A TOUCH OF ST. FRANK

The tiny living room in our A-frame is just that – tiny. So tiny, that it borders on the comical and believe me, hyperbole is not being employed here! That being said, I’ve tried to make it as cozy as possible given its diminutive dimensions and imbued it with an undercurrent of worldly personality as is always the case in my interiors, and this spatially limited room has actually become rather livable and inviting (or so I’ve been told!). But I’ve always felt like something was missing from the space. The one wall in the room is steeply angled and has been adorned with a mirror and artwork in its previous iterations, but I knew that what was ultimately needed to make the room feel entirely pulled together and polished would be something large-scale, ornamental, textural and subtly elegant without being overwhelming. So when I was approached by St. Frank to partner in revamping this spot in our home, I was seriously beyond thrilled! It was such a wonderful and timely opportunity to collaborate with a company that I had long esteemed for both their incredible collection of global home wares and their laudable mission of supporting artisans around the world in their very signature approach of socially-conscious commerce.

I chose a gloriously substantial ivory juju hat from the Cameroon, which are traditionally crafted and worn by the Bamileke tribe during their ritual ceremonies. And I couldn’t be more ecstatic with how perfect it feels in the room!

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St. Frank is a lifestyle company which was created to satisfy a niche in the market for global goods which are ethically sourced and which elevate traditional, artisanal wares into luxe collectibles – simultaneously providing sustainable work partnerships with craftspeople around the world while celebrating the true uniqueness, cultural relevance and authentic artistry of these exotic items. The brand’s namesake pays homage to San Francisco, the city where it was founded and where their flagship store is located, as well as to St. Francis of Assisi, who was the son of an established textile merchant and who dedicated his life to the poor and underprivileged. In this same spirit, the company has dedicated itself to preserving age-old craftsmanship through a fair-trade approach of working with artisans and cooperatives worldwide. With an absolutely incredible collection of gorgeous pieces ranging from their signature framed textiles to soft furnishings and decorative items, there is something from every corner of the globe and for every spot in the home!

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Check out St. Frank online, at their shop in San Francisco, CA, or at their upcoming new location in East Hampton, NY for more haute-boheme beauty!

  • I have partnered with St. Frank and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

*Text and images of juju hat in living room by Astrid Insieme. All other photos provided by St. Frank.

 

 

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ALL DECKED OUT WITH RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

After the excessively brutal winter we experienced here in New Hampshire, there was no prospect more exciting than preparing for outdoor living as the days began to lengthen and the temperatures slowly but surely rose. Well, the planning actually began in the form of desperate fantasizing about lounging in the sun and nighttime cocktails on the deck as we were pummeled with blizzard after blizzard…haha! We live in a wooded area by a lake and because nature plays such an integral role in our day-to-day backdrop, we’ve made it a point during the renovation of our property to maximize the potential for enjoying our surroundings during those very short months when the weather actually permits it. And here in New England, that essentially translates to deck living.  After the framework to our addition was completed last spring, we built decks in the front and back of our modified A-frame and constructed an attached pergola on the back deck. Although we have a sizeable yard in the back (which is now seeded, thankfully, and no longer a lunar-like wasteland of of weeds, rocky soil and construction debris), our intention was to create one long, expansive space where all of the entertaining/lounging areas would be concentrated. We managed to have all of the structures built and stained/painted before last winter, but we didn’t have the opportunity to actually “deck” it out and properly enjoy it. Until now. I’ve styled it up in partnership with the amazing people at Raymour & Flanigan and it is ready for the season!

So for the sake of visualizing the evolution of this project, I’ll share some before shots:

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This was taken last summer as the back deck was being built. Yes, we’ve been living in a perpetual construction site. Check out that luscious lawn!

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At this point, the attached pergola had just been built and we were about to embark on the always fun stage of endless painting and staining. Irony intended.

Fast forward to over a month ago, when the outdoor furniture from Raymour & Flanigan was delivered! I chose the Tilley Outdoor Sofa and the Tilley Outdoor Chair (I got a pair) to create an outdoor living room beneath the pergola. I was so incredibly excited to see these gorgeous pieces in place, with their incredibly clean, modern lines and deep seating, that I couldn’t help but temporarily set it up, even though there was still quite a bit of prep work needing to be addressed before the install.

BEFORE DECK MAKEOVER

As soon as the weather was warm enough to actually start working outside, we started with retouching all of the white paint on the pergola and restaining the entire back deck because unfortunately, even treated wood takes quite a beating from the harsh elements here in New England.

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We also installed waterproof, bamboo blinds on the three (exposed) sides of the pergola so that we’d have the option of sun filtering on those super bright days. And for ambient lighting in the evenings, we hung string lights and a cluster of solar pendant lights which were an easy DIY hack we fashioned using five rattan-style baskets (they’re actually resin-coated, because as you can imagine, everything stays out and needs to be weatherproof around here!).

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Now the decorating fun begins. Notice the mammoth pillow pile in the back…those are the Sunbrella cushions for the sofa and chair set.  I have never seen or sat on cushier things in my life! I am strangely obsessed with them.

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And so with the outdoor rug down and the seating intact, I brought in greenery and items from my personal hoard (decorative pillows, textiles and tables, etc.) to pull this outdoor space together. Ultimately, I wanted it to be comfortable and inviting; after all, this is where we are going to do some serious lounging, whether chilling out as a family or entertaining. It is where we will have lazy coffees in the morning and unwind after a grilled meal in the evening with drinks. And of course, I wanted it to feel like a bit of an escape. A sensorial retreat from reality…like a vacation, but conveniently, at home. Everything is weatherproof and can be left out in the rain, except for my kilim pillows which I just toss into one of our sheds when the weather promises to be inclement. And voila…

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Can’t get over the stunning, modern design and roominess of these pieces! I also fell in love with their black Coil Solar Outdoor Lantern and got a few for scattering around on the floor and on tabletops.

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And there you have it! It took a while, but this deck is finally transformed and more than ready for what is guaranteed to be much use until the cold weather kicks in again! Cheers to spring and summer on the horizon!

  • I have partnered with Raymour & Flanigan and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

*Images and text by Astrid Insieme

FIRE AND ICE WITH RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

We’re just a couple of days shy of the winter solstice…and what better way to celebrate the arrival of Old Man Winter (who, admittedly, decided to show up MUCH earlier than desired this year…haha!) than with a good, old-fashioned fire in the snowy woods? If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve been busy tying up all of our outdoor projects before the onset of the long, cold months ahead. The last of which was the creation of a permanent fire pit area in our backyard which we cast amidst a path of concrete pavers. Well, it took a little longer than anticipated, but it’s finally finished and already been put to good use, in partnership with my friends at Raymour & Flanigan!

Before we jump in, I thought I’d just share a quick, visual chronology of the basic steps of the fire pit project:

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The process was relatively straightforward and devoid of issues, until, a freak snowstorm hit – with no forecast in sight – about twelve hours after we had poured the final round of concrete in the form. Thankfully, my extremely patient and amazingly capacious Husband, who makes absolutely EVERYTHING possible around here, decided to quickly cover the fire pit with one of those collapsible shed structures, and rigged some heat lamps in the interior to keep the temperature above freezing so that the concrete would cure properly.

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And so thanks to his timely solution and efforts, our fire pit was saved! And ready to be used, even with arctic temperatures and snowdrifts dominating the landscaping…haha! Because we’re crazy like that. So long as the flames are persistent and the wine is flowing, there’s plenty of sustainable warmth to enjoy the picturesque surroundings!

In collaboration with Raymour & Flanigan, I’ve styled our outdoor fire pit area with very simple Adirondack-style chairs in white (Mopani Outdoor Chair), and a loveseat bench in the same style (Hantom Outdoor Bench). The simple lines of the Adirondack-inspired design of the chosen seating are just perfect for our rustic setting, and conjure up that quintessentially New England vibe regardless of the season. Because we’re in the throes of some seriously cold days here in New Hampshire, the only other elements that are necessary are some cozy layers in the form of plaid throws, pelts, kilim pillows and some lanterns for effect. Oh, and fire, of course! Accompanied by warming beverage(s) of choice. And there you have it…the makings of a simple, unfussy scene to enjoy the stark beauty of winter!

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Happy wintering, everybody…stay warm, safe and jolly, and may the season be merry and bright, well into the New Year!

  • I have partnered with Raymour & Flanigan and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

* Images and text by Astrid Insieme

AN ECLECTIC HOLIDAY HOME TOUR

So, it’s that time of year…and how quickly it descended upon us! I’m very excited to be participating, alongside so many talented creatives, in the Winter Eclectic Home Tour hosted by the amazing Jess of Domicile 37 (thanks for organizing this blog hop and the invite, Jess!). If you’ve made your way over from Monica Wants It, welcome!

For those who are new here, I thought it would be apropos to preface by disclosing a few things about our lifestyle before jumping into the visuals. We are a family of three who live in the woods of New Hampshire, in a tiny A-frame cottage which is currently in the throes of a renovation; we’ve recently added on an addition which is still a work in progress, but for the moment, our actual living area is simply comprised of the A-frame which totals just under 800 square feet. With steeply angled walls. So as you can imagine, it is a very small home with some very particular and unusual spatial limitations! However, this conveniently aligns with my penchant for a “less is more” approach to decorating for the holidays, despite my otherwise maximalist leanings when it comes to interiors. As far as “decking our halls”, I prefer incorporating a few subtle and intentional flourishes which remind us of the celebratory season, and rely mostly on cultivating a cozy, layered, and wintry mood throughout. The vibe (hopefully!) translates to an unfussy melange of eclectic/bohemian/Scandinavian/rustic styles with a touch of Christmas cheer.

OK, that’s enough of my virtual babbling…come on in!

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So here is the entry to our little A-frame which I always spruce up with greenery this time of year, opting to keep things rather elemental and natural. Except, of course, for the star perched atop the peak of our roof…haha!

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This is the view from our front door as you enter a narrow foyer which leads into our open-plan downstairs.  The foyer essentially serves as a mudroom where we stash our shoes, hats, umbrellas, etc. and although the space is primarily utilitarian in purpose, there’s always room for some seasonal dressing in the form of garlands and wreaths, right?

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A square, boxwood wreath and some pine boughs gathered from trees on our property provide just enough deliberate doses of green while not overwhelming the tight space.

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From here, we enter into the tiniest of tiny kitchens. And I do mean that…its usable space measures roughly 10 x 7 feet (with an angled wall, no less)! Here is a vignette of the peninsula area where we eat:

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A view to the living room. We like to keep things abundantly layered and super cozy during the winter, as it gets brutally cold here in northern New England. I think perhaps you can now detect the “maximalist leanings” I had previously mentioned!

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This is a bit of an odd photo, but it shows the layout of the open-plan downstairs, and the placement of the kitchen (in the background) in relation to the living area. The stairs lead upstairs to two tiny bedrooms and an even tinier loft.

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I like surprising and unconventional mixes in my decor, as I tend to find beauty in the unexpected. Global, traditional and rustic aesthetics juxtapose effortlessly, I feel, and still manage to feel discreetly festive. I truly believe that if you do anything with conviction and wild abandon, it will always work!

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We can’t hang our stockings by the chimney with care…so they hang by our sliding glass doors, dangling (carefully?) from a curtain rod. And please behold our baby tree beneath…haha! Yep, that’s about as much tree as we can fit in our living room at the moment!

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Some more living room details, keeping it minimal but still evocative of the holiday spirit:

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And a close-up of our baby tree. All 15 inches of her! I love her though…she seriously cracks me up.

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Shall we head outside to our back deck? Here is where we can appreciate the woods on the edge of our property, so this space is all about experiencing the rusticity of cabin life. Bundled up, we can still enjoy a quick morning coffee or glass(es) of wine in the late afternoon here. But not for too much longer, as the temperatures are dropping quickly!

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So, the reality is that I had finished taking all the photos that I intended to include in this holiday home tour last week. But then Mother Nature intervened a few days ago, rather opportunely, and this happened…and so I thought it would be a perfect, final shot for this wintry blog hop!

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Or maybe this one would be more fitting? Apologies in advance for the atrocious quality of the photo, but it’s good enough to see how we do the most obvious thing one could do with an A-frame (and some Griswold-ian efforts) this time of year…

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And that’s how we do the holidays around here! Thanks so much for stopping by, and don’t forget to pay a visit next to Mila of Jest Cafe to see how she works her seasonal magic, as well as all of the other talented creatives (listed below) who participated in this week’s Winter Eclectic Home Tour. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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(Please Note: Links to Home Tours are not live until day of tour!)

Monday

Bright Green Door // Michelle Matangi Home // Sharon Williams // CAD Interiors // Domicile 37

Tuesday

Casa Watkins Living //  Maggie Overby Studios // House Homemade // French & French Interiors // Style Mutt Home

Wednesday

Up to Date Interiors // The Striped House // Designing Vibes // Iris Nacole // Fearfully & Wonderfully Made // Blue i Style

Thursday

PMQ for Two // Maker of Home // Go Haus Go // Whimsical Blue Living // FOXY OXIE

Friday

This is Our Bliss // Monica Wants It // Insieme House // Jest Cafe // The Gathered Home

A TALE OF TRANSFORMATION

Just thought I’d begin by sharing a brief chronicle of the progress we have made transforming a once derelict (but teeming with potential) A-frame in the woods of New Hampshire into our year-round home! This particular story commences about five years ago, when my Husband, Brian, and I began tackling the initial phase of this remodel primarily on our own, except for the electrical and plumbing work which we (naturally) hired out. I should mention, if only to humor myself in remembrance of our joint insanity, that we were actually living onsite while carrying out this extremely laborious, messy and protracted renovation. This could have proven to be a very poor decision, as sleeping on a mattress on the floor, amidst power machinery and mammoth piles of construction debris, isn’t usually the prescribed formula for ensuring a newly married couple’s happiness and stability…haha! But thankfully, we have survived and are still at it!

So here is the evolution of phase one of the undertaking, which essentially involved a full exterior and interior facelift. (For more photos and details, you can check out our “Before & After” feature on Design*Sponge here from a couple of years ago.)

The exterior (before, during and after):

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The interior (before and after):

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(I have kindly spared you the sight of the bathroom in its unadulterated, “before” state. But if you are curious, I hope you will be satiated with the knowledge that there were relentless colonies of mushrooms growing from the soggy floorboards. And stenciled, green ducks on tongue and groove walls stained every hideous shade of orange imaginable.)

Once the A-frame was fully rehabilitated, we took about a year off to recuperate our energies before embarking on phase two of our grand plans for this property. For familial reasons, we knew that adding onto the tiny cottage was imperative, and fortunately, we had the land and the space to expand. So we drafted the design ourselves and once all the bureaucratic steps were taken to secure the go-ahead to build the addition, we enlisted a contractor to execute our vision. And here’s how that chapter of the story went:

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This is where we stepped back into the picture. Ambitious (read: crazy) people that we are, Brian and I have resumed putting our collective stamp on our home by beginning to paint the exterior (at the moment, we have only finished the facade), and initializing some minor hardscaping projects, such as laying a rustic entry path of bluestone pavers to the front deck. Which as you can see, clearly needs to be repainted at this point given the abuse it’s been taking as of late!

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The to-do list for this summer is frighteningly massive and involves: painting the rest of the house, installing shutters and flower boxes, extending and painting the front deck, building a back deck with an attached pergola, depositing loam around the remainder of the property in preparation for hydro seed, building a backyard fire pit, and giving three of our sheds facelifts. Reasonable or delusional? We shall see in a few months…haha!

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And that’s where we’re currently at! If all goes according to plan, this utilitarian shed in the foreground will be receiving a bit of an unexpected makeover very soon…stay tuned!

 

*Images and text by Astrid Insieme