Step 1 for Giving Your Place a #Spacelift

Photo cred: Donna Dotan Photography for 338 Berry St. Williamsburg. Design by the New Design Project.

Photo cred: Donna Dotan Photography for 338 Berry St. Williamsburg. Design by the New Design Project.

First, I just invented the word Spacelift. It's like a facelift for your space and may be our new hashtag so send feedback STAT. Second, who doesn't want to primp their space, especially in advance of peak holiday materialism?

Step one for giving your place that needed spacelift is GET RID OF CRAP.  Many are familiar with my anti-hoarding/heartless tendencies to get rid of stuff I don't need or use. I've always had such tendencies but Mari Kondo made my heart sing and now I stay up late to purge stuff without judgement from those I live with. (Note this is a test to see if my husband actually reads my blog). 

It's nearly impossible to style your space without first removing what's not needed. This is why newly designed places photograph so well: there's no superfluous clutter and seeing that kind of space is instantly satisfying and aspirational. Imagine living in that every day.... BLISS. 

To be clear, I'm defining "extra stuff" as items that you don't love, need, and/or use.  These include extra office supplies, ugly coffee books that you'll never read, 5 wine openers (you only need 1), and home accessories that annoy you when you see them. All of these can easily be put into a little box titled "GARBAGE".  OR, donate them. DO NOT put them into your storage closet.  [As a small aside, jam-packed storage closets are my pet peeve and nothing in them is accessible or really on anyone's A List so they may as well be cleared out. Christmas ornaments and other seasonal décor are the exception.]

On a related note, kids are varsity hoarders but  here's an article that may just be the justification you need to steer them in a different direction that promotes cognitive growth and keeps their (and your) space well designed. For kid artwork and school projects, I'm a supporter of the Hall of Fame approach that The Home Edit describes well: I pick a few favorites from each school year and are representative of what was done, then put them into a labeled Stockholm Box. Keeping everything isn't sustainable and will likely result in a massive angry purge one day by you, your children, or confused decedents, so you may as well tailor it in a structured way. Relatedly, maybe a post on displaying kids artwork is in my future, so stay tuned for that. 

And on a final note, I'm not advocating for displaying EVERYTHING you love all at once. It's OK and encouraged to keep a few items you love in a cupboard and rotate them around your home whenever you're in the mood for a change. But when you keep passing up the opportunity to actually use or display something, it's probably time to give it a new home. And of course, there are always SOME items you may feel badly getting rid of, but is keeping them hidden actually making the situation better? Probably not. Having stuff in your home that you truly enjoy and use is the first major step in making your space better and making your day, energy and life more positive. 

#SPACELIFT for the win. 

Our Clients Who Need Help

Photo cred: Kathy Kuo Home

Photo cred: Kathy Kuo Home

We're working with a few clients who are super stylish in life and kind of sort of in their home; they live in GREAT apartments/houses but there's something unsatisfying about each of their spaces. Yes, their walls need some love and a home without art has no soul blah blah, but realistically, putting something on the walls is not the total answer here -- the answer is curating the space as a WHOLE to make it pretty, organized, and to showcase individual taste. Most of the time these clients have everything they need for that finished look, it's just not put together in the best possible way.  SO, we tweak. And here, we're listing the staple pieces we use. (If you're into it, we MAY even start linking to new pieces we see, sales of great items, and progress reports on our personal home accessory obsessions....because it's all part of giving your home some style, right?)

1. Trays

Trays are great pieces to make a vignette.  They truly make a tabletop look visually interesting and coherent, and there are SO many varieties; metal, wooden, round, rectangle, colorful, organic, Modern, and rustic.  My tip is put a collection of 3 items inside the tray, which should be different heights and shapes --- a pile of coffee table books, a decorative object, and a vase or tall candle, for example -- and voila: pretty, organized and personalized look is achieved.  Pro tip: Gilt Home has tray sales every month or so and so I've been known to go nuts getting a bunch in different materials and sizes that I switch up around the house, which annoys the crap out of my husband but brings me odd amounts of joy.

2. Coffee table books

Good coffee table books does more than create a pretty visual; they actually serve as nice inspiration for you and others in your home. Truth be told, I peruse my coffee table books MAX once a year but I enjoy knowing they're there and having the theoretical opportunity to look at pictures of chic modern interiors, or travel destinations, or natural foods as I please.  And there is a difference in quality -- go for good, pretty coffee table books on subjects that interest you. They serve as yet another way to showcase your taste and make your space yours. 

3. Plants

My resolution for 2017 was to not kill every plant I got, and now that it's December I am HIGH FIVING myself because I own approximately 6 living pieces of flora right now (NOT including a Christmas tree that will hopefully make it to Dec. 25).  And I have to say, they definitely improve the air quality of my home as well as look oh-so-pretty. Specifically, the diverse shades of green, heights, and organic shapes differ from any furnishing or decorative object you can bring in, and they add depth to any space. There were definitely a few of mine that did not make it through the year, but still, I'm a fan. And you know what I'm not a fan of? FAKE PLANTS. Even the good ones. 

4. Throws

By "Throws" I'm referring to pillows and blankets. I love them both. They add a soft, cozy touch to any room. I am, however, the first to admit that throw pillows can be logistically annoying -- sometimes they're actually uncomfortable to sit in front of, but the joy of seeing them everyday in a space unquestionably outweighs the mild irritation of moving them to the side when you actually want to sit. They make a place look welcoming and are a relatively low-cost way to add color and texture. Plus, you can switch them up every so often, and even seasonally if that tickles your fancy.  Buying bright red ones with reindeer for the holidays has been on my WANT list for a while....

 5. Decent Picture Frames

You don’t need to go to Michael Aram but drug and discount store picture frames are terrible value; they are cheap and look cheaper so much so that they can actually detract from the enjoyment of looking at the photos inside. Siena frames are a great option and come in a range of styles and colors. Remember: details matter and this is not your place to save a buck. OH, and let's not forget that by changing your frames you can totally refresh and revamp your space.

The staples above help with those finishing touches, or "moments" as some people who can pull that off may say, that give a space warmth and personality.  They're functionally versatile and easy to get at a range of price points. The best part is that you can get whichever type of these objects YOU like best, so even if everyone in the world read this blog post and went shopping, the results would all be unique. SO get to it. Give your place a little soul or let us bring it out. 



A Few Places to Get Art

Photo cred: Findlay Galleries

Photo cred: Findlay Galleries

The top question I get from friends, potential clients, interior designers and miscellaneous others is: "Where should I go to get art?" I've hesitated doing a post on this because I previously felt that the answer represents a ton of professional capital -- years learning about, vetting, and establishing relationships with galleries, auction houses, artist studios, home stores and online shops around the world. BUT, screw it. The holidays are coming and I'm feeling generous.  That, and I'm now 100% confident that giving you some names that you could Google anyways in no way jeopardizes my business of walking clients through what art works best for them, how to understanding pricing and quality, where to save and where to splurge, how to establish good taste, how to get art safely into your space and install it once it's there so your space looks polished, meanwhile making the whole experience efficient and worthwhile. I mean, I'm biased, but anyways....

The much-anticipated answer to where you should go to get art is....... IT DEPENDS [cue the collective sigh of disappointment].  I know, that's annoying, but asking me that is like asking a designer where to buy a couch, a stylist where to get clothes, and a chef where to buy food.... and when I seek out art for my clients, I'm sourcing options to fit THEIR space, taste, and budget [not mine or yours, Anonymous Reader]. However, since I can't give a straight up answer, I'm still going to throw you a bone and provide a mini-guide with a few oh-so-juicy sources listed: 

The first important step in actually finding art right for you is to pick a budget. This is the top filter to help guide your search. And this is also a step you regularly take in every other part of your life -- when you want a casual lunch, you filter out the $$$$ restaurants and focus on the quick bite joins near you. If you have a fancy event, bargain stores are not your go-to.  With art, it's no different -- picking a budget simply helps you narrow down the feasible options.  If you want art that's relatively low-cost and possibly decorative, online stores are a good source.  The online buying risks still apply, but some places I look are Art Star, Uprise Art, Saatchi Art, Etsy, and Viyet. If you're interested in spending up to $10k, going to emerging art galleries is a good choice. These include Denny Gallery, Sasha Wolf, Anastasia Photo, Pele Prints, Jerald Melberg, Jackson Fine Art, Kathryn Markel, Fierman, and Canada. Spending a few tens of thousands can get you some excellent pieces by mid to mature career artists at galleries like Yossi Milo, Berry Campbell, Findlay Galleries, Davidson Contemporary, Sundaram Tagore, Jayne H Baum and Margaret Thatcher Projects. And finally, investing big bucks in art means that you can go to the top tier (AKA "blue chip") galleries showing artists at the top of their game. These include Paul Kasmin, Mary Boone, Metro Pictures and Lisson Gallery

Importantly, the places listed above are in NO particular order and do not at all represent all of those with which we work. To keep this as a mini-guide, I haven't included artist studios, auction houses and home stores, which can also be excellent sources.  Those listed are NY-heavy because I live in NY, but we do work with galleries around the world.  Really they are just a quick run down of places I like and that come to mind during my Sunday night blog post crunch time. There are obviously many more.

And finally, before you excitedly Google all the places listed above thinking #WIN, note that galleries (which represent only a fraction of the art world) are a lot to navigate: they only show a portion of their inventory at any given time, and I'm lucky to get 1st dibs on a lot of pieces that aren't yet marketed (also at favorable prices).  You may find that gallery hopping leaves you feeling a little lost and a little stupid. If not, power to you and YOU'RE WELCOME. But if it does, call us and we'll help. OH and Interior Designers, note that finding art for clients is only the first step --- now you have to sell it to them. Check out our video here with a few pro tips. Happy Holidays!

Easy Ways to Prep Your Home This Holiday Season

Lots of white accents and candlelight. Photo cred: Crate & Barrel

Lots of white accents and candlelight. Photo cred: Crate & Barrel

Two years ago I saw some cute table name cards on Pinterest and decided to make them for Thanksgiving. It was the first year we hosted, and the cards were basically rosemary springs woven through paper  Those stupid things took me so #@!$%%^ long that I just got mad thinking about it.  The rosemary needles would fall off when I wove the sprig through the holes that were too small or too big, and the paper would bend and look stupid.   After a few were made successfully I felt obligated to finish the job and that took hours. The learning moment came after a few glasses of wine and advise from oddly rational family members -- I then committed to keeping the holiday home decor situation simple going forward. Here's how: 

1. Get rid of crap. 

Retailers do an excellent job of making you want to buy buy buy this time of year with their pretty tablescapes and perfect everything, but I advocate for the opposite: getting RID of stuff you don't need will make the inevitable influx of people, gifts, food, leftovers, hand-me-downs, etc. feel less overwhelming.  In particularly, go through your open shelving, kitchen drawers and closet to just purge.  No one needs 3 can openers, college tee-shirts and dry markers. Throw it out or donate it and I guarantee you'll feel better.  For supplementary reading on this topic, read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". 

2.  Add one strong pop of color.

My favorite simple way of getting the house festive after executing tip # 1 above is to add one bright color in small ways, but repeatedly, throughout the house. In December, it's red (for me, but you could do gold, silver, white, or others)... very bright, saturated Christmas red. I add some bright red candles to our table, put a bright red throw blanket on the couch and even have a red doormat at our front door.  Red berry branches are also some of my favorite flora to put in vases, on a cheese plate when hosting, or incorporated into a table setting. As a side note, I like the real ones over the fake, but do what you have to do.  

3. Lights

Lighting plays a huge role in people's emotional well-being, so accordingly, to make your home festive and fun, you need the right lighting. My top hack is to OD on Christmas string lights and candles.  Scatter them around, inside and out. There are battery operated versions of each that come in handy in various situations, but overall, turning off your electric lights and enjoying the string lights and candles is an instant win. Add some wine to the mix and you are golden. 

Pinterest, catalogues, and Instagram can provide a ton of inspiration, and I will gladly admit that I love it. I look at pretty pics and pretty things ALL THE TIME and get ideas from all the visuals. BUT, you don't have to recreate what you see.  You probably can't, or wouldn't want to because staged professional interior pics aren't actually livable. Maybe we should do a post on that? LET US KNOW.  In the mean time, keep it simple and enjoy. 

What's On Trend

No shame in the black wall game. Photo cred: One Kings Lane

No shame in the black wall game. Photo cred: One Kings Lane

EVERY week I tell myself I'll write this blog before Sunday night. I never happens. I get why, but it's moderately annoying. I will say, however, that a small part of me likes pumping these out at the 11th hour before my self-imposed Monday deadline; my blogs end up being a totally accurate reflection of my current mood and ideas.  Tonight I'm overwhelmed with my week ahead (including a presentation on Instagram LIVE Monday at 1pm through A Well Designed Business), and so my thoughts are scattered. Accordingly, I'm summing up diverse selection of recent art world trends I've seen. Here we go: 

1) Galleries going out of business. 

This is a sad one for life but not HORRIBLE for my biz. So many brick and mortar art galleries are closing their doors in NYC since rents are high and the gallery model hasn't evolved in the past 50 years; it's still a white cube of a space, showcasing 1/10th of the art it has available in a sterile, often intimidating environment. Prospective buyers are less inclined to go in and buy when they have many seemingly more accessible resources available to them through the Internet. When galleries go away, the art they had in inventory still exists, and thankfully I know where to find it. Being able to show clients pieces that they literally can no longer see coming in off the street boosts my value add, but this is definitely going to shake up the structure of the art market in the long run.

2) Black Walls

I'm a design groupie and I look at pretty interiors (in real life and through photos) often. I've started to see black accent walls that look unexpectedly beautiful and homey.  They make me want to paint SOMETHING black in my all white house (when my husband is away, obviously) to add a different dimension. Stay tuned for how this plays out... 

3) Maple Frames

Frames, just like any other material thing in life, go in and out of style. Slim frames have been favored over gaudi big ones for a few years now, and I'm seeing a lot more slim white-washed maplewood frames that look beautiful. They're warmer than white lacquer gallery frames that are, well, in galleries quite often, and they have a neutral, textural appeal. Fun side fact: getting your art re-framed every few years is an excellent way to freshen up your space.

4) Video Marketing

I am in the process of jumping on this bandwagon (STAY TUNED FOR OUR BRAND VIDEO), but there is a bit of a learning curve involved. Regardless, it's worth it. A video marketing guru who I trust told me that the reach of text-only content is X, photo plus text is X times X, and video is multiples of that. Some people in the art and design industry are doing this amusingly well, and one of my favorite companies to watch that's crushing it is Studio McGee

5) One Kings Lane

I used to buy from OKL often, particularly when I was furnishing our old apartment. The prices seemed a little better than the selection, but back then I seemed to favor function over form (weird).  Anyways, I stopped looking for a while and now I'm back to checking regularly. WHAT HAPPENED?? Their products are gorgeous and their marketing is killing me. I'm seeing their name everywhere and their perfectly curated room pics have become a time suck. I could hang out on their website for a year, and Awesome photographs from the recent Brooklyn Designer Showhouse were even sourced from OKL.  Yes, it's added to my source list from now on. 


AND there you have it; an accurate account of the eclectic thoughts buzzing around my head tonight. This post was actually loads of fun to write, so I'd LOVE some feedback. PRETTY PLEASE give me a comment or a like so I can tailor this going forward. 

The Reason Behind our New Logo that No One Noticed

Last week we made a little logo switch-a-roo that I'm 99% confident no one noticed.   If you did, compliments ARE welcome, but honestly, after our marketing person put the design that I approved up on our site,  I didn't even notice.  I'm guessing you're in that camp.  This is a good thing; my intention was to do something different but keep the brand recognition in tact -- kind of like when your friend gets her lashes done and you can't pinpoint why she just looks good... 

Our first logo, RIP 2014-2017

Our first logo, RIP 2014-2017

Anyways, changing a logo is actually a big deal. There are people who go through this whole brand exploration exercise and conduct hours of research, thought and graphic designing to come up with a selection of potential colors, fonts, and symbols that together communicate your brand message to the masses.  We didn't do that; "brand identity" is a hot topic here at the MaLa HQ and we have a marketing person whose been a critical part of that non-stop convo, so we opted for execution of our updated vision rather than exploration. Here's why we did it and how we've evolved:

The first logo was created when the company was just starting (and was just me) in 2014 and those little curly cues were exactly what I wanted; I thought they looked like the gated driveways leading into my hypothetical future clients' homes. As it turns out, I don't have any clients with gated driveways (largely because I live in New York City, though we do have clients nationwide), but more importantly, Mason Lane is a bit cooler than I expected. The curly cues were "precious", as my branding expert/mom friend pointed out, and that is not an adjective people use to describe me, ever.  

Even though we're dealing with stylistically diverse art and spaces, we do have a visual point of view --  It's an aesthetic that people hire us to execute on their behalf, and in my opinion, it's a cool one. Spaces that we've completed end up being bold but livable, interesting but comfortable, clean and polished.  They have a distinct character to them that highlights our clients' taste and serves repeatedly as a conversation starter. For this reason, we needed to drop the precious little curly cues.  I was actually a fan of keeping the color gradation from that first logo, but I was kindly informed that is "so out", so that's gone too.  

And here we are; Logo 2.0, matching the cool vibe we've grown into and that we create in client spaces every day.  Yes, it is simple, and there were some more complex ones in the running, but this one worked everywhere --- on the website, business cards, with "art advisory services" and without... even on my new branded pop socket that #Maddie got me. (And if #Maddie is a mystery to you, start following our Instastories).  We hope this helps convey who we are to our current and future client base, and PLEASE send us your feedback to confirm that said cool vibe is clearly communicated.