have been together for a while, they have their own collections [and] special things gathered over time or inherited from family,” says Linda Weisberg, owner of Newton, Massachusetts-based LW Interiors. This was true of the couple who sought Weisberg’s help to update the family room in their ninety-year-old, Tudor-style home, also in Newton.

Weisberg’s design process helps homeowners critically review their possessions and discover what matters most to them. “As a designer, you help families make decisions so that everyone feels they are getting what they want and what they like,” she says. “After I get a sense of what will stay, I try to bring a fresh look by thinking through how things can be reused or repurposed.” For this project, Weisberg transformed old pieces, purchased new pieces, borrowed items from other rooms, and drew inspiration from the blue color in a rug that the homeowners loved.

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zest and zeal

A Get-Started Guide to Cultivating Citrus Fruit

With their fragrant flowers, rich green foliage, and delicious fruit, citrus are among the most rewarding trees to grow. Those living in USDA Hardiness zones 9–11, where temperatures don’t normally drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, can grow citrus outdoors year round. In colder regions, the trees should be grown in containers and brought inside for winter. But the warm temperatures of the summer months help sweet citrus thrive. Consider the following tips when embarking on your fruitful venture.


Citrus are easy to grow, untroubled by most pests in a home garden environment, and adaptable to a wide range of soil quality. If the soil is heavy clay, water the plants slowly and deeply with drip irrigation laid around the edge of the leaf canopy so the moisture is absorbed into the soil. In loose, sandy soil, water more frequently. Citrus prefer deep, infrequent watering. Ideally the moisture should penetrate down 36 inches. Between watering, the soil should become almost completely dry, as citrus will languish if over-watered.

The key nutrients for healthy citrus are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, boron, and molybdenum. Most California and Arizona soils have all the necessary nutrients, except nitrogen. Have your soil tested and analyzed for citrus requirements, then apply organic fertilizers as needed in spring and summer.

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Welcome Back

It’s finally here. The sweet summer season has arrived, and with it, your plans to spend days, weeks, or months at your vacation home. But if you only enjoy your getaway during the summer, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of before getting settled.

To make opening and closing your summer home a breeze, keep it maintained during the winter months. If you don’t live close to your vacation home, have a friend check on the house from time to time or hire a property management company to address any off-season issues. If the temperature drops below the freezing level, pipes could burst; and there’s always the chance that an appliance could leak or the electricity could go out and reset timed systems.

Assuming there aren’t any major maintenance issues when you first arrive at your summer home, setup shouldn’t be too complicated. Turn on any circuit breakers that were off and plug in appliances. Check and replace or refill smoke detector batteries, light bulbs, and any propane tanks if needed. (If your home is heated by propane, keep track of the level throughout the year and, if possible, have the tank refilled before you arrive for the summer.)

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peak performance

For Nick Bratton, his love of mountain climbing began early. As a young Boy Scout, it was a natural progression for him to get into mountaineering at a young age. That, coupled with a desire to overcome his fear of heights, ignited a passion for mountain climbing in the author of Guided Currents: Notes from the Banks of the Tugela. “My first time rock climbing was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and I was instantly hooked,” he says. “Nothing I had ever done before compared to the sense of accomplishment and appreciation of the wilderness I got from climbing.”

Much goes into planning and prepping for a climb. “It’s a physically demanding sport that requires a diverse set of skills, good judgment and decision-making, and comfort with adversity,” explains Bratton. “But mountain climbing is also a fantastic social activity because you get to spend quality time in amazing places with friends.” So how do you get started? Follow these tips before setting out on your own adventure.

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Magic in Maya


When Salvador Reyes Ríos first saw Hacienda Petac, there was no immediate inspiration for what would eventually become the property’s impressive post-restoration design. After all, for Ríos, the initial concept for a historic property doesn’t necessarily stem from its surroundings, but rather its rich history. “In a restoration project, an interior design concept should come out from the research of the old building in terms of history, local culture, and resources, as well as materials used for the construction and finishes of the original building,” says Ríos, whose firm, Reyes Ríos + Larraín Studio of Architecture and Design, has established the gold standard for colonial remodeling and hacienda restoration in Mexico. “The idea is to make a recreation of the new from the old.”

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Island Monarch

Londoners Lay Claim to a Stately Southern Vacation Home

Spanish moss drips from trees gnarled by Atlantic winds. Sandy earth supports native scrub and flora. A grand home rises above the flat barrier island plain of Sea Island, one of the Golden Isles off the Georgia, US coast. The relationship between this home and its island setting was cultivated intentionally. “We wanted something that was quite natural and in sync with the surroundings,” explains London-based designer Louise Jones. Her eponymous firm serves clients in the UK and abroad.

Weeks of research informs Jones’s initial design work on every project. Her UK office library brims with books that describe the history of houses throughout eras and across geographies. “I wanted the house to look like it belonged in that part of the world,” says Jones of this island abode. “Getting the exterior right was probably the most difficult part.” Although new construction, this home adapts the strict symmetry, simple ornamentation, and rectangular shape of the Georgian architectural style, which was popularized under the reigns of Kings George I, II, III, and IV. The style was exported to the American colonies during the late 1700s and experienced a revival in the mid-twentieth century.

Her clients’ primary home is in Chelsea, a district of Southwest London, but the family also enjoys vacationing in the US. The Sea Island setting provided a perfect paradise with a climate suited to enjoying the outdoors. “In London, we live so internally. We rarely step outside,” says Jones. A vacation spot in a rural setting with a mild climate requires a different type of focus. “In a holiday home, you’re outside a lot more. With this type of home design, you set a goal of linking to the outside and maximizing the light.”

This home meets both those goals. Light floods through the many windows and French doors in the home, as do the picturesque views of the adjacent lake. A screened-in porch, outdoor eating area, and second-floor balconies serve as transitions from bedroom and living room spaces to the peaceful green vista. The balconies are meant for private use, while the porches and dining spots serve to entertain the homeowners and their many visitors.

As part of her design process, Jones helps her clients visualize the design master plan. She sketches images that are then hand-colored or watercolored. Those images prompt discussion and Jones gathers feedback from her clients in weekly meetings that occur for several weeks.

In this home, the orderly architectural style helped set the direction for the interior. Each room feels balanced and proportional. This type of symmetry often shows up in more formal designs that can feel stuffy and stiff. Yet in these rooms the evenness evokes peace and balance—the sensations most of us strive for when on vacation.

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island time

Less than an hour flight from South Florida, Havana’s treasures await: music, food, art, architecture, and of course the cars. Going to Cuba is like traveling back in time sixty years in only sixty minutes, but this time warp won’t last long. Now is the time to go.

With its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and rolling museum of classic American cars serving as a backdrop, Cuba will surprise you with the modern treasures that are being created in this artistic hotbed. Havana’s artists, chefs, and mixologists are showing the world what can be made with Cuban sabor (taste/flare).

Whether you stay in a hotel or a casa particular (bed-and-breakfast) in Vedado, Miramar, or Old Havana, the best way to see Havana is on foot. Put on your adventure hat and comfortable shoes as the streets of Havana are to be explored. Cuban life is outside of the house: in the streets, parks, cafes, and of course the Malecón, the five-mile ocean promenade that is nicknamed the largest sofa in the world.

Begin in Old Havana at the first of four squares, Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), to see the government palace, colonial fort, and its daily bookfair with new and used books and antiquities. Perhaps you’ll find a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man in the Sea to bring home. For more history about the author, continue on to Hotel Ambos Mundos (Both Worlds) where he lived for seven years, and its sixth floor, open-air terrace with a view of all of Old Havana. Enjoy a café cubano espresso drink while scoping out the next square, Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square). After a visit inside the splendid Baroque church and a stroll along its restored square, take time for a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio (small store in the middle), another of Hemingway’s haunts, which is just up the street from the cathedral.

Whether you continue on foot or choose to hire a bici-taxi (pedal cab) from Cathedral Square, you are only minutes from Plaza Vieja (Old Square). The brilliant colors of the buildings as well as the art sculptures in the center of the Old Square make a great stop for a treat: a chilled coconut, a craft beer, or a piece of art from one of the many galleries.

En route to your final plaza, you will pass Havana’s aqueduct built in the 1800s. Then, you will feast your eyes on Plaza San Francisco, which is near the harbor with a beautiful fountain and numerous modern art sculptures. It makes for yet another shutterbug stop.

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checking in

Host Friendly Pollinators with a Bee Hotel

It’s the newest trend in insect travel. Everyday people are becoming bee hoteliers by setting up nesting sites, called bee hotels, to attract a variety of the pollinators. The targeted guests are the various genera and species of small, nonaggressive mason and leafcutter bees.

Known as tunnel-nesting bees, they look for dry tunnels in which to lay eggs, seeking out hollow plant stems, abandoned borer-beetle holes, and similar spots. Both mason and leafcutter bees lay their eggs in existing holes, and do not damage structures to make their nests. Both genera also stay close to home, foraging for pollen and nectar within 300 feet of the nest.

Unlike honeybees that live communally in hives, these mild-mannered bees that rarely sting are solitary, going about their business of preparing for the next generation without social interaction. But they like nesting near other members of their species; thus the bee hotel, which is simply a collection of hollow materials mounted in a frame and covered by a roof to keep out the rain. These dwellings provide a dry environment that mimics the conditions the bees prefer. There is a wide selection of bee hotels available for purchase, but it also is easy and inexpensive to make your own. Continue reading