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.  

Kitchen of the Future in time for the holidays!!!

I recently attended a symposium regarding the kitchen of the Future offered by NKBA at the Hafele showroom here in NYC.

As this is the week before Thanksgiving and we all are looking forward to be with family and friends and share this day. It is a time to reflect on this year coming to an end and appreciate what we have. Sometimes, the little things bring us more acknowledgment of our gratitude – the sunshine that greets us every morning, the falling leaf that offers us simple beauty in its shape and golden colors. A simple walk in the park and watching children frolic gleefully.

So since the kitchen is the heart of the home and will no doubt be the center of hustle and bustle, laughter and comradery, I would like to share with you the future of the kitchen. The design triangle of the layout is no longer valid – the stove refrigerator and sink making a triangle was developed when the kitchen was used by one person, our mother, our grandmother. Today the preparation of food has become the social center – the open plan so that no one is left out of the fun and laughter.

Technology not only has entered our lives through ipads, iphones, social media – but it has come into the kitchen!!! We can look forward to back splashes that will be our communication center – bring up favorite holiday recipes – connect with relatives who are preparing dishes to add to your menu – get the weather report, traffic for guests who are traveling – this instead of tile, stone or paint! Cooktops will become additional working surfaces as the heating coils will be hidden below the surface and will be activated by the placement of a pot! Sinks will become bigger to be used by more than one person – no more crowding the water! Cooktops will be able to be linear with burners in a row rather than stacked as shown by one of the panelists, Ray K Mann of RK Studios. She left a 9″ space in front of the burners to be used for chopping, utensils for stirring – everything immediately in front of the booking process. Cabinetry emphasizes the use of drawers over doors – which I’ve been doing in my designs for clients – Having drawers allows you to see everything before you, rather than digging out items that creep to the back of the cabinets!

                              Technology is here to stay and we should be open to it and embrace it!!! There is a whole new world before us.

With or without all the horns and whistles, I wish you and yours a wonderful and spirited Thanksgiving and find joy in the smile of your elders,
the laughter of your children and be grateful for the freedoms and blessings we have as Americans as so many live with fear and poverty
who run from those who live and instill hate for the sake of hate.

                                                                                                                 HAPPY THANKSGIVING.


Trends in Design – or not?

The report is out from this year’s High Point Market. Top trends found at market this Fall – is an emphasis on chains – this motif was found in wallcoverings, area rugs and accessories – whether it was table lamps or table accessories. Chain links were and still are popular in jewelry as a necklace, bracket or even a ring. They have continually been used as a classic border in carpets and area rugs – now they are turning whimsical as bent floating chains on wallpaper and fabrics. chain link bracelet

Hermes orange is popping up everywhere – an accent wall, leather boxes for keeping keys at the entry way; lacquered furniture to add a punch of color to an interior. Orange mums in a vase is the first sign of Fall! Lexington Brands Orange Cabinet

Now I’m not one to follow trends – and I know I’m dating myself – but even as a teenager I refused to wear Jordache jeans – no one was going to get free advertising on my butt! No thank you, Jordache and Calvin Klein! I recently whined down from an interior for a couple who had demanding requirements and were a little insecure with using color. But the apartment had good bones, fabulous light and they were excited to break out of their usual palette. As we shopped for furniture we were both immediately drawn to a beautiful Hermes orange leather cabinet that was perfect for their needs. We immediately fell in love with it at Lexington Home Brands. From that one piece I created a little drama to a otherwise small entryway by painting the walls a deep eggplant purple!
This color combination was done this early Spring – way before this Fall Market – Was I ahead of the curve?, maybe – but then, look further back, and you’ll find those colors in Royal robes, sports teams – its been done before! So my question to you – are these “trends” that are popping up now – do trends come and go – or is it good design that is always here – but sometimes needs to be revisited?


Fall is Here and so is the D&D Market Week

With the crisp air arriving in the City, so did Design Week at the D&D Building this week for 3 days. I attended yesterday to see the new products and sat in on some of the exciting lectures and discussion offered during the day. So this is what’s new or being re-discovered. At Innovations we were presented with thought provoking ideas about vintage mixed with contemporary design – and yes, the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s influences are still alive and well. Innovations also gave us a sneak preview of their latest wallcoverings – there are beautiful offerings from around the Globe. Wrapping tables in vinyl, leather, linen, raffia still makes a unique statement!

Visting the Edward Ferrell and Lewis Mittman new showroom to listen to a panel discussion moderated by the Editorial Director DJ Carey of Cottages and Gardens Publications was quite insightful. What are some of the basic differences between American Design and design abroad. Simply put – Americans want comfort, they like the feel of openness, furniture layouts define the rooms, they want their technology versus abroad where their rooms are smaller in scale, their furniture is used from one generation to the next, so there is an abundance in all the rooms without any defined layout. BUT they applaud the American use of color!
Some interesting pieces that caught my was a grouping of accent tables at EF&LM with a beautiful wood top that I took as the modrn version of marquetry – there was a slight tint of color to define the wood grain.

Edward-Ferrell Lewis Mittman Table

Edward-Ferrell Lewis Mittman Table

At Kravet, they offered a reasonably priced console table wrapped in one of their wonderful faux leather vinyls accented by nailheads.DD Week 2
They also offer a wonderful concrete-topped lamp table with a simple flared base. DD Week 3

I can’t wait to adapt some of these good finds on my next project!!!

Attendance at the Summer Social of NKBA Manhattan Chapter

KB Grohe Faucet Filter 2Fun was had by all while catching up with colleagues I’ve missed with our busy summer schedules.   The annual summer social of the Manhattan Chapter of NKBA was held at the beautiful Grohe showroom on Fifth Avenue. At the party Grohe introduced their latest product which we had a chance to partake!  

The advanced faucet with the dual lever of providing tap water, filtered water and various degrees of sparkling water, all with a turn of a dial.

This is a faucet truly designed for the home entertainer – and no more bottles to deliver and store!!!  

KB Grohe New Faucet Filter System

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.

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