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!








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.


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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