Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome to 2019

DIY design consultant

I love listening to my client's hopes and project plans for the new year.  It's a privileged to be part of their decision making process.  All of us have time and resource considerations so prioritizing is an important part of planning process.

For one client there's a kitchen remodel that involves tearing down an interior wall to open up the kitchen to the living room.  That's an expense but in the end it will make working in the kitchen a much more enjoyable task. More space means more freedom to include a bigger island or more workaround space.  The possibilities are endless.

Another client is trying to decide between a lively, busy patterned rug for their music room or a more quient yet colorful once to grace the floor.  Both rugs have the same beautiful multi-color hues but one will be a focal point and the other will be a compliment.  It's a good time to buy the rug though because Macy had a good rug sale that ends today. We all know how that feels.

And another wants to paint her cabinets rather than replace them.  She likes her kitchen but wants to jazz it up with color and fancy hardware. But does she want a soft green or does she want the bold look of  a high gloss cobalt blue?  I helped her with paint samples but now she must choose.  Decisions, decisions,

As a do-it-yourself person, I'm happy to act as a consultant for those who want to do the work themselves.  However, most of my clients prefer both the design and project management to take place while they move around their busy lives.

This year i will once again be donning my tool belt as I move forward with my own projects.  Most of my designing is done so now it is a matter of product selection and physical labor.

I wish everyone a healthy, safe and productive New Year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ICFF Design Show - Chairs


Professionals in the Design Community congregated from around the Globe  to experience the dazzling innovations on display at North America's premier design show, ICFF,  in NYC - May 20th-23rd.   It's a moment in time  to view trends, get a head's up on "what's next", develop relationships with new and solidify relationships with ongoing vendors. The Show also presents an opportunity   to talk face to face with artists who develop many of unique items that designers love to introduce to their clients.   Talking to artist to understand what influenced their design is one of my favorite things to do and I love to pass that insight onto my clients.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) had a variety of comfortable and intriguing chairs that invited the attendee to sit and relax.

This leather jewel from Molinari Living offers a soothing moment to anyone walking through the many exhibits and, if you have a beverage, there is a revolving tray attached for you convenience. For some collections matching tables with a choice of table tops are also available.

From casual dining chairs to office chairs, color was a fun factor in the appeal:

Interior Renovation Award 2014
Atelier Fesseler

Let Emotions Think

Leader in Rope Furniture

There were many fascinating elements surrounding the ICFF Show.  Further postings will address what I consider the cool finds in the Show as well as the kitchen and bath items.  Stay Tune.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The World of Paint

One of the first things people often do when they want a new look to a room is to paint it.   I have hundreds of paint color samples that I take to my client's home and we talk about what color is best for each room.  Often the downstairs or public area are done in one color and the private areas done in different colors.  It's best to have a color plan laid out before the process begins.

This living space is  one of my favorite projects.  The house is now on the market for sale so all the pictures that once adorned the walls have been removed for staging purposes.

Designing With Books

I'm currently involved in choosing paints for a 1,000 SF condo.  Gray is one of my favorite colors. They are a variety of shades, some charcoal, some light,  but they can all serve as a base color with areas of bold blue or purple to offset and create magic in the room.  I created a post earlier in the blog about the color of gray:

How To Paint A Room Article:

If you decide to do the painting rather then hire a contractor, here's an excellent article to help with the task:  https://sawshub.com/how-to-paint-room/

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

From Archtectural Plans to Concrete, the Building Process Begins..

As several of our clients already know, last year we started working on plans for our condo atop of a 2 1/2 car garage that would house our tools as well as cars.  We have jumped through several hoops like getting the plans approved by the  Township  and working with a local architect to avoid having to get a variance -  long and expensive process.  We are now at the point where we can move forward with the actual concrete and lumber.  It's always exciting to see the lines on a drawing become the walls of a structure.

 The picture to the right shows the outline of the addition.  It always looks smaller then it actually is for some reason.  The condo upstairs will be 1000 + square foot.

As you can see below, the footings have been started.  And the Dumpster has arrived - hooray.

While the framing and other task will be done by us and other family members who are in the construction business, a local  Concrete Contractor and HVAC Contractor are in place.  I am working on hiring a Roofing Contractor.

A rough draft of the finished condo is below.  I am still designing the space but I have some of the products already picked out.  I've time since we won't actually get to this for a few months yet.  The interior is my realm, so I can not wait.

As we proceed, I will keep you posted.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mastering the Colonial Kitchen

During my hiatus from the grueling hot days of Arizona's summer sun, I traveled back in time to the open heart kitchens of our early colonial ancestors. Working in those kitchens was not for the faint at heart.  Your first task to master would be to understand fire. If you did not understand how fire operated then you would not be able to control the fire.

As the main cook in the kitchen you would rise early to prepare the fire.  You would know that hardwoods such as oak, sugar maple are the best woods to get a good burn going, one that generates an even and intense heat, as well as a good supply of hot coals. You need the hot coals for baking. In Colonial America finding the right wood was not a problem, we had an abundance.

The large iron bracket in the picture to your left is called a crane.  Cranes were used to maneuver  a variety of pots and pans within the controlled fire. The "S" hook placed on the crane would allow the cook to suspend pots over the fire and the hinged crane was used to swing the pots and pans off the fire safely. Stewing, simmering and boiling could be done using the crane but they also had frying pans with long handles and little legs called spider pans that could sit on the coals. If the pot did not have legs than they could use a trivet with legs to sit on the coals.  Some pots had an indent on the lids which was used to hold hot coals so that the pot itself turns into a small oven with heating elements on top and bottom.

Operating the fire correctly was certainly important for safety reasons but also the cook would understand that she needed a certain amount of coals for making bread in the oven.  The coals would be shoveled from the fireplace into the oven and the opening beneath the oven is a warming oven.  Sometime it could take up to 4 hours to ready the oven for bread making, but once the bricks were  hot enough than the ashes would be swept out and the bread placed in the oven using a flat shovel similar to what you see today in wood-fired pizza shops. They were no controls on the oven, so the cook would have to place her hand in the oven to check for readiness. These were very brave women. Scalding accidents were common and the threat of death by fire was always present.

Oh, and did I mention the cooks in the kitchen dressed in wool?  It sounds crazy, I know. Wool was known for its very low flammability rate. Wool naturally extinguishes itself and will singe rather than catch on fire. It will also not melt or stick to your skin like synthetics will.

One aspect about colonial living that we could benefit from mirroring is the fact that they didn't waste anything.  When the bread was done and the oven started loosing its heat, they would use it to dry out fruits and herbs.  And when the wood had turned to ashes, well, they used ashes to create lye which they used to make soap.  We talk about sustainability in today's world with catchy phrases like "reuse, recycle, reduce" but our founding mothers and fathers of colonial America lived it. 

Colonial Revival Reconstruction
 The kitchen pictures above were taken at the Pennsbury Manor Estates in Bucks County, Pa. While William Penn's main seat of government was in Philadelphia, Pennsbury Manor  was Penn's "green country home" and sits on the bank of the Delaware River about 25 miles north of the city.  There is much to see and much to learn at the Pennsbury Manor.   If you are in the area, the Manor is well worth a visit. Please check the website to see the times of the tours as well as the fun events they have scheduled throughout the year.  I am one of the many volunteers at the Manor.  My role is that of a tour guide, so maybe I'll see you there.