PROJECT ROYGBIV: THE CUTEST PARK SLOPE TOWNHOUSE
Our Color Lovin' client, based in Park Slope, Brooklyn, came to us sad that her newly renovated walls were all quite blank. She had an impressively creative eye, and the decor selected for her new home had a stylish charm. There was aqua upholstery, brass accents, and her rainbow kitchen tools could turn any frown upside down. But we needed to give the walls life. The challenge was to make them work with all the existing colors, and not make the 12-ft wide space look narrow.
We were selective about the walls that needed art, because art everywhere can shrink a space.
We got a medium-sized photograph of an open sky with a hint of the colorful Coney Island Ferris Wheel. The open sky actually added an airy appeal the space.
We added a large-scale circular mirror (with brass accents) to open up the walkway space next to the foyer.
We took her impulse-buy West Elm prints and painted the white frames hot pink. Unlimited edition prints turned unique + fun!
We added a colorful sculptural piece to the bottom of the stairs for some diversity in media and visual interest
PROJECT WELCOME TO BROOKLYN: A CONTEMPORARY BROOKLYN TOWNHOUSE
This transplant family came from the faraway land of Manhattan to be one with the Brooklyn movement. They wanted a space that showcased Brooklyn culture without looking like they were trying to do exactly that. Plus the newly finished house was SO. WHITE. So we needed to make it less stark, more homey, and appropriate for the home’s contemporary architectural design.
White walls are nice but they actually look less impressive when they’re all the same. So we offset it with dark painted accent walls, wallpaper scattered selectively, a giant playroom mural, and a diverse selection of art. By “diverse” we mean paintings, photographs, sculptural pieces, works on paper, abstract and representationals, and even some built in shelving with styled objects of sentimental value. Framing was thoughtfully chosen to add formality when appropriate, and to add some impact. And out of all of this, guess the family’s favorite touch??? The giant stairwell gallery wall they see every day and add to annually.
PROJECT WEST SIDE: A BATTERY PARK NEW BUILD
This Battery Park mama was expecting baby number two and needed her new place to feel like home. She went neutral on the decor, sticking with an on-trend palate of gray and white. But the place lacked color, warmth, and a playful vibe that matched this family’s spirit.
Non-neutral paintings. Not really any “expected” paintings, in fact.
Instead, we started with unexpected options with a story behind them, and a playful twist... Like the giant light bulb in the foyer; it’s hung where a light fixture “should” be and has this appealing luminosity. BUT it’s a photograph. In fact, it’s a giant Polaroid made with a 4-foot experimental Polaroid camera way back when. And that weird edging? That’s the chemical processing that happens in the expedited development process. From there, we stayed with the theme: there’s a spiraled collage of found photographs that we shipped in from Germany, some pink-framed florals in the bedroom, and the signature Justine Hill (turned on its side ) over a mustard yellow couch. Lastly, the husband of the house is a minimalist so the living room situation needed to stay clean. We sourced a Heidi Spector acrylic wall sculpture to check that box. It’s got a glossy, colorful surface but takes up a small footprint and adds the needed flare for the place to look complete and for the kids to say “I LOVE THAT!”
PROJECT CHARLES: WEST VILLAGE WOW FACTOR
Project Charles was fun from the first hot-minute because these clients’ West Village home is BEAUTIFUL, they were an absolute pleasure to work with while I was extraordinarily pregnant, and THEIR kids are exceptionally cute. The home has Hudson River views and Venetian Plastered everything. The initial goal was to make the entrance have a WOW factor.
The bold striped wallpaper at the end of the entrance hall was, in fact, BOLD, so we had to source art that wouldn’t compete or get lost. I initially proposed a large red figurative abstract by Emily Noelle Lambert that was not at all what the clients had in mind. With some encouragement they were intrigued. There was a snowstorm every time we scheduled a viewing at the Brooklyn artist’s studio, so ultimately we convinced everyone involved to just get the piece into the home. We did, and it was instant love.
For the rest of that space we got a gestural black and white that reflected in the round antiqued mirror and with the gold vintage light fixture the clients picked out on their own, the space was a win.
Oh! And we can’t forget to mention the giant living room wall around the corner that went from sad to amazing with 2 XL Lucia Engstrom photos that mirror the view and sunsets outside the window.
PROJECT BIG PROJECT: A TRIBECA LOFT RENOVATION
Project Big Project was notably special because our clients reached out to us mid-gut-renovation excited to chat about art. With hardhats in tow and oddly detailed renderings to reference, we identified the priority walls in this Tribeca loft AND determined the size art appropriate for each wall. There was one giant wall, a few mid-sized ones, and large windows windows facing north, south, east and west. Hello views!
1) Get art for XL wall into this 11th floor apartment with no freight elevator and a tight stairwell. 2) Get art that wouldn't takeaway from the view OR get damaged by the blasting natural light.
For the XL entry wall, we found two colorful Anish Kapoor "paper sculptures" that held the wall together nicely and worked well with the column that divided the walking space. For the formal living space we selected a hallmark Paul Jenkins canvas and for the den, a more playful Raymond Hendler. In the powder room, we did a structured gallery wall with pictures of places important to the couple (the husband's idea!) and a refurbished historic drawing of the landmarked building they were living in. We hung works on paper away from direct sunlight and created an overall scheme of diverse media, established and emerging artists, and colorful pieces that set the tone for each space in the loft.
PROJECT LR 2.0: A BROOKLYN TOWNHOUSE LIVING ROOM
This living room makeover of a Brooklyn Brownstone RENTAL (!) is one of my favorites. The family is A) fantastic and B) out of time, and they needed help making their most commonly used living space into something usable and pretty. This required putting stuff on the walls and doing some cosmetic design work because the initial situation - bless its heart - was not OK. Friendly reminder, this is a rental, so we weren't necessarily looking for forever pieces or cheap-o placeholders. Really the goal was to get art and furnishings that we called "maybe forevers" -- pieces that could be repurposed for future homes, or not, without too much emotional torture.
Step 1 was to address the floor plan; there was the largest piece of furniture I've ever seen set between the windows, blocking light and creating two awkward sitting areas. We moved that sucker to the side, changed up the rugs to make two not-awkward areas, and declared one the dining nook and the other the living space. Side note: rugs that are 20 feet long are extraordinarily heavy.
Step 2 was to style the walls. We purchased one large painting and framed it in a dark wood for over the yellow couch. The dark frame was key to creating contrast in the space because everything was a blonde-color at first. The opposite wall became an art gallery wall, filled with uplifting pieces in various media, including a photograph of the husband's first apartment when his family moved to America that we had reprinted and framed. Finally, in the dining nook, we put up some gray vintage mirrors in different sizes and shapes to reflect natural light and expand that space.
Step 3 was to style it all together. We got a ton of accents - baskets, plants, a plug in sconce, side tables and a pouf - to make it work as a whole. The most fun fact of it all was that the family was away during install AND they gave us the OK to style as we wanted, knowing that we got their taste. They came home to quite a (happy) surprise and were - and I quote "quite obsessed.”
PROJECT BERRY STREET: REAL ESTATE STAGING IN WILLIAMSBURG
The Williamsberry is the aptly named new hip development on Berry Street in Williamsburg. Our friends at The New Design Project were staging the penthouse and enlisted us to get some fab art for the extremely large walls. At one point we learned that our favorite 12 foot Dan Christensen choice for the 20 foot wall needed to be installed via crane, but other than that, all went smoothly, (and yes, we found an smaller alternative, quite reluctantly).
There are some noteworthy 20th century pieces by Ann Purcell and Darby Bannard in the space, along with ones by up-and-comers like Jill Nathanson and Michael Solomon. The unanimous fan-favorite is the Bannard in the Master bedroom- it’s a painted white canvas with a super subtle mint green square that’s SO subtle it’s tough to photograph...but TRUST ME, it’s gorgeous.
PROJECT CORPORATE COOL: AN ART COLLECTION FOR A CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS
An international consulting firm with a notably fun staff was doing a re-design of their NY HQ. The goal of the new space was to be functionally appropriate for the growing firm and appeal to staff and clients alike. Getting new art was on the TO DOs because the new space would have more walls, and the existing art didn't have the desired impact. The main challenge for us was to get art that didn't tick anyone off AND that made a big, beautiful and politically correct statement throughout the space.
We sourced art big and small for walls across this 40,000 sq foot space from the Boardroom to the staff floors. We got creative for the repeted long hallways, using a series of small, affordable, colorful works by different artists to create visual interest and define the space. For the existing art collection, we replaced the chipped cherry wood frames with white gallery ones, and the yellow-ish mats were replaced with crisp, white, acid-free ones. The older pieces now had new life, and, with thoughtful curation, they fit in seamlessly with the new and well-received acquisitions.
PROJECT BROADWAY: A TRIBECA LOFT REDUX
A designer friend of ours had just wrapped up furnishing her client's Broadway loft when she brought us in to help with the walls. They were filled with pieces that the client didn't love in places that she felt weren't quite right. Step Numero Uno was to take an inventory of all pieces the client currently owned and devise a game plan for improvement. We came up with a few re-curation schemes and brought in our handy handler to execute. The fan fave move was turning a giant leaning mirror sideways and hanging it horizontally on the wall behind the dining chandelier. This solved for the issues of how to brighten the dining room AND avoid having art be blocked by the chandelier.
Next we then re-framed some existing pieces that the client had from years ago to make them fit in with the chic decor, and, BONUS, look pricier than they were. In the end, we visited galleries, fairs, and studios and filled in the blank walls with new pieces that are amazingly unexpected-- there's a yellow Ellen Careys photo, a 7 ft. blue Russell Tyler, and a custom Brice Brown tile installation that Brice installed himself for the den. OH and that crazy thing by the mirror? That's a Lauren Seiden sculpture made of hardened paper and graphite.
PROJECT HEMINGWAY: A CARROLL GARDENS TOWNHOUSE
Our Carroll Gardens client built themselves a gorgeous brownstone, worked with an interior designer, and happily moved in AHEAD OF SCHEDULE when the project was nearly complete. One room in the house was their family-fan-fave; it had blue walls, a vintage rug, and a Hemingway vibe. AND the walls were blank.
Spending money was not at the top of this family's TO DOs, but the urge to finish the "Ukulele Room" was kind-of sort-of there. SO we found the family a few affordable pieces and pulled out our favorite party trick for making them look good: custom framing. As a bonus, the clients had a new babe just before our install, so we checked out his nursery and added a few pieces in there to warm up his new digs.
PROJECT(S) ONE HIT WONDER: LOTS OF HOMES NEEDING ONE BIG ARTWORK
We've done a few One Hit Wonder Projects that should definitely hold some real estate on this page. These are the projects involving a client needing a ONE AND ONLY signature piece for above their couch, over their mantel, or some place where the existing blank wall is just annoying.
The budgets for these single pieces range from $2000 and up, but the end goal is the same: to help the clients finish the space with a unique, complete piece from which clients get long term enjoyment. In many cases, clients have us do some styling around the piece -- getting some accessories or primping up their bookcase to make it all work together. And a gallery wall, or other wall, or kid room is a common subsequent request. But for the purpose of this 'project,' these are our One Hit Wonders and we love them all.