It’s All in the Details

I love details. As you long time readers know, I completed a large renovation on my last house, which we have since sold. During the planning stages, I probably drove our architect a little crazy with my obsessive interest in details while we were still looking at the bigger picture. But it’s what I love! One of the themes in the house became small repeating squares.

It actually started with the expansion of the dining room where I had the idea of installing a corner of windows. The architect, Rink DuPont, successfully expanded on the concept by adding the detail of small windows above, which then became thematic throughout the house.

Here you can see the lovely millwork details. The windows are true divided lights.

This corner now has as lovely built in banquette, a perfect spot for an intimate dinner à deux. From inside you can see the little bit of extra depth that echoes the front window, original to the room.

At the back entrance, Rink carried the theme through to the trim which extends around the house.

The kitchen has french doors leading to a lovely bluestone terrace with an outdoor fireplace. The little windows make their appearance here as well.

Even the beautiful dentil molding echoes the detail

Here you can also see the clips holding the storm windows. My husband’s and my major objective with our renovation was for it to look as seamless as possible. We both adore architecture from the 1920’s and 1930’s and wanted to evoke that era, creating an addition sensitive to scale and detail. Our area is overrun with mcmansions and we wanted to avoid that look at all costs. When choosing windows, we ultimately decided to have them custom made for that authentic period feel. They are accurate historic reproductions with weight and pulley counterbalances and visible brass chains on the inside.  The storms and screens are wood as well and even though they have to be exchanged twice a year, they look beautiful and are very effective. Here is from inside the kitchen where you can see the squares on both doors and windows (please ignore the then temporary placement of TV and makeshift stand)

One of my favorite applications of the squares was these clerestory windows from the kitchen into the pantry. Not only was it appealing visually but supplied light into the windowless space behind.

Outside are several terraces – the large uncovered one outside the kitchen and two smaller covered ones on either side of a den. The squares are used for both trim on the overhang and as a trellis for climbing clematis. This was my husband’s favorite spot to relax and read.

From the other side – little squares continuing around the corner. My husband gets total credit for the beautiful blooms – he trained and nurtured them.

These little touches are fun for both architect and home owner and add to the cohesive aesthetic quality of a house in a distinctive, understated manner.

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86 Responses to It’s All in the Details

  1. You have a beautiful home! Great moldings and lots of light!!

    xx Grace

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Grace – thank you! Yes I was obsessed with the millwork – I chose the builder by who could do the best!

  2. Your home is lovely! The moldings, trellises, French doors, and the backsplash are all such delicate and beautiful touches!

  3. Caroline says:

    Beautiful job! We are working with an architect right now and trying to also create a 1920’s- 30’s look for our major house re-do…so loved this post and hearing about how you all did it! Take care, Caroline

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Caroline – Thank you! Well as you now know, it’s my favorite period. Good luck – it’s a wonderful journey!

  4. Jane Schott says:

    Grace, how fabulous is this? Isn’t it wonderful when you go to such lengths to achieve something above average? Your house will stand the test of time and be admired for decades because of the extra love you put into it. I am sure that if I drove by I would want to know who designed this house…even if I had to go to the front door and ask.

    You have put your stamp of good taste on a house that I am sure will be long admired. Nice job.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Jane – Thank you. It has lovely curbside appeal and the nicest thing is that it doesn’t look overwhelming large from the front even though it was a fairly big house – it sort of rambles. The new owners are lovely and very appreciate of all our hard work.

  5. Beautiful! Love those details..building a home oursleves my “detail radar” is on full throttle and I can see you paid close attention which always shows in all the litle things, congrats! Love your black range its a La Canche, right? How are you enjoying it? I am building a new home and just started a new blog about 2 weeks ago about it as well as my passion for decor and design…I think you would like it. Please check it out if you have a minute. Great blog….will come back!

    • quintessence says:

      TEH – Thank you! Yes it’s a Lacanche. I loved it but my husband didn’t so much – he felt it was not regulated tightly enough. He prefers the Viking we have now. Have stopped by your blog before and commented and will stop by again.

  6. MeredithJean says:

    A wonderful renovation, well done.

  7. Why did you sell that home is was stunning. Stay with the details, you did really well, love those dining room windows!

    • quintessence says:

      AO – We sold the home because 3 out of our 4 children were gone and my husband felt it was silly to stay in such a large place. We actually moved next door!!

  8. Liz Morten says:

    In the world of the relative, there is such a thing as good and bad taste. Your house is beautiful, I just don’t know how you cope with it being next door! I am impressed with your husband’s gardening skills as well.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Liz – It was hard at first, but fine now. The new owners have actually made many lovely improvements/additions, some of which are from my plans – things that I had intended to do eventually. It’s actually nice to see a young family making full use of the space.

  9. I love your attention to detail. The mill work is fantastic and gives the home such a beautiful custom look. Love the side porch-my favorite!

    • quintessence says:

      HH – Thank you. Yes, I was very focussed on the millwork. I chose an architect who was also interested in that aspect and a builder with a fabulous carpenter.

  10. Kathysue says:

    Oh My!! The details are perfection. I love the windows the brackets and the dentil molding outside, all of this is what I would love to have, but alas, I live in California suburbia!!! Your home was so lovely,Kathysue

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Kathysue – Thank you!! Yes, I love all the details as well. Would love to do it all over again!!

  11. Bravo!!! What a fabulous renovation. Great attention to detail…. the moulding makes me swoon! Love the stone facade. I’m sure you miss the house….


    • quintessence says:

      Joan – thank you!! Since I simply adore your renovation as well, I take that as the highest compliment. I do miss the house but there is a lovely young family in there now – and we live right next door!!

  12. Lisa says:

    There’s almost nothing nicer in the world of expansive houses, than the luxury of a well-windowed nook. You get to feel safe inside, without losing any sense of space from the yard outside.

  13. What beautiful windows! You are right – the beauty is in the details. Someone might not know why it all comes together so well, but the person behind the design does!

    Thanks for your comment today – loved it!

    • quintessence says:

      TTI – Thank you! And I’m loving your beautiful renovation as well – tasteful and understated – so elegant!!

  14. Oh, it’s just wonderful – I’m so glad you shared the pics.

  15. I wouldn’t expect less from you, Q! I know you enough by now that you’re a perfectionist. Am I right? ;-)

    Beautiful, really, really beautiful!


    Luciane at

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Luciane – Thank you – and how perceptive of you. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist – kids help!!

  16. Ann says:

    I have major house envy. Makes me want to put my head down and crawl into our little beach house. Makes me wish we lived back East. I love the details you put into your addition. Coming from a detail fanantic, I get it! Love the windows and I’m green with envy over your outdoor area. I would sit out there every day enjoying my coffee and paper (maybe not this time of year) and my vino in the evenings. I’ve already moved in and you didn’t know it. BTW, that stove…I’m drooling! [email protected]&Fritz

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Ann – Thank you!! Yes, it turned out beautifully. The stove is fabulous – it’s a Lacanche – and the best part (unlike my current Viking) is that both ovens are full size and one’s gas and one’s electric. If you move in, it won’t be with me – there’s a lovely young family living there now.

  17. mydesignchic says:

    What a gorgeous house – and I so agree…it’s all in the detail!! You’ve definitely got this down…just perfection!

  18. Barbara says:

    Perfect attention to every detail… I just love the trellised terrace. It’s difficult to move from a house that holds so much of your heart. I felt that way when we sold our 300 year-old Massachusetts historic farmhouse. It’s a part of us!

  19. stacy says:

    Perfection. Simply gorgeous. Can I move in?

  20. Gretchen O says:

    Details do make ALL the difference! I love that you stayed true to the period and went the extra mile for the windows…there is just something about true divided light (even if they are a little harder to clean, so worth it!) I just love every bit of it!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Gretchen – Thank you. I obviously agree about the windows – just love the real divided lights – and you can very quickly tell the difference.

  21. You’ve done a beautiful job on your house. I love the dental moulding and the terrace looks fabulous. The planting looks glorious xx

    • quintessence says:

      Christina – thank you. My husband deserves all the credit for the landscaping – although I know what I like, I am pathetic with any plants! Loved your Sara Stockbridge interview by the way.

  22. Kelly says:

    Your obsessions paid off – everything looks great! I love the little details that go into millwork…..really makes a difference :)

    xo Kelly

  23. Hi Quintessence,
    (and I don’t know if that’s your real name but I like using names, hope you don’t mind)
    …You have exemplary tastes..
    it’s evident in your blogging and choice of words to your decor and home architecture…it’s a pleasure learning from you and being inspired by your finds and posts…
    enjoy your Monday..

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Maureen – Q. is my blogging nom de plume. Thank you so much for your kind words – I love your features as well.

  24. imperio jp says:

    I’m moving in – right away! Love your work as always, thanks for sharing

    • quintessence says:

      imperio – thank you – you’ll be moving in with three adorable little children and my lovely new neighbors!

  25. The outdoor fireplace looks fabulous and a perfect place to warm cold fingers on a day like today. Love your former home and I’m sure your new home is just as lovely!

    • quintessence says:

      Buzz – the fireplace was fabulous and we actually used it all the time. We have an outdoor fireplace here as well but haven’t used it quite as much yet. It really extends the season for an outdoor space!

  26. You have a very beautiful home. We love the kitchen. You should be proud. Great job!

    • quintessence says:

      Hello M&Z – Thank you so much. Now that most of our children are out of the house for most of the year, we have since downsized and moved next door. But renovating this house was my favorite project ever!

  27. OMG your home is stunning and everything looks beautiful:) I love your style:) Wish you a sunny Monday and see you soon:)

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Diana – Thank you – but it is my former home – I now live next door. Happy Monday to you as well!

  28. That is all goodness squared!
    xo Cathy

  29. stitchfork says:

    ps…thanks for finding and commenting on my blog!
    xo Cathy

  30. Gorgeous. I think the continuity of design is what really makes a building. It’s the little things people don’t notice but it gives a feeling of balance and harmony.

    • quintessence says:

      Jeanette – Perfectly articulated and so true. Sometimes you aren’t even conscious of it but gives an overall sense of place.

  31. Carla Aston says:

    I agree. Details are so important. They make or break a project. They definitely made yours…..lovely home!

    • quintessence says:

      Thank you Carla! I must thank my architect who kept me focussed on the larger project at hand but I was thrilled when we finally got to work on all the details!!

  32. Divine is in the details…and you definitely nailed the details! Whoever was forturnate enough to buy your home is mighty happy. I love how open and sunny the house is. Your kitchen is to die for!

    Love how you picked a detail and carried it throughout the house. Just beautiful!

    • quintessence says:

      PPT – Thank you! We couldn’t be happier with our neighbors – they are a lovely young family and my youngest practically lives there. They have added some wonderful touches including a gorgeous pool and pool house that I wrote about last summer. Perhaps at some point she will let me show you what they’ve done to the dining room – it’s stunning!

  33. I love all the open windows and all the little details!

    • quintessence says:

      BM – Thank you – yes the windows in the house are lovely and really make such a big difference.

  34. Jennifer says:

    What a beautiful home, and truly lovely details. Such classy choices and updates. It looks as though the home was always meant to have them, which I would say is the perfect way to renovate.

    • quintessence says:

      Thank you Jennifer. Yes, that was certainly the idea – so it would be hard to tell where the old ended and new began!

  35. The Zhush says:

    I too am a details fanatic…so I really enjoyed all this attention to the fabulous flourishes on your former home…just stunning!

    • quintessence says:

      Zhush – Thank you. And I’m not surprised to hear that you love details as well – but it can be a curse as well as a blessing sometimes!

  36. debby says:

    Just beautiful… all of it! When can I move in?! xo

  37. Absolutely beautiful.
    I LOVE, love the intricate windows. Being obsessed evidently rewarded you, and the flowers are gorgeous!

  38. Details. It’s ALL in the details. I truly believe this about everything. I am so happy to see your home & design work, the plantings are wonderful, and I can see what a beautiful piece of property you had. Really lovely, Q. xx’s

  39. hamptontoes says:

    Super lovely details. Your former home was absolutely stunning. I leave no stone unturned when it comes to details…your my kind of gal! Now, am I understanding this right…you moved closed by your former home? Why?

    • quintessence says:

      H – Thank you. Yes, we moved next door. My husband is in real estate, renovated the house next door as a project and then decided that it made sense for us to move there since 3 out of the 4 kids were away at school for most of the year.

  40. Just gorgeous! Details are so important. Even if no one else notices them I’m all about those tiny extras. Love those windows–and banquettes!

  41. Loving all the details on your former home and those blooming vines are just incredible! It’s hard to be detail-obsessed–I can relate!

    xo Mary Jo

  42. Fran says:

    Absolutely stunning!!

  43. wow, what a stunning home! thanks for sharing…it’s so well done! i appreciate all of your attention to detail!

    thanks for stopping by today!


    • quintessence says:

      Hi JoAnn – my pleasure – love finding new inspiration. And thank you – it was a labor of love!

  44. Your attention to the details was well worth it. Beautiful job. I also drove my contractor crazy but am glad I did. I made many changes to the plans, redesigning the entire master bathroom. Added recessed panel wainscot to the walls. I spent hours looking for the right doorknobs with matching finish hinges for my custom designed doors. I’m a creative director so the big picture I know is dependent on the details. BTW, love your blog!

  45. jule at BV says:

    I’m sorry I hadn’t commented on this post before. I just noticed the link on your right bar side and all I have to say is wow! what a gorgeous, full of details home you have. You did a great job making sure you were going to live in a home that would make you feel good and happy. I think details should envelops a home, in my opinion.

  46. Liz Conover says:

    Saw the article about you in the local newspaper.
    I would like to invite you to lunch in March in Darien.
    We will be away all of February, I love what you have created, in a lot of areas, and would like to meet you and know more about you.
    Please check me out on Facebook so you will know a bit about my background.

    Let me know your availability!
    Thanks, Liz Conover

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