home for the holidays...

We had our first Christmas together on the seacoast this year.  Christmas Eve was warm...balmy even.  The kids and I went into town to pick up Christmas dinner.  Sanders Lobster was our first stop.  What a find...they were passing out complimentary servings of their fabulous lobster chowder.  It was such fun to hang out on the dock slurping hot, delicious chowder.  My son-in-law Mike, promised to take on all lobster wrangling duties as I am  a bit squeamish about such things. 

My wonderful builder, Peter Coyman worked overtime to get the lights installed and the last of the shelves in place.  Dear friend and kitchen designer Susan Durling of Amherst NH had carefully re-worked my designs to make sure I made the most of every tiny inch.  We weren't the least bit uncomfortable gathered around the kitchen island.
Don Mavrikas of Mavrikas Upholstery did a beautiful job on my grandmother's chair.   Remember the chair?  I switched from the bold orange to this lovely cobalt.  The fabric is from Schumacher.  Thanks to Sami, Michelle and Timothy of the Schumacher showroom at the BDC.

Breakfast featured the family favorite--sausage bread.  Not quite having gotten used to cooking in a gas oven, I have to say this was not my best effort, but we each managed to put away our fair share.

The tiny living room with the equally tiny tree (Bedford Fields) was warm and surprisingly comfortable.

Unhappily for the lobster, chowder was the theme of Christmas this year.  Fresh greens, goat cheese and Prosecco from Fresh Market, along with  wonderful bread from  Ceres Street Bakery rounded out the meal.

With most renovations complete until we begin again late winter this will be the last post on the house for a while.  It's time to take a break from this and post photos of some of the fabulous projects I have been priviledged to work on this year.

The bigger news is that it looks as though the Nashua Studio will be sold and I will be moving operations to  a wonderful space in Portsmouth which I hope to settle into soon.

Wishing you and yours a joyful new year.

a light at the end of the tunnel

Those of you living in New England may remember the torrential rains of last weekend. Not a good day to move, but move I did.

My sister Ann, (redacted recipes) came from Brooklyn to help . She is a good big sister. I spend my life being quite capable, but I definitely become the little sister when Ann is around. It was just the two of us--quality sister time if there ever was. We rented a van and tried to keep our heads above water, literally. It never stopped raining the entire day. Picture drowning muskrats....a very bad hair day for sure.
The living room was set up by the end of the day. We spent the evening drinking good wine, listening to music and celebrating sisterhood and my new home. Ann even kept me calm when I awoke to water (lots of it) in my basement the next morning.

The kitchen too, is almost complete.
The back wall is a custom color of chalkboard paint, Solid black was a little too scary for me, but I love this deep, deep blue. The blue tape and chalk outlines mark where the rest of the shelves will be placed.

There is still a bit of painting to be done, and more belongings still need to be packed and moved. I find this astounding as I feel I have relieved myself of so many possessions the past couple of years—but there are always more, more, more. How can I possibly have so much stuff?....and yet, I am grateful for the abundance. Wishing you and yours an abundant and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.

thank you

Thank you to the veterans and their families who give so much. I deeply appreciate your service and grieve for your sacrifice.

I realize that design is trivial in troubled times. But I also believe that creating a space to tuck in with ones family offers comfort and peace.

Workshops are always free of charge to returning veterans. I would be honored to have you in any class.

pretty and pink

I have never been a fan of pink. As a matter of fact I would describe myself as pink averse. I never had a pink bedroom as a child, rarely wear the color, and never, ever thought I would voluntarily spread the color cheerfully over my own walls. But that is exactly what I have just done. And not just any pink either, but a deep, hot pink. So deep and hot that upon entering the room one can imagine heat radiating from the walls. And yet it is also the pink of peonies. It speaks of raindrops on green leaves and petals. Shade on a warm day. I think it is the perfect pink.

I love this wallpaper. I found it in the Kravet showroom at the Boston Design Center. I could never do something as easy as simply buying the paper and installing it (and thanks to my mother, Mary Anne of the Wallflowers, I am a darn good paper hanger). Nope, I have decided to replicate it in paint. One more project to add to this endless list. But I am pleased and excited. This pink speaks of creative energy. I know it will make for an inspirational work space. Already I see a glass desk floating in front of the window--a Lucite chair tucked under. Nothing to disrupt the view. Have I told you that I have a view? :)

update...the house

Did I tell you that my house is small? That she is a sweet, tiny, nurturing space? How is it then, that I fear she may just put me into the ground?

It is early November. I have been in a relationship with her for nearly twelve weeks--longer if you count the weeks before I was really committed. My relationship with this house seems to follow the path of most relationships. Attraction and cautious optimism in the beginning turning to excitement and delight as time goes by. I have gotten to really know her now, and I like her--I really do. However, we have hit a snag. She is a demanding little house and is far too consuming of my time. I have let her take over my life. I work all day trying to make sure I can meet the mortgage. When I come home she is there competing for my attention.

I slide through the door greeted by my two pieces of furniture--a small, borrowed (very hard) chair, and a lovely, comfortable, beautiful bed. The bed beckons always, but there is more to do. Painting and scraping and sanding and such. Endless! With each task I accomplish she seems so pleased. Happy to be dressed in her finest. It is seductive and I am her victim.

Two more weeks I tell you. I will be in. Boundaries will be drawn. She and I will learn to co-exist. I will take care of her and she will shelter me.


A working bathroom....

american clay workshop 10/30

There is still space available in our one-day American Clay Workshop this Friday, 10/30.

relationship with a small house--first night

I slept in my house two nights ago for the first time. There is no kitchen and now with the discovery of a leaking sewer pipe, there is no bathroom. Fortunately (though I haven't thought so until now), I have not yet rented out the house next door, so none of this is really an issue.

I can watch the sun rise over the bridge from the window of my non working bathroom. From my bed, I view the freighters as they slowly make their way up river to the electrical plant. The tiny house is cozy and warm and she seems to welcome me whole heartedly.

She is decidedly feminine. A great nurturer tucked into a tiny little shell. Really. I come to this house feeling at sea myself, and though I am completely overwhelmed, each time I allow myself to just really be here, I know that things will be OK.

Dear friends came to offer labor and support yesterday. It is hard to work when you don't have your own tools and nothing seems to go as planned, but much was accomplished. The fence sits stacked in the yard ready for another work party next weekend. The old refrigerator has a new home in the basement and the stove has moved next door. There are new exterior lights and a few window boxes are in place.

Friends who are not painters diligently followed my instructions and primed woodwork that has never seen more than a coat of varnish in 90 years.

There is still much to be done but I am hopeful now. Winter is on the way, but I am secure in the fact that I will be tucked in and feeling at home before the holidays.

falling slowly....

It is already October. Here in New England the leaves have started to turn and summer is falling away. Mixed with the joy of a crisp fresh apples and cool evenings, Autumn always brings to me a hint of sadness. Perhaps it is simply missing the days of leggy little girls hopeful for what the new school year will bring.

I feel like a schoolgirl myself this year. Hopeful, but with trepidation and not a small bit of anxiety. It is a big time. A house not yet completed, my studio for sale. A search for a tenant to share space next door. I find myself chirping and running like a busy chipmunk frantically getting ready for the winter ahead.

If anyone is looking for a small sweet space to spend the winter on the NH seacoast please let me know. lisateague@lisateague.com

and really...

who in their right mind, goes from this?

to this?

relationship with a small house--2

So, here is the connection to my ranting on food from a couple of days ago...and by the way, that's the last time I blog on a rainy day when I'm cranky and hungry.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the term "green design". I am all in favor of the wonderful new products on the market that use sustainable material and product that is easy on the earth in it's manufacture. I support these products and often use them when appropriate. What excites me more is finding pieces that already exist, that may have had another purpose but that can be re-made and re-used. I love the idea that an actual person saw potential in old or discarded parts and found a way to make something wonderful.
I fell in love with the stained glass window back in the corner. It looks like a funky surf board to me. I can't wait to see it propped up to balance my couch which has to be placed off center due to space limitations.The little metal mirror is not old, but made by an actual person rather than a factory. Again, the touch of the human hand. I know it will make me happy every time I look into it.
Both pieces were found at Summer House Furnishings in Rye, NH. There are a lot of new fresh pieces but there are some lovely antiques mixed in.
This sweet little cabinet will have a home somewhere even if it only holds laundry supplies. I found this at The Bower Bird which is a lovely consignment shop in Peterborough, NH.
Also in Peterborough is one of my favorites, Red Chair Antiques. Owner, Jocie Sinauer has an unfailing eye for all things beautiful. The hanging cabinet is made from salvaged moldings and created by a local furniture maker. In my tight little space it will store my collection of small paintings.
I want so badly to make my kitchen island from this apothecary chest. I fear my space is too small, but we will see.

These salvaged balusters make beautiful, sturdy candle stands. I found them in a salvage yard in Great Barrington. I bought every single one.

And wait, just wait until you see what I've found for the kitchen.

conscious choice

I try to live with an awareness of how my choices affect my home, my family, my community, and my planet.Lately, I have tried to eat in a way that impacts my health and my community for the better.

I was raised on fresh food. My grandparents had a cattle ranch and extensive gardens. Not only did we know where our food came from, we watched it die. Butchering days were big days, festive actually. There was nothing foreign about watching a calf be raised to slaughter. We spent hours riding our horses checking the herd. We had a lovely life and so it seemed, did the livestock. They grazed freely, ate only grass, and seemed placid and happy, but I always knew they were a food source.

I promised myself this summer to try to eat only foods that were touched by a human hand. That means no prepackaged factory-produced foods. To my great sadness, that means no potato chips...OK, a confession, I have stopped buying them, but I heartily enjoy them when other people buy them. I don’t buy meat unless I know where it was raised and how it was killed. I want to know that the farmer, the baker, the maker of my food is a person who actually benefits from my relationship to their product.

I know I am supposed to be worried about my carbon footprint. That I am not supposed to eat pineapples or avocados because they come from so far away. I don’t worry about that. If it is food in it’s natural state...an avocado picked by a human hand.... I eat it. At least someone touched it; at least it isn’t some weird food product that is made of chemicals I can’t pronounce.

This whole subject has a tie-in to the way I will renovate and furnish my home. It does, it really does, but it’s Saturday and it’s raining, I’m tired and I’m craving a sandwich with local tomatoes on seeded bread from my favorite baker, a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt and mayonnaise, oh mayonnaise, that’s a problem...

The lovely photos come from my sister Ann's food blog Redacted Recipes. She is not doing much writing these days, but the recipes are still there and boy are they worth trying.

relationship with a small house...the beginning

“You did it”, he said with a congratulatory smile and an extended hand.

“I did it”, I said and burst into tears.

So begins the relationship between one designer, and one very, very small house.

It was an inauspicious beginning. Walking through the door for the pre-closing inspection I blithely sang out “Well, it sure didn't get any bigger”. I swear I felt my house shudder. She seemed to puff herself up and to square her tiny shoulders as if to say....”And who are you exactly? I have sheltered entire families here for years... happy families. Get over your self.” ...and so I did.

My little house is sturdy brick. Two houses actually as she is a duplex, mirrored twins separated by a three-foot brick wall. I will live on the side that faces the river and look to find tenants, small tenants for the other side. The house sits in a neighborhood tucked under the tall bridge that spans the distance between New Hampshire and Maine. The land was developed in 1918 to house the shipyard workers who were frantically expanding our fleet during the war. Each house is tiny, a mere 740 square feet. The ceilings are high though and the floors are lovely ash. These diminutive brick structures sit clustered together creating the feeling of a small village that abruptly disappears as the banks slope down to the river. The homes have never been plush. “The Heights" had a derogatory ring which only worsened through the depression and for decades after. Good bones are good bones though and affordable property so close to the bustling center of town is hard to come by. This Old House recently named this neighborhood one of the best choices in the northeast.

I am already more fond of my tiny home then I imagined. Layers of shingles are being stripped as we speak. The chain link fence is nearly gone. Neighbors walk by with small dogs and the tugs chug up the river. It will be weeks before I move in, but I am delighted.

For the next few weeks Paint Color Design will serve as a journal while my house and I get to know each other through the renovation process. Please click on subscribe in the right side column if you would like to be notified of updates. Wish me luck! Lisa

classic blue and white

I love this classic blue and white kitchen. The yellow tulips add just the right note.
The deep french blue paint gives a dramatic but happy backdrop to the crisp cabinetry.
Isn't it amazing that no color scheme is original?

Big Sky....Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 3/09