After lots of back and forth discussion Massachusetts has finally decided to have a “Tax Free Weekend” on 29 and 30 August 2020. That means that this week is a great time to finalize some of those big decorating, window covering, carpeting and accessory purchases that you’ve been thinking about – but just haven’t gotten around to making.
Since there’s always a lot of confusion about the rules for the MA Tax Free Weekend here are the main points:
If you want more details straight from the Government here’s a link to their Sales Tax Holiday website’s FAQs:
So, take a look and then give me a call if you want to make some of those decorating purchases that we’ve previously discussed, or some that you just thought of. As long as the purchase is made on either the 29th or 30th there’s no sales tax – even if the product isn’t delivered or installed until a later date.
So get cracking! You’ll save at least 6.25% on your purchases – and to further entice shoppers many stores are even running other sales in conjunction with the Tax Free Weekend. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
In my last blog I addressed Elle Décor’s December 2019 list of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”, so in this blog I’m going to defend 6 of the items that they tossed away forever - but which I’m not ready to give up on. In fact, I contend they are all “Classic” trends if they are done right, and I’m happy to incorporate any of these design elements if my clients’ vision and preferences lean in their direction.
Here’s the photo from Elle Décor which dissed wicker.
I’m not exactly sure why they disliked this room. It looks okay to me, except I would have probably included a geometric rug for comfort at the sectional and certainly another accent color other than just green. But the wicker lounger is certainly okay in my book. If any of you really dislike this room, then please contact me and let’s discuss!
As a matter of fact, I just received the Spring 2020 catalog from Arhaus, and they have several furniture pieces that I love, including the Bayshore Wicker Chair, shown below:
The main reasons why I love this chair is that it feels lighter than a traditional upholstered chair, has a pretty rounded shape that will not overpower a room, and is interesting to look at from the back. You’ll have to trust me on that since you can’t see the back in this photo. The wicker also imparts some texture that is needed in this mostly monochromatic room.
Serena and Lily, another retailer I highly recommend, is wildly fond of wicker, too. It’s a west-coast company, but they just opened a showroom in Chestnut Hill, MA. Here’s a photo of a beautiful living room with the Serena and Lily Georgica Lounge Chair with a wicker back. Very current and interesting, wouldn’t you say? The stone wall, light floors, and wicker-topped table all serve to marry this blue, white, and honey color scheme together. And for my taste, it doesn’t’ look too “coastal.”
Below is the “bad example” of wood paneling from the Elle Décor article:
Yes, it is bad. It looks like thin luan, probably originally installed in the 1960’s, and the eclectic (in other words, mismatched in time period) furniture pieces in the room aren’t helping any either. This is bad wood paneling, indeed.
But, here;s an example of “good wood paneling” shown by Cindy Renfret, a superbly talented designer from Connecticut who has published many Rizzoli books and has a great website:
I resonate with Cindy’s style and love the stately look of “real wood paneling” that is most likely original to this historic home. Notice that the furniture she chose is interesting and formal, and does not have a wood tone that competes with the wood paneled wall. I do lots of older historic homes in Massachusetts, and I always have a conversation with my clients about whether they wish to preserve the good bones and architectural elements of the home during our decorating refresh. Some do, some don’t.
Here is the 1960’s “All Plaid” room from the Elle Décor article, and it certainly embodies the “One note” term very well. It’s not very attractive and kind of reads “Mayberry RFD” on the first blush. Gee…I loved that show……
But what if the comforter was a neutral textured ivory, the pillows brought in a different color for accent, and there was some interesting artwork over the bed? Would that grid of plaid on the walls be so horrible? I think not. Plaid, or tartan, isn’t itself a problem. It just has to be supported (or relieved) by more non-linear elements. And a little plaid goes a long way.
When you think of plaid in an interior, you might think automatically of Ralph Lauren, indisputably the King of Plaid. Here’s a photo of one of his interiors. In this example, putting a Ralph Lauren plaid on just one chair is perfect. Any more, in my opinion, might be too much. If you like plaid and you are hesitant to commit to it for a very long time in upholstered furniture, you can introduce it in a rug (excellent option nowadays) pillows, a tartan throw, or some other smaller decorative element. Plaid isn’t out, just don’t go overboard.
Well, you are either a zebra fan or not when it comes to interior design. No two ways about it. Here is the Elle Décor site with the “bad” element of a zebra rug:
In fact, there is the problem in this photo -- there are two zebra rugs, and this highly specific decorative element should only come in the singular form. It looks like the two zebras are having a conversation or playing Twister.
Anyway, if you like the Zebra rug look, it can be interesting in an interior that has lots of contrast—black and white - in other elements of the room. Think the new black muntined windows (where a strip of wood separates the panes of glass in a window) in a white room. The Zebra rug would bring that contrast together as a deliberate accent on the floor.
Like plaid, though, a little Zebra goes a long way. If you use a Zebra rug, please don’t overdo in many other areas of the room, unless you really have gone on an African Safari and can show photographs of the real thing. Just sayin’……. Here’s a photograph from Architectural Digest which shows designer Holly Hunt’s Chicago apartment with a discreet Zebra rug that coordinates with the other lively décor:
In fact, the whole article from Architectural Digest “Decorating with Animal Prints” is a good read:
Yes, I agree with Elle Décor that a “head-to-toe chintz explosion” reminiscent of the 1970’s is too much, as shown in their photo below. But carefully read what they said next: “Maximalism is currently on-trend so a well-placed chair or couch can work - but don’t overdo it.” Well said, right on point.
In this room, I would ditch the swagged window treatments, clear out some of the furniture a bit, and discard the pink basketball pillows. The yellow and green are enough. Maybe add woven wood roman shades at the window. The plaid carpet is perfect. Overall the room needs more “dark” in my opinion, and about 2/3 of the furniture. But I’m okay with the floral chintz fabric on some of the chairs.
What? How can Elle Décor totally dismiss all window valances in one fell swoop by showing the photo below of a dated kitchen where there are a multitude of things gone awry? Now, I wouldn’t have recommended a stripe for the window valances (since it competes with the vertical detailing on the upper cabinets), but let’s not bury all valances forever.
There are many current, fresh, and updated window valance styles that look great in today’s home. One such popular valance I recommend to my clients is the Faux Roman Shade, shown below in the photo of my client’s newly updated dressing room:
This valance style works because it isn’t too fussy, it effectively hides the shade headrail (which is not so pretty) underneath, and it only takes up a small fraction of visual space. It seems at home here, don’t you think?
Well that’s my rebuttal argument for Elle Décor’s List of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”. What a lot of work on their part to put the list together with the excellent supporting photographs!
My main message is this: when you evaluate a trend, think about the cost involved to implement, and the replacement cost of that item when you tire of the trend. If it’s an inexpensive item, like a pillow or throw rug, then by all means freshen it up with that new look. But if you are considering implementing a trend in a more permanent and costly application (like wallpaper, flooring, or high-end upholstery) and you have that nagging feeling it may be “out” very soon, look for other smaller and changeable opportunities to implement the trend…and remember that I always recommend going for “classic” and “timeless” on your foundation pieces.
Trends. As we begin each new year, the decorating experts invariably publish their “Interior Design Trends” list and call upon the style-conscious to “refresh and update your home to reflect the new and now.” I guess that group includes yours truly.
To that end, I’ve addressed interior design trends in the past, and I comment on current styles I like and those I think are going out of style. Really, that’s what this blog and other interior design blogs are all about.
But… there is a big distinction between “trendy” and “classic” and in this blog post, I want to address some old trends that have come and gone. To begin, let me point you to an interesting 19 December 2019 article from Elle Décor Magazine, entitled “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”.
I think this article is 90% spot-on, and while perhaps a little long, it really does address a thoughtful, curated list of interior design features that the design community winces at and pleads, “Please, never again.” It’s also a great list to consult if you’re thinking of selling your home, and you want to get a quick up-to-date assessment on the décor elements that buyers might label as “dated” and worthy of replacement, or would force you to reduce your selling price (ouch!).
Here are some of the trends that Elle Décor and I both agree should be outlawed forever:
However, I do take exception of Elle Décor ruling out the following items in their “Never Again” list of 54: wicker furniture, wood paneling (the right kind, not the cheezy kind), plaid (in moderation), Zebra rugs (again, in moderation), chintz, and window valances. These elements can be wonderful and still fresh for today; they just have to be done right. Because my opinion is different from Elle Décor I’ll address them all in my next blog post.
So, where are the photos for this blog, you ask? Well, I am certainly not going to post photos of the “bad rooms” I am asked to redo, because that just wouldn’t be very nice, now would it? If a client has called me, and they are looking for my professional help, that’s a wonderful thing. And I am certainly not going to lift photos from the internet of more bad elements since you just viewed the list of 54. Really, you all know what a popcorn ceiling looks like. So, here are some inspirational quotes to finish up this blog and a photograph from a vacation to Hawaii that my husband, daughter, and I took a few years ago. Now that was bliss!
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, Design is knowing which ones to keep.”
- Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of Dilbert.
“Have a point of view, a unique perspective”
- Sarah Richardson
”Less is more.”
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
- Leonardo da Vinci
“If it looks right, it is right.”
- Dorothy Draper
“Incorporate spirit, texture, and whimsy. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
- Sarah Richardson
Since this is my 75th blog post, I thought that I would touch on a topic that many of us, both clients and designers, sometime struggle with when we want to decorate our homes; finding the inspirational ideas and visual designs that excite us and motivate us to transform our living spaces.
One way to get started is to look at what other people are doing with their homes. Since we’re halfway through 2019 here’s a look at what they’re up to (from mymodernmet.com).
In my experience many of us have a basic idea of what style (Traditional, Contemporary, Art Deco, French Country, Mid-Century Modern, Shabby Chic, Minimalist, Costal, Feng Shui, etc.,) we want our home to be. Most of us even have a broad idea of what color category (e.g. blue, green, off-white, yellow, etc.,) we want to the space to be. So what’s the hold-up?
I find that having these two significant elements, design style and color category, are a great starting point – but then everyone gets bogged down in the next steps; the specific details and turning a high-level vision into an integrated design – especially if there are time and/or budget constraints. And why is that? Well I think that many people just get overwhelmed by all the activities required by a full-blown interior design project. Activities that include:
1) Choosing the overall colors
a) Both the main color and the accent colors
2) Defining the room layout
a) Furniture type and sizing and traffic flow
3) Lighting design
a) To include overhead fixtures, lamps and window shades
4) Choosing the finishes
a) Including where to source them from
5) Sourcing furniture that meets the design esthetic
a) Both locally and online
6) Selecting window covering styles and fabrics
a) Including where to purchase them or have them custom made
7) Styling and accessorizing
a) To have enough but not too many accessories
8) Trying to visualize how the end result will look
a) 3D visualization or sketches, fabric samples, wallpaper samples, carpet samples
9) Finding and communicating with the trades
a) e.g. painters, wall-paper hangers, furniture painters, upholsterers, handymen, electricians, plumbers, carpenters
Honestly it can all be a little overwhelming at the beginning. So what’s a good place to start? I think the answer to that question falls into a couple of categories: 1) general approaches to style and design, and 2) information on the current trends. So, to help you out, here are a few links to more detailed discussions on those topics:
- Everything You Need to Know: 20 Interior Design Styles Defined in 2019
- Tips for Choosing Interior Paint Colors
- Interior Design Trends for 2019 to Upgrade Your Home Décor
- Interior Design Trends to Watch in 2019
- 2019's Biggest Interior Design Trend Predictions
- The Home Trends You're About to See Everywhere
- 10 Interior Design Trends for 2019
Since I’ve been helping my clients resolve their unique design challenges for almost 20 years, I’d love to help you with yours. So give me a call, I have lots of ideas and materials to help inspire you.
We’ve all been there. We have ideas for a great new decorating scheme for a room in our house – but don’t have the time to look for all the pieces of the puzzle; paint colors, fabrics, rugs, chairs, tables, light fixtures, art, wallpaper, accessories and all of the other odds and ends. Well I can help.
Since many of my clients are too busy to spend the time required to track everything down, or don’t have the trade resources to locate the furniture that they need to transform their decorating visions into finished rooms, one of the services that I often provide is shopping for them to find what they are looking for, or to narrow down the options, then shopping with them to make the final selections.
Here’s how it works. I meet with my client and review what their decorating issues and style are. We then decide on the priority of the items needed and the budget targets. With that information I start looking at my preferred vendor stores and websites for the desired items. When I’ve found some interesting pieces, and narrowed the choices down to a manageable number, I either send my client photos and the details about the item (or a link to the website if it’s online) or we go shopping together to evaluate what would best meet their vision. From a pricing point of view I can either work based on a commission tied to purchases, on an hourly fee basis, or a hybrid of the two.
Where do we look? Well if it’s an item that my client physically wants to see we go to the stores that best fit their design vision in the Boston Metro area. Stores like: Mitchell Gold, Arhaus, Stickley Audi & Co, Darby Road Home, the Boston Design Center (BDC), Ballard Designs, Ethan Allen, Crate and Barrel, Needham Decorative Hardware, and Carpet Carousel. If it’s something that can be purchased online, we use the vendors that I’ve found over the years that have quality products and good delivery track records. Vendors like Uttermost for accessories, Surya for rugs and Philip Jeffries for Wallpaper. You can see a complete list of my preferred vendors on my website’s “Vendors & Resources” page.
Here are some photos from my recent shopping expeditions:
Furniture Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Accessories and Art Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Fabric and Wallcovering Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Carpet Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Light Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Over the years I’ve found that this holistic approach allows my clients to see the big picture and then choose specific items that fit into their desired design esthetic. It’s an approach that saves my clients both time and money since I know which stores/vendors have what they might be looking for and my trade accounts normally allow my clients to purchase what they find at a discount.
So, if you want to redo a room, or start an entire new project, but don’t know where to begin, I can help! Call me and we’ll figure out what approach works best for you.
For the first 5 months of 2019 my workroom has been buzzing with an unbelievable amount of activity. I am extremely lucky to have so many new and repeat clients that want to work with me to transform their decorating visions into finished rooms. Here are a some photos from a few of the projects that I have recently completed; from an entire 2 bedroom apartment, to custom motorized woven grass and light filtering shades, to kid's rooms and bathrooms, to window seats and benches.
While you’re looking at the photos if you see anything that strikes your fancy, and you want to embark on a project of your own, give me a call. I would love to work with you too!
I can’t believe this is my 60th blog post since starting this endeavor in June of 2017. 60 posts in 18 months! So much fun for me, and a nice collection of tips in my archives for you (especially since it’s all searchable). This week I’m taking a look at the decorating trends of 2018 and making some crystal ball predictions about which trends will last through 2019 and beyond. I’ve got my decorating compass and GPS strapped on - are you ready?
Fabrics for Décor Items—What were the 2018 trends?
Let’s first discuss fabrics, soft goods and décor items which are short-term, usually inexpensive and can afford to be trendy. Items such as pillows, throws and table runners are easily replaced after 2-3 years of use and enjoyment as the styles change. Plus, you shouldn’t really mind if your family actually uses the pillows on the sofa for comfort and back support - that’s what they’re there for. You all know I am a total fabric hound, so it’s natural that I would start my trends discussion with fabrics. All the rage for trendy pillows now are geometrics, textures, metallics, and even some with jute and macramé accents. But if you are looking for pillow, bedding, and drapery fabrics which will endure a bit longer, here are some of my favorite fabrics that were introduced in 2018 and will surely endure in 2019 and beyond.
I love these fabrics because they all have a sense of organic movement to them, and with the exception of the fun red paisley, have a sense of harmony too. Velvet and textural chenilles have also been popular for upholstery and pillows in the last few years, and I believe they will always be a stylish and luxurious choice if your climate and usage is compatible. Plus, many of my vendors carry Crypton upholstery fabrics in tweeds, chenille, and velvets. Crypton is a finish which makes liquids (especially those that stain like red wine, tomato sauce, and juice) bead up when in contact with the fabric. With the wide choice of Crypton fabrics which came out in 2018, you can enjoy the soft and lush feel of an upholstery fabric (very different than the stiffer and flatter Sunbrella) and have easy care with kids and pets. Ask me to order you some samples if you want to do some testing on your own.
As far as fabric trends that have run their course, I believe animal prints and Suzanis fall into this category. Maybe small plaids too, but there will always be a need for small plaids. Animal prints have been all the rage for 10+ years now, and I think it’s time to let them go (a little bit) in adult spaces. Kids and animal prints are a natural pairing, so do keep them in the mix for youthful spaces. Large scale Suzanis like the fabric below in the middle still popular, and I still like them for pillows. But Suzanis have been used frequently in upholstery in the last few years, and they will date your interior as such. The Frankie chair on the right is currently available from Pier 1, and it is indeed quite handsome - but you would need a lot of neutral elsewhere in the room to have it happily coexist. If you love the ethnic and organic feel of a Suzani, I believe that it’s better to use it in a pillow or throw from now on.
As for other prominent 2018 design items besides fabrics, here is my somewhat random wrap-up of 2018 trends and whether they will endure in the foreseeable future. This is my version of the “Love it or Lose it” exercise I did in Post #2 of my blog way back in June 2017. Just for fun, you might want to review that blog to see where we were 18 months ago.
Let It Go (unless YOU love it – since that’s what really matters):
Well, that’s the wrap-up on my opinions on which 2018 trends will endure and which may (and should) fall away. I would love to hear your opinions and questions on these design trends and others - please contact me here.
My very best wishes to you for a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Wonderful Holiday Season!
Well it’s July, and like all of you, I’ve been busy for the first half of 2018. So, for today’s blog post, I looked back through the 40+ interior design projects that I’ve finished so far this year to see if there were any trends. As I scrolled through all the photos there was one trend that really jumped out at me; geometric fabric patterns.
Geometrics are definitely hot right now, with diamond and ogee patterns very popular in fabrics, rugs, and banding. Summertime is so perfect for geometrics…think waffle cones and sails and gingham napkins in your beach basket…bicycle tires and the endless straight road ahead on your cross-country road trip, with various shapes of road signs to point to fun and adventure. To show you different incarnations of this trend, here are photos of 10 of my very recent projects that feature interesting geometric fabric patterns. (Click on any photo to enlarge it and to scroll through all the photos):
Personally, I enjoy using bold geometrics in my clients’ designs, and I make sure to center the geometric design on the pillows or pleat-to-pattern on the draperies (see my prior post on “Pleating to Pattern”).
Did you also notice a blue trend among these photographs? Blue, especially Navy Blue is big this year (see my prior post on “The Color Navy – Both a Trend and a Classic”) for more ideas on that cool hue.
Whatever you’re doing this summer, I hope you’re having a wonderful time. While you’re relaxing at the beach or the lake, check back for our blogs in the coming weeks, because Barbara is very much working this summer, since our clients are busy with lots of renovation projects and planning ahead for fall redecorating. You might even call renovation another trend in the Boston area now too…lots of great design going on!
If you love interior design or DIY, you may remember the “Trading Spaces” design show on TV from 2000 to 2008...probably most memorable for the ridiculously impractical and out-there designs of Hildi Santo-Tomas (hay on walls, furniture mounted upside-down on the ceiling, and sand on the floor indoors, oh my) and the launching point of some of today’s big name designers and TV personalities: Genevieve Gorder (TV host of over 20 shows, plus her own branded line of interior design products), Vern Yip (“Design Star” TV show judge and designer of lines of décor, lighting, and fabric and trims), Ty Pennington (personable carpenter who went on to host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), and Laurie Smith (who continued to design and branded lighting and fabric lines), among a few. These folks all showed their design and client interaction talents for the world to see on the first Trading Spaces, and the world (including the design community who you would think would scoff at DIY) responded approvingly. Here’s a link to what all the designers have done since the iteration of “Trading Spaces” left the air 10 years ago:
Photo courtesy of TLC and Usmagazine.com
I loved watching Trading Spaces years ago, but please know I didn’t exactly love all of the makeovers. Actually, I probably only liked about a third, because you know, some of it wasn’t actually good design, plus it’s just so easy to be an “armchair decorator” and second-guess things after the big reveal. For the show’s first iteration, I think the best part was the spirit and attitude necessary for the designers, homeowners, and friends and relatives (who were usually 100% novices at DIY) to … just do it! For me, the show had a terrific mix of energy, problem-solving, and people interaction skills that was always entertaining. If you want some laughs and want to revisit some of the “worst” of the first season (which ran 2000 – 2008), check out this recent article from House Beautiful magazine:
The formula for the new iteration of Trading Spaces is essentially the same as the original show: Two teams of two people trade houses, and with the direction of a designer and carpenter and a budget of $2000 provided by the show, they transform one room in each other’s homes. Paige Davis is still the host, and she has always done a beautiful job as the upbeat host with a sympathetic ear and kind spirit…good psychologist too.
There was quite a build-up in recent months for the new show. On the televised reunion show, Vern Yip remarked “Trading spaces opened up design to everyone.” And Genevieve Gorder said the best compliment she receives are from 25-year-olds who come up to her and say that Trading Spaces inspired them to be designers. Well, TS sure convinced me way back in 2000 when I was finishing up my Interior Design studies at the University of California that there was inordinate value in formally studying Interior Design (and learning what not to do). I’m so glad I was actually academically trained…it has really helped me give my clients a great design experience.
So what’s my review of the new Trading Spaces on TLC now that it has 5 episodes under its belt? Excellentl!! The mix of all the things that made the first show successful are still there, but I have to say the designs now are more polished, sophisticated, and look feasible for the homeowners to actually live there after the production crew has departed. The rooms on the new season have been pretty ambitious. Further, the new show demonstrates clearly that selective and small “craftsy” projects are feasible, but need to be impeccably executed. (And Hildi’s recent painting of leaves all over basement walls were not well executed, IMO). Also helpful and challenging is the $2000 budget (per team) for materials (versus $1000 in the original show). Of course, both old and new shows get the luxury of TONS of additional free labor, including a carpenter. Homeowner reactions are still a hoot…some love their new rooms, some cringe, but all homeowners thus far are gracious and appreciative of the work their friends did. It’s all about expectation management.
The best episode so far this new season was Episode 3 - “Feng Shui & The Golden Nook” - where Vern Yip and Genevieve Gorder, my two favorite designers, designed master suites. Both rooms were superb. Since it’s no secret that these two designers love fabric (and now design and market their own fabrics), it was a natural show for me to love. Vern did the orange Feng Shui room, and Genevieve the gold room.
Here’s a link to the episode - Season 9/Episode 3:
I totally agree with the good reviews the new show has been getting in the press. Hank Steuver wrote the following in a 6 April 2018 Washington Post article titled “Trading Spaces” returns to TLC, as comfortable as an old sofa’
“Trading Spaces” returns us to a safer, saner space of amateur willingness and neighborly bonhomie. Aesthetically, though, it seems Doug and Hildi haven’t moved a stone in 10 years. When the couples open their eyes, there’s no mistaking that both rooms look very much like the rooms that were revealed all those years ago.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. So check out the new Trading Spaces on TLC, or DVR them and binge watch when you need a bit of a fix. As a side note, you might be surprised at the other famous designers you may see on the new show--well-known designers who didn’t appear on the first iteration (like Clinton Kelly from “What Not to Wear”, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent) are showing up to do rooms now…that speaks volumes to the popularity and fun of the Trading Spaces concept. I applaud these designers (who are already stars and probably millionaires) for giving this format a shot, and being super good sports given all the constraints….like the time and the budget… Go figure, time and budget constraints like in the real world.
And, finally, major foot stomp here……
If you happen to work for TLC (The Learning Channel) and are reading my blog, please know I am totally ready to be a guest designer on the new Trading Spaces! Call me!!
Shiplap! These days I hear this term frequently from my clients and nationally known designers like Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper; you know that hot HGTV show from Waco, Texas that’s all the rage for great style, warm personalities (Joanna and Chip seem so nice and happy!) and a cottage but “today” kind of look. Shiplap is a dominant theme in this look, especially great for farmhouse, rustic, urban industrial and coastal settings. So let’s see what shiplap is all about, starting with a favorite look of mine from Joanna’s vast repertoire of shiplap: over a fireplace mantel.
What is shiplap anyway? As you can see in the photo above, the horizontal boards above the mantel are shiplap, painted out in white. In some pre-1950 homes, shiplap boards were used for structural integrity of walls and insulation as a layer underneath plaster or drywall. That’s why in many of the older home renovations, you will hear them say, “we exposed the shiplap underneath and decided to paint it.” Apparently cheesecloth was sometimes applied on top of the shiplap, to smooth things out, so your own “unearthing” process might be several layers deep.
But, what about if you have a newer home, or one with a different construction method, which requires you to apply shiplap on top of your existing walls? Well, your local Home Depot store can come to the rescue. Below you can see, the rough pine shiplap boards that I found at my local Home Depot store in Marlborough, MA in the lumber aisle…yes you can get it yourself easily, and don’t have to pray to “discover it” during your renovation!
As you can see, the shiplap boards are cut with a notch so that they can be overlapped one on top of each other. Sort of like tongue-and-groove, but a little bit different. When the boards are run horizontally for shiplap (a difference from beadboard paneling that is vertical, and lots of tongue and groove panels that are also vertical), one can’t see the wall underneath. So, this shiplap can go over anything…lathe, framing, brick, etc.
Shiplap in New England Interiors
Have I seen shiplap around Boston? Yes, in many coastal homes, and now the look is trending away from the shore in the suburbs. It’s a bit of a casual look, great for a family room, and I prefer it whitewashed (painted white) over stained. I particularly like shiplap over a mantel to really define a focal point, especially if your fireplace wall is long, and needs some architectural interest to break things up a bit. It’s a bonus if your family room already has some white millwork and crown molding to carry on the crisp look and make the shiplap cohesive in color. There are many excellent DIY sites on the internet to show you how to build-out your own shiplap over-mantel area. And, there are loads of inspirational photos out there for this look…Google “shiplap mantel” and you will see some beautiful projects.
Here is the link to Joanna Gaines’ shiplap projects:
And, for more great information, read the funny and interesting blog of carpenter Scott Sidler at
Scott Sidler is a general contractor who specializes in old houses and his site and blog are great…I always learn something. In this post Scott and his readers debate the “is that real shiplap, or fake shiplap, or something else” and it’s a very informative post. Scott blogs every week like me, and posts on Mondays.
Hopefully you enjoyed this short introductory post on shiplap and consider it for your next fireplace or family room renovation. And…yes…if you want to put your flat-screen TV over your fireplace, and you need a place to hide the wires because there’s masonry behind that wall, because, well it’s a fireplace with a chimney, then building out with shiplap can be just the ticket!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.