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Archive for October, 2014

Interior Design Alchemy: Space Planning Matters

J. Schwartz Design has been asked to transform a modest Saltbox Cape set high on a spit of ocean beach from an awkward space that feels cramped and disjointed to a perfect weekend retreat.
The focus will be largely on the first-floor living space with a floor plate of 936SF.

Two schematic designs are shown.


Scheme 1

In the first plan, architectural elements are arranged largely as we found them.This is the budget conscious plan.

  • We have embraced the awkwardly placed wood burning stove and created a cozy fireside/ Oceanside reading spot anchored by an Eames chair and ottoman.
  • The dining area while close to the kitchen feels like it is in a traffic lane – Because it is. This location does not take full advantage of the possibilities the house holds.
  • The kitchen is very hard to navigate and prepare a meal in because there is very little usable counter and too much empty floor space.  We address this in the second scheme.
  • The TV blocks the ocean views, but the seating faces the ocean – a request the clients had.
  • The left side of the plan feels like a long tall bowling alley, but with an eye on budget we’ve kept the flow largely intact.

Now let’s improve upon this.


Scheme 2

The second scheme is how this house wants to live and breath. By repositioning the wood stove moving the dining area and creating a kitchen peninsula, we have transformed the spaces. Instead of long, skinny traffic lanes, with few places to settle in and enjoy, we have:

  • Superior kitchen design. The kitchen is now anchored by a peninsula bar that doubles as a work/ prep area and serving buffet. The scale of the kitchen now makes sense, its boundaries are defined, and guests can enjoy the hosts’ company as they prepare the evening meal.
  • A Dining Area to die for. This corner, now free of the poorly placed wood stove and open to an oceanside deck (not shown) through a Nana Wall, is the perfect perch for a 60″ round dining table seating up to eight (six generous size seats are shown). From this vantage point our clients can enjoy the Ocean, the Bay off the kitchen as well as take in the wood stove and TV in the cozy open den area.
  • The den is a relaxing spot tucked away to enjoy the Ocean, the wood burning stove, reading a book, listening to music or watching TV. It is the perfect getaway space to be alone or enjoy with friends.
  • This house now “works.” The plan takes advantage of adjacent spaces indoors and out. Because of these visual connections, the house feels much larger – but we haven’t added one square foot of space. Paradoxically, the anchor spaces, now rich and well defined, are cozy and inviting.

Interior Design Alchemy. Space planning matters. Mission accomplished.

Cheers, JS

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My View on a a Room with a View

traditional-kitchenThe rooms shown in these two images are very different, yet similar in important ways. Note how the wraparound glazing brings the outside in – this is not diminished in any way by the seating facing in (away) from the windows.

People get the sense of the outdoors every moment they are in these spaces. The furnishings are situated for how we live in and use a space, not by a slavish focus on a straight ahead view.

This is a common misconception clients have – They want us to orient furnishings with their backs to the living that’s going on, rather than in a holistic way with the spaces and activities going on in the space.


Both of these furniture arrangements say no to that and they get it just right. That’s my View on a Room with a View :/).


PS – Mullion and munton bar compositions should be a function of the architecture, not a knee jerk to all plate glass to make the most of the views.The two rooms are quite different, but both embrace the view in their own way.

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Boston Cityscape Late October Afternoon

boston city landscape
This photograph taken late this afternoon from our Back Bay offices captures the Berklee College of Music in the foreground, the Prudential Tower in the mid-ground and the John Hancock Tower peaking up in the background.

In a year from now, the Hancock will be obscured by a squat new 19 story neighbor hugging the Prudential hard on its left (north) So much for breathing room around an iconic Boston landmark…

Still – the light today is lovely.

Cheers, JS

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Your Professional Dual Fuel Range

For my money, your best friend in the kitchen is your professional Dual Fuel Range. Whether you are a Chef Extraordinaire, a sous Chef or just enjoy being served a scrumptious home cooked meal with your favorite wine, this is the appliance that makes it all happen.

professional dual fuel
The KitchenAid shown is seven years old and only seems to improve with age. I love it’s sturdy stance and heavy wrought iron grate(KitchenAid professional ranges are known for this – while competitors have lost their way with swirly, trendy, lightweight grates). The integrated stainless steel backsplash and professional KitchenAid exhaust hood complete the package.

No worries if your home does not have municipal gas, your plumber can set you up with an exterior propane tank and the appropriate fittings.

Whether braising, baking, roasting or preparing all the fixings for a sumptuous Sunday brunch, your professional Dual Fuel Range is an investment that will pay delicious dividends for years to come!

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Create a Cozy Bookshelf Bed Niche

Architects and interior designers know the impact a cozy bookshelf bed niche can create. Starting with a plain white wall, I like to work with furnishings and art the client may already own – in this case, the antique pickled oak sleigh bed and Chaim Gross 1934 watercolor in its original mat and frame.

cozy bed
The trick is to build a recessed (12″ is plenty) niche – including the soffet above – to be a cozy nest for you and your bed. Roy Mill decoys from Atlantic Canada are perched atop the custom platform peeking out above the pillows. Satin nickel swing arm lamps from ELK Lighting illuminate the books that are comfortably housed along with family photos and nick-nacks on the adjustable recessed shelves.

This built-in bookshelf bed niche provides great function and smart use of space.  And, it is cozy, warm and can make the most of the furnishings and art that you love.  It’s a perfect space!

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Five Autumn Home Design Ideas

five autumn home design ideas

As the days grow shorter and the nights get crisper, I know the five ideas below will enrich all your Autumns for years to come:

1. A Rumford Fireplace
Physician Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) was a student of the properties of heat. In the 1790’s he introduced a fireplace design that remains today as energy efficient as a clean burning stove. Regardless of your home’s pedigree – Colonial, Contemporary, Arts and Crafts, Victorian or Greek Revival – Your mason can construct a firebox incorporating Rumford proportions and you will be toasty and warm as the heat radiates on you and not up the chimney.

2. Lovingly restored antique windows
The North Bennet Street school in Boston’s North End has been training artisans in the craft of antique window restoration for years. The demand for these professionals has never been greater. A one hundred-year-old window properly restored will last another hundred years.

3. Landscaping with specimen fieldstone.
If your budget allows, stay away from manufactured stone and it’s sterile look. Have your landscape design professional work with indigenous fieldstone that will celebrate the contours of your property.

4. A Radiant Heated Floor in your master bathroom remodel.
Hydroponic or electric mat.  Best used as a supplemental source of heat. Toasty toes.

5. A Brahms Mount made in Maine soft wool throw.
Cozy and luxurious in beautiful autumnal colors.

Happy Autumn.

Enjoy. JS

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