Monthly Archives: August 2017

Apartment on a Portrait

While it is still practice in certain circles to commission original portraits of one’s illustrious family members, and hang them in ye hallowed halls of one’s illustrious family estate, the practice is surely not as common now as in the days of yore. And yet hanging portraiture remains as popular as ever. The good news for anyone without a photogenic aunt (or without the budget to commission original art) is that it’s arguably trendier to hang a portrait of a complete stranger rather than to commission one yourself. They crop up all the time at auctions and estate sales and fleas, where they can be snatched up by any passing hipster with a shallow shelf to lean it on.
Pretty? Definitely. Weird? Yeah a little. (A.k.a. the perfect mix.) Here are some examples of portraiture from our archives—by both famous artists and artists unknown—to inspire the placement of your new stranger friend. And if you want to tell everyone it’s a distant relative, be our guest.

Put down the needle and thread; back away from your sewing machine. DIY upholstery, a simple technique that will have you re-covering chairs, benches, headboards, and even box springs with your own two hands, requires only one tool, and it’s a staple gun. The method is not unlike wrapping a present, and the results are more professional-looking than you can imagine. We spoke with Ana Verdi, the designer at Thompson Fine Home Renovation, to learn what crafty beginners should know before tackling their first DIY upholstery project.
What’s Possible?
Verdi’s rule of thumb: “Anything with straight lines” can probably be upholstered successfully by a beginner. (Side note: Here’s how to know if you’re out of your league.) “Once you get into any sort of curved arm, the process can be trickier if you’re not confident making a pleat,” she explains. The square seat of a dining room chair or a rectangular bench top are the obvious contenders for a first project, but Verdi says bigger isn’t necessarily more complex: “You can upholster a box spring and screw legs onto it so it looks like an upholstered bed.”
What Tools Will I Need?
Fabric: Upholstery-weight will work best for any high-wear situations like seating, though Verdi says that you can get around that by having a less durable fabric backed by a seamstress, or by laying down a piece of canvas or muslin underneath it.
Batting: Inexpensive, puffy sheets of cotton wadding that create the cushy puff under the fabric.
Staple Gun: A hand staple gun will get the job done, though investing in a pneumatic model (not too much pricier) will save you quite a bit of labor.
Hammer: For tapping in flourishes like nailheads or grommets. “An easy trick is to wrap your hammer with batting and secure that with a rubber band,” says Verdi, which will protect those accents you’re hammering in from scratching.
Upholstery Tack Strip: Essentially a long, skinny strip of double-stick cardboard, tack strip is used to create a clean finished seam on straight-edged upholstery. Here’s how you use it.

The fanciest tool you’ll need is a staple gun

Put down the needle and thread; back away from your sewing machine. DIY upholstery, a simple technique that will have you re-covering chairs, benches, headboards, and even box springs with your own two hands, requires only one tool, and it’s a staple gun. The method is not unlike wrapping a present, and the results are more professional-looking than you can imagine. We spoke with Ana Verdi, the designer at Thompson Fine Home Renovation, to learn what crafty beginners should know before tackling their first DIY upholstery project.
What’s Possible?
Verdi’s rule of thumb: “Anything with straight lines” can probably be upholstered successfully by a beginner. (Side note: Here’s how to know if you’re out of your league.) “Once you get into any sort of curved arm, the process can be trickier if you’re not confident making a pleat,” she explains. The square seat of a dining room chair or a rectangular bench top are the obvious contenders for a first project, but Verdi says bigger isn’t necessarily more complex: “You can upholster a box spring and screw legs onto it so it looks like an upholstered bed.”
What Tools Will I Need?
Fabric: Upholstery-weight will work best for any high-wear situations like seating, though Verdi says that you can get around that by having a less durable fabric backed by a seamstress, or by laying down a piece of canvas or muslin underneath it.
Batting: Inexpensive, puffy sheets of cotton wadding that create the cushy puff under the fabric.
Staple Gun: A hand staple gun will get the job done, though investing in a pneumatic model (not too much pricier) will save you quite a bit of labor.
Hammer: For tapping in flourishes like nailheads or grommets. “An easy trick is to wrap your hammer with batting and secure that with a rubber band,” says Verdi, which will protect those accents you’re hammering in from scratching.
Upholstery Tack Strip: Essentially a long, skinny strip of double-stick cardboard, tack strip is used to create a clean finished seam on straight-edged upholstery. Here’s how you use it.

How To Take Care of Indoor Plants

Growing tired of a lifeless interior? Or maybe your room’s a blank canvas ready for its first dash of color. The best indoor plants can add just the right amount of intrigue—they’re free-form and organic yet clean and sculptural; they delight with their unpredictability yet reassure with their steady presence. And their life span, thankfully, is much longer than that of cut flowers. But when considering plants in a room’s design, there are a few things to take into account. Architectural Digest caught up with horticulturist Dennis Schrader from Landcraft Environments in Mattituck, New York, to get the dirt.
“You have to think of the container it’s going in like a piece of furniture,” Schrader says. “It should match the interior.” As for the plant, you’ll want to coordinate that as well. Below is a guide to appealing options and their respective requirements, but first, what if you choose to incorporate more than one plant into your design scheme? Schrader advises grouping plants the way they naturally grow. “You don’t want to put a fern next to a cactus,” he says. And what’s more, plants that grow together will have similar needs, making it easier on the caretaker. As for how many to include, he says, “That all depends on how many you want to take care of.”
Finally, location should be dictated primarily by the plant’s light requirements and then by the owner’s taste. Try a plant here or there and see what looks good to you, and don’t be afraid to move it around over time. For smaller plants, Schrader says, “you can use them as a table setting, then move them to a window sill later on.”
Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree (Ficus lyrata)
This shrub boasts a long, elegant stem and branches with broad, leathery leaves. For placement, Schrader suggests “under a skylight or next to a window.” In other words, it needs as much sun as possible. Schrader suggests pruning the top branches when it grows above the window frame.
Split-Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa)
Favored by Henri Matisse, this plant has a distinctive leaf that looks as though it’s been gently cut into by a careful hand. Schrader says you can cut off the top—as long as it has air roots attached—and replant it, meaning if you buy one of these, you could easily have more, if you’d like.

Storage Spaces Ideas

When you’ve been living in an apartment day in and day out, it’s sometimes hard to see the place with fresh eyes. Looking for extra storage space is therefore typically a fruitless task—because if it were there, you’d have noticed it, right? But the following five locations are strangely evasive despite being relatively common. Your apartment probably has one or two of them; you just might not have realized you can stow something there at all. Go forth and maximize your storage options without having to move into a bigger place.
Above the Kitchen Cabinets
Though difficult to know what to do with, that shelf of open space above the kitchen cabinets should be utilized—and not just to stash the party platters you use only once a year. Here are our favorite creative ways to optimize that shelf (think: a big beautiful basket that hides six extra paper towel rolls).
Inside a Windowsill
If you’re lucky enough to have a window with deep casements, you can prop up a floating shelf or two inside that recess. Prop them out with potted plants and ginger jars or go the more utilitarian route: A collection of glassware is a doubly appealing set to display because the light will stream right through it.

Airspace
By screwing a hook into a ceiling joist, you’re halfway to the hanging storage solution of your dreams. (For lighter loads, you can use a butterfly bolt to affix a hook to the drywall ceiling.) Hang bikes, shelves, or even seating—and free up the floor space underneath it.