Hidden Spaces




Sometimes a room will have a little nook, a recessed space created by an architectural feature, the inside of a dormer, say, or an unused storage area. I find these hidden spaces inspirational. I love dressing them, much like a collage artist fills in a box. The top photo is a nook in our guest bath in Montclair. The second is the inside of a dormer in our former West Orange home. The final image is adjacent to a client’s master bedroom and bath. Different sizes and shapes, but all showcasing the art of making something out of a little, nondescript space. It’s no wonder I love working on the tiny, jewel like interiors of dolls houses. Small is beautiful.

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A Year in Montclair



We’ve been settling into our Montclair apartment, and I’ve been experimenting with different accessories and final furnishings placement. These two photos encompass the kitchen/dining area, living room and library, a thirty foot open space with nine foot ceilings, which, combined with the oversize windows, give the apartment it’s plentiful light and character. We use the chandeliers sparingly, because of the natural light and Manhattan views. In the morning the sun rises behind the skyscrapers, silhouetting them as dark cutouts against the brilliant sky. We even derive some consolation from the winter, as the leafless trees improve our view.

The kitchen table opens to seat eight when necessary, and I love being in the center of things when cooking, not hidden away. The wood cabinets are quite dressy and non-traditional, fitting neatly into the scheme for the living room and library. A wafer-thin induction cooktop adds to the understated feel.

The custom sectional and chairs in the living area create an oval shape, encouraging shared conversation, much like a round dining table. Our antique armoire was dismantled to get through the door and then reassembled, and now does yeoman service as liquor cabinet and bar. The library houses a cherished book collection in custom cabinets, as well as the flat screen.

My husband and I have found our bliss in this old, stately building in Montclair, though of course I will continue tinkering. Occupational hazard.

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In Search of the Perfect Dinner Ware





I’ve been on a mission for over a year, looking for the perfect dinner ware for my client’s home in Florida. During my trip to London I popped into Harrods, in Paris I visited the Galerie Lafayette, and my quest became a favorite web search. Finally, during a trip to Bloomingdales on another mission, I hit pay dirt: The Amazonia Collection by Villeroy & Boch. Here you can see the fabric sample I took with me, and several plates and a cup from the collection. The lively, elegantly hand painted design is lightly tropical, and full of fun. For my client it was worth waiting for; they’re delighted living with this magnificent dinner ware. And I can finally put the search to bed. It’s a small element of a large project, but it’s nice when even the small elements fit into the grand scheme.

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It’s February so it must be time for the gift show, known these days as NY NOW. Off we go to the Javits Center, braving the elements and the hopeless parking. I visit the accessory companies I work with, as well as tracking down exciting new stuff. Here are a few highlights, from the top photo down:

This company makes evocative antique radios that are 1930s-40s reproductions. They come in all shapes and sizes, in polished wood with authentic dials and controls. Of course it was before my time, but I imagine the Resistance soldiers in France during WWII listening to the BBC, straining to hear their sabotage targets before marching out to do battle with the Nazis.

When is a lamp not a lamp. When it’s an object that’s decoratively lit from the inside. I like the design and think I might have the perfect location for it.

Not your mother’s building blocks. This company features wooden blocks with which your children can reveal their inner urban planner. They are cleverly packaged and ecologically produced. And they have absolutely nothing to do with electricity. Perfect for grandson Owen.

I’ve known this company for some time. Based in Provence, they produce handmade ceramic “hens” that are whimsical and appealing.

I’m always looking for bath accessories, and these are clean and well made, with a multiplicity of choices.

Every year there’s something that breaks new ground in bad taste. I nominate these faux Warhol soup tins.

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Kitchen and Bath Binge



Lately it seems my clients have been on a kitchen and bath binge. I’ve been going from one kitchen to another, when I’m not doing a bath. In this case we’re in the middle of a complete master bath renovation, with double sink, dressing area, large shower for two, and custom cabinets for linen on either side of display cabinets. The floor has an elegant criss-cross pattern, with a border of thassos and ming marble, which is repeated on the vanity tops and in the shower. Cool feature of the shower is copious natural light through a window of glass blocks.

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Eating Well in London





gnudi overhead


My son’s lovely wife Nicole has a true passion for food, and our trips to visit them in London inevitably become culinary extravaganzas. She works for a group of restaurants, and it’s a case of “you mean they pay me to do this?” Well, not really, she works very hard and the restaurant business is challenging, but being around all that amazing food and the people who make it happen is a big plus for Nicole. We went to two locations of Vinoteca, her company, and they made us feel like genuine VIPS. Above you’ll find her photos of this moveable feast—apologies to Hemingway.

From the top pic down…

Went to Trompette, a fine French restaurant, for Christmas eve lunch, a traditional English event. Here are the restaurant’s signature trompette mushrooms, so called because of their horn-like shape, atop a waffle-like wafer.

Home cured bresaola with mixed salad leaves and parmesan.

Crisp suckling pig shoulder with greens and polenta.

Hole in the wall Turkish restaurant close to our kids place provided one of the best meals of our trip, including char-grilled minced lamb combined with light seasoning, wrapped in thin home made bread topped with butter, tomato sauce and yoghurt.

The best pub food bears no resemblance to the cold sausages of my youth. Nicole’s restaurant friends told her about a pub in Brighton, and they were not wrong. This is hand rolled gnocchi (called Gnudi because it’s stuffed with ricotta, not potato.)

A majestically risen soufflé is topped with apple crumble and ice cream. The heat of the soufflé melts the ice cream and the result is unlike any apple crumble I’ve ever tasted. Heavenly!

In addition to our stomachs, we fed our heads as well, seeing two plays. Belleville is an American play which was receiving its London premiere. The Ferryman is a new Irish play set in the 1970s. I thought both plays were going to be comedies, nothing particularly challenging. We were on holiday after all. Well, Belleville ended with a suicide, The Ferryman with multiple murders on stage. Good thing we ate before the plays. 


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“Oh, to be in England…”







Spent a sublime Christmas in London, visiting our son and daughter in law. Nicole was, as usual, the best guide to the city, especially the gastronomic possibilities. I’ll devote a post just to the food.

Photo at top was taken on our day trip to Brighton, along the Channel coast. It may not be the Cote D’Azur, but I spent a glorious time at the English seaside learning the language (or so my parents thought) as a teen, so I have a special place in my heart for the pebbly beaches and watery sun.

Had to visit Harrods in the second pic, awed by the over the top excess, whether it’s a backgammon set for $20,000, or a crystal and gold centerpiece for $200,000. I saw my favorite glass artist, Dale Chihuly’s work. Beautiful, pristine, the colors are mind-blowing. The exhibit says he “changed the definition of glass.” I agree.

On a more cuddly note, the green Harrod’s toy truck stuffed with teddy bears put a smile on my face. Made me think of grandson Owen. Passed a shop near Chiswick that definitely had me bemused. As the elders among us know, CCCP are the initials of the former Soviet Union, our mortal enemy in the cold war. This section of London is heavily Polish—and Poland was a not so happy member of the CCCP, so the name clearly has an element of irony. I think.

Finally an ad seen in the London Underground that I have to share. “Decorating jobs with better pay” it announces, with the visual of a paint brush morphing into a wad of cash. Now, in England, decorating jobs are essentially what we would call contracting jobs, so these are not interior design jobs as we know them. I don’t care…”Decorating jobs with better pay” is a manifesto I can easily embrace!

So we’re back at work in New Jersey, all those delicious meals and fascinating sights just a memory. But what memories! And traveling memories are especially vivid, as time goes by.

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Enabling the Blissful Slouch


On either end of my clients’ super comfortable sectional are chaises that are, for the couch potato in your life, heaven on earth. They look as relaxing as they are, enticing you to flop into their embrace. The sectional has just the right proportions for the space, and the rich green color really pops. The tan oversize ottoman provides contrast and legroom, and the smaller cube ottomans offer extra seating in a pinch.The fireplace was redone in stone, with a special inset housing for the TV. A textured wool rug and sheers on the window mimic the design feel of the adjacent living room (see recent post). But really, the focus of a TV room is the seating area, and in this case five potatoes can sprawl on the sectional in a kind of blissful slouch while communing with the tube. 

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A Condo Tailored for the Two of You




I’ve helped quite a few clients downsize as they look to simplify their lives after their children leave the nest. I know this transition well because I’ve been through it myself. My husband and I found our bliss in an apartment in Montclair. For my clients a spacious, multi-story condo in Morristown fit the bill, with none of the tribulations of snow removal or the constant upkeep an older house demands.

Once you’ve decided to fly the coop the question becomes what furnishings do you take and what do you toss? What pieces will work in the new space, and what will you need to add? My clients have a large collection of Roseville pottery, which had been sprinkled liberally throughout their old home. I convinced them it would be far more impactful as well as practical to concentrate the collection in a custom display cabinet. My favorite master cabinet maker, Jack Chong (you can see his work in our apartment here), built a lovely piece that not only houses much of their collection, but gives the room a wonderfully tailored feel. I finished the windows on the adjacent wall with sheers fixed above the windows, on a level with the custom cabinets, adding to the bespoke feel of the design, as well as taking advantage of the two story ceiling height. I reused the sofas from their library and the cocktail table from their living room, adding a comfortable swivel chair and large wool area rug.

Compare the two top photos with the third showing the space before, and you can see the dramatic change. My clients have no regrets about their move, and have settled in to enjoy the airy elegance of their new surroundings.

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I cannot help myself, I need to share what has been the major joy of our lives this past year…grandson Owen. We see him as much as humanly possible, and every time we do, we leave with a smile on our faces.

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