Category Archives: New York, New York

The greatest city in the world. We started here in 1919, and we celebrate our NYC culture and pastime with these posts.

Mid-Century Modern Endures

In design, the adage is that “everything old becomes new again.” Since the late 1990s, many designers and creative types have abandoned the “shabby-chic” ethos for 1950s-inspired mid-century modern. The clean lines and simple finishes of mid-century design are functional and beautiful, and now available at almost any price point.

Even though most design trends last a few years – see the aforementioned shabby-chic, 1920s Spanish, and art Nouveau – mid-century modern remains popular with designers and consumers alike.   You need only to flip through a home magazine or stroll through a mass retailer like West Elm or CB2, and it’s all variations on the Eames-chair-and-tulip-table theme.

mid-century
Photo from The New York Times

Why does mid-century remain so popular?  Its wide appeal makes sense, because it was designed specifically to be lived with, rather than show pieces – it is democratic and made in simple shapes with classic materials – so it seems timeless and goes with everything.  The pieces are beautifully functional and they lend themselves well to smaller spaces and urban environments like city lofts.  Its simplicity is universally understood and appreciated.  Mid-century modern is also uniquely American, so it’s easy to find – both the antique versions and reproductions at modern retailers.  

mid-century-1
Photo By Interior Designer Amy Lau

Designers caution that you should not use midcentury exclusively – filling a room entirely devoted to a theme looks too deliberate and not reflective of personal taste.  You’re not trying to recreate a ‘Mad Men’ set in your home, after all.  But melding mid-century modern basics with some personal, interesting pieces can create an elegant interior that’s uniquely yours.

Consider mixing a pair of clean-lined mid-century chairs in an otherwise traditional space, and add some mid-century accessories like drum lamps or a spiky-legged coffee table to tie it all together.  Or use mid-century seating against a rustic wood dining table for an interesting mix of modern and traditional.

Best Ways to Incorporate Antiques into Your Home

So you’ve found an amazing antique in a local shop or during your travels, and you had to have it.  Or even better, you were gifted or inherited a cherished piece of ceramic, an heirloom textile, or exquisite piece of artwork. Both the sentimental value and the quality of an antique is unmatched, but making them work with more modern décor can sometimes be a challenge. Below are some ways to show off those antique pieces in your home with the focus they deserve – and so they look like they’ve been there all along.

Think about how you will display your antique – using less formal display methods can give an old piece a modern look.  Propping artwork against a shelf or another piece of furniture, or resting it directly on the mantel can tone down the formality of the piece.

If you fell in love with, or were bequeathed, a large piece of artwork, properly display it by giving it a spot of prominence on a plain wall. Painting a bright color on the wall behind it will make the painting pop, and a bold, contemporary color on the wall keeps an antique painting from looking too formal or stuffy. Consider how you’re lighting the piece as well.

Bedroom transitional-bedroom

You can also use an antique piece of art to create a new color scheme in the room. Pull a color you like out of a painting, and incorporate that palette throughout the room to tie the old and new together.

vintage
Photo from CountryLiving-45 Ways to Creatively Display Your Collection

Perhaps your antique is not a painting, but an object, or a collection of objects like earthenware or ceramics. A collection of similar items can be beautiful to display and enjoy. Don’t hide them away at the back of a cabinet; group your antique glassware or pottery prominently on a shelf or sideboard, or consider an open cabinet whose inside is painted a color that lets your collection stand out.  Consider, if you have a single piece, starting a collection or adding to one – what makes a collection is special is that it’s eclectic and can be added to over time.

antique-sofa
Photo from Wall Street Journal-How to Turn an Antique Sofa Into a Statement Piece

Is your antique a piece of furniture?  A wonderful way to work an old, perhaps ornate piece of furniture into a modern home is to pair it with more contemporary pieces.  A primitive antique dining table, or a glossy mahogany one with turned legs, will look equally at home paired with modern seating – metal chairs or ones upholstered in a graphic print.  Flank an antique with newer pieces and it will become a cohesive part of your space.

Bold Decoration

Even the most expertly-decorated spaces can feel like they are missing something, especially when the palate is neutral and people are afraid to stray from the predictable.  But using bold color or pattern, even in small amounts, can really take a room to “wow” status, especially when that bold element is used somewhere unexpected.

bold-bedroom

Photo from Contemporist- Wall Decoration Inspiration

For instance, an attention-grabbing print on the walls can reinvent a featureless space. A modern graphic paper in a deep color delivers a powerful statement whether you use it on a single accent wall, or all four.  Try a boldly patterned wallpaper to highlight a feature like the fireplace wall, or use it behind shelving or build-ins.
If you don’t want to make the commitment to wallpaper, try using a bold paint color instead – if you decide it’s too much drama, paint is easily (and inexpensively) changed.  Try a deep jewel-toned hue like emerald green, cobalt blue, or fuschia on a wall to make the artwork or furniture pop, or to highlight architectural features in a room.

Presidio Heights Kitchen contemporary-kitchen

If color or pattern on the walls isn’t what you’re looking for, think about what’s underfoot to highlight the décor – go for bold floors! Colorful, patterned, stenciled, or boldly carpeted, floors can help you make a gorgeous statement and even become the star of the space.  Bold floors can add style and create ambience in even the most ordinary spaces, and it’s an unexpected way to use pattern.  If your hardwood is beat up and sad, consider painting the wood floors in a deep glossy hue like navy or chocolate, or painting a geometric pattern like stripes or chevron – this works especially well in small places like hallways or entryways, and provide a powerful first impression when someone enters your home.  If a painted or patterned tile floor is too permanent, consider a graphic print rug in a bright color, which can easily be swapped out.
Other quick, and less expensive ways to add bold style to a room include incorporating metallic decorative elements, like brass mirrors, side tables, and vases, or simply employing a bright color like coral or turquoise in your throw pillows, linens, and picture frames to give the space a punch.

Modern Home Office Ideas

When it comes to a home office space, no single design idea will work for everyone –there is a wide range of different needs for a workspace, depending on the work being done there.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t create the perfect home office for you, though!  Here are some universally appealing suggestions to help you create a home office space that’s both functional and attractive.

Specific Task Areas

When envisioning a design for your home office, it’s important to take into consideration all of the activities you’ll complete in a given workday/week.  While a desk is an obvious starting point for most offices, to tackle paperwork or writing, those are likely not your only activities, so creating separate focus areas for tasks can be useful.

While your desk is the likely workhorse in an office space, don’t forget about incorporating a seating area for hosting and meeting with clients, and having a face-to-face discussion.  Additionally, if the office space hosts multiple users who need to share the office, you can help keep things organized and make the space work for everyone by giving each person an individual workstation.    

Home office seating

Courtesy of californiaclosets.com

Be Careful with Color

Since your office is a place where you need to be able to stay focused, it can be useful to set big punches of color — and the emotional responses they bring — aside. Instead, focus on choosing a largely neutral color palette that will allow you to put the bulk of your attention on the task at hand.  You can add small pops of color to keep the space visually interesting, with easily swapped-out elements like throw pillows or area rugs, but the more permanent parts of the design – furniture and wall color – should be calm and neutral.

Neutral color home office

Image courtesy of idekohome.com

Make your Office Personal

As much as we’ve emphasized that you need to be able to focus within your workspace, it’s also important to create an office where you’ll enjoy working and spending time. So while keeping the workspace décor neutral is key, so is accenting your office with things that highlight your personal taste and make you happy.  Those might be pieces of artwork, or items from favorite travels, for example.

An easy way to add personal elements and keep a cohesive scheme in the home office is to use your personal items as a jump-off point for accent colors in the room.  Draw out a bold color from a favorite painting on the wall and use that hue for pillows or a throw in the seating area, or mimic the pattern on a piece of displayed pottery in your window treatment or area rug.

Home office decor

A Place for Everything

Staying organized is a perpetual struggle in any office space, yet it’s crucial to efficiency. So for any workspace, and especially if you’re prone to becoming buried under your desk, it’s imperative to work lots of storage solutions into the design.  Ideally, if you have the space for them, built-in cabinetry helps store large items and hides clutter; you can repurpose a sideboard into file and supplies storage.  Bookcases and open shelves are also a great way to keep things organized and provide display space for both functional and decorative elements.

home office organization

Bearing in mind just a few important themes – organization, a neutral palette to encourage focus, task areas, and making the space personal – you can carve out a functional workspace in your home that you won’t want to leave.

Creative Design Solutions for Shared Bedrooms

Many of us remember (whether fondly, or not) sharing a bedroom with a sibling during childhood.  Kids can learn a lot of positive lessons from sharing space, like compromise, sharing, and respect for others’ belongings.  And to ensure that your children’s memories of sharing a room with a brother or sister are happy ones, here are some great ideas for room designs that meet kids’ needs and cut down on sibling squabbles.

Division of Space

Whether your children are close in age or there is a large age gap, everyone likes to have their own space.  Carving out separate areas for each sibling can be done more elegantly than a stripe down the middle of the floor (who can forget the childhood refrain of “you’re on my side!”), employing some creative space dividers like bookcases, wardrobes, or drapery.  An open bookcase with multiple compartments allows the space to be divided without a complete visual block, and doubles as storage and display space for children’s things.  A tall wardrobe or armoire helpfully adds closet space.  Individual work- and play-spaces are also key; small coordinating desks or tables allow kids a surface to set up projects or puzzles, and do their homework.  Furniture can also be custom-designed for the room to maximize square footage and give each child a unique space of their own.

Storage Solutions

With children comes stuff.  Toys, clothes, books, schoolbags – in order to keep a shared room from devolving into a cluttered disaster, it’s important to provide useful, child-friendly storage solutions.  Shelving with lots of compartments, desks with drawers, closet build-ins, toy bins and baskets, and dedicated places to hang things all help cut down on clutter and keeps the children’s room functional.  If your space allows it, consider moving most of the toys to another play area in your home, to free up floor space in the shared bedroom.

Cohesive Design

Many parents struggle with whether to let each sibling decorate their section of a shared room to reflect individual tastes, or to choose the same colors, furniture and textiles for a more cohesive scheme.  Most designers will agree that, either way, the room should have some unifying aspects.  This can be achieved using a color palette and furnishings in complementary finishes.  Having walls painted two coordinating colors can add interest.  Each sibling’s bedding doesn’t have to be identical, but layering similar patterns and colors ties the room together while allowing each child to differentiate “their side.”  Giving each child a small area to display their own artwork and treasured items ensures that, even in a room where everything is thoughtfully designed to coordinate, children’s unique personalities can shine.

Shared bedroom ideas for boys and girlsCourtesy of http://projectnursery.com/

Modern Ways to Use Wallpaper

The mention of wallpaper can conjure images of a dusty grandmother’s parlor, or dated patterns that smother a room – but many designers know that modern wallpapers can add elegance and texture to a space, and there’s no rule they have to be used on all four walls.

Living Room Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of  daleeramo.com

In a room that lacks architectural interest, hanging a bold wallpaper on one wall can create visual interest and layer pattern or texture into an otherwise boring space.  Savvy designers have been using rich fabric or fabric-like papers like grasscloth or damask on the wall behind clients’ beds for years, to add luxury and color to sleeping quarters.  Modern wallpapers in of-the-moment prints like chevron, arabesque, toile, and Greek key all provide a canvas to layer pattern in a space.

Hand-painted wallpapers with botanical scenes, birds, and vines also add whimsy and romance to places like a dining room or child’s bedroom.  Botanical papers are particularly stunning in Parisian-inspired boudoirs as well.

Living Room Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of rezanouranian.com

Bold geometric or patterned patterns, and wallpapers with very rich colors don’t just have to be used on walls, either.  Clever designers have used them in the recesses behind wet bars or china cabinets for example, or as panels to cover wardrobe doors.  Textured papers printed to look like tiles or plaster scrollwork can take a space from plain to knockout with less commitment and expense than the real thing.

Textured Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of clarke-clarke.com

Some contemporary wallpapers add metallic elements to their patterns and textures as well, which can bring light and shimmer into dim spaces.

With so many choices available, at a wide range of price points, wallpaper is definitely enjoying a renaissance in interior design, and can add depth and polish to a space without ever evoking grandma’s parlor.

bedroom by curated kravet

Bringing Light into Dim Living Spaces

When living areas are dark, they tend to feel closed-in and gloomy, which makes people seek the sunnier, visually warmer spots in a home.  But even if a living room is north-facing or has small windows, there are some simple design tricks to bring in light and make the space feel brighter and more spacious.

Get rid of heavy drapes or window treatments, for starters.  Dim living rooms benefit from minimal window treatments, like sheer white roller blinds that provide privacy but let in lots of light.  Avoid visually heavy curtains, instead opting for light airy fabrics, and consider installing the curtain rod near the ceiling line and buying longer panels that go to the floor, to create height and drama in the space.

Luminette Privacy Sheers by Hunter Douglas

Luminette Privacy Sheers by Hunter Douglas

Another indispensable curtain-hanging trick that makes windows seem larger and prevents window treatments from blocking precious light, is to buy rods that extend past the windows by at least 6” and more optimally 12,” on either side of the casing.  This way when the curtain panels are parted, virtually none of the window is obscured and all of the natural light can illuminate the room.

It should go without saying, but color in dim spaces is everything.  Using warm creamy whites or other pale colors that reflect light can help brighten a space, literally and figuratively.  Dark or dramatic wall colors can close a space in.  Layering different whites for the trim paint, wall paint, and window treatments can still feel warm, as can light-colored rugs or floor finishes.  White furniture can also visually free up a dim space, but might not work for all households, unless you use washable slipcovers for the upholstered pieces.

Light bedroom by Stark

Palm Beach home featuring STARK fabrications

Treating a dark living area with reflective accessories that throw light around is another way to brighten the space and keep the white finishes from feeling sterile.  Mirrors mounted on the wall opposite windows reflect all that natural light back into the room, and glass or metal occasional pieces like side tables also add some shine.  Consider mirrored frames for artwork or photographs on display.

all white bedroom with grand mirror

A luxe Washington D.C. apartment by Solis Betancourt & Sherrill from Architectural Digest

Finally, brightening up a dim space can be done most simply by changing out all the light bulbs in a room to daylight LEDs, and adding more occasional lighting like table or floor lamps.  Table lamps create warmth, especially if they have warm metal/brass tones or glass bases, and should not be undervalued even in a space with overhead lighting.

Lighting and Lamps by Curated Kravet

Lighting Collection by CuratedKravet.com