Monday, December 31, 2012

Astoria Project Peek

A view of the apartment's entry
So, I haven't forgotten about my own apartment challenge, but I've been so busy with other exciting projects that I haven't had a chance to post about it.  Here are a few sneak peaks at one of those other projects, an apartment in Astoria, Queens.  Look out for a complete set of images in the coming weeks on my website

With this project I got a chance to build one of the great black pipe shelving units seen here, on a blog I really love, The Brick House.  It was a LOT of work (prep and schlep), but I really loved how it turned out in the end.  Because the pipes and boards comes in all different lengths and sizes and can be cut to any length you want, it's possible to customize it to suit your needs.

Heading to the install with a tree in the car
Assembling a custom shelving unit with the super handy and fun Will
A glimpse at the finished and styled shelving

Friday, December 28, 2012

Instant Attraction: Study in the Home of Carlos Aparicio

This serene study is from the Home of Carlos Aparicio, as featured in Elle Decor December 2012 in the article Miami International.  This clean, white interior is kept from beng too sterile by the addition of warm, brown wood and leather elements and soft surfaces, especially that shaggy midcentury Swedish rug.  I really, really love that wrought-iron chair.  It is by Marc Du Plantier.

Lots more photos of this interior can be found at Elle Decor.  Photographs by Richard Powers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Instant Attraction: Study in the Home fo John Robshaw

So much personality.  Very collected.  And the plants.  Love that rug.  Good trick to paint the ceiling a lighter shade of the color on the walls.  

Image from Elle Decor.  Photos by William Waldron.  Featured in Elle Decor December 2012: Home and Abroad

Friday, December 21, 2012

Instant Attraction: The Collected Home of Michael Formica

Images of the home of designer Michael Formica, as featured in House Beautiful December/January 2012.  Interior design by Michael Formica.  Photos by Bob Hiemstra.

I am a sucker for Kuba cloth, and I loved reading Michael's design philosophy: "Decorating isn't like following a recipe to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  It's about pulling from the world around you.  A house should be a self-portrait, or an autobiography."  And what I would do for an old cast stone fireplace like that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Concrete Building Blocks

Images of the Pentimento House by architects David Barragán and Jose María Sáez.  This house is built out of standardized concrete building blocks that can be adapted to fit together and be used in a variety of ways to suit different functions.  You can read more about the building block system over at Dwell.

Images from Dwell December/January 2012.  Photos by João Canziani.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Edited Living in a Wooden Box

This is a super teeny tiny (180 s.f.) studio apartment in the Upper West Side, renovated by design-build architect Tim Seggerman.  Love all of the nooks and crannies - no wasted space here.  The sleeping loft, above the kitchen, even has a tiny, sitting room only "library."

More photos at Dwell and on the architect's site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So cool - Staircase House in Tokyo

Definitely check out this home, featured in Dwell, November 2012.  It is basically one giant winding staircase with larger "steps" serving as rooms.  The material contrast between the steps and the walls really highlights the staircase.  I love how the Dwell article bills it as a "921-square-foot, 44-level house."  Amazing.

Project: Coil House, by architect Akihisa Hirata.  More photos can be seen on Dwell and on the architect's site.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Open-Yet-Divided Living Area

What I really love about this feature (Lines in the Sand, Architectural Digest November 2012, Photos by Pieter Estersohn, design by Olson Kundig Architects) is that it allows you to see the overall view of this amazing, open living space, and then also to see a ground level view of each of the zones.

There's the living/sitting zone with that great fireplace:

Then there's the game table/library zone:

And finally that great outdoor, beachside seating area, which can be separated from the indoor zones by glass doors:

Overall a beautiful project.  Great natural palette and good division of space that still maintains a very open feeling.  I love the use of that horizontal wood "canopy" that creates the feeling of a hallway and breaks up the vertical space.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gorgeous Painted Floor Pattern

Really beautiful painted floor from the family home of designer Alex Papachristidis, as featured in Architectural Digest November 2012 in the article The Gathering Place.  Photo by William Waldron.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Apartment Challenge :: What I'm Working With

So, here it is.  This is an overall "before" shot of the living/dining area.  It's been through a few different arrangements and incarnations, but this is what it looks like at the moment.  It's pretty bare because I've already taken down a bunch of artwork to prep for the revamp, but I'll show some photos of the "before befores" when I break down each zone.  See below for more photos with notes on some general goals.

Here's a shot of each side of the living area...
Everything in this living area is so low (and we are running out of shelf space for our growing book collection), so I think I want to bring the cubby bookshelves up two more rows on the left hand side.    They are these simple and great unfinished bookshelves from, you guessed it, and unfinished wood store in Rhode Island.  We keep getting more and more.  It makes sense for us, because we can break them up and reconfigure them in SO many ways to adapt to wherever we might live next.  And once I get my dream bookcase, these could be great secondary storage, to plop baskets in and use for kids' toys, laundry detergent, whatever.  To combat the clutter of our little trinkety things, I might experiment with shallow/ledge shelving painted the same color as the wall (like this).  I love all of our little collectible things because they are reminders of good memories, but right now they're all cluttered up on top of those bookshelves and it's just weird and messy.  The sofa is Ikea, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I think that by swapping out the legs for something more discreet and less blocky I can make it look a bit more refined.  I'll go with something tapered and in a darker finish.  Those storage cubes - also Ikea - are great and super functional (our apartment has only ONE closet, so we need to find ways to add storage wherever we can) but the perforated sides and tops let crumbs fall through and let you see all the junk we're hiding inside, so I want to add some fabric wrapped panels to solve those problems.  And then the artwork.  We've got a bunch of things that we like and have collected over time, but the frames are all different and I am tired of that look.  So I am going to find a way to unify the frames and then rehang all of the artwork over the sofa.

And now, shots of a wall just inside the entry door and the dining area...
I have a lovely set of Audubon bird prints that were a gift from a good friend that I want to frame (in matching frames) and hang up that small wall.  I can cover the phone jack, but the switch and awful telephone buzzer will be sticking around.  I might replace or refinish the little table on that wall.  It's where my husb drops his keys/wallet/pocket change/every business card he ever gets.  That piece there was something my mom found and gave to us, and while it has its charms, I think I'd like to graduate up to something nicer and that fills the wall a bit more.

The dining area is sooo bare right now, I know.  We used to have some of our artwork collaged above it.  I liked it, but we had all these artwork walls all over the place and it was so busy, so now I want to add something BIG there.  I think we can make a real moment out of this little dining space.  Ideally I'd love a gorgeous textile in a deep navy or charcoal, but since I have limited budget and limited patience for trolling ebay/craigslist, I think I may end up doing a diy here.  I'd rather splurge on some great lighting above the table and some nice linens.  Just ignore the chairs and table, I know they're not great.  Whatevs, they were cheapo.  Someday we'll upgrade and relegate these to a secondary room, but for now they're functional and not too ugly.

And a couple shots of the bedroom...
The bedroom has been re-shuffled SO many times.  It's always been half home office/half sleeping area (NOT ideal, I know), but it used to be more divided.  Now it's open.  Each arrangement has its pros and cons, but for now we are sticking with the open arrangement since it's much lighter and brighter.  We've already done a lot in here, but I still need some bed side tables, reading lights, some organization and a bit more storage, and then just some accessorizing for the bed.

So there you have it.  That's what I'm working with.  I plan to blog about each little project I take on and show inspiration research, progress photos, and final product as I go.  I'm also open to hearing any suggestions and ideas you have.  What would you do if this was your home?

Oh wait, one last photo.  This is the chunk muffin who lives here with us and has to approve of any changes.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Instant Attraction: Manhattan Apartment of Nate Berkus

The November 2012 issue of Architectural Digest ran a great before and after article featuring Nate Berkus's gorgeous Greenwich Village apartment.  I love the neutral color palette and the mix of graphic and rustic elements.  Nate is always amazing with giving his spaces character.  I've included a couple of my favorite shots here, and there are loads more over on the AD site.

Love the way he super cleverly disguised the oddly placed and proportioned windows in the office (above) (see the "before picture below).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Want This Bookshelf

I love all things adjustable, flexible, and customizable.  People's needs change over time, and it's nice to have furnishings that are able to adapt to those changes.  This bookshelf makes me drool.  The verticals are completely notched out at regular intervals, making it easy to move the shelves around and turning that functional aspect into a design element.  Such an improvement over those ugly vertical lines of peg holes running up the insides of a bookcase.

Oh, and the rest of the project is lovely too.  It is a Manhattan apartment designed by Len Morgan, featured in Elle Decor November 2012, in the article Made to Measure.  Photos by Mikkel Vang.  A couple of my favorite shots of the project are below, and more are available on the Elle Decor site.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black and White Foyer

This lovely foyer is by decorator J. Randall Powers, as featured in Architectural Digest, November 2012 in the article Revise and Conquer.  Photos by Eric Piasecki.

Although it's a pretty traditional design, I love how it's modernized and punched up with that bright, geometric/tribal rug.  The contrast between the black and white keeps it exciting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 5

Dining room by Pam Shamshiri of Commune, via House Beautiful.
Today will be my final post about the four elements that, in my opinion, make for a covetable interior.  This one is so important...personality!!!  You can spend all the money in the world on amazing furniture, fixtures, and finishes, but if your home doesn't say something about who you are, then it's just going to feel sterile.  These images show some great examples of spaces with character.  Lots of it.  The easiest way to show who you are is to display your stuff.  Photos, artwork, travel souvenirs, or other collections should be beautifully and proudly displayed.  They're also great conversation starters if you throw a dinner party for new friends.

Spoiler alert:  Displaying your things sounds so fun until you have to figure out the perfect way to do it...this is something I'll have to deal with.  I'm looking at it as an experiment.

Image via Living Etc magazine.

Home of Richard Lambertson and John Truex, via Architectural Digest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 4

Home of Jenni Kayne, via Architectural Digest
This is my third post about the elements that, to me, make a successful interior.  The first two posts were about balance and natural materials, and this post will talk about contrast.  Whether it's a texture or material contrast (like in the photo below - matte vs. reflective / rough vs. smooth) or a value or color contrast as shown above (light flooring and furniture vs. dark walls), contrast is a super important part of a successful interior.  In my book, it's important not to be matchy.  That gets boring fast.  A variety of contrasting elements, and a variety of types of contrasts, will keep things interesting.  Take the coffee table shown above.  The base is a rough, very organic piece of wood, and the top is a very regular, smooth, reflective piece of glass.  Lovely.

Single Stem Vase by Heath Ceramics

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 3

Living room, via Living Etc. Magazine
The first element for a great interior that I discussed was balance.  Now we're moving on to the use of natural materials.  I love nature.  I live in the city so I don't see much of it out my windows.  That means I need to work to incorporate it into my life.  One way to do this is by filling my home with, you guessed it, natural materials.  Sisal, wood, plants (so important), stone, hides, wool, etc.  Beyond reminding me of nature, they also add GREAT texture, which helps with contrast (which we'll talk about later) and balance.  They just make a room feel more layered, interesting, and alive.

Look at the picture above.  They have a tree growing out of the floor in that living room.  That is pretty fantastic.  It's not really a possibility for most of us, but we can get potted plants and potted trees.  And you should.  A plant is basically a living sculpture.  Plus they help purify the air.  Don't have a green thumb?  You can find lists online of the easiest plants to care for.  Just try it.  I have plants that I've had for ten years.  They're like part of my family at this point.  ANYWAY...  In addition to that tree, they also have some nicely grained wood forming the frame of that fab navy velvet sofa (great contrast), and those pressed concrete walls.  Maybe it's a little extreme, but to me it all works and I would love a chance to explore that room.

And below we have another shot which shows a unique use of rope, another natural material.  Gives great texture.  Plus there's lots of wood, great views to lots of trees outsides, and cut flowers on the table.  I love that ceiling treatment.  Here on the excellent blog The Brick House, is another amazeballs use of rope.  I have such a crush on those rope walls.  Someday I will build some.

Home of Athena & Victor Calderone, via Elle Decor.
Now we move on to this last beauty.  The beautiful horizontal wood panelled wall treatment really anchors the room, and provides a nice contrast to the verticality that results from those high ceilings.  We have plants again, both inside and outside.  Natural fiber rug, fur pillows, rustic wood furniture, wool blankets, leather, concrete floors.  All of this makes for a really visually interesting room.  You don't have to go crazy with color to make a room really interesting.  Add on layers of different textures and there you have it.
Home of Mark Egerstrom, via House Beautiful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 2

Home of Jason Carroll, via An Afternoon With
In my last Apartment Challenge post I introduced my guidelines for what makes a compelling interior (a mon avis).  The first tenet is balance.  Here I want to show you some rooms that, to me, are gorgeously balanced.  This shot of the dining area of Jason Carroll (above left) is such a dramatic little moment.  All the warm buttery neutral tones would be lovely on their own, but that deep, giant, moody canvas in the background give the space a sense of depth that really takes it to the next level.  Without it, it would be "nice."  With it, it's FAB.

Balance is kind of the master requirement for a good interior.  A balanced room knows what it is.  The lighting is right, whether it's dark and moody or bright and sunny.  Each element serves to support the function and vibe of the room.  Everything is where it should be and you know immediately that you want to go into that room.  

Here are two more examples.  They are both bedrooms.  Maybe it's because I am cold right now and I want to be under a ton of warm blankets.  Regardless, the rooms are gorge.

Home of Athena and Victor Calderone via Elle Decor.
Don't you just want to crawl into that bed with a book for a lazy weekend afternoon?  The palette in this room is so soft and light, with just enough points of darkness to balance everything out.  It's not overly busy but still has character and personality.  The rough, rustic wood pieces are balanced by layers of softness (rug, bedding, blankets, pillows, window treatments).  So peaceful.  Balance, balance, balance.

Attic room from the project Glamorous Four Square by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.
Whoa whoa whoa.  Another bed I want to jump into and occupy.  This room feels like a fort.  The contrast between the rustic wood walls/ceiling and that chandelier is brilliant.  Keeping the floors and furnishings light and white counters the yellow/orange wood everywhere else.  The nook and cranny bookshelves add to the personality of the space.  Great balance here as well.

Up tomorrow: use of natural materials

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 1

Home of Frank Muytjens via Elle Decor
In my first post about my Apartment Challenge I mentioned that I feel I've reached a point where I know what I like immediately when I see it.  I really believe that if you need to think hard about whether you like something, then you probably don't like it.  Go with your gut.  Basically I either feel like "I want to be in that room" or "meh" or "that room gives me hives."  My opinion, of course, is only my opinion, and just because something isn't my jam, doesn't mean it's not a good design.  And just because I lurve something doesn't mean that everyone else will.  But I hope you do.

As part of my planning for this challenge, I've rounded up some of my favorite interiors and analyzed them to develop a sort of interior design rubric/set of guidelines to help explain what it is that I love about these interiors so much, and hence, what is important to me in a design.

Read about these guidelines after the jump...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apartment Challenge :: Framework & Goals

Last week I posted about my challenge for myself: to make my own home into something portfolio worthy.  After thinking about it a bit, I've developed the general framework and goals below.

  • Flexibility - As it's a rental, we must be sure to employ solutions that can be easily adapted to work in future homes.
  • Budget Sensitivity - I'm not rolling in it, and can think of better uses for money at this stage in my life, so my design solutions need to be friendly on the wallet. Which means I'm gonna have to make up for the lack of dough with lots of elbow grease and time. 
  • Serenity, warmth, personality - That our home feels welcoming and serene is the most important thing to my husband and myself.  To me that means there's no clutter, but there is a place for everything that's important to us. Everything works together to make one clear statement and showcase those things. 
  • In general, make our home feel a bit more grown-up/less "Ikea." 
  • Maintain a serene and uncluttered look in the home while showcasing our collections. 
  • Develop adjacent living and dining areas to serve as a more upscale feeling backdrop to showcase our assorted artwork, travel souvenirs, and book collection. Differentiate these areas somehow, but ensure that everything works together in a cohesive way. 
  • Transform sleeping area into a more grown-up, serene environment. 
Check back soon to see find out what exactly I'm working with.  To give you an idea of the starting point of the challenge I'll include the "before" shots of our home as well as an idea of what sorts of things we have that we want to showcase.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apartment Challenge

As an interior designer just starting my own business and working to build a portfolio, I realized recently that not having lovely, styled photos of my own home is a huge missed opportunity.  This is really the only place I can do exactly what I want, interior-wise.  To be honest, the main reason I don't have my own place in my portfolio is because there's really nothing special about it.  When we moved in we needed to furnish our whole apartment - quickly and cheaply.  So it sort of looks like an Ikea catalog.

Don't get me wrong, I really love my home (and I admit that I have a soft spot for Ikea).  We're comfy here, but in terms of decor I think it's a case of the dentist's kids having no teeth or the emperor's children having no clothes, whatever.  Plus, when we moved in I hadn't had any interior design education yet, so I was just throwing things together without a sort of overarching framework or concept.

In addition, I am an indecisive and fickle lady.  I can NEVER choose favorites and tend toward simple and understated basics to prevent myself from getting sick of something too quickly.  I'd rather leave a space spare and empty than fill it up with a bunch of stuff I know I'll be sick of soon.  But in the past couple years, I've really started to tune in to what I unequivocally like, and I think now it's time that I started incorporating this style into my home.

So now I am challenging myself to WERK and make my home something worth seeing.  Soon I'll share my framework and goals for the project, and as I go I'll share my progress and results.  Now that I am putting this out there, I'll feel the pressure to really turn our home into something I can be proud of.

Check back soon for some new posts about this apartment challenge - my goal is to post something new about the project and its progress every two weeks.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Elle Decor: London Assurance

I love a good neutral palette, but lately I'm trying to push myself to pay more attention to color.  I loved the use of color in this interior featured in Elle Decor October 2012: London Assurance.  Rich jewel tones are layered over a great neutral base full of black, white, grays, and neutrals.  Great styling too!  More photos of this project below and after the jump.

Interior design by homeowner and fashion editor Kim Hersov and interior design Hubert Zandberg.  Photography by Simon Upton.  Images from

Now THIS is a bathroom...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Instant Attraction: Home of Frank Muytjens

Lovely, light living room and bedroom from the weekend house of Frank Muytjens, J. Crew menswear director.  These rooms feel so still, serene and peaceful.

As featured in Elle Decor October 2012: Vintage Variety.  Images from  Photos by William Waldron.