Don’t Forget the Ceilings!

by Lauren Rubin

Color and texture has been getting more play in the design world.  Paint and wallpaper have taken on new life and bring even more possibility to the overall look of your home .  Colors and patterns can elevate the design of a room to another level.

When choosing a wall color, of course you have to consider the doors, trims and floors…but don’t forget the ceilings!

Consider introducing color and pattern to the ceilings.  The added color can play off the walls and trims or sometimes it just adds a great place to focus the design.

Try to remind yourself paint and wall coverings are the icing on the cake.  They are not permanent and are a great place to experiment and perhaps take some risks.  Typically, you won’t be disappointed and it will separate the look of your home from your neighbor.  Don’t fall into the all-white trap! This is defined as a fear of color and plans to introduce a ‘fun color’ with a throw pillow…

The ceiling has its own relationship to the rest of the room.  It can complement the color with a similar hue or  it can pair well with simple colors and white walls. The bottom line is, don’t leave the ceiling just hanging up there – make a statement and let your ceiling shine!

TAG/Lauren Rubin

 

Touring Historic Cities with Kids…It’s All in the Details

by Lauren Rubin

Visiting historic cities can be a super fun time with kids. Especially as they get a little older and have had a few lessons in American history. They recognize things they have talked about in school and are able to make interesting observations of their own. But, let’s face it, they are still kids, away from home, which can often descend into a stress-filled experience punctuated by whining, complaining and arguments that leave the adults asking themselves, “Was this really worth it?!”.

My favorite part of touring a new place is drinking in all the new surroundings.  Just walking up and down the old streets, sitting in the plazas, eating ice cream and watching locals living their daily lives.

Touring the South over Christmas vacation with my 9 and 11 year olds opened my eyes to a new level of details. We mainly explored Savannah and Charleston, taking in the different types of trees, streets and sidewalk patterns, the cracked uneven steps, and the interesting shapes, colors and patterns on walls and floors.

Some of the details we liked the best:

historic-cities_sidewalks

The sidewalks in Savannah are paved with Oyster shells.  Nothing at all like a typical New York City sidewalk!

In Charleston, the texture of the streets is created from large paved stones. There are only a few areas left in New York that have this old cobblestone feel.

The streets down by the Savannah River Walk are paved with historic bricks. The variety of color and texture makes a beautiful pattern and some are still inscribed with the original brick factory brand

 

historic-cities_rainbow-and-iron

In Charleston, where the bricks have been deteriorating off the side of a building and the concrete shows below…. It created a whimsical pattern like a brick camouflage pattern or the skin of a giraffe.  We all had our own ideas.

We loved the bright rainbow and pastel colors on window shutters and building facades and the beautiful twisted ironwork railings:

Kids are always drawn to the risky and mine were definitely up to this challenge.  “Historic Steps….Use at your own risk” …that detail was a real crowd pleaser…

historic-cities_steps

I love to visit museums, tour historic homes, shop in markets, but my real love is just…to roam.  I try to instill this love of wandering in my children.  I want them to observe and interpret their environments and the built world around them. What’s the same? What’s different? How does it make them feel? And I have found that – it’s all in the details.

And after all that wandering, when everyone is tired and hungry? There is nothing like delicious local food to put a smile on their faces!

historic-cities_food

 

TAG/Lauren Rubin

 

A Nursery That Sings: LRA Designer Tackles Her Sweetest Project

by Audrey Choi

I love nursery design!  It’s the one room where even the most conservative person is willing to take a walk on the wild side.  Playful patterns, lush textures and bold colors, the nursery is one of my favorite spaces to design and decorate.

Where do you start if you’re not sure what you want?  Let one thing inspire you – maybe it’s a favorite color or a cool wallpaper you saw in a magazine. It could be a painting, an old rocking chair, or even a beloved stuffed animal.  If you keep that anchor item or color in your mind, other choices should start to fall into line. I once helped put together a nursery inspired by Wes Andersen’s Moonrise Kingdom.  The room came together beautifully with neutral colors, artwork and fabrics of woodland creatures and rusticated wood furniture.  You don’t need to go too crazy keeping with the theme, but it’s a great jumping off point.

nursery-examples_02

When converting our storage room/office to a nursery, I started with the wall color since it was already painted a bright shade of blue (Benjamin Moore Ash Blue). I knew I wanted a big statement art piece behind the crib and I had always loved the Flensted swallow mobile. With my blue walls and those two things in mind, I started imagining a bird theme. I had a vision of white branches etched on plexiglass that, like a shadowbox, would cast subtle shadows on the wall during the day.  And when something gets stuck in my head, I become obsessed!  This was my statement art piece and I was determined to make it work.  After discovering that printing it would be astronomical, I decided to DIY it with the help of my handy hubby (I was very pregnant at the time). Naturally, he was thrilled to follow my crazy whim! I drew up a tree pattern, ordered a custom decal from Surface Collective which was applied to the back of a giant piece of plexi glass picked up from Canal Plastic.  That was a breeze to get home!  Then it was anchored to the wall with stainless steel standoffs so that it would appear to be floating.  It created the perfect backdrop for our Sundvik IKEA crib, Flensted mobile and feather sheets from Etsy! The rest of the room came together easily with neutral colors, soft pillows and other bird inspired artwork.

lexies-room_01

I don’t know exactly what it is about nurseries that makes them so different from every other room in the house. Maybe it feels like the first gift we can give our brand new babies or maybe it’s the opportunity for us to fulfill some suppressed desire to have the room we always dreamed of as a kid. In the end, remember that your baby won’t care what the nursery looks like. Design the room to make it your happy place. A calm and cozy place where you will want to spend hours and hours looking at the REAL statement piece – your nursery’s perfectly designed new resident!

TAG/Audrey Choi

Get Nooked!

by Laura Knight-Keating

Everybody loves a nook. I mean, it’s not just me, right? We all liked to be tucked in to a cozy space to read or eat or work or sleep. Especially at this time of year when the weather turns colder and we are spending more time indoors. It’s nice to crawl into a place that’s comfy and warm.

Some lucky homeowners have places that cry out for these special spaces. Other times we find a way to add them to the design. We strive to create nooks that can multitask. They can provide much needed storage as well as a snug reading bench, study area or casual dining space.

 

lra-storage-nooks

Not all nooks need to be enclosed. Try taking advantage of a free corner – you can create your own nookish feel by arranging furniture pieces and décor that really designate the area.

lra-nooks_open

My personal dream is to have an under the stairs nook….a la Harry Potter’s cupboard (without the spiders…:)

lkk-stair-nooks

So grab a mug of tea, a juicy novel, and your favorite throw, cozy up and get nooked!

 

TAG/Laura Knight Keating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York City on a Sunny Summer Day

by Laura Knight-Keating

Yesterday I had an unprecedented spare 45 minutes to get to a meeting on the Upper West Side. I could have taken the train, been there in ten minutes, enjoyed a nice latte and relished my ‘alone time’. Instead, seeing as it was a beautiful, sunny morning, I decided to walk – from 57th and 7th Ave up Broadway to 92nd Street.

In thirty five blocks there is so much to see – interesting architecture, interesting people, just…a whole lot of interesting. Some things have been there forever, some seem to be constantly shifting. After admiring the stylish Time Warner Center, I passed Lincoln Center. When was the last time you really stopped to look at Lincoln Center? I worked in the basement of the State Theatre for 7 years so for me it was more like “Hello, Old Friend…” but even if you have never hung out on the terrace sneaking a cigarette or explored the intricate underground maze that connects all the buildings, it’s still a spectacular sight. Designed by a variety of some of the most accomplished architects of our time, each section has its unique style but the overall complex is unified and constantly improving. One of the first centralized groupings of cultural institutions in the United States, Lincoln Center was part of Robert Moses’ program of urban renewal in the early 1960’s. Cut through it sometime – all that sparkling white travertine, two fountains, a new pedestrian promenade – it’s a sort of public oasis.

lincoln center

A few blocks later, at 71st and Amsterdam there is The Dorilton apartment building, and The Ansonia a few blocks further up at 74th and Broadway. Come on, stop it! Look at these buildings – they are amazing – amazing and insane! Both built at the turn of the century in the elaborate Beaux Arts style, they just don’t make them like this anymore. In most places, they never did! Take a second to marvel at the ornamentation and grandeur – it’s incredible.

Dorilton

Ansonia

Personally, I was an unwilling convert to the urban jungle. I loved my homey Midwestern town and still do. It has taken me a long time to assimilate. Twenty two years later I am an actual New Yorker, who for the first time just this month, left the city and really missed it. And the thing I missed the most was walking. Walk! Walk around, look up and enjoy, wonder, wander, and fall in love with city.

 

One way I keep my home town close to my heart:

matildajaneclothing.com

This very special clothing company empowers women and girls with their beautiful designs. It was born and operates in my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN. In addition to their awesome clothing line, they also do amazing charity work to improve the lives of woman and girls all over the world. I walk the streets of New York wearing my Matilda Janes with pride – you can take the girl out of Indiana but you can’t take the Indiana out of the girl!

mjc images

 

TAG/Laura Knight Keating

I (heart) Wallpaper!

by Laura Knight-Keating

I am OBSESSED with wallpaper. I know I’m not alone. It’s been making a huge resurgence thanks to companies, young and old, who are creating wallpaper for the modern world. There is literally something for everyone – an amazing range of products, in terms of style and installation – from extremely adventurous to super conservative, temporary to permanent, textured, paintable, even glow in the dark!

Growing up we had this very heavy, completely overwhelming patterned wallpaper that covered our entryway, climbed the stairs, covered the hallway and as if that wasn’t enough – the same pattern was my parent’s bedspread and the curtains in our family room and on our patio doors. There wasn’t a single room in our house that didn’t have some view of this hideous (sorry, Mom and Dad!) pattern. Black background with huge coral flowers and teal green leaves with swirly vines. This bold and somewhat gothic paper replaced some equally frightening 1960s version that probably haunts the family who lived there before. The smell of old, wet wallpaper being steamed off our walls is forever burned into my sense memory. It was really enough to put a person off wallpaper for life. But then these came along…

Wallpaper _1

 

Accent walls, powder rooms, stair treads, inside cabinets, on the ceiling, behind shelving, on shelving – I even saw an image where someone had wallpapered their refrigerator! I applaud them.

Wallpaper_2

 

I would wallpaper everything. I know I’m a little late in my discovery. This trend has been growing for ten years or more. It just took me a little longer to throw off the 80s version. I also didn’t consider it initially because I rent my apartment and I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the time and money on something I might have to leave behind. But then came these….

Wallpaper_3

 

Removable wallpaper! Somebody stop me.

Here are a bunch of my favorite places to stalk cool papers:

flavorpaper.com

wallsneedlove.com

chasingpaper.com

orlakiely.com

missprint.co.uk

hyggeandwest.com

flatvernacular.com

submaterial.com

michelevarian.com

astekwallcovering.com

TAG/Laura Knight Keating