Nursery Safety Tips

Nursery design goes way beyond the gender and theme you decide on.  You need to take into consideration safety measures, lighting schemes and organizational systems, all in which will help your every day crazy life a little bit easier.  Here’s a few important steps you need to take to ensure a safe environment of the newest member of your family.

Safety is always the number one priority, especially in a nursery.  When planning the lay out of your nursery keep the crib away from a window to keep window treatments, which can be a choking hazard, away from the child.  It’s best to keep the crib against the wall or centered in the room as in the floor plan from Rock-A-Bye Nursery.

Around kids it’s especially important to use VOC-free paint (VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds, which have adverse health effects, especially on children whose membranes are more sensitive, as noted by the EPA here).  Almost all paint brands offer a VOC-free line (one of our favorites is Benjamin Moore).

In terms of window treatments, blackout shades that block out sunlight so  your baby can nap are most ideal.  I like  the Hunter Douglas Duette Architella Honeycomb shade, available in almost any color you can think of.

If shades are not in your design plan for your nursery (which I totally understand) then you can always add drapes in front like the image below (so long as your crib is placed where the drapes are outside of the child’s reach).  Courtesy of Little Inspirations blog.

You might want to hang something above the crib, but be careful with what you select–you do not want a heavy piece of art or something with glass in the case it may fall.  We like the option of a wall decal, like this one:

This adorable customized Owl decal is from Pottery Barn for $69.  I found a number of different vendors on Etsy who also sell wall decals.  Here is this cute tree decal with birds, a squirrel and birdhouse helping to create a whole scene in your nursery.

This decal is also customizable for any color scheme.

I wish all the Mothers out there a very Happy Mothers Day!


WestChester Kitchen — ALMOST DONE! — with full materials list for copycats :)

I am sooooo ridiculously excited to reveal my makeover of a WestChester kitchen! Been working on this since January, finally ALMOST THERE!

Here’s our before….

AND AFTER….. (da-dah, duh-dahhhhhh!!)…

For background… the house is a 1950s ranch. We were actually inspired by a beautiful colonial kitchen featured in Southern Living

Especially the taupe cabinetry with a lighter counter. My client then decided to do different-colored upper cabinets, a trend that I love (as discussed in a previous Roomology post)! I think one of the reasons I like the look so much is that it makes so much sense psychologically because that is how things appear in nature (light sky and clouds above, and dark plants and soil below).

So, after much discussion on the merits and costs of new cabinetry, we decided to repaint the existing cabinetry and replace the hardware. The colors we chose were:

Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls on the upper cabinetry, a beautiful yellow-y green-y white. Then we struggled to find the perfect taupe with just a touch of green for the bottom cabinets. We could not find this among the Benjamin Moore colors, but I found what I was looking for from Behr Paint:

This lovely color is called Twig Basket. However, my client wanted Benjamin Moore paint because of they are committed to low- or no- VOCs. So, I brought the card to Benjamin Moore and they were able to create a custom color for us!

Lastly, our wall color was Elephant Tusk by Benjamin Moore… a go-to cream with wide appeal.

For counter material, we decided to go with resell-friendly, budget-friendly, durable, heat-resistant granite. Believe it or not, this piece was only $40/sq ft, and they even threw in a new stainless steel kitchen sink! (No joke!)

This is Gialla Ornamental granite, and the color is Classic White. As you can see here, it had just the right flecks of taupe to match the cabinet paint perfectly!

For hardware, we selected brushed nickel knobs and these fancier handles for the drawers…

Perfect for a Colonial kitchen, we got these drawer pulls for a mere $5 each from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.

For a backsplash, we kept it simple with off-white subway tiles, also from Home Depot. We both disliked the glossy finish for this look, so we went with matte tiles in off-white (pretty much the same price as the stock glossy white subway tiles even though they’re special order)!

The flooring was the hardest part. My client wanted a realistic-looking, eco-friendly, floating, no-glue laminate or vinyl. FYI, it’s totally important to consider indoor air quality when choosing any flooring, because of off-gassing (the leaching of VOCs and other pollutants into the air) of many products (flooring is a particularly notorious offender). No-glue options are awesome because many glues also contain harmful pollutants that can also off-gas… in addition, they can be extremely annoying when you’re trying to remove and replace the floor. So a no-glue flooring system has an underlayment (which in our case, we made sure was also eco-friendly) and laminated tiles that have a tongue-and-groove system, so that they just click together. After pricing various options, we actually found that the cheapest way to go was online! We ordered her materials from Wayfair, and then she hired her handyman to install it for her. Here’s what we chose:

This is Shaw floors Majestic Visions laminate (color: Newport), a bargain at $2.69/sq ft at Wayfair. This flooring is GreenGuard certified, meaning it does not seriously affect indoor air quality, and has been judged to have such little off-gassing that it is even recommended for schools and kids (whose sensitive membrames make them likelier to feel the effects of off-gassing). We also bought this eco-friendly underlayment:

This is the Selitac Underlayment, also from Shaw, also GreenGuard certified, 100% recyclable, with helpful little gridlines for DIYers, and available for the bargain-basement price of $40 for a 100sqft roll at Wayfair.

The last piece we are still working on is the window treatments, which is why I can’t show you the window-side of the kitchen yet… perfect for a colonial kitchen, we decided to go with the Country Life print from Waverly, a beautiful linen print. Here’s a photo showing the pattern…

And here’s a pic showing how well it goes with our beautiful granite!

Hope you enjoyed! Any questions on your kitchen choices??? Email us or comment!


Roomology Loves: Monochromatic Interiors (A How To!)

Although there were many things to fall in love with in Costa Rica, I could not get over the thousands of shades of green I came across while hiking in the rainforest.  I have included some pictures of my wandering eye and it is clear how this place makes you simply fall in love with green.  Can you imagine being totally engulfed in this beautiful color?

I began to think of how to incorporate that feeling into an interior.  The answer is: Monochromatic color scheme.  A monochromatic color scheme is not an easy project to take on but with some simple guidelines  you can be surrounded by your favorite color.  In order to mimic nature you really need to go beyond the paint color.  A space needs to replicate the layers as if you can peal them off one at a time to reveal another surprise underneath.

Here are some tips for how to succeed with a monochromatic room:

1.  Choose a color that will set the mood you would like your space to portray.  If you are designing a bedroom you may want to select a more relaxing color as opposed to an energizing or loud shade.  There are plenty of exceptions to this rule which we will go over next so make sure the color you select will be one you will smile at every time you enter the room.  There will be a lot of it so you need to at least like the color!

2.  Make sure to mix different tones of your color to create contrast.  This will help give the room depth and allow each piece to both stand out and fit in at the same time.  You will be surprised at how well pieces will compliment each other when they are varying in lighter or darker shades.  Look at how many tones of blue are used in the living room below.

3.  Texture, Texture, Texture.   A monochromatic color scheme needs to have as many textures as you can find.  The orange interior below is a great example.  Between the  Panatone dining chairs, pendant light above the table, textures of the throw pillows, paint on the wall  and fireplace this one room has at least 6 different textures.

4.  Do you have commitment issues?  Not so sure you can go for the red sofa or green console table?  I totally understand but that is no excuse for why you cannot still have a monochromatic room.  Mix neutral toned furniture pieces with plenty of colorful accents.  Bring your color into the space with throw pillows, blankets, curtains, area rugs, candles, art work and of course paint. The list can keep going; be creative and your commitment issues will soon be forgotten.

The neutral sofa and lamp shades create a great canvas for the blue palette.

5.  Be sure to add some pattern.  The wallpaper below breaks up the strong violet paint color while introducing a lighter shade.  It also helps to tie in the light colored sofa

There you have it.  Have fun exploring what you can do with only one color.  Send us your pictures to show us your finished Monochromatic Masterpiece.

Images sources: House Beautiful, Jeffers Design Group, Apartment Therapy, Hue Amour.

Amazing finds (and ridiculously creative materials!) at the NYC Affordable Art Fair

I went to the Affordable Art Fair in NYC this weekend, and WHOA! — talk about amazing! It frankly blew me away. There were exhibitors from all over the world, and tons of up and coming artists were there to talk to you in person. All of the works were under $10,000, and the majority of the ones I saw were under $5,000, and some even under $1,000! Unbelievable. I took like SOOO many photos, but I attempted to group and categorize the ones I loved here.


HOLY COW. Looks like a remake of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, right? But you will NEVER guess what this piece is made of. IT BLEW MY MIND.

Look closer and see… it is actually thousands of little baubles, bits, and beads, and other found pieces, including…

…dinosaurs, LEGOs, fish, a baby, a sword (possibly from He-Man)… and no, your eyes are not fooling you. That is Spongebob squarepants, right there on your Vermeer. MAN, talk about creative! Why didn’t I go to art school!!! This was by Jane Perkins at London’s Will’s Art Warehouse.

And for other amazing materials….

Even from a distance I was entranced by the feeling of motion from this subtle wheel of color

when I got closer, I realized this effect is created from the clever placement of hundreds of pieces of colored glass acting like prisms, so it would actually look different under different lighting, at night versus strong daylight, etc. This piece from artist Chris Wood at Byard Art (based in Cambridge, UK).

Similarly, this wheel of primary colors is actually made of an arrangement of colored acrylic tubing…

so the transparent parts make the colored rings overlap when viewed from different angles. I stupidly did not note the artist of this work, so sorry!

Speaking of crazy materials… you will NEVER guess what this is made of. (Yes, I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s really true.)

Don’t cheat, really take a guess. I thought it might be foam or something… wrong! Give up? It’s actually salt. No kidding. From artists Mastrangelo and Lawson at NYC’s Emmanual Fremin Gallery.


I saw this technique again and again, and I just LOVED it. Kind of Andy Warhol, but I think the painting allows an extra level of creativity and artistic expression. Check these out:

This is Fabio Coruzzi’s I was in a Tram, it was about to Rain in Milan, from London’s Bicha Gallery. They told me he actually has three degrees: one in photography, one in printmaking, and one in painting, and all these talents are showcased in this and similar works that were on display.

Mike Chavez’s screenprint/paintings made me laugh out loud. When I met him at the event, he commented that art doesn’t always have to be so serious. Hear, hear.

The blood red scribbling on the print of the famous Marie Antoinette portrait feels young and a little irreverent. At the Evan Lurie Gallery (Carmel, IN).


Collages were possibly some of my favorite moments of the entire fair. Here was an artist I just loved:

It’s modern, it’s ethnic, it’s got texture and text elements, it’s literally 3D, it’s got a geometric pattern I love, bright colors, etc, etc. Could look at this one again and again and never get bored. This is Art Institute of Chicago-trained Jill Ricci, showing at the Tria Gallery in NYC. I guess you can tell I’m a fan! You wouldn’t believe the price if I told it to you.

Somehow scraps of newspaper and a layer of epoxy look almost impressionist. From artist Molly Hills Perez.


Lastly, I saw several pieces that just plain put a smile on my lips.

A bright pink, cable knit deer head. Who doesn’t want this? Pottery Barn could make a fortune if they mass-produced this. As it is, you have to get it from artist Rachel Denny at Portland Fine Art.

Cheeky and existential, what would Mark Zuckerberg say? From at NYC’s Galerie Swanstrom.

Dulce Pinzon‘s series Superheroes features normal people in normal situations dressed up in superhero costumes. This photo, showing an immigrant nanny, is comedic yet poignant.

Sunbursts of disco-ball-esque fireworks painted pointillism-style are juxtaposed against the strong silhouettes of cowboys. Like Clint Eastwood on acid, this is Casey Vogt’s Pill Poppers.

Hope you enjoy this! I loved the Affordable Art Fair, and it turns out they have them all over the place… I’m definitely going again!



On my recent trip to Costa Rica, I stopped at the Tabacon Hot Springs.  The grounds were breathtaking.  After walking around I stumbled upon the Shangri Li Gardens area where I lounged around on the outdoor furniture, and I was reminded how much I love the trends in outdoor furniture over the past few years.  It is usually around this time of year that I have images of my dream backyard.  I fully intend to create my own oasis with plenty of lounge areas and cool spaces to have a drink, read a book and waste plenty of summer hours away.  Here are some of my favorite collections:


This Alexander Rose hut is great for a small escape.  The top comes off for ultimate sun exposure and can fit most small outdoor areas at only 6.5 feet wide.

Have some more space?  Check out the collection by Usona Home below.




Here is one unique set by B-alance.  The Fiore patio set looks like a blossoming flower when viewed from above.  The configurations are endless and if you are by yourself one day then put all the pieces together to forma the perfect backyard retreat.

 I first saw this next set at the Salone del Mobile in Milan around 2007 or 2008.  It is still one of my all time favorites to date.  You can store this anywhere or create a great seating area within a few minutes.

What stores away as this enlarged golf ball first looks like this…

But in a few moments it can turn into this…

Another example of the perfect space-saving solution is the Obelisk by Dedon.  This creative Dutch design comes in multiple fabric and color options and has won numerous awards.  I think it is easy to see why.

I challenge you to go and create an oasis in your backyard this summer! When you are on chapter 3 of an amazing book on a lazy summer afternoon you will agree that it was worth the investment!

Great Tall Narrow Storage Pieces

My city peeps are always looking to cram extra inches of storage into every corner of their apartments… so I thought I’d give some options for tall narrow storage to take advantage of scarce square footage.

The slim wall-mounted Plaza cabinet from Lacava is 10″w and has a combination of drawers and shelves, so you can hide half your mess.

Beautiful distressed wood cabinet is half storage, half display. $1312 from Candelabra Home.

This modern metal bookshelf is 10″ wide and provides a pop of bright blue. $199 from cb2.

Chic and cheap, open shelves with closed storage below, $570 at Wayfair.

The superskinny Totem bookcase is a mere 8″ wide. $449 from YLiving.

Turn 17″ into a bar. This tower holds 9 wine glasses, 20 bottles, and a drawerful of corkscrews. On sale for $459 from Crate & Barrel.

tall-narrow-storageI like the IKEA PS locker cabinet for hip, offbeat office storage, $99.

tall-narrow-bookshelfRestoration Hardware has a slim version of its Parisian Cornice bookshelf, where traditional molding meets industrial metal, on sale for $675.


Awesome iPhone docks and chargers

I saw David Stark’s awesome Wood Shop
candlestick iPhone charger in this month’s edition of Interior Design magazine….

(completed by the iPhone candle app) and fell in love ($175 from Haus Interiors). I wondered, what other fun high-design iPhone docks are out there? Here’s the best I found:

I love this gramophone-inspired dock/amplifier, cleverly named the Phonofone, $195 from Science & Sons.

Disguise your charger as literature. Each one-of-a-kind, $50 from the iCreateWorx Etsy shop.

I’m kind of in love with the Spiderpodium, $13 from Amazon.

Turn your phone into a throwback alarm clock (and never again lose it on the bedside table) with this wooden piece from Areaware ($40).

How ’bout a dock as furniture? West Elm cleverly does away with an extra piece with the Parsons Audio End Table, currently on sale for $199.

OK, so not high-design, but definitely on the list of things I should already own… this little piece transforms a regular outlet into a USB charger. $15 from Lowe’s.

Have a great Saturday all!


Hide your flat-screen TV… or even turn it into artwork! From high-end to low-end

SOOO, turns out not everyone can afford a separate home theatre away from their living area, and that many design-conscious people
are not willing to incorporate a large black box on the wall into their designs. Maybe it just doesn’t go with your particular style (let’s face it, a TV just doesn’t work in a Moroccan retreat/Tuscan villa/Paris flea market-inspired look). Maybe you want to fool your guests into thinking you’ve never heard of low-brow television (pray tell me, what is this Parking Wars? je ne sais pas Jersey Shore?) but only sit around reading Sartre and the occasional short fiction piece.

Whatever the reason, lucky for you, our design capabilities are expanding at the same rate as television technology. Ok, that was a lie. However, there are a lot of creative solutions available… from the extremely pricey to DIY. This post was actually inspired by this awesome room divider I saw at the Architectural Digest Home Show…

…where the TV panel actually swivels to allow TV-watching in two different areas, or so you can turn it around and hide the TV (the other side is those innocuous shelves) when you have guests over or want to have a zen moment. (That’s enough, now turn it around and give me my Make It or Break It). This very fun-to-turn but pricey piece starts at $4000 from Contempo Wall.

Here’s what else I found:

Manhattan Cabinetry has 20 different custom cabinets that have TV lifts, where the TV comes up from inside (I’ve shown a more traditional and more modern example here). You can also get non-custom TV lifts like these…

About $2500 each from

For those of you who don’t want any additional cabinetry, this is one of my favorite solutions. It is a frame around the TV that houses a retractable screen, almost like an internal roller shade. The roller shade moves up with the touch of a button, and there’s your TV. Check out this video:

This is the ArtScreen from VuTec. You can get a variety of frames and choices of artwork, or you can upload your own artwork to make it whatever you want! Totally want one. Here’s another company that does it:

Also offers tons of options for frame and 1200 standard paintings, as well as allowing you to upload custom art. From Frame my TV.

Here’s another solution, if you don’t like that. You can have your TV double as a mirror, so that it looks like an intentional part of the interior design when not in use:

Again, you can get any frame under the sun… from The Art of TV.

Finally I found a DIY option for those of you who are more budget-conscious and more handy…

Step-by-step directions from Gus & Lula.


In Costa Rica with Marcial Blanco

I am traveling around Costa Rica and am quickly falling in love with the open style architecture, beautiful wood furniture and decor in general. This culture really knows how to live with and embrace nature. While in Arenal a few days ago I drove by a small house with an attached workshop and knew instantly I needed to check it out. I discovered local artist Marcial Blanco. Although the language barrier was a small set back he still took the time to show me the 10 main types of wood grown and used in Costa Rica (which I will get to in a later post). He explained to me how he carves each piece by hand and is working on his drawing skills as well. Everything in his studio was beautiful and I had to share some photos with you before I head home at the end of the week. I cannot wait to hang up my new purchases when I get back to NY…. Enjoy!









Modern vs. “midcentury modern” vs. Modernist vs. neomodern vs. contemporary: a primer on designspeak (Part I)

So, I’ve decided to do a multi-part entry on design styles and terminology, which is superconfusing (even lots of those in my field don’t get it right!). I’m going to start with 1929 and work my way up to today, and by the end you’ll be an expert in designspeak and pretty much 20th century architecture in general. READY?

So. We begin with the father of “modern” design, a Mr. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (commonly shortened to Mies, phew!). Now, the reason I’m putting “modern” in quotes here is because it is not referring to “modern” in the adjective sense, meaning contemporary time (that is, in 2012). The problem with the word “modern” is that every period has a time when it is, in fact, modern! But no time is modern forever, hence the confusion.

Here, the term “modern” is used to describe a particular style (that was modern at the time of its inception in Germany in the 1920s). We still call it “modern” because that has now become the name of the style. So that’s really the source of the confusion: the fact that you have to think of “modern” as a name of a style (it should almost be a capital “M” in Modern) rather than an adjective to describe the current day. For this reason, it would clarify things if everyone would call it “Modernist” architecture, and refer to the style as “Modernism.” If I were Queen of the World, I would make it so. Alas, I am just one blogger, and most people just call it modern and expect you to be able to understand the difference.

This is important because the furniture and architecture that is being created today (in 2012), is not, in fact, Modernist. In other words, the stuff that’s being done right now, in 2012, by leading contemporary designers is not in the Modern style. (What it is will be the source of later blog posts…. but hold your horses, we’re not there yet!)

So what was the dawn of Modernism? Well, the key moment was an International Exhibition held in Barcelona in 1929. Mies designed the German Pavilion of the exhibition, and after that nothing was ever the same.

Just to contrast, the reigning style at that time in the U.S. was Art Deco, defined by stylized ornament and streamlined curves, like the Chrysler building (also built in 1929), with its elaborate (but now dated-looking) top:


Curves galore, elaborate triangular windows, gargoyles, zig zags, fancy metalwork, et cetera, et cetera… and check out how detailed the interior was:

Metal ornamentation on the walls, angular panes in the doors…

…super elaborate elevators…

and loads of decoration, included painted ceilings with more details at the border.

SO, now onto Mies. You can see what a difference his pavilion, showing the same year at the Barcelona Exhibition was:

Everything was flat, flat, flat. Flat floor, flat roof, flat water in the pool. Simple rectilinear construction with narrow steel framing. Zero ornament, zero painting, zero fancy metalwork or inlaid wood. The only ornament is from the materials themselves (the floors and walls are made of tumbled marble).

Yes, that was 1929, and yes, that’s a curtain wall. A flat one, of course. Here’s one thing the Modernists love(d): erasing the barrier between indoor and outdoors. So the interior floor keeps continuing beyond the curtain wall. Also in this picture you can see Mies’ iconic x-base chairs, now known as Barcelona chairs.

A view showing the marble room divider. Again, the only ornament was from the materials themselves, so color of the space was determined by material selection.

Look contemporary? Could this have been built in 2012? Of course. You only have to open Dwell Magazine to see that the ripple effects of this are still being felt. Tons of people want their house to look like this right now (whereas Art Deco looks like a blast from the past). That’s why even though there was a Postmodern movement in the 80s (a reaction against Modernism that attempted to return to ornamentation), we still have designers designing in the Modernist style (although if they are doing it now, it is technically called Neomodern to show that it’s a throwback).

Mies went on to design a bunch of Modernist buildings, like the notable Seagram Building built in 1958 in NYC…

…a simple rectangle built from right angles with zero ornament (and in my opinion, zero fun). This building spawned (and is still spawning) 60+ years of building glass boxes.

Here, the Modernist interior became even more pared down, more geometric, more colorless…

as seen in the above elevator lobby.

OK that’s about it for one day. More installments to come!