It's all too familiar, the designer-client relationship I deal with on a regular basis. The same old ambiguous white porcelain knick knack here... a vase there, and they call it a day. Rinse and repeat! People are searching in shiny new stores for something that they simply will not find and only a creative team like Jersey Ice Cream Co. can deliver. They are searching for the soul of their home.
For me, it's their absolutely brilliant use of texture as a key element in every space. Allowing mismatched wood and painted boards to become focal, gives the feeling that they've been there for hundreds of years and makes you wonder who of centuries past stubbed their toe on that small crack just there. It's a graceful balance of simplicity and warmth. When I look at these photos, I feel almost as if I'm reading a book. I get a sense of who they are, and what they do, and read, and ... and perhaps there is a kettle of tea on while Henry paints his latest work of art feverishly away in the front room.
That is the only sort of living I'd like to do.
Tara Mangini and Percy Bright, the design duo behind all of this beautiful work at Jersey Ice Cream Co., are giving us a special look Inside the Makers Workshop and what it takes to transform your space into "homes that feel true to themselves–sincere yet functional–the homes they were always meant to be."
"There's so much to tell even about this little corner! This is a shot from our first big job, completely designing, renovating and furnishing a house up in Freehold, NY, our introduction to upstate and the life of living where we work. This is the formal dining room, which when we got there was split up into these two tiny dark rooms. The clients loved to host a good dinner party, so we knocked down the wall and turned it into one big room, so big, that you can't even see the dining table in this shot! We added that old beat up farmhouse door to bring some light into the room and a little more flow into the house. We had gotten down the original floors in the rest of the room, but in that entry patch it was a mishmash of all different types of wood, perhaps from when that part of the house was actually a porch, but we salvaged what we could and ended up loving the little patchwork quality of it. We plastered the walls and ceilings in blue, with that split color variation that I just love. The bench is made by Percy with parts of an old porch swing, and that spindly wreath is something I put together with sticks and dried flowers from outside. "
"Paint swatches! I love picking paint colors, but it admittedly, drives me crazy. I can't even imagine how many days of my life have been decimated to the pursuit of finding the perfect color. You stare at those things for hours, check on them at different times of day, look at them from different angles, compare your options again and again, and then you finally settle on something, bring it home, paint a wall, and it looks completely different than the little color chip you've been analyzing. Throw in the fact that I'm color blind - yes, a color blind designer, maybe we shouldn't tell the whole world that? - and it's a serious feat. I like to think I've gotten somewhat better at it over the years, but realistically, I've probably just accepted the fact that it's going to take about 5 color samples to really find what you're looking for. I ended up painting those rooms in a pale gray and hand painting polka dots on the main walls."
"Our Philadelphia house! This house is really what started it all for us. Neither of us has a traditional design background, so this house essentially became our thesis project. Percy bought the house before we met, and as luck would have it, got laid off the next week. He decided to take it as a sign, and spent the next year renovating the house and learning so many of the skills that are crucial to our lives today. When I came on the scene, he was just getting to the decorating and styling phase of the job, which suited me perfectly! We scoured flea markets - in fact, our first weekend getaway together was to Brimfield - and rearranged furniture and picked out bedding and furniture and tried to create a house that we loved and that represented us as designers. This room was one of the last we tackled. When we started dating it had bright red shiny walls, and that's about it. We saw a picture somewhere of a beautiful grand room with gorgeous molding, and decided that's exactly what the room was calling for. Percy pulled the wood for the project from an abandoned school up in North Philly. Honestly, it was such an undertaking just to get the molding into the house; that the room ended up so beautiful is a true testament to his insanity. I mean that of course in the best way. "
"This is another room that waited a bit before revealing what it was meant to be. It's the sun room from our first job up in Freehold, that has come to be called Shipley Corner in the internet world I think. It was an addition to the main house, and it's lack of original details left us pretty uninspired. For the first two months of the job it was where we slept, surrounded by bags and boxes. It was far away from the fireplace, which basically meant it was the last place anyone wanted to be. But once we started thinking of it as a summer living room, where suddenly everyone would want to be once the warm sun was streaming in, the whole space came together. We painted the floors, covered the ceiling and main wall with white washed barn wood. It ended up feeling like a space that had always been there, filled with Grandma's gardening books and a big old couch we found on Craigslist for fifty bucks."
"Rock Creek! Our latest project, from where I write you this email! There's so much to say about this job, but I'll talk about this picture instead. When we arrived the house clearly had some great bones, but the kitchen needed to be completely redone. Everything felt like a dirty rotting mess. With blue ceilings and yellow walls of course. The floors were covered in linoleum covered in smelly rugs, all of which we happily ripped up. We had gotten some reclaimed ceiling beams from a super sweet guy over in the Berkshires, and were planning on using them for the entire room, until we discovered this little patch of original blue flooring. It wasn't the easy option, but after going back and forth on it for awhile, we knew we couldn't cover those up and not feel at least a tad guilty about it. I kept saying, 'I can imagine how the split in the floor is going to look in a picture, and it looks just like something we would do.'"
"The kitchen! In all it's beauty! You can even see a hint of that split floor! The more we work, the more I really believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and this one so perfectly represents the spirit of this house. The owners wanted it to be a place where people would come to be inspired - a place where they could create, get dirty, jump in lakes, pick wildflowers, make cakes and dinners for ten. This kitchen feels like that. It always looks effortlessly perfect, even when it's filled with pots and pans and licked clean dishes. There are shelves and hooks everywhere, so there is always something at your finger tips, there is always a beautiful bowl for the tomatoes. That table started as just a place holder and became almost instantly beloved. The top is so worn that you never have to worry for a second about spilling your wine. The chairs are a mismatched vintage collection that always seems to have a broken leg in the mix. Maybe that's not the kind of design everyone wants, but it feels so true to us. Every time we gather around that table, I find myself feeling so grateful for the food on the table and the company around me. I could go on and on. That kitchen is the bomb. Don't quote me on that. "
"The girl's room! In reality there are no girls, no twin girls at that, but all through the project I couldn't help imagining I was designing this room for them. This project was our welcome into the world of wallpaper, and I'm obsessed. OBSESSED. If you think paint changes a room, wallpaper changes everything. This is Apothecary's Garden from Trustworth Wallpaper, one of my favorites, though truly everything Trustworth does is stunning. I've got a little bucket list to use every one of their patterns."
"The master bedroom at Shipley corner. The transformation of this room is wild. It started with a total creepy dollhouse vibe - low ceilings, busy wallpaper, little shutters on the windows, dark floors, no good. Breaking into the ceiling completely changed the feel of the room, and once we plastered the walls a loft vibe sort of took over. We planned originally to cover up all remnants of the wallpaper, but once we started ripping off the top layer, a softer pattern revealed itself, and we liked it to much to cover it up completely. It's dreamy in there now. Feels sort of like a memory of a room. Since we design primarily vacation homes we like to keep the bedroom simple - big bed, cozy linens, soft rugs, a chair, a place to put some clothes and throw a book, curtains that blow in the breeze and little else."
"The master bedroom at Big Indian, a little cabin that we redid last summer. This house had such a tiny footprint and was designed all wrong, so we ended up basically redesigning the entire layout of the house. The master bedroom, once intended to be the guest room, was renovated to be the bigger of the two, though we still couldn't find a wall big enough to fit a headboard, and so, the headboard simply made way for the window. I've seen some comments about this being something they would strongly frown upon in interior design school but that seems to work anyway. Perks of being self taught! Like all of our bedrooms, we above all just wanted to create a space that makes you want to take a nap. This seems to do the trick. "