One of the best things about living and working in Boston's Back Bay is the architectural inspiration that can be found all around the neighborhood.
A favorite example sits on the first block of Commonwealth Avenue, just a few doors down from the Boston Public Garden. Built around 1860 as one of a pair of academic brick houses, the building was completely transformed in 1905. Architects Parker Thomas and Rice added curved bow windows, and swapped out the mansard roof for a windowed upper level while cladding the home in white stone,
Above is a closer peek at the left side lawn area, which was claimed for the addition of a large new music hall / ballroom in the Palladian style... a true hidden gem.
Then homeowners, the Baylies family, hosted a grand debutante ball for their daughter Charlotte in 1912.
The addition's style is reminiscent of another of my architectural favorites, Rosecliff of Newport RI, built in the same era. Rosecliff was designed by architect Stanford White, of firm McKim, Mead & White fame, and modeled after the Grand Trianon (1687) at Versailles. Rosecliff owners Hermann and Teresa Oelrichs longed for "a theatrical setting for grand parties and entertainments". - Newport Preservation Society
My daily walk between home and our Newbury Street studio inspires me every day. I give silent thanks to the architects, builders, craftspeople, patrons and preservationists of the past that have contributed to such neighborhood beauty.
I just discovered a beautifully curated feature called "The Saturday 6" by top design blogger Emily A. Clark.
Every weekend, readers are treated to six enchanting images, ranging from interior design to fashion to "the occasional deep thought".
Emily's style is accessible, light-hearted and concise. She includes a well-edited selection of resources that exemplify her tagline... Design Simplified. It's a lovely diversion for a Saturday.
We were pleased that our work was included this past weekend.
I love the sentiments of this last image. Thank you, Emily, and keep up the inspiring posts.
Photo credits: 1. Monica Wang 2. Unknown 3. Michael J. Lee 4. Unknown
I am very grateful for Boston Globe Magazine's recent feature of our work in their January Best of the New issue (written by Marni Katz., photography by Michael J. Lee). It gives me the opportunity to showcase how even small interior architectural improvements can "shape space" and dramatically enhance a room.
This contemporary living room enjoys treetop views of the Boston skyline, yet suffered from nondescript architectural details and average-height ceilings. The following BEFORE + AFTER images illustrate a few ways in which the interior envelope was enhanced.
1. Crown now extends out onto the ceiling, adding subtle elegance and perceived quality of construction.
2. High gloss ceiling finish effectively raises its perceived height and reflects light throughout the space.
3. Wallpaper backing adds drama to the bookcases.
4. Picture lights lend another layer of lighting for this family of readers while illuminating shelving objects like art.
5. Contrast color distinguishes the fireplace as a deserving focal point.
6. New pendant light adds a dash of fun. Its reflection in the mantle mirror draws the eye to perceive more space in the room.
7. Drapery rods hung all the way to the crown and wide of the windows maximize perceived height, light and views. Of course, great art makes the room, as exemplified by these Josef Albers works.
An ethereal painting by Charlie Bluett is echoed in soft shapes of the sofa's silk pillows. Sculpture is by Paul Stopforth.
While I am immersed in the world of architecture and design,
I find myself regularly looking to other realms for creative inspiration...
Nature, Art, Fashion.
A year ago this month, the fashion world lost an icon at the age of 66. Franca Sozzani helmed Vogue Italia for 28 years, during which time she elevated magazine editorial to high art. "This is a choice I made... Vogue was in Italian but I wanted to speak to everyone so I thought of creating images that were made to talk."
Sozzani encouraged her editorial teams to look beyond the obvious or commercial. "People want to dream," she says. "They want to take a journey... Fashion isn't really about clothes. It's about life." So she took her readers on aspirational, even fantastical adventures,
Sozzani saw her role as providing readers with "sensations, feelings. moods..."
And she had a lot to say. According to W Magazine, she "transformed the magazine from one simply about clothes into one that championed its photographers, regularly broke boundaries, and never shied away from important issues." For example, in 2010, she stirred up controversy with the magazine's cover story on the BP oil spill. "I didn't expect [the reaction to the BP feature] at all... there was so much buzz... I don't understand those that say that a magazine such as Vogue should not talk about these things," said Sozzani.
Her only child Francesco Carrazzini's tender documentary, Franca: Chaos and Creation, pulls back the curtain to reveal a woman passionately committed to her two loves: fashion and her son, at the expense of finding true love for herself.
I connected to this movie on many levels... the desire to elevate design to something higher, the delicate balance of career and parenting that all working women must strike, my respect for Italy's enduring legacy of design and craftsmanship, and the qualities of strong role models on my mother's Italian side of the family — from my own mom, to my aunts, to my brave great-grandmothers who immigrated to a new land.
Thank you, Francesco, for sharing your mom's inspiring biography. And thank you, Franca, for inspiring me to tell a story, to make people feel, to make them think.. ideals to strive for every day in our work as designers.
The last silk pillow. A sculptural work of art. Polished accessories.
The finishing touches...
Why do the images in top design magazines look so inviting and beautiful?
It is because every detail is in perfect harmony.
Like an artist fine-tuning the composition of a painting,
we balance color, texture, contrast, style and visual weight with finishing touches
in order to fully realize the design vision.
Our talented design team is hard at work,
ensuring that each piece at our Skyline project is perfectly positioned.
[From left: Alex MacMillan, Kelly Hiselman and Emily Lacouture.
Shelley Jain was expertly keeping things rolling back at the studio.]
A modern chair joins a Swedish antique-style daybed to invite lounging and reading.
Coffee table books on art, architecture and haute couture capture the imagination.
Silk pillows dress a comfortable tufted sofa near the marbleized wallpapered bookcases.
The curve of the calla lilies echo the lines of the custom-designed Skyline settee,
L I S A T H A R P C O L L E C T I O N.
In order to better serve our expanding project roster and growing design team, we are pleased to announce our new studio location in Boston. From the architectural gems on every corner to the Boston Public Garden, the Esplanade on the Charles River, and Newbury Street's stylish boutiques, the Back Bay offers endless inspiration for our creativity.
A special thanks to each and every one of our clients on this journey.
You are the WHY of what we do, inspiring us to reach higher in our creativity and our process,
as we strive to help you better enjoy life in your homes every day.
This move establishes a new foundation for our incredible team.
I am amazed by, and deeply appreciative of, all the talent, enthusiasm and skill
each of my colleagues brings to our work every day. When I started my little design firm of one,
I knew I loved the work itself. Now, I also have the gift of loving HOW the work gets done...
collaborating together to bring even better results to every project.
So thank you, my dear team mates, for all that you do.
Lastly, I am often asked if this move represents a shift in the "style" of our work. My answer is always the same. Rather than a "signature style", we employ a palette of common ingredients in every design... light, proportion, scale, a balance of color and texture... all with respect for architecture and setting. The fun is in channeling these elements to uniquely celebrate each client's own personal definition of living well. That is why no two projects will ever look alike. As we take on more work in town, the materials may vary from our country and coastal projects (which we still love to do!), but the end result will hopefully be the same: bespoke environments that are warm, inviting and memorable.
Master Bedroom Design Concept - City Suite project
I am pleased to announce the addition of two new Design Assistants to Team Lisa Tharp.
They each bring wonderful experience, skills, insights and infectious enthusiasm to their roles,
while expanding our firm’s capacity to bring a little more joy and beauty to the world.
A Master’s of Interior Architecture candidate at the NEW ENGLAND SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN, Alex is recognized by many in the industry as a talented rep for several showrooms (TOTO USA, most recently, WEBSTER & COMPANY). Her eye for fabrics, finishes and cool new wallcoverings, along with her speedy AutoCAD skills, have helped us ramp up momentum on several projects, most notably the 5-floor gut renovation in Center City Philadelphia. Plus, her tales of study abroad and weekend adventures remind us of the joie de vivre + inspiration that she brings to her work every day.
With an education in architecture (BOSTON ARCHITECTURAL COLLEGE), and a passion for interior design, Emily has always been interested in how we experience space holistically. Her prior design work — at NOW Interior Design Studios and others, as well as within her own construction and remodeling endeavors — is a terrific complement to our interior architecture and design planning efforts. Lastly, she inspires us all as she deftly juggles motherhood, yoga instruction and au fait trend spotting in fine foods, art and travel.
Please join me in welcoming Alex and Emily.
They can be reached at the studio at 978.341.8121 or by email:
From the desk of