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Cardboardesign is an amazing company that makes furniture and accessories out of recycled/recyclable cardboard!  And, believe it or not, it looks awesome!  This is a "green" company located in New York.  Here are a few of my favorite/notable pieces:

Circle Wall
Price unknown (not yet available)

Liquid Number 2
The Liquid series is a continuous honeycomb cell shape that is flexible and sturdy.  This can be configured a 7 different ways.  As a vase, bowl, place mat, centerpiece, etc, depending on how you arrange it, flip inside out.

Liquid Number 3
can be used in in 5 different shapes

Or you can combine two pieces together:
 Shown on the left is Liquid Number 1 + Liquid Number 2
$37.50 + $25

They have a lot more shapes and options available on their website - this just gives you an example of what they can do.  It's really fun!

They even make shelves and chairs!


envisioning furniture in a room

Buying furniture for a room can be challenging when it comes to envisioning it in the space.  Many people have a hard time figuring out how the furniture will occupy the room.  Will it fit, etc?  I have a very simple trick that takes the guesswork out of it. 
  • First measure the furniture in question
  • Second, using a tape measure, place post it notes on the floor to mark the corners or edges of the piece
  • Then spend a little time with it, walking around the imaginary piece to truly envision it in the space
This should give you a good idea of how the piece will actually sit in your room.



Alessi is an Italian industrial design company that makes great home and fashion accessories .  Here are a few highlights:

Aalto Savoy Vase
design: Alvar Aalto 1936
starting at $60

Offi Magazine Stand
design: Eric Pheiffer 2001
starting $129

Orloff Bowl
design: Patricia Urquiola 2005
starting $83

Blow Up Basket
design: Campana Brothers 2004

Kaj Wrist Watch
design: Karim Rashid
these come in almost every color!


designer lighting for less - FLOS

Lighting fixtures add tremendous character to any interior.  They not only create an atmospheric lighting environment, they also can be like a sculpture in the room.  Many designer light fixtures are fantastic - take FLOS for example.  They have been one of my favorite lighting manufactures for years.  They have incredible talent designing for them and create iconic and spectacular pieces.  The only problem is they can be quite pricey.  However, Ikea makes strikingly similar fixtures for a very small fraction of the price of the real thing.  Here are a few of my favorites:

design: Jasper Morrison 1998, hand blown glass, steel
12.9" diameter $520 |  17.7" diameter $604


mouth blown glass
12" diameter $39.99   

design: Jasper Morrison 1998
12.9" diameter $596


design: Philippe Starck 2003, polycarbonate $288



design: Archille Castiglioni 1988, aluminum, glass light bulbs 31" diameter $4984
(this is, by the way, one of my favorite lamps)


32" diameter $89.99
while this is obviously not an exact replica, it has a similar effect, and is the same scale. 
 FLOS Fantasma
Design: Tobia Scarpa 1961

design: Tobia Scarpa originally in 1961 and redesigned in 2005
72" $3,712   76.8"  $4,328

Ikea Dudeero
54" $14.99
Again, this is not an exact replica, but it has a similar feel.

Please click on the links for the FLOS pieces.  They take you to the Hive Modern site.  There is some great information on the designers and background on the fixtures.


bedroom psychology

The most important thing a bedroom should convey is restfulness.  There are several things that can enhance the restfulness and several things that can detract from it.  
Here are some key points:
  • Keep the palette simple.  Too many different/jarring colors and patterns create a sense of liveliness.  A simple, neutral palette is easier on the eyes and is more relaxed.  I happen to be a fan of an all-white bed.  It is so neutral and acts as a blank canvas for colorful dreams.  Also, the color blue is notoriously soothing and a good color to use in a bedroom.
  • Do not do work in the bedroom.  Laying in bed with your laptop typing away work emails creates a working association with the bedroom and detracts from the restful atmosphere.  Energy becomes embedded into environments.  If you always work at your desk, sitting at it should inspire a feeling of productivity.  Similarly, working in bed alters the true purpose of being there, and makes it harder to fall asleep when you're ready to.
  • Do not have a desk in your bedroom.  This is for the same reason as not using a laptop in bed.  It brings work into the bedroom - the last place it should be.
  • Be careful about what television or movies you watch in your bedroom, if you want to have a television in your bedroom at all.  If you watch a scary movie in bed, and then go to sleep in the same room, I think the chances of having a nightmare become quite high!  Again, this has to do with the atmosphere created in the room, so overall, keep it related to sleep.


considering the weight of chairs

If you're planning on purchasing some new dining chairs, a factor to consider in your decision should be their weight.  Sometimes I'll go to pull out a chair from a dining table and it's so heavy I can barely move it. Carpet or rugs exaggerate this problem.  This is not only annoying, it makes a person feel weighted down and sluggish.  The heaviest dining chairs seem to be the fully upholstered ones.  So check the weight and be sure they are easy to move. 


design term - "circulation"

"Circulation" is a term commonly used when talking about interiors  The first meaning you may be thinking about regards air flow, and while that is critical to indoor comfort, this type of circulation is about how people navigate through a space.  
When you're arranging a room, think about how you will move through and occupy it.  Where will you sit?  What path will you take getting there?  Is there a sharp table corner jutting into your path?  If so, think about rearranging.  It's important to create easy flow in a room.  
One way you can identify current circulation paths is by drawing a floor plan of the room and, using brightly colored pens, marking the paths taken in different scenarios.  That should indicate where the furniture arrangement is successful, and where it could be revised.

*A note regarding indoor air conditions: four key elements are required for comfort: temperature, humidity, circulation and ventilation.  Circulation describes the way the air is moving through the space.  Ventilation describes fresh air entering the space and "old" air leaving it.  A comfortable temperature  is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit and a comfortable humidity range is approximately 30%-50%.


$20 coffee table

This Ikea Coffee Table is awesome for $20.  It comes in a few different colors, is modern and simple, and gets the job done on a budget.


how to paint with a bold, bright color

If you want to paint a bold, bright color in a room, a way to do that is by painting one wall in the room the bold color, and the other three a tint (lighter version) of that color.  This will soften the effect and tie the entire room into the scheme.  
You can also do a schemes of tints and shades using a tint on the ceiling, and shades as trim colors. 
If you use a company such a Benjamin Moore for paint, they provide easy to use color samples that show the color plus its tints/shades.  Check out the Virtual Fan Deck from Benjamin Moore to see what I mean.


mixing bowls

These simple mixing bowls from Williams Sonoma are so practical and useful for cooking, serving, etc.  They last forever, hold up really well, and look very crisp.  Their colors change seasonally, but currently they offer white, red, yellow, and multicolored.


a great warm neutral paint color

If you are looking for a great warm neutral paint color that goes with almost everything, Benjamin Moore makes one: clay beige OC-11.  I've used it before and it looked excellent.


do you enjoy knives?

If you cook, having excellent knives is critical.  I have a set that I love.  They are an Italian line of professional knives called Sanelli.  My sister, a pro chef, and my mother discovered these knives while in a cooking school in Italy.  All three of us have our own set.  I've been using mine for five years and they are still perfect.  I always hand wash and dry them.  This set has 7 knives and that should probably take care of your knife needs for quite a while.  You can also buy them individually
Oh, and if you missed the reference in the title, it's a line from the movie Harold and Maude.


paint - dark brown

Dark brown paint can make a very dramatic and warm impact on a specific space.  It almost reads as a dark wood. 
To delineate a fireplace, I painted the entire wall it was on dark brown and it created a great effect.  I used Ralph Lauren paint but will never again.  It was the worst quality paint I have ever used.  It was runny, smeary, and very difficult to work with.  I would  recommend either Behr or Benjamin Moore.  A good dark brown color from Behr is called Melted Chocolate 250F-7.  You can get it at Home Depot.  Benjamin Moore makes a very similar color called kona AF-165.  you have to go to a specialty paint store that carries Benjamin Moore for this.
If you're going to go for it, I would recommend only painting one area since it is such a strong color.  Use it to highlight some architectural detail (such as what I've done with the fireplace) or to delineate space.  It would also work well as a color for details (such as on a stair handrail, window frame, etc.).


coffee table

This coffee table from West Elm is awesome.  It looks like it could have been home-made/assembled from blocks of wood and glass.  It's so minimal, and versatile.  Since nothing is attached, you can configure the blocks any way you prefer: on the outer edges, slightly more toward the center, staggered, in a straight line, blocked together, etc.  Also, it's easy to deal with if you move a lot.


paint - how to do it

OK, a lot of people have never painted walls before and are scared to do it.  I'm here to tell you it is neither scary nor difficult, and you can paint!
First, let's go through what you need to get:
Or you can buy a convenient little set that includes most everything.

  1. Tape the edge of the ceiling where it meets the wall, tape the top of the baseboard where it meets the wall, take any adjacent walls that you don't intend to paint.  Also, either tape over or remove completely any switches or outlets.  It's very easy to remove the cover of an outlet with a Flathead screwdriver and then you don't have to worry about getting paint on it.  As you're taping, use a rag to run over the areas you have taped to completely adhere the tape.  Paint can sneak up underneath the tape if it's not totally adhered.
  2. Cover the floor and any furniture with the Drop Cloths.  I like the put the Drop Cloth right up to the wall I'm painting and tape it to the top of the baseboard.  That way no paint is going to get on the floor. *If you walls are not white, you need to first paint a coat of Primer on them.  The below steps are the same for the Primer.  Do a coat of it, let it dry, and then start with the paint.
  3. Open the paint can with a Flathead screwdriver and pour some into the Paint Tray.
  4. Run the roller in the paint tray and completely saturate the paint on the roller.  Once it's saturated, roll it back and forth along the upper (bumpy) part of the tray to remove any excess paint. 
  5. Paint the wall with the roller, up and down smoothly covering any white.  Be careful not to go too fast, because that's how you can get splatter.  You'll have to keep refilling the Paint Tray with paint as you go.
  6. Once you have painted the main areas using the Roller, it's time to do the edges.  For this step you use the Paintbrush and slowly and carefully paint the part where the wall meets the ceiling, floor, and other walls.  You should be safe because there is a 2" strip of painters tape protecting the areas you don't want to paint, but be careful not to go too fast anyway.  Be careful around outlets also - paint looks terrible on them.
  7. Let it dry overnight leaving the Drop Cloths down and painters tape up.  Soak all tools in warm water to clean them thoroughly.
  8. Paint another coat (steps 3-6) the next day.  After this you can remove the Drop Cloths.
  9. Let it dry another day.
  10. Sloooowly remove the painters tape. 
You're done!  It looks awesome!!


paint basics

There are a few ways you can go when choosing a paint color.  Psychology plays a major role in the selection.  You'll want to decide on the kind of atmosphere you are creating.  For example, if you want a bedroom that feels restful and peaceful, don't paint it a loud, bright color.  Choose something soft that will drift you off to sleep.  If you want your living room to be lively and fun, you can choose a color that is bright and dynamic.
  •  bright, bold colors  - These are great in more public spaces (living room, kitchen, dining room) and add excitement and fun to the room.  
  •  cool neutrals  - A cool neutral would be something like a gray.  "Cool" colors have blue in them.  Think moonlight.  Grays look elegant and sophisticated and can be used in a wide array of applications. 
  •  warm neutrals  - A warm neutral is something like a beige.  "Warm" colors have red in them.  Think sunlight.  Warm neutrals are probably the most common and safest paint color.  They work with almost any furniture, are soothing, and look great.  
  •  soft pastels  - A soft pastel is a neutral version of any color (hue).  They are created by adding white (and maybe a touch of gray) to any hue.  Soft pastels could really go anywhere too.  They would work in a bedroom, are great for bathrooms, and even in a living room.  It's kind of a wild card.
As far as choosing color schemes, here are a few basic principles:  You can pair complimentary colors (colors opposite each other in the color wheel).  You can pair adjacent colors (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel).  You can do a scheme of a color + its tints.  Don't worry, I will do posts on specific scheme suggestions.  For more about basic color theory, click here

Summary of Key Terms:
Tint: a color plus white - lighter
Shade: a color plus black - darker
Warm: a color with red in it - sunshine
Cool: a color with blue in it - moonlight
Hue: the true color (it's a synonym for color, like green, blue, etc.)
Complimentary - colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  examples: orange + blue, yellow + violet, red + green
Adjacent - colors that are next to each other on the  color wheel - examples: red + orange, yellow + green, blue + violet

When choosing a paint color, be sure it works with everything in the room.  To properly view paint chips, hold them vertically, the way they would be on the wall.  Many people make the mistake of looking down on them, and this is not the correct way to do it.  Look at it next to your furniture, flooring material, fabrics, etc.  If it goes with everything in the room, the next step is to paint a test swatch on the wall.  Benjamin Moore offers small bottles of paint you can buy to make a 2'x2' swatch on the wall.  Let it dry, look at it in all lighting conditions, and decide if you want to go for it.  If there is a paint (or paint scheme) you are thinking of using, email me and I can provide feedback.


    Wendy + Howie's dining table

    I got my first design request from my very good friend Wendy.  She and her husband recently moved from a more traditionally decorated Upper West Side apartment to a modern building in Chelsea.  They need a dining table and have a very small space for it (see above photo - it's the area with the folding chairs).  They want enough room to seat four people, do not want glass, and are flexible on the shape.  In the room is a modern black leather sofa and the wonderful iconic Eames Lounge Chair also in black leather.  

    My suggestion for them is an Extension Table or a Drop Leaf Table.   The benefit of these options is that they are compact for everyday use, but if they want to have a larger party they still have the option to do that.  It's also something that can be taken with them to their next home and can grow with them.  If they go with a round table, it will have a more "bistro" type feel.  It will be circular when in the smaller configuration and a racetrack shape when extended.  The benefit of a rectangular table is that it can be pressed again the wall, saving additional space. 

    Room + Board makes very high quality pieces and has a good selection of options.  

    Kyoto 48" Round Extension Table  - this table has more of a mid-century type of leg

    All of these tables come in a few wood options.  My favorite is the walnut.

    Also, I found this dining chair from West Elm that would go well with the Kyoto Table.

    $150 for one, $299 for two, $579 for four

    Wendy, next let's pick a paint color for that wall!

    the importance of paint

    The easiest way to make the biggest impact on a room is by painting it.  A lot of my friends never get around to painting their homes.  They live in an apartment and don't see the point (maybe they'll move in a year anyway).  Or they don't know how to - (instructions to come later).  Or maybe they don't know what color to choose.  Painting is one of the most important, and really first steps you should take in a home, no matter how long you think you might be there.  Painting adds warmth, character, and differentiates space.  It only takes a weekend to do and it instantly shifts the space from looking like a cold rental to a real home. 


    I believe you have to be careful on because there is so much ugly stuff on it, you can become desensitized to it very quickly.  However, if you go in knowing what you want, you can often get a good price and the shipping is only $3 no matter how much you order.  I found a few modern classic reproductions of dining chairs:

    Eero Saarinen Tulip Chair Reproduction

    Bertoia Side Chair  Reproduction

    Eames Molded Plastic Side Chair Reproduction with Wood Legs
    2 for $187.99


    front door in your living room?

    For the many of us who don't have a "foyer," our apartments open right up into our living rooms, which can very quickly eliminate any sense of intimacy or privacy when spending time in the room.  If you're looking right at the door, you can almost feel the energy getting sucked out of it.  I designed a useful solution in a house in Brooklyn.  It is basically a partition and can be used to divide any space (say a studio apartment for example). I used a bookcase from Ikea, and filled it with books.  You can see the door just beyond it in the image.  Anything would work in the bookcase though, including decorative bowls, vases, etc.  The key is to create the suggestion of a barrier, even if it is not completely solid, and the mind fills in the blanks.


    stacked books

    This "bookcase" creates the illusion of books stacked on top of each other in a huge pile.  This is great for small spaces, and also creates a modern look.  The first time I saw this bookshelf, it was in a real estate developer's office, and it was so memorable and cool. I could not figure out how he had stacked all those books on top of each other without it falling down!  The photo is from my own house.
    CB2 makes an affordable version.

    mid-century modern reproductions - Eames

    I love mid-century modern classics.  Getting them can be a challenge if you're not a millionaire.  To buy the "originals" you can look to Knoll, Herman Miller, The Republic of Fritz Hansen, or even Design Within Reach

    *Just to clear something up here: Knoll + Herman Miller + Fritz Hansen are furniture manufacturers.  Many of these classic pieces were designed by designers for these companies, and they manufactured and distributed them.  Design Within Reach is a retailer.  The benefit of buying from DWR is they keep a lot of products in stock.  If you order directly from the manufacturer however, you may have to wait longer to get the piece because they are custom made per order... but you can specify almost any fabric, finish, etc.

    So back to getting these pieces.  I found this website that has pretty decent reproductions of classic pieces for good prices.  If you live in Los Angeles, you can even go to their warehouse in the Valley and pick it up.  I did so for a couple pieces and recommend one of them here:
    The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair.
    The one I bought is in a Walnut Veneer.  If you were to purchase the original from Herman Miller it would cost almost $700, but the reproduction (which is quite good) was $230.  Not bad for a classic piece that is considered to be "the most famous chair of the century." 

    This website also sells a reproduction of a coordinating Eames Molded Plywood Coffee Table.  An original can run about $850 but Advanced Interior Designs sells a reproduction for $295.

    low bedroom dresser

    This is a great looking, low chest.  It has a glossy white finish, with fun pulls, and a retro feel.  It would work well as a TV stand if you have a low platform-type bed.  My mattress sits directly on the floor, so this would be an ideal height in my bedroom.  It has good storage for linens, etc.
    Tip: low furniture makes a room feel larger.  If you want to create the illusion of a larger space, furnish with low, clean furniture.


    Marimekko is an awesome textile line that has been around since the 50s.  They have very cool textiles: colorful, modern, floral, striped, geometric, etc. that are used in interiors and in fashion.  They are wonderful for drapery, accent pillows, bedding, etc., but are quite expensive.  Recently, Ikea has started selling textiles with a Marimekko flair.  They are around $7/yd, and can be used for these applications.  They can also be used as art: wrap around a wooden frame and hang on the wall.  Here are a few I like.
    Fredrika Line  |  Fialina Line  |  Hjordis Line  |   Gunvor  Inger

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