Shopping Guide: Chicago

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Forget Oprah, deep dish pizza, and the Cubs. Chicago is all about architectural salvage. When buildings are dismantled or renovated, architectural artifacts– like corbels, doors and fireplace mantels– are often removed in tact and sold to salvage shops. These upcycled gems can be incorporated into remodels and new constructions or restorations of historic structures. It’s no surprise that a city like Chicago, with world class architecture, would also have outstanding architectural salvage. So when I took a recent trip to Chicago, I made sure to visit the top rated salvage stores in the city.  Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood, is housed in a remarkable 80,000-square-foot showroom. The inventory is vast and eclectic; they carry everything from theater seats to gargoyles, religious artifacts to neon signs. Architectural Artifacts is an incredible resource for one-of-a-kind items and special statement pieces. My favorite finds included a 19th-century blue and white Delft tile mosaic, which depicts Frans Hals’ Married Couple in a Garden, and a gorgeous French art deco wet bar …

Trendcasting: Lacquered Walls

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Lacquered walls are a long-standing design tradition, but in recent years, they have been making a resurgence. Designers like Miles Redd, Steven Gambrel, and Markham Roberts have helped reintroduce lacquered walls to the popular landscape. The highly reflective finish of lacquer creates dimensionality, particularly when combined with a deeply saturated color like sapphire blue or emerald green. The liquidlike sheen is sumptuous, dramatic, and opulent. True lacquer, as opposed to high gloss paint, must be applied by skilled professionals. The reflective finish magnifies any imperfections, so expert prep and application is a must. Check out some of my favorite lacquered walls below!  Orange lacquered walls via Atlanta Homes Magazine.  Left: Aerin Lauder’s sophisticated black office via Elle Decor. Right: Blue-grey lacquered walls in Steven Gambrel’s W. 10th Street townhouse.  A peacock blue butler’s pantry from Lee Ann Thornton Interiors.  Emerald green lacquer via ArkPad.  A striking home library designed by Steven Gambrel.  Left: White lacquered walls pop against black herringbone floors, via Westerman Farm. Right: Miles Redd’s navy blue lacquer, via Apartment Therapy. 

Get the Look: Tropical Leaves

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Tropical leaf prints have long been a design classic, thanks in large part to two iconic wallpaper patterns. Martinique wallpaper, designed by Don Loper in 1942 for the Beverly Hills Hotel, features banana leaves in a rich forest green palette. Brazilliance wallpaper was designed by the one-and-only Dorothy Draper for the Greenbrier Hotel. Although similar to Martinique, Brazilliance has more saturated colors and accents of sea grapes amidst the banana leaves.  A side-by-side comparison of the iconic Martinique and Brazilliance wallpapers. L: Bathroom via Apartment Therapy. R: The Greenbrier Hotel via The Glam Pad. Tropical leaf decor lends an air of retro glamour to any room. Banana leaves and palm fronds make for gorgeous wallpaper and upholstery, but you can also incorporate the motif through lighting fixtures, artwork, and accessories. Here is some tropical inspiration for your home!  The Martinique wallpaper pairs beautifully with black and white. Via Sarah Sarna.  Black lacquer doors and Brazilliance wallpaper make for a bold, graphic hallway. Design …

Introducing: The Lorimer Project

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For the past few months, I have been working on the Lorimer Project, a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg. My client has a bright, bohemian style and a creative spirit, and I wanted to design a space that reflected her personality. My client had just moved in when we started working together, and the apartment itself was a blank slate. The main room is an open-plan kitchen, living, and dining area. The layout is irregular; it is a long, narrow space with lots of nooks and crannies, windows, and duct work. This photo shows the view from the apartment’s front door. To the left (not pictured) is a small foyer with doorways to the bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen is to the right, and it opens up to the main living area. At the far end of the main room, there is a door to the second bedroom, which my client plans to use as an art room. The kitchen has dark wood cabinets and stone countertops. There are reclaimed wood shelves for additional storage. Two …

Shopping Guide: Atlanta

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I just returned from a brief trip to Atlanta. A friend recommended that I check out the shops at Miami Circle while I was in town, and I’m so glad she did! Miami Circle has over 60 showrooms, covering the gamut from antiques to lighting, rugs, framing, and art galleries. Foxglove Antiques & Galleries was one of my favorite discoveries. They specialize in French, English, Swedish, and Italian antiques, and their inventory is beautifully styled and a delight to browse. Painted zinc horse head from France circa 1900. 19th-century mixed earth cups and saucers, France. Danish mid-century rosewood credenza. Polished aluminum cabinet, part of a matching pair. Copper telephone with carry handle.  Architectural Accents was another highlight from my trip to Atlanta. Located adjacent to Miami Circle, this architectural salvage store carries an exceptional selection of doors, mantels, corbels, stained glass, and tile. It’s a dreamy place to shop!  Painted doors circa 1870, featuring scenes from La Fontaine’s Fables.

A Mini Makeover

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One of my clients needed a piece that could serve double duty as a bedside table and a vanity in her small bedroom. When I spotted this compact table at Brimfield, I knew it was the perfect shape and size for her needs. It has a drawer for storing makeup and other supplies, and there is a clear opening at the bottom so it will be a comfortable place to sit. I liked the table’s original mint-colored paint and sweet little decoupage accent, but it was in rough shape and not the right look for my client’s room. So I gave the piece a simple makeover. I sanded down the original finish, applied a coat of primer, two coats of Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise, and two coats of topcoat. If you’re using a light paint color like off-white, it’s best to use a polycrylic topcoat instead of polyurethane, which turns yellow over time. I chose a high gloss polycrylic because it’ll be easier …

Brimfield Highlights

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It’s that time of year again– Brimfield Antique Show is in full swing! I spent yesterday trawling the market, searching for one-of-a-kind pieces for my clients; I did end up finding a cute vintage side table and brass vanity stool for one of my clients in Brooklyn. I will post photos as soon as I get the pieces to her space! But in the meantime, I wanted to share a few highlights from the rest of the show. This year’s selection was much more enticing than last year’s. Brimfield runs through May 17th, so be sure to check it out if you’re in New England! A bevy of Gustavian Mora clocks. Left: stone ram head wall hanging. Right: A signed Lee Reynolds mid-century painting of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline.   Papier–mâché animals and wall hangings. A vignette of retro mid-century clocks and industrial light fixtures. Moroccan rugs and throw pillows paired with a mid-century pendant light!  Love these chairs!  They would make a killer dining room set!  For …


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This weekend I visited Bklyn Designs, a 3-day showcase of emerging and established Brooklyn designers and artists. There were guest speakers, jewelry displays, pop-up lounges, furniture installations– all spotlighting the creativity for which Brooklyn is known. Bklyn Designs officially kicks off the NYCxDESIGN week, which runs now through May 19, 2015. Here is a rundown of the exhibits and products that caught my eye. This lounge area, designed by AphroChic, made great use of colorful boucherouite rugs and floor pillows. I was excited to see these rugs on prominent display because one of my clients just purchased a striped boucherouite for her dining area! Urban Chandy designs lighting fixtures, which make use of reclaimed and repurposed materials. This oversized chandelier with exposed bulbs like drops of water is a signature design. M. Spring manufactures beautiful jewel-like hardware– and also produces custom hardware if need be. The designer, Margaret Spring, uses both traditional and state-of-the-art techniques, everything from wax casting to 3D printing.   Prototypes on display at the M.Spring booth. The American Design Club …

Shopping Guide: Charleston & Savannah

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If you ever find yourself in the Southeast, make sure to plan a visit to Charleston and Savannah. Their stunning architecture and blooming azaleas are draw enough, but they also happen to be prime destinations for furniture and home goods. Charleston, with its refined charm and stately townhouses, boasts a number of fine antique stores and elegant boutiques. Savannah is home to the famous Savannah College of Art and Design, so its offerings are more unusual and eclectic. Here are a few of my favorite spots in Charleston and Savannah:  Charleston, South Carolina  South of Market, 173 King Street, carries an eclectic mix. Many of the upholstered pieces, like the beige linen sofa and white tufted banquette below, are clean, contemporary versions of European classics. But the store also offers a selection of antiques, mid-century modern designs, and industrial pieces. South of Market has locations in Atlanta and New York City as well. Tucker Payne Antiques, 169 King Street, is the perfect …

Nepalese Felt Ball Rugs

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One of the best parts of my job is discovering new companies and products that I can share with my clients. My most recent infatuation is Felt Ball Rug, a company which produces beautifully handcrafted rugs from Nepal. When they offered to send me a rug of my own, I jumped at the opportunity!  Felt Ball Rug practices only fair trade and employs a team of talented artisans from Kathmandu, Nepal. The company shares the names of each rug’s maker, so you can see exactly who crafted your piece. My rug was made by Sarita Thapa, whose picture can be seen here! I am so impressed with the craftsmanship and quality of my rug. It is super soft underfoot and incredibly intricate. The rugs are made with 100% New Zealand wool and AZO-free natural dyes, so they are great for nurseries and children’s rooms. They offer round and rectangular rugs in 65 different colors. I chose the 90cm round rug in color 63, but multicolored rugs and even custom …