Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Look For Less - Mark D. Sikes' NEW Living Room Decor

My mailbox has been flooded lately with a lot of Look For Less requests. However, there's been one room that I've been sent TWELVE times, by 12 different readers.

Designer Mark D. Sikes as featured in Architectural Digest; Photo by Amy Neunsinger

It's really no surprise that people are still obsessed with Mark D. Sikes, and his home in the Hollywood Hills. When we first "met" Mark, it was through the highly praised cover feature of his home in a 2012 House Beautiful. Soon after he was designing for high end clients, and redid his home for a feature in Veranda. Now, the house has been redone for a third time in the space of 7 years for a feature in AD, something I'm sure was a long time goal for the designer. 

The new room is very different from the old, even though much of the furniture was reused and repurposed from other areas of the house. The sofa with its ruffled skirt for instance, was once used at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom. The floral settee in front of the large picture window was wrapped in leather, used both in the dining room in the first decor, and in the living room in the second, paired with two English roll arm chairs - one we see here upholstered to match the sofa. 

New pieces in the space include very expensive, high-end Bonacina wicker chairs and ottoman, Galeries des Lampes floor lamps, a tuxedo/parsons coffee table from his own (now discontinued) line from Henredon, and bookcases that are exact copies of the late Oscar de la Renta's home in Punta Cana. They're even styled similarly

Oscar de la Renta Punta Cana Home featured in Vogue Magazine

Hundred of thousands of dollars went into the redesign of the house, and while there are other rooms that saw significant changes, this post is for those of you who asked about the living room in a look for less post. So we will stick to that! 


Here it is again. And here we go:


Above you'll find very similar pieces to the ones in the AD photo. However, you won't find the sofas. It's hard to replicate the sofa and chair. Nothing like that really exists on the market, and these were pieces Mark had that were customized to include the skirts. The closest thing you'll find for quick purchase are slipcovers


Frankly, having lived with both white slipcovered furniture and white upholstered furniture - I would urge you to take the slipcover route ANYWAY! Again, shopping this room is fairly easy if you're willing to make certain concessions - or if you have a large budget. There's nothing really out of reach, because beyond the art over the fireplace, there's nothing that hasn't been mass produced. It's a matter of budget, and certainly the pieces I've linked above are within the scope if you're looking to overhaul your space, or just add a few pieces here and there. 


And if you're not ready to make the leap, but wish you could have a little laid back California in your home, I highly recommend the Pacific candle from Wax & Wane candles. Small batch soy candles that are hand-poured into mason jars, provide a glorious scent throughout your home. This one smells nothing like the smog and marijuana of LA air, more like the fresh ocean breeze in a northern California jasmine field. A new favorite of mine. Try it out! 

That's all folks! See you soon! Now Go SHOPPING! 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Instagram Renovation - McKenzie Dove

I've recently started following Birmingham, AL artist, McKenzie Dove on Instagram and have been really charmed by the renovation she and her husband are undergoing of their beautiful new home.

I've been working on part two of the Grey Gardens story - but until I'm done with that, I figure this would be a short and sweet (and very inspiring) little before and after of the house they sold when they bought the one they're currently working on. Along with the few pics she's shared of what they've done to the new place so far!

First up - the old house before and after. Enjoy! 

Before

After

The house got a fresh coat of white paint, a new roof, windows, doors, and a compact and more controlled landscaped front. 

Before

After

The floors have been sanded down and stained a dark ebony color. What had been a living room for the prior owner became a dining room and entry library for the Doves.

Before

After

The home underwent a large renovation, and during that process they did a lot of changes to modernize the house, including replacing the older more mission style moldings and doors new doors and moldings. 

Before

After

The small windows were replaced with these narrow double hung versions to let in more light and air. The fireplace was re-imagined to this more modern looking one with beautiful simplicity. Love this! 


Before

After

It's amazing what draping a room can do. This had been the master bedroom of the house, with an attached bath. But after a renovation and addition, this room was one of two beautiful guest rooms for the Doves. 

 Before

After






Before

They totally renovated the existing dining room, kitchen, and older enclosed porch area to make a beautiful open concept family room and kitchen. 







Before


After

What had been the only guest room pulled double duty as a sitting and reading room and a second guest room after the renovation. Part of this already small room was taken for the new master bedroom closet and doors into the room were reconfigured so that they are accessed by the beautiful open concept family room. 


Here's a view of the back yard with the new doors along the kitchen family room, and the addition to the left which is now the HUGE master suite. 







The two made a tidy profit on the renovation of the house even with all the work and changes they made. They used it to buy a beautiful home in the tony area of Mountain Brook. 

Before

After

 After

After

Before

After

After

Before

After

They've only been in the house for a few months - and McKenzie is enjoying taking her time curating her new home. No doubt, it'll be lovely - that's for sure! Follow McKenzie here

Monday, July 15, 2019

The NEW Grey Gardens Pt. 1

Remember the little teaser I gave you on the "HUGE" story I had for you. Well, maybe huge was the wrong word. What it actually should have been called is long, or complicated, or convoluted, even mysterious ... beyond frustrating, and I'm honestly not even sure I should be wasting time blogging about it, because Lord knows that there is a zillion other stories about the history, decor, inside and outside of Grey Gardens.

BUT ... you probably don't know this ... yet. 

I found it hard to know where to start. Probably the best story I've read about Grey Gardens was written by my friend, Joni Webb on her blog Cote de Texas. Go there, read it. It's worth it. She did so much research, and borrowed a lot from other pieces of the story and photos from other well researched posts on the internet. There's no need for me to recreate that.

Where I've decided to start is here:


Town and Country Magazine posted this photo, a picture they took from Twitter of an East Hampton resident who was mad as hell that the renovation efforts of Grey Gardens after the sale in 2017, looked as if the entire house was about to be torn down. In truth, the house (after being purchased for $15.5 million) was approved for a massive overhaul by the Village of East Hampton, and it didn't take long before the new owners got started. Somehow though, they've managed to do this without a shred of information about who they are or what was approved.

All we really know about who they are came from their realtor, who shared with press that they were: "a young family who know and love East Hampton and who are eager to respect and restore Grey Gardens."

The plans were shielded from the internet, but contractors hired to oversee the remodel said that the new owners were "adamant about saving every piece of trim and paneling" and "when we took down the chimneys, we saved the original bricks to be reused." The renovation called for taking what was only a crawl space under the house and turning it into a fully finished basement, still the contractor claimed "nothing is changing with the aesthetics."

"They really want this house to go back to the way it was 100 years ago. They don't even want it to look like a new paint job was done."

Hmm ... really? 

The plans for the renovation indicated that radiant heat floors were going to be added to many rooms of the house, and that when finished the house would have a total of seven bedrooms, eight full and two half-bathrooms. FYI: The house had 8 bedrooms, and 6.5 baths when they bought it. Oh, and that finished basement? It'll have a wine cellar, exercise and rec room. The mysterious and anonymous buyers hired a landscape architect to establish similar gardens that had become so overgrown.

Having a famous house like this available to anyone walking, driving, or riding their bike down West End Road results in a TON of photos online and in social media. The photo above, for example, just a random photo from a passerby.

When the house was sold, the front of it looked like this:


Pretty, right? It had already gone through a massive renovation under the watchful eye of Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, who purchased the house from the infamous Bouvier-Beale ladies and lived there for nearly a quarter century before turning it into a popular summer rental. This photo was taken in the summer of 2016, when the house was listed for $19.995 million. By the time it sold (for $4.5 million less than that) it was October. Anyone familiar with New York in the Fall knows that all this green was gone by then.

Quickly after closing, the new owners started their renovation, hired a VERY POPULAR interior designer, and got started working on all the particulars. Month by month, passerby photographers cataloged the changes.

March 2018


Gone is the porch which wrapped from the front of the house all the way around the right side, under two second floor bedrooms. The brick had been pulled from the chimneys, necessary for the house to be lifted.

June 2018


At this point, you can see the house now lifted from the foundation about 6 feet! This was so they could dig out that basement and have the additional living space down there.

October 2018


The windows are gone, the house is now placed on the new foundation, now much taller so that the space can accommodate those additional rooms. The shingles are being removed and reconditioned, and over to the left, you can see the big hole in wall where some architectural changes are taking place. Gone is the tall pine tree that had been in front left of the house. 

December 2018



The house, fully reshingled, new windows placed, and the porch is rebuilt. Shingles from the roof are gone, and the chimneys are being reworked.

January 2019


This photo shows the new roof, brickwork still being worked out.

March 2019



By March though, the house looked good. Nearly finished, apart from landscaping.

April 2019


Less than a month later, that would be going in, along with trellises along the new shingles on the house, and shutters had been added. Also, you can see the creation of some new porches on the back of the house.

May 2019


At this point, the designer and their team was actually there unloading the new decor for the house. We talked about the hole on the left of the house from the passerby photo in 2018. Now you can see the set of french doors.

I found this floor plan created for the house before the purchase. The french doors were added to what was the formal dining room.

June 2019


This is likely the most current photo available. The new fence and landscaping are in and looking great. Take a look at the left of the house. A new blue and white stripe awning appears over the french doors that were added to the dining room - if you're wondering who their designer is, that's your biggest clue - and you can see there are some cars there, including a little blue MOKE electric car in the driveway.

But that's where I'm gonna leave this today, and we will pick back up with that little blue MOKE, who probably owns it, and the other pieces I've been able to connect together about what the interior design might look like!  


Til Then ... 

Here are some links to some Grey Gardens-ish interior design items and books that we might be seeing in the next post: