Favorite Living Spaces of the Moment

I’m constantly collecting inspiring interiors.  I have binders full of magazine tear outs, sketches, photos, and ideas I’ve seen.  Today, I thought I would quickly share some of my recent favorites.  I can’t get enough of these images.  Whether it’s the clean lines, the airiness, or the drama – there’s something in each space that draws me to them over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Freelance Work and Keeping Busy

Freelancing is hard work and time consuming.  Gone are the days where I have one boss and one office.  I now run around working for two different firms while simultaneously raising my 18 month old son and running a couple of my own projects.  There aren’t enough hours in the day and my days usually become nights.  But, I’m honestly not complaining.  I love feeling busy, and designing while being able to spend time with my son.  The one thing that has been suffering is my blog. There are so many new and exciting things I want to share with you all.  Once everything calms down a bit – I’ll be back!  Below is a sneak peak of a kitchen I’m working on.  Currently, I’m drafting a full set of construction documents so we can start getting different bids from the contractors.  I’ll keep you all posted!

 

 

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Recreate This Look

I use Pinterest almost everyday.  For work and for fun.  I absolutely love it and love that all my inspiration can be in one place.  Before the days of Pinterest I used to tear out pages from design and trade magazines and store them all in one huge binder.  The only problem with the binder is the original source is missing, and that I’m the only one who can view my favorite spaces and ideas.  Now Pinterest (and the internet in general) makes sharing and the discussion of interior design so much easier.  I love to see what people are into and what they post.  My future sister-in-law, whom I adore, wrote a comment on my Pinterest saying how she loved this one particular room I posted. The comment inspired me to deconstruct the room and source the items for her (and everyone!) to buy and recreate a space just like this.  I’m pretty sure most of the pieces in the original photo below are for trade only and possibly even custom.  However, there are products just like this out there in the retail market that all can have access to.  Obviously, some items are not cheap – but I can guarantee there are a heck of lot cheaper than the original.  Let me know what you think!

 

Original Inspiration

 

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1. Drapery Hardware : Estate Metal Square Finials Brass through Restoration Hardware ($55 for set medium set of two) 2. Paint through Sherwin Williams (7643 Pussy Willow) 3. Drapery: Washed Velvet Drapery Panel in Color Petal through Restoration Hardware Baby and Child ($139 ea) 4. Armchair: English Roll Arm Upholstered Chair through Restoration Hardware ($1,915) 5. Sofa: Streamlined Sofa through Wisteria ($2,999) 6. Decorative Pillow: And 16″ Pillow through Crate and Barrel ($29.95) 7. Decorative Pillow: Brown Ikat Silk Cotton Throw Pillow through Etsy (&77.19) 8. Cocktail Table: Meurice 2 Tier Table through Jonathan Adler ($795) 9. Decorative Pillow: Tempo Velvet 20″ Pillow in Chocolate through Crate and Barrel ($39.95) 10. Area Rug: Rope Rug through Serena & Lily ($895) 11. Console: Peakaboo Clear Console Table through CB2 ($379) 12. Table Lamp: Meurice Square Table Lamp through Jonathan Adler ($325)

 

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Bold Patterns – Do You Love Them or Hate Them?

At my old job we rarely used patterns. As a matter of fact none of my projects had a pattern in them.   Instead, everything from the carpets to the throw pillows were covered in solids.  I must admit, at the time I yearned for a bold pattern each time a fabric rep would come to the office.  But looking back, I completely understand why Vicente, my old boss didn’t use them.  In interiors where there are no patterns, there is a serene calm with little to no static.  In addition, there is a confidence present. There is no relying on a textile designer’s print to make the interiors sing.  Instead, it’s just pure talent in being able to layer different materials, textures, and colors to make it look dynamic and interesting.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, I realize my old job’s interiors weren’t the norm.  They were so high-end that the furniture didn’t need anything like a bold print to detract from its beauty.  You could literally upholster some of those pieces in muslin and they would still be beautiful.  I understand not all spaces are like that.  So, therefore I love patterns and what they can do.  They can take an old worn out sofa and turn it into an interesting element with a couple of throw pillows or even a throw.  With a bold rug, they can take an ugly ordinary room and turn it into a dynamic room of color.  Bold patterns can help to tie a room together or add a little something to a room that is lacking.

Below are some of my favorites patterns that I’ve seen recently.   I’m dying over all the Chevrons, Ikats, and Batiks. They are all so so beautiful.

 

Buddakahn Blue Fabric on Oyster 302872F through Quadrille – Trade Only

 

Island Ikat Pale Aqua Fabric on White 6460-32 available through Quadrille – Trade Only

 

Tashkent Royal Blue Fabric on Oyster 302506F available through Quadrille Fabrics – Trade Only

 

Kite Kilim Rug available through West Elm

 

Diamond Ikat Azure Pillow available through Dwell Studio

 

 Cross Pillow Mustard and Gray  available through Jonathan Adler

 

 Lucky Strike Pillow Navy and Orange available through Jonathan Adler

 

 Suzani Blue Graham Fabric available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier – Trade Only

 

Organic Blockprint Black Zig Zag Pillow available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier

 

Ikat Dashwood Pillow available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier

 

 Ikat Blue Dodi Fabric available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier – Trade Only

 

 Ikat Dove Stripe Fabric available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier – Trade Only

 

Ikat Purple Mu Pillow available through Madeline Weinrib Atelier – Trade Only

 

Flower of Love Wall Covering available through Flavor Paper

 

 Fruits of Design Wall Covering available through Flavor Paper

 

Scallop Embroidery Fabric through Schumacher – Trade Only

 

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Get Your Flag On

Everywhere I look the Union Jack pattern is popping up.

I’m usually not one for trends, but I’m a big fan of this one.  Maybe it’s the side of me that loves everything European, or maybe the colors and pattern remind me of my love for all things nautical.  Whatever it is, I’m a fan.

Below are some images of how to incorporate the Union Jack into everyday interiors.

The key is to use the pattern sparingly.

 

 

 

 

Where to get your own piece of the Union Jack trend (click on the image for a direct link):

 

Hand Painted Union Jack Pillow Cover – Available through Etsy ($72.00)

Union Jack Pillow – Available through Jayson  ($175.00)

 

Make your own pillow with this Union Jack fabric – Available through Lewis and Sheron Textiles ($35.00/yd)

 

 VW Flag Rug by Vivienne Westwood – Available through The Rug Company ($4,125.00)

 

Hirshorn Chair – Available through Andrew Martin (Trade Only)

 

Union Floor Lamp – Available through Jimmie Martin (Trade Only)

 

 Union Jack Ottoman – Available through Restoration Hardware ($169.00)

 

Range – Available through Falcon ($6,509.00)

 

Union Jack Pet Bed – Available through Brookstone ($79.99)

 

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White Kitchen Eye Candy

I’m obsessed with white.  Anyone that knows me can tell you that.  The obsession haunts me when I try to design or picture an interior.  I can’t get the white out of my head.  White for me echos a clean slate, and a fresh start.  It’s just so unbelievably beautiful.  I understand white can be hard to maintain and most of the clients I meet are afraid of the non forgiving color.  However, white and kitchens may just be the perfect match.   Below are some of my most recent white kitchen favorites.

Black window frames, black floors, and marble counters and backsplash = perfection.  This kitchen is a perfect example of good design.  All the details were thought about from the linear air diffusers (better shot below) on the ceiling, to the design of the black window wall. There is perfect symmetry at the oven wall that is framed by the adjacent soffit.  The black window frames are pulled together with the black floor.  Just beautiful.

Same kitchen as above.  Perfect use of cabinetry and how much to display and hide. The heavily veined marble backsplash is so so pretty and really picks up the grayish tints of the white.

The designer of this kitchen was able to use the interior architecture and make a long galley kitchen into a gorgeous pathway to the outside.

The pure white of this kitchen is offset by the wood stain of the island.  The wood has that weathered vintage look but still looks elegant and timeless.  Gone are the days with the cherry or mahogany wood cabinets.  Thank god!!

This kitchen is one of my all time favorites.  It’s a bit more traditional than I usually like, but I find it so elegant, yet approachable.

This kitchen has everything one could ask for. Dark black wood floors, Carrera Marble counters, and super white cabinetry.

A kitchen perfect for the country with an added touch of glamour with the crystal chandelier.

This waterfall island countertop is made to look like it was made from one slab of marble.  I love this kind of design.  So simple and sculptural.

For those of you wanting tips on how to create a beautiful kitchen like the ones above – stay tuned!

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Tiles To Inspire

While researching for a project I came across this image and was completely inspired.  I thought posting some beautiful tiles will hopefully inspire some of you.

Unbelievably Gorgeous

Ann Sacks Nottingham 1″x2″ Field in Iron Ore

Ann Sacks Nottingham Arabesque in Blue Mint

Waterworks Aquarius Mosaic - Botticino and Verde Luna Honed

Walker Zanger Helsinki Chevron Field 4″x16″

Waterworks Aqualinea Intraloc – C

 Ann Sacks Vicente Wolf – Illusion in Ice Cube.  (I have to give credit to my friend and old coworker Jacqueline Pagan who helped Vicente design the Textures Series for Ann Sacks.  This is just one of the gorgeous designs.  See the rest here:  Vicente Wolf Textures

Waterworks Paramore Oval Overlay Mosaic

Waterworks Aqualinea Carousel Mosaic in Carrera Polished

Urban Archeology V73-36

Urban Archeology V51-105

Waterworks Paramore Ringlet Mosaic

Urban Archeology V128-29

Urban Archeology Zebrano

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Can only the rich afford to hire an interior designer?

I wanted to try and get away from high-end luxury design for a post or two because let’s face it – only a very very small percentage can afford it.  My favorite part of design is being able to transform someone’s life by changing the space in which they live in.  I think everyone should have access to do this or at least have a chance to do it.

Most of my friends have furnished their starter homes with the likes of Pottery Barn or other large retail corporations. I understand the hype of places like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.  They are convenient and most people don’t know where else to go.  They also spend millions of dollars on marketing campaigns to get you to love them.  But let’s face it – those retail stores are not cheap (except for IKEA which is an amazing place), not that high in quality, and create a very general mass produced look.  So the question begins – where else can I go to buy furniture and how can I afford to hire a designer?

First off, designers have access to trade only vendors and get a discount at most of the retail corporate chains.  The designer will purchase the furniture for you by using their trade account.  Secondly, no job is too small for a lot of young designers I know.  Every job is an opportunity that can lead to bigger and better opportunities down the road.  Furthermore, design is a passion and becomes a part of our lives and helps to define us.  New projects provide an outlet and are exciting to take on.  And finally, the client is the one to set the budget.

Most designers I know make a commission from a percentage of the decorative products before shipping and tax.  Usually it’s anywhere between 25%-35%.  So, if you want a sofa that is $3,000, the designer just made $900 if they were using a 30% commission fee.   BUT… designers get furniture at net pricing NOT retail.  And net pricing usually is discounted 30% from retail.  Therefore, you are paying the same amount you normally would for a sofa BUT you have an interior designer doing all the work for you. If you were to build a new home and hired a designer to do all the construction drawings and specifications then you would pay a design fee usually based on an hourly rate.  And then on top of that you would also pay the designer the commission as discussed above for any decorative items.

To put the above into context I’ll describe a project of mine from the past.  An extremely nice couple hired me a couple of years ago to redo their living room.  They, like a lot of people were wary of the design process and seemed apologetic over their small space.  However, I was happy to help and excited to start the process with them.  They had a relatively small budget for everything they wanted, which included new custom cabinetry to house the television and a new sofa.  I was to keep within the budget and provide the following: painted walls, custom cabinetry, sofa, sconces, window treatments, ottoman, two armchairs, a floor lamp, a tray, and two pillows.

I’m going to break down what goes into a job this size.  It’s a lot different from designing an entire house but gratifying all the same.  First I met the client at their home to see the space and to see what their needs and wants were.  I then drafted them a floor plan as well as the cabinetry drawing to show my design concept.

 

After walking them through the space I presented the furniture and fabric ideas.  Once I received approval and payment I created purchase orders and millwork drawings for the custom cabinet.  The orders get sent.  In the time between ordering and delivery (usually 8-12 weeks) I’m working with the vendors making sure the orders went through and ironing out any details such as making sure the fabrics are delivered to the correct vendor, and that the custom pieces are ok.  Also in that time the living room gets painted, and the millwork, drapery and sconces all get installed. When the rest of the pieces  are complete I’m trying to coordinate the deliveries so they land pretty much at the same time.  The best way to install a job is to ask the clients to leave for the day (or week in some cases) so when they come back they walk into a brand new room.  The looks on their faces are priceless and for me that’s the best moment of the job.

Hopefully this post helped some of you.  You just have to be firm on your budget and communicate with your designer with what you want and what you are expecting.  If you’re still intimidated to hire a designer and really want one – message me! I’m more than happy to try and help answer any questions you may have.

 

 

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15 Union Square West – Bathroom Edition

As promised, here is a closer look at the bathrooms of 15 Union Square West.  There are four different bathroom configurations and designs.  Some apartments depending on the size have all four while some just have the master bathroom and powder room.   The secondary bathrooms are for guest bedrooms and have either a tub and shower or just a shower.  I really believe they all have Vicente’s trademark style but are all so uniquely different and beautiful.  I hope you enjoy!

 POWDER ROOM

Powder rooms are a showpiece and one of the few rooms where decor and aesthetics can outweigh the function. The walls of this powder room are clad in dark sophisticated mahogany panelling which gives it a sense of masculinity.  We went through many test samples before getting the perfect stain.  The toilet (not shown) and sink are both in stainless steel to bring a modern approach to an otherwise traditional idea.  It was a challenge to find a sophisticated toilet in a stainless steel finish but a company called Neo Metro has some beautiful ones.  The last thing we wanted was for someone to feel like they were sitting on a toilet in a prison cell.  I think the outcome of this bathroom is a truly special one.

SECONDARY BATHROOM WITH SHOWER

This bathroom is my favorite.  The color palette is so calming and serene.  The shower is enclosed by a single sheet of floating glass so it feels like the whole bathroom is one big shower.  There is no door or curb which is a feat onto itself.  Everyone involved including the architects and engineers had to make sure the pitch of the floor was steep enough so the water flow would go towards the drain. However, we (the designers) wanted it to look seem-less as though there was no pitch at all.  Both parties were happy in the end as both function and design are present. Every little detail is thought about from the square shower drain, to the thickness of the stainless steel transition strips between the floor slabs. The vanity is finished in a custom colored lacquer with stainless steel strips inlayed into the wood doors.  The wall tiles are a ceramic xilo with discreet linear stripes that are installed in an alternating pattern.

SECONDARY BATHROOM WITH TUB AND SHOWER

The secondary bathroom with shower and under mount tub has limestone slabs on the walls and floor.  Above the limestone, the walls are clad in a backpainted glass.  Back painted glass is literally clear glass that is painted from the back side and viewed from the front.  The color options are endless.  One can choose any Benjamin Moore paint color and they fabricators will paint the glass to match.  However, back painted glass can get very expensive and is considered a luxurious material.  Especially when the glass is in large sheets like in this bathroom.  The larger it is, the harder it is for transportation and installation.   My favorite part of this bathroom is the cerused oak vanity with the louvered doors and Corian top. The proportion of the louvers is perfect and expertly crafted by a millworker.  All the vanities and kitchen cabinets in the project were produced by a millworker who worked off of our drawings.  There is no finding any of these vanities in any retail stores.  However, Restoration Hardware now is producing a replica of the louvered vanity. (and Vicente’s famous easel tv stand).  Hmm, they say imitation is the best form of flattery.

 

MASTER BATHROOM

Saving the best for last – the master bathroom.  I am in love with this custom vanity.  When doing the drawings and finalizing the design I became obsessed with the proportions and how everything is flush within the stainless steel open cube.  It’s a simple idea and I really think Vicente took it to the next level with the materials chosen.  The drawers are encased in shagreen which is a stingray skin that had to be specially imported.  Once the shagreen was delivered to the US it had to be sent to the millworker who then added it to the framework of the vanity.  It took a lot of coordination to have 36 of these manufactured to the specifications required.  In person, there is a slight variation of the beautiful celadon color throughout the skin.  Above the drawers is a stone countertop with two glass under-mounted basins.  The large custom mirror above the vanity is floating and mounted with four round pins at each corner.  There are two medicine cabinets installed in the adjecent fin walls and clad in mirror. They are flush to the wall and have no hardware which adds to the the seamless details throughout this building.  The entire bathroom is finished in a soft blueish green marble that is to die for.  To the left of the vanity is a wet room with shower and freestanding tub with claw feet.  On the wall above the tub is a huge piece of onyx that is floating away from the wall and backlit from a lighting cove up above. Finally, the freestanding shower unit (detail shot is below) is custom designed and manufactured just for this project.  There were many meetings about technicalities and this I will tell you was a very difficult fixture to produce.  I think it is so unique and acts as almost a sculpture.  Every detail from how the towels were folded (who do you think folded those towels so perfectly for this shot?), to the jeweled pulls on the vanity make this a very special bathroom indeed.

 

 

 

HARDWARE

All the fixtures in the bathrooms (and in the entire apartment – including doorknobs and angle stops!) are all specially custom designed by Vicente through Sherle Wagner. Sherle Wagner is a very (very!) high end bath and hardware company.  It was an amazing opportunity to work with them and they are all really nice people.  My husband and I were even invited on the owner’s yacht over one summer to have cocktails and hor d’ouvres on the Hudson River.  It was amazing!  We were basically in awe the whole time and felt a lot cooler than we really are.  Everything from the shower body in the master bathroom to the tub fillers, bath spouts, shower heads, volume and thermostatic shower controls, faucets, towel bars, towel hooks, vanity knobs and pulls were all custom designed just for the lucky ones that live in this building.  Below are a few closer looks of the bathroom fixtures.

Powder room faucet

 Master bathroom free standing shower

Master bathroom faucet

Next on the 15 USW series is a closer look at the kitchens and the model apartments with regards to staging and making everything look picture perfect.  Stay tuned!!

 

 

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15 Union Square West – A Designer’s Perspective

I came across an article in the New York Times over the weekend and it brought back so many memories.  The article was about an apartment in the 15 USW building that I worked on for four years of my life while at Vicente Wolf Associates. I was given the most amazing opportunity to work on this building under the extremely talented Vicente Wolf.  He hired me and gave me a chance by appointing me the project manager and principal designer of the project.  I can’t say enough about Vicente and what this project did for me personally and career wise.

15 Union Square West is a twelve story condominium in the heart of Union Square West.  It was the old Tiffany’s building and retains the original cast iron facade on the first six floors while the additional six floors are new construction.  I’ll include the link to the building after the jump.

Having been called a decorator many times, hopefully this post will describe the antithesis of what a decorator does.

I was there from the very beginning of the project sitting through tedious marketing meetings with the developers, architects, and the marketing group. We concepulatized for months and months with hundreds of ideas being presented. The presentations were agnst ridden with so many hours of work being tested, judged, and criticized.  Once the ideas were approved it was my job to take the visions presented and make it into a reality.  I spent many painstaking hours behind a computer drafting up construction drawings (blueprints) with every inch of the interior of this twelve story building being detailed, specified and designed.  Every fixture was chosen, all finishes were selected, and all construction details were drawn.  The contractors would know from my drawings that we wanted a frameless door with a 1/4″ reveal and pivot hinge to a LED filled niche with 1′-0″ border above the kitchen cabinets.  They would be able to see the Greek Key mosaic design around the pool deck and that the walls would be painted in a bright blue. The drawings would show the custom millwork for each bathroom, the custom metal stairs with glass railings, and the custom island with the turned legs in the kitchen. Everything was thought about and documented in that set from lighting fixtures for the entire building to the design of the lobby, to how the ceiling would be vaulted in each foyer of every apartment (there were five different apartment configurations). If the vision wasn’t translated properly millions of dollars could be on the line and I would be responsible.

Years and years of construction meetings and walk throughs took place in which I checked that the contractors and construction managers were following my drawings and that every detail that Vicente envisioned was coming to fruition.  Yes I wore a hardhat and yes I had to ride the terrifying hoist day after day.  I was full of anxiety but would get so excited to see a finished bathroom or a finished marble floor pattern that I worked so hard to design. To be able to contribute to a part of New York City’s skyline is incredibly gratifying.  In the next couple of days I will go into more detail of the actual spaces but here are some photos. Although I have many personal photos, these are all from the 15usw website found below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/big-ticket-sold-for-10800000/

http://15usw.com

 

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