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A New Year, a New Issue!

December 30, 2013 03:55 PM


Sean Litchfield

As we look forward to the New Year and all the exciting plans we have for Design New England, we’re thrilled to be starting it off with our January/February Kitchen + Bath issue (in homes and online next week). The “Rustic Chic” kitchen of a family that traveled the globe before settling down in a suburb south of Boston brightens the cover with a gleaming white palette. And it’s just one of many stories with gorgeous photographs that mix comfort and functionality with style and sophistication. Read the issue next week for more! Happy New Year!

Holidays in Newport

December 23, 2013 12:30 PM

Breakers Great Hall Xmas-2 (JC)blog.jpg Preservation Society of Newport County

The Great Hall of The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, goes above and beyond with Christmas decorating this year. The 15-foot-tall poinsettia tree is just one of 28 decorated trees found throughout the house.

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and gift-laden sleighs pulled by imaginary horses made of moss combine with the opulent architecture of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, to create a lavish, yet sentimentally charming holiday scene that would delight Scrooge himself (even before the ghosts arrived). The Preservation Society of Newport County, caretakers of the historic houses built by the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries, pulls out all the decorating stops to bring the spirit of the season to The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. The Design New England team recently paid a visit to The Breakers to see for ourselves. From the iconic 15-foot-tall red poinsettia tree in the Great Hall to the dining tables set with period silver and china to the (new this year) gingerbread models of five of the society’s mansions created by local pastry chefs, we relished it all.


Friends with Flair

December 19, 2013 01:28 PM


Photographs by Kelly Davidson

Daniel Hellman (left) and Eric Chang of Hellman-Chang relax in the new Avery Chair in Webster & Company at the Boston Design Center.

No matter how many times we visit the Boston Design Center, and we’re there a lot, there’s always something new. It could be as straightforward as a showroom opening (Romo’s fabrics and wallcoverings are pattern-heavy and stunning), as logistic as a location change (Icon Group settles into its new spot on the other end of the fourth floor), or more design-inspired such a new collection to ogle (designer Sarah Richardson’s fabrics are now carried at Kravet and Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring announced its Oyster Bay and Sunapee Lake collections, which have muted hues for wood floors with names like Afternoon Nap, Weathered Rope, and Soaring Eagle).

New is normal, but the exquisite furniture crafted by Hellman-Chang available to the trade at Webster & Company is extraordinary. H|C was founded by Daniel Hellman and Eric Chang, friends since age 10, who design and craft beautiful tables, desks, bookshelves, and chairs at their studio in Brooklyn, New York. To photograph and interview the design duo for our “et al.” department in Design New England’s November/December issue, we visited them at the Webster showroom, the first in New England to carry the line.


Around New England: The Soul of Winslow Homer

December 17, 2013 03:56 PM


Winslow Homer, bronze bas-relief by Leonard Baskin

A 12-by-8˝-inch bas-relief I came across in an antique shop in Thomaston, Maine, was not to be mine. (It was priced at $3,500, so no thought of my ever owning it.) But I was haunted by the seeming collusion of two geniuses of American art in this small piece.

Winslow Homer’s place in the pantheon of American artists seems forever secure. The young Bostonian made his name as a war correspondent for Harper’s Magazine during the Civil War. Afterward, Homer painted Tom Sawyer-like boys playing snap the whip or pretty young women doing farm chores or promenading along the beach beneath parasols — an attempt to regain a lost national innocence or a sublimation of seen war horrors? Homer also was an amazing water colorist, depicting hunters in the Adirondacks or tropical scenes in the Bahamas.


Thrice as Nice

December 13, 2013 12:50 PM

Thumbnail image for 500 PIECE PUZZLEblog.jpg

It might be enough that purchasing gifts from shops like the inventive Gateway Arts store in Brookline Village, Massachusetts, is essentially giving twice: once to the receiver of the gift, and once to the maker of the gift who keeps 50 percent of the sale price. Gateway’s artists, who deal with diverse challenges ranging from psychiatric illnesses to spectrum disorders, work in paint, clay, jewelry, and textiles, and this year, we are cheering about their gift to thrifty shoppers who want unique, high-quality, fun, usable presents under the tree — for less than $30.

For art lovers and lovers of brain-teasing puzzles, Gateway has turned the intricate artwork of Rebecca Levy into a 500 piece puzzle (pictured above) that the whole family can work on — all year. $25.


Outside-the-Box Gifting

December 5, 2013 04:37 PM


Chalkware is for doodling on blackboards or for building a chalk world.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and, this year, Thanksgiving at the department store of your choice. Ugh. Glad they are behind us. My idea of holiday shopping isn’t fighting the madding crowd for some uber deal on a flat screen or a pair of sox. I like to take my time and look for those special gifts not found in the discount flyers — the right gift for the right person, preferably an item he or she might not discover on his or her own, but will be thrilled I found for them. For instance:

Chalkware. This is the brilliant concoction of Matt Austin, a New York artist, and his brother Clayton Austin, the force behind Boston Ornament Company, the plasterworks specialist extraordinaire.


Around New England: Brown, In Dissonance There's Harmony

December 3, 2013 04:48 PM


Weighing just a tad under two pounds, Brown University: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press, $35) is not really a portable guidebook. Rather, it is a beautifully written architectural history of the Ivy League university in the Rhode Island capital.

Brown University is one of the hottest of hot colleges and this guide reminds us of just how much the school’s inherent appeal is physical. How a campus looks cannot be divorced from its educational mission and the way the Providence campus has grown and evolved in a quarter of millennium demonstrates that it is not the result of a branding campaign. Brown, author Raymond P. Rhinehart argues, offers “a magical urban tapestry that evokes a special sense of place.” Rhinehart, a Brown alumnus, makes his alma mater’s patrimony (“a textbook ensemble of American architecture, from colonial times to the present”) accessible through nine walks, supported by maps and luscious photos by Walter Smalling. Rhinehart is a consummate storyteller; his comprehensive history of the building arts at Brown offers good tales and delightful anecdotes.

About this blog

An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

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Royal Barry Wills designed this home located on a cul-de-sac in Brockton's West Side.