Your First Home: Whether it’s throwing out some creepy wall hanging or bickering over bedroom paint colors, setting up a new home and taking the (design) plunge with your partner is never easy. 


Edit the choices: it is better to have a few great, graphic, interesting pieces on a mantle, table, or on shelves, then clutter it up with so-so knick knacks. 

Living Room-10 2There is alway a design Waterloo when blending homes, whether it is his sports memorabilia, her longing for an animal print rug, his beat up yard sale coffee table, or some fussy floral fabric she loves; know from the outset there will be compromises and non negotiables. 

Do not be lured in by the IKEA siren song. After spending half your day there, you’ll get into a fight trying to assemble their furniture. But a trip there is always good for wastebaskets (they make a decent faux leather ones), a large piece of funky art, lighting, and their Scandinavian plates, bowls, and cups.
Choosing paint colors is often a sticking point. The best way to narrow down a color is to get a Farrow & Ball color chart, or use a Benjamin Moore pre-edited color chart (the paint colors suggested by Darryl Carter and Candice Olsen are terrific).  It is much easier to pick a great color from a short list of 25 over the millions of shades out there. Paint test samples at least 2’x2′ and watch the color in different light (morning and evening). If you are longing for a true bold color (blue, yellow, red) try one shade one step lighter than what you want (if you want grey walls, do not go with “Charcoal” but a lighter mid tone). Walls are obviously a big surface area and with four walls color will intensify.  
Frame same sized artwork in either all white or all black frames and group them together. Have all upholstery and carpets treated with a stain resistant spray.


I suggest buying all white bath towels. They are at all price points. Big white, fluffy towels are nice, and easy to keep fresh (hot water, bleach). Great bedding will always be a place you want to invest a little more of the budget. Spend as much as you can on good knives, pots, and pans in the kitchen; Williams Sonoma is has great selections of various vendors. 
Skimp on china and pottery – fine bone hand painted china is expensive – just buy simple, inexpensive all white dinner settings. They can mix and match, look great, and showcase the food. Simple, reasonably priced big serving platters and large bowls (again in white or neutral shades) are great.  Buy three or four of the same pattern or style: you will always need them for entertaining and also fun simply to have out with fruit on them.  Likewise don’t spend too much on glassware. Dinner parties and entertaining as a young couple is fun but less stressful if you use simple glass stemware over finer crystal. living room
Restrain yourself from buying Polartec-like anything (pillow covers, blankets). When it comes to rugs, a rule of thumb if you are going neutral is to pick mid-tone meaning not too light (shows dirt) and not very dark (shows lint).


Lastly, despite the lure of Pinterest et al, inspiration boards are not always the best way to design your very first space together. Rarely does a furniture plan, or color, or vibe work in the layout of the room you are trying to “recreate”.

My Eight Top, Go-To, Tried and True, Paint Colors (and no off-whites)!

While I’m known for monochromatic interior spaces, not every project or room is the same. Strong wall colors often allow for a lack of architecture, or to create vibe, or add some visual punch. I choose paint colors every week for projects and review hundreds of paint samples every year. Choosing color is tricky and is often a sticking point in the process for a homeowner. I often hear that there are too many paint companies to choose from, too many shades of taupe, and too much advice from friends and family. Design mistakes can be costly, and while a can of paint is one of the least expensive ways to change a room, the labor is not.  When choosing wall colors, I narrow down a color family for a room then adjust the shade for countless color nuances depending on the light in the space (both natural and artificial). Putting up a color sample (usually 2′ high and 2′ wide) and watching the play of light at different times of day is one way to confirm a color choice.
Christine Tuttle Design, Traditional Hallway, Dedham Project
Christine Tuttle Design, Traditional Hallway, Dedham ProjectCream, by Farrow & Ball

Here is a short list of some great paint shades I keep coming back to, and since I have used many of them for five, ten, or even twenty years, they are now on my list of “tried and true” colors.

Cream, by Farrow & Ball
Traditional and perfect for that yellow-buff color when you need something inviting and warm but not a screaming yellow. Works wonderfully with American and English antiques (think mahogany), a casual, country family room, or a more formal drawing room.
Christine Tuttle Design Entry Hall in Red Earth, Wellesley Project.
Christine Tuttle Design Entry Hall in Red Earth, Wellesley Project.
Red Earth, by Farrow & Ball
This is my Campbell’s Tomato Soup with a dash of cream color for clients who want a soft, warm red room (Dining Room, Library). I have used it most recently in an Entry Hall with a tumbled limestone floor. 
Stony Ground, Farrow & Ball
One of our go-to taupes, like Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, this strong beige doesn’t pull pink or green (as some tan colors do) and can work in a modern or traditional environment.  
Christine Tuttle Design, Stony Ground wall paint, Living Room, Wellesley Hills Project
Christine Tuttle Design, Stony Ground wall paint, Living Room, Wellesley Hills Project
Pink Mix, Benjamin Moore
I first used Pink Mix in the mid- 1990s for a Cape Cod dining room. The want was for raspberry red walls, but all of the colors out there seemed artificial and plastic-y. Pink Mix is a super color, works well in small and large spaces, and can pull coral in tone for a more traditional rooms with the bright, warm Southern light.
Skimming Stone, Farrow & Ball
A perfect grey based neutral for modern rooms, this color has a lilac undertone not noticed at first glance, but more complex in rooms with stainless steel or nickel fittings (think bathrooms and kitchens).
Christine Tuttle Design Kitchen and Breakfast Area looking into Family Room, Skimming Stone walls in a Boston area project.
Christine Tuttle Design Kitchen and Breakfast Area looking into Family Room, Skimming Stone walls in a Boston area project.
Coach Green, Fine Paints of Europe
It’s that bottle black green from our memory banks: that elusive, New England Colonial green, the cousin to the dark British racing green that works so nicely on fences, wooden shutters, and front doors. In the traditional high gloss Dutch-style, Fine Paints of Europe’s mirror finish formula, Coach Green is the perfect front door color.
Light Blue,  Farrow & Ball
I’ve used this in contemporary Boston living rooms, children’s bedrooms,  countless Master Bedrooms, and recently in a seaside cottage’s private retreat wing (a space where the homeowner did yoga and read).  A soft grey-blue, you can play it up with crisp white bedding or upholstery or lots of taupe colored, natural linen, or add a zing with accent colors like brick red, burnt orange, or most primary colors.
Christine Tuttle Design, Light Blue, Farrow & Ball; Living Room.
Christine Tuttle Design, Child’s Room painted in Blue Gray by Farrow & Ball.
Blue Gray, Farrow & Ball
A fabulous color and always one that seems to be a fan of both men and women as a wall color. A misty blue-grey-green, it is gorgeous in most main rooms (Living and Dining Rooms) as long as you have a mix of natural light coming from the East, South, and West (not for only North facing rooms) but it also is lively and interesting by candlelight.
If you are contemplating a new color scheme or wanting to paint just one room in your home this season, I suggest you try a wall swatch of one of the above.  

Eight Great Design Inspirations on Nantucket

Nantucket has always been a part of my life, in fact my earliest steps were toddling on the cobblestone streets, and in later childhood sprinting down Main Street in my Dr. Scholl’s sandals. In addition to other ventures, my parents had a guest house there in the 1970s. During one college summer I painted houses, taught tennis, and babysat. After graduation I managed a well-known island art gallery. As a result, my design aesthetic was built upon Nantucket’s rich tradition of historic preservation, fine antiques, and American handicrafts.

Cru Nantucket
Cru Nantucket

Nantucket is a destination just as fun in the summer as the off-season.  In glorious spring the island comes alive. Everywhere you look there is inspiration for design. I’ve listed my eight great places — from restaurants to shops to scenic views — that you must check out on your next trip.

The Moors: the wild, gorgeous, and thankfully, undeveloped land mid-island, the Moors consist of a rugged landscape whose colors change with the seasons. From the elevation of Altar Rock, surrounded by rugged terrain, heath and heather, and can see Polpis, Coatue, and Sankaty.

Nantucket Looms: I still instinctively want to walk towards the corner of Washington and Main and the beloved Gardiner’s Corner Compass Rose mural when I think of the Looms yet that space is now occupied by the Ralph Lauren shop. Ensconced now at at the other end of Main Street, Nantucket Looms and their wares are the benchmark for fine island handicrafts. In my twenties I saved up for months for a hand loomed cotton rag rug and fluffy mohair throw for my island rental; today they still weave those sumptuous, cotton-candy colored blankets that make superb wedding or house warming gifts. They also carry great, island inspired decor and much loved, colorful and graphic collages by the Boston-based artist Liz Roache. Liz, a friend of mine for over twenty years, has recently produced some great, affordable prints of her work specifically for the Looms.

Michael Gaillard

photo 3
Nantucket native, photographer, and artist Michael Gaillard ventured off-island long enough to attend undergrad at Stanford, an MFA at Columbia, and graduate work at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His captivating, large format images, displayed in his South Beach Street studio, compelled me to cross the street on a rainy Saturday to find out more. His work, and his gallery as a whole, are a study in composition and sense of place. And check out the fabulous copper staircase of the adjacent restaurant, Oran Mor, housed in the same historic building as the 4

Nantucket Whaling Museum
Where else can you see a skeleton of a whale, beautiful decorative arts, and get to know the island history better than a place than a museum that was named one of the “10 Places in America to Go Before You Die” by Andrew Harper? I visited this architectural gem with a friend on Columbus Day weekend last fall. Awed, we seriously walked away with the same thought: we need to re-read Melville’s “Moby Dick”.
Shopping: fun, low key, and something for everyone:
Not everything related to island shopping is precious and out of reach; some of my usual suspects for shopping with your friends or sweetheart on a rainy day include Haul Over, which carries the preppy, fun Harding-Lane caps. The colorful baseball caps are a great company founded by my Dedham neighbors, and a portion of the sales give back to chartiy.  Check out Anderson’s for home goods, The Atlantic (clothes, jewelry); and, of course, the venerable shop, Erica Wilson.

Cru Nantucket touts itself as an oyster bar but it is really a full on, amazing dining experience. From the perfect pairings of a French Chablis with oysters, fresh ocean-to-table dinners, and exceptional service, and a comfortable yet stylized interior, Cru doesn’t disappoint. And if your table mate gets the vista of the harbor from the end of Straight Wharf, then you get the view of the roaring fireplace on a chilly spring night and stylish crowd.

76 Main and 21 Broad

photo 2 copy
The Nantucket hotels of the Lark Collection are fun, curated designer inns with a fresh vibe that are“designed to feel as if you are staying in the guest room at a friend’s home”. The interiors are by fellow Boston area designer, the lovely Rachel Reider, and incorporate that familiar traditional, natural Nantucket look but with a modern twist; the locations are perfect for in-town stays, and the staff is helpful and friendly. photo 1 copy

Something Natural
Lunch at Something Natural: While It’s a longer walk from Town, it’s easily manageable by a lazy bike ride, and that’s exactly the pace you need since you pass the some of the most expensive and beautiful real estate on Cliff Road en route.  Each house, door paint color, and perennial garden is inspirational.

There is something wonderful about sandwiches at the destination.  Easy and rustic Something Natural is an oasis, and one of the only places around that you can get bottled Matt Fee Tea along with your yummy sandwich. I remember Matt Fee Tea, a red hibiscus blend, poured from a pitcher long before Nantucket Nectars started bottling it. That ice tea and their soft Portuguese bread from the shop have been family favorites for decades.


photo 2

In honor of World Book Day…

In honor of World Book Day, I have compiled a short list of books for budding interior architects: these are standard, vital books that art historians, interior designers, and architects usually read in preparation for attending grad school or refer to and find extremely helpful when in the field of study.  For as many museums, exhibitions, historical sites, and buildings that you see, you need context; these books will help put everything in historical perspective because, ultimately, nothing is created in a vacuum.

Wimpole Estate

The Thames and Hudson, Dictionary of Art and Artists
John Fleming and Hugh Honor, The Penquin Dictionary of Decorative Art

John Fleming, Hugh Honor, Nikolaus Pevsner, The Penquin Dictionary of Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
E. H Gombrich, the Story of Art
John Fleming and Hugh Honor, A World History of Art
(this is the BIBLE for anyone in the art, architecture, and design fields)
D. Watkin, A History of Western Architecture
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, selected lives trans. by G. Bull
J.R. Hale (ed.), A Concise Encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance
Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture
John Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture
Elsie de Wolfe, The House in Good Taste (for fun and understanding of the changes in interior design)
Lastly, to help with iconography,
James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, John Murray, 1974

Boston Globe Article “Love” for the Home Office

The image published in the Boston Globe with handfinshed floors, an 1880 rug bought at auction, and an Ironware International tiny side table.

Homes are divided in to public and private spaces: a public space is the Front Hall where you greet guests, the Living Room where you entertain them, or the Kitchen – a place that has radically changed from the private, family-and-household-help space it was a little over one hundred years ago, into the entertaining hub of a home today.  Yet private spaces, like a dressing room, or a Master Bedroom sitting area, or even a Study or home office, are not also-rans or afterthoughts in design; indeed they are super personalized and high on the priority list when consulting with clients.

Yesterday, the Boston Globe published a beautiful color spread of a project of ours in Wellesley which showed a Living Room, a Dining Room, and a Study.  Within a nanosecond, probably while the reader was still enjoying his first cup of coffee, I received my first email message about the article.  Now, in less than 24 hours, and twenty-one email inquiries later, I can see a clear trend.  I read questions (“what is the paint color in the Living Room?”), comments (“great dining chairs!”), and kudos for each room.  But it doesn’t take a math major to figure out the percentage of inquires about the home office were an overwhelming two-thirds.

Maybe it was the cosiness of the room, using dark, plummy brown walls, and soft, taupe faux suede at the windows, or the perfectly sized leather settee from Ralph Lauren’s antique reproduction line (which I could have easily sold to each of the 14 people who emailed about the home office yesterday).

    Home office: a custom built in behind a desk installed recently in a Metro West project with a mahogany counter and navy blue grasscloth walls.
Home office: a custom built in behind a desk installed recently in a Metro West project with a mahogany counter and navy blue grasscloth walls.

Especially now, during a New England winter, as  we endeavor to spend more time at home with our families, I see that functional, beautiful home offices are certainly a trend that isn’t going away.

A home office in Wellesley Hills we designed: a custom oak desk with hidden slots and grommets for cables and technology, stained in a custom ebony; paneled walls painted in taupe, and custom bookcases with full width file drawers underneath.

Good People

During an out take taping the PBS TV show, This Old House, with Kevin O’Connor.

About this time every year, when the holidays are over and kids return to school, I’m able to think clearly about the new year and resolutions. I usually have a personal one that isn’t a ground breaker (“eat more fruit”), and a few professional ones. Over the years, the work related ones are a simple sentence, typed out and attached to the side of the fridge: “I will understand my client’s wishes and produce the best work possible for them”, or ” I will ask each client to serve as a reference for me”, both of which I’m happy to say, I do.

But early on, there was one tenet that I adhered to in every aspect of my business – and if you know me you’ve heard me say it: “I just want to work with good people.”

And by good, I mean wickedly talented, intrinsically good, fair minded people. This guideline applies to not only “my” people (my subs, my employees, the outside firms we use) but my clients. Since you are with these people everyday, in situations surrounding a client’s biggest personal asset (their home), you truly get to know one another.

It’s kind of like dating: a wise person once told me to look for “caring, open, happy, stable, fair types”. Sometimes what may appear on the surface to be a really terrific looking project pops up, but if you dig deeper, and usually not that deep, you’ll see that it really isn’t as wonderful as you thought. An incredibly successful early stage investor said to me long ago that he invested in the people, not the product; with the right people, anything is possible.


Thankfully I have amazing, bright, kind, lovely clients AND terrific, dedicated artisans, architects, and craftsmen who not only make it all great, but pretty fun, too. So, thank you my friends, like Flavin Architects, the dear and super talented Joe Keller (below, on a photo shoot with me that is about to be published in the Boston Globe); Howard Raley, the cast and crew of This Old House, David Webster and his team, and so many others that made magic this year alone. You’re the best.


Looking Good While Doing Good

Tuttle DR Art ObjectsMy love of looking at paintings began early on, around fourth grade, when I began to visit museums throughout the world: initially Boston and New York and later Paris and London. I loved the variety of paintings, sculptures, decorative items, yet also the aura of the importance – even reverence – of the art. Eventually I studied studio art and art history and worked in the world of museums, galleries, and a London auction house. Even today, I still will “visit” my favorite works of art whenever I can. As a young girl I was mesmerized by the bravado brush strokes and pleasing composition of John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. To this day, almost as if on autopilot, if I’m at the MFA I will visit that painting. Continue reading “Looking Good While Doing Good”