Cape Cod Mod

In the quiet town of Orleans, on the Cape of Massachusetts, lives a couple with their two English Setters, Dotty & Betsey (those are the dogs). Chris Ramel is retired but an avid sportsman and his wife, Mary MacLellan (, is a practicing architect. They moved here a few years ago from Denver and though Mary has spent a good amount of her life visiting the Cape and her brothers all live there, they fall into the loving category of “wash-ashores” which, according to locals, includes anyone residing on the Cape that is not a native since birth.

Despite the name they have successfully renovated and restored a very classic Cape Cod style home…and added a tasteful addition (Mary’s design) to accommodate an extensive art collection, a spacious and modern kitchen with sitting area, a living room with lofted studio (Mary’s office), a master suite, a 2-car garage, and—last but not least—an outdoor shower that is to die for. Their blending of classic antiques with very modern accents—throughout the home—is a pleasant surprise. But, much like the warm hosts, the kitchen in particular really grabs you and draws you in.

The vast and sleek Bulthaup kitchen that Mary envisioned for the space is now a reality

The kitchen shares a spacious room with this sitting area so that the couple can entertain while they cook. Dining and side chairs by Cassina. The large abstract is by painter Edward Holland:

One of the Ramels’ English Setters. This one is Betsey. Very shy with guests but incredibly loving and apparently an impressive hunting partner.
Chairs by Cassina


The large dining table is equipped to accommodate quite a crowd.

Mary has a beautiful collection of matte Wedgewood Black Basalt china.
The clay body, black basalt, was developed and introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in the late 1700’s was going to be the new big thing; “Black is Sterling and will last forever”

strong yet playful piece (subject: popcorn) by Barbara Breedon entitled “Wheelers of Course” which is a farm in Hudson, Ohio that Mary frequented as a child and remembers the popcorn fondly.

Tucked behind every sleek panel in the kitchen is a hidden alcove for very well-thought-out storage.

The sink has a great setup. With two large bays, a swiveling wall-mounted Bulthaup faucet and a cutting board that sits in the grooves of the sink edge, you can prep and clean just about anything with efficiency. Each panel behind the sink opens to reveal storage for cleaning supplies, spice racks, knife storage, a murphy-bed-style fold-out cutting board, and more.


After years of custom range tops—in homes Mary has designed—she found a 4-burner side-by-side range top. This one is by Foster for Bulthaup kitchens. This allows Chris & Mary to cook up gourmet meals without leaning over other simmering pots. According to them it really opens up the work space. AND you don’t have that small stretch of counter in the back that is impossible to clean. I love this solution!

Note the uniquely designed range hood. The strip along the bottom is a light and the seven long skinny panels above it swivel open individually when the vent is turned on.

Also by Bulthaup are the ingenious in-wall accessories, including this great little cookbook rest to the right of the range.

Appliances by Miele. Refrigerator (above) and Freezer (below) are cleanly hidden in the two right cabinets. There is ample space for the couple’s daily needs but they have a refrigerator in the basement for when they entertain large crowds or bring game birds home from a hunting trip.

a view from the sitting area into the wet bar

Three french-made Guinea hen sculptures adorn the buffet

The paintings that flank the doorway into the original part of the home are by Colorado artist Warren

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven. The painting to the right of the window is by prominent Colorado artist, Molly Davis.

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven.

Sink and counters by stone fabricator out of Bellows Falls, VT

the slick and hidden double-decker refrigerator in the wet bar


The front of the home. Still in progress as they landscape and build a stone wall to encapsulate what will be a robust herb and flower garden.

The entryway with sliding barn door



Swiss Miss

The living room with a narrow stairwell up to a small studio and DOLL ROOM!

Welcome to the home of Jorge & Katie Lengyel. You met them last Fall in my post about DIY Hypertufa Potting Containers (which would be a great project to do this weekend for your new plantings.) Jorge is an Argentinean gentleman and artist, Katie is Dutch with a passion for crafting, collecting, and anything Anglophile. Together they have built a petit chalet that is multi-cultural, very-colorful and eccentric beyond belief.

The home is situated on a shaded property that slopes towards sparkling Lake Mohawk in the beautiful and über-Swiss village of Sparta, NJ. Between Katie’s collections, Jorge’s ingenuity, and both of their vivid imaginations, they’ve built themselves a really unique and fantastical abode worthy only of fairytales and fables. I think you’ll agree that this feast for the eyes is like nothing you’ve ever seen in real life!

Wall of eclectic finds and projects including poster of Katie’s coveted Jim Morrison

Katie made this fabulous little ottoman. She used nozzles for legs as well. Such a fun piece.

Pie chest filled with china and adorned with kitsch galore

This is my favorite vignette in the house. Big porcelain basin in the kitchen with 2 faucets looks out onto their front porch and natural landscaping. The sill is covered in colorful toys, some as-is, some Katie’s hybrid sculptures.


To the left and right of the sink are these great and simple industrial racks that hold their drying dishes and everyday needs… and some kitsch of course

To the left and right of the sink are these great and simple industrial racks that hold their drying dishes and everyday needs… and some kitsch of course.

This kitchen cabinetry serves as both storage and a buffet for the dining room. Katie and Jorge cut thick felt trim for each shelf and attached it with decorative nail heads. This is one of the spots Katie displays her British wares

The silver is always polished and in use on the Anglo’d-out buffet in the dining room

A view from the den into the dining room and kitchen beyond. Two leather chairs in foreground face a cast iron potbelly stove and a TV. Very cozy spot on a cool night.

One of Katie & Jorge’s siamese cats, Hunter

Love this cage aux folles. Not something you see every day.


A quick peak into the bedroom. As you can see, this is where the blue & white china lives.

I even love her abundant perfume station (I too am a huge user of French perfumer Annick Goutal)… with a few nods to the motherland of course.

There is too much going on in Katie’s office (behind the living room stairs) to really show you in one photo, but here’s a little detail of the mix of things either waiting to be worked into one of her sculptures or just hanging around to keep her company while she works.

The powder room is incredible! The glossy, rich brown tiled walls reflect the gentle light that comes off the shell piece—that the couple made—for a really dramatic look.

The deluxe wet bar in their family room. Loads of lights spills in from the wall of doors that exit to the back porch.

A delicious little detail from above the wet bar

A detail of the ornately mosaic’d fireplace that Jorge made for Katie in their family room.

The breakfast table in their family room. As you can see, this room is all about the white and light collections

And antique china cupboard is flanked by two fabulous peeling columns.

A birdhouse collection hovers above the entertainment cupboard in the family room.

A detail of another collection in their almost-all-white family room.


This is Jorge about to do some gardening in the back yard. He built the home they live in. Detail of back porch in the background.

What I don’t even get to show you is the full master suite (i just give you a few details) with walk-in closet, 4-poster bead and steam shower; Jorge’s office upstairs; the creepy and magical doll room Katie has for her doll collection (too narrow to shoot); the full guest suite downstairs; the ornate herb storage wall-unit they have built leading to the basement off the kitchen; and the magnificent wrap-around back porch with abundant vintage planters (perhaps photographer friend Laura Moss will provide exterior for an upcoming post: she focused on the exterior of the home while I drooled over the interior.)

Thanksgiving with Style

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! For all you hosts out there, don’t wait for the panic to set in. Take care of your tabletop(s) now so that you can put your heart into the food preparation later… and actually enjoy it.

Whether you have a game plan or not, I’d recommend popping into The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood, NJ for their Stress-free Holiday Decorating Party tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov 14, 2013, 6-8pm). RSVP: 201 652 7600 or Fabulous flower extraordinaire, Anne Miller (who has worked with the likes of Preston Bailey and David Tutera) will be giving floral advice and dishing inspirational tabletop ideas. Ridgewood Fare will be serving up delicious bites and giving pointers on cuisine. And in the proper spirit of Thanksgiving, a portion of the evenings sales proceeds will be going to Children’s Aid and Family Services.

Here is the Thanksgiving table I styled with florals and frills from said Anne Miller. I asked for “dark, rich and deadly” and she delivered:

Photography by Laura Moss.
Anne sourced all the flowers (and miniature orchids) and fruit (miniature eggplants, figs, gourds, grapes, various berries, and these incredible little green spiky seedpods) directly from the flower district in New York. Bring her any vessel that’s right for your table, mantle, doorway, etc and she will fill it with the the most beautiful work you’ve ever seen.

The salad plates and dinner plates are from a totally fabulous buying trip to 200+ year-old porcelain factory, Royal Limoges—the oldest existing porcelain factory in all of Limoges, France—but you can pull this look off with whatever whites you have at home. Throw a pop color in there for fun: I found these celadon green dinner plates at Crate & Barrel that at first I thought were a knock off, but I they appear to actually be made by Jars, a very well respected stoneware factory in France (I also have a set of this exact dinnerware in a dark green: it’s totally awesome and totally rustic and totally perfect for a hearty Thanksgiving meal). The flatware is a vintage brass set I picked up at an estate sale years ago, but I found a ton of Ricci Argentieri’s “Bamboo d’Oro” on (my favorite website) Frankly I’d recommend the electroplated gold over the brass any day because mine is nearly impossible to keep polished. There are tons of sets on online auction houses too… happy hunting and happy thanksgiving! xx Mere

Tea is for Travel

Photography by Laura Moss. Styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp.

It’s the time of year again when most of us are aching for exotic excursions and warm weather. I came up with a way to savor both; sans security lines at the airport.
Travel to Morocco, China and the Philippines via these delicious tea-based cocktails that I have painstakingly (wink) tinkered with and tested.

Let your summer out early with these colors and flavors and ENJOY!
(and leave a comment if you have suggestions on the recipes)

Moroccan Mint Marteani

travel inspiration: Morocco

For the tea:
5 cups water
4 bags of black tea
4 tablespoons brown sugar
Bring water to boil and then add the tea and brown sugar. Let tea cool, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the cocktial:
4 ice cubes
16 fresh mint leaves
2 cups tea
2 tablespoons Rose’s lime juice
1 cup vodka
Shake ice and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker for a minute or long enough to bruise the mint. Add remaining ingredients and shake. Pour into glass and garnish with lime and fresh mint sprig. makes 3-4 drinks

Green Tea Fizz

travel inspiration:  China

For the tea:
Brew a pot of green tea (I used FAUCHON‘s Le Jasmin Chung Hao). Sweeten it with honey to taste (I used honey from a local beekeeper). Cool the tea in the freezer until starting to frost (you want this drink icy-cold and refreshing).

For the cocktial:
In each glass, pour equal parts green tea and (also extremely chilled) prosecco. Garnish with a squeeze of cumquat or orange, rub the rim with the rind, and serve with a curled sliver of rind on the rim. makes 6-7 drinks


Salabat (Ginger Tea) Mule

travel inspiration:  the Philippines

For the tea:
3 cups water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into discs (grate a little bit of it too)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 10 minutes. Cool tea then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the cocktial:
2 ounces Goslings dark rum
4 ounces cooled and strained Salabat ginger tea
Club Soda
In a glass filled with ice, add the rum and ginger tea. Top off with club soda, and a squeeze of lime. makes 1 drink

Photography by Laura Moss. Styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp.

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