Straight from the Hearth

Above photo: The antique brick firebox surround was treated to create a patina that is well-suited to the casual elegance of the room’s design. A French limestone hearth that is both functional and beautiful brings warmth and sophistication to the fireplace. A touch of greenery adds life and color to the mantel; the taller the stem, the more you accentuate the room’s height.

As the weather gets colder, you likely are giving more thought to spending evenings curled by the fireplace with a great book, a single malt scotch – or both! A fireplace is not only a spot to gather, it is an opportunity to show your unique style. Often a room’s furniture layout is planned around the fireplace as a focal point, and with the tips below your fireplace is sure to provide high style and charm well beyond the winter months!

  1. Surround yourself in Beauty – Whether you’re a fan of marble, tile, brick, limestone, or a vernacular stone, the material you choose for your fireplace surround can provide a sense of timelessness and highlight a home’s history and tradition.
  2. Make your Mark – Beautifully detailed architectural moldings and millwork can accentuate a fireplace surround and convey traditional character. But, if it’s a contemporary aesthetic that you desire, keep the architectural details to a minimum.
  3. Matters of the Hearth – The hearth, the area immediately in front of the firebox, should relate to the aesthetic of the room and doesn’t have to be made of the same material that is used on the fireplace surround. It is best to speak to your designer/installer about making the hearth flush to the surrounding floor before you start planning your fireplace design. A flush hearth keeps the area safe and the appearance streamlined.
  4. Lights Up! – Lighting is an essential design element that allows the beauty of any room to shine. Consider wall sconces above the fireplace flanking each side for classical symmetry and abundant style. The accent lighting will also “put a spotlight” on your fireplace design.
  5. Layer upon Layer – Your mantel is a great spot to display items that tickle your fancy. Apothecary jars, candlesticks, and vases are quotidian objects that convey your unique sense of style. Layering objects, a tall mirror or artwork at the back, and mid-sized and smaller objects in the front adds visual appeal.
  6. Take it Personally! – While family photos, heirlooms, and meaningful objects convey your personality and style on the mantel, the objects associated with tending a fire are also a moment to flex your style. So, explore whether andirons are in your future, but certainly select a woven basket or a metal container to keep firewood at hand, an enchanting fireplace screen, and a fashionable poker to stoke the flames as winter approaches.

Like so many design decisions, planning your fireplace style before your project begins, ensures superb results. It’s the details that make all the difference; please be in touch if I can be of assistance with your fireplace styling. All the best for a peaceful holiday season, and a joyous New Year!

6 Tips for Setting Up an Inspiring Home Office

1) Dedicate a Space: Whether your work area is a separate room, or within a room, create a dedicated workspace that allows you to focus and keep track of your daily tasks. Enjoy “shopping your home” for a piece that can double as a desk.

2) Use Task Lighting: Natural light is best, as most of us love to soak up the sun. But when the sun goes down, make sure that you have both an overhead and a specific task light. A task lamp will keep your eyes healthy and look great too!

3) Pick a Wall Board: Chalk, cork, or dry erase, whichever you choose, a board can help you stay on track. Post your child’s virtual learning schedule or a reminder to join a Zoom meditation session to keep things top of mind. A paper note is a terrific visual reminder to supplement your digital calendar.

4) Sit Right: You may not have the perfect ergonomic chair, but pillows and cushions can go a long way to enhancing your posture and ensuring your comfort.

5) Organize: Keep papers tidy by using a mail organizer, folders, or binders. At the end of each day, make sure you take a few minutes to file away papers and mail. You’ll love how you feel starting your day at an inviting desk! 

6) Make it lovely: A vibrant vase filled with fresh seasonal flowers, a framed photo from a fabulous trip, or a beautiful piece of pottery to corral your pens, stylus, and letter opener–all of these items can help you stay revitalized, and maybe even organized!

To make sure that your home office works well for you, be in touch at 917.363.9198.

Dressing Your Windows: A Quick Primer

Window treatments are a key design element in any space, and their role is as essential for functionality as it is for aesthetics. Sure, window treatments help control light, keep in warmth, and ensure privacy. But they also can give a room presence, and set the mood from breezy and casual, to bold and glamorous. As such, consider window treatments from the start of your redesign–to ensure that they elevate the look of your space.

  1. Take them higher! Drapes, Roman shades, and cornices–every room looks larger and taller if the window treatment is hung as close to the crown molding or ceiling as possible. Leave an inch, for easy access at the top, but no more.
  2. Inside or Outside Mount? The benefits of mounting a shade or blinds inside window casings are better light control as the treatment is right against the window and a streamlined appearance. Alternatively, an outside mount allows us to take the window treatment higher making the ceiling appear to be taller.
  3. Like with pastry, layers are better! Whether it’s sheer curtains with a layer of silk drapes, or a woven shade with a cornice, to name just a few, tiered window treatments will add to the sophistication of your design, and often enhance functionality.
  4. Window treatments need to play well with others. The type of treatment and fabric that you select should pair well with the other design elements in your space. Casual natural woven shades can be dressed up with silk drapes to create an elegant dining room, or their casual vibe can be enhanced with linen curtains in an airy living room.
  5. Trim is like frosting on a cake! A simple ribbon or a fabulous fringe can take any window treatment from ordinary to extraordinary.
  6. You needn’t go to great lengths. Curtains and drapes that sit right at the floor have a sleek and streamlined look, while if you favor puddling fabric on the floor, keep your “puddles” between 3-4” to balance well-being with a dose of glam.

Make sure that your window treatments are right for your windows and the room. Custom window treatments can enhance any room and make up for a sea of architectural shortcomings. Please be in touch at 917.363.9198.

Rework Your Dining Room!

These days as we spend more time at home, the dining room is no longer limited to special occasions. Gather the family around the table for mealtimes or set out candles for date night-whatever you do, make your dining room a heavy hitter with just a few easy steps!

  • Be adap-table! One of the largest pieces in your dining room is often the table, but unless you have a large family, it doesn’t need to seat 10 every day. A refectory table is an inventive, space-saving option with self-storing leaves that can be slid out as needed.
  • Organize with a sideboard: Having a sideboard to keep drinks, appetizers, or additional servings on hand makes mealtime a breeze. The custom-built sideboard pictured above was designed to meet multiple storage needs and still serve as a focal point with architectural details, an attractive mirror, and other decorative accessories.
  • Dress your windows! Stunning window treatments and drapery hardware are essential elements for pulling together a beautiful dining space. From ethereal silk curtains to casual linen roman shades, window treatments help set the stage for dining.
  • Use spill-friendly upholstery: Consider performance fabrics on your dining chairs. These fabrics make it easy to wipe away spills and are now available in luxurious velvets.
  • Light up! A lighting plan that includes a statement fixture over the table, recessed lights on a dimmer, and a table lamp create the added ambiance that will make you want to linger over your dinner. In the photo above, we used a polish nickel pendant; crystal and polished nickel knobs catch the light and our eyes.
  • Create dazzling walls: While we no longer are dressing for dinner, our walls can always benefit from a touch of pizzaz. Whether it’s a classic wainscot, formidable artwork, a glam lacquered ceiling, or one of a kind wallpaper, these elements add immediate warmth and create an inviting room.

Whether you need a place to unwind with a family meal, host a Zoom meeting, or a spot to work on your latest puzzle, make your dining room work for you! If you need more help, feel free to give me a call, at 917.363.9198.

Consider a Nook for Instant Comfort!

The popularity of open floor plans has some of us longing for a cozy spot where we can sit and meditate, or curl up with a pet. A nook adds architectural interest to any space and creates an inviting perch to take a moment for yourself. Here are some considerations for creating a nook or jazzing up an existing area in your home or commercial space!

  • Location, location, location! You may have an awkward niche that you’ve been wondering how you’re ever going to find the right piece of furniture to fill that spot, a large stair landing that feels cavernous, or a long corridor in a commercial space. These are all great spots to consider building a nook that will soften your space and create a wonderful sanctuary.
  • Let the sun shine! In the photo, we surrounded a window with built-in shelving to create a nook that allows for year-round enjoyment of nature. The sunlight pours in, making it easier to find your happy place any time of day. A window shade, beneath the cornice, blocks light when a nap is in order.
  • Always consider storage! Nooks are a terrific opportunity to store books, treasures from your travels, or display photos of joyful memories. Think about having a combination of open shelving, and cabinet doors to maintain a clutter-free respite.
  • Guests welcome! While we may not be thinking of overnight guests at the moment, using a custom seat cushion with plenty of support ensures many cozy naps in a nook, as well as a great spot to bunk when you need extra sleeping quarters.
  • Make it your own! The seat cushion, pillows, throws, and window treatments that you select will add to your overall décor and show your unique style.
  • What about a stand-in until I can create a nook? If creating a built-in nook is not in your immediate future, think about creating a modified nook. Placing a settee or bench in front of a window doesn’t require construction and creates a similar look as that of a nook. You can make this area comfy with gorgeous pillows and woven baskets that hold throws and magazines. With time, you’ll be better able to decide if you’d like to invest in creating a comfortable, custom nook.

What is the right rug for my home? Unrolling the Truth about Rugs!

Rugs take up a huge amount of visual space in any room. So, it’s really important to choose a pattern that you love, a material that fits your lifestyle, and moreover the right size. Here are some tips for making informed decisions when shopping for a rug.

  1. Size matters! The right size rug grounds a room and helps it feel larger. In a living room, you have a few options: a) choose a rug large enough to fit all of your furniture on top of it; b) choose a rug and just have the front legs of the furniture on it, or c) float a small rug about 6” in front of the sofa.
  2. Layout is important! In a bedroom, lay the rug perpendicular to the bed and pull it part of the way under, stopping before your nightstands. For the budget conscious, I recommend using a runner on each side of the bed. You’ll achieve a similar look, the same cozy factor, but spend much less on runners than a large rug.
  3. Yes, you should have a rug under your dining table! People often ask about whether a rug belongs in a dining room where spills may damage a rug. A rug adds immediate warmth to a room and is one of the essential layers necessary to creating a well-designed space. Your chairs should sit comfortably on the rug, even when you pull them out to sit down. Center your rug underneath the table and consider an indoor/outdoor rug for durability and stain resistance. Carpet tiles, like those made by Flor, are a great option in a dining room and appear like one large rug. If one particular area of the rug has a tragic mishap, you can replace a few tiles and not have to replace the entire rug.
  4. Put a pad underneath it! A pad not only feels terrific under foot, but it also extends the life of your rug. Forgo the rubbery, webbed pads and pick a felted version instead. The rug pad will add extra cushion and secure the rug to the floor for safety.
  5. Customizable trick! A rug vendor/installer can sell you broadloom carpet and cut it to the exact size that you need and bind it to look completely customized at a fraction of the cost of a custom rug.
  6. What about the material? Natural fiber rugs are more durable and softer than synthetic. Wool is the best all-around material for a rug but can be pricey. It hides dirt, cleans easily and is naturally fire-retardant. Sisal has a causal coastal look and is strong enough to hold up to wear and tear in high traffic room. It absorbs all liquids, making it hard to clean. Silk has a sumptuous sheen and the strong fiber makes it wear well. It is not easy to clean though so it is best suited for areas where there is no food. Lastly, cotton rugs are soft, affordable, and easy to clean. It looks great on day one but doesn’t wear well over time.

Now, you have all of the information that you need to start your search for your perfect rug! If you need more help, feel free to give me a call. at 917.363.9198.