sunny siding up

Today we got ourselves a room. A real honest to goodness room. True, it's not weatherized, but it feels like we enlarged the house by almost a third. The new outdoor sofas are waiting to move in and it will be a great place for plants. Lots of plants. With timed irrigation tapped in from the yard.

We used exterior grade paneling to cover all the sins. As soon as we figure out how we'd like to finish off the edges, I'll paint everything the same Shenandoah Taupe I used outside, using the three leftover gallons I found in the shed. If I want to go darker, I'll be halfway there.

Thom started working around the door and, after seeing paneling there, I realized (forgive me, Thom) I don't want sidelights after all. Too busy. And it will make more room for light fixtures outside. Looking at all the beautiful fixtures online I feel like a kid in a candy shop. It's a dirty job but somebody's gotta do it.

We also decided to replace the funky old curlicue awning posts with solid wood 4x4s, aligned with the window frames rather than annoyingly off kilter. I'm not sorry to see that trailer trash go, believe me.

Melanie Renn

Melanie Renn

light brigade

Townsend Collection Solid Brass 14 1/2” High Outdoor Light

Cross Creek Collection 13 1/2

American Bungalow Collection 16 1/4

Berkeley Collection 17 1/2

Franklin Iron Works Hickory Point 12

Murray Feiss Whitaker 17 1/4

National Geographic Lake View 12

Hinkley Cordillera Collection 18

Kichler Aged Bronze 9 1/2

the president redecorates

AP / J. Scott Applewhite
Photos: J. Scott Applewhite for the Associated Press

The Oval Office Gets A Makeover

By Peter Maer for CBS News
August 31, 2010

More than a year and a half into President Obama's term, the Oval Office has been redecorated. Following a longtime tradition, the historic office has special touches reflecting the personal tastes of the occupant.

A new wheat, cream and blue colored rug (oval shaped of course) is at the heart of the makeover. The presidential seal is at the center of the rug, bordered by what the White House describes as "historical quotes of meaning to President Obama." Etched into the weave are five time-honored lines:

"The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself" - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Government of the People, By the People, For the People" - President Abraham Lincoln
"No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings" - President John F. Kennedy
"The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us" - President Theodore Roosevelt

The White House says the rug was produced and donated by the Scott Group, a Grand Rapids, Michigan carpet maker. The same firm made the Oval Office rug used by former President Clinton.

The new Oval Office furniture has a more modern look. The project involved some recycling as two arm-chairs previously used by President George W. Bush were reupholstered using "carmel-colored leather." The big desk chair that President Obama will use during tonight's speech to the nation was made in New York.

New custom-made couches were also made in New York with light brown fabric that was woven in Pennsylvania.

Much of the work was completed while the first family vacationed at Martha's Vineyard. The White House says the non-profit White House Historical Association and a contribution from the Presidential Inaugural Committee helped fund some of the project.

The press office declined comment on the exact cost noting it was "inline with the amount spent by President's Clinton and George W. Bush" on Oval Office redesigns. A statement recalled Mr. Obama's immediate predecessors saw "a comparable level of redesign" with costs deferred by their inaugural committees and the White House Historical Association.

Don't look for the old Oval Office furniture or rug at any rummage sales. A spokesman notes, "They remain the property of the White House and will be placed in a storage facility." Oval Office rugs and other decor often end up in presidential libraries.

Do you think his wife had a hand in it?

Photos from The White House on Flickr by Pete Souza
Photo: Pete Souza for The White House


go fish

Some days you can't get a bite, some days you land the whole school of fish. Today I caught myself a whale - hook, line and sinker.

This is it, the Shelter Island Fisherman's Cottage, my Number One All Time Favorite House ever. Okay, okay, one of them, but it's up there. I've had a photo of it in my h ♥ m e slideshow for over a year, but I've never been able to identify it. Yesterday, by coincidence, I ran across a variation of that photo but it was still uncredited. This morning, by coincidence, or perhaps by intelligent interior design, whatever, it leaped right out of the Internet waters. You're probably ahead of me and saw it months ago on Apartment Therapy, The Style Files, Remodelista and everywhere else, but here's something I'll bet you haven't seen. A few days ago the property was listed for sale by the Corcoran Group.

Oh, for a cool 1.25 mil. I wonder if they've gotten any bites?

Shelter Island Fisherman's Cottage
Schappacher White Ltd.

SchappacherWhite Ltd. traditional living room

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite Ltd. traditional kitchen

SchappacherWhite Ltd. traditional bedroom

SchappacherWhite Ltd. traditional bedroom

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

SchappacherWhite / Laura Moss

Steve & Rhea's Renovated Fisherman's Cottage

Apartment Therapy
January 29, 2010

Name: Steve Schappacher & Rhea White of SchappacherWhite
Location: Shelter Island, New York

We bought this 1904 fisherman's cottage 5 years ago. Originally planning to use the home as a weekend retreat from NYC, we now spend most of our time in the 1,100 square foot house, a block from Cockles Harbor. Originally, we were looking for something more modern but found this and had to make an offer — we're modernists and have completed several landmark modern historic preservation projects. This is what we did to transform the house and grounds that had been neglected for many years.

We like to entertain, have guests out all year round, and I love to cook. So, we wanted to have a place we could enjoy with family and friends. The entire ¾ acre site was rethought, so that the property could be used in different ways and in different seasons.

The interior had many misdirected renovations over the years — doors built into the floor that could not open, tiled ceilings, and the house was sinking on rotting wood posts. The yard was unusable condition. There was only one bathroom upstairs and two bedrooms, but we did not want to change the appearance and do a large add on, or alter the shape.

Connections were made to the exterior with new French doors off the dining room, a freestanding pergola was added along with a 17' freestanding reclaimed brick fireplace constructed at the end of the pergola. This created an expanded living room/dining room area at the exterior, but also helped to balance the house on the site. The bricks were recycled from a former factory in NYC, so we brought part of the City out with us. We even make fires at the exterior fireplace in the winter, since we can see it from the dining area and if not too cold we sit by the fire after dinner.

A custom pool with long cocktail steps was added with an open area for laps. The garage/tool shed was converted into a pool house which added an additional 300 square feet.

The first floor of the house was gutted, new footings to stop the house from sinking, new custom designed cabinetry, new wide plank floors, and a new bathroom added. The new 1st floor bathroom has a door to the exterior for easy access from the pool.

We lightened up the house with whites, off whites and sand colors. Then used black and naturally textured wood as contrast. There are modern pieces, antiques, and found/altered objects. It was all completed with cost in mind, resourced inexpensive materials and furnishings.

The new bathroom has a steel framed glass partition, that was inspired by our former NYC loft windows.

After 5 years we are still making changes and coming up with new projects to work on to make it more enjoyable for our friends and family.

Thanks Steve & Rhea!

Images: Laura Moss

Shelter Island Restored Fishermans' Cottage

Penelope Moore, Corcoran Group
August 27, 2010

Located in one of the earliest settlements on Shelter Island, one block from the harbor, this 1904 fisherman's cottage has been lovingly restored by its architect-owners. Set back and tucked onto a quiet spot, surrounded by established trees, this Dutch gambrel is inviting and stylish, with an abundance of natural light throughout. Using reclaimed materials as well as modern pieces, the home and its grounds are imbued with the charm of history together with today's amenities. The first floor is comprised of a comfortable living room with windows on three sides, a formal dining room with built-in cabinetry and French doors to outdoor living room, kitchen suitable for a serious chef, recently created full bath with crackled subway tiles and ships' lighting with access to pool area, and mudroom. The second floor has two bedrooms with loads of character, and full bath with custom cabinetry and soaking tub. The grounds offer room to entertain and enjoy, including outdoor dining and living room, with wisteria covered pergola and a 17-foot freestanding fireplace created with vintage brick. The pool which is toward the rear of the property has cocktail steps running the entire length, offering a refreshing spot to cool off during hot summer days. A 300-sf cabana is immediately adjacent, with bar and two lounging areas. Widely published in international home interiors and design magazines and books, this is a unique offering that must be seen! $1.25m Contact Penelope Moore, Exclusive listing agent, Corcoran Group, info@penelopemoore.com or 917-208-5519


decisions, decisions

The first decision was simple: either keep the door in its crate, leaning against the house for another decade, or get it up. I decided to get it up, as simply as possible, with a solid wall around it. But once Tom and Michael knocked the end of the porch out I couldn't bear to see it closed up again, so I asked for sidelights. I considered sidelights running the full length of the door but settled for smaller ones, since we don't want to get into tempered gla$$. But I've got tempered determination (obstinance), so I snapped some photos and slapped them in Microsoft Paint to SEE my options. Here's what I came up with. All I have to do is make a decision.

Here's what it would look like if it were finished with a solid wall...
Melanie Renn

...and here's how it would look with sidelights...
Melanie Renn

...and here's how it actually looks, mid-construction...
Melanie Renn


hot shots

Hot Shots | Melanie Renn

Thom and Michael never work on the house unless we have a heatwave.

A few years ago when they built the porch steps, wouldn't you know, as soon as they started, a heatwave hit and they had to work in the hottest part of the yard. But this time, with unusually cool temperatures all year, we fully expected it to be comfortable. We would, wouldn't we? Heh. The minute Thom pulled up in his truck, the mercury shot right through the thermometer. Where are they working this time? The one place in the house that traps heat, the porch. When the temperature hit 107 today, it had to be 115 on the porch. I stuck a fork in them shortly after noon but they just kept cookin'. I don't know how they did it but they got both end walls framed, the electrical wiring in, and the double doors up and latched. All looking very good, as you will soon see. Right now it's bedtime. Gasp. At 11:00pm it's over 80 degrees. Global warming? What global warming? Yeah, right. If this keeps up they'll have to build a rudder on this house! Sailing off to dreamland now. Nighty-night.

We're Havin' A Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave


Torpa Stenhus

Jeremiah Nilsson
Torpa Stenhus
Photos: Jeremiah Nilsson, Torpa Stenhus

What could be more captivating than medieval walls illuminated by hand?
Medieval walls illuminated by hand in black and white.

Case in point: Torpa Stenhus, one of Sweden's best-preserved medieval manors. The original building dates to the 1300's when it was a farm cottage for a succession of knights and noblemen. By 1470 it was rebuilt into a tall stone house (stenhus) to fortify it against impending attack. During Sweden's struggle with Denmark, the site was an important control center for the Viskan River. It is idyllically situated on Lake Torpa which connects to Lake Åsunden, famous for a battle fought upon its ice.

When Gust Ericksson drove the Danes out in 1521, he was crowned Sweden's first truly autocratic native sovereign, King Gustaf Vasa. After 30 years of rule as "the father of the nation" Gustav made Torpa Stenhus his final residence. Upon arriving there he announced his engagement (having already lost two wives by the age of 56) to 17-year-old Katarina Stenbock. Katarina was already engaged and was said to have hidden under a bush when he came for her, but the King decreed otherwise. On August 22nd, 1552, 458 years ago this very day (by coincidence, honest) she became Queen consort of Sweden.

I wonder if it was she who had those walls illuminated in black and white?

King Gustav Vasa and Queen Consort Katarina Stenbock
King Gustav Vasa and Queen Consort Katarina Stenbock

Photo: Torpa Stenhus
Torpa Stenhus

Photo: Renaud Camus
Renaud Camus

Photo: Maarten Zuidland
Maarten Zuidland

Photos: Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson

Photos: August Sjöberg
August Sjöberg
August Sjöberg
August Sjöberg
August Sjöberg
August Sjöberg

Nyborg Slot

Nyborg Slot is Denmark's oldest preserved royal castle from the time of the Valdemar kings. It may have been built as early as 1170 by Knud Prizlavsen, a close relative of the royal family. Upon his death, the castle reverted to the King and remained royal property for the rest of the Middle Ages. The castle was regularly renovated and expanded in the decades around 1400, and later in the first half of the 1500s when Nyborg was declared to be the capital of Denmark. In the 1520’s, King Frederik I made many structural and decorative changes that are still visible, including the characteristic geometric painting of the walls.

Photo: J.C. Schou
J.C. Schou

Photos: Jens Christoffersen
Jens Christoffersen
Jens Christoffersen
Jens Christoffersen