Monthly Archives: September 2017

Home Decor Ideas Are Literally

Finding a place to live in Brooklyn is hard enough on a crisp spring day, frenzied as hopefuls can be, but interior designer Casey Kenyon didn’t even have that luxury when he found out he’d have to vacate his current rental in the middle of a polar vortex. (Non-Northeasterners, note: These are as no-fun as they sound.) Discouraged by the less-than-charming nature of more industrial, and therefore more affordable, Brooklyn neighborhoods, and a little desperate, he posted on Facebook: “Does anyone know of a well-priced one-bedroom apartment in dreamy tree-lined Fort Greene?” Fortune showed favor. A friend’s cousin’s cousin knew a 92-year-old woman who needed a renter in the top floor of her brownstone. That the space featured twin decorative fireplaces, a picture rail, original painted wood shutters, and “good light all day” from East-West exposures—more “charm” than most people dream of in sensibly-priced Brooklyn abodes—turned out to be the only catch.
In some cases, good things come to those who don’t wait. Kenyon jumped on it and signed the lease.
Despite the mad dash to get there, the move came at a perfect time. Not six months after that first rent check, Kenyon’s boyfriend Jonathon Beck moved in with him, and they tackled the design as a team. The added income helped them be a little bit choosier about the furnishings they sprung for—an antique Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin sofa and Ib Kofod-Larsen Penguin chair, both tracked down on Etsy to anchor the living room, for example—but the couple’s industriousness, wealth of DIY home decor ideas, and attention to detail is really what’s to thank for the apartment’s elevated look and feel.
A pair of glass sconces from “a 1stDibs dealer in Germany” inspired Kenyon to teach himself wiring. (“Youtube can tell you everything as long as you have an ounce of bravery,” he says with conviction.) And that Danish chair? He picked up a yard of fabric from Mood and did the upholstering himself. (“You just unscrew them and staple!”) They made pillows and cushions from thrift-ed African textiles, even weaving together upholstery webbing to replace the ripped canvas on an old camp cot. An ornate mirror, which Beck (a production and set designer) could tell had been painted “stage gold,” required four coats of white paint to cover up. “It looks now like it has always lived there,” Kenyon says of its placement over the mantel, so the couple plans to leave it with the apartment if they ever move. Troubleshooting snafus and space constraints required the same ingenuity. A sheepskin from Modern Link got tossed across the couch, which turned out to be scratchy, and two of the four dining room chairs got a gig moonlighting as nightstands—stacked high with books to keep the lamps from Stone & Sawyer level, but easily called upon if extra dinner guests arrive.

Epoxy Flooring the New Polished Concrete

Epoxy flooring isn’t just for warehouses and hospitals anymore. Just ask designer James Saavedra, whose home boasts white epoxy floors that are as sleek and reflective as the Ralph Pucci gallery. The surface isn’t just pretty—it’s tough: “I’ve shattered mason jars on this floor filled with Bolognese, and let me tell you, the floor is victorious every time,” Saavedra says. Anyone else wondering what epoxy is? We’ll save you a google: It’s a synthetic material that’s got something to do with thermosetting polymers containing epoxide. In short, it’s a really strong plastic.
When Saavedra decided to use epoxy flooring to brighten up his 700-square-foot Austin, Texas home, numerous vendors told him it was a bad idea. He was dealing with pre-existing concrete that had been poorly maintained. The epoxy, which must be spread by hand, was sure to have small imperfections. But Saavedra had his mind set. So, he dished out a little more to have the floors prepped (epoxy costs about the same as a good quality pre-finished wood flooring), then crashed at a friend’s house for six days: three days to prep the floors, one to pour the epoxy, and two to let it cure. The result is stunning.
“The floor is one of the best decisions I made, because when you wish to live uncluttered and deliberate, it really elevates what lives in your space,” Saavedra says.
Sold on epoxy floors? A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to their upkeep. Clearly, they are quite slippery when wet. You’ll want to lose your shoes at the door and put felt pads under furniture (things you’d likely do anyway). According to Saavedra, a magic eraser works wonders for any marks. Best of all? Epoxy is great under bare feet, but it’s even better for sliding through the house in your socks. So stop lacquering your walls and take to the floor.

Show Off a Textile in Your Home

One of the best keepsakes to bring back from faraway travels is a textile. (Or, of course, you can source them from your favorite local designers; more wooly Scottish tartans and Chinese damasks for us.) Not only does a textile fold up nicely to fit inside your suitcase for the return trip home, it tells the story of another time and place. And it’s just the start of something: How you choose to show it off (or squirrel it away) in your home is entirely up to you. But in case you find the prospect overwhelming or the thought of committing terrifying—if I make it a pillow it can never again be used as a throw for the sofa!—we rounded up some designer-approved ideas to help a textile lover out. Here are six ways that textile designers and textile-loving designers like to show them off (none of which involve pillows, because you already know you can do that).
“I love the way framing really showcases the handwork of a textile,” says St. Frank designer Christina Bryant, who built an entire business around selling framed textiles. She prefers an acrylic box frame “because it shows off the three-dimensionality and texture of the piece” and “lends itself to sharing the history behind the piece—whether the craft method and motif or your personal connection to it.” I.e., you’ll be more inclined to tell your friends about it.
Turned into a headboard
Designer Frances Merrill, of Reath Design, turned this African textile into a headboard by backing and upholstering it with light padding so that it would be comfortable to lean on. The project was completed for client’s house in the Windsor Square area of L.A.

Pantry Ideas for a Seriously Stylish

The key to a spotless kitchen is a well-organized pantry. These two spaces make a perfect team, with the kitchen doing the heavy lifting in terms of prep and the pantry providing plenty of room to stash tools, ingredients, and serving pieces. While storage is the centerpiece of the pantry and should be the main consideration when it comes to design, the space can do double duty as a bar or a secondary prep area for food and floral arrangements. It can also serve as a showcase for collections of glassware and china, on open shelving, in glass-front cabinets, or even on the wall. See how Steven Gambrel, Barbara Westbrook, Ray Booth, and other designers have created highly organized and beautifully functional pantry spaces.

In the pantry of a Bridgehampton, New York, home designed by Steven Gambrel, a white-oak ladder by Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. makes the tall shelves easily accessible; polished-nickel pendant lamps by Hudson Valley Lighting illuminate the space.

Antique Wedgwood and Coalport china is stored in the pantry of architect Jim Joseph and musical theater composer Scott Frankel’s upstate New York home.

The pantry of architect Alison Spear’s Hudson Valley, New York, home is outfitted with a 1930s pendant light and heirloom china; the dishwasher is by Miele.

In the Nashville, Tennessee, home he shares with his partner, TV executive John Shea, designer Ray Booth devised a working pantry lined with open shelves for tableware. The sink and fittings are by Kohler.

Designer Barbara Westbrook fashioned a gracious, party-ready home boasting two pantries for longtime clients in South Carolina. In the butler’s pantry, diamond-pattern glass door fronts and a crystal chandelier lend a dressed-up look to the cabinetry.