Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Screen porches and outdoor rooms

It snowed here last week.
But yesterday the Forsythia were in full bloom and the time to get outside is coming, even here in the northlands.

I put together these screened porch looks for a new client and thought I'd share the ones we didn't go with.  The trick with mixing outdoor items is in the materials--unlike an indoor living room, most affordable outdoor pieces have exposed frames and there's less fabric all along.  In these looks I limited my frames to 2 materials and kept the palette tight.

They are putting new windows into the porch which means install is maybe 6 weeks away, but I can't wait to see this one come to life!





Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Make it work

I've been watching season 14 of Project Runway with my kids.  One of the contestants, Merline, never stops talking/moving/dancing/singing.  In an early episode, she was repeating Tim Gunn's "Make it work" over and over, like a tic, or a broken record.

Make it work make it work make it work make it work.

I'm having a make it work moment.  I've been in my office for 3 months now, and I FINALLY ordered a desk chair.  (why are practical things so much harder to commit to than impractical ones?)  I knew I essentially wanted a tan leather knock off of an Eames management chair but spent a lot of time deciding between padded or ribbed, real leather or "vegan" leather (which really came down to budget.)  I finally pulled the trigger on the ribbed style, in faux leather.  It came quickly and then sat in a huge box for a week.

I unpacked and assembled it this weekend.  It is not tan.  It is brown.  Which would not be that big of a deal (tan will show more marks from blue jeans etc), except that this particular shade of brown CLASHES WITH MY DESK.  (a table I found on craigslist).

Ugh.  This is the danger of ordering online when the subtlety of the color really matters.

So now, do I disassemble the chair, repackage it, and haul the huge box away, and order a lighter, TANNER tan chair?  I am so not inclined to this solution.

Do I find a textile to fold and drape over the back?

Do I paint the tabletop?  (the base is ivory, the top is currently wood.)

I'm hanging art behind the chair but don't know what it will be yet (apart from a row of white frames with white mats.)  Do I choose something to draw the eye away from the desk-chair combo?

I love the idea that this space be somewhat minimal, without a lot of pieces and layers.  When you do that, in neutrals to boot, everything has to be just right.

This is a VERY easy mistake to make (and a difficult one to avoid when you can't see something in person.  I suppose the tip is, when ordering online, make sure the items you are ordering are in contrast colors to adjacent items.  Less nuance in color = more wiggle room).  Obviously it is my job to avoid or fix such mistakes--but it is much harder to do that for myself, on a weekend, than for my clients, as part of my job.

I can tell you this: I'm sitting in the chair right now and it is comfortable.  The thought of going back to the sagging upholstery of the vintage Milo Baughman chair I have been sitting on for weeks is NOT appealing.

Time to make it work.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Obsessed: Coolie Shades

This was supposed to be one of those quick and easy posts where I share my latest obsession: those deeply cone-shaped lamp shades that are, apparently, called coolie shades.

Me being me, this somehow turned in to deep research on coolie hats, both the originals and their interpretation in fashion (particularly popular in the 1940s); the term coolie and whether or not it is considered offensive; and the use of said coolie shades by designers (they appear to be somewhat of a signature for John Saldino.)

This all came from the fact that I want one in my new office, and that the latest issue of Veranda seems extra populated by them.

But really, what (if any) of that are you guys interested in?

So here you go, a round up of some lamps currently available, with coolie shades at various degrees sloped.  I love how architectural and sophisticated they feel, how they balance out fat lamps and give stature to skinny ones (perhaps this was also the appeal of the hats???)



For sources, (fair warning: none of these are exactly budget options), go to the board here and click through.

Here are some as seen in Saladino's work.



Here are some coolie hats in art and fashion:





And with that, let's call it a day!




Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tomboy to teen dream: how to decorate so your kid won't outgrow her room

I recently did some boards for a seven year old self-proclaimed tomboy.  She had been sharing her room with various siblings most of her life, and she was getting a room of her own for the first time.

When I first saw the space set up for her, she had star wars sheets and posters.  Her furniture was odds and ends from other rooms.  She wanted green walls.

Mom wanted to give her new pieces (her sister just got this makeover.)  Right now she wants "boy stuff" but in a few short years, she will be a tween.  (It's crazy how time flies!)  She may hold on to her tomboy ways for ever, but she may find herself drawn to girlier things.  So, how do you decorate for her wants now and plan for the future without replacing everything?

A neutral base.

Here's the room we decided on:



The bigger, more expensive items (rug, furniture, window treatments) are all in the same gender-neutral palette: white, navy, and a sort of greige on the headboard.  The bedding, lamp, desk chair, and paint color satisfy her taste today. (She can also keep the star wars sheets in this design!)

Later, those same items can be changed out to a more feminine (and more grown up) vibe.


I went pink, because it is (for better or for worse) classic "girl," and because I happen to love pink and navy together.  But lavender, yellow, coral, aqua, or chartreuse could all be employed to similar effect.

Paint and bedding have a lifespan anyway, and could use refreshers after 4 or 5 years (and I reused the quilt, which gets less skin contact and gets washed less frequently.)  I added a mirror over the dresser and a pinboard, which reflect changes in how a girl might use her room.  The upholstered, swivel, rolling desk chair is more comfortable for an older adolescent who may have more homework.  So when it comes down to it, these are changes that would happen for practical reasons anyway.  I guess the big luxury is changing out the lamp!

There are tons of great options out there these days that can work for both genders.  Big retailers like PBTeen and Land of Nod unfortunately separate everything into "girls rooms" and "boys rooms," but don't be afraid to cross over!  You may find the perfect rug or quilt (etc) for your girl in the "boy" category.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Sexy bedroom, girly dressing room

I love these fearless fun clients!

Here's the direction for the bedroom:



Those marbled ceilings!!!!

We just decided to go all out drama with the black walls and white curtains, above, though we also considered a softer look with white walls, ombre curtains, and some pink.



Meanwhile, across the hall a small bedroom is getting the dressing room, treatment.

Pink stripes?



Or go all the way with busy hummingbirds?



Nope, a little pink on pink instead:


We tied in to other spaces by including some of that high-contrast black and white against the pink.

All in all, dreamy....

Can't wait to get this all installed!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The office part two: Kill your darlings; skin the cat

I was a creative writing major in college.  I'll always remember the admonition of our Senior Seminar professor to "kill your darlings."  This means you have to cut those favorite sentences (or paragraphs, or characters!) that you love and have become attached to, but aren't working or furthering your aims with the piece.

I was always terrible at that.

Last week I showed you a design board for what the office could be, but isn't.  Why not?  Because of this rug.


This rug is my darling.

I got it at the tender age of 24, at the ABC Carpet and Home outlet in the Bronx.  It was my first major house purchase (and remains one of the more expensive things I've ever bought.)  It's big, and Turkish, and I think it represented "being a grown up."  Standing in the vast warehouse and watching the men flip back rug after rug in stacks was intoxicating.  The palette includes colors that are still favorites (aqua! chartreuse! terra cotta!  Look no further than my portfolio to know I love these colors still.) And honestly, it makes a lot of sense, stylistically, in the space I lease, which has very pretty white tin ceilings.



The other reason I based by scheme on this rug?  I already had it, and rugs are expensive.  I liked the idea that using this rug would stretch my budget.  Then I started looking for a table to use as a desk, and realized the rug was kind of bossy, and the table I needed was pretty specific.  A french farmhouse table.  Not too rustic, not too chunky, light of wood tone and elegant of line.  You may be shocked to know that craigslist did not offer up such a table to me, and certainly not at a bargain price.  All of a sudden, I was looking at spending close to $1000 on the right table to work with the rug I already had.  I also started considering splurges on other items that would complement the rug, but which I might not otherwise buy.  I bought chairs to make the rug "more modern" instead of using the Ghost chairs I already own.

When I made the neutral-scheme design board that I shared last week, and realized that the rug didn't belong in my real vision, I had to kill my darling.

And then, in a glorious mixture of metaphors, I remembered that there's more than one way to skin a cat:

Neutral rugs like the ones I was envisioning are fairly cheap.

Craigslist has tables aplenty that work in this scheme (tomorrow I'm picking up a table I previously looked at and passed on because it didn't go with the rug.  It's only $100.)

I'll return the guest chairs I bought, use my Ghost chairs for guests, and get myself an actual task chair instead.

I'll splurge on fabric to reupholster my cool vintage chair, but now I can choose any fabric I want (and I think I might want zebra.)

I'll still splurge on a lamp, but instead of keeping the one I used to want, I'll get one that represents my style, now.

And perhaps the best part?  In this scheme, I can hang any art I want.

I'll be a little sad to roll up the rug and send it back to the basement, though.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Office

Just before the holidays, I signed a lease on a small office space.

I had been thinking about this step for a long time.

First, buying a piano displaced me from my home office.  (Both my girls play and the keyboard wasn't doing it anymore.)  I moved to the basement, which is unfinished but has good sized windows.  I thought I would hate it but with a rug and a little decor, it wasn't so bad.

But then, I started thinking about getting an intern.  I conducted some meetings with my contractor at my kitchen table.  I wondered if I wanted a street level space (walk ins!) or a shared loft (photoshoots!).  I fell in love with the Ivy Arts building.  I continued to work from the basement, in straight view of monkey bars and a man cave.  (True story.)

And then, we got a puppy.

It became both more necessary and more impossible to work from home.  One day in December, I went on craigslist and found a small but charming space with tin ceilings, hardwood floors, and reasonable rent, just a few minutes (and directly on route) to my kids' school.  I met the landlord, also a mother of two girls, also teetering on middle age, also in a newish career.  I hemmed and hawed, but much less than usual.  I signed the lease.  We went to Texas for Christmas.

I forgot what trouble it is to move, even a small move, and if I am being honest (I am being honest), a month after I took possession I am still moving in.

Right now it is lovely, despite the card table I am using as a temporary desk.  Lovely, realistically, because all of my mess and piles and tangles of fabric swatches are still in my home office space.


(as shared on instagram)

I spent more time than usual there today, and as I was leaving, I had this flash of what it should be.


When people say things in magazines like "I work with color all day, I want my office to be devoid of it!"  Or, "I need to come home to white so I can breathe!" I may, in the past, have scoffed.  But guess what?  Today I felt how calm and pretty the office was, and how utterly destroyed that sensibility will be the minute I bring in the half dozen crazy colored rug samples that are currently in the back of my car.

For once in my life, I truly get the appeal of neutrals.

Maybe tomorrow (or soon) I'll talk about what it actually IS and why.  And what we (or at least I) can learn from it.


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