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!




Do You Consider the Whole of Your Space?

Wonderment at Macy's

Wonderment at Macy’s

What do I mean the “Whole of Your Space?”

Here are some thoughts to ponder:

Comfort – Are all the seats comfortable and appropriate of your function, not the SEAT, but YOU.

Light –  The right lighting in the interior but are you capturing as much of the natural space from the outside.

Air – I know you are questioning this – but a space needs to breathe just as you do –  this means not every wall needs something on or against it – float a chair or sofa away from the wall.   Not every corner needs to be filled –  by leaving areas open – not only are you allowing a breathe to be taken, but your eyes can rest and appreciate what’s there.

Expansion –   I’ve addressed this on several occasions –  you can create visually more space simply by creating volume by grabbing outdoors –  How?

By taking one of the colors outside your window and using it as a wall color or an accent color;  By incorporating plants and flower arrangements into the space;

By  laying out the outdoor space as a “room” and becoming part of your interior!      By using holidays to express  what these events and occasions mean to you.

Whether its for my clients or for myself,  I bring a piece of all these elements into my designs.     Since I’m traveling this holiday, a tall glass cylinder fills with glass decorations and small gift boxes offered a festive lift for the short time I am in the City.      Wandering the City during this time of year, experiencing the stores decorated interiors and festive windows,  offers us all a great uplift and joy in the moment.

While we all anticipate the coming New Year – lets find time to reflect what this past year has brought – and just maybe the New Year will bring us Peace on Earth and in our Hearts.;


A simple DYI touch in your home!

A simple DYI touch in your home!








Your Outdoor Space – A Bonus Room

Almost any outdoor space can  be transformed into an outdoor room that reflects your style; the choice is yours whether to use the style you have created inside your home, punch it up a bit, or change style completely!

The obvious choice would be to extend the style of your home right into the outdoor area. You are already comfortable with this design mode, and by keeping it consistent, the transition between spaces will be effortless.    If your color palette is subdued or pastel, consider punching it up with bolder colors and accents.   It actually will visually enlarge your interior space by drawing the eye outdoors!
Your outdoor space also offers a way to experiment with and experience a new style of decor, one that differs from your home’s interior. Walking through the doorway between the interior and exterior offers a natural feeling of transition, allowing a different style outdoors to work. To add some continuity and connection to your interior space, keep a few common elements such as one of your interior colors. That way, there is something that stays familiar and creates a bridge between the two environments.

Landscaping can become part of the outdoor design, defining both the physical space as well as composing part of the color palette. Consider shape and size, color and blooming time when selecting your plants and flowers. Keep in mind scent – a strongly scented flower may not be appealing right next to your seating area or dining table. It may also attract more bugs than a less fragrant plant.

There are many ways to add more color or accents to your outdoor room:

Landscaping – include flowers, bushes and trees. Plan for the entire lifespan of the space and vegetation – keeping in mind that the sapling you plant will grow, and may not enhance your space the same way in 5 years. Consider the blooming season; plants may only bloom for part of your outdoor season, so you will want to plan to have different plants flowering throughout the entire season.20150520_101121

Furniture –  Outdoor furniture comes in a variety of colors and textures which can add color to your outdoor space. You can also repaint most furniture to the color of your liking; just make sure you use a paint that is specifically created for outdoor use. Wrought iron furniture can be completely transformed in a half hour using a can of spray paint!                                                                                                                                                  KIPS BAY Showhouse – Rich Heller .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   for Greener by Design.

20150517_155432   Mill Neck Manor Showhouse, Long Island.

Be creative with furniture also – with wood and bricks or old metal carts repainted can become your beverage center – or old columns or fencing can create a defined seating or dining area – with outdoor drapery and lighting – you have now created a dining room!   No longer stop at candles – use chandeliers hung from tall tree branches!

Accessories and Accents – flower pots and planters can add bold color splashes to accent and add a finished look to your outdoor decor.  Pillows can add both color and patternern, as well as a sense of comfort to your room.   Bring some of the accessories that you have used inside your home and repeat that theme outdoors!

Your outdoor space should be a wonderful addition to your home. Well designed it is a reflection of you, and a sanctuary to be enjoyed – differently and in addition to your interior space. 


Romancing the Stone – Tips For Creating Romance in Your Home Year Round

Whether you live in a center hall colonial, cottage by the sea, a ranch in the high sierras, or a midtown apartment, there are ways to keep the romantic fires burning under your roof, every day of the year.

Yes, I know Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and with it, short-lived romantic gestures and much anxiety. There will be tons of chocolates and dozens of roses bought – and by the next morning, half eaten chocolates end up in the fridge and the resulting guilt sends you running to the gym as your roses are dropping petals on the floor and the water in their vase is already turning murky!!!

Why should romance be only once a year!   Your home, your private sanctuary from the gruel of everyday living need not be devoid of romance all the time.  Here are my top tips for creating a romantic atmosphere in your home:


As I’ve talked about before in my blog and in conversations with my clients, lighting can break or make a room.  It sets the tone for relaxation and comfort as well as creating a pleasing atmosphere. It is the easiest, way to change your ambiance and create romance. Here are a few of the most effective ways to use lighting in your home:

Dimmers can be added to all the light switches in your rooms. From dining rooms to bedrooms, dimmers can change the mood of a room in the second it takes to move the dial, changing bright light into a soothing, romantic feel.

Under cabinet lighting can transform utilitarian rooms like the kitchen into pleasing, warm spaces. Once this room has served its purpose for the day, switch to under cabinet lights and enjoy their effect on decompressing you from the day’s tasks.

Candles are the standard and obvious choice for romantic dates and special occasions in restaurants and at home. I believe they should be on display daily to lend atmosphere and romance to your home.  One of my favorite ways to use candles is with large lantern style holders; they should be part of the décor and can be placed in every room.  Pottery Barn and West Elm are two places where you can find affordable options for these candleholders.

A group of lanterns can take the place of a fireplace when there  isn’t  one – they can be used as a source of light when watching your favorite movie and a great relaxer for simply enjoying a conversation.  Set up a trio of candles in every room of your home.


 While it’s always lovely to receive beautiful flowers that make us feel special – this treat should be shared by everyone under your roof – make it part of your weekly shopping ritual and bring home a bouquet.

You can get more mileage and pleasure out of a bouquet by utilizing a variety of arrangements from a single bud in a small vase, a flower or two floating in a small bowl of water, or the full bouquet. Unusual and unexpected floral displays add variety and a sense of play. Everyday items can make for attractive and unexpected floral containers – from mason jars, simple drinking glasses, to metal water cans. Every room can become more romantic with the addition of even a single flower, from your bedroom nightstand or dresser, the bathroom vanity or your kitchen counter.

  Flowers are always appreciated, and bring a smile even on the dreariest, rainy day.  

Not just for Special Occasions

 Treat yourself specially every day. Two things that are always underutilized in a home, because they are thought of for “special occasions only” are formal dinnerware and formal dining rooms.  I’ve always wondered why do we wait to have a special occasion to use our “special stuff”?

Treat yourself as though you are special, and every day is a special occasion! So many people have kept “special things” in boxes and rarely get to enjoy them, when they can provide joy and romance on a regular basis. While it is not always relaxing to enjoy these moments when we have small children – they can serve as part of the special occasion – we use them to teach a lesson in social graces, as well as treating oneself well – two concepts that are sadly getting lost in our fast paced high tech world.

To insure the feeling of calm and romance, keep cell phones and chargers in your home office or entryway. Never in the bedroom or living room; there is nothing that is that important to disturb the most private and serene rooms in your home!!!

Your home should be treated as your sanctuary – a shelter from all the frenzy created in this fast paced world.

 Make Valentine’s Day everyday in your home.  




The Science of Light

I was able to attend a lecture at Benjamin Moore called The Science of Light. In it, was discussed how Light and Temperature Sources can affect the way a color is perceived. Selecting the proper color really is a science; many elements need to be considered and it takes a trained eye.

Are You Dull or Bright?


The Right Lighting

“She may very well pass for forty-three, in the dusk with the light behind her.”

W.S. Gilbert “Trial by Jury”

I think we all know how important the right lighting can be. Your home, the restaurant in which you dine, stores, you name it. Lighting can make or break the experience and mood, it can make you appear to be more attractive or not, showcase your artwork and furniture or not…well, you get the picture.

There are so many things to consider when selecting the right lighting for your space that it is difficult to know where to begin, but for starters, here are a few “general” considerations that you must take into account when selecting lighting for your rooms. (To make things just a wee bit more complicated is the fact that EACH room is different. Please give me a call for specific ideas and tips.)

First off, let’s establish the fundamentals. There are really two main types of lighting: task lighting and ambient lighting. Task lighting (the desk lamp, light above the stove etc.) is clearly different from the ambient lighting that lights the room and truly sets the stage.

And a couple of other “facts” to keep in mind as you ponder the all-important issue of lighting:

1.  Incandescent bulbs give out soft natural light.  They are considered the standard and inexpensive choice that we all go to.

2. Those “curly” bulbs that have become all the rage, well, they’re efficient but they also give off a bluish cast making their usage in certain rooms and spaces awfully problematic. (Who wants to shave or apply make-up with a light that makes them look cold and, well, dead.)

3. LED lights are also very popular and although they are expensive, they last a long time (as much as 15 years). The thing to remember with LEDs is that they simply get more and more dim without completely going out and so many folks think they are having problems with their eyes when it is, in fact, a case of diminishing light emanating from the bulb. When you purchase LED lights, make certain to look for a Kelvin reading of 3000K. This reading will provide you with a light quality that is most comparable to natural light.

4. And my favorite, halogen lights. They can showcase your art in an extremely effective manner but they come with a negative as well, that being the bulb can get very hot so be careful when changing the bulb and NO fabrics nearby. And it is important when changing the bulb, that you do not touch the surface of the bulb; the oils from your fingers heat up and cause the bulb to break.
So with all of this in mind:

• It’s always best to place your lighting at different levels in the room and to integrate lamps that have a downward glow with those that have an upward glow. This helps to spread out the light and showcase your art, furniture and the room itself in the most attractive manner.

• Determine the focal point of each room and direct the lighting accordingly. Don’t place that amazing piece of furniture, artwork, antique or table in the shadows if that is the exact item that you wish to be prominent.

• In rooms that require bright lighting (ex. kitchen, bathroom), be certain to have the lighting on a dimmer. Bright light may be necessary when cooking or applying makeup, however, there are certainly times when the brightest light might not be desired or necessary.

• Make your bedroom your sanctuary and light it accordingly remembering, however, that although soft lighting might create a warm ambiance, it might not work when you wish to read in bed. Make certain that your lighting can provide the appropriate illumination for nighttime reading yet can be adjusted for when a more subdued light is desired.

When designing your space or simply renovating, lighting is one of the most important aspects of the job. Fantastic furniture and beautiful art will only look better if lit properly. This is definitely one place in which you don’t want to scrimp.

Copyright 2014 Thinklab Media | All Rights Reserved. Web services provided by Gary Riger