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Fresh Oulooks On Design and Resources: Living Room Tables

June 28, 2012

From New England Home Magazine

Oliver Interiors Selects Perfect Tables for Your Living Room

Custom Table by Howard Hatch

“Simplicity of form defines this table, which carries out the concept in this room of ‘rustic contemporary.’ The stunning dark orange and black rosewood top easily becomes the centerpiece of the living room.”

It was so much fun designing this table with Howard and our client, Pat. Howard brought us this extraordinary wood and the three of us developed the design, leaving a space between each plank and having the legs mimic the angles of the beams.

I love collaborating like this and Howard is a terrific furniture designer, so it was particularly rewarding. To see the whole room go to this link.


Photography: Brian Vanden Brink

Construction Tips

June 7, 2012

Nine Ways to Make a Renovation Go More Smoothly.

Be clear about your project priorities early on in the process. A lot of time and money can be spent to have numerous schemes being explored.

Have a great team in place and make sure that they all get along and respect each other. Architect, Interior Designer, and Builder. Check references.

Concept, concept, concept. If you have a clear concept, the design takes less time. Your design team should present concept ideas on which every decision can be based.  Another way to think about “concept” is to consider it the project mission statement or an underlying principal. For example, with our “mountain house” project, the concept was “rustic contemporary”. Once we had that concept in mind, all other decisions flowed from those two words.

Construction : Steve Larsen
Photography : Brian Vanden Brink

Make sure you have a furniture plan. Work with your design team to do a furniture plan for the spaces to be renovated. That doesn’t mean that you have to buy all the furniture, but you want to make sure that your design team knows how you hope to use the space long term.

Have a complete set of plans and specifications prior to putting a job out to bid. The more decisions that are made prior to bidding, the closer the bids should be. Anything left to the contractors’ imagination will be subject to an estimate on their part and a possible change order for the clients.

Meet often, sometimes even once a week with the whole team, even if it doesn’t seem like there is anything to discuss. This will avoid the 6 p.m. emails from the contractor saying they need a decision on something by the next morning or the job will be delayed.

Don’t micromanage the project. If you have hired the right team, they know what they are talking about. Be clear about your expectations, but then let the experts carry out the plans.

Make sure that you set aside enough money for extras, there are always extras. You want to make sure that the project does not get stopped in the middle because of finances.

Know that there will be problems, there are always problems. A good team with deal with them directly without blaming each other. The sign of a good design team is how they deal with the problems not that there aren’t any problems.

You might want to print this list out and post it on your refrigerator as you are contemplating a project.

The Birth of the Womb Chair

March 30, 2012

I’m sure children of artists might have stories of how Picasso approached a particular painting, and children of surgeons might remember the night their parents sat around the kitchen table discussing how a friend had just stumbled upon a new ligation technique.  In my case, my father, Peter Blake, was a well-known architect and magazine editor, friendly with many artists, architects and designers in the industry.

One of my father’s contemporaries was architect and furniture designer Eero Saarinen, known worldwide as the creator of the Womb Chair.  He received a request from Florence Bassett Knoll, another well-known designer, to create a chair shaped like a basket, large enough to hold pillows, and one that she could sink into to read a book.  This fabulous and very comfortable seating option has been reproduced now for decades, in many colors and fabrics, and is still widely available. It’s been hailed as an icon of postwar design, and I feel a particular attachment to it.

My mother was enormously pregnant with me when Eero Saarinen was finalizing his design.  She and my father were guests of the Saarinens at his house, and she curled up in the chair.  Saarinen, on seeing her reclining so contentedly, immediately christened it, “The Womb Chair.”  I think perhaps it was preordained for me to become an interior designer at that moment, although it took me a while before I realized my true calling.

The style of the chair is mid-century Scandinavian organic modernism, which is quite a mouthful to describe a chair as roomy and lush as this one.  Designers around the world instantly recognize it, and Saarinen was made famous by it.  He was well known for breaking the rules and inspiring new standards for modern design.  I love to see experts in their fields do ground breaking work that lifts all of us to a new level of inspiration and achievement:  when it’s combined with elegant lines, simplicity and maximum comfort, as The Womb Chair is, then it moves beyond furniture to a work of art.

Saarinen also was well-known for his other design work as well, in particular, the Tulip Chair and the Grasshopper Lounge. You can learn more at the Eero Saarinen website.

Christina Oliver Wins ASID New England’s 2012 Design Excellence Award

March 13, 2012

Christina Oliver Wins ASID New England’s 2012 Design Excellence Award

In a career filled with accomplishments, Christina Oliver has added yet one more:  she has been selected by ASID New England  (ASIDNE) to receive one of their  2012  Design Excellence Awards.  The award recognizes her numerous residential projects, her dynamic collaboration with architects, artisans and families in search of best solutions to residential design problems, and her work in the Boston interior design community.  For years, she has not only owned and operated Oliver Interiors, but has found time to mentor young designers and perform pro bono work.

“I’m thrilled to be recognized by ASIDNE, an organization that works tirelessly to advance the interior design profession,” Christina Oliver said.  “Their belief that interior design can help to positively change people’s lives is deeply meaningful to me.  I see that same belief reflected in the architects, craftsmen and Oliver Interiors staff members who work alongside me and also deserve to be recognized.”

Christina Oliver  will be honored at the ASID New England’s gala on March 22nd, along with the other talented honorees.  You can find out more about the award and the work of ASID here or on their Facebook Page.

Christina Oliver received the ASID New England’s Design Competition Award in 2011 for her residential  kitchen entry.  She has also been honored by the Boston Architectural College (BAC) with the 2010 Alumni in Practice Award for Interior Design.  Christina Oliver is a leader in a variety of professional organizations including her current role as President of MiDC, the Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition. Oliver Interiors serves the residential, hospitality and commercial markets, working closely with clients and collaborating with architects, contractors and artisans.  The firm’s designs represent a client’s needs and desires, often through innovative uses of space and the talented inclusion of finishing details.

To learn more about Oliver Interiors and the firm’s award winning projects, visit

Mountain House

February 1, 2012

Oliver Interiors

oliver interiors

“The look is fresh, warm and inviting, and imaginatively “rustic contemporary.”

oliver interiors

oliver interiors

Christina Oliver Wins ASID New England Chapter’s Design Competition Award

January 11, 2012

oliver interiors


Christina Oliver Wins ASID New England Chapter’s Design Competition Award

oliver interiorsA Kitchen Designed to Blend the Elements of Earth and Water Receives First Place

Adding to her long list of design industry accomplishments, Christina Oliver, ASID, has received first place in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) New England Chapter’s 2011 Annual Design Competition Award.  Her entry, a Residential Kitchen, was completed in Brookline as part of a condominium redesign and remodeling effort, and was cited as the best example of design excellence in that category.

During the award ceremony, Christina was quick to credit Sheldon Perry, the owner of Steepleview Cabinetry, for his extraordinary work in creating custom cabinets for the kitchen.  In addition, she thanked her former staff designers, Bethany Gardner and Sonya Quinlan for their essential contributions.

“Any design project requires the hands and hearts of more than one professional. The vision was developed with my client, but the execution and final details were helped immeasurably by the talents of Bethany, Sonya, and the craftsmen who created such stunning built-in cabinets.  I wholeheartedly share this recognition with them.”

The 2011 award-winning kitchen was redesigned for a right-handed cook; the previous owner was left-handed. The theme of “earth and water” was defined by the neutral color scheme and elegant use of natural materials.  New blonde wood floors meet creamy walls, accented by smoky blue iridescent granite and tile.  Old cabinetry and appliances were donated for re-use, and a new floor plan and shifting a door way achieved optimal seating and storage.  The curve of the island and the Blue Astral countertop added eye-catching focal points, and specially lit display boxes above the cabinets worked with the high ceilings to recreate the space as a warm, functional kitchen.

Most recently honored by the Boston Architectural College (BAC) with the 2010 Alumni in Practice Award for Interior Design, Christina is a leader in a variety of professional organizations. Oliver Interiors, LLC serves the residential market, working closely with clients and collaborating with architects, contractors and artisans.  The firm’s designs represent a client’s needs and desires, often through the innovative use of space and special attention to detail.

To learn more about Oliver Interiors and the firm’s award winning projects, visit