Working for My Favorite Clients

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When we renovated our apartment in Montclair, the bedroom required major surgery. In the bottom photo you can see an odd structure jutting into the room.  This misuse of space housed a narrow closet and one of the two entrances to the bedroom. In the second photo it’s gone, and work has begun on the creation of the discrete bedroom suite. Construction is almost complete in the next photo, with built-in closets done, the original wood floor refinished and plywood added as part of an effective sound proofing system. Off the left hallway is our master bath and the door to the suite. In the top photo the room is finished. The bed rests against the upholstered wall, covered in a subtle William Morris pattern, which is repeated in the mini-office and the lumbar pillow atop the bed. The palette is light grey/green, clean and unfussy, accented by the textured wool carpet and painted wood bed. Counterpoint is provided by the espresso colored night tables and bulls-eye mirror.

The sleek, uncluttered design, in harmony with the revised layout, create a master bedroom suite that fits my husband and I like it was made for us, which, in fact, it was.

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No Staircase for the Inebriated

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This hallucinatory staircase connects the basement bar to the dining area of a new restaurant in London. Hundreds of layers of wood veneer are laminated to create the curving, sinuous forms, so that the end product looks like solid wood. I’ve dealt with many new and renovated staircases on projects over the years, but I’ve never seen one as complex and ambitious as this. After a few martinis, I wonder how many guests never make it to the dining room?

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Nesting Vase

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I’ve used nesting side tables many times as a furniture option. The best ones combine both elegance and functionality.  This is the first time I’ve seen the idea translated into a vase, and a very attractive one at that. Designed by Ron Arad, the vase is made up of four pieces using a Turkish technique that wraps colored glass rods around molten glass to create a spiral striped look. The vase looks equally appealing empty or full, the shape and the striped design creating intricate patterns and shadows. Like a nesting side table, the four individual vases can also be used separately, as Arad says,  “…so you could have four bowls doing different things, with apples in the base and flowers in the top for example. They can work together or they can work on their own.” But just as a handsome nesting table looks best in one piece, this dramatic vase is most impressive as a wonderfully integrated objet d’art.

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Bespoke Home Office

SYOUNG OFFICE

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At the top of my client’s home was an unused room with two intrusive dormers. Could a fully equipped home office live in this somewhat confined space? To make it happen the first priority was to create storage where there was none. Custom cabinets were built within the two large dormers, housing lateral files, making access easier. Between the dormers a custom cabinet adds to the storage.  A long black lacquer table under the window provides a platform for the TV. In addition to the ball and claw mahogany desk, there is a seating area with a round mahogany table and three chairs, two covered in Nobuck leather and one swivel rocker with a Nobilis striped fabric. Not visible in the photographs are a bookcase and closet.

Of course the look of the space is equally important as the functionality. The sienna color textured wallpaper and similarly toned carpet contrasts elegantly with the black cabinets and mahogany desk and table. The faux leopard covering on the desk chair provides a funky counterpoint to the more buttoned-down tailoring of the room. Tailoring is the right word, as this home office not only features everything the client needs functionally, but also has a look perfectly in tune with her style.

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Exploratory Surgery

Frankadd

I’m working with long time clients in Short Hills on a two story addition to their 1920s home. We will be creating a new kitchen below with two bathrooms above connecting to existing bedrooms. It is an interesting challenge, working to link new construction to a house of this age. I have done a preliminary plan, but only now that we’ve opened the adjacent structure to the studs can the final design work begin. With plumbing, electric and structural beams exposed, we can finalize the placement of fixtures and furnishings. Anything goes plans are now grounded by practical realities. The good news is that nothing vital will be compromised. A state of the art kitchen and two similarly up to date baths will be integrated into a home with great character and charm. My clients will have the best of old and new.

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Pavlova

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I’ve always wanted to make this delicate dessert, and I took the plunge last weekend. Both Australians and New Zealanders claim to have invented the dish to celebrate the visit of a famed Russian ballerina in the 1920s. The key element is meringue, which can be finicky to make. If the egg whites are not whipped and then baked correctly the merengue will collapse. I had some ice cream on hand in case the worst happened. It did not. I kept a close vigil while the meringue cooked for over four hours. Then I carefully stuffed the mascarpone into an opening I’d created in the underside of the fragile confection. The individual portions all survived this operation with flying colors. I made a fruit syrup and covered the meringue with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The result is a light, crispy dessert that literally melts in your mouth. The revues at my dinner party were unanimous. Not a trace of the Pavlovas remained. And I’ve added a new dish to my repertoire.

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Game Time

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JanPPong

How refreshing to have clients who appreciate the pleasure of an old-fashioned game room. We’re talking serious retro gamers, here, with an antique pinball machine, air hockey, foosball, pool, and a twelve foot shuffleboard with a lovely patina. Not to mention darts, of course. And in the second photo you can see a serious ping pong table in the adjacent room, with a monster Scrabble board on the wall. I love Scrabble, and I can’t imagine a more fun (and educational) indoor family activity. Take that, computer game zombies!

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A Room of One’s Own

I’ve never been asked to design a living space attached to the underside of a bridge. A unique challenge the gentleman in this video accomplishes with considerable ingenuity. 

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A Night to Remember

ChrisEllen

Visited good friends and former restauranteurs last weekend for an epic feast. These days our friends cater events to spend more time pursuing their other love—traveling. But before they leave on their next trip, they invited several couples over for a dinner I will never forget. As you can see from the photo, there were ten dishes set out when we came to the table, and this after an abundance of superb cocktail noshes. The emphasis was on fish, with mussels, shrimp, octopus, haddock and flounder on the menu. And several mouth watering salads. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many different taste sensations in a single meal. From strong, edgy spices to fragrant understatement, this meal had it all. Plus, of course, lovely wine, and most important, the joy of good fellowship with fascinating people. The best entertainment of all.

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My Builder Client

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Of course I often work with contractors, for everything from a kitchen remodel to building a home from scratch. I’m now working with a contractor in a new role—as client. I designed an interior in Livingston and the contractor working on the home was impressed, and asked if I would partner with them on a series of new homes they’re building by the shore. So I’m in the midst of speccing  all the lighting, bath and kitchen fixtures, flooring and color choices. It’s been a fascinating, positive experience, as my builder-clients have proven excellent to work with.

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