Author: Jessica

And then there were walls

Oh, it’s been forever since I last wrote here (I say that almost every time I post, don’t I?) and so much has happened in our lives during these past four months. It was mostly due to the fact that I left my establishment job to go out on my own and start a boutique consulting firm, but my partner has also been traveling a ton for work, the kids are keeping us on our toes, the renovation is ongoing… you know, the list goes on. During it all, there has been an incredible amount of progress over at the house and I’ve decided it’s high time to share a little. So, we have plastered walls now, the kitchen is being installed, shelves are going in closets, and apparently tile will be installed next week! It’s not much to see in photos, but it’s really amazing to behold on site. I’ve had to pick lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, wallpaper, paint colors, the list goes on and on. It’s even time to pick the new furniture since …

Rethinking abandoned underground spaces in Paris

I wonder if you saw the story earlier this year about the Parisian mayoral candidate, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who during her campaign joined forces with two architects to conjure and design inventive re-use proposals for the city’s abandoned metro stations? The Parisian metro is the sixth largest in the world and possibly one of the most storied. You’ve seen it in movies, probably heard tourists’ tales about it, and if fortunate, you’ve perhaps experienced it for yourself. I remember it well from my time living in Paris, mostly riding through the depths of its mightily efficient system to university classes on the famed Left Bank and also to the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (the National Library of France) in the 13th Arrondissement, where I could be found, head buried in microfiche, reading about obscure Latin American educational approaches. Ah, the flights of academic fancy that accompany tertiary education! Anyway, I quite liked the metro (although was somewhat partial to the Parisian bus system for the wonderful opportunity to soak in all the sights above ground) and …

Tearing Down and Building Up

I popped by the house the other day and was a little taken aback to see it as a shell (literally) of its former self. There it was, almost naked on a very cold, gray, New England winter day. The siding had been stripped away, revealing haphazardly placed darkened wood. Where there were once windows, there were now gaping holes that stared back at me like empty eye sockets. Partly because of the historic restrictions on changing the facade and partly because our contractor had suggested the windows would go in the previous week, I just hadn’t been expecting the bare bones that I came upon as I rounded the corner of our street and glanced the house for the first time in weeks. To give you a sense of the change, I quickly sent a photo of the house to my partner and it was so different that at first he didn’t even recognize it. And yet, as I wandered around the site, squelching through mud and trampling the small crunchy mounds of snow, …

Tile with Spark: 10 Sources for Bold and Modern Tile

A big hello from somewhere up in the sky over the middle of continental U.S.! I’m headed to California to visit two of my bestest friends and I can’t wait. Even though the reason for the trip is principally work-related, I’m taking a few days on each side of the work to spend time with my friends and to also do a little work on the house. I love a good renovation and I love all the creativity, I really do, but there seems to come a point in each renovation when I’m a bit worn out, when decisions don’t come as easily, and my to-do list just seems to spiral out of control. The chance to escape the cold (and craziness) of home/work in Boston and be productive in a warmer (and quieter) climate is something I’m really looking forward to. The big item on my house to-do list right now is the tile. I’ve been searching high and low for the “right” tile for weeks now and, due to an abundance of options and a little fear of …

Gingerbread houses à la moderne

You might recall that last year I was swept up in the Pinterest graham cracker gingerbread house frenzy and made my first house ever. It was a solid first attempt, but I realized afterwards that given my inclination for more modern design, I could probably create something more interesting in future iterations. Fast forward a year and here we are, smack in the middle of the 2015 holiday season. A close friend and her children came to spend the weekend with us and we decided to make gingerbread houses with the kids. Real ones, with legit gingerbread and a modern twist. We made a larger one for the kids to decorate and then I made a smaller one with crazier angles that I could tinker with. The larger house was just a design I rough-sketched just before cutting and shaping, with basic straight sides and a sloping roof. The kids were quite enthusiastic in the decoration so it’s hard to see some of my painstaking attention to architectural details, but that’s part of the fun, …

Decisions, decisions and a touch of fun in the kitchen

If you know me, you know I love a good kitchen backsplash. In home design, I often think of the backsplash as an empty canvas just waiting to be explored (exploited?). It’s a great place to show the personality of your home, with a touch of color, pattern, or texture. With that in mind, it’s now time to decide on the backsplash for our new home and I need your help. You’ll remember that in our last apartment, we had a beautiful vermillion back-painted glass backsplash. It really stood out in our apartment and was a great focal point in the expansive kitchen. This time round, as we’ve talked about before, the plan is for a Scandinavian modern house with some punchy geometric accents. Along these lines, I have a reference image that I love, and that I had hoped to use as the basis for our new kitchen. As you can see below, it’s this incredible geometric patterned wall paper by Minakani set against light grey cabinetry. And I had big plans for a really bold backsplash …

A photographic rewind: before the demolition

So sometimes I like to do things backwards (read: life is too hectic to think far enough in advance to allow me to do things in the proper order). So today, by popular demand, I’m sharing some pictures of the house from before the demolition. Yeah, I know, the “before” pictures should really precede the demolition and construction pictures, but that’s just not how it happened here. So, in no particular order, here are some of the photos from the real estate listing. It’s worth noting that the house was in perfectly liveable condition, and it’s only because of our aesthetic priorities, our interest in energy efficiency, and a desire to create a space better suited to our family needs that we are gutting the house and building the interior from scratch. Starting at the property’s front door, above is the entry hall or foyer, which in many respects is quite beautiful. But since it’s definitely not my style, we’re saying goodbye to the dark wood and will see it replaced with simple painted plastered walls, modern casework (cabinetry), …

Exterior of federal style home under renovation

D is for Demolition

A couple of weeks ago they started demo on our house. All the talk, all the plans, all the contracting, but I don’t think anything ever prepares you for the magnitude of feeling that accompanies such a massive demolition. I’m part-thrilled and part-terrified, and these two emotions make rather strange bedfellows. I’m excited for everything this means in terms of the possibility of living in a house that I have such a strong hand in designing and also for what this means for our family to live in a new, larger, carefully crafted space. And yet, I’m absolutely frightened by the reality of it all: the timeline, the effort, and mostly, the expense. When you’re placing all your cards on a house in the way that we have (both in terms of hopes and dreams and pure financial resources), it’s pretty shocking to wake up one morning to pictures of a newly-skeletal interior. And that’s just what happened to me. I was in Oregon for work, woke up one morning and somewhere between getting out of bed and brushing …

Dressing up your sofa (or table, or chair, or…)

Right now we are smack in the middle of a year-long spell of temporary living, somewhere between the designed-it-myself happiness of our old loft in the city and the excitement of a big, new house in the quasi suburbs. We’re in an apartment, decently sized for city-living standards, and located in an awesome neighborhood we knew nothing about, but at the end of the day, it just doesn’t feel like home. I’ve spent some time trying to fix that, adding curtains here and there, making sure all our artwork is on the wall, insisting on using our rugs even when rooms have carpet (much to my partner’s chagrin)… and little by little we are creating a space that feels less like a hold-over and more like an enjoyable space. But between you and me, if you care at all about design, living in a temporary space isn’t really all that appealing. It’s frustrating because the spaces aren’t designed the way I would like them to be, there’s no overhead lighting, the walls are this bizarre almost-but-not-quite …

More than just a mattress

When we sold our house we received one of the best compliments that a design-crazy homeowner can ever hope to receive. The buyer’s agent said “the buyers really like your house as it is, and feel like they could move in today and not have to change a thing. Would you be interested in selling your furniture and decor?” Now most of the pieces we want to come with us — most particularly the live-edge walnut dining room table and steel-topped walnut bar my brother built — but we were certainly open to passing along some of our other pieces, and particularly those that are harder to move. One piece that we’ve agreed to sell to the buyer is our bed, The W Hotels Clive Bed, which we love. It’s really solid, great for sleeping and reading, and is such a nice example of understated contemporary furniture. So now I’m on a hunt for a new bed and I wanted to share the beds that are on my shortlist. To set some design parameters, let …

Discovering Mabo Kids

Every now and then I come across something with an aesthetic that immediately strikes my fancy and sparks intense admiration. In the past I’ve shared how Dinosaur Designs does this for me, and how I’m creating quite the little curated collection of their works in our home. Today I can’t help but share one of my recent discoveries, Mabo Kids. I encountered Mabo Kids on Courtney Adamo’s instagram feed. Courtney, of the online kids boutique Babyccino, has a dreamy feed with zillions of pictures or her really cute kids and their family’s life in London. I have no idea how she keeps herself and her kids so stylish and makes it all looks so effortless (wait, yes I do, social media is the ultimate platform for curating the “best” moments of your life) but her photography is downright lovely to look at and her kids are adorable. In the past few weeks as the weather has warmed, I’ve noticed that a good few of her photos are of her lovely children in simple yet beautiful, textured outfits from Mabo Kids. So always drawn …

On kitchens, cabinets, and the cost

In our home, the kitchen is the center of it all, the hub of energy around which everything else revolves. Sure, we have an open plan apartment with one large living space and the kitchen has a big physical presence, but it’s more than that. We spend the great majority of our time in the kitchen, cooking, snacking, hanging out, having meals, chatting. We’ve had evenings with friends when we never even left the kitchen area and, in fact, we had some friends over for brunch this past weekend who said, “you know, I don’t think we’ve ever sat at your dining room table or in your lounge area before!”. And they’re right, we’re just always hanging out in the kitchen or at the amazing counter bar we created for just that purpose. Because of all this, as I spend hours head-down in proposed layouts for the new house, I’m constantly coming back to the kitchen: it’s placement, it’s size, it’s organization, it’s aesthetic. And recently, while wandering the Internet for inspiration and guidance, I came across a pretty exciting …

The design-conscious traveler, Part 2

You know how I’ve been bemoaning the difficulty of finding gorgeous holiday accommodations? You know how I love planning holidays but always struggle to find the rental home that’s just right? Well I just discovered a resource that has me thinking the struggle may be over. It’s sort of VRBO crossed with a sense of design crossed with kid-friendly… it’s called kid&coe.  And its full of awesomeness. Seriously, I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about this site. First, it’s attractive to look at and easy to use (admittedly I haven’t actually tried to book anything yet). Second, it lists properties all over the world. Want to go to Porto, Portugal with your family? They have great houses and apartments there, like this one. Or maybe Melbourne, Australia? Look at this place. San Francisco anyone? Go enjoy this awesome kitchen. The thing that makes me love this site isn’t the fact that the houses are all kid-friendly (although that’s definitely great) but it’s the fact that most of the houses look just like somewhere I …

Light and Ladder pendant | Textured Modern

Porcelain Cluster Lights

Not much to write here, the picture speaks entirely for itself. The perfect matte finish on these imperfectly-shaped porcelain vessels makes you just want to reach out and touch them (and own them immediately). I’ve been pining over these pendant lights for a while now and I think the time to incorporate them in our home might finally be right around the corner… Designed by Light and Ladder in Brooklyn, NY.

Grand life changes

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? There have been just a few changes in our house these past two weeks: our twins were born, we made an offer on a new house (and it was accepted!), and we started showing our apartment in the hopes of a sale. Because apparently we like to take on a lot of change all in one fell swoop… Anyway, while the sweet babies sleep, I’ve been trying to figure out how we’d like our new house to take shape. We had originally thought we’d buy a piece of land or a tear-down house and have the chance to dream up our perfect property: open and airy single-level, L- or U-shaped, enclosing a courtyard and lawn with a pool…. Yet a confluence of circumstance led us to this home — a grand old Federal-style house built in 1895 — which we’ll renovate extensively. So now we need to begin to think in renovation terms, to reflect on how to use this particular space, and to conjure images of what we want our new home to look like. And despite …

Living small: guest houses and tiny homes

I don’t know about you, but I regularly dream about having a guest house. I’m sure part of the allure is probably the fact that it’s (realistically) the closest I could ever get to owning a tiny or micro home, but the idea of owning so little and living so simply is incredibly appealing. As a result, I’m always intrigued by guest studios and houses with great design and are collecting them for the day when we own a property that could accommodate one! Today’s post is a round up of a couple small houses that I think are entirely intriguing. The trigger for these musings was the photo above of these incredible asymmetric gems in the U.K.  They were conceived of as mobile artists’ studios rather than guest homes per se, but it’s the shape and form that I’m drawn to, and I figure you could configure them on the inside however you’d like. And those charred wood-clad sides….. ! Here’s another beautiful small home. The warm wood nicely balances the sharp angles and creates a welcoming space with a dreamy …

Perfectly simple spaces in Reykjavik

You know, for someone who writes a blog, I’d say I spend relatively very little time actually popping in on other blogs and keeping abreast of all the good design floating around on the interwebs. I mean to, I’d like to, but life just seems to get the better of me. That said, one site that I do routinely stop by is DesiretoInspire.net, an interior design blog written by two women, a Canadian and an Australian, who are self-proclaimed “interior design junkies” (um, yeah, that’s definitely me too) and who share posts about all sorts of lovely goodness. Our styles don’t line up perfectly, and now and then they’ll present something I don’t love, but they’ve got a great eye and by and large I really enjoy what they share. So somewhere between checking work email and checking to see when the next blizzard is going to hit today, I happened upon a post that really caught my eye.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s so hard to find interesting and stimulating holiday accommodations, …

The Runcible

There’s been a bit of buzz lately around the Runcible: its beautiful lines, gorgeous warm-hued wooden exterior, and its simplistically chic concept. I mean, who wouldn’t spot this flying-saucer-meets-modernism objet d’art and be curious, right? If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out. It’s basically a new gadget that is supposed to integrate our digital lives in a post-iPhone/iPad sort of way. In fact, it’s actually supposed to become a bit of an heirloom, like a pocketwatch, and is described in the press release as the “first-ever fully round screen and palm-sized form [that] is modeled on devices that humans have always carried with them: the pocket watch, the compass, the magical stone that fits the palm of our hand.” The rest of the marketing copy is alluring too, telling us that the Runcible is the device that’s going to untether us from our non-stop digital lives and allow us to experience the world around us without interruptions and in new ways, while having an interface to our digital lives close by. Oh and did I …

Exploring Monterrey

It’s been a bit quiet ’round these parts this past week because I’ve been traveling in Monterrey and haven’t had much of a chance to write. Despite the week not being productive on the blog front, it was in fact awesomely productive on other fronts and the trip was well worth it. You might recall that I was also in Mexico three weeks ago (I happened upon that awesome ball pit at Universidad Regiomontana, remember?); it was great to go back so soon and spend some quality time both exploring the city and engaging in challenging and rewarding design work. I spent Monday in meetings for the collaboration we’re setting up there (related to the whole desk-dweller-by-day thing) and then Tuesday and Wednesday I co-taught a workshop on human-centered design. And it was fantastic. My co-instructor has a wealth of great knowledge and experience, the participants were enthusiastic and engaged, and best of all they’re embedded in an innovative organization that I know will integrate the approaches and methods we taught them into their daily work. And that’s what makes this …

Q: what do web design, a stairway, and a floor plan have in common?

So I’ve been on Pinterest for a while now and I tend to sort of do my own thing and pin away as I see fit without much regard for whether the images will appeal to others. As opposed to here, where I am intentionally hoping to share things with you that you will like and enjoy… Anyway, every now and then I notice that certain pins of mine are pinned over and over and over again. I’m always a touch bemused by which the popular ones are and there are three in particular that get endless amounts of attention so I thought I’d share them with you here and get your take. It’s funny, I really like the two images (the third one — a floor plan — is sort of in a category of its own), but of the over a thousand pins I have to date, I wonder whether these ones would be in my top five or top ten if I ever had to choose? Anyway, here they are: the three most popular pins from my account… Number 1: An …

A New Room for Little L

Textured Modern has been filled with kid-related posts recently, which goes a little against what I was hoping to create in this space. The thing is, we’re tossing around some ideas to liven up some of our spaces and have been industriously engaged in some pretty full on home reorganization, and out of all of this has come a lot of kid-related reflection. To those of you without kids, please bear with me through this a-b-c, 1-2-3 time, I promise lots of good adult-focused content in the coming weeks. I want to share what I’ve been working on for the revitalization of Little L’s room. I love his room now, I really do, and those of you know me are aware of how meticulously considered his first room was. After all, we didn’t anticipate a lot of kid things seeping out into the main living area (and other than the playroom under the stairs, we were pretty spot on) and so I wanted to create a space for him that would be full of things he …

An exercise in contrast: public space in Luxembourg

This is Textured Modern to a T. Look at this installation: a seating tunnel, or cut-through, on the grounds of a former steel mill in Luxembourg. Urban, edgy, rough concrete, warm wood with strong vertical lines…. And that asymmetry! I love the contrast of the welcoming enclosed space with the stark, industrial, open city square. Can you even imagine if we began to transform old industrial spaces in urban areas all over the world with creative human-centered installations like AllesWirdGut has done here? Talk about changing the way we experience the build environment…. Talk about striking textured modern design… (via Contemporist)

Design with(out) kids in mind, Part 2

So now that we’ve talked about designing a beautifully curated home that is simultaneously right for the whole family, it’s high time to turn to some of the specific little things I learnt while designing our home. I’m talking about the juicy little tidbits that make up (the beginnings of) a list of things to keep in mind when designing a home for your family. I searched high and low for lists like this and didn’t find much so I hope this will be helpful to those of you in the throes of planning, designing, or renovating. The standard-height bathtub. I made a fly-by mention in the intro post about the bathtub issue. When we were renovating our home, I was (as I’m sure you might imagine) pretty focused on the details and left very little up to the professionals involved as far as fixtures, finishes, and furnishings were concerned. In an incredibly ironic twist of fate, the one thing I left up to someone else ended up being less than ideal. It was the bathtub for …

Design with(out) kids in mind, Part 1

As I previewed earlier this week, I spent a lot of time thinking about whether and how to design our home with kids in mind when we completely overhauled our apartment two years ago. I was heavily pregnant with Little L at the time (you can read more about that and our terrible timing here) and how he’d fit into our lives was at the forefront of my mind. Reflecting back, almost two years after we (finally) completed the renovation, I can safely say that we chose the best route for our family: we designed a home for us, a home that we love living in, and it has turned out to be a great home for Little L too. Lesson #1: You can totally have the house you want, stark white walls, uncarpeted floors, open stairs, the lot. To some it might sound blindingly obvious and to others it may sound a little controversial. But here’s the thing: the choice to pursue the aesthetic you want, to have a house that takes design into account, …

Qué hace de una casa un hogar?

I’m traveling in Monterrey this week, and have spent a good amount of time with the smart, ambitious and fascinating leadership team at Universidad Regiomontana. They’re in the process of rethinking university education from top to bottom, from eliminating hierarchy to creating a brand new student experience facilitated by learning coaches (not professors), mixed-use open learning spaces, practicum and placement-based learning, the list goes on. It’s really impressive what they’re trying to do… but that’s a story for another time when I’m not exhausted after a seemingly endless series of (albeit fantastic) meetings. Walking by this ballpit smack in the middle of one of the high-traffic areas of the university, the ball I first picked up, and which immediately caught my attention was this one. Qué hace de una casa un hogar? Or in English, what makes a house a home? It seems so à propos doesn’t it? Funny the little things you come across in daily life…. This one definitely made me smile. Postscript: what’s a ballpit doing in the middle of a university? Turns out that the administration is …

Design + Kids = ?

When I started dreaming up all the ways we would transform our apartment into an incredible living space, I spent a decent amount of time with my good friend Google, searching for “kid-friendly design” and “home design for small children”. I had a little debate going on in my head about whether we’d design the house for our future kids (I was heavily pregnant with our first at the time) or whether we’d design the house for us and help our children learn to live and play in it (safely). I was looking to The Internet for answers, for guidance, for help, and it just didn’t get me very far. I don’t know whether I was simply looking in all the wrong places, my Google skills weren’t up to par, or there just wasn’t all that much out there, but I really drew a blank in terms of finding the resources I was looking for. Specifically, I wanted someone to say, “hey, when you design your kitchen, don’t fret about explicitly choosing cabinet pulls that can be childproofed because …

The stunningly modern urban “barn”

Allow me to present you this “barn”, re-imagined for urban dwellers with a key appreciation for the modern. I can’t help but immediately share this incredible home with you. It’s nothing short of stunning. The gorgeous industrial siding in my favourite shade of grey and the way it envelops a textured, warm wooden facade. Those strong vertical lines of the steel that contrast perfectly with the much more narrow horizontal stripes of wood. Oh and the open, airy interior. And that awesomely asymmetric window in the living room with the strong black frame that pops so compellingly from the blank-canvas-like white walls. I’m pretty sure I could move into this house tomorrow and be delighted. Maybe they’ll rent it out and we can add it to our design-conscious traveler series? Oh I wish. Right this way for more on this fantastic home or head on over and check out the architect’s site.

The design-conscious gastronome

While we’re globetrotting and talking about accommodations that stimulate the design spirit, I’d be remiss not to share a WSJ article that talks about the confluence of design and gastronomy, and in particular, the architecture and design of restaurants. I was pretty keen on this article as I started reading and glanced over the first two striking photos of restaurants in Fez and Strasbourg. But then I started to think about some of the restaurants I consider beautiful and, well, I felt the need to respond (albeit in my own way in the little-trafficked and barely charted territory of texturedmodern.com). In general, the author’s description of the way design comes into play in restaurants resonated: “the décor carries the same weight as the quality of the food and the service. The most wonderful environments are aesthetically pleasing, reflect the style of the cooking, offer a strong sense of place…”. But the preface to the above sentence threw me a little: it starts with, “At top-tier restaurants, the décor carries the same weight…” and I sort of mentally tripped up. I’ve been …

Getting Away: Design in the Dominican Republic

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping it’s a stellar one for all of us, full of fun, excitement, and adventure. Speaking of which, we just returned from a lovely vacation in the Dominican Republic. We’ve been once before and stayed in the rather heavily trafficked Punta Cana area; this time we opted for the quieter Samaná Peninsula. We spent a week lazing in the sun, riding mules to go see gorgeous waterfalls (Cascada El Limón) and boating around Los Haitises National Park. It was, as they say, just what the doctor ordered. What I really wanted to share though were some pictures of our accommodations. You’ll know from my last post that I’m always on the look-out for holiday accommodations that aren’t the standard from a architecture and design perspective. So I was pleased to happen upon the Sublime Samaná, a modern hotel just outside of the small town of Las Terrenas. It is comprised of multi-bedroom rooms and suites, each with its own fully-equipped kitchen and outdoor jacuzzi. And in front of each of the casitas runs a …

The design-conscious traveler, Part 1

Holidays. I live for them. Love them. Can’t wait for them. I even enjoy planning them. But the one thing that always trips me up is finding accommodations that catch my eye and excite me. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about architecture and design, I love exploring new hotels and houses just for the opportunity to scavenge for new ideas and appreciate someone else’s curation. With that in mind, my strong preference is to stay in places that are aesthetically interesting and encompass thoughtful design. This, unsurprisingly, is pretty hard to find. Online there are a few sites that offer a curated array of accommodations, like BoutiqueHomes but they hardly ever have a property in the area where we wish to travel. Inevitably I end up scouring HomeAway for hours, trying to find the gem in the rough. Adding “modern”, “mid-century”, or even “contemporary” doesn’t to your search terms doesn’t really help either, because people property owners throw those terms around in the property descriptions like they are going out of …