Monique Valeris is the founder of Decor Musings, which houses roundups of the most stylish home products out now, highlights of her flea market shopping adventures, interviews with interior design experts, and tons more. Happy decorating!
One of my favorite restaurants to frequent in Brooklyn is Saraghina, which has the most delicious Margherita pizza. After all of my visits, it was just yesterday that I noticed that chairs hang from the ceiling near the restaurant's entrance. How fun is this decor idea? Just had to post a picture.
I'll begin highlighting design books that I think are worthy of reading in my new "On My Shelf" series. I come across so many good titles all the time, and so this is the perfect way to share some of my recommendations.
For the first installment, it's all about Kennedy Green House by Robin Wilson, an interior designer who focuses on eco-friendly living. In Kennedy Green House, Robin reveals the process behind designing an environmentally-friendly home for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Mary Richardson Kennedy. Can you imagine being given this opportunity and the pressure that comes along with such a project? Nevertheless, Robin and her team rose to the occasion and were able to transform the Kennedys' home into a true model of good green design. The property is even Gold LEED-certified and so every aspect of the design process, from construction to the decorating phase, are infused with eco-friendly principles. If you're at all interested in learning more about what's involved in building a green home, be sure to check out this book. Thanks for sending it my way, Siena Media Group.
If you follow Decor Musings, you know how much I treasure old things. I love a good thrift shop and on Sunday, I trekked over to Housing Works on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights with a new blogger friend, Nagela of Silver Lining Events, to see what goodies I could snatch up. Being the experienced thrift shopper that I am, you know I didn't leave the store empty-handed.
I left with three adorable lamps (eventhough I have nowhere to put them), a brass shelf, two pieces of floral art and even a dress. In other words, I scored big. It was tons of fun to say the least. And the best part is that proceeds from every sale are directed to assist people who are living with HIV/AIDS. So worthwhile.
The two lamps with the floral details were $20 each.
My favorite find was $15.
This picture doesn't show the full beauty of this lamp base but you get the idea. I snagged it for just $20 and I couldn't believe how heavy it was to carry.
Nagela and I each took home two of these. They were only $2 each.
When I learned that I'd have the chance to interview interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, I couldn't contain my excitement. He's decorated the homes of a slew of celebrities, including Cher, Elton John and Ellen Pompeo, and appeared on Bravo's Million Dollar Decorators, which will return for season two. Here, the interior designer, who was on Architectural Digest's 2012 AD100 list highlighting the best in architecture and interior design, shares about his approach to decorating, working with celebrity clients and his latest projects.
Decor Musings: How would you describe your decorating style?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I have lots of styles. I decorate for my clients, not for me, so my inspiration comes purely from their energy. For instance, Elton John really knows what he wants and has worked with some extraordinary decorators over the years. He had a vision of how he likes to live and it was my job to take that vision and make it into a reality for him. With Cher, she's always liked themed interiors. For her West Hollywood townhouse, we did an Indian fantasy and for the beach house, we went with a Moroccan villa vibe. Her whole thing was living out a fantasy in design.
Martyn infused an Indian vibe into Cher's two-floor West Hollywood home. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
DM: Where do you find your inspiration?
MLB: Travel really is the best inspiration a designer can ever have because not only does it feed your soul, it feeds your creative energy. It provides the juices that you drink upon to find new and interesting ways of doing things.
DM: What are some of your favorite places to visit?
MLB: I just came back from Istanbul -- it's one of my favorite spots. In Morocco, I love Marrakesh and Tangier. Rome is also always so inspiring for me. I enjoy seeing the great, classic architecture there.
DM: For people on a budget looking to spruce up their places, what’s one decorating tip you would share with them?
MLB: Make sure your sofa is upholstered in a plain fabric, so you can create different looks with fun, decorative pillows. You can go to Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn and buy fantastic pillows for about $20 that will completely rejuvenate your interior. Pillows are a great way to add pattern, freshen the space and delineate seasons.
For actress Ellen Pompeo's home, Martyn went for both comfort and style. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
DM: Can you share one of your favorite places to shop for clients?
MLB:ABC Carpet & Home in New York always has fresh things. I love that it has an eclectic, ethinic vibe mixed with fun, modern products. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. It doesn’t matter what I’m looking for, I seem to be able to find it there.
DM: Season two of Million Dollar Decorators is to come. How was filming the first season?
MLB: It’s been a blast and we’re thrilled to be doing season two. It was the most fun I could have with my clothes on (laughs). It has completely changed the course of my business. I’ve been called to work on major hotels and I’m even a spokesperson for Jaguar now. All of these amazing collaborations have come directly from the show, which has been extraordinary.
MLB: Never be scared when decorating and truly follow your heart. Decorating is all about being brave. If you like it, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks because at the end of the day, you’re the person who has to live with it. If you think it’s beautiful, then it is beautiful. That is the whole concept of the book. It’s about living life, loving what you do and decorating with that.
DM: What projects do you have coming up?
MLB: In addition to season two of Million Dollar Decorators, I have a separate show starting in England. My fabric line with Schumacher is expanding, I have wallpaper and outdoor fabric lines launching in a few weeks, and will also be releasing new rugs with The Rug Company. I also have a line in the works with Ann Sacks. There is major product happening at every level of the marketplace.
DM: How do you feel about social media
MLB: I love Twitter because it’s instant. As things are happening, you can let the world know and receive immediate feedback. I love Facebook as well because if you get a great message from someone, you can easily find out a bit more about the person.
Social media is the way forward, especially for someone like myself who really wants to work hands-on with people and understand what they want. It's a way to learn about new trends and keep my fingers on the pulse. I enjoy the interaction.
The Young Collectors Night at the Winter Antiques Show is on Thursday, January 26, and I'm so excited that I'll be attending this year. The event, which will benefit East Side House Settlement, is being held at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC and there will be all kinds of fabulous antiques on-hand for guests' enjoyment. New York magazine, Benjamin Moore and Elie Tahari are the sponsors and well-known interior designers (think Nate Berkus, Jonathan Adler, Celerie Kemble and Thom Filicia) are expected to be in attendance. Tickets are $175 and I'm sure it's going to be a good time. Here's more info.
Guest what? I'm clearing out my bookshelves, which are loaded with an overwhelming number of interior design coffee-table books, and so I'm giving one lucky reader the chance to snag the 10titles listed below. Yes, 10. Please note that of course I've flipped through the books very gently, but I promise, promise, promise that they're all just like new.
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment here that briefly explains one decorating tip you've learned from reading an interior design book and also follow me on Twitter via @decormusings (if you're not already doing so).
The deadline to enter is noon ET on Friday, Jan. 13. By the way, you must live in the good old U.S. of A. Good luck! I can't wait to pick a winner.
When I attended the Pip & Estella pop-up shop in Brooklyn a few months ago, I happened to meet a young lady by the name of Sierra Baskind who is an up-and-coming prop stylist. After speaking with her for a bit, I learned that she worked on a photo shoot for Rue magazine, which I love, so I had to set up some time to chat with her about her decorating tips. We recently had a fun conversation and here are some takeaways that you can try on your own at home, and be sure to check out her blog.
* Decorating should be functional but also needs to reflect your style.
* Never leave walls bare. Start with a large painting to anchor the room and take it from there. Gallery walls can work.
* Try reframing art. Sierra likes silver frames coupled with white mats or black frames with gray mats.
* Consider flea markets or stores like Target when decorating. You can always put in a little work to transform a piece to make it your own.
* Always bring a memento or two home from your travels.
* For those on a budget, never compromise on a good bed. It's the one place where you'll spend a lot of time so it needs to be perfect.
* Think about how you can repurpose items. For instance, when your candle has run its course, try using it to hold your makeup brushes.
* Plants are a great way to make a room more lively and add a positive feeling to a room.