Archives for May 2016


Green House Effects

Can luxury and green coexist? Mixing Hermes with Birkenstocks may be considered an unlikely coupling but the relationship works beautifully. In homes, when designing a new constructions the ideal is to arm with the principles of the luxury green building movement, which is taking off despite an unpredictable economy. In fact home installations during frugal times apply to the characteristics of a green home, which use sustainable materials, eco-conscious building practices and operate by saving energy and costs.


Grand, Loading Dock5 © Raimond Koch

The Greenest Home by Julie Torres Moskovitz (Princeton Architectural Press) reviews homes equipped with an abundance of glass walls and exposed architectural elements. The Passive House standard, as example, is a design model that is a ski home darling because it fully insulates a space, heating it almost exclusively by the sun.


Little Compton, ZeroEnergy Design © Greg Premru


The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design by Julie Torres Moskovitz, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2013

Bamboo House, Karawitz Architecture © Herve Abbadie and Karawitz Architecture

Bamboo House, Karawitz Architecture © Herve Abbadie and Karawitz Architecture


Hudson Passive Project, Dennis Wedlick Architect © Elliott Kaufman


Hudson Passive Project, Dennis Wedlick Architect © Elliott Kaufman


Little Compton, ZeroEnergy Design © Greg Premru

Brooklyn has become a hub for eco-friendly building, which was recently rated by The Council for Community and Economic Research as the second most expensive place to live in America right after Manhattan. Moskovitz identifies “Tighthouse” as one of the city’s gems. The home’s young couple, professionals who fit Brooklyn’s profile of a generation who understand the value of efficiency from gadgetry, were keen that their home’s renovation included energy-efficient audiovisual, lighting, security and mechanical systems.

Sarah Susanka, architect and author of The Not So Big House series, says her clients and readers will spend on what enhances their own lives rather than focusing on what’s good for resale.  She recommends designing for today’s more relaxed lifestyle by eliminating the formal rooms that rarely get used. That’s a truly green approach to design. “Building better rather than bigger, building sustainably and building to inspire–these are the qualities that make a house feel like home,” says Susanka.  “It’s not about knocking the socks off the neighbors. It is more oriented to comfort and beauty than opulence”

In Sarah Susanka's former home, green prevails by building with quality materials that meet green standards. Photo by Christian Korab, courtesy of Susanka Studios

In Sarah Susanka’s former home, green prevails by building with quality materials that meet green standards.

Susanka learned that formal rooms are a throwback to a bygone era from clients who did not have to base design decisions for resale value.  “They happily left those off the list of must-haves because they just didn’t use them.  Neither do most of us these days,” she says.  Green homes meet the standards of how we really live without denying our simple luxuries.




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Rainbow Color Style

Rainbows were the label of choice when I attended elementary school. Mobiles, suspenders, shoelaces to tie up your roller skates–anything  colorfully striped meant you were hot on the trends.

While vivid colors may be gutsy, weaving in the palette with a subtle approach is an easy way to add some pop to a basic look.

  1. Accent chair 2. Utility basket 3. Chandelier 4. Duvet covers 5. Darcy dress 6. Area rug 7. Tumblers 8. Mirror
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Our House

Two winters ago I dropped Luc off at preschool, which resulted in another mom saying that the house across the street from her was for sale. While I rather assist on building a dam than moving, there is nothing more enticing as a new home and project. (In the past 6 years this would be my fourth move and I am not in the military). Our town has transformed into that commuter young family brand of suburbia where square footage and sub zero fridges trump charm. Though I will choose old bannisters, slatted closet doors and shingle siding over a game room any day.

That mom-to-mom interaction progressed into an almost year long courtship with the owners whose home we moved into last summer.


Our family house, which will be experiencing subtle transformations.

Sometimes you just know, like when Luc was meant to be a surprise but I knew I would be having a boy. This is the house we wanted and made it happen. We have been making “slight” alterations, which will be documented, but not enough to move into the nearby Avalon that hosts divorcees and families renovating their residences. Our intention is to stay true to the essence of this 1914 Colonial, which reminds me of the clapboards I’ve always been drawn to in the Hamptons. In a few weeks, contractor availability and rain date depending, we will tackle the exterior. And, for the Where’s Waldo lovers, please note Ellie our dog who always maneuvers her way into a photo op.

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Picnic Themed Party

Everything lightens up when outdoors. Food, clothing, decor and moods all shed a layer for a more low key approach. If you have the option to dine outside, you’ll take it.

Shop for what's freshes, great produce cuts down on prep time.

Shop for what’s fresh, which makes for a simple meal that cuts on prep time.

Find an ideal location, eschew perfume for bug spray, and choose a theme. I began with a denim tablecloth, which follows the same principle as blue jeans as a foundation piece that goes with everything. The flowers set the color scheme, with vibrant pinks, oranges and pops of color, all welcoming hues after a winter season.

When creating your outdoor menu let nature also takes its course. I shop for whatever looks freshest, which translates to the taste, table and its design. Prosciutto, French cheeses and fresh breads make a simple, delicious meal.

Outdoor Entertainer To Do List:

Base your colors and design scheme on what’s available in nature, such as the flowers, fruits and produce. Even your cookies can follow a pattern.


Gingham cookies make for a styled dessert.

Choose classic pieces, such as gingham patterns, a quality picnic basket and summer madras linens.


A great picnic basket with a classic madras tablecloth offers the option of a movable feast and more seating.

Push the adornments, like a bunting cake topper and sprinkles, to transform a simple occasion into an event.


Even if your kids baked the cake, it looks great with a cake topper and sprinkles.

We all love parting goods. Staying true to the theme and style, treat bags with seed packets are a simple gesture from the host.


Seed packets in a treat bag for a goody bag that hits the theme.

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Pack It Like a Princess

With travel season upon us I’ve gathered inspiration from Kate Middleton’s trips abroad. (With one rolling suitcase rather than a fleet of steamer trunks).

The Duchess of Cambridge’s look is conservative, nautical preppy, a style apt for a collegiate home for the summer instructing sailing.


  1. Bikini 2 Wedges 3. Rash guard 4. Tote 5. Docksides 6. Jeggings

When Kate travels to exotic terrain she amps her global coolness with pieces reflective of her place.

  1. Naeem Khan dress 2. Crop top 3. Paul and Joe dress 4. Maxi dress 5. Coverup 6. Midi dress

Aside from that British custom to wear hats that could do double duty as a dining centerpiece, Kate calls upon simple pieces with the right flare.

  1. Wedges. 2. Lipstick 3. Clutch 4. Off the shoulder top
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I Fed My Son Bugs and He Loved It!

This isn’t a Robinson Crusoe, camping/eat-bugs-for-survival scenario but when you tell your child that you are going to invite their friends over and serve insects the silliness erupts.

Circular sandwiches with a simple tomato head.

Circular sandwiches with a simple tomato head.

Caterpillars on a stick.

Caterpillars on a stick look fantastic on a classic tablecloth.

It can’t be any simpler, or tastier, with healthy versions such as grapes on skewers with eyes made from dollops of cream cheese and raisin eyes or a caterpillar created from alternating white and wheat bread cut into circles with the top of a can.

Have some fun with gummy worms and butterflies by adding them to fruit or freezing in ice cubes for “bug juice.” Continue the simple, classic style by serving drinks in bale jars with striped straws.

Make a slight hole into an apple and stick in a gummy worm.

Make a slight hole into an apple and stick in a gummy worm.

Peanut butter crackers become spiders by inserting pretzel sticks within and making eyes out of raisins. Also add to the gummy worm fun by placing on donuts pricked with holes.


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Shop Transitional Pieces

When the weather is clearly not getting that it’s May, with doses of cold rain that makes you want to holler “Heathcliff!,” from in between seasonal pieces to mid length jackets layering is key.

  1. Jacket 2. Sweater 3. Cup cozy 4. Tassle dress 5. Hoodie 6. Throw 7. Boot 8. Raincoat
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