Every interior design firm I have worked at or have visited has had a vast library with some of the most beautiful design books. At the design stage of a project they are a great resource for inspiration. Some of these books I am lucky enough to own (and even have my name in!) and others are on my never ending wish list. Here are some of my favorites:
Recently, my family and I made the big move to the suburbs from Brooklyn and opted for the quiet quaint town of Sag Harbor in the Hamptons. It has been the most refreshing experience and I feel recharged everyday just … Continue reading →
I was hired on a freelance basis to work on a 7,000 square foot apartment in Manhattan. The apartment is comprised of two floors equipped with 5 bedrooms (2 kids rooms, 2 guest rooms, and 1 master), 7.5 bathrooms, a living room, a study, a huge dining room with a 14′ table, a family room, a yoga room – yes a yoga room, and a science lab for fun experiments with the kids, to name a few. The architectural design work on the apartment was already complete and the firm just needed me do the decorative part. A decorative job is not my favorite part of the design world but I’m happy to do any freelance gig. It’s a lot more work that people think. Creating furniture plans to achieve a harmonious design is difficult and tedious – especially for a 7,000 square foot duplex. Sourcing takes a lot of research. One needs to worry about things like budget, sizing, finishes, lead times, and keeping with the overall concept of the job. The design concept for this project was Midcentury Modern with nods to the Mad Men craze that seems to be everywhere. I tried to incorporate sleek glossy finishes and pops of glam. Please feel free to message me for source information. Unfortunately, most pieces are available to the trade only and some items such as the beds were custom.
When I start the design process I begin by pulling images and try to figure out how to incorporate ideas I like into a cohesive package. One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to not know how to edit themselves. Many times I see a room that has so many ideas fighting each other. Just because you like an idea doesn’t mean that the particular space you are designing/decorating is the right place for it. Remember, less is more and constraint is your best friend when it comes to getting the perfect look.
My friend wanted a beachy theme. She just moved from her Brooklyn apartment to a small house in suburbia close to the beach. I’m all for themed rooms – however I like to take the kitsch out of the equation. No seashells or sand allowed!! Also, I like mixing contemporary ideas into all spaces.
Here’s a breakdown of what I designed:
Floors: Large format hexagonal tiles from Crossvile in white. The large format takes a traditional idea and turns it into something current.
Walls: My friend wanted bead-board throughout. I stopped it at 36″h (the height of the counters) and painted above. To add some dimension we added a different material inside the shower enclosure.
Tub: An under-mount or drop in tub with deck and surround was the way to go here. There wasn’t enough room for a free standing tub and to add more counter space for candles, soaps, etc., a deck does the trick. The deck is Caesar Stone in Blizzard White. Above the tub there is a niche for even more storage for beautiful objects. Make sure you have the niche continue with the same material as the walls adjacent.
Shower: Frameless glass showers are the cleanest look you can get. It makes any bathroom feel larger. There are hinges from companies like C.R. Laurence that make this installation pretty easy. I chose a mosaic of glass tiles in water shades for the walls. In the shower there is a built in bench for shaving and to add some functionality.
Finishing touches: To pull the look all together try some of these simple ideas.
Apothecary glass jars filled with things like cotton balls and/or q-tips.
Beautiful fresh white towels. To add in some color try to get some with stitching in water shades to match the walls and shower tiles. Monograms would be a perfect example of this.
Window treatments: roman shades are the perfect treatment for a bathroom.
Flowers and/or plants
Candles. Diptyque candles are my absolute favorite and make any room look and smell luxurious.
A chinese garden stool like the one from Wisteria to throw a book or towel onto.
A tray for the vanity counter to hold things like the soap dispenser, toothbrush holder, etc. Make sure these all match like the Jonathan Adler white lacquer collection.
It was my pleasure to help a friend come up with a new bathroom design. Her current bathroom is outdated and small and everything had to go. We took space from the master bedroom to enlarge the existing 5’5″x 6′ bathroom to a comfortable 5’5″x 11’7″. The new layout can easily fit a separate shower stall with built in bench and linen closet. I kept all the fixtures pretty basic because the budget was small. Everything shown can be bought retail through stores like Home Depot and Pottery Barn. A money saver is the Pottery Barn vanity which already has the under-mount basin built in as well as the marble countertop and backsplash. Because we added the linen closet, I kept the option open for a medicine cabinet. I don’t like the look of medicine cabinets unless they are built-in and flush to the adjacent wall. Instead, try using a decorative mirror with some great sconces. Stay tuned for part II of this post which will show the finishes and how to achieve the designer look.
When a reader needed help finding small-scale furniture for her new living/sitting room I asked for her to send me dimensions of the room so I could really grasp the problem. We emailed back and forth and I was able to draw up a plan based off of three photos and confirmation of six or seven dimensions. The room was definitely a challenge. First off there is no separation of space between the tiled mud room and the living room. And secondly the room is a through space to get to the staircase and/or to the outside patio. I did two schemes with different color palettes but each carry out the same idea. In both I used a settee or a love seat which can seat up to two people. French and Dutch reproduction pieces are the best in small scales. In addition I found a slender coffee table that in one scheme is glass to open the space up, and in the other they are two smaller tables that can be moved around when having company for extra seating. I approached the challenge with dividing the room with either a screen or drapery. You could also use a French étagère, which is essentially an open framed bookcase.
A former client of mine just bought her first house and wants to redo her dining room using grays. Knowing she loves the water, the look is somewhat a modern nautical theme with clean lines but with pops of color. She asked that the table not be black but I wanted to show that black doesn’t always feel harsh. Gray and black are the greatest together and gives the room so much punch. If black really is too dramatic for some, a very dark mahogany can achieve the same effect. There’s nothing more beautiful than a chair draped in a crisp white slipcover pulled up to a dining room table set with fine china and candlelight. I trick I learned working with Vicente Wolf is to mix and match the dining chairs to make the look more dynamic. Here I paired the slipcover chairs with a play on an old chippendale bamboo chair. The bamboo chair is ideal because it looks airy and lightweight balancing out the dark wood dining table. Leave the cushion white or get it recovered with a vibrant fabric like the one here from Quadrille. Some people hate area rugs in the dining room. However, I like it especially if the floors are drab and uninspired. Rugs help to ground the room. If one wants to do without the rug, bring the striped pattern in through window treatments or linens. Finally, keeping with the nautical theme I opted for a beautiful maritime pendant that brings the right amount of sheen and reflective surface to the room. One more trick is to get a large overscale mirror and frame (I mean super oversize) and hang it on a free wall in the dining room. It helps to make the space feel more sophisticated and tricks the eye into thinking the space is larger.
I did another scheme using a distressed white wood table with steel and chinese inspired dining chairs.
Send me rough dimensions, photos of your room, and some direction (budget, favorite color, style preference, existing furniture pieces), and I’ll come up with a room scheme with furniture sources for you to buy at your own convenience. It’s free!