The Fun of Focus

Designing a home can be a daunting task when it comes to budget and decision making. In such moments—when the seriousness of it all sets in—Elisa reminds her clients to see the fun in the process, and to remember that working with a creative team encourages cohesive decision-making.To lighten the mood, she directs focus to core concerns, outlined below:

Where will you live?

Concentrate your energy and resources on the rooms where you intend to spend most of your time. Once identified, excitement will ensue with an eye to sourcing special pieces reflective of personality and place, like a character-rich antique basin sink for a prime-location powder room, a custom underlit bar for a tequila-collecting client, or a young family’s bustling mudroom replete with custom shoe cubbies and closets. Kitchens and primary suites often top the list of importance, thereby receiving close aesthetic consideration that can carry through into other spaces. “You may want it all, but it’s hard to do it all,” Elisa says. “Pick the rooms that matter most to you.”

What conditions shape your site and your lifestyle?

Thoughtful evaluations of your property and lifestyle can greatly simplify budget discussions. A work-from-home profession requires a resolute workspace, replete with window treatments to desaturate Zoom meetings. In contrast, a remote, forested property may allow for skipping draperies in select spaces—although kids’ rooms should always have curtains for privacy. Children should also be considered when custom sourcing; an investment rug in the living room may not stand up to the barrage of little ones whereas a custom slipcovered sofa will. And staircases need some sort of tread for tiny feet. “I always go back to functionality,” Elisa says. “What will allow for your peace of mind?”

What elements deliver the most impact?

Oftentimes, the interior architecture sets the tone for a home: the foundational decisions that define the overall aesthetic of the space. When recruited early in the building process, Elisa guides clients to make investments that matter—in structural materials and finishes. For instance, in her own home, she splurged on panoramic windows, which meant she waited to source key pieces of furniture until her budget replenished. Everyday, she affirms the wisdom of that decision as she takes in the valley views so beautifully framed by the towering panes. Be patient, she advises. Resist the desire to want everything “done” the moment you move in; instead, “focus on the things you are going to love living with for 25 years,” she says. “Furniture and accessories can be layered in over time.”

Above all, Elisa advises her clients to take an evolutionary approach to designing their home. Making wise, core decisions at the onset allows for future fine-tuning with furnishings and accessories. “Let your house evolve with you,” Elisa says.

Curb Appeal

In the mountains, summer issues a fresh invitation to consider the context enveloping our homes. The more time we spend entertaining outside, the more we see our homes as sites to behold and beckon. Recognizing this tantalizing potential, we offer strategies for sprucing up your homes’ curb appeal:

Continuous Cozy

Transform a covered front stoop into a cozy spot with an inviting yet sturdy accent chair and a vessel with gravitas and botanicals (the ingredients we always use to make a nook inviting). No matter the weather, this vignette welcomes with warm hospitality.

Sneak Peek

Picture windows, particularly when flanking a front door, provide a sneak peek at the aesthetic intrigue that awaits inside. Curate the framed view with statement pieces, like a monumental painting or a sculptural console.

Highlight Light

The layered architecture of this front facade calls for a quiet complement in minimalist landscaping and accents. As such, the light fixtures became a moment to shine—quite literally—with a statement sconce at once sculptural and serene.

Happy Hour

When approaching from the road, outdoor patios can serve as invitations to socialize. In the mountains, no party is complete without some sort of campfire camaraderie; this built-in fire pit, encircled by classic Adirondack chairs, makes a kumbaya moment out of any soiree.

Featured Finds

Greet guests with character; one-of-a-kind finds, like this antique wheelbarrow repurposed as a planter, convey your creative joie de vivre. Such stylistic flare hints at the inspiration to come indoors.

Jewel Box Powder Rooms

Elisa approaches tiny toilettes as jewel boxes—small spaces containing enormous potential for expressive style.

Public facing yet free in spirit (untethered design-wise to other rooms), powder rooms present an opportunity to have fun and be bold.

Elisa ensures her clients see such spaces as outlets for expressions. In initial budget conversations, she often begins by outlining her allocation hierarchy by room:  she always advises spending the most on the places where you spend the most time, like the primary suite and the kitchen. Perhaps surprisingly, the powder room rates high for her for high impact. Every other bathroom in a house carries the potential for significant wear and tear (i.e. bathtubs overflowing in kids’ en suites). In contrast, powder rooms often exist in proximity to the highest traffic yet removed from rugged use. As such, spectacular pieces can take centerstage, safely. “The lighting can be drop-dead. You can have fun with wallpaper. You can play with a statement sink,” Elisa says. “Powder rooms are a public space that you want to be beautiful.”

As such, she shares her favorite moments from powder rooms she has designed over the years:

Sculptural pendant lights, threading together stone and glass, add drama to this otherwise classically sophisticated powder. Chrome fixtures provide a clean contrast to the textured drops.

To celebrate the joie de vivre of a family farm, Elisa picked a fun wallpaper for the powder room, aptly (and quite literally) toasting chickens and cocktails. The color play continues with the orange sconce from Urban Electric. Perched beside the laundry room and garage, this riotous nook sets a fun tone for all.  

Epitomizing the style spectrum made possible by an expressive approach to powder rooms, a second small loo in the same family farm as above channels a more moody, masculine vibe in keeping with its location off of the husband’s bar. A vanity with gravitas—made of Taj Mahal quartzite—anchors the space, with a cluster of handblown glass pendants as lighting.

Texture sets the tone in this powder room: grass cloth wallpaper complements the antique sink made of carved stone (atop a custom black metal base) and the classic punctuation of black fixtures.

Crystalline pendants from Christopher Boots add an ethereal element amid the elegance set by the lustrous walnut vanity and the subtle grass cloth walls.