Like a Well-Tailored Suit

Built in custom cabinetry does for a room what a well-tailored suit does for an individual, bringing a bespoke level of functionality and beauty to an interior design.

 

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In my kitchen I’ve created a French Country style pantry, which gives the illusion of a larger space through the use of antique mirrors on the upper doors. There’s plenty of hidden space for kitchen storage and a small TV. I’ve added a collection of wood and metal chickens on the top, for a whimsical touch that adds visual interest to the area above the built in.

 

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This Lake George built in needed a strong dose of Adirondack design, so all the doors and drawers feature birch bark veneer with wood details. There is additional space around the TV for decorative antique books and a collection of antique Majolica plates. You can see that the bead board on the ceiling is repeated inside the mahogany shelving.

 

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Another solution to a kitchen breakfast area, this built in opens up a confined space through the use of paint color and clean, detailed design, while housing the TV, kitchen storage and elegant accessories.

 

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A stone tower in the center of this built in houses the fireplace as well as two display cases faced with copper, lit from the inside, housing mid-century vases. I decided on the tower to emphasize the room’s height, the nine foot cabinets with floating shelves on either side balancing the column.

 

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An attic is transformed into a home office, and the built in bookcases are central to the transformation. The size and shape of the built in mimics the room, angled against a wall, surrounding a window and housing a radiator. The result preserves as much space as possible and provides valuable storage.

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Doll’s House Fit for a Queen

I’ve always been fascinated by doll’s houses. After all, they are elegant, finely detailed miniature interior designs. For many years I worked diligently on my own doll’s house until I recently gave it and many accoutrements to two very appreciative young girls in our family.

Queen Mary’s Doll’s House takes the concept to an entirely grander level. Built in the 1920s for Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, it was designed by one of the leading architects of the day, Sir Edwin Lutyens. A Who’s Who of the finest English artists and craftsmen all volunteered their talents. The house has running hot and cold water (including flushing toilets!) electricity, working elevators, a vast wine cellar with bottles filled with actual wine, and a library featuring England’s most well known authors, who donated miniature copies of their works. The video gives you a good sense of the scale and detail of this fantastic doll’s house, which is now being displayed in Windsor Castle.

The young girls to whom I gave my old dolls house have invited me to visit next spring. They promise I’ll see a substantial redesign. I think their mother will enjoy the process even more than her children.

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Unwavering Truth: An Archive of Our Own—Update

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The exhibit at the Queens Museum featuring the artwork and poetry of my daughter Nathalie closed at the end of the year. Another young artist with Neurofibromatosis, Christina Diaz, who had never met Nathalie but attended her memorial service three years ago, assembled the exhibit. It was well-attended and a curator from a museum in Washington, DC expressed interest in hosting the exhibit. We’re hoping this comes to pass. Nathalie would be pleased that her life and work continue to be celebrated.

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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (While Still in Bed)

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As I bravely go forth into the world of interior design in 2015, my wakeup coffee is essential fortification. With the winter well and truly here, I might need the ingenious device above to entice me out of bed. It combines an alarm clock with a coffee maker, which can be set to brew either before or after the alarm goes off. Milk (kept cool) and sugar are cleverly packaged into the machine, and the brewing process is silent. So you emerge from your slumbers to the glorious smell of freshly brewed coffee, and then imbibe the dark liquid without leaving the sanctuary of the bed. In particularly bad weather this might be the difference for me between facing the day or hiding under the duvet. Click here for more info.

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A Whirlwind Few Days in Paris

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Spent a whirlwind few days in Paris for holiday time with my family, including my son and his darling wife who arrived from London. Paris was dressed elegantly for the season, the Champs-Élysées and the Eifel Tower glowing as only they can. It was a quick fix of my dearest Paris, but I’ll be back soon I hope.

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3-D Organization

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I just received my 2015 organizer refill, and weathered the usual sarcasm from my husband about my insistence on using a bulky Filofax along with my iPhone.

For me, the digital world of organizers is missing one key element: dimension. My world of interior design is three-dimensional, as is my old-fashioned leather organizer. In addition to appointments and contact info, it allows me to store pertinent floor plans, fabric and paint color samples, brochures, and assorted paraphernalia vital to my work. The photo above may seem the height of disorganization to one of today’s smart-phoned executives, but for me it makes perfect sense. I have my iPhone for email and texts (and my Words With Friends app!), but I’ll never lose my Filofax.

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Eat the Moon

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As soon as I saw this photo—on griottes, a French photographer/chef’s website—I knew I had to attempt to replicate this sinful-looking confection. The cake features a meringue bottom, a layer of chestnut mouse, mascarpone cream, and a crust of meringue mixed with black sesame, for that moon-like look. This is one trip to the moon I’m looking forward to.

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What Well-Dressed Windows are Wearing

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Without window treatments a room is unfinished. When the treatment works well, it adds dramatically to the look and feel of the design. The play of light and shadow on the color and texture of the panels helps define the style of the space, much as they define its outward boundaries.

From dress up swag to dress down sheer, the diversity of window treatment options is considerable. Here’s how I use this vital design element:

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The stationary vertical panels in the top photo, with a proper size rod and finials, are lined and interlined, the additional layers of fabric creating a plusher, richer look. At night the light reflecting against the gold and red colors make for a glittering display. The bottom photo features a traditional French look, an embroidered silk stripe alternating with a solid French blue.

 

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Roman shades are a treatment option that can be raised or lowered vertically, showcasing the fabric design, which always appears flat. It is a practical choice that affords privacy as well as the option of a complete blackout. Both of the pictures feature roman shades that define the style of the space, one rich and masculine, the other delicate and feminine.

 

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Sheers are vertical panels with varying degrees of opacity. They allow a delicate, dreamy glow to enter the room. Sometimes I use them purely decoratively, as in the bottom two photos, to distract the eye from large windows behind the bed.

 

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Swag panels work well in a traditional space, adding an elegant fullness and graceful symmetry to the design.

 

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Woven wood blinds come in many different shades and colors. I chose these to work with the hand embroidered stationary panels. The wood texture of the blinds and the intricate pattern of the panels go together hand in glove.

 

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A Great Setting for Reading or Chatting

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Four imposing club chairs that beg to be sat in make a strong statement in the library of a Tudor restoration I’m working on. The roman shades in an elegant paisley from Corragio and the muted reds and golds of the Oriental rug heighten the warmth of the refurbished wood paneling. The leather ottoman works as a cocktail table or footrest. The recessed lights and four sconces offer a variety of sources and intensity. The console with heavily carved barley twist legs provides a platform for books and accessories, as well as a base for the oil painting of a luminous town in the south of France. The room makes a great setting for that novel you’ve been meaning to read, or maybe that heart to heart chat you’ve been meaning to have.

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Did Caravaggio Like His Pizza with Anchovies?

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Art is full of images that depict the attraction of opposites. Like, say, Renaissance painter Caravaggio and contemporary fast food. Photographer Rebecca Rutten finds the juxtaposition intriguing. I can’t say I’d want it on my wall, but the beauty of a Caravaggio style composition fused with a box of greasy pizza is so absurd it brings a bemused smile to my face, even if it also makes my stomach a bit queasy.

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