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Remodelista Editor Julie Carlson Praises Paint and Ikea Glassware

Photo via <a href="">Remodelista</a>
Photo via Remodelista

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Remodelista has certainly paved the way (maybe not literally, but almost) for many design aficionados embarking on a home renovation, offering editorial inspiration, an e-commerce component, and guides to services by region. Editor Julie Carlson just penned a book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home ($24.99), which was released yesterday and is based on the blog's manifesto of accessible, intelligent design.

The text kicks off with features on twelve standout homes, turning its focus on kitchens and bathrooms, and ending with practical resources, like the Remodelista 100 and preferred architects around the country. It even dives into what you shouldn't buy at Ikea (plumbing, if you were wondering) and what is okay to buy there (Carlson recommends their glassware). We took a moment to chat with the author and Massachusetts native about transforming a rental kitchen, a Vermont chair maker, and finding inspiration in the pre-internet era.

As a native New Englander who lives in the Bay Area are there any essentially New England design elements that you miss seeing regularly?
Totally, yeah. I miss New England architecture a lot. In the book we've got three projects from New England. Two of them are childhood friends of mine; I really wanted to get that New England sensibility in the book.

Do you see any imitations of our regional architecture on the West Coast?
I think so. I live in a town called Mill Valley and there are a lot of small white farmhouses going up in my neighborhood. There are a lot of people who have moved from or come from New England. Most Bay Area people are transplants. There are two architects in Mill Valley who build one after another of these white clapboard houses for families who have moved from the East Coast.

The book focuses on kitchens and bathrooms. Why is that? Of course they are likely trouble areas for a lot of people renovation.
That's where people spend most of their money remodeling. It's where you're going to make your biggest and most expensive decisions, and we really felt that we wanted to give people going through the process a guide on how to really do it well, economically and thoughtfully. Those are also by far the most popular projects on the blog.

All the imagery on the blog and in the book is gorgeous and very aspirational, with much of the Remodelista brand emphasizing how to do it for the everyday family. However, twenty-somethings who spend a lot of time looking at these kinds of images online have financial and spatial constraints. What is your advice for improving a rented space on a budget?
We have a rental kitchen that's been transformed in the book; it's one of our editors, Sarah Lonsdale. We included it because we wanted to give some practical ideas to people who live in smaller, rental spaces. On the blog itself last week we did another editor, Meredith Swinehart, who is a twenty-something living in a San Francisco flat. We did her kitchen with paint. I know it sounds obvious, but because she couldn't change the cabinets, she totally transformed the look of her kitchen through paint. The other thing Meredith did so well was think thoughtfully about what's sitting out in her kitchen. She created a little arrangement on the wall with a handmade cutting board, Japanese towel, a spoon—a little moment and personalized it.

In the introduction of the book, actress Julianne Moore discusses her design challenges pre-internet era. Where did you used to find your inspiration?
Print magazines. The reason we founded Remodelista was because several of us had done remodels just as the internet was starting to take off content-wise, before there was great sourcing on the web. Just like Julianne said, going on plumbing sites looking for faucets. You could spend ten hours trying to source a faucet and we thought there had to be a better way.

There are some New England-made products in the Remodelista 100, like the Tivoli radio and Peterboro picnic basket. Do you have any other recommended items from the region?
There's a store in Vermont called Circa50. I think they make the best butterfly chair in the country. It's got a heavy iron frame and you can get it with a variety of canvas covers. I have two of them myself.

Are there any other local stores you just keep coming back to?
I love Lekker Home and Good. One of our correspondents who lives in Newton has a favorite shop: an Italian woman, Angela Liguori, who does beautiful stationery and ribbons in Brookline.

If you've purchased the book or plan to, Julie Carlson will be at West Elm Fenway this Saturday from 11am to 1pm signing copies and meeting fans. No RSVP necessary.
· Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home [Amazon]
· Remodelista [Official Site]

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