I've already begun shopping for my new apartment. You know, the one I don't have yet and haven't even seen. Come on, you know you do the same thing. One item that I'm planning to add is an arc lamp. They're a little more mod than my usual taste, but they just look so darn cool.
Plus, because I am practical gal, they are very functional. They provide ambient overhead light in places without ceiling fixtures. I particularly like how in this second picture it acts as a pseudo chandelier. You can find arc lamps at all different price points from several thousand dollars for vintage to a couple hundred. Both lamps pictured here are from cb2 (Crate and Barrel's more modern line) and retail for $199.
Last week I had a meeting in the Flatiron district and decided to check out Restoration Hardware while I was in the area. In addition to having a store full of pieces that seemed totally out of scale to the surrouding dwellings (100"+ sofas? In Manhattan? Really?), I found several pieces of what I call "mass marketed antiques." According to the catalogue, they are genuine salvaged items--iron weights, eyeglass molds, architectural items, etc.--which is why I refer to them as mass marketed and not mass produced.
Last Saturday I took a little field trip to the Brooklyn area known as BoCoCa (I smite the people who come up with these ridiculous nicknames),perhaps better known as Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens. I had been meaning to get down there for a while to check out some of the design shops and it did not disappoint. I found several places of interest, but I'll focus on one that really captured my attention called B Moore Design on Atlantic Avenue.
I received an email the other day looking for some advice about choosing a sofa for a new apartment. This is a pretty common quandry for homeowners so I thought I'd share with you.
I'm going shopping for a new sofa but am not sure what to get. We have a beige area rug, black tv stand, dark wood coffee table (this may go), dark bookcase, and dark wood dining table and chairs that will go behind the sofa. So the question is - do you think I should go dark or light on the couch? My inclination would be dark since the rest of the furniture is dark .
Here's my response:
The good news is, because you're working with a palatte of neutrals, you can't really pick the wrong color. I would think more about how the sofa is going to be used- ie, are you going to be snacking while watching TV. I'm going to go with yes, since most everyone does. With lighter walls and flooring, I agree that darker is the way to go. It will be a nicer contrast in the room setting. Where were you planning to put the sofa? Against the window wall or floating, facing the long wall, to serve as a divider between the living and dining area?
A quick note on fabrics, try to go with something that has varying color and texture--it's going to be a lot more forgiving. If you decide to go with Micro Fiber, try to get something that is a blend of natural and synthetic (a cotton/poly blend). This is going to be the most resistant to stains. Everyone thinks that polyester is indestructible--and it is for water based stains. But for oil based stains, it's bad news. Ever try to get oil out of a polyester blouse? Nearly impossible. Polyester is made from oil so it holds oil. The varying texture will give dirt a place to hide.
Before you buy anything, have an idea about the size of the building elevator (if you're certain it's 8' then no worries. I doubt you'll buy a sofa over 90" long), check any turns on the route the sofa would take during delivery. If you find a sofa with legs, find out if they are removeable for delivery (those extra 4 inches can make a difference)
Acrylic nesting tables from CB2
After yesterday's entry, I was thinking more about some of my favorite small space furniture items. Towards the top of my list are nesting tables. They are one of the best pieces of furniture to buy for any size home because they're so versatile. Nest them for every day use, pull them out when more surface area is needed. They can even be separated and moved around. Here are a few more I found that show that no matter what style you've got, there are nesting tables to go with it.
Lately there's been a lot of talk in my little world about moving. My best friend moved last weekend, someone at work is moving the beginning of October, and I am growing more certain every day that it's time for me to finally move from my home for the past 5 years. In addition to all of the regular drama that goes into moving (credit checks, sneaky brokers, inept movers.....), there's the worry about how to furnish the place to suit your needs--without emptying your already shrinking bank account. This is especially true if you've downsized into a smaller space.
Enter the Studio Sofa designed by Nate Berkus (Oprah's design guru) for HSN. You read that right--Home Shopping Network. Yes, the same place you can find discount knives and creepy makeovers, also offers this adorable settee. The details-44" wide and 34" deep, 10 fabric choices (though you know my feelings on Ikat), and a price of $499.90. You can even spread the amount into 4 payments--just in case that broker fee really wiped you out.
I started paging through this month's House Beautiful over lunch today and stopped 4 pages in when I saw this ad from Lee Jofa. It features their "Nolita" collection from the Groundworks division. Groundworks is the more contemporary fabric offering from Lee Jofa. A few things drew me in to this ad. First off, a delicious medley of fantastic colors--I love orange and purple together. Second, can we talk about the velvet? I won't lie, I'm a big fan. Not as bad as George Costanza, wanting "to drape myself in velvet," but a fan all the same. Nothing says autumn quite like it.
Third is the great mix of pattern. There's a large scale floral, a geometric, a mini print and some solids. The largest print has the entire color palatte and all of the supporting fabrics relate to it. Notice, too, the way the curve of the headboard repeats the curve of the floral motif. I would love to have seen more of the geometric pattern, perhaps on a larger pillow, to balance out the floral pattern a bit more. Geometrics and stripes have more staying power because they're easier for the eye to read. Still, this ad is absolutely getting posted on my inspiration board. Right next to my picture of Tim Gunn reminding me to "make it work."
I've added a new project to the Redesign section of my portfolio page. I worked with a designer at Ethan Allen to pull together some finishing touches for a beautiful home she worked on. The rooms already looked great, but adjusting the accessories and adding a few key pieces take it to the next level. You can see the before and after pictures by clicking here.
Most living rooms have the same set up. A TV across from a sofa with a couple of chairs. I know it's what I have. The furniture is all arranged around the television as if it's some alter to pray to. But it doesn't have to be this way.
I'm not saying ditch your television. I mean, I know some people in New York who live without them, but not me, thanks. What about instead of the traditional seating, four chairs around a round table or ottoman? Any room I've been in that has this arrangement is always the spot everyone gravitates to.
There is something rather nice about having a seat all to yourself. Ever notice there's always one person who insists on taking more than their share of space on a sofa? Besides, with four chairs, it's not as though you're losing anything in the way of seating--two adults are usually the limit on a sofa. But, more than that, four chairs around a table encourages conversation. If you go for chairs that swivel, then it's easy enough to turn and watch TV all together, too.
This idea may not fit into your current living situation, but definitely file it away. It's a smart way to gather together for conversation. And now you must excuse me for mass; Top Chef is on.
One thing that really makes me crazy as a designer is when artwork is hung way too high. You know, those pieces that are sort of floating in mid air, with nothing around them. Does a professional basketball player live there? Because that is not "eye level" for us regular height people.
Christine Schwalm is an Interior Designer and Visual Merchandiser based in Los Angeles. This space will keep you updated on what's going on with CSD along with some ideas to inspire you. Go here for more information about pricing and services and here to make an appointment.