Archive for the ‘Interior Design’ Category

Service of Antidotes to Decorating and Fashion Insecurities

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Alexandra & Michael Miller, Everyman Works, Brooklyn

Americans’ insecurities about decorating their homes is well documented. Google the subject: you’ll see. I know this first hand from interviewing retailers and interior designers over years, starting with a stint eons ago at Art & Antiques Magazine. Fine antique shop owners had a heck of a time fighting a fear of being different. For starters, people dread unsolicited feedback from friends and mothers-in-law, as in “Why did you choose THAT style, color or pattern?” on walls and upholstery to china. Frame shops thrive when called in to fill a new house with art because a homeowner doesn’t know where to start [and perhaps would like someone else to blame?]

Renee Weiss Chase, Cloth2Clay, Collingswood, N.J.

The good news: According to Newton’s third law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I maintain that there are those who bend over backwards to achieve a special look in their homes filled with visual surprises that they love—that are the decorative equivalent of a squeeze of lemon or lime to perfect a dish or drink. And these people are in luck: American-made decorative accents, photography, sculpture and furniture will be exhibited this weekend at the Brooklyn Museum at my client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn. [The Eastern Parkway subway stop is literally steps from the museum door and there’s a large parking lot.]

Lori Kaplan, NY jeweler

Does the same self-doubt apply to fashion? I’ve not studied the industry so I can rely only on my own experience and observations: A remarkable accent—scarf, jewelry, hat or jacket–on a classic ensemble brightens the wearer whose posture and expression beam with joy and confidence. Imagine giving such a bonus with your holiday presents this season. One Brooklyn Museum member, a loyal craft show visitor and successful business owner told me: “My whole wardrobe this year was from [last year’s] show. ”

Why do you think so many fear decorating their homes? Do you? What is one of your favorite fashion accessories? Where did you find it or was it a gift? Do you explore fine craft shows as a resource for unusual, handsome gifts and additions to your home and wardrobe?

 

Milliner Karen Morris, Minneapolis, Minn.

Catherine Joseph, C Joseph NY, Huntington

Furniture maker Bok Read, Media, Pa.

Service of Living in Place Even If You Don’t Want To Think About It

Monday, October 17th, 2016

young person in wheelchair

I attended a program for interior designers and architects. Subject: living in place. It scotched myths that I and no doubt many others have about accessible design and aging in place and reinforced what I’ve already known for years: Anyone building or remodeling a home or apartment on their own does well to think twice and enroll the help of experts. People use accountants and CPAs for the same reason: to avoid missing beneficial opportunities.

Fisher & Paykel DCS 48" professional range

Fisher & Paykel DCS 48″ professional range

The speaker was Dawn DeLuca of Camille Rossy, a cabinetry and design company. The title of her presentation: “Designing for Independence & Dignity Without Talking About It.” We gathered in the Fisher & Paykel ExperienceCenter, a welcoming space for such informative meetings and a showroom with many of the appliances that address accessibility issues.

Here are some highlights that DeLuca, a certified Living in Place Designer, shared:

  • Accessible design in not ugly. A quick look around the showroom at the handsome, sleek pullout dishwashers—lower than the counter–and stoves with knobs in front that DeLuca had identified as appropriate for people with disabilities promptly put to rest the fable that it is.
  • Did you know that the average American home is built for males aged 35?
  • People live in one home for some 13 years and over a century, the lifecycle of a home, 20 will live in it and in the period, 6,000 guests/visitors will cross its threshold. Of these, 1,000 are at risk of injury.
  • The bill for falls in the US in 2013 was $34 billion and is projected to reach $68 billion by 2018. This does not include indirect costs lost in work productivity and the need to move if the home can no longer accommodate the injured person.
  • Living in place is not exclusively about the elderly
  1. People with disabilities are not just older adults
  2. Designers and architects should consider making homes safe in the initial design rather than focusing on fixing a place to accommodate an injured resident
  • DeLuca asked if any in the audience used a “disability assistance device.” When she gave the example of eyeglasses, many hands shot up.
  • Designers and architects should assemble collaborative teams such as a
  1. medical advisor and physical therapist to detail needs of a disabled person and to address safety issues for that disability
  2. child proofers
  3. contractor familiar with code  
  4. home inspector
  5. Specialists for autistic spectrum childproofing to counsel about elevating light switches and electrical outlets for example and confirming that TVs and furniture are secured to walls. Every two weeks a child dies because a TV falls on him/her.
  6. Structural engineers for people over 250 lbs.
  • Proactive design includes
  1. Installing outlets at the top and bottom of a stairway regardless of the age and physical dexterity of current homeowners. Should anyone in future need a stairway chairlift the installation savings are considerable.
  2. Contrasting colors for stair flooring is essential.
  3. Shower grab bars should be on top of shower controls and installed to withstand 250 lbs in all directions
  4. Kitchen appliances need a landing place either next to or behind them.
  5. Never place a cooking surface under a window that opens. Heat can break a window and with a gas stove, wind can cause fire
  6. Consider raised flowerbeds for gardeners who can’t bend over
  7. While all things shiny are in fashion, reflections cause problems for people with eye issues and the aging
  8. Single leaver faucet controls are cleanerdoor handle with return
  9. Lighting inside cabinets and drawers literally shedding light on what’s inside
  10. All levers should have a return not only to address stability but to avoid catching—and ripping–clothes
  11. Reverse door swings: Doors should open to the hallway in case the homeowner faints so rescuers can get in the house/apartment/room to help.
  12. Motion-censored LED strips under handrails

    Dawn DeLuca

    Dawn DeLuca

  • Denial about potential injuries is rampant in the land. “That won’t happen to me,” most people say when hearing of a friend or relative’s accident. Statistics prove otherwise. DeLuca said that one in five Americans have disabilities and fewer than 15 percent are born with them. 63 million have disabilities and 11 million need daily personal assistance.
  1. Five percent of kids 5-17 have disabilities; 10 percent ages 18-64
  2. 3.6 million people use wheelchairs

Because so many prefer to avoid discussion of the inevitable of potential accidents, future medical diagnosis of a family member or natural aging, DeLuca suggests interior designers and architects slip in many of the proven precautionary options as a matter of course. Much can be done seamlessly without giving a doomsday speech. So while at first I thought poorly of this approach, it has grown on me. Your thoughts?

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

 

Service of Strings Attached

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

 

Ball of string

Most of the things we buy we own and can do with what we wish. Art isn’t one of them, especially works by famous, living people. If they didn’t know it before, the developer planning to convert the Sony Building on Madison Avenue to a hotel and luxury apartments knows it now.

Sony commissioned Canadian artist Dorothea Rockburne to create two fresco murals for its lobby in the 1990s. The Chetrit Group, that bought the building from Sony in 2013 for $1.1 billion, has her to deal with according to Peter Grant in his Wall Street Journal story, “Artist Skeptical Over Murals’ Fate.” 

Robert A.M. Stern, architect

Robert A.M. Stern, architect

Grant wrote: “The fate of [the] murals has been uncertain since earlier this year when Ms. Rockburne set off a furor in the art world by saying they were being endangered by the conversion project. That led to a series of meetings in February and earlier this month between Ms. Rockburne and Joseph Chetrit; his son, Jonathan; and their architect, Robert A.M. Stern.”

Rockburne wants control over lighting and doesn’t want the murals moved. Grant wrote that her “artwork is grounded in astronomy and mathematics” and that the murals were “designed in part to reflect their exact locations in the cosmos.” As for the lighting, “getting it wrong would be like leaving out a color” she told Grant. “It can’t be seen unless it’s lit by me,’ she said.”

Architect Stern told Grant “that his firm is making sure that the lighting and other design elements complement the murals, which will ‘give this lobby a wonderful glow and make it something everyone will want to enjoy and experience.’ He added: ‘I am the architect and interior designer for the project and not Dorothea.’”

Rockburne, whose work is found at topflight museums such a MoMA and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, didn’t care for photos she saw of the model lobby—due to be completed in 2018—because high desks “obscured the view of the mural.” Rockburne posited, “Would you put desks in front of the ‘Last Supper?’”

Picasso "Le Tricorne," Photo: LA Times

Picasso “Le Tricorne,” Photo: LA Times

Developers have crossed swords before over artworks in buildings they’ve bought. Grant reminded readers of Aby Rosen who caused a kerfuffle when he removed Picasso’s “Le Tricorne,” from the Four Seasons restaurant when he bought the Seagram Building 16 years ago. Grant reported that the Picasso stage curtain is currently on display at the New-York Historical Society.

I’m not a lawyer but a quick scan of Google made clear that artists—especially high profile ones still living—own copyrights to their works which limit what those who have commissioned their work can do. Goodness knows whether there was legal mumbo-jumbo between Sony and Rockburne which covered what happened to the works if they sold the building or what, if any, control current laws give this artist. Grant wrote that she has asked the Chetrits’ for a contract in which they agree to preserve the murals, which leads me to believe the fate of Northern and Southern Sky isn’t as buttoned up as she’d like.

Do you think Rockburne—or any artist–should be able to direct furniture and lighting placement in the lobby of a building they don’t own? Should a developer/new owner have any rights when it comes to work that comes with a building? Would you be slow to commission artwork from a top-selling artist for a building you own because of potential future complications?

copyright

Service of Words II

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Porch

In an article, “The Friendliest Place in the House,” Amy Gamerman advised Wall Street Journal readers not to call a porch a deck. She wrote: “As porches have grown in popularity, ‘deck’ has become the new four-letter word of high-end home design. ‘We never use the word deck, it’s a pejorative term; we always use the word porch. It could be any covered outdoor space,’ said Stephen Vanze, a partner in Barnes Vanze Architects in Washington, D.C.”

deckArrogance aside, what puzzled me was that to me a porch doesn’t resemble a deck, a covered deck is just that, so why use the wrong word for the sake of fashion or to confuse?

I take words literally. I was studying the online catalog of a prominent NYC continuing education venue to promote appropriate classes to members of New York Women in Communications. I noticed that the prices were listed “From $385” or adult education class“From $485,” or “From $Something” so I called customer service. In that context, “from” meant that the prices started at $385 or $485 and I wanted to learn what might cause them to fluctuate upwards. The customer service person confirmed that these were the prices. I suggested he ask someone to delete the confusing word in every course description and he giggled and asked why—“if they have a question they can call customer service,” he said.

Do you change terminology after reading an article like the one about porches/decks? Have you questioned a word in instructions, regarding prices or a procedure enough to have to call someone about it?

Words

Service of Listening to the Experts

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Listen

I drop off dry cleaning at a satellite where there is no tailor to measure clothes that need adjustments. I asked the cashier if I brought in a pair of my husband’s slacks the right length could the tailor work with them to shorten a new pair of khakis? She explained that this wasn’t a reliable solution because all pants aren’t equal and don’t fit the body in the same way so the lengths could be misleading.

TailorShe told the same thing to a woman who brought in formal slacks and jeans. The woman asked for the slacks to be cut to match the length of the jeans. The cashier warned the customer and was experienced/smart enough to have her sign a receipt to confirm that she’d been so cautioned. Nevertheless the customer returned enraged when the formal pants weren’t the right length.

window panelsThis reminds me of a similar selectively deaf client an interior designer told me about that I mentioned in a post long ago. Her client wanted to save money by ordering fabric panels for her window instead of a standard drapery style involving yards of fabric to fill the window with graceful folds.

The panels would be stationary, the designer warned, making the client a sketch that showed that they left the center of the window uncovered. The panels were fine, insisted the client, happy to save the cost of additional yards of expensive fabric.

Drapes open closedThe designer reiterated that she would not be able to cover the window with drapery fabric nor tie back the panels. The client said she understood and still opted for stationary panels. When the panels arrived, the client, a lawyer, hated them. She said “they don’t cover the window!” and subsequently sued the interior designer.

Do customers like this hope for miracles? Do they not listen? Do they distrust the expert? Can you recount similar examples?

 miracle

Service of Kitchen Design

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

buscarellokitchenbararea1

On learning that John Buscarello, ASID, the kitchen and bath design expert, is teaching at the New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan, I took advantage of my congratulatory phone call to ask him some questions.

Buscarello, named a kitchen and bath design leader by Interior Design magazine, participated in the October Bathroom Blogfest, so today we focus on kitchens.

Some of his answers may surprise you. His photos-these are all his projects-will delight you.

Q: What do you feel about freshening up a kitchen by changing one element, such as the countertops?

Think of what happens if someone has a facelift: Their wrinkled neck stands out.

Similarly, if you change the countertops, then the cabinets look shabby.

Further, it’s very tricky work. You may have to rip out the sink and the next thing you know, the surrounding cabinets fall apart and/or the backsplash chips.

A kitchen is a three dimensional puzzle. If you start a renovation, it’s hard not to damage the adjacent elements even if the construction staff is topnotch and the original elements are very good.

Q: Is there anything that you can change without such trauma?

A faucet or light fixture and perhaps the paint color.

buscarellonewappliancesbacksplash1Q: Where can you save and where should you splurge in a kitchen remodeling project?

You can get a great looking floor at moderate cost-there are countless options especially some of the new porcelain tiles–but splurge on a great backsplash, a small but crucial component.

Q: What’s happening with stainless steel appliances?

buscarellonewappliancesrefrigOne of these days stainless steel will go out of fashion but it’s not happening anytime soon.

Q: Is the kitchen work triangle passé?

The traditional triangular arrangement of sink, stove and refrigerator is out the door. In most miniscule Manhattan kitchens it really wasn’t ever possible.

I design a kitchen in zones: Prep, cooking, cleanup, and storage–like a restaurant kitchen. If a kitchen has more room, I’ll add zones for dessert-making and baking.

Q: How does technology impact a kitchen?

We’re living in exciting times and between restaurants with kitchens open to the public and cooking shows, our clients know about the latest appliances and gadgets. iPads are changing everything-you’ll soon be using yours to do everything from starting dinner or the laundry from the office.

The appliance industry went overboard when it designed some stoves and refrigerators that practically take an MIT student to program. Because cooks pushed back, manufacturers are simplifying the process. It can be very annoying when you’re making a recipe that requires a bunch of things from the refrigerator to find out you must wait 15 seconds before reopening it because someone inadvertently programmed the door to lock for that length of time.

buscarellokitchenstovebluewallThe good news: You can buy a great stove for about $1,000 that has time-saving amenities such as a fifth burner, with one or two featuring high burner elements, just like the ones in restaurants.

Q: Any misconceptions about kitchens?

Yes. You may read that people aren’t using their kitchens these days but this isn’t true.

Q: Casual or formal?

buscarellokitchensinkbluewallThere’s a parallel between the growth of TV/cable/Internet program choices and the fracturing of kitchen design. Kitchens are no longer one size fits all as they were in the era of three major TV networks. Some people seek the casualness of a great room/open kitchen-dining room. But this arrangement puts pressure on the host/hostess to tidy up before serving a meal. More of my clients want to be able to close a door on the cooking clutter and entertain in a separate dining room. Those who hire caterers also want to keep the kitchen separate from where they dine.

I see a trend to formality from the influence of programs like Downton Abbey to the fashion accessory teens have taken to wearing: Neckties!

Do you have a question for John Buscarello about kitchen design or appliances? Have you been through a remodeling with tips to share? Do you own a kitchen appliance you marvel at or one that was too complicated to master?

 buscarellowholekitchen

Service of Who Noticed?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

observant

christiane-amanpourA week ago Sunday I noticed that when Christiane Amanpour interviewed Diane Sawyer about the Republican Presidential candidate debate the night before, both were wearing eyeglasses. I happen to like eyeglasses and how they look on people but I’m not used to seeing them on female TV anchors any more than wrinkles. Apart from eyeglass industry marketing types, I wondered if anyone else took note.

I was speaking with interior designer John Buscarello, ASID, at the International Furnishings and Design Association holiday party last week. (I interviewed John for this year’s Bathroom Blogfest.) He told me how for one year he’d fought a NYC Fire Department regulation requiring him to paint red the main sprinkler pipes that are in his top floor office because he despised the color. He finally had to. When he enters each day, the pipes glare and unsettle him yet many of his clients don’t notice the change!

Speaking of paint, do you find that when company is coming, every smudge or chip you’ve passed by a million times in a hallway or room suddenly looks unbearable? Same with shabby upholstery, liners sneaking out of carpet edges….all seem to take on flashing neon light status. If you add enough distractions such as flowers, a nicely dressed dining table, and serve good food, I wonder whether guests notice these flaws as much?

john-constableDo you notice the hallmark red dot in many of John Constable’s landscape paintings? Early 19th century style pictures are not my favorite so I tend to scoot by those exhibits, but I pointed it out to my date, now my husband, on a trip to the Metropolitan Museum a zillion years ago. We joke about it now because we rarely pick up the same things. He has haunted museum painting galleries for thousands of hours and he’s partial to the artist’s work yet until then, no red dot sightings.

Why was I surprised when he hadn’t noticed that our amaryllis had grown several inches in a week and developed a flower bud?

Do you notice things your friends and family members don’t? Like what?

amaryllis1

Service of Climbing Out

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

buscarellobluebathoct20111

This is my third year participating in the Bathroom Blogfest which Christine Whittemore, Simple Marketing Now LLC, directs. I list the blogs of all the other bloggers below, should you want to see additional interpretations of this year’s theme, “Climbing Out.” There are 33 this year!

“I’m climbing out of natural stone,” said New York interior designer John Buscarello, ASID. Interior Design magazine named him a kitchen and bath design leader. “This change of heart has nothing to do with economics. It’s practical. And it doesn’t apply to every stone. However, in the wettest parts of a bathroom, some stone doesn’t hold up well,” said Buscarello.

“In its place, I select porcelains and tiles new to the market that are light-years advanced, often more moderately priced than stone and as maintenance free as you can get,” added Buscarello, photos of whose work have appeared in The New York Times, House Beautiful and Country Living, to name a few venues.

Buscarello’s clients don’t restrict him to their baths and kitchens. He designs entire houses. He observes, “If someone hires me it’s not to have a beige apartment or house.” He combines colors creatively, like a skilled artist.

He subscribes to a five year rule: The test of both a well-designed space and a good interior designer is what a room or home looks like after five years.

buscarelloblueceilingFor those who find themselves climbing walls, for whatever reason, they’ll discover a surprise when they reach Buscarello’s ceilings. “I like to throw color on a ceiling–it’s an unused part of every room. In a bathroom with blue glass walls, I used a hint of yellow. A kitchen I designed with a porcelain floor that simulates slate has a gold ceiling. In the sitting area [Right] I chose blue. But you have to know what you’re doing,” he warns. “A green ceiling with white tile walls will make the tiles look green.”

John Buscarello designed all the interiors. Following are his answers to my questions.

Why is natural stone hard to live with on a bathroom floor?

Some characteristics of natural stone help disguise wear and dirt but because stone also has some degree of porosity, if there’s lots of iron in the water, you’ll get iron stains. Sprays, creams and other products you use in a bathroom can also etch and wear the surface. No matter what stone you use, within a given amount of time, normal wear and tear will have some effect on the patina. This wear is not bad: Europeans are more used to the look of aged stone and understand and accept how it looks over time, but most Americans interpret the effect as old and worn out.

In fact, I have dark stone in my bathroom that’s etching and driving me insane and I’m used to a distressed, worn look. So I’m moving away from specifying stone for bathroom and kitchen floors.

What about marble?

buscarellowhitebathroomI joined the luxury of Thassos marble on the bathroom walls with the durability of porcelain tile for the bathroom and shower floors [Left]. I like mixing elements, especially for a white-on-white effect. Further, walls don’t get the same kind of abuse that floors do.

I incorporated glass tile for the shower walls because it’s easier to maintain and marble, like stone, can stain.

What do you use to achieve the still-fashionable natural look?

Porcelain tile. Ten years ago porcelain tile looked generic. You’d see it dress the floor of a building lobby. Engineers have since learned how to re-fire the porcelain to make great surface textures. Porcelain wears like thick glass.

Five years ago, for the bath [Rightbuscarello5yrsago], I would have had to select Jerusalem stone or limestone. You see all porcelain tile.

In addition, porcelain tiles are made large, requiring less grout.

Is less grout a good thing?

With fewer lines you get a clean, modern look [Below, Left]. And there’s the maintenance issue. Newer grouts tend to wear a bit less as they contain polymer that adds density and they dry faster and are more durable. These grouts come in a wider choice of colors as well. Note: While easier to maintain, the polymer grout is harder to install than the traditional kind.

buscarellofewerlinesDo you match grout to tile color?

Contrasting the color of grout with tile is dated.

Install the wrong color grout and you’ll dramatically change the look of the tile so it’s best to test some samples.

Decorating tips for small bathrooms so clients don’t climb the walls

A small bathroom is like a jewel. Design it beautifully and don’t worry about its size because you’re most likely not going to change it. Use striking textures in interesting ways and surround yourself with colors you like. The tiles in the powder room, [Below, Right], are leather.

The concept that you must have a bathtub in a new or remodeled bathroombuscarelloleathertile is going out. Those who only use showers save space by eliminating the tub. I’ve noticed that people are moving away from tubs in any case. It’s easy to turn a standard shower into a steam shower and I do this quite frequently.

City Mouse vs. Country Mouse

Apart from style, which might be more sophisticated and contemporary in a city apartment, including geometric, linear patterns, where curlicues or florals might be more at home in the country, I think of location, lifestyle and wear and tear when specifying especially a floor.

Natural stone will react the same way anywhere. In the suburbs in winter, homeowners drive into a garage and walk into a kitchen or bathroom with clean boots, whereas in an apartment, a person can carry salt from the street into these rooms. This fact affects what surface I’ll recommend for a floor.

Do you have a question for one of America’s top interior designers? Have you regretted a remodeling, building or decorating decision because it didn’t pass John Buscarellos’ five year test? Are you a bathtub or shower person? If you could, would you climb out of your bathroom into a different one and what would you change?

bathroomblogfest_2011

Name Blog Name Blog URL
Susan Abbott Customer Experience Crossroads http://www.customercrossroads.com/customercrossroads/
Paul Anater Kitchen and Residential Design http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com
Shannon Bilby From the Floors Up http://fromthefloorsup.com/
Toby Bloomberg Diva Marketing http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/bloomberg_marketing/
Laurence Borel Blog Till You Drop http://www.laurenceborel.com/
Bill Buyok Avente Tile Talk http://tiletalk.blogspot.com
Jeanne Byington The Importance of Earnest Service http://blog.jmbyington.com/
Becky Carroll Customers Rock! http://customersrock.net
Katie Clark Practical Katie http://practicalkatie.blogspot.com/
Nora DePalma O’Reilly DePalma: The Blog http://www.oreilly-depalma.com/blog/
Paul Friederichsen The BrandBiz Blog http://brandbizblog.com/
Tish Grier The Constant Observer http://spap-oop.blogspot.com/
Elizabeth Hise Flooring The Consumer http://flooringtheconsumer.blogspot.com
Emily Hooper Floor Covering News Blog http://www.fcnews.net/category/blog/
Diane Kazan Urban Design Renovation http://blog.urbandesignrenovation.com
Joseph Michelli Dr. Joseph Michelli’s Blog http://www.josephmichelli.com/blog
Veronika Miller Modenus Blog http://www.modenus.com/blog
Arpi Nalbandian Tile Magazine Editors’ Blog http://www.tilemagonline.com/Articles/Blog_Nalbandian
David Polinchock Polinchock’s Ponderings http://blog.polinchock.com/
Professor Toilet American Standard’s Professor Toilet http://www.professortoilet.com
David Reich my 2 cents http://reichcomm.typepad.com
Victoria Redshaw & Shelley Pond Scarlet Opus Trends Blog http://www.trendsblog.co.uk
Sandy Renshaw Purple Wren http://www.PurpleWren.com
Bethany Richmond Carpet and Rug Institute Blog http://www.carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com/
Bruce D. Sanders RIMtailing http://www.rimtailing.blogspot.com
Paige Smith Neuse Tile Service blog http://neusetile.wordpress.com/
Stephanie Weaver Experienceology http://experienceology.blogspot.com/
Christine B. Whittemore Content Talks Business Blog http://simplemarketingnow.com/content-talks-business-blog/
Christine B. Whittemore Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog http://smokerise-nj.blogspot.com/
Christine B. Whittemore Simple Marketing Blog http://www.simplemarketingblog.com/
Ted Whittemore Working Computers http://www.kinneloncomputers.com/
Chris Woelfel Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. http://www.artcraftgmt.com
Patty Woodland Broken Teepee http://www.brokenteepee.com/
Denise Lee Yohn brand as business bites http://deniseleeyohn.com/bites/

Service of Handy Tips

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

handy-tips

I’m drawn to handy tips. There are always new ones; some so obvious I wonder why I didn’t think of them myself. These are the ones I appreciate most, especially if they concern a subject I know about.

Smart Chairs

In a Wall Street Journal interview with interior designer Mario Buatta, Deb Schwartz shared one of his decorating tips I’d never before read about or thought of and I’ve interviewed countless creative interior designers, [including Buatta], and for eons, followed their work in magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites and decorator show houses.

mario-buattaQuoting Buatta Schwartz wrote: “The best way to lay out a room is to take a minute after you’ve had a party to look at where your friends moved the chairs. That will give you an idea of the best arrangement. Every room should have at least two groupings.” The irony is that in the article Buatta admits he doesn’t entertain! After I’ve had company, I’m usually in a rush to move things back the way they were…but maybe next time I’ll pay attention.

In Vino Veritas

If you haven’t checked out the wines at Trader Joe’s you are missing treats at great prices. Try Marques de Montanana or Vintjs, both Spanish Garnacha [Grenache] red wines at about $5.00. My husband read somewhere that this variety is good for your heart. According to Wikipedia, Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.

Lip-Smacking Creamy Colors

lipstickI discovered a super creamy lipstick in pleasing colors–I like numbers150 and 400–distributed by Maybelline Canada at Cosmetic Market NYC for $3.00. [I had to use a magnifying glass to identify the brand which in no way affected the product’s quality.]

Gas Saver

We live in a lovely bucolic area but with gas prices reaching meteoric heights–$3.70 for regular last weekend-our wallets get hit by inflation from all sides when driving the some 25 miles to shop for groceries at Adams, the place with freshest fruits and veggies and best prices. So we let our neighbor know when we plan to go, get his list and at the same time learn how he’s doing.

Fishy Tip

I tried a container of smoked salmon bits and trim collected and packaged by a fish market whose staff expertly slices paper-thin salmon to order. The price, $7/lb, was a fraction of the standard–$7+++ for four ounces of the packaged kind. I thought the plump salmon pieces were delicious.

Missing Tip

I’ve never found an effective hiccup shortcut cure though I’ve tried quite a few. I’d love to learn yours and any other handy tips you care to share.

 hiccup1

Service of Early Adopters

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

firstplane

Thank goodness for early adopters. A friend’s husband was always the first to own the latest gadget and I admire adventurers like him, although I’ve rarely been one.

The most obvious reason is related to cost. The frugal shopper in me remembers paying a fortune for a calculator, which became a promo giveaway a few years later.

ironingAnd then I experienced another reason to hold back: To let others iron out the kinks so when I buy the gizmo, gadget or new-fangled whatever, it’s flawless.

I helped launch an innovative home furnishings product that interior designers scrambled to be the first to install. We were thrilled to take photos of this innovative window shade in the wonderful settings they created. They loved the look.

angrycallsAnd then the complaints began when the ground-breaking cord mechanism stuck and decorators and homeowners alike found that they couldn’t clean the shades as instructed.

So I remembered not to be first when I considered an electric car and then wondered where I’d find plugs to feed it during my travels [or even where I live]. If I hear of a new medication, I don’t want to be the one to exhibit side effects that didn’t come out in drug trials. 

The iPhone 4 brought this topic to mind. The New York Post headline, “Apple Slapped with ‘Death Grip’ Suits Calling Out the iPhone,” reflected some of the drama surrounding the sensitive antenna that frames the phone [on the left-hand corner] and causes dropped calls on the device that ranges in price from $700-$200. Some of the first adapters are suing Apple and AT&T, according to Emily Ngo and Michael Blaustein, who wrote the article, for “negligence, breach of implied warranty, knowingly selling a defective product and a slew of other charges.”

guineapigOne of the phone owners Ngo and Blaustein quoted said he “felt like a guinea pig.” In my mind, that’s what early adopters are and have always been and that’s the service they provide us all. They often pay a lot of money to satisfy their adventurous and inquisitive natures so that the rest of us can enjoy the fruits of their support.

What has been your experience when you’ve been an early adopter and are you driven to be one?

 first-computer

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