Natural Tendencies | New England Home

1-IMG_9047Natural Tendencies

Who’s Doing What, When, Where and How in the New England Design Business.

By Louis Postel

New England Home May / June 2007

Like nature itself, we have the urge to stretch and grow this time of year, when spring is in full flower. Unlike our gardens, though, stretching can feel awkward to us. For example, you may be contemplating an addition to your house but are paralyzed into inaction by the thought that the new wing will be out of character with your beloved Cape. To ease your anxiety, consider interior designer, Paul Stone’s house in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, which first appeared on the landscape in 1760 as one-and-a half room shelter for a solitary farmhand bringing cows up to a summer pasture. From there it just grew and grew, which becomes clear if you go down to the basement and examine the ever widening geometry of foundation walls. What better evidence of an addition tradition, this making of a picture puzzle out of different lives? Fear not to build on and expand wisely and organically, therefore, as you find your own summer pasture. One of Stone’s current interior projects is a large, casual, Shingle-style home on the beach, in conjunction with the architects of Living Spaces in Rye, New Hampshire. The beach house will glow softly with all bamboo floors, kitchen included. “ Bamboo’s very durable,” says Stone. “The contractor originally recommended cherry, but that would have been too formal.”

Also in the spirit of not too formal and spring-like is a line of decoupage lamps at B.Hive, a new British-inflected shop that’s the latest buzz at the Boston Design Center. In addition to the decoupage lamps, designer and owner Chris Benson, of Benson Interior, ha imported a collection of hand-cut, mouth-blown crystal lamps, cashmere throws, Holland and Sherry fabrics and more.

Along with bamboo and decoupage, consider Wall Pops, the brainchild of Paula Berberian of Brewster Wallcovering in Randolph, Massachusetts. Wall Pops represents a sweet burst of color in kid’s rooms. The vinyl stick-on pieces come in Ribbon Candy stripes. Dots and Blox and other bright, graphic designs.  And, like anything fun for kids, grown-ups are picking up on it, using it to add a splash of color to kitchens and laundry rooms.

Speaking of kids, it’s worth noting the success of the internship program at Woodmeister Master Builders in Holden, Massachusetts.  This season, Woodmeister is training a group of local teens in woodworking alongside an international contingent from Rosenheim, Germany –known as Bavaria’s “woodmecca.” For this and a number of other community-building programs, Woodmeister cofounders Ted and Kim Goodnow just received the Worcester Business Journal’s Corporate Citizen Award.

It’s not far from architect Jan Gleysteen’s burgeoning Wellesley, Massachusetts, office of the Asian fusion restaurant Blue Ginger, where he’s a regular. Gleysteen knows his classics, having studied under Robert A.M. Stern, Kenneth Frampton and other humanists at Columbia. In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, he says, over sake-miso marinated Alaskan butterfish, his design professors were schooling an entire generation in the Renaissance idea that “the human body is the point of reference –the scale of the human body and the curvilinear shapes based on the anatomy of arms and legs.” Now, he continues, “A lot of people are copying our plans, but they can’t get the scale and proportion right. They need to go and spend six weeks in Rome and Paris. They need to start drawing rotundas, courtyards, piazzas, loggias, domes and colonnades, based on that Da Vinci man standing in a circle in two positions forming an X and a cross: man at the center of the universe.”

Man and woman may indeed be at the center of the universe, but they’re often eclipsed by the kids. Samantha Greenfield, of Greenfield Home Design, lives in Sudbury Massachusetts, with her husband and two pre-school-age boys and has become a keen advocate of mudrooms. “Busy moms find that getting in and out of the house is like conducting an orchestra,” she says. “We’ve found a way to make the process faster and easier.” A mudroom or “staging area” helps contain the clutter of everday life. Greenfield suggests hanging hooks to handle most bags, coats, hats, keys and dog leashes, and shelves to hold toys and books and backpacks. Baskets can hold library books, video rentals and borrowed toys and casserole dishes, serving as a reminder to return them to their owners.

Wellesley interior designer Susan Dearborn and Kevin Ahearn of Otis and Ahearn Real Estate are working on the Nouvelle at Natick luxury condominium project. Dearborn was selected to design a model unit, and she will be helping buyers with their decisions about design-related options. Ahearn and his firm are marketing the residences. Nouvelle is the first luxury residential tower west of Boston to be connected to high-end retail and restaurants. The model residence will be open in early September to coincide with the grand opening of the expanded Natick mall, now called the Natick Collection.

Also in Sudbury, custom furniture maker Ray Bachand has launched a new showroom and gallery called 60Nobscot. Bachand restored three 1820s farm buildings on Nobscot Road: the farmhouse is now his living quarters, one barn is his workshop and a second barn is the showroom and gallery that showcases his own bench –made work, as well as the output of other creative types –quilts, Nantucket baskets, silk flowers, ceramics, art and photography. Especially eye-catching is Bachand’s two-foot hutch in green milk paint. “Milk paint’s a traditional process,” says Bachand, who mixes his own. His unpainted furniture is also unusual in that he’s a man who plainly loves imperfections. “I like turning defects into a positive – the knots and cracks and interesting grain patterns.”

Restoring, renewing, turning negatives into positives –it all comes with the season. In this spirit, the Cambridge-based architect Lee Cott, Harvard Graduate School of Design professor and former Peace Corps volunteer, recently brought Papa Hemingway’s house in Cuba back to life. Cott describes meeting some of the locals who played pick-up baseball many spring times ago on the Nobel Laureate’s lawn. They’re now, of course, old men, with gold teeth and broad smiles. “The Cubans around there called him El Home-run-ero,” says Cott. NEH

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