June 30, 2011

Inside Bungalow 5's Showroom Featuring AphroChic

                                                                                 Photo: Liz Epp

Step into the Bungalow 5 showroom in Manhattan and you'll feel like running home to swap your belongings for items in their collection of fun, modern pieces. Although Bungalow 5's products are mainly available to the trade, you can find a selection of items at retail outlets around the country, including Layla Grace.

The company recently invited Jeanine Hays of AphroChic to showcase items from her line in their space, and I had the pleasure of checking them out at the showroom. I especially fell for her throw pillows (see one I love below) and tablecloth runners. I find Jeanine's line to be very upbeat, as it features bold prints in colors that pop, and they have a bohemian feel to them. By no means are they for people who don't like making a style statement. How fun could that be, right?

                                              AphroChic's "Vibe Pillow" in Saffron and Pink

June 27, 2011

Inside InteriorConnector: A Source for High-End Home Furnishings

Are you the kind of person who lives for discovering that one special item that makes your home unique? If so, you'll love InteriorConnector, a website that features high-end home furnishings from independent designers, boutiques and artisans. I recently caught up with InteriorConnector's founder, Beth Neuhaus, to learn about her inspiration for launching the site and her passion for the world of home design.  

Decor Musings: How did you come to launch InteriorConnector?
Beth Neuhaus: I practiced law for more than 20 years, but always had a passion for home design. I worked with a lot of wonderful interior designers over the years on my personal home projects, and as the Internet became more and more popular, I began handling my own sourcing. At the same time, as a corporate lawyer, I helped early-stage companies raise capital and I soon came to recognize that I wanted to start my own business.

DM: What does InteriorConnector offer?
BN: InteriorConnector is a virtual storefront for independent home design sources, whether it’s Carolina George or Palumbo/Anderssen Modern. I’m targeting consumers who are design devotees who feel empowered by discovering home products on their own.

DM: Your site has a great mix of commerce and editorial content, which feels very balanced.
BN: Yes, it’s important because you can have all of these wonderful products for sale, but without the editorial content, there’s no way to put them into context. We have a section called “Shop Stop,” where we tell the story of each of our vendors. We also cover trends in the home category. We've done stories on everything from animal prints to how to decorate a space around a specific piece of art. Then there's “Décor Basics,” where we feature interviews with designers and tastemakers in the luxury lifestyle space.

DM: How do you decide on what products to feature on the site?
BN: We look for high-end home furnishings that have a distinct look. They can range from any period of styles.

DM: What kinds of design trends are you now seeing?
BN: People are becoming more and more empowered every day from the Internet and all of the home design-focused television shows out now. They are learning that you don’t have to be rich and famous to be exposed to great design. Great design has become more accessible to people. You can design your home and have one really fabulous piece of art that makes the space special, for instance. That's the goal of InteriorConnector. We want to help people find these special pieces for their home.

DM: What’s next for InteriorConnector?
BN: Our initial launch was in the New York metro area. We’ll be launching in Miami soon and Atlanta will follow suit. We're also looking forward to having an international presence as well because our audience includes people from all over the world.

June 22, 2011

How Couples Can Solve Their Decorating Dilemmas

                                                       Amy Larocca and husband Will Frears at home. Photo: Max Kim-Bee

Decorating a home both you and your spouse can fully enjoy is no easy feat. It takes workand compromisebut you can get it done with little to no stress. Follow these easy tips to get started.

Be honest. The first step in decorating your home together is to be very clear about what you both like and dislike. Do you go for more of an Anthropologie vibe, and your spouse is partial to BoConcept? Are there certain colors, fabrics or furniture either of you absolutely need to see in your home? Is there one piece of art that holds special meaning for you, and so you must have a space for it in the living room? This will all save you time when shopping around.

Compromising is key. Of course, it's not possible to witness every single piece of your decorating plan come to fruition and that's completely fine. Your partner may not be too crazy about your ever-growing collection of vintage picture frames or the hand-me-down sofa from your great aunt (that's clearly run its course). Whatever it is, know the battles worth fighting for, and try to reach a solution you both can live with.

Shop, shop, shop around. Nothing beats visiting furniture stores or flea markets together to see how you both respond to certain items. It's one of the best ways to gain a better understanding of each of your decorating tastes and even pinpoint how much you're both willing to spend on different items.

Designate duties. In some instances, it might be beneficial to give one person complete control over decorating particular areas of the home. Maybe the person who will be using the kitchen the most should decorate it, right? The same for the entertainment room and so on. You should consult with each other throughout the decorating process, of course, but the ultimate decision can be left up to the person in charge.

Happy decorating!

June 16, 2011

Want to Mingle with Lifestyle Bloggers?

Calling all lifestyle bloggers! Tonight, Thursday, June 16, from 7 to 9 p.m., I'll be hosting a mixer in Brooklyn, NY, with Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take the Cake for lifestyle bloggers in the areas of fashion, beauty, food, and home decor/design. The event will be held at Linger Cafe. RSVP here. It'll be a good time. Promise.

June 11, 2011

One Kings Lane Sale with Designers Ann Getty and Thomas Britt

I raved about One Kings Lane recently and was delighted to learn that interior designers Ann Getty and Thomas Britt are hosting a sale on the website until Tuesday. The designers have pulled together a great lineup of unique items--furniture, accessories and vintage pieces--from their personal collections just in time for your Father's Day gift shopping. So get a taste of a designer's life and stop by the sale at One Kings Lane. Happy shopping!

Selections from Thomas Britt:

Selections from Ann Getty:

June 5, 2011

Interior Designer Elaine Griffin Dishes on the Art of Decorating

Elaine Griffin created vignettes for HomeGoods at this year's Design on a Dime event. Photo: Joe Standart

Several years ago during my time assisting with the public relations efforts for Metropolitan Home, I was working at the publication's signature "Design 100" event, which highlighted its picks for 100 of the best modern home products of the year. I was just getting my feet wet in the world of magazine public relations, and this event was a big deal for the brand. As I was scrambling to get my job done that day, a lovely lady stopped me in my tracks to introduce herself and offer a few kind words. This stuck with me ever since, and I remember thinking how much I admired her character. This lovely lady is none other than Elaine Griffin, the accomplished New York interior designer and author of Design Rules: The Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator.

I had the chance to speak with Elaine about everything from her summer decorating tips to how aspiring interior designers can go about fulfilling their dreams. Enjoy the interview.

Decor Musings: What’s your decorating philosophy?
Elaine Griffin:
The one rule I will never break is rooms should look like the people who live in them. How you decorate your home is an intimate representation of who you are. It is the most personal, most private space there is, so I am stunned when people don’t make an effort to fix their place up.

DM: What's one goal you try to accomplish with all the clients who come your way?
EG: I am a native of the South, so I bring that Southern hospitality to all of my clients. Whether they entertain or not, they will be well equipped to do so when I leave their home. I make sure even a hermit in a studio apartment can throw a successful dinner party for four.

For this year's Design on a Dime event, Elaine revealed her take on an urban garden. Photo: Joe Standart

DM: What's the key to entertaining?
EG: So much about entertaining is really making sure your guests have everything within reach. Billy Baldwin put it best when he said that the best rooms have something to put upon, sit upon and gaze upon. John Fowler said that true luxury is really about everything being in its proper place. There’s a table within reach for a drink or a book. There’s a box of Kleenex, wherever you might happen to need one, in a pretty container. There’s sufficient light wherever you might need it. It’s all about covering the practical bases with style.

DM: As for summer decorating, what do you suggest?
EG: You want to be able to tell what season it is outside, inside your home. Summer really is all about lighter colors, lighter fabrics, and less texture, darkness and heaviness. It's light and airy.

* It’s the perfect moment to put up art in white-colored frames. Ikea has the perfect Ribba frame that really does look like some of the more expensive options.

* Switch out your throw pillows to lighten up your existing color palette. If you have burgundy pillows, bring in fuschia or a pretty peony pink. If you have a lot of orange, go for peach. If you have navy, go with turquoise.

* Lighten up your throws as well. A heavy cashmere throw is lovely to cozy up with during the winter, but for summer, consider cotton.

* And don’t forget to buy summer flowers. I think orchids are elegant.

* For the truly adventurous, you can change your area rugs. If you have a heavier wool rug, you can switch it out to sisal. Stores like HomeGoods carry them at great prices.

* Change your lampshades as well. I love shades made of grasscloth or raffia.

DM: What are some great, affordable online sources for people to consider when decorating?
EG: I love Shades of Light and Circa Lighting for lamps. You will also find amazing things on Overstock.com. I found a great leather chair that happened to be sold for three times the price at another store. I also use Amazon for home essentials..

Elaine enjoys shopping at Shades of Light, which is where she purchased the lamp shown here.

DM: Where do you draw inspiration from?
EG: Inspiration is everywhere. I’m always inspired by what my client wants. Rooms don’t come alive until they’re inhabited so my number-one inspiration is from people. I’m always inspired by the great decorators who came before me. I learned my trade in the office of Peter Marino, so he will always be my ultimate design star. I also like David Hicks, Frances Elkins, Stéphane Boudin, who was Jackie Kennedy's decorator, Albert Hadley, John Fowler, Billy Baldwin and Renzo Mongiardino.

Nature is another inspiration for me, because the creator has created the most exquisite color combinations that are right outside our windows. If a color combination exists in a flower or landscape, it will work in your living room.

DM: Can you share one secret decorators would never reveal to their clients?
EG: We make mistakes.

DM: What are some of your favorite items in your Harlem home?
EG: I’m wild about my dining chairs, which we purchased at the Les Puces flea market in Paris. They were 100 euros each and came from a French prime minister’s palace. I also love a ceramic lamp that I bought for $10 from a thrift store in Harlem when I first moved here. I love my black Regency-style chairs that I reupholstered in orange corduroy from Ralph Lauren Home. They were $30 each. And my Hunt Slonem watercolor that my husband, Michael, gave me for my birthday. I also love shells because I grew up on the South Georgia coast. Although I live in New York, Georgia is still home for me.

Elaine's home in Harlem, including her Regency-style chairs.

DM: What advice would you give to an aspiring interior designer?
EG: See everything. Developing your eye is about exposure. I don’t see enough of us at showhomes. Aspiring decorators should hit every showhouse he or she possibly can. Every city offers tours of various homes as well. You just want to make sure you see different things, and not just one style. It’s important for a designer to be fluent in many styles. And whenever you travel, see the pretty, historic homes. Study floorplans to understand why things are laid out in a certain way and how colors are used. It’s more than just looking at magazines. It’s more about getting yourself into as many homes as you can in your lifetime. You should also aim to work with the most talented designer you can get to hire you to learn the intricacies of our craft, as well as the business side of the job.

DM: Your book, Design Rules, was released in 2009. What's one takeaway for readers?
EG: In America only 14 percent of people use a designer to decorate their homes. For this reason, I wrote a book to help people decorate on their own and achieve professional-looking results. One takeaway I like to remind people of from Design Rules is that curtains should always be hung as close to the ceiling as possible.

DM: Will there be a follow up?
EG: We’re contemplating a follow up to Design Rules, which will be out in 2013. I told readers what to do in terms of decorating in Design Rules, so in this next book, I'll show them how to put it together.

DM: How do you define true style?
EG: You are either born with style or not. You can learn about style and imitate it, but it's hard to conquer if you are not born with it. On the other hand, taste can be learned. Taste is knowing that Chanel is chic and knowing that you don’t wear blingy diamonds to lunch. Style is being able to say I wear blingy diamonds to lunch all the time and pull it off because of who I am. Style is mixing flea market pieces with couture and looking like a million bucks. Style is wearing Jones New York and having it look like Dior on you. It's the same idea when it comes to your home.

June 3, 2011

A Personal Shopper Never Hurt Anybody...

We’ve all been there before. You step into a home department store or a flea market and have absolutely no idea of where to begin. You have a fairly good sense of what you like and don’t like in terms of decorating, but need an extra dose of inspiration to help pinpoint the best pieces within your budget to create the stylish, comfortable home you’ve always longed for.

As a precursor to my plan of offering design services, I’m making myself available to offer assistance to my fellow New York City-area dwellers in search of some guidance on the home decorating front. Whether you're living the single life, a newlywed couple, or the owner of the ultimate bachelor pad, having an outside perspective to help personalize your space is key. And besides, who doesn't love a little shopping?

To kick it off, I'm giving away a FREE two-hour personal shopping appointment to one lucky NYC-area resident. I'll accompany you to the home furnishings store of your choice, and will dish out practical tips throughout our experience to help personalize your space. Tweet me via @decormusings with the name of your favorite interior designer, along with the reason why you love his or her decorating style, for a chance to win. The deadline is noon ET on Sunday, June 5. Good luck!

And e-mail info@decormusings.com for more details on my new service, and most importantly, do spread the word.