Cheers to the New Diner

My latest project was a really fun one. I redesigned my neighborhood diner – “My Cheers”. You know- where everyone knows your name. Murray Hill Diner Proprietor Christo and his manager, Tony, always welcome me whether I am there for my morning coffee or a late dinner. It has been much more often in the past 6 weeks as the gas in my building has been turned off due to construction in my building. What I have been eating is quite another story!
Restaurant Design can be creative but it takes a lot of time and thought on the space planning and how it affects the function. Small business owners can find the thought of reworking an already successful business anxiety provoking. It can take a long time to make decisions, many are resistant to change and the costs are especially anxiety ridden. Demographics change in neighborhoods and businesses need to evolve with the changes to stay relevant.
Restaurants dining should not be like eating at home. Every restaurant has the opportunity to create an experience customers will want to return to again. Whether it is a friendly and comfortable one, like at the Murray Hill Diner, or dazzling and exciting at an upscale Hotel, each business should offer something uniquely their own.
Spaces should be more vibrant, in color, texture and pattern, than you would have in your home. Customers will spend limited amounts of time there and can be invigorated by the space the around them as well as the menu. Stimulating environments, per medical research, can increase the appetite.
The Murray Hill Diner is now fun, bright and cheerful. I’ve selected a thin and sophisticated stripe to bring a new color palette to the space. Red and turquoise are the featured hues and are complemented by a coordinating pattern on the seating that features a circle pattern. Wood trim details add to the polished styling. New roller shades create a glare free meal at the end of the day, while new lighting brightened the place as well as saving money by using LED blubs.
The chairs at the counter are two tone, pattern and turquoise which bring the color story together even more dramatically. The whole space is now more pleasing and fits in with the neighborhood’s new demographics which caters to a younger hipper crowd.
Drop in on Christo and Tony, try their CHRIS’ Salad, my personal favorite, and tell them I sent you!


Before Renovation . . . 


The new booths!


Before Renovation . . . . 


The new Dining Room!


Before Renovation . .  .


The New Seating Counter!




The current world through a Designer’s eyes

It’s the first week of August – where did this year go???

You have to admit it’s been an unusual one – with its good and bad.  . .

We had an interesting year with politics and the up and coming Election – we started with the “entertainment “of Donald Trump – which is no longer entertaining but concerning.

We saw the Democrats really bringing a force to reckon with – perhaps to open up our way of thinking, questioning the democratic way in this country. Could Bernie have raised the consciousness of the American people?

And was there was the bright side of my year – my interior design practice was busier than ever with interesting projects with good clients.  I had my first stab at revamping the neighborhood coffee shop,  The Murray Hill Diner – using fun products from Wolf-Gordon, Arc-Com and Metropolitan Lighting.
They should be reopening within the week – I’d love to treat you to a cup of coffee!!!  Next Blog see the finished project and we’ll talk about restaurant design.


In late Spring I joined my friend and colleague Jane to visit the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum – The Manus X Machina exhibit. We both were surprised with the exhibit – it wasn’t what we had expected – but it was fascinating to see the development and evolution  of materials such as lace, plastic, folds of fabrics , some printed on a 3D printer.  Really exciting new technology that opens up a whole new frontier in design. – It is there until Sept. 5 – it’s something that should not be missed – They got my brain to look at materials in an all new way.
unnamedMet Manus Machina

Met Machina 3 d Printed dresses

In May, I visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with friends including our friend from New Zealand!  We were there in time to see the last of the tulips but greeted with the fresh blooms of Cherry Blossoms, Lilacs and the start of Peonies. The brilliance in the flower colors inspires me to think of the textures of fabrics. Ruffles, pleating, satin and velvet come to mind immediately!

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Bot Garden20160424_14501720160424_144332


What does this all mean?  That life is about participating.  Finding the best in people, enjoying the simple scent of a new bud.  We need to make intelligent choices that will affect not only us directly but how it affects others, the environment, and the earth at risk.  Our immediate participation and responsibility is to do the best we can. For me, it’s to understand my clients immediate needs, address both their needs and desires – to create environments that will bring them peace, offer them security and calm.

A well designed space will  open the opportunity to appreciate the simplest things in life

and to offer the security to  endure the worst that surrounds us

so that we can look to the future with a positive attitude.  

What is the difference between ADA and Universal Design

Last week I spent a full day in seminars on Universal Design at the new Daltile Showroom.     Most of us are familiar with ADA which is American with Disabilities Act mandated by the Federal Government. This was established with persons with physical disabilities, i.e, wheelchairs, vision impaired to be able to maintain their livelihoods in the workplace.

Universal design takes it further – universal design is for everyone – design should NOT be limited to a handful.    I as a designer I believe that without function or need to everyone there is no GOOD design.    A pretty room alone does not offer GOOD DESIGN.

                                              Here are some food for thought when considering your workplace or your home –

                                                                                             Is it comfortable.

                                                                   Is there quality and clarity in both product and intent of use.

                                                                                            Is there a sense of security.

                                             Here are some ideas that were discussed that may be helpful –

                                                                  Drawers are more useful and adaptable than doors

                                                                  Eliminate sharp edges at corners or turn points

                                                                  Use of Contrast in finishes – especially at counter edges.


                                        Lets all think about how we can all enjoy and reap the benefits of GOOD DESIGN.

I would be happy to discuss this important element in design with you – reach out to me to continue the dialogue.


Your Renovation Budget – Fantasy or Realistic

One of the biggest challenges I encounter in my interior design work, with both prospects and clients, is around budgets.

A prospect or existing client will meet with me about a design or renovation project they would like to work with me on. Here is how the conversation typically goes:

Prospect: We’d like to hire you to redo our kitchen.


Before Renovation

Me: Great. Tell me about the project and your budget.

Prospect: Well, we’d like to totally renovate our kitchen, take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, all new cabinets, appliances, floors, counters… We’re not sure about the budget.

Me: Great. Based on what you are telling me, I would put the project in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.

Prospect: Wow, that is a bit higher then we had in mind. Can we do it for $35,000?

Me: Not likely. Let me break out how we arrive at the budget.


While a prospect may say they have no idea of the budget, they have usually spoken to friends and family who has been through a renovation or redesign project, as well as watched a few HGTV home renovation shows, so they have thought about it to some degree.  They can still get sticker shock when they hear the costs involved in making over a space, especially in New York City; it is a unique environment due to fact that it is more challenging and expensive to undertake construction projects in a crowded urban environment.

How much will this improvement add to the value of my home? According to US News and World Report:  Surprisingly, much of the time the answer is not as much value as it costs to actually make the improvement.

To get to a realistic design budget here is a breakdown of what you have to factor in:


Project plans and permits– Projects requiring changes to layout and structural elements of your interior space or exterior building will need building permits and associated project plans.  The fees will depend on the type of project and its complexity.

Building permits are often required by local governments before any type of renovation and construction can begin. Your contractor and interior designer will be familiar with local building regulations and can handle preparing and filing your permits. Fees will be determined by the costs of the permits, if any, as well as the time your professional has to spend on securing them.


Materials, Labor and delivery charges– your existing office or home’s age and original materials will shape what types of materials are needed to create the proper build out for your current project. Construction related materials are comprised of pretty fixed costs; your selection of finishes is an area where you can potentially save money, or increase your costs.

One of the biggest expenses in doing a renovation or design project can be the labor. While a project starts out with an estimate of labor costs, it can’t possibly factor in the unforeseen things that come up in the course of doing your construction. In a congested urban area such as New York City, there will be additional contractor hours and fees for travel time and parking.

From building materials to furniture and accessories, there is a cost to have them delivered to your site. In today’s world, we are able to source the best materials and designs from around the globe. However, without careful attention to where a product is produced or shipped from, your budget can quickly accrue larger delivery charges, which are based on distance. Your design professional will be able to save you money by making better sourcing selections; keeping delivery costs down wherever possible.


Design Fees – Your designer is much more than just a creative advisor. They are a true professional who wears many often-unseen hats to get your dream office or home created with minimal hassle or problems. These additional roles include project manager, price negotiator, troubleshooter, and project champion. Interior designers work hard behind the scenes to keep your contractors honest and on schedule, as well as waiting on site for deliveries, which they then inspect for correctness and quality. Their fees are typically based on calculations of time and staff required to successfully complete your project; and according to my clients “are worth every penny in the problems they avert and solve without you ever knowing about them”. Their fees are not typically negotiable


Furniture and accessories – Your furniture and accessories are often an area where you don’t want to scrimp on your budget, as it’s these items that are seen and help define your space and its style. Buying less expensive, knock down [IKEA] furniture, can end up being not so inexpensive after you factor in the labor costs to assemble the furniture.


After tallying up all these project component and fees, we now have a realistic project budget.

Before you consider doing a renovation or addition to your home or office, I encourage you to speak with a design professional and run your project costs before getting attached to a number that may not be accurate for what you have in mind.

As an interior designer, I work with clients to help them create spaces they love while making the most of their budgets. If your budget and your dream project don’t seem to be aligned, I am able to show you the available and best options; ones you may not be aware of or considered on your own.

My goal is to work with you to achieve your desired outcome, in the most cost effective way that also protects your real estate investment.



After Renovation

To schedule a design consultation contact me at  212 532 2569  or at   (And yes, there is no e at the end of my name in the email address!)  That’s a story by itself.

TRUE OR FALSE: Your Landlord Should Not Do your New Space Plan

Congratulations, you got new office space. After making do in space that you had outgrown years ago, you feel that you finally have the space to support your business goals and accommodate your short and long-term needs. FANTASTIC!

Your head is spinning with ideas and thoughts about how the office should be configured and while your enthusiasm in high, you also know that you’ll need a professional to help you with the space plan for the office.

Who best to d that plan– well, the landlord, right? Um, wrong, DEAD WRONG! Here’s why:
– Designing your space isn’t the landlord’s priority; renting the space to you is and they have already accomplished that. (It’s a done deal!)

— The process is as follows: the landlord will hire an architect to do the base drawings for their tenants so that they can ten obtain all of the necessary work permits for the construction that is required. You (the tenant)think that you are getting all of this for free but actually it is an (invisible)cost that has been built into your lease on an ongoing basis (even at renewal). (C’mon, you know that there is no such thing as a free lunch so why should this surprise you?!)

— A landlord won’t take the requisite time to learn about your business in-depth. The specific needs of the workers are not addressed and the end result might be space that does not support the actual workflow and requirements of the office staff. You might find yourself having to make do with the space that has been designed and who wants to have to make do in their new office space. Why should you have to settle for less than what you wanted/needed?

— This isn’t the landlord’s core business and they will not be thinking about the office technology, office efficiencies, etc.


NOW wouldn’t you agree that working with a space planner is a better option?:

— A space planner will take the time to assess your current business, observe your business in action and will not only ask you questions about your current situation but will probe for future needs as well.

— They’ll take the time to truly understand your vision and work with you to configure the layout to best support your goals, office operations and efficient workflow. They’ll interview your staff to get an accurate perspective on how the space will be “used” vs. how it “looks.”

— Their experience and understanding of what works and what doesn’t will help ensure that all of your requirements are met right from the ginning without the need to make corrections once the initial work is completed.

So sign your lease and break open a bottle of champagne and after that’s done hire a space planner so that the job gets done right the first time.


Stressed out? Maybe Your Walls Are to Blame.


You’re at home, and you just want to relax. Or maybe you’re spending more time than you’d like in the office, and you’re feeling like you can’t catch a break. In either case, your environment can make a huge difference in how smoothly your day goes. And art might play a bigger part than you’d guess.

I recently attended a helpful panel called “The Intersection of Art & Design in Healthcare,” led by two art consultants and a researcher who studies the effects of art on the patients and staff at medical offices. Naturally, the old, stereotypical hospital art came up: framed posters, amateurish animals graphics in pediatric wards and the like.


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