Decorating A Dreamhouse - Boston Back Bay Brownstone (Cont'd) With Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad In Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Written By: Patricia Lynne

Editor: Sarahjoy Crain

In my current SB Journal entry "Decorating A Dreamhouse," I'm imagining that I'm living in a vintage, Victorian-style, brownstone,like this one, in Boston's Back Bay.  Lovin' It!

Architecturally the area is dominated by elegant, Victorian-style brownstone buildings. It's definitely upscale, the Back Bay and neighboring Beacon Hill, are all a part of the prestigious Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts.  La dee dah, I'm livin' the sweet life! 

Bostonians Reclaim Back Bay Area And Incorporate Economic Development

However, at low water, part of the bottom of the bay was exposed, exposing just a foul-water, back bay site.
One could only imagine what the "Back Bay Area" was like prior to the 19th century. The Bay was literally, as with much of the New England coast, very tidal, with water rising and falling several feet over the course of the day.
The Back Bay was reclaimed through: bringing in fill from Needham and 'back filling the tidal area' was completed ~ and ~ with an extensive economic development plan based on a successful renovation plan in Paris, commissioned by Napoleon III.
Bostonians turned water into clearly one of the most efficient residential areas of New England.

The Back Bay Neighborhood Today
The Back Bay's main thoroughfares emphasize order, with strict regulations producing a uniform and well-integrated architecture, consisting mostly of dignified three- and four-story residential (or once-residential) brownstones. Thoroughfares of Back Bay are wide, parallel, tree-lined avenues and more homogeneous architectural styles. Five east and west corridors run the length of the Back Bay.

The area is well known for its plush shopping areas, and as well as being the home of the Berklee College of Music. The Back Bay is dense with luxury hotels including:

The Lenox Hotel
The Colonnade Hotel
The Westin Copley Place
The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel,
and - the largest hotel - The Boston Marriott Copley Place

The Copley Square area is close to the Back Bay railroad terminal, and is the eastern nexus of a system of hotels and shopping centers connected by a set of glassed-in pedestrian overpasses. The large Copley Place mall includes the first Neiman Marcus opened in the New England area. These overpasses extend over half a mile to the Prudential Tower and the shops surrounding it.

The 52-story Prudential Tower (known to locals as "the Pru"), thought a marvel in 1964, is now considered an eyesore by some. The Prudential Skywalk, a 50th floor observation deck, is however currently the highest observation deck in New England that is open to the public and offers views of Back Bay, Boston, and surrounding areas. Inside the Pru Building is an urban shopping mall and a Roman Catholic chapel.
The John Hancock Tower which rises to 60 stories and is Boston's tallest building, is located a few blocks away. Recently completed high rises nearby include 111 Huntington Avenue (36 stories, completed in 2002), and the Clarendon (32 stories, completed in 2009). (Boston Back Bay District Data Source: Wikipedia.)

Getting Around The Boston Back Bay

You can have access to anywhere in Boston and its suburbs via the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), but I've found walking is by far the best way to enjoy:

  • the absolutely-delicious shops of Newberry Street (for those of you who are from the West Coast, think Rodeo Drive with major spots of art (of the very avant-garde style)
  • the excellent architecture of Commonwealth Avenue - ranging from chiseled, grand churches to a par excellence collection of gargoyles (don't you love the dichotomy!)
  • first class commercial shops and centers on Boyleston Street like voluptuous Copley Square and a range of restaurants to meet every gustatory delight
  • a quick walk west is crackerjack fun - the major avenues join at Kenmore Square and Fenway Park, the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States (and home of the Boston Red Sox - "Go Red Sox!" )

We're going inside now so please join me as I write in my SB Journal on Decorating My Dreamhouse interiors of my Back Bay Victorian Style Brownstone. My home.

My Dreamhouse Boston Back Bay Formal Entryway

"In a picture I want to say something comforting."  Vincent Van Gogh ~

I also want to say comfort in my surroundings. In my home's entryway - the sense of touch, tactile, materials, forms, shapes are on display for enjoyment. It's part of our home's nurturing, measured out in sophisticating style.

The Channel Bench, made of a non-porous material, is in use here as a table and topped with an unusual but elegant wood sculpture and glass vase of flowers.

Under the table is a truly standout piece - the Kargo Bench - check out its hand-crafted, woven leather with top stitching. Both the Channel Bench and Kargo Bench are available from Powell and Bonnell. (P.S. Do you not love the funky, natural-wreaths being displayed as major wall art?)

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Living Room 

The tall white leather chair was my first pick for this room. I was charmed by its lines, both traditional and contemporary in one piece. The round Strata Side Table is transitional in style but I really like that this Side Table, in a small amount of space, gives me room to display many of my favorite things, which is of great importance to me. Mirror is 42" square, iron framed floating, with inward and outward slanting reflective panes, Echo & Ricochet.

When I am designing, I always endeavor to display things that I love - special books, a vase that makes me feel good because it originates from a country I want to visit, etc. (For more design-concepts info regarding displaying items, click here "Objects Come Alive With Energy.")

Despite the large number of items in this room, it isn't cluttered. Guests are naturally captivated by this room. They like the desk set (which is really an Avenue Chair with its tapered wood legs pulled up to the Mirage Table, which has a cool floating glass top and also has tapered wood legs). They also tend to like the small benches such as the wooden structure bench next to the Kudo Chair and the natural-woven, small, black benches in front of the round side table. Good design stirs energy and/or causes emotion - such as the feeling that is created when momentarily, in our hearts, we're little children who want to sit on all of the fun and whimsical seating spots. These pieces are also available from Powell And Bonnell.

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Dining Room

This dining room is so perfect because it is not elegantly perfect - this is a dining room that has a much more casual presentation. The table with its waxed antique top is absolutely "user friendly". This room is also stunning because it is sweetly proportioned. The style, the wood, and the scale of the legs of the table and chairs are all in harmony. Additionally, the chairs are practical because they are not too heavy in scale which would make them too cumbersome to move around. It's important your guests not feel that the chairs are immovable. The Milton Side Chair and Russell Dining Table are both available through special order from the Something Beautiful Shoppe.

New age philosopher Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying, "Awe Is What Makes Us Move Forward," ....... let's move onto the rest of the house.

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Master Bedroom

Although designer Betty Burgess of Atlanta, featured in Veranda Magazine designed this dreamy master bedroom, I'm including it here (with minor changes) as ideal for my Boston Back Bay dream house.
I'm passionate about the process of passing through the various spaces of my dream house, luxuriating in the functions of the different rooms, enjoying the application of the varying layers of color, texture and form.
The bedroom uses luxurious faux suede from Yoma Textiles called Mockingbird, in the color Stone. It graces the walls, the headboard, the bedskirt, drapery, and seat upholstery.
Speaking of the headboard, is this upholstered one tall enough for you? This thoroughout is some serious glam'. But the room isn't exactly overly so - not too many pillows, the calming, muted-mellow color scheme, even the scallops of the linens have a nice rhythm and feel. The bedskirt is box pleated but still casual.
A bedroom is for the most part a private place. Create this area for your enjoyment only. It is a feast for your eyes, not open to the opinions of others. It is here that your spirit can be open - it is here that your surroundings should be what is most welcoming and beautiful to you. (Photo is from Veranda Magazine, April 2009)

Writing my "Decorating A Dreamhouse" is always a greatly anticipated job for me. The Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts is an extraordinary venue in our own country. If you've not visited Boston and especially the Back Bay, put it on your must-see agenda.

I could so move to an elegant, Victorian-style brownstone building, in the upscale Back Bay and neighboring Beacon Hill, part of the prestigious Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts. Couldn't you?

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad In Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Bonus Recipe

A fresh summer strawberry and baby spinach salad with avocado and bacon in a raspberry vinaigrette that just screams summer - it's been a favorite of mine for years.

Serves:  2
Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes


1 5 ounce package baby spinach
2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberry white balsamic vinaigrette (Paul Newman's is good!)

Assemble salad, toss in dressing and enjoy!

Option: Goat cheese or feta also work well in place of the blue cheese.

Option: I like to throw in some fresh peas when available in spring.

Recipe Source: Closet Cooking

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If decorating isn't easy for you or if you are in need of some particular interior design assistance, our designers at the Something Beautiful Shoppe will be happy to work with you - working with professional helps assure you get the look you deserve while helping eliminate costly mistakes.

Decorate A Dreamhouse - English Country Cottage (Cont'd) + Afternoon Tea Biscuits Recipe

Article Continued From Main Post, Click Here To Return:

Written By: Patricia Lynne

Editor: Sarahjoy Crain

In my current SB Journal entry "Decorating A Dreamhouse" I'm imagining I'm living in a thatched-roof, English-country cottage, like the one at left. 

The cottage:

* is wonderfully comfortable and welcoming
* abounds with overstuffed sofas and chairs
* has lots of snugly woolen shawls to toss over one's shoulders at the first sign of a chill

The Gardens:

The gardens that surround English homes, including
my own cottage, are so important to the English landscape - they are their own art form. Famed author Andy Garnett has stated,

"The Italians have their opera and the French their cuisine, but for the English, it will always be the garden."

Thus in my daily life here I always have at the ready my favorite sun bonnet, sweater and basket of pruning tools.

The garden in the front of the house is slightly more subdued. The cottage's rear yard garden is less so, it is more free form.

English Vernacular And My Garden:

This is a good place to talk about the vernacular or indigenous manner of the English, of the people of my new home Country. They tend to speak in a manner that downplays and is even sometimes mildly self-deprecating. For example, the English don't cross the Atlantic Ocean, they 'cross the pond'.

Thus, if I am complemented on my garden, I will adopt the English habit of responding in a way that understates its beauty and grandeur, and even its stunningness.  So, in answering a compliment about my garden, I'll respond, "oh, thank you - it's in the process' (of becoming a garden)." (Ha! I can speak English!)

My Eco-friendly Thatched Roof:

Thatched roofs are naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Thatching consists of dry vegetation; mine like many of England's thatched roofs consist of the indigenous building material, water reed.

The roof of my English country cottage is green and eco-friendly.

Across the Globe architects are seeking methods to provide design styles which provide positive effects for buildings, inhabitants and the environments. Thatched roofs, or green roofs, meet one of the essential conditions of sustainable development, the reconciliation between economy and ecology.

I love excellent design and architecture derived from generations of living and learning from the land, as in, English country cottage thatched roofs. Woo-hoo!

We're going inside now, so join me as I decorate my Dreamhouse English Country Cottage.

Decorating My Dreamhouse English Country Cottage 

Entryway / Mudroom:

Living in the English countryside requires a functioning mudroom, a catchall area for shoes and other gear. Children do better with open areas - they are more likely to hang their coat on a hook than to open a closet door and pull down a hanger. Kids also can easily hang their bags on rows of hooks; and are more likely to kick off their shoes if you provide a convenient bench.

Colorful, whimsically friendly artwork greets you in my casual entryway. At right, Brown Boy Dog and Girl Dog are both by Layla Grace. The Frisco Coat Rack and the Amish Style Bench are casual and comfortable; and the handmade area floor rug, Loloi Taylor, is available here. Two square decor pillows, Heart Orange Pillow and I Love You and then the adorable 8" x 22"  XOXO needlepoint pillow are charming and inviting.

Decorating My Dreamhouse English Country Cottage Sitting Room:

Although my country garden abounds in beauty, acclimating to
England's climate means living with endless cloudy, overcast days. To say it nicely, sunshine isn't in abundance.

I love my home interiors to be light, welcoming and full of color.
My walls will be painted this light, calming pear-green, a great background for my awesomely colorful artwork. The three whimsical
pieces at left are original oil paintings by Elisa Root.

My Martine Slipcovered Sofa from Layla Grace  blends nicely with my wall colors and makes for a nice background for the two decor pillows by Thomas Paul Yokohama.

The use of soft green on my walls and on my biggest furniture piece, my sofa, allows the high-colored accents (artwork, the arm chairs, pillows, etc.) to 'pop'.

(Product specifications:  Adele Foyer Pendant, Tudor Coffee Table, Avery Antiqued Ivory Arm Chairs, Providence Vergne Table , Clear Floral Vase , Birdies Sculptures).

Let me take time to mention the original watercolor paintings by Terrece Beesley. They're so fabulous.

About "Pears," artist Terrece Beesley states she, "especially enjoyed capturing the strong light against bright green pears and colorful advertisements." It is an exquisite piece. But let's talk about  "The Prom Committee," also an original, selling for $1,700.00, Beesley states, "This watercolor painting depicts a group of little old ladies posing for their club photo, with 'Little Orphan Annie,' comics as a backdrop." The artist imagined how fun it would be to let these women plan a high school dance. You gotta' love it!

Decorate My Dreamhouse Cottage Kitchen and Dining Room:

This Somerset Table is small perfect for my dinette area, only 36" square. But check out its great color - jellybean green!

The chairs are also from the Somerset Collection, Somerset Bay Carmel Arm and Side Chairs shown in Vanilla Bean.

These pencil-like sketches, Jockeys and Etude de Cheval, by French born Edgar Degas are subtly beautiful.

I opted for this classic-white dinnerware from Pottery Barn (Caterer's Dinnerware Set).

With the purchase of these beaded-edge, gilt charger plates it's a 'piece of cake' to present a more formal look.

Easy beautiful - I like that much.                                    

Decorating The Master Bedroom of my Dreamhouse English Country Cottage:

This room is artsy, lively. Happy.

The bedding is Scalloped Organic Patchwork Quilt and Sham from Pottery Barn. Night stands of some sort are crucial for every bed; this is the Carrie Pedestal Table.  Atop it is the darling Pocket Watch Clock, the Boule Accent Lamp and the Clear Floral Vase with some fresh live roses bringing a nice scent into the room.

The fabulous and splendid Madison Chair is so inviting I could not do this room without it. It has served as the start and finish of many books. Every good chair benefits from a scuunci pillow, and mine is the "Stacked Animals With Poms." 

I have long considered art to be the soul of the home.

My artwork is a continuation of my love for my home, my family and for life.

These pieces are "Little Print Sunny Flowers," "Hello Beauty Full,"and "Hello I Love You."

My Decorate A Dreamhouse English Country Cottage Natural Pool

Yeah, life is good.

Children and future grandchildren will be visiting our Cottage and swimming, playing and building dreams in our natural pool among the reeds. Life is good.

I could so live in my Decorate A Dreamhouse English-country cottage, thatched-roof home (surrounded by beautiful gardens),couldn't you?

Afternoon Tea Biscuits or Cookies Bonus Recipe

'Light as a feather' and meltingly crisp English style biscuits, or cookies.


  • 5 ounces soft butter
  • 3 ounces caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces self raising flour
  • desiccated coconut or oats
  • glace cherries

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking trays.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla essence or extract.
  3. Stir in the flour and mix well.
  4. Roll walnut sized pieces of the mixture into rolled oats or desiccated coconut
  5. Cut each glace cherry into quarters
  6. Place on baking trays, flatten slightly and place a small piece of cherry on each biscuit. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown but NOT dark brown.
Note: To help "ball" type biscuits, slightly dampen the hands.

Recipe from Food .Com

Want more? Click here to read more "Decorating A Dreamhouse" articles.

If decorating isn't easy for you or if you are in need of some particular interior design assistance, our designers at the Something Beautiful Shoppe will be happy to work with you - working with professional helps assure you get the look you deserve while helping eliminate costly mistakes.

Spanish Style Home From Nuevo Estillo Magazine

Spanish Nuevo Estillo Magazine highlighted this beautiful Spanish home and its easy to see why - simple, unfussy decorating with furniture sourced from flea markets, lots of light, and natural wood and plants played off against splashes of jewel tones. Simply lovely.

Keeping true to the island and staying ecologically friendly, German architect Thomas Wegner undertook this house; considered an expert in recovering the essence of the buildings on the island of Mallorca, Thomas Wegner's architectural stamp is unmistakable.

The new materials in colors of polished beige duplicating the island's golden sand beach is broken only by white walls that somehow enhance clarity. Similarly, the roofs, which retain the original wooden beams have been restored and also painted white. The effect is reinforced by the windows placement allowing the sunlight to stream in and the greenery from outside to come inside.

The energy flow from the location of the large windows is significant - the architectural elements such as set stone in niches, arches and stairs are of French farmhouse feel and also island cabana. Each piece of furniture is also critical to the overall effectiveness.

Full of character, the kitchen has a simple concrete floor polished to a beautiful tone and the table is from an old Mallorcan farm. The chairs are from Fermob, famous for producing Paris bistro chairs. Difficult to see from these photographs, the window is perfectly planed to bring the outside in, and under the window, provision is made for a useful storage area. The kitchen countertop is green granite that coordinates beautifully with the oak wood cabinets. The ceiling conserves the original wood beams, recovered and painted to gain luminosity.

The architect took great pains to open up the entire house to the bay by the stairs that parallel the house. On the washed pine console table is an old mirror of IP Design and above the console is a work of Julian Meunie. Resting against the wall is an acrylic artwork by Iris Stewen.

Symetry: two matching armchairs and ottomans and two matching iron and wood high tables (all by IP Design) and two matching lamps (by Fer House).

Asymetry: the tall acrylic painting opposite the tall window; greenery on tables slightly different, but the flow is taller toward the taller acrylic painting; one armchair has a dark silk throw, the other armchair, a light throw.

The ceiling beams and vertical posts adjacent to the fireplace are original to the house. Again, in desiring to bring maximum light to all the rooms, the architect chose to paint everything white. On both sides of the fireplace, the vertical posts made for matching shelving standards for bookshelves to hold colorful books.

Architect Thomas Wegner style often plays up opposing side details, such as the painted arch and the double door opening. In this photo, the furniture and rug are antique.

Two seating areas, both unique to Spanish style: one is the antique carved wooden banco (bench in Spanish) under the shuttered window and the second is the built in banco in the window archway area.

The simple make up of the bathroom depicts the simplicity and charisma of the entire house. Both the counter and the sinks are of cream colored granite. A ladder of the style native to the area is used as a towel rail and the boxes are of similar color as the ladder, while the candlesticks and towels reflect nature's greenery.

There was no denying this bedroom's austere slanted ceiling beams. The window wall is negligible; it has little presence and the walls themselves have a very rough texture. The essence of the room is bare and the design theme and decor items were kept at a minimum. It is refreshing and welcoming.

Decorating The Four-Acre Horse Ranch, Pt. 4

My Office:

Still working!  My office is underway!

As you may recall, this house is being decorated in a style I call 'Santa Fe Meets Exotic & Indulgent Chic.'  

Just about everything you see here has been painted various colors over the years (the flat blue wall color  will definitely be changed.)

The shelves:

  • The black shelves were originally purchased in white from Ballard Designs years ago (bought for my Silverado Canyon, California house.)  The first alteration to the shelves was the addition of some fun motifs and a slight diamond border to the white color. This tied the shelves in with the Silverado Canyon unique copper-gold tin kitchen ceiling - and - the pantry doors that were white but that I'd 'antiqued' with touches of gold.
  • They later moved with me to Rockford, Illinois  (click here to see Rockford, Illinois Loft Apartment article), and there the shelves lived in my living room.  I had an abundance of large and colorful wall art and I felt black would balance it.  It complete the look, causing flow and rhythm.  The shelves were painted black.

The wicker settee was originally purchased in off white.

I painted this wicker settee (shown above) when I moved to this four acre horse ranch. Both the cushions and the hanging paper lamp were purchased from Pier One Imports.

The black wicker side chair I don't actually remember painting, but I do remember I bought it in a forest green color about ten years ago from Ikea and somewhere along the way it got painted black.

My Office Desk and Coordinating Chair
  • The desk chair was a thrift shop find some 25 years ago; it has seen numerous shades of paint.
  • The desk is from Ballard Designs bought for the Silverado Canyon house office in antique white. I've always enjoyed the desk double-sided drawer's spun crystal knobs.
  • In this location, my office here at the horse ranch, there wasn't a particular focal point so I decided to go dramatic and decoratively paint the desk and chair.  It's a happy work place.

Close up photos show paint detail.

To view more about the four acre horse ranch AND the guesthouse, see below:

Decorating the Four-Acre Horse Ranch, Pt. 1

Decorating the Four-Acre Horse Ranch, Pt. 2
Decorating the Four-Acre Horse Ranch, Pt. 3
Decorating the Four-Acre Horse Ranch, Pt. 4

Pinterest Board:  Horse Ranch Photos And Guest House