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Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Counting Stars in Your Own Backyard

 

Summertime is perfect for travel, to see new sights, taste new foods, and refresh our spirits. Sometimes we return from a vacation, though, only to sigh with relief at the sight of our own front door.  There’s something to be said for a chance to relax without packing a suitcase, airport delays, and crowds of tourists. With a little advance planning, we can turn a stay at home into a luxurious retreat.

 

 

Start by thinking about what you love when you travel. If the feeling of luxury and being pampered is part of what makes a hotel stay desirable, then recreate that escape at home. Toss out old bedding, and invest in good quality organic cotton sheets. They’ll feel wonderful against your skin, and will support your health by being toxin-free. Buy new pillows, and add a soft alpaca throw at the bottom of the bed.

 

 

Rejuvenating your body as well as your mind and spirit should be your priority for this vacation. Consider purchasing a room air purifier. A HEPA filter will remove allergens and particulates from the air you breathe, then recirculate purified air back into the room.

 

 

I have a whole house air purification system that keeps the air in my home pristine, and my guests tell me they’ve never felt better or more energized.

 

 

Bring the best summer has to offer inside! I love the look of nautical throw pillows. Add shells and beach-inspired decor to keep you feeling like your toes are in the sand.

 

 

I love my collection of vintage sand pails, reminding me that this is the season to remember the delights of childhood, or enjoy them again with little people you love.

 

 

Plan a day trip (or three!) to places in your area that you just don’t have time to get to on a regular basis. One of my favorite destinations on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm. My good friend Marty McGowan is an organic farmer who blesses the island with gorgeous flowers and delicious homegrown produce. The recent Tomato Tasting there was a delight for all the senses.

 

 

Indulge in all the bounty of fresh summer foods–tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, and fragrant herbs. Try a new recipe every night!

 

 

When the afternoon sun starts to make you drowsy, there’s nothing like a window seat where you can curl up with a book to read or to nap.

 

 

Since you’re staying home, family and friends may be traveling to see you. Arrange guest rooms with the kind of touches that help people feel at home. A small table or chair where they can place their luggage is appreciated. Fill a basket with books you’ve enjoyed, soaps and lotions, and extra towels. The best way to decide if your guest room is ready is to sleep there for a night yourself.

 

 

There’s nothing more romantic than a summer evening, so don’t stay indoors and miss it. Be sure to make your patio or deck as comfortable as the interior of your home, with tables, umbrellas, and lots of wonderful places to sit, with cushions and throw pillows so you can relax.

 

 

String white lights with vintage lanterns..

 

 

Light lots of candles.

 

 

Then listen for the owls, and count the stars in your own backyard.

 

 

 

Creating an Oasis of Calm

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Good design is defined by the basics of scale, proportion, color, and contrast, among other considerations. To take the concept of a well-designed home one step further, though, is what I call my “tabula rasa,” the oasis of calm that envelopes us when we step inside our doors at the end of the day. Here are my thoughts on how to create that oasis, with simple ways to make your home welcoming, warm, and comfortable to live in.

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Repetition of design elements, such as the columns in this beautiful beachside home, mirror each other from room to room, and define a space. Repeated in subtle ways throughout a house, they are the details that subconsciously soothe with symmetry.

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In this New York City bedroom, the Greek Key is repeated in furniture, floor and bed linens, relaxing in its soft echoes.

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Simple ways to reduce clutter, such as window seats with drawers for storage underneath, keep a room open and serene. I often say that “the eye needs a place to rest.” So does the mind, and the body.

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Tradition is restful for many of us. Finding fine antique pieces to blend in with more contemporary furnishings is calming.

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Surrounding yourself with the things you love is an important way to make your home unique, and fill you with joy every time you enter a room. Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.” I would suggest that your most personal treasures that truly express your essence will do so much to lift your spirits.

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Adding one stunning piece that is both eye-and heart-catching can be a singular focal point, another way to gracefully express your interests.

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The color palette that I turn to over and over again is white plus one color. There are so many whites to choose from: crisp white, cool greyed tones, soft blue hues, or rosy tints when the sunlight streams through the windows. It’s pleasing to the eye and the spirit.

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An invisible way to restore energy and help to clear your body of toxins you’ve come across during your busy day is by installing a good heat recovery ventilation system and a whole house air filtration system, for exchanging, filtering and conditioning indoor and outdoor air to lower VOCs.  Honeywell has some that I like that will work with your heating and cooling systems, and recover up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. Choosing No-VOC paints and finishes keep our homes a haven where our families can enjoy good food, good company, and good health.

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At the very least, invest in a good bedroom air filter, as your liver detoxes during your sleep. Clean air is the best gift you can give yourself to feel your very best.

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Luxury and comfort are not mere indulgences in my mind. Bespoke bed linens, downy comforters, and lofty pillows all summon us to sleep in a place of refuge. An organic mattress filled with cotton and wool and made without chemicals, including fire retardants, is a good choice.

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Don’t forget the bathroom as a space for luxury and well-deserved pampering. Soft towels, natural shampoos and soaps free of irritating chemicals, and organic cotton pajamas waiting by the bath allow us to sink into a restful soak when the sun goes down. Take time for your own end-of-day rituals.

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Oscar Wilde wisely said: “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”

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Make your home one of simple pleasures, and a place to savor the all-too-fleeting delights of summer. It’s the easiest path to finding peace of mind.

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Less is More

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My work as an interior designer has taught me how to edit. There is a world of beautiful colors, furniture, accessories, artwork and things that a designer can choose from. The process of saying yes to this and no to that is not very much different from how each of us must live our lives, choosing what to let in, and what, sometimes regretfully, to decline.

 

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When I’m at my Nantucket home in Madaket, I’m aware of editing my surroundings for function, comfort, and beauty. This is both a preference as well as a necessity, as my husband, Frank, and I have consciously chosen a beach cottage lifestyle there. We truly embrace the “less is more” experience after years of living in larger, grander homes.

 

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Our fisherman’s cottage by the sea is just the right size for the two of us, plus my dad, Bob, and our three darling Bichon Frises, G.G., Tuffy, and Ellie, who go everywhere with us. (With Bichons, more is definitely better.)

 

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Editing is a crucial responsibility of an interior designer no matter what the size of the home. A common mistake made by homeowners is to look at furniture, lamps, and artwork, and to see them individually, without considering the space around them. A credentialed interior designer, however, sees things differently. When I enter a room, I see a frame –the boundaries of a room, the positive space –space that is occupied, and negative space –where the eye can easily rest. Every room needs space for the eye to rest, but the question is where, and how best to use it.

 

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Rather than thinking of negative space as open space to be filled, negative space is integral to making a room interesting and alive. You can work with negative space when you group furniture together, or place a collection of objects on a shelf. My eye can see a rhythm between one item and the next, something not everyone can do. I often think that my training as a fine artist was critical to developing my interior design aesthetic.

 

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Juxtaposing one shape next to another creates one kind of negative space, as does placing items in symmetry versus asymmetry.

 

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Color is powerful, evoking emotions we are not always aware of when we enter a room. I love to use white plus one color, often hues from the sea. Blue, seafoam green, and pale shades from nature are soothing when used with white.

 

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What to place on a tabletop is another way to experience the power of less. Too many items can quickly become a cluttered mess that creates disharmony. Groups of items must be carefully considered for their impact on each other, especially when they are of disparate size or color.

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One of my professors impressed upon me the importance of saving something for the next room. You don’t need to show everything you know in one room. Excellent advice that I have used time and time again!

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Letting a room have space to breathe doesn’t always come easily, another reason an educated designer can be your home’s best friend. There are rooms that make us feel stressed and constrained, and rooms that make us feel expansive and relaxed. It can be difficult to see why each has the feeling it does, until you begin taking objects away.

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Suddenly, there is peace. And we can never have too much of that.

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A Window on Your World

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Many of us live in the homes we do because of our first glimpse of the house as we came up the drive. Perhaps it was the sound of the sea and the smell of salt water that led us there, and the drive through the dunes romanced us all the way. The creamy yellow daffodils bobbing along the borders, or the dignified old Sugar Maple spreading its arms across the lawn were like love letters from the property, delivered straight to our hearts.

 

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When the front door opens, if the house isn’t just right, well, that can all be fixed. Take down a wall here, widen a doorway there, refinish wood floors, replace sagging windows, and you’ve made it your own, which is one of the goals of interior design, and a very important one. As Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.”

 

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No matter how beautiful the interiors are, however, I always feel that the room is blessed when there is a glorious view in sight. Particularly for a home on the water, whether its on the ocean, a river, or a lake, you’re aware of the view. My intent in a home on the waterfront is never to obscure the home’s setting.

 

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In this house, the center hall leads you right to the ocean. If you keep going, as the crow flies, the next stop is Portugal.

 

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Another signature of my design work is my love of window seats. They’re perfect for sitting in the sunlight with a cup of tea on a winter morning to watch the snow fall, or to catch the sea breezes as the day falls to dusk.

 

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They also are functional, as they provide extra seating for guests..

 

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…and in a bedroom, can be designed with drawers for storage underneath.

 

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Whether your view is a sandy beach, an English garden, or your children splashing in the pool, a seat by the window is the perfect spot to take a closer look at your world.

 

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Dining Through the Ages

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The holidays have arrived, and we’ll all be spending time in dining rooms for the next several weeks. A well-appointed dining room is both functional and beautiful, encouraging relaxation and companionship, as well as the enjoyment of our food. The dining room is a relatively new idea, however. When people first began to inhabit built dwellings, they shared a common room for sleeping, cooking, and eating, and sometimes, invited their barnyard companions to share the space with them.

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The idea of a separate dining room began, according to historians, with the ancient Greeks, who gathered on stone or wood couches (men only!) to eat honey cakes and chestnuts in seclusion. The ancient Romans had a separate room called the triclinium for their meals, but women were invited.

A dining room-kitchen inside a medieval castle.

By the Middle Ages, wealthier people were eating in dining rooms, but comfort was still out of reach in the large, drafty halls. As the Industrial Revolution brought increased prosperity to the populace, more people could enjoy the benefits of a separate room for formal dining, along with silver cutlery, delicate china, and linen tablecloths. Author Bill Bryson, in his book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, says that when Thomas Jefferson put in a dining room at Monticello, it was quite a dashing thing to do. Elsewhere, meals were still being served at little tables in any convenient space.

An image of a dining room and fireplace in a primitive colonial style reproduction home. The home is built with materials reclaimed from structures built in the late 1700's. The styling is authentic primitive colonial, with modern amenities added to make the home functional and comfortable for a modern family. The furniture and decor are antiques fro the late 18th century.

So in honor of the holiday and the meals we’ll enjoy there, here’s to our dining rooms! And here are a few of my favorite Dujardin-designed dining rooms for you to enjoy.

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The table is a 20th century reproduction of an 18th century Irish lacemaker’s worktable, surrounded by a rare set of American spindle back chairs with their original black paint. 

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A wrought iron and rock crystal chandelier brings elegant light to this comfortable space.

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Hermes orange is this homeowner’s favorite color!

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The farmhouse table is surrounded by black-painted Windsor chairs. The hanging light fixtures are contemporary versions of 19th century Colonial “smoke bells,” designed to keep the candles from blowing out and smoke from marking the ceiling. 

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The hand painted floor is striking and adds another layer of interest to this beautiful room.

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The dining corner in this New York City apartment was created with curving walls and a dropped ceiling. The solid walnut table is by Hellman-Chang.

photos 88 old saugatuck 002 (2) copy This is my dining room in Connecticut, where I’ll be serving Thanksgiving dinner to my family. Wherever you spend yours, I hope it’s a safe and happy one!

 

Design Futures Council: Senior Fellow

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This has been an especially gratifying year for me. In the past twelve months, I’ve published my design book (Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior), I’ve been named to the College of Fellows for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and I have just received word that the Design Futures Council has named me a Senior Fellow.

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Ed Mazria reporting on the climate, 2014

The Design Futures Council (DFC) is an interdisciplinary network of leaders in design confronting global challenges. I’ve been a longtime member and contributor, happy to join with my friend and respected colleague James P. Cramer, who became the DFC’s primary founder and facilitator of information and inspiration throughout the organization.

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To be named as a Senior Fellow by this highly esteemed group of professionals is recognition for “significant contributions toward the understanding of changing trends, new research, and applied knowledge that improve the built environment and the human condition.”

Jim Cramer says, “The leadership role of design is of critical importance toward the creation of a healthier and happier planet. The new Senior Fellows of the DFC have been selected for the tremendous impact they have had on our world.”

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A happier, healthier planet is what I’ve worked for throughout my career. I’m proud to join the other Senior Fellows in that endeavor.

 

Make a Fresh Start!

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From time to time, people ask me what it’s like to work with an interior designer. I can’t answer that for anyone but myself, although certainly there are industry standards that a properly credentialed interior designer adheres to. In January of this year I wrote about the inspiration for a house, and some of the design process in Every Room Has a Beginning.

work 1That post was about a very specific house, and the kinds of decisions we made with the homeowners to redesign a beloved home after it was moved cross-island to save it from eroding bluffs. Here are a few more things you should know about the design process:

Clients often say that working with Dujardin makes the design process fun again. What can become quickly overwhelming–the details, schedules, plans, and coordination, with architects, contractors, craftsmen and landscapers–are handled seamlessly, resulting in elegant and sophisticated interiors that immediately feel like home. We can incorporate varying degrees of sustainability or design a completely holistic “deep green” residence, always honoring classic tradition while achieving 21st century style.

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Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an existing building, or just designing interiors, it takes a village to create a house.  You may need contractors, architects, carpenters, painters, artists, landscapers, energy system installers, plumbers, tilers, electricians and more.

 

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Having the requisite training in a home’s structure, design and function is what makes me a full and welcome partner in team meetings that include any or all of those participants.

 

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

I’ve devoted my life to the study and practice of interior design. I’m a professional member of ASID, and a member of their very select College of Fellows. (That’s what FASID means when you see it after my name.) I’ve just been elected a Senior Fellow for the Design Futures Council, which recognizes my contributions to the sustainable design movement.

ASID Fellows Award

I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction. (That’s the LEED AP + ID + C after my name). I belong to a number of professional organizations, have spoken widely about interior design, am an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, and am a professionally trained artist myself. I have a published full-color book of my design work that outlines many of the design principles I believe in.

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Once we’ve decided to work together, the planning begins. We start with measurements, and a study of your home’s traffic flow, light sources, assessment of what the room will be used for, and by whom. We talk to you about what you love, and how you envision your home. The goal is to make your home an elegant reflection of your very unique lifestyle and family.  To help you “see” the finished product, we create a beautiful binder showing you what we suggest. Here’s an example of a page showing window treatment and lamp options.

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Let’s look at one specific room together. First, we show you a layout with all the furniture we suggest, and where it will be placed.

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Next, our in-house artist creates a watercolor rendering to give you a feeling for the colors and furniture we think will be perfect.

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We present several different styles of breakfronts. You choose which you like best.

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And then we look at different chair styles.

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Other pieces to be included in the room are next.

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Finally, it’s time to look at fabrics.

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There are thousands of choices to be made in designing a home, and mistakes can be expensive. By breaking every decision down to carefully selected options, our clients quickly feel in control of the process. They have a partner who cares as much about their home as they do, and we have a great time shopping together, talking together, and making decisions together. After several discussions about what our client likes and prefers, orders are placed. Here’s a look at the finished dining room following this process.

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My education, training and credentials, as well as my professional team members, are all important in creating the home of your dreams. But I also believe that creating a beautiful, healthy, comfortable home should be FUN! My clients often refer to me as the “funmaker,” because I love designing homes, and we want the entire project, start to finish, to be something you enjoy. We take care of the hard work for you.

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Believe it or not, we’re still having fun! We love our work.

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Come See Me On Nantucket!

I’m excited to have two wonderful events coming up on Nantucket the first week in August. If you’re on the island, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. At both, I’ll be talking about my favorite topics: green design, healthy living, and being kind to planet earth. I welcome your questions and am looking forward to celebrating summer with all my island friends!


On Wednesday, August 5th,please come to the panel discussion on Eco-Friendly Building and Design, hosted by Audrey Sterk’s Nantucket Color & Design Studio at 18 Broad Street.


I’ll be appearing along with my good friend Tom Ayars, a renovation and restoration expert with 35 years of experience, from 5 to 6 p.m. Tom will talk about how restoration and renovation can be “green,” too. If it’s a nice day, we’ll be outside on the patio.


On Friday, August 7th, I’ll be helping to celebrate the Dane Gallery’s 20th Anniversary with a Comfort Zone book signing from 6 to 8 p.m. Please join us for refreshments and great conversations at 28 Center Street. I’ll be answering your questions about healthy homes and green design, and what I mean by “eco-elegant.” (You can have a beautiful, sophisticated home, and have it be “green,” too!)


Hope to see you all there!

Serendipity!

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What does Serendipity mean to you? It’s most often the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or fortunate way. That certainly describes my pleasure in meeting the Home Editor of Serendipity Magazine, Stephanie Horton, and her wonderful feature on a home I designed not once but twice on Nantucket Island. It’s in the June 2015 issue!

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If you can pick up a copy of the magazine, I encourage you to do so.

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If not, I tell the story here  of the house that was moved from its precarious location on a bluff three times to save it from the rapidly encroaching sea. Island erosion can be dangerous to homes, but this beautiful Edwardian-era house was successfully moved and brought back to new life.

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Take a closer look!

Bring the Look Home with Coastal Living!

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Used with permission by Coastal Living Magazine; Photo by Ozerov Alexander

We’re in the Summer Issue of Coastal Living Magazine!

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According to the July/August 2014 issue of Coastal Living Magazine, the Union Street Inn on Nantucket is one of the most friendly and refined of all the B&B’s on the island. I would wholeheartedly agree, as Dujardin Design had the privilege of working with innkeepers Ken and Deborah Withrow to create an updated and elegant look that is still quintessential Nantucket. Our five-phase design of the inn began more than 12 years ago, and was completed by redoing every room and common area in time for guests arriving in Spring 2013.

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As Coastal Living says: “Housed in a 1770s whaling captain’s home minutes from Nantucket’s humming wharves, this intimate inn embraces a crisp, modern look created by Dujardin Design Associates–there are no doilies here.”

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“Its gently sloping hallways and narrow doorways lead to 12 guest rooms dressed in broad-striped wallpapers and richly patterned fabrics in a quartet of colors–pale yellow, nautical blue, sea glass green, and deep crimson. The shell white Frette linens and Matouk duvets on the beds make the rooms at Union Street feel like especially comfy havens.”

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“Guests linger over the library nook’s seafaring titles.”

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“In the sunny common rooms, oak pedestal breakfast tables are set for cooked-to-order breakfasts…”

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“…while a sleek settee and chairs are clustered around an antique chest in a corner made for coffee and easy conversation.”

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You won’t regret a stay in an inn named “one of the ten most romantic hotels in the U.S.” by Fodor’s. In the meantime, check out the The Summer Issue of Coastal Living!

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All Union Street Inn Photography by Jeffrey Allen

My Seaside Inspiration

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My life on two coastlines (Long Island Sound in Connecticut, and Nantucket Island) inspires my design work in a very personal way. I have always been drawn to the colors of sand, sea, sky and sails.  As I walk the beaches near my homes, I see exquisitely colored shells, small sea animals and picturesque harbors, all of which find their way into the interiors I create . Let me show you my seaside inspiration.

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Horned Ghost Crab

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Conch shell on beach

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Rope Knot On Wood

Abstract shell

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“I felt the full breadth and depth of the ocean around the sphere of the earth, back billions of years to the beginning of life, across all the passing lives and deaths, the endless waves of swimming joy and quiet losses of exquisite creatures with fins and fronds, tentacles and wings, colorful and transparent, tiny and huge, coming and going. There is nothing the ocean has not seen.”–Sally Andrew

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A Comfortable Place to Sit

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One of the most important considerations in designing a home is the comfort of those who live there.  I believe that a home should be beautiful, as beauty lifts the spirits; it should be a sanctuary for health and well-being with clean air and non-toxic surroundings; and it should be be a place of comfort.  A house is not a home without a space to curl up with a good book, put your feet up at the end of a long day, and enjoy a snuggle with pets or people you love.

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When I designed my home in Madaket, one of my husband’s requests was that our living room be a place where he could truly relax.  He wanted to be able to come in, put his feet on the cocktail table, and have a beer with friends.  Nothing in this room is too precious.  The sofas were slip covered in crisp navy and white so that they could be cleaned easily, and a comfortable wicker chair lets our guests know that this is a summer home, where relaxation is encouraged!  (The white canvas is indoor/outdoor fabric, and completely washable!)

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I love to read, and I find window seats to be irresistible for hiding away with a book.  The light from the window, changing as the day goes by, the view into the garden, and the scent of a summer breeze takes reading in the middle of the day from a guilty pleasure to a perfect respite.

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A window seat in a bedroom is always a delight! A space devoted to intimate comforts should have a place to take a little nap in the middle of the day when your schedule allows.

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Creating a comfortable home requires planning; there should be welcoming chairs everywhere, with lots of daylight streaming through the windows, and a sense of order so you can really rest.  Ottomans let you put your feet up, and a little chairside table will hold both your book and a cool drink.

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If you are fortunate enough to have a beautiful view, then a comfortable place to relax and watch the sea and sky is always appreciated.  It’s the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of coffee as you slowly wake to the day.

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When you sit down with a good book or to watch a movie with your family, you may not realize that your upholstered furniture too often brings chemicals such as formaldehyde, brominated flame retardants (PBDE’s) and dioxin into your home through off-gassing.  Fortunately, today we have the option of choosing soy-based versus foam cushions, recycled filling for pillows, and organic upholstery fabrics.  Some of the world’s healthiest fabrics are also the most luxurious, including organic cotton, hemp, linen and wool.

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Firelight and the smell of burning wood brings its own kind of relaxation, especially when you’re enveloped in a cozy chair close to its warm glow.

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A porch, veranda or deck can be another living area, serving as a quiet library during sunlit hours, and the perfect spot to watch evening fall with candlelight and a glass of wine to toast the end of day.

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Most of us live busy lives, sometimes too busy, and it’s good to take a moment to sit down occasionally, and enjoy what we’ve accomplished. As A.A. Milne said (as Winnie the Pooh), “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

Winnie The Pooh

On Safer Ground in Nantucket Today

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The August 2013 issue of Nantucket Today features a Dujardin-designed home with a unique story:  this beautiful Edwardian-era residence was saved not once, but twice, from the perils of the sea.  Built in 1908 on the sandy ground of Sconset Bluff on Nantucket, fierce storms and pounding waves in recent years have eroded the fragile shore, placing the house in danger of being swept out to sea.

© kenneth brizzeeThe owners of this elegant home first shifted it farther inland in 2006, but it wasn’t far enough.  The second move for the house was cross-island to Monomoy in 2010, where the house now watches the waves in the harbor from a safe distance. With the sea no longer a too-close neighbor, spectacular gardens have been planted outside with massive hedges, and organic vegetable and fruit gardens instead of sandy paths.

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I first designed this home in 1996, so there’s an odd sense of deja vu for me as I walk through these rooms.  An updated family room, breakfast room and kitchen replaced a maze of rooms that once was the servant’s wing.

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The world of 1908 is still in evidence in the house, recalled by the back servants’ stairs and the original call box with bells for the library, the guest rooms, and the original owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Dustin.

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As befits a home that has lasted for generations, there is a beguiling mix of ages throughout.  In the entry, a 19th Century gilt mirror adds a touch of grandeur, arching over 21st Century whale art in handblown glass by Raven Skyriver.

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An enfilade of rooms opens one upon the other, offering tantalizing glimpses of subtle blues and yellow, creams and whites, richly finished wood floors and plush rugs underfoot. Dignified antiques add a decorous note to airy spaces.

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There’s a ribbon of soft color that runs through the house; shades of bluebells and buttercups wrap the rooms in tranquil tones that lit spirits on even the foggiest days.

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The home’s original setting on Sconset Bluff is honored in an oil painting that hangs over the living room mantel, a reminder of those more precarious days.

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Just as the house itself has had its second, and third, chance at life, many of the well-loved pieces throughout the home were reupholstered for their own second chance.  The homeowners’ unique stories are told here, too.  The 1840’s breakfront in the dining room is home to a collection of heirloom china teacups, given to the wife’s mother at her wedding shower.  Each guest arrived with a different teacup, creating a charmingly mismatched set that has been treasured for years.

dining room 2 In the master bedroom, an elaborately carved 19th Century bed from the West Indies blends effortlessly with contemporary lamps and white lacquered night tables.  There, seaglass colors soothe both body and mind.

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Nantucket residents know our island is a fragile place. Climate change and stronger storms continue to buffet our shores, creating an uncertain future for seaside homes, wherever they face the waves.  In this house by the harbor, the owners have surely done their duty by their home, lovingly preserving it for years to come.

stormy ocean

All photography courtesy of Jeffrey Allen; visit his website here.

 

Fabulous Foyers

urban oasis entry way

Penthouse in New York showcases a view toward the Steinway satinwood piano in the living room. The piece on the right is a fine example of Faux Bois; the wallpaper is silk string. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

What makes a foyer fabulous?  A foyer is the first glimpse of your home for your guests, and as such, it should provide a gracious welcome.  A beautifully designed entry way is a breath of rest and calm after travel and time spent on the road, for you and your family as well as your guests.  More a throughway than a living space, it should be clean and uncluttered.  Even a small entry should feel spacious.

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Nantucket House opens to a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean.  Next stop:  Portugal! On the left is a 18th Century French Provincial painted bureau and an 18th Century barometer; floors are reclaimed chestnut. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In American Colonial style homes, the straightaway hall often separates the house into two distinct halves.  The entry hall opens to doors at each end, affording a view through the house, with the staircase to the side.  A table, lamps and framed pictures creates a room-like vignette, where family and visitors pause for a moment before proceeding into the home.

entry hall vertical

The Beach Nest features two custom designed pieces in rattan, a red coral mirror in the style of an 18th century Chippendale mirror, a handpainted harlequin wood floor and an umbrella stand featuring a collection of canes. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In modern American and English houses, and in many vacation homes, the entry hall and the living room are combined, and there is no separate room designated as a foyer.  There should still be an area clearly defined as an entrance, with at least a small table and a vase of fresh flowers to set a welcoming tone.  A mirror is often included, where guests and family members can make a quick check of their appearance.

entry way

Nantucket Traditional  greets guests with an eighteenth century painted bench.  Photographer: Terry Pommett

Adding unique and personal artwork, such as this Christian Thee custom mural above, serves as an ice-breaker and conversation starter.  We had this mural designed to celebrate the best-loved places in this St. Louis-based couple’s lives, so although the largest portion of the map is dedicated to Nantucket, it includes the Texas flag, the Arch of St. Louis, and other items close to the their hearts.

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Greenwich Elegance features two antique Chinese windows framed as pieces of art and a custom-made bench with an antique Aubusson pillow on top.  Photographer:  Erik Rank

Foyers can be the most formal part of the house, with a reserved tone.  It is, after all, the public area of the home, where not only friends and family but strangers step inside.  A formal feeling can be achieved with symmetry and  balance, where paired wall art, lamps or potted plants delineate the boundaries.

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Captain’s Quarters celebrates its seaside setting with a custom star rug, and a Dujardin-custom staircase with recessed paneling created by Senior Designer Price Connor. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

If there is space, it’s nice to add chairs or a bench to the entry.  It adds to the warmth of your welcome.

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Connecticut Green is sustainable design at its best, with an interior window for lighting. The newel post, bringing a bit of Nantucket to Connecticut, resembles a lighthouse with lights that change color. Photographer Durstan Saylor; 

Soothing neutral shades and consistency in design are important when the entry has a view into other rooms of the home.  My collection of walking sticks add punch to the foyer in my home in Connecticut, above.  Each is unique, and the stand gives guests a fun look at one of my unusual collections.

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Briar Patch dazzles with an unusual mirror created from a zinc architectural element from France above an 18th century French candle cupboard.  Photographer:  Terry Pommett

An antique spinning wheel and a set of nesting baskets are conversation starters in this entry way.  An ivy plant is lovely here, instead of flowers,  and serves to bring life to the space.

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Captain George Parker House

In an historic home, such as the sea captain’s house I renovated years ago on Nantucket, period furniture in the entry way is part of the careful attention to authentic details carried throughout the rest of the house.

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Harbor House promises delightful surprises ahead when guests arrive at a half-moon garden gate. Photographer Terry Pommett

Finally, remember that the entrance to your home begins outside.  A charming gate, beautiful plantings or comfortable seating on a covered porch offer a tantalizing hint of what’s behind the front door.

Your Sacred Space: Part Two of an Interview with Trudy and Women on Fire Founder Debbie Phillips

Debbie Phillips

This is part two of my interview with Debbie Phillips for Women on Fire, the group she founded to bring an amazing circle of fabulous women together for inspiration, strategies and support.  The following is a transcript of part two of our talk on Your Sacred Space:  How to Create an Inspired, Healthy Living Environment. Read Part One here

continued…

Trudy:  What I’m striving for is indoor air quality–whatever we put in that space.  And the only space you can really control is your own environment, your home, so that everything in there supports your health and wellbeing.

Debbie:  Right.  Well, I love that notion, and I’m sure that people listening are thinking, “Well, how can I control other environments?”  But like you said, we can control our homes.  We can also control our cars, and some of us can control our offices.  Is there any way, Trudy, to control other environments–short of wearing a mask?

Trudy:  I think a lot of it is education, and you know I’m big on that.  I’m always trying to promote how to support yourself at home through my blog and also in the lectures I do on The Holistic House.  People ask, “Where should I begin?”  Begin in the nursery because your baby is sleeping in there 20-24 hours a day and breathing in that air.  But your own bedroom needs to be almost like a bell jar–really clean and free of dust and dust mites.  Don’t have a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting because there is so much that gets trapped underneath there.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes, microbial growth.  At least area rugs can be sent out and steam cleaned.

Debbie:  Interesting.  So choose hardwood floors and rugs over wall-to-wall carpet.

Trudy: Hardwood floors, tile floors, stone floors–those are the cleanest.  They are the easiest to keep clean and dust-free.  When people who are really allergic or who have asthmatic children come to me, I tell them to damp mop their floors–as if we have enough free time to do all this.  But try to damp mop floors twice a week.  It is believed that our livers detox somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.  Your liver and your kidneys are really hard at work, so you want to sleep in a really clean environment so you’re not still taxing your system and your organs.

Debbie:  Trudy, I’ve seen those air filters that often can be bought at specialty stores.  is there any kind or a particular air filter that you would recommend?

Trudy:  As you know, I had such a struggle with chemical sensitivity.  I had to go through a two-year detox program, which was almost like being on chemotherapy.  It was really rough.  So I don’t want to see other people go through that.  The one filter that the environmental physicians–there are only 400 in the whole world; it is a very specialized group–like is the Austin HealthMate Plus.  And the reason for that, Deb, is that it has a HEPA filter in there to filter out particulates–dust, mold spores, animal dander, pollen in the spring.  But it also has zeolite in the carbon filtration, which filters out vapors such as car fumes.  If you have a garage that’s part of your house, car fumes can infiltrate and go right through all the little perforations into the house.  The Austin HealthMate Plus filters out all of that.  It will filter out and lower the VOCs from your furniture because all furniture finishes have VOCs.  So that’s the filter I swear by.

Debbie:  That’s great.  Is there a particular kind of mattress or pillow or bedding?  I know it should be from organic cotton, but is there any particular brand or style that you think is best?

Trudy:  There are so many out there, so I want to tell everybody:  Buyer beware.  Make sure you really go to someone who can say that a mattress is truly organic cotton or it’s truly organic wool because it has been certified.  I personally like a wool mattress that’s been tufted, and then I have it encased in organic cotton.  I get my physician to write me a prescription slip, so to speak, to give to the people making the mattresses, saying that i refuse to have it sprayed with fire retardant.  By law, they have to add fire retardant in case there is a smoker in bed and a cigarette is dropped.  But it’s a problem because the rest of us have to pay the price by sleeping on a bed immersed in that chemical, and you really don’t want that.

Debbie:  Wow.

Trudy:  The other thing you want to do–because dust mites and the little things they leave behind are what a lot of people are allergic to, especially asthmatic children–is to get an encasement, a completely zip-around mattress protector.  It’s not just a pad on the top, and it’s made out of barrier cloth.  That keeps out dust mites, bed bugs, all those things that can happen, and you are much safer.  Your pillow really shouldn’t be foam or anything made of a chemical.  it should be organic cotton or organic wool, again, in an organic-cotton encasement protector.

Debbie:  Is there anything around the waterproofing of a mattress pad?  Would that necessarily have chemicals in it?

Trudy: It could.  Until I look at the label, I wouldn’t know.  You have to be careful of chemicals, especially where you are sleeping at night.  That’s the one room to change.  People say, “I can’t afford to go through and change my whole house.”  And I completely relate to that. But try to make your bedroom as clean, organic and chemical-free as possible.  That’s the goal.

Debbie:  This is so helpful because one of the things Rob and I have done is to create a couple’s sanctuary, but we have not gone to this level. This is very inspiring.  I want to talk about something else that would potentially be a tip, Trudy, and that is because we are talking about an inspired environment with a strong emphasis on creating a healthy environment.  I want to tell you a quick little story.  When I met Rob, who is now my husband, he had this rule that one way to create a sacred environment was that all shoes were to be removed before entering the house.  it took me a little while to get used to that, but I have adopted his ways and I have to say that I love it.  And, Trudy, you are the only other person I’ve met who has a porch full of shoes. I wondered if that’s a rule at your house–a shoeless house–and is there a good reason for not wearing shoes in the house?

Trudy: Absolutely.  I think it’s sacred.  It’s respectful to remove your shoes, to not bring in all that stuff from the street.  Asians do that a lot.  But there is also a very scientific reason for it:  When we are walking around on the street, we are actually walking through viruses, bacteria, chemicals sprayed on the streets to melt ice, and all of that.  We walk through that, and we definitely don’t want to track it into the house.  People I’ve studied with have said that if you could make pesticides iridescent and if you used a black light on them, they would glow.  And if you had somebody walk through his yard after it was sprayed for ticks or mosquitoes or whatever and then you tracked him as he walked through the house, there would be footprints everywhere he went in the house.  So that’s your practical reason.  Let’s not bring all this inside.  My biggest pet peeve is pesticides, chemicals, insecticides, mildewcides, and all of that.  I understand the purpose of it and I know what people are trying to do, but I think the public doesn’t always know the horrible side effects of it.

Debbie:  Right.  It’s funny, but I wonder if you have had this experience:  both of our homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Naples are shoeless, but I still feel a little embarrassed asking people to remove their shoes. 

Trudy:  You know what I do?

Debbie:  What do you do?

Trudy:  I go to Rite Aid and buy the little cotton socklets in all sizes, and I leave them right there at the door because sometimes people don’t want to slip on slippers if they feel that somebody else’s feet have been in there.  I relate to that.

Debbie:  I do too.

Trudy:  So get a fresh, sealed bag of little socklets, and you can get the ones that the men don’t mind wearing.  They’re almost like the little things they give you in the hospital when you’re walking up and down the halls.  And that just covers it when they’re in your home, and they can choose their colors.  Then it becomes sort of fun.

Debbie:  What a great idea.  Thank you, Trudy.  That solves that problem.  What are some other ways to detox our homes or space?  And, by the way, I hear a lot about that.  People will talk about, “I’m going to clear or detox my space.”  Is there an appropriate way to clear and detox a home?

Trudy: The biggest thing is what you put in it.  Let’s say you’re painting.  There was some wonderful person who sent me an email this morning, “How do you choose your paint?” I wasn’t sure if she was asking about color or if she wanted to know how to choose a safe paint.  For the latter, the biggest thing you can do, if you know you have oil-based paint and you’r’e going to repaint, is to go to a low-or no-VOC–again, Volatile Organic Compound–water-based latex paint.  Oil paint is a petroleum product.  People say, “Oh, my house doesn’t smell anymore.  I painted it three months ago.”  If you could dye those VOCs purple, you would see that they go on forever.  It’s truly deleterious to your health.  It’s truly injurious.  It’s not good for your lungs.  It’s just not good for a lot of reasons.

Debbie:  Do the major paint companies make those or do you have to find a special company?

Trudy: They do.  And so you don’t have to spend a fortune for that.  If you don’t have a chemical sensitivity, you probably don’t have to go as far as I do with it for my own health.

Debbie:  You were referring to a question from Jill Dulitsky, from Vernon, Connecticut.  She asked, ‘We are redoing our house and making a much more open floor plan.  How do you choose paint?”

Trudy: I emailed her back so we will continue that discussion, for sure.

Debbie:  I don’t know whether she did mean color.  Melissa McClain from Seattle, Washington, is very into color, and we should just bring up the color issue since I’m not sure what Jill meant.  Melissa asks, “What is your philosophy on finding the perfect color for your home or room?”

Trudy:  It’s really client-driven.  After I sit and talk with clients, I get a feel for what they like.  I also give them a client questionnaire.  It’s long.  I ask them, “What are your favorite colors?  What colors do you hate?” I tell them to get five of the current shelter magazines and tear out pages and write on them, saying, “Trudy, I love this.  I hate that.” By the time we’ve spoken and they’ve filled that out and I look at their tear sheets, I have a good sense of what they would thrive in.  There has been a lot of research done on people who have thyroid issues, which I do.  They thrive with the color blue.  Well, it’s no surprise that I have a lot of blue in my houses.  That’s my house in Connecticut.  Debbie would love it.  It’s more taupe and white and the sandy colors.  And say people with stomach issues really resonate to the color orange.  So, basically, what I do is interview everybody and I find out what they love.  Sometimes they don’t even really know what they’re gravitating to, but I can see it.  I can see it formulating.  Then we get a little report back to them, and we sit down and start with color swatches.  Then I see what they respond to.

Debbie:  I love it.

Trudy:  They always reach out with their hand for the things they love.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes.  If they don’t like anything, the hand doesn’t come forward.  When they see a color they love, the hand goes out and they start rubbing it.  I say, “Oh, that’s it!  That’s the one.  That one likes Sea Glass.  She likes that color.”

Debbie:  This is why you are the genius you are.  That is really great to know.  I know you love blue. All those blues are so beautiful on your site.  What color don’t you like?

Trudy:  You know, it used to be orange, but I’m in love with that color now.  When I was going to art school, I took a course at Yale.  It was a color study course.  It forced us to become neutral about color.  Most people don’t know this–I think you might, Deb–but I was a fine arts major, and I was a painter first.

Debbie:  I did know that.

Trudy:  I approach color in a whole different way.  I had a studio in Rowayton, Connecticut, on the water.  I’m always by the water, whether it’s a river, a lake, Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, whatever.  I did commission paintings, and I loved it.  I taught art for a while in Rowayton, and I taught at New Canaan High School.  I loved working with the high-school students.  I just loved that.  But it was too solitary for me when I was working in the studio.  I’d come home at night and I’d think, “I didn’t talk to anybody all day.”  So I found myself gravitating toward doing rooms, and I thought, “OK, now I have to get more information about this.”  So I went back to school at Parsons in New York.  I also did a lot of on-the-job training.  I had some wonderful mentors and teachers.  You can shift course midstream.

Debbie:  Yes, you can.

Trudy:  It’s OK to do a mid-course correction.

Debbie:  Well, as I always say, we’re stomping our perimeter.  We’re building on what our interests are.  Like the fact that you were two years old and you were sketching, and then you just continued to build on that to be the person you are and create the amazing environments that you do now.

Trudy: You know, Deb, I really thought when I was younger that I was just going to grow up and be an artist.  I didn’t know I was going to go into interior design.  It just evolved.  It was an evolutionary process.

Debbie:  Melissa McClain also asked the question, “Was there a defining moment where you knew you wanted to be a designer?”

Trudy: Yes.  It was in that studio.  I said, “You know what?  I want to work with people.  I want to make rooms that they feel good in.  I want to work with fabric.”  I just jumped in and started.  I didn’t have enough training yet, so I went back and got the training that I felt I needed.  But the best training I had, Deb, was on the job, watching other designers that I really admired.

Debbie:  Oh, I’m sure.  Trudy, believe it or not, our chats just go so quickly.  In the ten minutes or so that we have left, I want to give our women some other tips for creating an inspired environment.  Are there other things, in addition to the advice that if you start with any place start with your bedroom?  Did we answer the question about what’s he right way to go about detoxing a room?

Trudy:  There are different ways to detox a room.  From a spiritual level, I like using sage.  When I first had a house in Monomoy on the water on Nantucket, I knew a wonderful woman who was a minister.  I had her come over, and she brought some other people.  We said prayers to the north, the east, the south and the west.  We asked blessings from every direction, and that was a truly blessed house.  Wonderful.  That’s one way to detox–mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  The other detox method concerns the materials you are using.  Say you bought a piece of furniture from a place where they use a lot of particleboards in the middle, and the formaldehyde levels are off the wall.  You can even smell it.  It has that kind of stinky smell.  I would get that piece of furniture right out of the room immediately.  I would stick it down in the basement until it offgasses enough.  That’s one way to detox.

Now the truth is that formaldehyde probably never offgasses enough that it’s truly safe.  But to detox a room, you have to minimize whatever is toxic in it.  So if it’s the furniture, that’s one thing that goes.  If it’s an old chemical-sprayed rug, one that you’ve used a lot of retardants for stain and stuff on, you just have to get rid of that.  It’s time to roll it up.  What people forget is that, even with area rugs, the pad underneath is disintegrating over time.  We have a friend in New York who is being treated for leukemia.  He had a stem cell transplant, and they’re calling me for a lot of advice on how to detox the home.  The big thing they talked about was that they had all of the Oriental rugs taken to be steam cleaned.  No chemicals, just steam cleaned.  But it was the pads underneath that needed to be changed.  There was too much microbial growth.

Debbie:  Interesting.

Trudy: Get a new pad for under your rug.  There are a lot of simple things you can do.  You can put a coat of nontoxic paint on the walls.

Debbie:  You’re inspiring me.  There are some really simple things like that I need to do.  I think we’ve had the pads under our rugs for ten years.

Trudy:  There’s always time for a change!  We vacuum the rugs all the time and even have them shampooed from the surface.  But it’s best to roll them up and send them out to be steam cleaned.  And we never check that pad.  I’m guilty too.

Debbie:  Hey, Trudy, I always hear about mold and how that is really dangerous in a home.  Is there anything we can do about mold?

Trudy: The minute you have heat and moisture and darkness, you have a breeding ground for mold.  Mold needs all three.  You don’t see mold growing in bright sunlight.  You don’t see mold growing where there is no moisture, and you don’t see it growing where there is no heat.  So, if it’s freezing outside, you don’t see mold growing on the rocks or anything.  Mold and pesticides–those two are my pet peeves.  It is deleterious to your health.  They affect respiratory systems. Stachybotrys atra is one.  There were some fatalities in Long Island of infants who were in basement rooms that had been paneled, and there was stachybotrys atra growing on the sheetrock behind the paneling.

Debbie:  How do you test for mold?

Trudy: You can get kits.  You can order them online.  You put these little plates out, and then you collect them and send them off to a lab.  They will tell you if you have it or not.  You can also use a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).  They are wonderful.  These guys are like doctors.  They are just amazing.  They have so much information, and they can come and check for you.  It’s truly like having people with doctoral degrees in all these chemicals and the molds.  They are very valuable.  I have one I use all the time:  Microecologies in New York.  I’ve known them for about 15 to 20 years, and I have a lot of trust and faith in them.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, Deb, but when I walk into a moldy house, it smells sweet to me.  Have you ever noticed that?  I can smell the mold or the mildew.

Debbie:  Well, you’re such a pro, Trudy.

Trudy: I don’t know if it’s being a pro or that I have such heightened smells from being chemically sensitive.  That’s one of the downfalls of being chemically sensitive.

Debbie:  And I’m just so glad that you’ve been able to recover.  One of the reasons is because you live in this holistic house.

Trudy:  Deb, there’s one last thing I wanted to say.  We’re probably getting close to the end.

Debbie:  We are.

Trudy:  I was so torn between just talking about how to make your home pretty and beautiful and talking about it being green and healthy.  Then I realized that I want the two to go together, hand in hand.  And that’s why I talk about “eco-elegant.”  I want the two to not be separate, but to be all one.

We focused on the “green” now, because let’s start with everybody’s health.  Their environment, their built-in environment, their home, or just their bedroom, if they can do only one room in the home, is truly supporting.  It’s their underpinning.

Debbie:  Yes.

Trudy:  It’s got their back, so to speak, and their heart, as (Woman on Fire) Agapi Stassinopoulos (author of Unbinding the Heart) would say.

Debbie:  That is a very beautiful way to put that.  And, you know, Trudy, you are such a part of Women on Fire, and I’m grateful for Women on Fire to have access to your wonderful work.  I could go on and on.  I’m grateful to have a woman like you.

Trudy: Thank you.  I am so honored to be a part of this interview.

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Decorating with Antiques: a Deeper Shade of Green

photos 88 old saugatuck 007 (2)

The Nantucket Historical Association hosts its annual Antiques & Design Show from August 1 to August 5 this year.  Dujardin Design Associates, Inc. will present a Designer’s Room Vignette with beautiful examples of treasured antiques and a display that shows them artfully placed in a room.  If you’re on Nantucket, come visit us at Bartlett’s Farm, 33 Bartlett Farm Road.  Here are all the details.   

In celebration of the timeless beauty of long-cherished objects and our desire to live lightly on the earth, it’s time we think about antiques in a new way.  Antiques are a part of a sustainable lifestyle, as well as a link to the past.  Let’s take a look at how these enduring parts of history can elevate both your life and your home’s design!

I have always been an ardent collector of antiques, and the addition of carefully selected pieces to sophisticated interiors is a recognizable signature of my design style.  Sharing my love for classic pieces comes naturally to me.  I find that my clients quickly embrace the elegance of antique furniture, and often become collectors themselves.  Homes are brought to life when old paintings, pieces of porcelain, or folk art add their charming artistry.

As we learn more about how to assess the health of our built environments, and steps we can take to keep our homes clean and pristine, it’s important to recognize the ways that antiques can be an integral part of a green lifestyle.

Photo Seven Library

 This is a fabulous collection of treenware, dating from the 19th to the 20th Century.  Note the darning egg, and the antique stereoscope–the earliest form of television!  The book displayed is by British treenware expert Burt Marsh. Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No Chemical Vapors Are Brought into your Home

Your home’s interior should be a place of fresh air and health.  Yet any new piece of furniture, cabinetry, flooring or finished wood has some chemical overtones.  Many fine finishes release vapors in a process called off-gassing.  In a closed environment, such as an energy efficient, airtight home, off-gassing can increase indoor air pollution to levels several times higher than those detected outside.  Antiques are a healthier choice than modern furnishings because they were created with less toxic products years ago, and any off-gassing has long been complete.

antique ships model

This living room is a showcase for beautiful antique accessories, including a 19th Century ship’s model behind the sofa, and a pair of lamps made from 18th Century Chinese Export porcelain.  A pair of 19th Century British hand carved candlesticks and a 19th Century ship’s captain’s lap desk are on the cocktail table.  Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No New Resources Are Used

Every beautiful piece of wooden furniture originated from a tree.  Whenever we purchase new wood furniture, unless we choose products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), we are contributing to the deforestation of our planet.  In contrast, wooden antiques are products of trees culled long ago from old-growth forests. Old pieces add a soothing mix of periods to a room, and since no new resources were used in their construction, their restoration and re-use is a green endeavor. 

study

 This study reflects the long seafaring history of the coast, with a 19th Century ship’s telescope, and a 19th Century ship’s barometer hanging to the right of the window.  Framed antique prints are on the wall, and the mantle holds part of a collection of sea captain doorstops.  

No Negative Environmental Impact is Created

Beyond the health issues in our homes, we should consider the costs to our planet.  Even the very greenest furniture manufacturers distribute impurities into our air, waste systems and water.  New furniture requires the production of finishes, dyes and sealants.  Shipping them demands the creation of packing materials, and they arrive in retail stores via large vehicles powered by fossil fuel.  The EPA estimates that three million tons of furniture are taken to landfills every year, only to be replaced with brand new pieces that can carry a large environmental cost.

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An extremely rare 19th Century English scrimshaw tortoiseshell is displayed above the fireplace; on the mantle are several antique lighting devices:  a corkscrew pigtail candlestick complete with hook for hanging over a chair, a rush light holder and antique binoculars. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Are Recycled Treasures

Beloved family pieces, original wooden floorboards and the softly faded colors of aged Oriental rugs do not belong in a landfill.  Treasures from another time can be loved and used again.  A federal mirror that has been passed from home to home and hand to hand brings history to life, and honors the work of long-ago artisans.

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This is a mint condition 18th Century British Woolie, The Ship of Bengal, unusual for the ship’s identification as part of the design, and for its display of the British flag. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Respect the Work of Long-ago Craftsmen 

Rather than purchasing a mass-produced item, treat yourself to something created in a small workshop by a craftsman who made good use of few resources.  In previous centuries, home furnishings were made by hand before machine-assembled items flooded the marketplace.  Artisans from years gone by had knowledge that largely disappeared during the Industrial Revolution.  Old joining techniques were abandoned in favor of more rapid assembly using staples and nails.  Fiber board was created and the beauty of the wood itself was lost.  Take the time to consider the difference between a finely hand-wrought piece and one processed in a factory.  Even contemporary rooms can be striking when modern pieces are blended with well-placed antiques. 

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This Ionic columned fireplace, in the Captain Parker house on Nantucket which I painstakingly restored, still retains its Sandwich glass clothesline knobs; string was wound between them so clothes could be hung to dry. Not all antiques are furniture.

Antiques Have Stood the Test of Time

Classic pieces are sturdy and well-made, which is why they have lasted.  The quality of their wood is usually stronger, created from timber with tighter growth rings, making repair a simple task when necessary.  Furniture that is unworthy of a craftsman’s repair time adds to our cycle of wasteful consumption.  Instead, your rooms can be accented with vintage furniture that has been lavished with love and care, and that honors history and tradition. 

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An old set of nesting baskets, handmade by 19th Century basket weavers. Photo: Erik Rank

Antique Collections Are a Personal Expression

I often find that a simple gesture, such as placing an antique tea caddy on a mantel, can inspire my clients to begin collections. There is tremendous beauty in items preserved throughout the years, particularly if they illuminate another time and way of life.  Learning about the subtle differences among artisans, the period when an item was created, or the materials that were used to make it, gives us a greater appreciation for life.  

My personal collections include treenware (handcarved wooden items used in the home long ago), old hotel silver, blue and white porcelain, and things that speak to me of lives lived on the ocean, including whaling artifacts, scrimshaw carvings and sailor whirligigs.

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The foyer of the lovingly restored Captain Parker House on Nantucket, circa 1700’s.

Not All Antiques Are Furniture

You can find antique cabinetry, flooring, doors, beams, posts, mantels and other architectural pieces.  Consider a gorgeous 18th Century door to add punch and personality to your entry, or how about antique doorknobs and a doorknocker?  An old mantel delivers instant charm; remilled old timbers bring panache to the pantry.  Add the incredible details that your home may be missing.

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This Victorian milk glass doorknob was added to an old door to restore it to its 19th Century charm.

Antiques Add Beauty and Joy to Life

There is a thrill when you spot the perfect 19th Century French farm table, Georgian stand or double pedestal dining table.  You feel an immediate connection to the Italian walnut commode or a beautiful pair of small paintings.  Antique collectors know that old things have a soul, based on their authenticity.  Whether you fall in love with hand-embroidered vintage textiles or white ironstone pitchers, each well-chosen piece adds to the unique style that is yours alone.  

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Photo:  Durstan Saylor

Blending newly designed furnishings with antique collectibles is a wonderful way to express yourself.  Concrete work surfaces and stainless steel works beautifully when paired with your antique dining table and old wooden doors.  Don’t be afraid to mix periods and textures.  Contrast can be the spice of life, and add spice to your home as well!

Your Sacred Space: Part One of an Interview with Trudy and Women on Fire Founder Debbie Phillips

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I recently had the honor of being interviewed by my good friend Debbie Phillips for Women on Fire, the group she founded to bring an amazing circle of fabulous women together for inspiration, strategies and support.  The following is a transcript of part one of our talk on Your Sacred Space:  How to Create an Inspired, Healthy Living Environment. 

Debbie:  Hello, Woman on Fire!  Women on Fire is one of the most dynamic communities of women you will find anywhere.  And my guest today highlights the bonanza of talent and expertise we have inside our organization.  Today’s interview is part of our series on exploring Your Life.  Each month for a year, we are presenting a life topic with strategies on living your best, healthiest and most inspired life.  Last month we looked at Your Health and Wellbeing, and today we are discussing Your Sacred Space.  Our guest expert, Trudy Dujardin, is a pioneer and a leader in green design and eco-conscious living.  She is a nationally recognized interior designer who will share her valuable tips with us today for creating your own healthy, sacred environments.  And she will tell us why it’s essential to your good health and your family’s health to live this way.  

A little about Trudy before I bring her on:  Trudy Dujardin is the president of Dujardin Design Associates based in Westport, Connecticut, and on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.  For more than 25 years, she has designed some of the most elegant homes on Nantucket, in Connecticut, and throughout the country.  Her interior design firm is nationally recognized by industry experts, the media nad her clients for her distinctive eco-elegant desings.  She is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and she is a LEED Accredited Professional, recognized for her expertise in sustainable design and construction.  Trudy was one of the early pioneers to use non-toxic materials to create interiors rich in beauty and full of health.  Her personal journey includes a struggle with multiple chemical sensitivities, yet today she is fully recovered and passionately carries her message that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury to her friends and clients, and the audience of her widely read blog, HolisticHouse.com.  

Trudy is someone I know well, and I love and respect her personally and professionally.  She has influenced my taste and my style and my thinking for more than a dozen years.  Trudy is married to handsome Frank, and they have three amazing Bichon Frises, the cutest little white dogs you’ve ever seen.  Plus, I am so proud that Trudy is one of our Women on Fire members.  When I want to take a vacation, I go to Trudy’s website and blog; I’m not kidding, her work is so extraordinary that to luxuriate in her website for a while is just like going on vacation.  Welcome, Trudy Dujardin!

Trudy:  Hello! Thank you so much.  I’m thrilled to be here.

Debbie:  Aww, I’m happy to share you with Women on Fire.  I know a lot of women who have attended tea parties (Women on Fire signature gatherings) know you and you know them.  I just want to introduce you to everyone else who hasn’t had that pleasure yet.  And our first question always is–and you know this, Trudy, because you get the membership packet–our tradition:  What’s your day been like so far?

Trudy:  My day was pretty interesting so far.  I usually get up sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 every morning because I have, as we talked about, my three Bichons, and they’re the loves of my life.  They make me laugh out loud every day.  But two of them are almost 11, and they can’t make it through the night.  So when I wake up in the middle of the night, I worry about them.  I tiptoe downstairs, trying not to wake anybody else up, let them out, bring them in, and give them a little rice cracker.  Then I sneak back upstairs to try to catch another 40 winks.  If I have a heavy workload, I lie there and think about my day.  But I always start my day with prayers.  I have two that I say every morning, and it helps me focus on my day.  But I have another favorite, Debbie.  Do you remember Shakti Gawain?

Debbie:  Of course I do.

Trudy:  I love her, and I have an old tape of hers.  It’s not even a DVD/CD.  It’s an old audiotape, and it’s a visualization technique.  So I visualized this morning how our interview would go and our wonderful day.  Next–I don’t get a lot of points for this because I haven’t been doing this for long–but at 7:30 I got in the car and headed to the gym, where I worked out with a trainer from 8:00 to 9:00.  And so that everybody knows, I’m not a saint.  I don’t do that all the time.  I had fallen off the exercise wagon for a long time because of my business travels, and I decided on the first of the year that I needed to get going again.  So last week I began, and I’m thrilled to be back.  It just feels good.  It sets my day on the right path.  And then finally, I came back, ate breakfast, showered, and here I am with you!  And I love having you all to myself!

Debbie:  Excellent!  Well, good for you!

Trudy:  Later on, I’ll be working with a new project.  Debbie, I’ve been asked to sit on the board of a new organization called Her Haven. It’s the creation of Carey Dougherty (founder and executive director) and she is an amazing woman.  I just want to tell you about it, as I’m brand new to it.  But what Her Haven does–it’s right up your alley–is to create environments for women in need.  They get applications, and it’s kind of like makeovers, but they find out what they woman might need to do.  It could be somebody who really wants to be a writer, but she has so many kids and works, and so they create a little haven in her home.  And that’s why it’s called Her Haven.

Debbie:  I love that.

Trudy:  For the project we’re working on now, Carey has been interviewing the PTA at Sand Hook, Connecticut.  We all know what’s going on there and what a tragedy it was.  But we are trying to see if maybe they need something in the teachers’ lounge that will help comfort the teachers, a respite where they can go.  Or if there is a particular person in that town who may need Her Haven.  So that’s our mission and that’s to be continued.  I’ll fill you in on that more later.

Debbie:  Oh, I love it, and you’re such a perfect person to be on that board.

Trudy:  I’m bringing in the “green” element.

Debbie:  Well, I love it.  That’s fantastic.  So let’s talk a little bit, Trudy, about how old you were when you first knew you wanted to be a designer.

Trudy:  I’m not sure of the exact age, but what my parents told me is that I wasn’t even two and I was already sketching.  The interesting thing is I was always sketching rooms, environments.  They were almost like stage sets.

Debbie:  I just wondered, you said you were two years old and you were sketching?  Were you sketching with crayons?

Trudy:  Pencils.

Debbie:  Pencils.  Wow!

Trudy:  And then crayons.

Debbie:  Do you have any of those sketches?  Did your parents save them?

Trudy:  Oh, I’m sure there’s a box in the attic somewhere.

Debbie:  Well, tell us more about what inspired you to work in the field of design.  So you grew up loving to sketch, but then was there anything in particular?

Trudy: My uncle–my father’s brother–was a furniture designer.  So, of course, that was a direct lead in.  He had gone to the New York School of Interior Design, and back in the 1950s and 60s, when I was a tiny little kid, they used to take me to his studio in Greenwich Village.  I was so fascinated by it.  I would see these huge, thick slabs of marble and walnut.  He had a very elite clientele.  he was making racetrack-oval dining tables long before that was the fashion.  He was really ahead of his time.  We still have some of his furniture now.  It’s classic and timeless.  it should be in the Museum of Modern Art.  Just wonderful.  He was the inspiration for the art side of it.  My first present from him was his own wooden briefcase full of all his oil paints.  I carried that with me every day when I went to graduate school at New York University.  Now, for the flip side of the family, we go scientific, medical and then artistic.  My father worked for NASA.  He was in the space program, and he was a design engineer.  He designed thins such as the tile dial, as it was called for the space shuttle.  You know how the nose cone is all covered in tile for re-entry?

Debbie:  Oh, I’m quite familiar.  My brother Scott worked on the space shuttle from its inception to its last day.

Trudy:  My father designed the equipment for measuring how each tile should be slightly different.  It’s just amazing.  He also designed the Polaris Missile way back in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Debbie:  Oh, my goodness. 

Trudy:  My mother and I never knew what he was working on because he worked in a think tank with no windows.  he said if he had his life to do over again, he would get a job where he worked outside.

Debbie:  And now he can.

Trudy:  And now he can.  Right.

Debbie:  I know your father is still alive and well.

Trudy:  He is still alive and well.  He was my exercise buddy last week.  I thought, “I need someone to make me accountable.”  So, at 89 years old, he was getting up in the morning and going to the gym with me, just to keep me honest.

Debbie:  All right, Dad!  Well, Trudy, I love your motto: “A healthy home is the ultimate luxury.” Tell us a little more about that.  How did you come up with that?  What does that mean exactly? 

Trudy:  As you know, we have a lot of very high-end clients on Nantucket.  I was thinking that they have all these beautiful things, but to really make a house pay off and serve them well, it needs to support their health, which means that the indoor air quality has to be just sterling.  It has to be perfect for them, and they can afford it.  I’ve been at this since 1987.  I was very early in on it, and a lot of the builders on Nantucket thought it was a little loopy.  They’d ask, “What do you mean the paint is going to hurt you?” It’s hard for people to change.  So I had to educate my clients.  They would say, “I don’t have allergies, so that’s not important to me.” And I would say that it’s important for your long-term health.  Every item on the face of the earth emits vapors of fumes.  They’re called VOCs–Volatile Organic Compounds.  All of these things chip away at your armor.  So even if you are perfectly health, why start chipping away at it?  And then we have to think about our children and our pets and the elderly.  If we’re going to spend a lot of money, and have this luxurious home, let’s make it healthy too.  Why not?

Debbie:  Right.  And for our women, it doesn’t matter how luxurious it is.  We want to talk today about how anybody an make their home healthy.  I’d like to go back, Trudy.  How did your passion for “green” begin?  You were an interior designer, and you came upon these healthier materials and began to use them. 

Trudy:  It’s complex.  Just the other day I listened to your interview with Agapi Stassinopoulos and I was just so inspired by her and her feelings about her mother.  It jarred my memory.  But I used to think that the origin was that my former husband and I bought this beautiful piece of property on the harbor in Nantucket, and I was so in love with the island that I wanted to do this project right.  I thought it was a really healthy island, so let’s not have things silting off of the property and contaminating the water supply, hurting the scallop population  I thought that was the origin of my “greenness,” but then listening to Agapi’s wonderful message the other day, I realized that my mother was terminally ill with breast cancer.  She lived only to 51.  I helped her through those almost four years, and I realized that I just started questioning everything we were doing, having been raised on a farm in South Carolina with all the crop dusting and pesticides and insecticides.  i think I told you that I was the first-born, long-awaited grandchild, and they just cherished me.  So they would put me in a cot on a sleeping porch along a whole bank of windows to keep me cool at night.  It was nothing for it to be 105 degrees in South Carolina.  Then they sprayed my cot with DDT to keep the mosquitoes away.  That was probably the origin of the liver issues that caused my chemical sensitivity.  Am I answering your question?

Debbie:  Yes, you are.  And I want to just clarify because a lot of Women on Fire do know Agapi Stassinopoulos, and you are referring to the CD with her on it.  It’s quite inspiring.

Trudy:  But I want to backtrack a little bit.  I think “luxury” means when we luxuriate in something.  It doesn’t have to be a half-million-dollar home.  It doesn’t have to be anything.  The luxury of it is that you’re supporting your health.  To me, that’s the ultimate luxury.  I talk about how, every day, we’re in containers.  We get up in the morning, and we’re in our house.  We get in our car, and drive to work.  Then we’re in an office building.  We put the kids on a school bus and they go to a school.  We pick the kids up from school in a car and take them to the music teacher’s house or to the doctor’s office.  it’s endless.  We’re in a phone booth.  We’re in an airport.  What I’m striving for is indoor air quality–whatever we put in that space.  And the only space you can really control is your own environment, your home, so that everything in there supports your health and wellbeing.

To be continued:  in our next segment in July, I talk about my struggle with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and how I recovered, plus tips on how to make your home healthy and holistic!

 

A New Look for Nantucket’s Union Street Inn

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We’ve just completed the redesign of one of our favorite places on the island:  Ken and Deborah Withrow’s Union Street Inn.  We first had the privilege of designing the inn nearly 13 years ago, so when Ken and Deborah called us to refresh and update the elegant 1770’s former whaling captain’s home, we were delighted to return.  The June 2013 issue of Nantucket Today tells the story of the new inn, and Jeffrey Allen’s photos capture the beauty of the cozy 12 guestrooms, the common areas and the inviting new garden.

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The hotel is renowned for its full gourmet breakfasts with a home-cooked entree every morning, along with a smoked salmon bagel option with cream cheese, tomatoes, chives and dill, or a fresh fruit plate and artisan breads.  In the afternoon, guests enjoy home-baked treats, such as white chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts, carrot cake or double chocolate brownies.

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We’ve renovated each of the 12 guestrooms to showcase beautiful period details.  The elegant rooms offer luxurious bedding, stunning designer furniture and fabrics, flat screen tv’s and complimentary wi-fi.  The inn has won multiple awards, including “One of the 10 Most Romantic Hotels in the U.S.” by Fodor’s.

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Owners Ken and Deborah have extensive backgrounds in both hotel and retail management, and have used their experience to create a sumptuous boutique-style inn that has guests returning over and over again.  The staff carefully tailors the concierge service to each individual’s interests, sharing their love and knowledge of the island and helping guests enjoy the “insider’s” Nantucket.

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Conde Nast Traveler described the inn as “impeccable New England by way of France.”

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We used crisp blues, whites and yellows throughout the inn, with fresh, tailored fabrics, wallpapers and accents.  The foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen were completely updated with the kind of sophisticated touches you’d expect from a boutique hotel, while never forgetting its origins as a sea captain’s home.

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The new library features a cozy reading nook.  It’s fully stocked with hardback titles ranging from contemporary fiction to design and Nantucket classics.

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Just off Main Street’s cobblestones and the harbor, Ken and Deborah have made The Union Street Inn one of life’s unforgettable experiences.  I hope you’ll come to Nantucket and visit them.  Be sure to tell them I sent you!

A Nantucket Beach Nest

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The June 2013 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine  features a new Dujardin-designed home on Nantucket!  Written by Jamie Marshall and photographed by longtime Dujardin friend Terry Pommet, the home is beautifully presented beginning on page 64.

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We created interiors with bright splashes of blue and Hermes orange in this six-bedroom, shingle -style cottage for a young family with two teenage daughters.  A short fifteen-minute walk to town, the new home was customized by Dujardin Design Associates from the studs up, including exquisite details such as the wood floor in the entry hall with its hand-painted Harlequin pattern. The rattan-wrapped dresser and table in the foyer are meant to evoke the Breakers in Palm Beach, circa 1950s.

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Senior Designer Price Connors created custom built-ins and mahogany topped cabinets for easy storage throughout the home, including hideaway space in the bright and airy bedrooms.

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The color palette is crisp and clean, with most walls painted white or ivory with bright white trim. We added interest with pops of color, such as this nautical rope border!

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Color continues into all the bedrooms, including this lilac-themed room!

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And this blue beauty!

blue bedroomSignature colors were added to the kitchen with stools and bistro chairs handwoven in France.

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There’s an oriental influence in the dining room, with a pagoda-shaped tole chandelier above the glass dining table.  Gothic backed rattan dining chairs and a rattan bar cart add a classic touch.

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The patio and garden continue the colorful palette, offering another glorious space to enjoy  summer on Nantucket.

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Behind the Scenes at the Union Street Inn

The Union Street Inn, Nantucket

The Union Street Inn, Nantucket

A short walk down the cobblestone streets of “faraway island,” as the Native Americans called it, is an intimate boutique hotel called the Union Street Inn.  Owned and operated by Ken and Deborah Withrow,  experienced hoteliers who make the inn the luxurious and welcoming place that it is, this circa 1770’s hotel is a classic example of Nantucket architecture in the heart of the island village. I first designed the inn’s gracious circa 1700’s rooms thirteen years ago, and I have just had the pleasure of redesigning the inn from top to bottom for another generation of guests.  (Go here to see photos of the inn as it looked before the redesign!)

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Next month, I’ll share some wonderful photos of the new inn, but first, here’s a peek at what goes on behind the scenes at a design installation!

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How many lamps does it take to fill an inn with light?  Handmade by a potter in Vermont, these lamps are arrayed in careful order before placement in the rooms.

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We found this wonderful antique milk glass doorknob with a Victorian backplate for the door.

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We took fabric and backed it with paper to create the wallpaper shown by this staircase.  It’s a contemporary adaptation of an 18th Century Chinoiserie pattern. (“Chinoiserie” is a french term, meaning ‘Chinese-esque.’)  This is typical of a wallpaper that would have been brought back by a ship’s captain from his ocean travels.

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This is original bullseye glass with the typical 18th Century pontil mark.  To create it, the glass blower would gather about 30 pounds of molten glass at the end of his blow tube and blow the lump out to a small, hollow pear shape. This would then be transferred to a pontil  (a solid rod), and flattened and spun until centrifugal forces flattened the glass out into a smooth disk. When cooled, the pontil would be broken off.  The center piece, called a “bullseye,” would be cut out.  It was considered waste, and was either recycled into the glass furnace, or became an inexpensive pane for windows such as these.

This kind of interior door was common in 18th Century Nantucket.  The glass at the top was necessary in order to detect fires in the room without opening the door.

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Here is Price Connors helping to unload a truck full of treasures for the inn!

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Here I am, taking my turn with the unloading!  Everyone pitched in.

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Once the tables were safely inside, the real fun began.  Where, oh where, do all these tables go?

I’ll show you just where everything ended up in my June Holistic House post.  Ken and Deborah are so pleased with our design work, which makes us very happy!  I think you’ll love it, too.  You can book a visit to the Union Street Inn here.

A Splash of Yellow: Daffodils on Nantucket

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From early April to mid-May, Nantucket bursts into bloom with millions of daffodils across the island  To celebrate, the island throws itself a party:  its annual Daffodil Festival!

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This year, the festival takes place from April 26 to 28.  More than just a weekend of flowers, islanders enjoy an antique car parade and tailgate picnic, art shows, a Daffy Hat contest, contests and lectures.  It’s a beautiful time to be on the island:  my husband, Frank, and I never miss it!

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The splashes of yellow from coast to coast are pure inspiration after a long colorless winter.  Think about the ways you might use yellow to enliven your home and lift your springtime spirits.  Of course, bringing bouquets of fresh flowers inside is a pretty touch in any room.

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Touches of yellow are also playful and bright when used in fabrics and upholstered furniture.  A small dash of yellow can go a long way.  In the photo below, yellow is used in the plaid upholstery fabric and in the trim on the ottoman.

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This month, celebrate the yellow in your life, wherever you find it!

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Basket Case

There is a special kind of beauty in handmade items, particularly those that have stood the test of time.  I have long been a collector of things old and venerable, and love the part I play in keeping and protecting them.  Perhaps it is the rushed nature of time in our lives today that draws so many of us to collectibles such as baskets,  created by people with physically harder days but longer empty hours.

 

The baskets I love are Nantucket Lightship baskets, crafted by the calloused hands of sailors, sea-toughened men whiling away wet and salt-sprayed hours on a ship that rolled and dipped with the pitch of the ocean beneath it.  The baskets that survive are precious now, perhaps all the more so because once they were not.

When they were new, they held bread and sewing and berries gathered from the hedge beside the cottage.  They were made by men who worked hard with their hands, and used by people who did the same.

 

cottage photo courtesy of Nantucket Preservation Trust

Today, Lightship Baskets are a collectible treasure so valued on Nantucket Island that they have a museum dedicated to them. Located at 49 Union Street, the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum is dedicated to the island’s rich history of basket making, as well as a nod to the history of the Lightships.

In the 19th Century, Lightships were sentinels stationed at dangerous off-shore shoals, warning others in the waters of treacherous shipwreck sites.  The first lightship was stationed at Nantucket’s South Shoal on June 15th, 1854.

Whale oil supplied the warning lamps in early years, seen at most at a distance of a few miles on a clear night, far less when the weather turned grey and stormy. Nantucket Lightship crewmen were basket makers for diversion from boredom, as well as a way to earn extra income.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It was after 1900 that work on the the baskets moved off ships and onto the island.  In the late 1940s, Jose Formoso Reyes, one of the foremost basket makers of his time, created the “Friendship Basket,” a cane woven basket with a lid and a carved ivory whale mounted on top.  It is the model for the popular handbags sold today.

very early basket by Jose Reyes

In my many years as a Nantucket Islander, I have frequently found myself unable to resist these treasured baskets.  My collection was written about in a blog post that you can read at Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

My Madaket living room; Lightship basket on table.  Photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

My kitchen in Connecticut, Lightship basket on island; photo courtesy of Durstan Saylor

Perhaps this post will inspire you to start a basket collection of your own, or to find the space to display with grace and reverence the ones you already own.  We are so blessed to live in a world where such treasures can be found.

 

Lightship basket collection displayed on built in shelves; photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

My Blue Heaven

 

There’s no color scheme more heavenly than blue and white. Blue and white reminds me of sea and sky: from the open ocean accented with crisp white sails to the summer sky dotted with white clouds.  As many as half the people surveyed around the world said blue was their favorite color, and it’s been documented as being the most soothing, restful color, making it perfect for bedrooms.

 

 

Blue pigment from the earliest days of human civilization was prized, almost as highly as gold. A bride must have something blue.  Blue flowers are coveted by gardeners, almost above all others.

 

Objets d’art and treasured collections can be used to add blue and white accents to almost any style room.  One of my favorites is Chinese export porcelain.  These classic pieces are the quintessential blue and white collectible, and have been for hundreds of years.

 

The technique for using blue decoration on white porcelain actually began in the Middle East in the 9th Century, but cobalt blue pigment was excavated from Iran and exported to China in the 9th Century as well. Our love for blue and white porcelain today is a testament to the timelessness of style eight or more centuries in the making.

 

 

The striking blue and white porcelain quickly became popular, and through the centuries, trading routes expanded to Europe, Asia, Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.  Blue and white porcelain found its way to Nantucket Island, once the center of the whaling industry, as ballast on ships or in the trunks of sea captains and sailors.

 

 

Blue and white dinner services and teaware were popular imports in the 18th Century, often shipped by private traders who rented space on Dutch East India ships. The Dutch began producing blue and white porcelain themselves, called Delftware, made in Delft in the Netherlands.   Serving pieces such as dinnerware, soup tureens, bowls, platters and tea caddies could increasingly be found on the tables of well-to-do families in Europe and America. Intricately painted landscapes were popular decorations, as shown on the bowl, below.

 

 

Traditional motifs also included botanical themes with flowers, lotus ponds and ferns, or animal themes with birds, dragons and elephants.

 

 

Blue and white china comes in many varieties. Another kind of blue and white collectible is known as Flow Blue.  Chinese porcelain was a very expensive, luxury item in the 18th and 19th Centuries, so the English developed a type of salt-glaze earthenware that looked close to porcelain, but could be sold at a lower cost. Cobalt oxide, the pigment they used, would sink into the porous earthenware and blur during glazing.  While some experts believe the blurring was accidental, others believe it was intentional.

 

 

Blue and white porcelain is particularly striking when used as a container for flowers.  Any shape that holds water can become a beautiful vase.

 

 

Bowls can also be filled to stunning effect with blue hydrangeas, or with shells collected from the beach.

 

 

Pairing blue and white porcelain with sterling silver adds a sophisticated touch.

 

 

Blue and white porcelain is often used in pairs, adding the grace of symmetry to a room.

 

 

I’ve repurposed blue and white ginger jars into lamps, giving antique pieces new life, and adding historic interest to a room.

 

 

A display of Chinese export porcelain adds both beauty and authenticity to homes on Nantucket, making the porcelain more popular than ever on the island.

 

 

Blue and white together lightens the somber tone blue can take on by itself; a little blue can go a long way.  Even in nature, blue is often paired with other colors: blue jays are splashed with white, the peacock is mixed with green, and for the blue footed booby, Mother Nature decided blue feet were enough!

 

 

Whether the blue is sapphire or navy, the white ivory or alabaster, the beauty of blue and white transcends seasons and years.  Heaven to me will always be the peaceful charm I find in my seaside homes.  There I turn to face the azure sea, watching white-capped waves roll to shore, and I am inspired by blue and white, once again.

 

 

 “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if the simplest things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” –Eleanora Duse

 

 

 

 

The World as Jinsey Dauk Sees It

Part Two in an Occasional Series on My Favorite Artists


If you’ve ever wondered what a bee sees when he’s buried deep within the folds of a flower, surrounded by color and bemused by fragrance, then you shouldn’t miss the fine art photography of Jinsey Dauk.   An artist with an eye for the smallest of sensuous details, Jinsey uses a camera to capture what’s most miraculous about life.  Then she presents her vision to all of us who are hurrying past a frisson of flowers or a riot of raindrops without really seeing them at all.

Jinsey’s love for photography began early. As a very young girl, when a friend of her mother’s became ill with leukemia, she picked up a Minolta camera for the first time to take pictures of the woman’s son.  An innate talent for seeing the world in striking detail was quickly apparent.  Jinsey captured the boy leaping with a basketball in his hands, sunlight in his eyes, and his mother posted the photos around her hospital room.  Soon visitors and friends were asking who took the photos, and her career began, first by taking black and white portraits of children for whom she babysat.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  Jinsey spent time working as a Ford and Elite model, then launched a career as a documentary-style wedding and portrait photographer, primarily in black and white, before turning her camera toward the beauty of nature in full, glorious color.

Once again, serendipity intervened in her life.  She began simply, by photographing flower arrangements on the sunlit windowsills of her Tribeca apartment to thank the friends who had sent them; before long, those friends were insisting she create large-scale art pieces and offer them for sale.  From that point, she branched out into shooting more than flowers, and she quickly gained a following.

Today, Jinsey’s work is available as metallic prints, without frames, pressed under a quarter inch of plexiglass.  Although many collectors prefer the large version, and collect them as diptychs, triptychs or quadtychs, (sometimes even as a series of six), Jinsey happily custom-sizes her pieces to fit a particular space in home, office or boutique hotels. She is also happy to work on commissioned pieces and will travel to photograph whatever a client chooses, whether it’s a beloved rose garden or another cherished item.

Using macro lenses and micro filters from the 1960’s and blending those techniques with today’s sophisticated digital photography is how she creates her work, but it doesn’t begin to explain her vision.  She describes her first foray into photographing flowers as a journey she undertook, albeit one with camera in hand.

“I traveled through those flowers and ferns and bouquets, traveled through a whole different universe.  Each turn of my focusing ring was escaping into another world,” she says.  “Photography changes me.  It’s a private experience.  I’m six foot one, but in this world I’m all scrunched down, into something the size of a thumbnail.  Every single one of my senses gets touched upon when I photograph something. I hope that viewers of my work will have the same experience.”

Jinsey grew up in Rowayton and Darien, Connecticut.  Her mother still lives in Darien,  in a matriarchal home owned first by her mother’s grandmother, then her mother’s mother, and now it belongs to her mother.  Jinsey’s photographs hang in rooms that overlook Long Island Sound, next to traditional, older oil paintings that have been in the family home since the turn of the last century.

“My art mixes so well with those old paintings,” Jinsey explains. Perhaps it’s the constantly shifting colors of the ocean outside the windows, or the way the light falls on the nature-infused colors of Jinsey’s work, but her photographs transcend a single definition.  She’s proud to see her work hang in offices and homes with many different styles.

Erika Del Priore, of Erika Del Priore Interiors, describes her work like this:  ” The colors, while bright, recede into the photo – pulling us in. Once in, colors and shadows reveal small nooks and passages that take us … I don’t know where, but it is warm and calm.”

Warm is the way to describe Jinsey, too.  She’s enthusiastic, outgoing and the kind of person you feel like you’ve known forever.  When renowned photojournalist Andre Kertesz said that “you don’t see things you photograph, you feel them,” he could have been talking about Jinsey. Jinsey says she is inspired by his work, as well as the black and white photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and George Brassai; her color inspiration comes from Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Gaugin, Henri Rousseau, and images from her own work.

Whoever’s work inspirits and inspires Jinsey, she’s always an artist who sees things her own way. Jinsey creates her pieces to embody the feeling of flow and fluidity, which is why she presents her work not only as individual pieces, but as a series.  According to a friend and client, her pieces create connections through “color, form, light, eyes and smiles.”  It’s the world as Jinsey sees it, and we’re lucky to share the view.

To contact Jinsey Dauk Fine Art Photography, call 212-243-0652, email Jinsey at info@JinseyArt.com, or visit her website at www.JinseyArt.com. An installation of 21 metallic fine art prints with rotating images is available for viewing in a beautiful Tribeca office space.  Call to schedule an appointment.  Scroll down for more of Jinsey’s work.


Color Predictions 2013: Opposites Attract

Colors in paint and home decor are subject to the whims of fashion, just as clothing is. Paint companies have their own in-house color forecasters who define the shades and hues that will coat the walls of homes across the world each year.  Sherwin-Williams  has color forecast 2013 as mysterious, murky, and masculine.  At least, that’s their dark side.  With colors like loyal blue and rare gray, their aesthetic story is the marriage of Victorian romanticism to the future.

If those are too tame for your taste, try a bit of electric lime or exuberant pink. For clearer tones, you might go for aloe, or awesome violet. Their last color pair is nature-inspired, and uses the chalky, earthy colors of sea-buffed stones and weathered shutters.  See if you like spiced cider, or smokey topaz. Choosing colors is about self-expression, so you have permission to be non-conformist, no matter what the forecast says.

 

Find us in New England Home’s Summer Cape and Islands Issue!

Creating beautiful, gently green interiors is both my work and my passion, but there’s a special pleasure involved when I work in a home of architectural significance.  New England Home Magazine’s Summer Cape and Islands Issue features Dujardin Design interiors in just such a place:  a home designed by architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen in Sconset, on Nantucket Island.

 

Photography:  Michael Partenio

Designed by Mr. Jacobsen in 1990 and untouched since it was built, it is a prime example of the Jacobsen style:  a large center pavilion flanked by “outbuildings” recalling the barns, detached kitchens and smokehouses of rural America.  The house fits perfectly into the Nantucket landscape, with gray exterior and minimal trim.

 

Photography:  Michael Partenio

The interiors we created preserved all the original details of the house, and celebrated Mr. Jacobsen’s vision, while fitting the home to the new owners’ lifestyle, and resulting in more healthful surroundings.

 

Photography:  Michael Partenio

It was our pleasure to carefully select striking furniture and fixtures to mirror the clean lines of the house, while infusing the home with quiet luxury.

 

Photography:  Michael Partenio

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Cape and Islands Issue, and enjoy a visit to a bright, sun-filled, truly American home!