French Country Style

Ironically, I am going to start the series with our last 48 hours in Belgium and France. Sally and I awaken in Bruges in our lovely room in our guest house, Bonifacius.


We enjoy a lovely breakfast in the bay window overlooking the canal.


On the train ride to Charles De Gaulle airport, as the gorgeous countryside slips quickly by…


…I remember and replay in my mind the places I have seen and visited, the experiences Sally and I have had.

The canal boat ride in Bruges. I always see things differently from the water.


Lounging in the Luxembourg Gardens, trying to decide which bistro to go to for drinks before dinner with Sally.


Or a relaxing lunch at Les Deux Magots where we visited with the the lovely couple next to us. They had just arrived from Cannes. He to hunt for a week. Their irish setter sat quietly by their table the entire meal! She to visit family and friends.

But I digress.

We board the plane and settle in for the long flight home and then… An announcement is made, the plane has been damaged by a baggage truck and is unsuitable to fly, please deplane while arrangements are made for a new plane.


We are told a new plane will be available in about an hour’s time. I amuse myself by taking pictures of the airport sky.


Long story short, at 8:30 that evening the flight is officially canceled and we are all told arrangements have been made to put us up in a nearby hotel for the night. Our new flight is scheduled to depart the following day at 1 PM. We get our voucher at about 9:30 and are told the shuttle bus is at Terminal 2 Level 1 or something to that effect, see you in the morning. it is then everyone on the plane learns exactly how big Charles de Gaulle airport really is. Arrival at the hotel is somewhat chaotic with checking in and racing to dinner because the dining room closes at 10:30. The accommodations were in “sharp contrast” to the room we woke up in Bruges.

The dining room.


Classy plastic wine bucket…

Elevator lobby.

Nice hall decor…


Morning came and we arose full of hope! Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1 PM. (We were hoping our luggage was going to make it on the correct flight as we had not seen it since we checked in to our canceled flight the day before.) 1 PM, no plane at the gate. 1:30, no plane at the gate. 2 PM it announced we are to be bussed to the plane at the other end of the airport! 350+ people – 2 busses. Eventually the plane is loaded and we take off! (Air France, you had us all wondering…)

The flight was uneventful. Arriving in Boston and the cab ride home felt almost anti-climactic. We lost our day of rest due to the flight cancelation and Thursday was full of meetings. Re-entry was rather abrupt… On the other hand, now that we’re back, going thru the 3,500 plus pictures we took has turned into a virtual vacation.

(LOVE the pan function on my phone!)

Speaking of virtual vacations, our very talented design assistant Kathryn immediately borrowed our trip picture files and has given herself her own virtual vacation, which she will be doing several guest blog posts about – what images spoke/resonated with her and why.



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As I began to map out the post it became clear that in order to tell the story properly, it needed to be broken down into parts. It has been a long, interesting, educational and at times painful journey. Having said that – all ended well, but not at all where we started… Today, I am sticking just to the pretty pictures and sources of inspiration, to give you an idea of where we started.

The floor plan below shows locates the stair in the context of

the floor tile layout and several adjoining rooms off the foyer. It is a two story space with the second floor stair landing/hall running from right to left above the family room and kitchen.

In reality the stair and tile layout were conceived simultaneously. The following images are examples of stairs and tile layouts we drew inspiration and ideas from.

Our client loved the tile pattern/border in Brooke Astor’s Holly Hill House. We also drew inspiration from how the stair lands and flairs, which will be more evident in my next post.

SERGE J.F. LEVY/AP Photographer


The sweep of the hand rail form the Nathaniel Russell House… Look closely, the hand rail is composed of many individually carved curved segments.

Sje fell in love with this older wrought iron stair balustrade.

And this more modern spin on a similar motif.


Sally and I had budgetary concerns and in fact much preferred the character of stairs with simpler wrought iron balusters, as in these examples.


Before our client was willing to consider a simple baluster, we had to go thru the “exercise” of what would the more complex balustrade cost.

And so the adventure began…

Stay tuned…


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Great progress is being made on our French Neoclassical Style project. The roof and windows are in, stucco is complete.  The custom front and side doors are on site waiting for the door hardware to arrive. Life is good. If you follow us on Facebook, you will be familiar with a few of these images.

Merrimack Design Associates did a wonderful job designing the exterior of the house! Trim, copper, portico, still to be done…

Inside, blueboard and plaster are going up. Views of the living room and adjoining dining room. It’s always at this stage, when I see a really good plaster job, I find myself wondering,”Why bother painting?” And “Who needs crown molding, trim, etc. when a room’s proportion are right?”


View from the family room toward the mud room with blueboard waiting to be hung. The arched openings are a reoccurring theme throughout the first floor.


Off site, the custom stair for the foyer is well under way at King and Company’s shop. Bob King is the Stairmeister!

We finalized the floor and stair tread/hand rail stain today. Love it when a plan comes together! A full stair post will be for another day…



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If you would like our assistance on your design project, contact us here.