Coastal to Cosmo: Bringing city sophistication back to an NYC pad

Change, it’s inevitable. Take this pandemic. No one wanted it, and now so many don’t want to let it go, well perhaps not the pandemic itself, but all that change it pushed on us. The washing of the hands, the working from home, the family time, the need for less, the quieting of the frenzied existence. The irony is that we so often want what we can’t have.

It seems fitting that after many years of living with watery blue gray walls, linen shaded glass lamps, white tree stumped side tables, and a pastel blue sectional anchored by an enormous painting – its field of green meeting the sky, revealing not a hint of its place on this earth, that this coastal setting within the confines of its solid cement pre-war walls, will take its leave. Where will it go? I imagine it will find its way back to a place with fewer skyscrapers, less lists, and more leisure time.

After living on the water for nearly a year, my sister is ready to turn her city dwelling into the picture of sophistication, which got me asking what makes a city apartment feel city? It wouldn’t do at all to have the home not feel homey, for it to be stiff and rigid, as if it were shellacked into the glossy pages of Architectural Digest. No, tassels, and Tudor High Boys, tightly tailored seat cushions on uncomfortable chairs wouldn’t do. A man and his dog need a place to rest their head on a comfortable sofa after a long day in a city that doesn’t sleep, and the lady of the house deserves to have that same space look as good as it feels.

Antique Wrought Iron Horse Sculpture and Havenly Boucle Chair . $499.

What epitomizes New York City design style? This is the question that I was asking myself – weigh in if you have ideas of your own. This concept is not yet cemented. It’s not about the money, though money can go along way toward enhancing the look of the space – so often quality and craftsmanship come at a cost, but you can find oodles of talent on that little island. A gal that can turn a dime store purchase into an elegant backdrop for her five floor walk-up, 325sf studio, separating bed from Bohemian living space, turned cocktail lounge, guests huddled around a small coffee table, perched on pillows, candle lit casting a soft happy glow. No, it’s not about the money. It’s about a story – everybody has a story. Sure some tell it too fast. They build no suspension or intrigue. Some get overly verbose, losing you in a cluttered room of their story, before rushing you down the hallway blurting out an unceremonious ending. No, a good story is balanced, and starts when you open that door. Here’s how I think we’ll get it started.

Setting Plaster

Robert A. M. Stern’s Offices . One Park Avenue . NYC

If you think I am going to provide you with a lesson on how to set plaster – you have another thing coming. While I love a beautifully plastered wall, and believe in the fundamentals of a clean space within which to work, I happily leave the execution of that up to the experts. It’s actually the name of a paint color – a showstopper – a mon avis, but the name leaves a lot to be desired. Farrow and Ball could stand to learn from Essie’s in the naming prowess. There Rallings, Down Pipe, and Stiff Key Blue could go from marbles in the mouth to the amuse bouche (a little happy for your mouth ūüôā ) of a Touch of Sugar, Reign Check, or Tiers of Joy, but that’s neither here nor there. A rose by any other name and all that. I will not be dissuaded from my new found adoration of this hue.

One Park Avenue. NYC is the I’ve arrived of all addresses. Originally designed by York and Sawyer, it is home to Robert A. M. Stern Architects. I announced to the Receptionist, in the most uncouth way, that I needed to be shown to my room, I was moving in. Naturally she looked a bit confused, and was decidedly too polite to point out that the Ritz Carlton was down the street. After clearing up my actual reason for being there, I had a tour of this amazing space. From their lighting collection to their carpeting, hardware, tile, urns, and the recent addition of benches and bike racks for their institutional clients, RAMSA leaves nothing to chance. They are my kind of people, even if they don’t know it.

THE Office.

I joked to my colleague, that you could safely say that you were in the big leagues when you were dealing with folks that laugh at the idea of an 8″ base. This seemed to be to be excessive when I was considering it for my modest condo project two months ago. I would have happily settled for 6″ – ha. RAMSA outfitted their lobby with a base that was conservatively 21″ tall, and let me assure you, not only does it work, but I briefly considered ripping out mine and replacing it, and my paint is barely dry.

Model citizens – getting the scale right.

Ah to be in the vicinity of greatness. As I make my way quickly and efficiently through the city today, making decision after decision to accent my new space, and dare to dream, transform it into something that I like…I am ever hopeful, that some of their magic rubbed off onto me.

Towering Heights.

Take it on the Run: carpet vs. runners

A stair can really make a statement. Whether the stair is old and beat up or brand new, it can look cool. A fresh coat of high gloss can turn tired and worn, into glitzy and glam – yes a stair can be a headliner. The question that I am grappling with is – do I want it to be? When I removed the stained and dirty carpet from the stair in my “new” Philly Duplex (that’s a floor and a half inside a brownstone) it revealed not just a worn stair, but one that rather looked as if it had been gnawed on by a rat. What to do with that?

If this Paul Smith for The Rug Company Carpet entitled “Carnival” does say let’s get this party started, I’m not sure you should receive an invitation.

After the whole thing was rebuilt it looked a lot better. It’ll get a spit shine and polish too, which made me think it might be slippery when it’s all said and done. Runners present an elegant solution to that challenge – believe me there are inelegant solutions that can be applied to the problem too. I’m not even going to discuss them because I don’t want to give you any ideas.

Runners can be quite expensive. I mean, you wouldn’t got to the Oscars in a dress meant for a barn dance would you? Likewise, if you want to be a showstopper of a stair, you have to give them something to stare at now don’t you? I picked a few I thought would draw that kind of attention. While I certainly don’t want to go careening from top to bottom every other day as if I am on some ride at the water park, I also don’t love leaving my money behind for the next owner who may or may not have an appreciation for the Oscars – if you know what I mean.

With this in mind, it may be better to buy an area carpet that I can lovingly roll up, bag and wear to the next ball. There are five more after all. I can dress it up with a new Harry Winston and no one will even know I recycled it.

The Rug Company . Paul Smith . Overlay Runner.

Into the Blue: Blue Print You’re My Home

11 BP

Blue Print Warehouse . 1516 Edison Street . Dallas Design District

I take a deep cleansing breath right before I open the door to Blue Print. ¬†That door that I have come to know so well, that door that says: ¬†“Hello”. ¬†To say its welcoming seems so insufficient, but it is, just that. ¬†It’s southern without being steeped in sweetness. ¬†It’s friendly without being overly solicitous. ¬†It’s passionate about the artists it represents, and excited to share the stories of the lands from which their very special rugs have traveled. ¬†It’s unapologetically happy, bright, and light. ¬†Even the antiques when rested gently atop a rug in bright oranges, purples, and pinks take on a more cheerful countenance without loosing their sophistication.

8 BP

Color collection perfection.

They have a very special gift – these gals. ¬†They have an eye for art, a nose for the next trend, and a head for business, and I love and admire them for it. ¬†I want to move right in, tuck away in one of the back living rooms, in close proximity to their lovely garden. ¬†Even the kitchen, which is meant only for employees, but which I have stumbled upon during previous visits, is perfection with it’s raised moldings in the shape of a diamond – J’aime bien!

To feel grounded and uplifted all at once is a heady feeling. ¬†I aspire to be one of them, and in the interim, am happy to be among them. ¬†My visits there inspire me. ¬†It’s like visiting Paris or Bali or being on the water. ¬†It’s like grapefruit Perrier (which they always offer me when I arrive), mint chocolate chip ice cream (which is one of my very favorite things in the world), it’s like wild sock-eye salmon (which I need like the air I breath). ¬†It’s like being loved.

3 BP

Black Birds Singing in the dead of night….

I will admit to feeling a little worried that they were moving away from the Turkish Oushak, which came into my periphery four years ago during one of my first visits to Blue Print. ¬†A new rug has made its debut on the big stage. ¬†It’s a little nappier, and decidedly happier than an Oushak. ¬†One of them looks just like a Picasso Painting, and the price only slightly reflected the reality that it is not. ¬†It could easily reside in a kids bedroom, or in the uber sophisticated Upper East Side Apartment of a socialite style-maker. ¬†In other words, it brings some serious bang for the buck.

9 BP

The new nappy – Turkish carpets gone wild.

Today will be a test of my will. ¬†The question of course is will I leave with one of those rugs. ¬†I’ve put it on hold. ¬†Pugga (my boyfriend) said that it was a foregone conclusion. ¬†I want to prove him wrong, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do that. ¬†I can be stubborn, but I don’t want to cut my nose of to spite my face. ¬†Is saving face more important than the sheer joy I’ll get from having that rug? ¬†These are the universal questions I grapple with. ¬†Give me strength and a little of that Irish luck.


Gone Fishing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Copy Carpets: getting it for cheaper

I had a colleague call me to task the other day. ¬†We were talking about shoes I think? ¬†Or it might have been gowns, or furniture or something of monumental importance to me. ¬†Don’t judge me because I have momentarily forgotten which of these things it was – they are all extremely important, and were it not for the shear number of brands, furnishings, materials and projects, which require my attention, I would be able to tell you precisely which one it was. ¬† It will all come back – fear not – and it’s beside the point anyway. ¬†What he wanted to know was the percentage of people that could identify the high end from the low? ¬†Really good question Mark. ¬†I had to admit that it was few and far between. ¬†Why then do I do it? ¬†Well, the answer is I do it sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. ¬†AND I notice.

Left: ¬†Serena and Lily . Metallic Hemp & Suede . 8′ x 10′ $698. ¬†Right: ¬†World Market . Gray Metallic Woven Jute Alden Area Rug . 6′ x 9′ $199.

A mon Avis, the trick is to mix high and low together in one space.  Vintage and new, antique and mid-cent knock-off, art of your own creation with a prized Picaso.  Comb the beach for a shell, rock, or sculptural piece of drift wood.  Find an old sign and spray paint it gold or matte black Рit snuggle it in, among other shiny objectives making it a distinguished focal point.

Left: ¬†ABC Carpet . Color Reform . 4’1″ x 6′ $1200. ¬†Right: ¬†West Elm . Caspian Rug Overdyed 6′ x 9′ $899.

I do love finding a good bargain – but it must in fact be good. ¬†It’s so disappointing when you spend money on something that falls apart – in whatever predetermined timeframe I’ve decided the item should last. ¬†So be it, I have a 1950’s concept of how things should be made. ¬†They should last!

Carpet 7

ABC Carpet . Nazarene 4′ x 6’2″ $800.

So carpets. ¬†I’ve found some that I believe are simple lovely replicas of the original – though who arrived there first is always up for debate. ¬†Perhaps it’s more apt to say – the higher cost version – which implies better quality, but isn’t always the case. ¬†I think these are worth the gamble, and if I wasn’t the gambling type I wouldn’t be doing this quest.

Left: ¬†World Market . Beige Adilah Area Rug . 7’10” x 10′ ¬†$349.99 ¬†Right: ¬† . Nourish Moroccan Marrakesh Shag Rug . 9’2″ x 12′ 6″ $314.49


Magic Carpet Ride

I’ve been in the market for a carpet. ¬†I haven’t traveled the world in the search of¬†said carpet, but I’ve covered some ground. ¬†NYC, Dallas, Boston. ¬†I’ve looked in the magazines, and on the internet. ¬†I’ve purchased several, returned¬†as many, contemplated going custom, but my budget doesn’t support that luxury. ¬†Believe me, I had my pretty little¬†yarn bundles in the hues I adore, and which lie within the range of the color palette I have selected for this current project. ¬†It’s so little it demands light. ¬†If I threw caution to the wind and made the investment then where would I be.


The Rug Company . Create your own.

That’s the thing about rugs. They can make a huge statement. ¬†My whole young rental life was defined by an Oriental my grandfather left to me, and which I felt compelled to use. ¬†It was of high quality, really one of the only nice pieces¬†that I owned and could use to hint at the fact that I’d graduated from collegiate leftovers to young adulthood. ¬†The problem of course was that it didn’t reflect my style. ¬†It was too serious, and the other pieces I purchased over time to compliment this major statement, also didn’t reflect me. ¬†That hip custom 1950’s sofa my grandmother gave me, and I had upholstered in a pretty french country cranberry shade – not me, the Laura Ashley club chair I bought on super sale in a cobalt blue – I think I threw my jackets on that chair just to cover it up. ¬†This isn’t a pair of Chanel boots that you can tuck in the back of your closet and forget you spent $1500. of your hard earned cash on…a carpet is always there, haunting you, reminding you of your shortcomings and fallibility as a design diva.


Landry & Arcari . Turkish Oushak . think it’s worth a second look….

Well I did what any self-respecting gal would do. ¬†I bought my first condo, put the carpet on permanent loan to a dear friend to assuage my guilt, and arrived prepared to feather my new nest¬†with….nothing. ¬†It was the most freeing design decision I ever made. ¬†Totally unencumbered I forged ahead with purchases; ¬†furnishings, lighting, side tables, pillows and all the little objects in-between that I felt best represented ME. ¬†When I say “forged ahead” I am more like the Tortoise than the Hare in this fairy tale. ¬†I moved at a pace that my limited funds would allow. ¬†This is something to be valued. ¬†Patience keeps you from making expensive mistakes. ¬†You can feel good about a purchase that you have not wavered from in months, in my case, sometimes years.

Landry & Arcari . same carpet, reads so differently on the floor of my living room than in the store.

So now I have an Oushak lying on the living room floor of my new condo. ¬†It’s a bit of an odd size, but fits perfectly into this space. ¬†It is a tad darker than what I have been carrying around in my minds eye, but admittedly looks beautiful in the space. ¬†I’m in a pickle. ¬†This carpet is on super sale at Landry & Arcari. ¬†Super sale does not mean inexpensive. ¬†I’m curfluckled. ¬†I’m in a bunch, a knot, a predicament. ¬†I know together with my other pieces it will achieve the overall look I have been after, but when I open the door and spy it after a long day, will it bring a smile to my face? ¬†Please help dear reader, I feel ill equipped to make this decision on my own.


Landry & Arcari . Saeed, I see some more rug flipping in your future.

Carpet Diem: The Rug Company comes to Boston

Imagine my surprise and delight when I learned last week, as I wondered down Newbury Street – Boston’s petite version of Madison Avenue, that The Rug Company found its way to my little neck of the woods. ¬†I first learned of The Rug Company fsharp-2om Domino Magazine, over 8 years ago. ¬†I can remember sitting in my tiny Charlestown apartment, slowly turning the glossy pages, letting the beauty of it all wash over me, in no rush to arrive at the end, knowing that it would be a long month before my next installment landed on my doorstep. ¬†That magazine made me a believer. ¬†Oh I still dream. ¬†I’ve had my eye on that Moses Ice for all those long years. ¬†Trust me when I tell you, it will be mine some day.



I have visited it in the Soho Showroom in NYC so many times my pour sister Mary Beth simply rolls her eyes and gives in to my demand to see it in person, again. ¬†I’m a very tactile gal. ¬†I must touch it, and all it’s silk and wool loveliness, or I will not feel that deep sense of connection. ¬†Sound strange? ¬†It’s totally normal to me.

The Moses Ice is a pale gray, which as you know dear reader, is my big love. ¬†However, property number 4 is all about creams and washed out watercolors. ¬†No worries, The Rug Company has you covered. ¬†You can pick from a dizzying selection of hues to create your own color way. ¬†Brilliant. ¬†They will even offer you options in ALL¬†wool – understand¬†that an all wool carpet is less expensive than a wool and silk combo –¬†that does not mean it is INexpensive. ¬†At least it is not for me. ¬†Still, the thought of having my very own version of Suzanne Sharp’s design, has me swooning like a lovesick teenager.


Pop on in and introduce yourself to Andrew Neave the Showroom Director and Stacey Marino.  They are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable, and are sure to help you find your own Red Carpet moment for your home.

The Rug Company . 129 Newbury Street . Boston . MA