Enabling the Blissful Slouch

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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

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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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Loire Valley Chambre

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I have described my clients’ Montclair home as a classic hunting lodge in the Loire Valley, and all this bedroom needs are several hounds lounging on the rug to make the illusion complete. The dramatically tufted bed dominates the design, and the challenge was to find tables that carry the same scale. The tables feature antique mirror facades and the rug is a soft grey and cream design, with an upholstered bench providing seating and storage under the window. The delicate vertical lights fit the style and the narrow wall space beside the bed. The almost bleached palette adds a more modern patina to the traditional feel. We need to add artwork, perhaps some fur on the bed. My client does have French blood, though his ancestor fought on the side of Napoleon, which would not have pleased the Loire Valley royals one bit.   

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Timeless Style

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I chose a striking Farrow and Ball bee pattern wallpaper to set off the black lacquer armoire and dining table in my clients Montclair home. I described my initial thoughts about this project several months ago, and we’re now doing the final accessorizing and placement of artwork. There is a strong old world cottage character to the layout, and my choices for the project both accentuate and counterbalance this impression. Here in the dining room the traditional pieces work with the silk lattice fabric, sheer window covering and custom damask rug to impart a timeless style, not beholden to any era. It’s a look I often strive for.

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Classically Elegant

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As in the other rooms of this Montclair cottage, my goal in the living room is to mix traditional and transitional elements to create a classically elegant look.

The sofa and loveseat are the same transitional design, covered in antique velvet with subdued contrasting piping on the cushions. The TV is hidden behind the mirror atop the fireplace, significantly adding to the character of the room without sacrificing practicality. A Jim Thompson fabric with a Greek key design (can’t get more classic than the Greeks) adorns the two swiveling club chairs. The rug is a textured wool sisal over the dark wood floor, adding a high contrast, traditional border to the floor design. A pair of nesting end tables in antique brass with a leather wrapped top add an airy sophistication, as do the pair of stone-based lamps. The white ceiling color is balanced by a very pale neutral tone on the walls, making the room appear larger. The inset bookcase is typical of the charming details of the space, and my clients’ icon paintings on carved wood and antique chest are perfect complements.

To come are accessories for the cocktail table and a very important painting for the wall above the sofa.

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Infinity Rug

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I’ve worked on several projects that feature infinity pools, and my first thought as I surveyed the Atlantic from the terrace of my cousin’s apartment in Miami was to choose an “infinity rug”—the aqua tones of a hand-knotted asian rug against a monochrome palette would bring the vast ocean right into the room, just as an infinity pool blurs the horizon.

Atop this foundation is a low leather sectional, with cushions that move up and down for comfort, complemented by a cantilevered, travertine and wood laquered table that seems to float (that ocean, again) above the floor. Pride of place goes to a concert grand piano—the husband is a musician—and an integrated sound system brings an unlimited selection of music to every room. The walnut swirled dining table expands to seat fourteen, and the bowed seats are walnut backed. A Calder-like chandelier hovers over the table. The kitchen was redone in deep wood to echo the display cabinets in the living room, with a sleek look and minimal hardware for a distinctly un-kitchen like feel. Nevertheless, a 42” inch fridge, 36” inch cooktop and double oven and microwave makes this relatively compact space fully functional.

I spent several days last weekend placing art and accessories, and making a list of final touches for my next trip. But the apartment is near enough finished to be eminently usable, an ocean front space that is at one with the sea.

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Overcoming Vertigo?

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I have a love/hate relationship with breathtaking views. Working on the Miami apartment helped me conquer the hate part. Here I am doing something I wouldn’t have thought possible: staring down over the railing hundreds of feet above the Intracoastal waterway and the endless Atlantic, without my legs turning to jelly. Next stop: the Grand Canyon terrace with the transparent floor.

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Gallery Space

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A major architectural feature of the Miami apartment is a long hallway with a series of mahogany straight arches connecting the living/dining areas to the bedrooms. In the before picture you can see how claustrophobic and almost institutional the hallway was. I knew we had to open up the space as well as giving it a purpose. The purpose is a gallery, housing groups of themed images from my cousin’s collection. To combat the cramped feel I replaced the intrusive sconces with slim, flush fitting bronze pieces, and the suspended circular spot lights with simple glass ceiling fixtures. For subtle visual interest, I painted each succeeding section of the hallway a slightly darker tone of the same hue.

While the hallway is still primarily the way to get from point A to point B, at least the journey is a more pleasant one.

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Family Tapestry

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Once the larger pieces in the Miami apartment were in place, we embarked on a puzzle of monumental proportions: arranging over a hundred family photos into a collage-like presentation. We started by placing the mix on a large quilted pad, pulled the pad to the designated wall, and the games began. The better part of four hours later, the pieces were all in place. The finished tapestry weaves together the multiple strands of the family into a unified, living history, the past and present merging together, the future yet to be written.

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Low Light on the Ocean

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My cousin tells me that as the sun sets in Miami they often keep the lights off in their apartment, staring out at the horizon. From their elevated vantage point the ocean and the sky create a peaceful, soothing effect, and even the interior and furnishings are experienced differently.

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