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Timeless Tudor

“Can you do a black kitchen?” Mario J. Mulea laughs as he recalls the first words the homeowner spoke to him. The homeowner had just stepped into the showroom for Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly (kitchendesigns.com), a firm serving the Long Island area of New York where Mulea works as a kitchen designer. As an experienced interior designer herself, the homeowner had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish. That she sought Mulea’s help offers a clue into how specialized and complicated kitchen design can be.

The kitchen in the homeowner’s nearly-century-old Tudor was the final update that needed to be made to return the home to its former glory. In Mulea, she found a kindred spirit who appreciated the history of her home and believed it should inform and inspire the design. “I always talk about the house first,” he says, describing his design process. “What’s the style of the house? What neighborhood is it in? Do the interiors match the architecture? If you have a center-hall colonial and you ask for cobalt-blue, high-gloss cabinets, I’ll tell you that you’ve picked the wrong designer. I’m not going to do that.”

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Where the West Lives

Golden, Colorado

Enjoy views of Table Mountain from your room at Table Mountain Inn, an adobe-style hotel with Southwest decor in the heart of downtown. Another great downtown option is The Golden Hotel, boasting charming mountain lodge ambience and an expansive deck overlooking scenic Clear Creek. The Dove Inn Bed & Breakfast occupies a stunning Victorian mansion with several historic rooms and luxury suites from which to choose. Located on a quiet street just off the main downtown strip, Dove Inn proprietor and hostess Elizabeth ensures guests are well cared for and well fed before they head out for a day of shopping and adventures.

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A home with a story to tell

Alex Deringer, co-owner with Courtney Cox of Ivy Lane Living in Alexandria, Virginia, believes a person’s home should tell his or her individual story. Her 4,500-square-foot, three-level residence on a unique two-acre lot in the heart of the city does exactly that. The home was originally a farmhouse built in 1912. Deringer wanted a family-friendly environment—a place where every room is approachable and comfortable for children as well as adults. She created a casually elegant home through her use of family heirlooms, soft neutral colours, and a pleasant mix of furnishing styles and designs. 

“We maintained the original footprint of the house and added an open floor plan in the rear that enables natural light into the space. The front portion of the house is more compartmentalized and has a more traditional feel than the addition,” says Deringer. “Because of that, we kept the palette light in that space, permitting the front rooms to make the best use of the natural light they have.” Random-width, mellow-toned hardwood floors unite the spaces. Deringer used Dove White by Benjamin Moore as the base colour for some of the walls and the majority of the trim. She added varying degrees of a neutral tan with subtle blue accents to other parts of the living space.

 

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Age of Aquariums

For centuries, farmers have cultivated plants with aquaponic systems. Since at least 11,000 B.C.E, in China, rice has been grown in paddies. When the fields are flooded, fish come in. Ducks also arrive to enjoy the wetlands. The fish and fowl waste feeds the plants, and the plants keep the water clean. When the paddies are drained for harvest, the fish are easy prey, and they too are harvested.

In South America, the second-century Aztecs learned to build chinampas: a series of rectangular raised beds created in Lake Texcoco’s shallow waters. A system of canals between the beds irrigated the plants and provided access by canoe to care for them. Plants flourished in the nutrient-rich lake water, making it possible to harvest at least seven full crops a year.

Now this time-honored symbiotic growing technique is making the leap from commercial agriculture to homeowners. Instead of vast flooded fields or acres of floating gardens, manufacturers are making decorative fish tank systems that combine the soothing pleasures of an aquarium with indoor herb, flower, and vegetable gardens.

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Comfort Zone

In the case of this particular high-rise building, Hullinger, president of Portland-based Garrison Hullinger Interior Design, describes it as a bit of a mix with classic features like a brick facade that evokes a feel of Old-World living, but in a contemporary way. Inside the one-bedroom condo, expansive windows accentuate the city sights from the fifth floor of the fifteen-story structure.

This happens to be one of the few one-bedrooms in the building. Because there isn’t a door separating the bedroom from the living room, this apartment also features a fairly open floor plan. A demising wall (partition) is all that divides the two areas in the modest apartment that measures approximately 825 square feet.

When working with a smaller footprint, the designer makes storage a top priority in an effort to reduce clutter for his client, as seen in the well-edited living room. “She wanted it to be organized and to have a place for everything,” he says. “It’s a tight room, so we were trying to make it feel extra open. We also try and use furniture that has no solid base when located in the center of the room, like the coffee table in the living room. This helps to create a more open look.”

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Timeless in Toronto

A Historic Townhome Gets a Modern Face-Lift

It was a blank canvas for designers Ashley Tracey and Laura McLellan. The design principals behind the wildly successful firm The Design Co., which specializes in blending old with new, were tasked with designing the interiors of a three-story, circa-1910 historic townhome. Located in the Casa Loma neighborhood of Toronto, the property did not have a buyer but the duo had one in mind when they imagined just how everything would come together. “The buyers would be Toronto professionals who were rather design savvy, well-traveled, and looking to downsize to a luxury town house such as this,” explains Tracey.

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Gather round

Did you ever wonder what might have been served at a chuck wagon dinner? Just like dinner around a campfire, food at the chuck wagon was often simple but loaded with flavor and texture. Chuck wagon cooks prided themselves in using creative ingredients for their recipes and treating their diners to a satisfying meal. I’ve taken a few traditional recipes and recreated them with some modern twists while keeping the essence of the chuck wagon meal true to its rich flavors and simple ingredients.

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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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