Friday, February 26, 2010

Erin Paige Pitts: Traditional Home Young Designer to Watch in 2010

Several years ago, while visiting my sister at her home on the Chesapeake Bay, I met one of her neighbors - Erin Paige Pitts. My sister noted that the neighbor was an interior designer who was building a house nearby, but the house was under construction so I did not get to see it.


A family picture (above) of Gregory and Erin Pitts and their children, image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

Flash forward to last year – and that very house was featured in Traditional Home! Not only was the house featured in Traditional Home, but Erin Paige Pitts, the designer and owner of the house, was selected as one of the Traditional Home ‘20 Young Designers to Watch’ for 2010 (see the March 2010 issue). Design runs in the family, as Erin’s husband Gregory Pitts and his brother own and operate David Edward, an internationally distributed high end manufacturer of wood and upholstered seating and tables. Gregory is Executive Vice President in charge of design and marketing.

After I read about Erin’s wonderful mention in Traditional Home, we reconnected and Erin graciously answered some questions for me to share with my readers. It is always fascinating for me to learn more about the thoughts behind the designs!


Erin and Gregory’s home in Chesapeake Bay home in Gibson Island, Maryland. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

Where do you get the inspiration for your interiors?

Erin: At heart, I am a classicist. I get tremendous inspiration from Robert A.M. Stern, Victoria Hagan and other architects who emulate things with scale and balance. With that being said, I also love French, Dutch and Moorish influences. I am a big fan of McAlpine, Booth, Ferrier and love how they integrate old with new.


The open flow of the family room/dining area/kitchen of the Gibson Island house is perfect for entertaining. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

How would you describe your personal style?

Erin: I am not a trendy designer although I like things that are "current". I love clean lines in architecture and furniture. I always love symmetry and balance. I am never going to suggest an interior that is going to quickly date itself. If I had to sum up my personal style it would be "classic traditional".


The dining area of Erin’s home, with one of my favorite chairs – the Ribbon chair by David Edwards. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

In your own home, what is your favorite room and why?

Erin: I love my living room. It has basically floor to ceiling windows or doors on three sides. It is beautiful inside and there is a great water view from the back, with beautiful mature trees on the other two sides. It is very calming, the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. I am not a big fan of a lot of color. I like a neutral base palette (whites, taupe's, natural linen ) that you build some color accents into. I believe your home is the only place in the world where you can really let your guard down and relax and that is my living room for me.


Erin’s beautiful living room, perfectly designed with the indoor/outdoor connection of the room in mind – look out these windows, and you see a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

Do you have any favorite paints that you use over and over?

Erin: I love Ralph Lauren's Journal White and Benjamin Moores Revere Pewter, Gray Cashmere. I love Sherwin Williams Quietude. I also use a lot of Farrow and Ball's Clunch, Borrowed Light among others. The best true white is BM Super White; I often use this color on trim.


The family room in the house, which can be closed off with pocket doors. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.

Do you have any favorite materials that you like to use on a project?

Erin: I love all natural materials and use them all. I use a lot of limestone and marble. I love any fabric with a linen ground and now linen with embroidery is becoming a trend. When it comes to wood, I love walnut and alder. I like to incorporate caning in cabinetry. I have a project now with pecky cyprus beams, which adds a great feel of the natural element in the space, and adds depth and dimension.


The living room of an Italian Villa for which Erin recently designed the interiors (love those round windows and the sofas flanking the fireplace).


A wider view of the living room and dining room. Interiors by Erin Paige Pitts.

Are you seeing any trends on your projects right now?

Erin: I always find this to be the hardest question to answer because no two project are alike, and no two clients are alike. As a designer who has their own firm, I certainly have my own aesthetic, but I don’t always get clients who share that aesthetic preference. However, I have learned the most from from projects that were outside of my preferred aesthetic/comfort zone. For example I recently finished work on a Italian Villa, it was more decorative and elaborate than anything else I had ever done; It pushed me to think more in those terms. I definitely grow more on those types of projects.


A lovely hall in the Italian villa. Design by Erin Paige Pitts.

On any design project, what is the absolute first thing that must be done?

Erin: The first thing that must be done is the client must be totally honest with you about themselves and their life. If that doesn't occur, it is difficult to read the client and therefore do a design that will work for them. They also need to communicate to the best of their ability what they want me to accomplish for them. Pictures from magazines can help convey this as well as what I call "the download" which is usually the "kick-off" meeting where I do my best to ask as many questions as I can to understand the client. This meeting usually takes hours!


Erin’s screened in porch, with its view of the Chesapeake Bay. Image via Traditional Home, photo credit Gordon Beall.


I hope you enjoyed this interview with Erin Paige Pitts, selected as one of the "20 Young Designers to watch in 2010" by Traditional Home magazine. It is truly amazing what she has accomplished given that her design firm is only 5 years old! You can vote for her on the 'Young Traditional Readers Choice awards on the Traditional Home site - http://my.traditionalhome.com/photos/photo-contests/young-traditional-readers-choice/1498000021/?photoId=1495100020

You can visit her website here: www.erinpaigepittsinteriors.com

Erin also has a new blog, which can be seen at www.erinpaigepitts.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gibson-Island-MD/Erin-Paige-Pitts-Interiors/272176153717?ref=ts

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Whimsical original crab and lobster paintings, as seen in House Beautiful, available here:


Thursday, February 25, 2010

My 'Things That Inspire' email subscriptions are an important part of my blog, as I have thousands of subscribers who only read my blog through email.

I have been experiencing difficulties with the service that provides the email subscriptions, and many of the blog posts that I have created over the past month have not been sent out. After a lot of time and effort researching the problem, I feel confident that it is now fixed.

In the course of working on this problem, I changed the email address that is used for my email subscription from scjenningsart@gmail.com to thingsthatinspire@gmail.com. As a result - I received numerous emails this week from readers who subscribed to my blog years ago, but never received an email (it had previously been routed to their spam folder); I also noticed that my own email subscription went into my 'spam/junk mail' folder.

I am changing the email back to the old one for this one post to let my loyal email subscribers know to check their spam folder if they do not receive the email subscription of my blog in the future. I will be doing a post tomorrow (Friday), so make sure to check! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at thingsthatinspire@gmail.com.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The rest of the room

Have you ever seen a beautiful picture in a magazine, and wondered what the rest of the room looked like?

This is one of my favorite casual dining areas. I love everything about it – the lantern, the built in seat, the windows. This was in Traditional Home a few years ago.


I recently came across this picture of the dining area in the context of the entire kitchen. It is not quite what I expected, but it is great to see nonetheless. I like that little computer area where you would normally expect a sink – under the arched window that mimics the shape of the window in the dining area. Seeing this picture makes me want to see even more of the house….I know it was in Traditional Home, does anyone know which issue?


Another kitchen that I recently featured was from Connecticut Cottages and Gardens. The fresh feel of this kitchen really appealed to me, as did the beautiful aqua lanterns hanging over the island. A reader from Connecticut directed me to the web site of the company the supplied many of the stone materials in the kitchen, Stepping Stones Marble and Granite.


Here are more pictures of the kitchen from their website! I must admit that I love to see a kitchen that is styled, then see it unstyled. I appreciate seeing a kitchen in the way that the owners would use it on a day to day basis. From this angle, you can see that there is a pantry in the area behind the range. The stools that were placed in front of the island are moved to the side, which makes sense given that the long side of the island does not appear to be made for sitting given that it does not have an overhang.


This view shows a bit of what is on the wall to the left of the range. I love those dot tile accents, in the perfect shade to match the lanterns over the island.


The right side of the kitchen, which has much of the dish and glass storage as well as the microwave. I wonder where the refrigerator is located? Perhaps on the left wall. Again, seeing more pictures of this space makes me want to see even more of the house!

I am working on another post for next week where I saw a single picture of a house, and through ‘friends of the blog’ was able to get pictures of the entire house, including the exterior. Stay tuned…I think you are going to love it!

- Holly

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interesting windows

Recently, the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles blog asked
‘What does every home need’? The first thought that popped into my head was ‘original art’. But, the second thought that popped into my head was ‘an interesting window’. Of course, I am stretching the definition of ‘need’ pretty far, but every time I see a home with an interesting window, I feel like the home has something special about it.
I love a window in a shower, and this large statement window is the focal point of the room. Although it brings in great light, its high placement still ensures privacy in the room. Image via Elle Decor.

I saved this picture from a real estate listing last year because the combination of the window and the sink struck me as uniquely beautiful. This is a powder room, so it’s not as if people will use this sink for brushing teeth or any other activity that requires a mirror above the sink. There is, in fact, a mirror on the wall to the left, so that need is fulfilled – making an interesting window above the sink the perfect touch.

My own house has an interesting oval window, in both the shower and the toilet room. I love this window – although my tile person did not love it when we remodeled the bathroom. It took a lot of thought and experimentation to come up with a good way to frame the window with the new tile. I am very happy with the solution!

The most unique window I have seen in recent months was in the Bishop House – this charming stained glass window with its pointed arch can be seen from both the family room and the kitchen. Photo credit: Tina Rowden.

This bathroom, in a home designed by Summerour and Associates, has always struck my fancy because of the round windows above the vanity and tub. It reminds me of being in a ship, as the windows resemble portholes.

A reader emailed this house to me a few months ago, and Cote de Texas just did an entire post on it this week. Note the pretty oval window that flanks the door (there is another one on the other side of the door).

This room, by Sixx Design, looks like it could be in a converted church. The beautiful window makes the space, in my opinion.

This charming window, from a home decorated by Phoebe Howard, makes the space much more interesting.

Every time I visit the Max and Company store in Atlanta, I climb up to the 3rd floor to admire this beautiful window.

An oval window, placed in such an unexpected place, brings sunlight into a space that would normally be in the shadows. Image via McAlpine Tankersley Architects.

An unusually shaped diamond window, with a pretty grid pattern, sits over the sink in this bathroom designed by Suzanne Kasler.

A laundry room from a home in Atlanta has a charming window over the sink. The window was designed to give the rear exterior of the house an interesting look, and I love what it does for the inside of the house too.

Last week, Limestone and Boxwoods posted on the talented Charlotte based architecture firm Pursley Architecture. Image after image was a pure visual delight, but this one in particular really captured my imagination. The architect combined a beautifully shaped window with an interesting interior treatment where the walls are used to shape the space.

Here is the same window, seen on the outside. Although I generally am not a fan of a window in the roofline (despite the fact that it is so characteristic of French architecture), I love the way the oval window is treated in the wing of this house. I particularly like the espaliered tree or vine (getting out of my terminology comfort zone here) on the wall. Image via Pursley Architecture.

And of course, last but not least, the beautiful quatrefoil window from a home in Nashville designed by McAlpine Tankerley. Image via Veranda Magazine.

Do you have any interesting windows in your house, or are there any interesting window images that you want to share with us? Perhaps I love interesting windows so much because they are both an architectural element and a design element, and because they provide an additional way to let in the natural light that I love so much.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bathroom faucets

Suzanne, Keith Arnold (principal with Suzanne Kasler interiors), and I met last week to start thinking about the design approach to the bathrooms in the new house. Suzanne likes everything about bathrooms to be clean, classic, and timeless. We went through each bathroom on the house plan and discussed cabinetry, tile, and plumbing fixture options at a very high level. Suzanne said that in the past, she would often select different fixtures for each bathroom, but these days she is being consistent in the guest and children’s bathrooms, and doing something more unique and special in the master bathroom and powder room.

As much as I love decor, I rarely notice details like plumbing fixtures. Just walking into a plumbing showroom makes my spirits flag almost immediately – there are so many choices! This is why I love working with an experienced designer. For my particular project, Suzanne immediately narrowed down the faucet style to a few selections, and really – to two styles. The column/farm style faucet and the low profile faucet. Both are classic and elegant, which will fit the style of the house we are building.


The first category is this shape, which has a column and has a vintage feel. When looking at this style, Suzanne noted that she really likes the Julia faucet by Waterworks (seen above). I see this style quite frequently, and I admire the pretty lines of this faucet and the delicate lines of the handles. On the Waterworks website, the faucet is described as ‘representative of 1920s French country’, and there is a picture of a French house with a field of lavender. This makes me like this style even more!


The Julia also comes in a low profile version. I like this version very much, but I think if you are going to go for this style it might be good to go for the higher profile. Whatever we choose for the master bathroom, it will have lever handles, as my husband does not like the cross handles. I love cross handles, so will probably use them in my children’s bathrooms.

My builder and architect also suggested that I look at Newport Brass. Newport Brass has a nice version of this style, the 930 series (this is the catalog picture, I will be doing a nickel finish in whatever style I end up selecting).

Perrin & Rowe is another company that my readers recommended when I posted about kitchen sinks, and they have a version of this classic design.


When looking through my pictures, I found quite a few bathrooms that have the farmhouse/column style faucet. Here it can be seen in one of my favorite bathrooms from architect William Hefner’s portfolio.


Design Lori Tippins used pretty faucets in this style (not sure of the brand) for her daughter’s bathroom.


The guest bathroom in Lori’s home also has this style spout.


Suzanne also likes low profile faucets like the Highgate in the Waterworks Studio line. She thinks this would be a good choice for the guest bathroom and children’s bathrooms.


The Astoria by Waterworks is the faucet that Suzanne chose for her own bathroom in the 1930s home she recently renovated, and it is a possibility for our master bathroom. Suzanne loves the shape and substance of the handles on this faucet.


Given that I have been looking into Perrin & Rowe fixtures for the kitchen, and this pretty fixture from the Perrin & Rowe bathroom line caught my eye in the store. A reader from Connecticut told me that she used Rohl (the parent company) and Perrin & Rowe fixtures throughout her house, and she is pleased.


Here is the Newport Brass version of this fixture (this is the brand that I selected for the master bathroom in my current home). The 920 series has the nice low profile look.


Brooke from Velvet & Linen used this faucet on a recent project.

I also like the Newport Brass 1200 series, as the handle bases are more bell shaped. Levers or cross handles can definitely have an impact on the look of a faucet.

The Grohe Somerset has nice clean lines. I have always been so happy with everything I have used from Grohe, so I have a certain amount of customer loyalty with their line. Too bad this faucet only comes in three finishes!


San Francisco based designer Elizabeth Dinkel used the Waterworks Highgate faucet in one of her designs.


Another bathroom designed by Brooke Giannetti uses a low profile faucet to great effect. To me, this is how a bathroom should look – light and fresh and clean.


A low profile faucet in a bathroom designed by S.R. Gambrel.


One of my favorite pictures of a master bathroom uses both styles in one space: the column style in the bathtub, and the low profile in the sink.


The powder room will have a special fixture. This little gem is from Waterworks – the Opus. As soon as I saw it in the Waterworks store, I loved it; the clear egg shaped handles are really beautiful in person. Turns out that Suzanne has this faucet in the powder room of her office. Suzanne said that we could consider this for the powder room as a special touch.


Another picture of the Opus.

So, what do you like – the column style (is there a better term for this?) or the low profile style? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and please vote in the poll (email readers, click here to participate in the poll or comment – the poll is in the upper right hand corner of the blog). Whatever Suzanne ends up selecting, she likes to use the same line for the shower, bath, and faucets as the finishes from different lines can vary dramatically.

As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts!

- Holly

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