December 22, 2011

We made the cover! Design New England Magazine

I was thrilled to learn that, not only would Design New England magazine be including a feature story on The Concord Green Healthy Home for its upcoming issue, the editors selected my European-style bath design for the cover.  

I think back to my plan for an open shower bath, with a wall mounted vanity and dual-flush toilet.  I used an unexpected mix of materials -- a pitched cobblestone-inspired floor tile, a wainscot of horizontal limestone plank reminiscent of weathered wood, upper walls tiled in classic white subway and punctuated with daylight-sharing clerestory windows, with a curved floating carrera marble vanity, all topped off with galvanized barn lights.  Part luxurious powder room, part outdoor shower, right?  Hmmm.  More than one person looked at me as if I was a bit crazy. :-)  I am happy to have held on to the vision.

Special thanks to Design New England's editor Gail Ravgiala, for believing in the project.   Can't wait to see Eric Roth's gorgeous photos of the rest of the interiors gracing the magazine's pages.

Look for the Jan/Feb 2012 issue the first week of January, available online (click "Current Issue") and in print.

Meanwhile, wishing you all a healthy and joyous holiday season, and a happy new year!


December 6, 2011

Earth-Friendly + Gorgeous Wallpapers

 Montague Grasscloth in Shower.  Interior design by Kimberly Ayers.

While working on a client's formal entry, I've happily discovered a new line of earth-friendly grasscloth wallpaper from the hip, creative team of Kyra and Robertson Hartnett at Twenty2.   I am pleased to report that Twenty2's wallpaper is hand screen-printed right here in the USA, so you can buy local too.

Known for their hand-colored wall coverings, fabrics, carpets and accessories, Twenty2's signature is "a unique blend of classic modernism and punchy contemporary styling".   Let's check out some of their glorious product, "fresh from Litchfield, CT".

Here's their Neptunian Grasscloth in a funky foyer, also by Kimberly Ayers:

Sherwood Grasscloth (custom color), House + Garden Hamptons Showhouse 2006, by Michael Rosenberg + Associates:

Maxwell Fabric in Ruby + Cacao, Half Max Wallpaper in Silt:

 Twenty2's website even has video and still photography of their hand screen production process, if you are interested in seeing how local artisans craft their product.

Hope you check them out.  I've already ordered memo samples - process was speedy and Kyra kindly called me personally to let me know they were shipping.  Can't wait for the package of goodies to arrive.



November 21, 2011

Ultra Compact Lego-Inspired Apartment

Just had to share this hip, ultra compact apartment.  A true study in low impact living.

"When Christian Schallert isn't cooking, dressing, sleeping or eating, his 24 square meter (258 square feet) apartment looks like an empty cube. To use a piece of furniture, he has to build it.

Located in Barcelona's hip Born district, the tiny apartment is a remodeled pigeon loft. Christian says its design was inspired by the space-saving furniture aboard boats, as well as the clean lines of a small Japanese home."

Find of the day...

Love the cremone casement hardware and screened doors on this Pine 4 Door Bookcase from Halo Styles.   This company has a gorgeous line of casegoods and upholstery.  Please inquire at for purchase.

October 6, 2011

Conservatories: Not Just A Luxury

Okay, this elaborate, award-winning two-story example does seem rather like a big old luxury.  Photo: Town and Country
I was recently asked by one of my interior design clients to update her home's conservatory.  She marveled at my unabashed enthusiasm for the task.  I understood.  Working on the interior rooms of her grand home was enjoyable enough.  But what I didn't fully communicate was the depth of my admiration for these incredible spaces, whose beauty runs far deeper than their luxurious "to the manor born" heritage. 

Glengariffe Solar House's south-facing Conservatory supplies 45% of annual heating requirement.  Photo: Viking House.
Conservatories, or sun spaces, have glass roof and walls and are typically attached to a house only on one side.  They originated in sun-starved parts of 16th century Europe, and afforded wealthy landowners the ability to cultivate citrus plants from the Mediterranean.  Now, they are a passive heating engineer's trump card, the sunniest indoor/outdoor connection in which to soak up some vitamin D, a greenhouse for oxygen-generating plants, and a place to grow your own organic food year-round.  Seems to me that the cost per square foot to build vs. traditional interior space may be a logical swap.  Now I really want one...   :)

Oh happy days.  How would your kids like to run around the house here? Source: unknown (from my image archive)

But let's get back to this special space's ability to passively heat your home.  In fact, it can even actively maintain comfortable temperatures, as Viking House's Active Solar House demonstrates:

Photo:  Viking House

While the conservatory's dark floor tiles passively absorb and store solar heat, this sun space actively maintains comfortable temperatures on both hot and cold days with its ventilation and shading system.

"Convector ventilation: The cooling of the Sunspace during warm weather is facilitated through a convection system, facilitated by creating a channel between the insulated aluminum blinds and the glazed roof in combination with opening flaps on the very bottom and very top of the construction."  Courtesy: Viking House.

"Hot vent: On sunny, but cold days, the blinds are rolled up and sun light enters the space. Here it heats the air which begins to move upwards. Ducts that connect the inside of the building with the conservatory are opened by the BMS and the warm air travels through to the inner rooms, being moved by the convection motion. Cold air from inside the house is brought back to the sunspace at ground floor level, thus creating a circulation of ever warmer air."  Courtesy: Viking House.


Now for a little conservatory design inspiration...  

(Apologies to architects, designers, photographers, and homeowners.  I have been saving these images in my design files since before I noted sources.  Please email me at with credit information and I will happily update this post.)

September 27, 2011

Pushing the Envelope on Healthy Home Design

The first Hempcrete and Purepanel home built in North America, by Push Design, epitomizes building principles that are healthy for people and the planet.

One terrific outcome of being featured on the DIY Network's show This NEW House is connecting with others who are seeking a healthier way to design and build homes.  I was thrilled to be contacted by Anthony Brenner, the visionary behind Push Design, who was inspired by his daughter Bailey's struggle with severe Environmental and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).  Brenner tirelessly researched building materials to create the safest, non-toxic "recipe" for the homes his company now builds.

Interiors can be healthy AND beautiful.  Photo: Push Design

Brenner's philosophy is that "the current industry standard of ultra-tight, chemical and petroleum-based building strategies is, by nature, inherently flawed. We are confident that high thermal mass, breathable and naturally-based building systems can not only achieve the same or better energy efficiency, but also eliminate any Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) concerns and are truly sustainable."

Ashville, NC's first non-toxic home, in progress.  Photo: Push Design
Brenner is pioneering the use of revolutionary materials, such as Tradical Hemcrete, made from hemp, one of the most sustainable crops on earth, in order to create truly non-toxic homes. 

Check back for more updates on Push Design soon.

Cheers, and good health.


September 20, 2011

Concord Green on TV

Join This NEW House tv host Kevin O'Connor and me as we tour The Concord Green Healthy Home and discuss some of its healthy and sustainable features.  Included in the episode entitled "Back To The Woods", the segment is the last of four during the half hour program.  Produced by the creators of This Old House, the show airs on The DIY Network, this Friday, September 23 at 11 am ET.

Would love to have you tune in.



August 28, 2011

Houzz features The Concord Green Healthy Home

The Concord Green Healthy Home on Houzz today

Today finds The Concord Green Healthy Home on the front page of, an online magazine that provides inspiration for design and remodeling.  Expertly written by Becky Harris, the feature provides a detailed tour of the home, with commentary from ZeroEnergy Design architect, Stephanie Horowitz and myself.

Thank you, Becky!  And to Adam Prince, of ZeroEnergy Design, for continuing to spread the word about our project.

August 4, 2011

One grand gesture...

Large scale pendants grace the kitchen of The Concord Green Healthy Home.  Photo:  Eric Roth
Sometimes, one grand gesture can pull an entire room together.  I designed these oversize pendants, hung from the ridge beam of the gable roof 16' up, to make a bold statement in the Concord Green Healthy Home's kitchen.  Crafted by Carol Collord of Creations by Carol, the 100% linen shades with exposed twine stitching provide a soft, Belgian farmhouse accent to the light and airy space.

The pendants frame the symmetry of the kitchen beautifully.  In the evenings, pools of light on the island's concrete countertop set the mood.    Photo: Allegra Anderson Photography

Photo: Allegra Anderson Photography

A huge thank you to Carol for her incredible work and meticulous attention to detail.

July 8, 2011

Healthy House on Wheels

Vintage Airstream from Taylor Design Healthy Homes
Dreaming of vacationing with one of these babies.   Cool Vermont firm, Taylor Design Healthy Homes, retrofits vintage Airstreams to make them healthy for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), as well as for anyone seeking healthy materials in their living environment.

Airstream interiors are gutted and then completely rebuilt with people-friendly materials.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to haul it behind the Prius.   :)

May 23, 2011

Reclaimed Lighting for a Beach House

Just ordered one of these gorgeous pendants for the beach house dining nook - Oversized Whitewashed Pendant from Vagabond Vintage.

I am happily working on interior design for a beach house renovation on the Maine coast.  Great way to get in the summer spirit.  Reclaimed lighting is the perfect fit for what will be a casually elegant atmosphere -- just add sandy feet, mix in stylish family entertaining, and stir.
A pair of these beauties will flank the master bed - Reclaimed Wood and Chrome Sconce Light from Clayton Gray Home
Three of any of these Vintage Metal Steel Funnel lamps would lend a cool industrial vibe over a kitchen island - also from Vagabond Vintage.

May 5, 2011

Art-Inspired Interiors

Learn how to build beautiful interiors around inspiring works of art.  Reception on May 7, from 4-7pm at Powers Gallery in Acton, MA

April 20, 2011

Cool New Magazine features Concord Green

New England Finery Magazine's current issue is devoted to green living, in honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2011.  Thanks for the mention!
I was delighted to learn that this blog would be featured in the upcoming issue of New England Finery Magazine's Propagating Green section.  This new online magazine's second edition covers many aspects of green living in New England, including shopping vintage, building green, growing a garden and finding eco-friendly furnishings and finishes.

I encourage you to check it out!


Inaugural Issue

April 18, 2011

Double Duty Rooms: Dining Room / Library

Dining Room / Library of THE CONCORD GREEN HEALTHY HOME  Design by Lisa Kauffman Tharp.  Photo: Eric Roth
A core strategy in building with a lighter footprint on the planet is to build smaller.  Assigning double duty to the traditionally under-utilized rooms in the American home is a perfect way to achieve the goal.  One of my favorite examples is the dining room that doubles as a library.  Key elements include a large table, comfy chairs (non-matched seating is like a good party that mixes different personalities), storage for books (displayed or hidden is up to you), and lots of sunshine during the day.  At night, dimmer switches and candle lanterns completely transform the mood.

A different daytime view of the Dining Room / Library.  Design and photo: Lisa Kauffman Tharp

Here are some of my favorite inspirations for the "Eat In Library":

Design by Diane Bergeron

Design by Miles Redd

Design by Darryl Carter, as featured in O at Home

April 8, 2011

Adding Patina...

Black iron rods are transformed with a non-toxic rust patina. 
The design plan for this New England farmhouse called for drapery rods that had a bronze/rust patina.  Short leadtimes would have made custom rods very expensive.  Why not give some standard black rods a little aging and color with paint?  Turns out, it was quite simple:

I found cool black rods, brackets and rings at Restoration Hardware.  Then I called the nice folks at ECOS Organic paints, who speedy-shipped a quart each of their non-toxic Feng Shui Multi-Surface Paint in Gallery (a reddish orange) and Brushy Creek Brown.   They assured me that this benign paint would stick to metal.  They were right.  :)

Rods were lightly sanded (inside plastic with wet sanding sponge to control dust).

Next, "sock puppet hands" (with plastic bag liners underneath) dip alternately in each color paint to get the right mix of patina and rub it on.

Dry and ready to hang in about 30 minutes.
Voila!  The bronze and rust tones beautifully complement Jim Holland's gorgeous Two In The Dunes oil painting, from Powers Gallery.
For interior design or healthy/green design services, email me at

All photos:  Kauffman Tharp Design

March 29, 2011

Find your haven at home...

A sunny place to relax and refresh.    Photo:  Eric Roth

"A room of one's own"... "an escape hatch"... "a tiny retreat under the eaves"...  many ways to describe a space carved out somewhere in your home where you can leave the stresses of daily life behind, and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.

Reclaimed wood desk is complemented by vintage factory stool, artist easel, tin pail with rolls of antique wallpaper, seagrass basket with vintage wallpaper printing cylinders (very cool!), wire gym locker for holding fabric swatches, a birds nest display under the glass cloche, and a linen-covered nail-head bench I scored from West Elm.   Nautical sconces and mercury lamp with netting overlay complete the look.  Photo:  Eric Roth

This sunny loft was the perfect spot to create such a space.  The finished attic houses exercise equipment at one end, and an area for creativity at the other.  It's quiet, with windows on three sides.  As you sit at the desk, perched on the tall stool, views of the treetops and town inspire fresh ideas.    I think I may never come down.  :)  And if you ask me whether it is better to finish a basement or an attic, I will vote attic every time.   Dark and dank vs. sunny and breezy.  Which would you choose?

Nail-head Bench - West Elm
Stool and Accessories - Nesting On Main
Art - Grand Battement by me
Floor Paint - ECOS Organic Floor Paint

March 26, 2011

How to use Nautical Charts to Map out a Feature Wall

Home Office of The Concord Green Healthy Home.  Design by Lisa Kauffman Tharp.  Photo:  Eric Roth.

Nautically-inspired interior design is a wonderful way to connect your home with nature.  It can veer into the land of cliche however, so one has to execute carefully.   For this Office space, I actually pull from several thematic territories - nautical, barn and flight (with that gorgeous antique propeller) - but it works because each element is quietly adding to the overall beauty of the space without calling too much theme-y attention to itself.

Of course, the nautical chart wall is one of the principle elements that pulls the room together.   I have always loved nautical charts for their muted tan and aqua colors, and ability to conjure up daydreams of sailing the seas.  (Hmm, perhaps I wouldn't get much work done at that desk.)

Here is how you can recreate this look:

1.   Plan.   Select a focal point wall (or get crazy and cover the entire room).  Measure to calculate the square footage of chart material needed.
2.  Source and prep chart material.  Expired edition charts are easier to find at reasonable prices in large quantity.  Trim up to the colored areas with an exacto knife and straight edge.
3. Layout.  Spread out the trimmed charts on the floor to make sure the design is pleasing.  Pay attention to the balance between colors and white space.  Don't be afraid to cut and piece different charts together to make the design more interesting.
4.  Tack up charts (and paste, if desired).   Using push pins, tack up the trimmed charts to the wall.  I used clear pins and smoothed the charts tightly as I covered the wall, trimming for a perfect fit as I went along.  I planned the tacking as a prep-step prior to pasting the charts with homemade wallpaper paste, but it looked so good that I didn't need to go the extra step.  If you do want to paste them to the wall, here is a great non-toxic recipe for wallpaper paste.  Be sure to test first, to make sure the colors will not run.
Barn Doors: I designed the tall sliding barn doors to provide ultimate flexibility between the Office space and the adjacent Dining Room / Library.  When all four doors are slid to the side wall, the two spaces feel like one larger space.  When closed, the Office has privacy, while still sharing light and views through the upper glass.  

Nautical Charts - Maryland Nautical Sales
Barn Doors - Design by Lisa Kauffman Tharp.  Built by Circle B / Barn Depot.
Propeller and pillow - Nesting On Main
Chair - Arhaus
Custom Drapery Panels - Acorn Interiors
Art and Model Sailboat - Powers Gallery
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