Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stamp Art

Just spotted this "french stamp art" at Wisteria (where they are having a pretty great sale right now--click here for all sale items.)

Made me think of my stamp art project, still going strong in my dining room!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Morpholio Board

I make design boards a lot.  You've seen a bunch of them here.  Several years ago, I settled on Olioboard as my go-to, and for the most part I love them.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by an old friend who works for Morpholio.  They were launching a new app, Morpholio Board, and wanted some designers to take it for a spin.  While olioboard is a web-based app that runs in flash and doesn't work on a tablet, Morpholio Board was built for the ipad.  I played around for a couple of days and found it SUPER intuitive (and I am not a natural where tech is concerned.)  Populating boards and manipulating products and layers is super simple.  Right now, their library of products skews decidedly modern, and I had a lot of fun playing with brands I don't often use.  You can also import images of products and build your own library (which is much like Olioboard.)  Here are some of the boards I came up with:

Fun, right?  The ability to "cut out" an object is impressive, and the layers are really quite seamless.  There are tons of other features on the back end that are pretty robust, like the ability to export a product list for your clients.

  This isn't meant to be a review--just sharing a new tool (and some creative work made with it) that some of you might enjoy.

Go check it out!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bedroom Boards for a 60s condo

I'm working with new local clients who are moving from their family home into a 6th floor condo with light and views.  The only problem?  It hasn't been touched since the 1960s.  They are mostly managing the gut renovation on their own, but I get to decorate!

One of the fun things about this kind of move is getting to move cherished items to new contexts.  Case in point: they had a persian rug in the living room that they loved, and a pair of brown leather chairs that were fairly new and quite nice, but they didn't want the brown palette in the open living/dining space.  So into the bedroom they go!  To modernize the brown and cream and tie in to the other spaces, we went with a deep jewel tone for the walls.  We wanted to offset the warm tone with something cooler.  Green felt too 80s, plum felt too 90s, so we landed on blue.  As I look at these design boards I realize the color is reading much more teal than in reality--it is a deep blue, but with a little less green in it.

They found nightstands they love from CB2 which went perfectly with the slight deco influences we are bringing in elsewhere.  The big thing with the bedroom was that everything had to be in stock or short lead time so they have a bedroom when they move in!

Look 1: Masculine and clubby

Look 2: Feminine and organic

How do you feel about brown?  (It's definitely "my" neutral, so I'm happy to see it making its way back after years of grey!)

Which look would you choose?

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.

Friday, January 27, 2017


I'm just back from 4 days in San Francisco, working on installing the big project I've been working on for a year and a half.  If you follow me on instagram, you saw some little snippets of what's happening there.

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I love art.  Yesterday, as I was wrapping up and running to the airport, my client looked around with satisfaction about how things are coming together.  I found myself saying, "it's the art and the window treatments.  That's what really makes a house feel finished."  And I believe it.

It's not only about polish and the "final layer."  Art and window treatments can really be put to work to enhance your home or hide flaws.  In this house we used gorgeous sheer roman shades on the side of the house that sits close to an unattractive building.  We used art to balance the height of the massive front door. (etc.)

We also installed a pair of facing gallery walls in the upstairs hallway that leads to the kids rooms.  It  is one of the most "private" spaces in the house, and it turned out to be the perfect place for personal photos and art.

I think the best testament to the power of art is something I heard the dad say when getting his kids up in the morning.

"I just love this hallway.  Walking through it is like walking through a big hug."


If you want more on art strategies, check out my "Hanging Art" posts.  For a gallery wall tutorial, go here.  (Come to think of it, I should review and update this as I have created dozens of art walls since then and have learned a thing or two!)  I also hashtag "artmakestheproject on instagram if you want to see other examples in action.

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rustic meets Shabby Chic in a cabin in the woods

Today I'm heading about an hour out into rural Minnesota to hang a gallery wall and continue work on a really cool cabin in the woods.  The house has rustic elements, but the previous inhabitants also added more shabby chic details that are staying for now.  The living room has an impressive stone wall and fireplace, and we are mixing textures (leather, a "sweater" rug, a kilim ottoman) and balancing masculine with feminine.

The house has a large, newer entry which needed some defining.  After playing around with floor plans, we settled on a console and large mirror as the first thing you see when you come in, with a farm table used as a partners desk in the front window.  My client ended up finding the table and console on craigslist and I sourced rugs to warm it all up.

I'll share little bits and pieces on instagram when I'm there.  So fun to work in a different setting and in a different style.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Weekly blog post? Let's do this

Is Thursday a good day for a regular weekly post?
Over the hump, kinda bored, but we're not into the Friday wrap-up yet?

You tell me.

Anyway, this is a quicky.  Right before the holiday, a beloved client asked if we could refresh her eldest daughter's room as a Christmas present.  Well, you know I LOVE doing girls' rooms.  So I met with the 11 year old (and her mom), and we decided on lavender walls and green as one of the secondary colors.  She already had a white jenny lind bed and side table.

Here are two of the sketches I sent their way.

When you are skipping custom things, you're at the mercy of the market for color palette.  Luckily I found plenty to work with.

This scheme gets its fun from the bright rug.  I pulled the chartreuse for our green then mostly neutrals and a little pop of hot pink.  They have a pair of small sclae tufted chairs already that will move out of the living room as we bring that project into being.

But I wasn't sure how girly my client wanted to go.  she is also a hockey player, after all.  I gave her this version, with lots of green and some hits of teal.  Still feminine, but a little tougher around the edges.  Love that suzani chair, too (an overstock find.)

Apparently the first one was a hands down winner, and I can't wait to see it all done!

So tell me: do you like "design sketch" posts?

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year

Every year around this time, I feel that funny pressure to write a post about resolutions, or a mantra for the year.  That funny pressure to contextualize in these one-year increments when the truth is, so much in life (and in design!) happens over a longer stretch.  I'm old enough now to see longer-term trends in my own life, and to know that I have often worked in 5-year cycles.  5 years in each of my Brooklyn homes.  5 years in each of my previous careers.

I know I'm not alone in saying that 2016 wasn't the best for me.  But interestingly, it was the year I passed the 5 year mark, both in my current home and in my current career.  I think the 5 year mark has in the past been when I get bored, or when it feels like the learning curve (which I LOVE) is over, and the rest is just a slog.  I think 2016 was the year I got through all that.  I'm excited, not bored, by the idea of moving from learning curve to mastery in my work.  I'm content, not bored, by the idea of fine tuning and tweaking my home, not building it up from scratch.  (Hmmmm....does it kind of sound like I am growing up?)

This year, in the spirit of commitment to this career, continued professionalizing, and moving towards mastery, I am looking forward to formalizing and finalizing a lot of things that have been sort of crawling along slowly for a long time.  (not even a hands and knee crawl; a lot of it feels like an army crawl, all elbows dragging through the mud.)

Some of these things include:
- Moving my business out of my home and into an office (in process!)
- Finalizing my graphic identity (almost done!)
- Finishing my website (press page, I'm looking at you!)
- Starting the process to join ASID
- Building a HOUZZ profile
- Moving to a proper accounting system
- Hiring an intern
- Weekly blog posts!  (What?  Yes!)

On the project front, long term projects coming to fruition early this year:
- Noe Valley (San Francisco) 4000sf gut remodel.  It's beyond.
- My parent's basement!  Bright turquoise mohair, zebra print, chiang mai dragon.  So fun.
- The upstairs for this house (in addition to the basement we've done the entry, living room and a kitchen/dining refresh), so I can finally share it all.
- This living room and sunroom
- a major kitchen reno
- a pair of vintage/ Craftsman inspired bathrooms

I think I might have just talked myself into a GREAT year.

What about you?


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