May 14, 2015

Tips For Summer Outdoor And Landscape Design In New England

It’s not quite as warm as us New Englanders would like yet, but we do have the outdoor season on our minds. As the temperatures heat up, so do ideas for how to make our outdoor spaces an oasis to enjoy all summer long.

At Mast & Falls, we love helping clients across New England – from Concord and Lincoln to Newton, Wellesley and more – to design an outdoor space to enjoy just as much as their interiors. Here are a few of our favorite things used in a recent exterior design project for a client in Needham, Mass.

We love the simplicity of the lines of this dining chair, available at Didriks.

Barlow Tyrie Equinox Stacking Armchair Teak Armrest

Barlow Tyrie Equinox Stacking Armchair Teak Armrest

As part of a new addition to the back of the home, we added a beautiful new deck and overhead trellis structure to take advantage of the gorgeous hilly view in the client’s back yard.  Multi-levels that step down to the back yard open up the space and encourage its use by visitors.


Barlow Tyrie Equinox rectangular dining table

Barlow Tyrie Equinox rectangular dining table

We love the way the trellis casts shadows across the deck that constantly change with the sun during the day.  For those times when the sun get too hot, we installed a retractable awning that covers the trellis, creating a great place to relax and entertain. Mast & Falls also helped design the furniture layout, select key pieces, and choose accompanying fabrics, creating a bold yet practical color scheme. The seat cushions are a deep chocolate brown, with accent pillows of spring green and cream. We stuck with simple lines and a contemporary style.

Barlow Tyrie Equinox Backless bench

Barlow Tyrie Equinox Backless bench



Points to remember for outdoor décor:

  • Keep it simple – you want to enhance nature, not take away from its beauty
  • Choose colors that compliment the outdoors
  • Find vendors who specialize in outdoor furnishings, to ensure longevity (all furniture in this project is from Didrik’s in Newton, Mass.)
  • Bring outdoor furniture and plants inside during the off season
  • Work with your local greenhouse to choose the right plants for pots vs plantings
  • Consider solar lighting and faux candles in hurricane lamps for safe and responsible ambiance
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Apr 10, 2015

Mirror Image – Reflecting on Your Interior Space

It can be easy to change a space without overhauling the entire room. One great way to do so is to change what’s hanging on your wall. Photographs are always nice, as are fine art pieces. But another option is to decorate and “expand” a space with mirrors.


mast-and-falls-mirrorNot sure how? Here are some tips for incorporating mirrors into various rooms:

  • Decorate a room by grouping a variety of different sizes and shapes on one wall. The reflection adds depth, and the variety adds a more interesting visual than just one large mirror. Shop antique stores to find some really interesting and unique mirrors, and keep a common thread among them, such as frameless or all gold and silver.
  • Think “off the wall.” Mirrors don’t only have to hang! Place a simple full length mirror on a dining room table for a dramatic table runner.
  • Trifold mirrors, like this one available at Wayfair, can be placed on hutches or dressers to add light and height. Hang jewelry from it for a functional yet elegant addition, or put candles in front for an extra romantic glow.
  • “Expand” a room by strategically placing one large mirror on the floor. The reflection will make a tight space instantly feel roomier. This also works well when a mirror is placed to reflect a window. Instant square footage!
  • Smile check. A mirror hanging in an entry way not only makes it appear roomier, but also serves its purpose for a quick last look before heading out the door.
  • Personalize it. Mirrors can easily be personalized by hanging them with a unique ribbon or adding a border such as seashells. It’s easy to do and ensures you have a look that’s all your own.

Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in a variety of ways to lighten up your home. For more inspiration, we really like this Pinterest page.

Happy decorating!


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Mar 20, 2015

Blush Color And Nature Themes Dominate Spring 2015 Interiors

orangeflowerAlthough it doesn’t quite feel like it in the Boston area, today is the first day of Spring! After the winter we’ve had, we are so excited to welcome this new season. It’s a season of renewal and light, changes and growth.

So what color and decorating themes capture the essence of this season? To start, Pantone has released their color trends for Spring 2015, dubbed the “En Plein Air” colors. The inspiration, in their words, “This season, cooler and softer color choices with subtle warm tones follow a minimalistic, en plein air theme, taking a cue from nature.”

In our work, we are seeing a lot of blush pinks, soft sorbet orange and peach tones, and endless shades of blue—from aqua to sky to indigo. Put them together and you can’t help but think of warmth and brightness.

The natural theme continues to be popular and is popping up in other design trends as well this season – wallpapers, lighting fixtures and even furniture shapes are reflecting natural forms and elements. Blossoms and branches are common motifs in rug patterns, wallpapers, lighting fixtures, and more. We are also seeing furniture shaped in more organic forms, reflective of seashells, waves or sand dunes. Perfect for the beach lover!



Here are a few tips for incorporating these new trends into your home for Spring:

  • Paint one or multiple rooms a fresh new color. (See color trend tips above.) Or, use one of the new and lively botanical or floral patterned wallpapers to give a space an instant update.
  • Use mirrors, a piece of lacquered furniture, or accessories with a subtle sheen or glow to brighten the mood in a room.
  • Use a metallic paint to transform an old piece of furniture into something fun, eye-catching and new.
  • Group botanical prints, inexpensive floral images or photographs on a wall. Create a feeling of a curated collection by framing them in similar or complementary frames.
  • Use brightly colored ethnic or citrus-colored geometric or floral tablecloths or large pieces of fabric to wrap a headboard or lay over a nightstand or table top. Instant spring refresher!
  • Bring the outside in: use ferns, daffodils or any favorite Springtime plant or flower and fill a vase, or multiple vases abundantly.

Happy Spring!

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Mar 9, 2015

Designing For Romance All Year Round

While Valentine’s Day may be long gone and the buzz about Fifty Shades of Grey is calming down (a little), romance is still very much alive and well. There’s no reason not to keep it top of mind all year round. Here are a few easy tips to help you design a romantic bedroom that keeps love in the air.

  • Texture and the feel of fabrics and furniture surfaces are essential for a romantic mood. Nothing is sexier than comfort – and comfort doesn’t have to be dull. Indulge in silk or satin sheets, beautiful polished wood, and other textures that feel good to the touch.
  • Lighting is the secret ingredient for setting the right mood. Recessed lights that can be dimmed very low to create beautiful ambient lighting can create a nice glow. Don’t be afraid to go “old school” with an array of beautiful scented or unscented candles. (Worried about the actual flame? There are a variety of quality faux candles to choose from these days.) You can place votives on fireplace mantles, within or on a fireplace hearth, or simply around the room on tables, night stands, etc. A single beautiful fixture can also create a source of singular, soft lighting. This Pinterest Board dedicated to Romantic Bedroom Lighting can be a great inspiration!
  • Ethnic or period accents are a great way to create a sensual, imaginative setting for romance. Evoking a romantic time or place can be very sexy. For example, scatter a few small oriental rugs and comfy throw pillow around the room. Choose accents and colors than reinforce the place or time period you are evoking. 30’s and 40’s era Hollywood glamour can be easily conjured using reflective surfaces, mirrors, and lacquered furniture. Animal skins and fur optional! Here’s a video with more tips on creating a Hollywood Glamour bedroom design.

  • For Feng Shui believers, red is the color of passion and love, and adding this color somewhere within your bedroom is believed to enhance romance. Any shade of red, from deep burgundies and wines, to soft petal pink shades will do. Add a touch of these to walls, bedding or pillows. Just a touch will do – you want to evoke romance, not visions of Pepto-Bismol!

We’ve focused on the bedroom in this post, but for more inspiration, you can visit Romantic Homes and get ideas for the entire home. Keep the romance alive!

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Jan 19, 2015

Hollywood Glamour, Indeed – Last Chance To See Enticing Fashion And Jewelry From Late Silver Screen Starlets

Although we’re interior designers, we naturally love everything that has to do with design. From furniture to fashion, magazines to museums, we notice the colors, the patterns, the positioning. So when I attended Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts exhibit, “Hollywood Glamour, Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen,” I was enamored.


As the Museum describes it, “The exhibition focuses on the iconic style of sultry starlets of the period, including Gloria Swanson, Anna May Wong, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, and Joan Crawford. Hollywood style in this era was a blend of on- and off-screen fashion and accessories, including dramatic costumes created for the screen by famous designers such as Adrian, Travis Banton, and Chanel and dazzling jewelry from makers of the era like Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin and Paul Flato. Along with eye-catching gowns once worn by famous figures and the sparkling jewels that contributed to their allure from the MFA and private collections, photography by Edward Steichen along with period photographs, film stills, and film clips capture the style of the silver screen era.”


What a wonderful era! The luxurious fabrics used in the gowns were enough alone to make me swoon. And as a designer, I noticed the intricate construction that went into each one – using the richest of fabrics like velvet, chiffon and silk. But there were limitations to what they could do because of the nature of the entertainment industry’s film technology at the time. For example, they didn’t wear white because it caused a halo effect on screen. The fabrics were actually chosen because of their “quiet ability.” Some fabrics were simply too noisy and would interrupt the sound quality of a film. The exhibit also discusses how much research went into these beautiful ensembles to ensure that they would look good not only on the starlets, but on the silver screen. (Not that different from today, I suppose!)


TRABERT & HOEFFER, INC.-MAUBOUSSIN, MULTI-USE NECKLACE OF ACTRESS JUNE KNIGHT, LATE 1930SPlatinum, engraved sapphire, and diamond. Neil Lane Collection. – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The shoes and the jewelry are just as divine. But the most surprising elements were unexpected. Take, for example, the “hidden platform” shoes worn by Mae West. She was reportedly only five feet tall, and so would wear these special shoes to add height, but the majority of the shoe would be hidden under her gown, with a construction that looked more like two shoes on top of each other.

The jewels were oversized – sort of like what we’re seeing in today’s costume jewelry. But, much of it was “convertible jewelry” – allowing pieces to be broken down and worn in two different ways. I thought that was amazing!

As a designer, the intricate details of what went into the design were so intriguing. But anyone can appreciate the history and mysterious glamour behind this exhibit. I highly recommend attending. But hurry, it’s only here for about another month. The exhibit ends on March 8, 2015. You may also want to check out the Artists Demonstration, “Hollywood Fashion Design,” an ongoing program where you can try creating your own Hollywood-inspired design. The next session is Wednesday, February 25th.

NOTE: The exhibit is sponsored by the ever-glamourous Neil Lane Jewelry.

– Katharine


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Jan 12, 2015

From “Blah” to “Spa” – A Before And After Bathroom Design Snapshot

You probably know what it’s like to have an outdated bathroom that you’ve just been neglecting, thinking “It’s just a bathroom.” But when a bathroom isn’t functional, it can cause not only an eyesore (especially if you add temporary storage), but headaches while trying to figure out where to put everything.

Such was the case with this bathroom in a client’s home in Boxborough, MA. While the original bathroom wasn’t as outdated as some that we’ve seen (no pink tiles or tub!), it was fairly plain and nondescript – and it wasn’t functional for the family’s needs. The pedestal sinks look nice, but it lacks countertop or storage space. In addition, a huge platform tub took up too much space in the room, and the shower was so small, it was nearly claustrophobic!

We conferred with the client and discovered that she really loves a contemporary look, and was looking for something spa–like: modern, organic, serene and Zen–like. She liked clean lines and wanted neutral tones so she could change up the look from time to time with splashes of color (a great idea for making a design timeless). And, as you can see from the BEFORE photos, she needed more storage, counter space and lighting.

BrownBEFORE BrownvanityBEFORE

Katharine and I got to work immediately, excited about the entire “spa” vibe. After all, who doesn’t want the feeling of serenity and pampering in their own home at all times? We designed a unique, custom Japanese Shinto-style vanity made of bamboo wood, with a Caesar stone top and under mount oval sinks. Our wonderful cabinetmaker, David Lamoureaux of Carousel Cabinetry, in Lancaster, MA, brought the design to life. The lines of the sink legs are echoed in other curves in the room.  For pretty storage, we added a small bamboo cantilevered shelf between the sinks that holds accent accessories.

BB_vanity2_after BB_vanitymirrors_after

To weave the curve patterns and organic elements throughout, we added curved floor tiles in a subtle gray stripe pattern. A shaped cantilevered shower bench also picked up the theme, along with a gorgeous, freestanding Kohler oval tub that fits elegantly into the corner of the room. Smooth pebble tiles are underneath, for an interesting change in texture and to further showcase the beautiful tub.

BB_showerfloor_after  BB_showerinside_after  BB_tub_After

The pebble tiles were continued on the shower floor – they feel great on bare feet! Because the tub was placed at an angle, instead of the previous in line position on the same wall as the shower, it allowed more room for the large open shower. And what a shower! Its larger design can fit two people (romance, anyone?). A beautiful frameless glass shower door and recessed niche shelves contrast nicely with the slate mosaic tile inside.

BB_Shower-After BB-curvetile_after BB_showerinside2_afater

Special thanks to Ken Howell, in Acton, MA – our General Contract on this project. And you can file these under things that only designers think about, but everyone appreciates:

·      Contemporary clean plumbing fixtures (these from the amazing Kohler Purist collection) in polished chrome

·      New recessed lighting and wall lights

·      Larger mirror

·      Contemporary wall lights

·      Neutral, calming grey wall paint color

The end result was a very happy client who is now discussing a redesign of her kitchen with us. We can’t wait!


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Dec 19, 2014

10 Tips For Easy Holiday Decorating And Instant Cheer

If you’re scrambling to get everything done in time for the holidays –and still haven’t decorated for that upcoming party – take heart. We can help! We’ve curated some of our favorite, easy-to-do tips for holiday decorating from a variety of great sources. Try any of these and your home or office will be ready in no time.

If you try some, please share your pictures with us and we may feature them here on our blog! Email: sue [at] mastandfalls [dotcom]

  1. Turn those holiday cards into decoration. Here’s a great idea to hang them from the staircase
  2. Buy some simple flowers and place them all around the house. Poinsettas are always nice, but think outside the holiday box, too. We love the look of these paperwhites at Midwest Living, and these dried magnolias in Katharine’s own home.magnolia
  3. This ornament centerpiece is so easy! Sue does this once each year herself.
  4. If you have children or grandchildren, spend some quality time to make snowflake garland with them, and hang in a casual room such as kitchen dining area or a child’s room. Some easy directions, here.
  5. This red and white candy and flower centerpiece is so easy and festive.
  6. White lights make everything beautiful. Here’s a great idea to wrap them around birch logs.
  7. Swag adds instant holiday cheer to any space. We love this one with fresh eucalyptus. Add red bows and white lights, too. staircaseswag
  8. Martha always has great advice, and these snow lanterns are easy to do as well.
  9. Add these paper cone trees or nutcrackers, like Katharine has, to the mantle or kitchen table. nutcrackers
  10. Even your chandelier can become more festive when you add hanging ornaments.

What are some of your favorite holiday decorating tips? We’d love to hear them! Happy decorating; Happy Holidays!

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Jan 7, 2013

Market Time

High Point Furniture MarketJust this morning I noticed the colors changing on the trees! It’s definitely Fall! In the design world, it means the Autumn edition of the High Point Furniture Market is almost here. Held twice per year in October and April, the next “market” will take place October 13-18th in High Point, North Carolina. Held since 1909, the market is a one stop destination for interior designers and furniture store buyers looking at the latest offerings from home decor companies. In fact, it’s the largest furniture industry trade show in the entire world, drawing about 75,000 visitors to town that week alone. There are 180 buildings chock full of wonderful lighting, accessories, art, rugs, and furniture of all kinds. (more…)

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Jan 7, 2013

The Devil’s in the Details

Furniture Interior DesignWe’ve all seen it. Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street. Walk inside them and what a striking difference. One is ordinary. The other spectacular and special. One makes you yawn. The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious! What accounts for that huge disparity? Trust us – it’s all in the details!

We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own. To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want. There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry. But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories. A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience. And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit. (more…)

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Nov 1, 2012

The Devil Is In The Details

House and Home

We’ve all seen it.  Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street.  Walk inside them and what a striking difference.  One is ordinary.  The other spectacular and special.  One makes you yawn.  The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious!  What accounts for that huge disparity?  Trust us –  it’s all in the details!

We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own.  To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want.  There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry.  But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories.  A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience.  And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit.

Here’s an example of a common “Spec home” mentality – the builder of our client’s home told us he spent just “ten minutes” selecting light fixtures for the 3000 square foot house because he “always uses the same ones.” Needless to say, it takes more than ten minutes to pick appropriate, high quality, beautiful items that you’ll want to live with for years.

If you want to make your home a “Wow” rather than a “Snooze”….we recommend really focusing on those details.  Every single item in your home should be viewed as an opportunity!  The key to getting details right is to first figure out the big picture – your overall design goals – and make choices that consistently reflect and support that style.  It’s simple!

What kinds of details can make a huge impact?  For permanent structural items in the home, be sure to carefully consider material details such as wood stains, woods, trim styles, stone and tiles, edging details, railing shapes, door knobs, cabinet doors, hardware, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc…  The choices are endless.  Be sure the choice you make works with your overall style and you won’t go wrong.  And once in a while, be daring!  Push your boundaries a little!  Trust your instinct! You won’t regret it.

Once the major structural elements are in place, the next choices are the furnishings, accessories and window treatments.  These have their own set of small details that can punch up the wow factor.  Designers use things like contrast welting, nail head trim, faux finishes, textural variation, shiny surfaces, tufting, mirrors, paint, complementary colors, custom uph0lstery, trims, wallpapers and more to make each furnished room unique, personal and interesting.

Need an example?  This living room photo is chock full of great details……

Phoebe Howard

Interior designer Phoebe Howard made lots of detail choices… dark stain on floors, light painted walls, two fabrics on the sofa body plus contrast welting, an accent color and organic print for throw pillows, a decorative nail head detail on the ottoman, a shiny silver tray, a geometric patterned carpet, uniformly dark picture frames, an oil rubbed bronze finish on the chandelier and custom shaped railings.  Every item here was carefully considered and it shows!

Need help punching up your home’s details?  It’s a fun and creative process – but can also be overwhelming and time consuming given our busy lives.  That’s what interior designers are for!   This is our specialty and we love doing it!  Give us a shout and let us help you make your home a Wow!



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