By Natalie Weinstein, Allied ASID
I just finished renovating my home. I have purchased furniture and love how it looks. I am struggling with how to accessorize. Can you give me some guidance? – Cheryl
You’re not alone. Most people find it really difficult to add those finishing touches, but they are what give a room personality and turn your furniture into a lovely and gracious home. There are so many elements of good design that go into choosing the appropriate accessory – style, color, size, proximity to other accessories and a sense of balance. It takes time, sometimes trial and error. What looks good in the store may not necessarily have the same effect in your home. So let’s begin. Now that the basic furniture is in the room, look at the wall space and empty spaces in bookcases, display cabinets and on tables, mindful that certain areas need a focal point to unify the furniture setting.
Go shopping at home first! Are there pieces you would like to display that you've always loved or have been in the family for a long time? Do you have a hobby or interest that has made you a “collector"? Perhaps it's old trains or dolls, or pen knives or owls, or photos you've taken of your travels, or posters you've collected from museums. As long as they are presented or framed well, they make excellent accessories.
When shopping for art, go to several galleries and shops or even Uniquely Natalie, our consignment shop that has great art for a faction of their value, as well as an art gallery with great art done by local Long Island artists. Speaking of art, I’m often asked how high to hang artwork. The rule of thumb has been to hang artwork so that it is at eye level when standing, but many designers and professionals prefer to place art slightly above eye level when seated. Generally it is between 8” – 10” above sofas or low units such as consoles, credenzas or tables. This not only enables the art to be viewed more effectively, but creates a cohesive arrangement with the furnishings surrounding it.
So how do you learn to accessorize like the professionals? Short of hiring personal professional help, accessory shops often have trained staff to assist you. Remember, they want to sell what they have, so make sure the final decisions are yours. Look at magazines and take design books out of the library to see how the pros do it. Go to show-houses where many designers do model room settings, as well as model homes, where accessories often “sell” the houses. In short, it takes time, education and patience, but the end result is worth it because the right accessories make all the difference. Don’t rush. The right piece is worth waiting or searching for, and the quest should be fun!
Having just come off Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and looking towards Christmas and Chanukah (which this year’s first night falls on Christmas Eve), my mind and heart turn, as always, toward family and home. Far away from my family, I was blessed to have my younger son Jason and his wife, Terry, my dear Katrina and Neil and my “granddog”, Oreo, with me. We visited colleges on the east coast for Katrina and returned home in time for Terry to create her kitchen magic as she always does.
As we sat around the kitchen table, just the five of us, with Oreo looking up hopefully, we each said what we were thankful for – a scene not unlike many others on Long Island – but not all. As I basked in the wonderful holiday smells with the TV far in the background echoing the Thanksgiving Day parade or a long anticipated football game, I realized, once again, how lucky I am and how special these moments are in the life of my family.
This is the first year in a very long time that Jason, Terry, and the kids have all been here together. It was always Florida where my parents were and where Bernie spent his last years with me the constant traveler. This time, with no family there, we’d, hopefully, start a new tradition. Busy with work I scrambled to get the house picture perfect, knowing all the while it would be in a happy shambles of shoes, chargers, cell phones, ipads, and “stuff” in no time.
We visited friends and stopped at the office and store briefly, but mostly we were home, resting reading, watching sports (not me) and playing the ongoing favorite family pastime, dominos (and it can get nasty!!) I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We were warm, safe and full of good food. For a brief time, we all escaped from the hectic and often stress-filled lives we lead and just “vegged”! And we were together. The only thing that would have made it more perfect was to have my now Singaporean elder son with us. Still, I’m so grateful that he is well and where he wants to be for now – and there’s always next year.
I hope your Thanksgiving was as uneventful and wonderful as mine. I hope your home – the place where it all comes together for families – is what you want it to be – and if not, there’s always next year. But for some, there may not be a next year – for families to be safe, warm and together. While the stores are filled with shoppers and Cyber Monday sales were never larger, there are those who struggle with hunger daily – some in our own backyard. When asked to design a table setting for Island Harvest’s major donor’s dinner, I learned more about this amazing organization which feeds 10% of our population on Long Island. You can go to their website to learn more (http://www.islandharvest.org) and perhaps stop by our design firm at 459 Lake Avenue or our store at 176 2nd Street with any nonperishable items you might want to donate to make someone’s holiday happier.
My family exchanged Chanukah gifts early on Thanksgiving Day and I will miss them dearly during this festive holiday time but my home is filled with the happy memories of their past visit as if is filled with the memoires of holidays when Bernie carved the turkey with my parents looking on. I believe they still are – just as I believe, as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”
On Thursday night, November 3, at the Harbor Club in Huntington, a gathering of some of the most giving individuals and business owners occurred. These special people were honored by Island Harvest Food Bank, an organization they help support, who supports Long Islanders who do not have enough food to eat. I was honored, too. I was asked to design a table setting for this auspicious event to commemorate a modern day Thanksgiving.
My staff, always busy, but always ready to take on something worthwhile, supported the idea, and brainstorming, we set a table in our Art Gallery, Studio 455, to simulate the table at the Harbor Club. I then enlisted willing and oh so talented “St. Jamesers” to help me create a table setting that was not only meaningful, but beautiful and delicious!
Our theme was “sunflowers”, the beautiful fall flower whose name comes from the sun, its warmth permeating and nurturing, giving life and strength – a perfect symbol of the giving of those who help sustain and nurture the less fortunate. I turned to our amazing art gallery curator, Arline Goldstein, consummate artist, for her rendition of our theme, as well as Florie Robinson of Florie’s Finales to provide delicious sunflower cookies. My neighbor, Debbie Powers, of Hither Brook Floral and Gift Boutique was my “go-to gal” for a centerpiece that would “wow”, and the folks at Pier 1 were most kind and generous in donating all of the beautiful table top accessories that I so enjoyed choosing.
My dear Sheila, Office Manager and all around “can do anything” person, helped do everything! (including creating the holiday message and credits on custom designed sunflower note paper). The day arrived and Sheila and I set off to set up, laden with all our special gifts created by such talented people for this Thanksgiving appreciation dinner. It was exciting and heartwarming to be a part of something so important and sadly, so necessary.
Did you know “that over 300,000 Long Islanders are at risk of hunger, 110,000 of them are children? Island Harvest distributes food to more than 570+ food pantries, soup kitchens, and other local feeding programs throughout Long Island. Since 1992 we have distributed over 90 million pounds of food, supplementing more than 75 million meals.” Our Long Island, the place we call home, where our families will be gathering to enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, has children who are sustained mainly by school breakfasts and lunches supplied by Island Harvest. Families who are struggling every day and veterans and seniors in need depend on the refrigerated truck deliveries of food daily and the food pantries supported by businesses, farms and individuals service over 316,000 people in need.
Clearly each and every one of us can help. From now until the end of December, both our locations in St. James, Uniquely Natalie at 176 Second Street and Natalie Weinstein Design Associates at 459 Lake Avenue will be “drop off” places for any canned or packaged foods (or checks) you might wish to donate to Island Harvest. You might also want to volunteer to help, along with your family, as your way of showing how thankful you are for your blessings. We often forget how much we all have for which to be thankful. In this scary world in which we live, our family, friends, neighbors and community are blessings we can never take for granted.
So from my family and staff – to all of you – may your holiday be ever more special by giving to others.
I’ve just redone the patio in my backyard and the rest is mostly grass with some bushes at the fence line. Now with all the summer sales on outdoor furniture, what do you suggest I look for?
This is a great time for bargain hunting for seating but hurry because merchandise is limited and often disappears until Spring. When shopping, think of your back yard as an extension of your home for entertaining and relaxing and not only in the summer. The early fall is often a wonderful time. So while you’re looking for comfortable sofas and chairs in outdoor wicker or light weight metals with all-weather fabrics like Sunbrella, (I would still keep cushions in an outdoor storage bench in the winter for longevity) think about a fire pit as well. It’s a great seasonal social magnet. Make sure you find a large enough dining table for your patio. Look for pull up chairs that are sturdy and can double as seating in the grass.
Many people are adding T.V.’s to their patios and there are speakers you can place in the garden that blend in and look like rocks so you can enjoy music outdoors. Seasonal plants in pots can add color if your garden is mostly grass but you can make use of the grassy area for badminton, croquet or bocce ball- or even a putting green! Perhaps later on you might like to add a small gazebo for additional shady seating. If your backyard is large enough, you might consider adding a water feature later or perhaps a swimming pool, hot tub or waterfall. These always add to a relaxing fun atmosphere.
Now that we’ve explored seating, along with other ideas- what are we eating? The trend today is to add an outdoor kitchen to your backyard plan. That can be as simple as a bar-b-que or as elaborate as a built in total kitchen with bar area for people to gather ‘round the cook.
Lighting is also very important and can take many shapes -anterns on the back of your building, overhead fans with lights, and lamp posts near the patio or in the garden. I also light flower beds and paths with low lights and feature lights on some specimen trees. Solar lighting can be used if you don’t chose to go for underground wiring.
So Susan, if you thought- after the patio and some seating- “I’m done”- you’re not quite there. Your backyard can be a great add- on to your living space and it has infinite possibilities for enjoyment. Consider contacting a good landscape design firm for a plan and layout based on your wants and needs (just like interior designers). Even if you can’t implement the plan all at once, you can do it in phases- and don’t worry about spending money on large trees and bushes. The good thing is with plants, unlike sofas, they grow!
I am working on changing out my window treatments in my den, which is connected to my kitchen. The issue is that my kitchen has a window with a window treatment on it that I want to keep, so I’m not sure how to handle matching the two? They are not next to each other, but can be seen from either room.
Any advice would be helpful!
Good question. With the open floor plan in many homes today, it is often an issue of co-coordinating without “matching”. The feeling and tone of your family room is an important consideration in choosing fabric, color and style for your window treatment. Also the location of your T.V. screen (for glare) in relation to your windows plays a part in the window covering which is different from the window dressing (area around the window or door).
Joan, if your den paint color, rug and upholstery fabric are the same in the same palette as your kitchen, (which would be ideal) your choices are simplified. If you’ve started your color scheme from the floor up, chosen neutral textural fabrics or leathers for upholstery and paint color next, it will be a lot easier to select fabrics for your window treatments. I often like stripes along with a mini or overall print to tie in all the colors. If the room is casual, use more casual cottons, if not, more formal designs are in order.
Cornices of varying shapes as well as simple top arrangements are often a good choice for dens because furniture is often placed against the window wall and draperies to the floor get lost and sometimes block the heat. The windows themselves are best covered with silhouettes, wood blinds (either real wood or vinyl look-a-likes), mini blinds or roller shades, all which can be hidden under the cornice or topper when not needed. Draw draperies with tab tops, on poles or under cornices are good for sliders or multiple sets of windows.
If there is a slider in both the den and kitchen, I’d use the same style window treatment. If variety is what you’re seeking, try reversing the fabrics and add some tassels or secondary fabric for trim. The goal is to color coordinate for flow and a sense of balance without being boring or redundant.
Here are some toppers you might like to consider: (By the way, it’s sometimes nice to add the topper to an over the sink kitchen window).
Check out these window treatment styles that are popular, both casual, transitional and classic.
If you’re sewing, pick fabric, measure yardage and get to work. If you need a good workroom that will measure and install for you let us know and we can refer a source in your area as well as help you select a fabric that coordinate with your room.
Good luck- Nat
What is a "man cave" and how do I make one as a surprise for my husband for Father's Day?
OWN A PIECE OF HISTORY-
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Limited Edition 911 Flag Pictures Signed by Fire Commission Tom Von Essen & Photographer Jack Ader -
Various Sizes and options readily available - custom orders upon request.
This commemorative must have photo art piece, reproduced as a fine giclee canvas as well as other mediums, is the ideal addition to any home. Long Island photographer, Jack Ader, has captured the essence of American resilience in this poignant reminder of the terrorist attack on New York's Twin Tower, 9/11/2001.
This flag was miraculously recovered from the rubble, and is on display at the Tribute Center in NYC. It has become the iconic image of the 9/11 Families Association. 50% of proceeds of flag sales are donate to the Families Association.
Stop by and meet Jack at Uniquely Natalie.
I’m getting ready to re-do my bathroom which is sorely outdated and don’t want to make any mistakes. Do you have some tips or guidelines to follow?
Thanks so much,
A bathroom redo is great for you and for your home’s resale value, as well. If you are gutting your room, you may have the opportunity to change the layout of your fixtures, but be careful you don’t incur major plumbing expenses by doing so. You could, however, gain more space by changing a corner tub to a straight tub. The days of the tile steps on a diagonal leading up to the tub are over. They were so dangerous and waste valuable space. Some people rarely use their tubs. If you’re one of those and have a tub in another bathroom, you might consider replacing the tub entirely with a terrific large shower with all the bells and whistles. That might leave space for “his and “her” separate vanities, bench seating or even a fireplace (electric) with a T.V. over it. There’s no end to what folks might like to do to their bathrooms.
In addition, there are so many great sinks made of metals or glass, both undermount and vessel (sits on top of the vanity) which create effects from classical to deco to contemporary. Check out magazines to find your style and then head to a local dealer to pinpoint the product and price. In addition, there are furniture stores that offer ready-made vanities with sinks and faucets included. Check their quality as well as cost, however, to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
For practical, easy maintenance bathrooms, I favor tile on the floor and walls (either 1/2 way or full height). Stay neutral in color with your main selection and keep the size of the tile proportionate to the size for the room. Vary direction on floor and walls. For example, if floor is laid on a diagonal, consider walls done straight or visa versa. Add interest with accents (in glass, metal, mosaic and etched, or any other unique feature). Make sure your tile installer orders properly and ask about the return policy on full unopened boxes.
Lighting in the bathroom is very important. Make sure there is ample light to see overhead and over areas by the sink, toilet, shower and make-up area. According to Michael Lichenstein, lighting expert at Lighting Gallery, “A combination of wall sconces on either side of a mirror with a recessed light overhead and in front of you is the ideal task lighting. If this is not an option, the next best choice is sconces on either side of the mirror or above the mirror. Using a recessed light alone should only be a last resort as it creates horrible shadows on the face. To add a bit of mood or romance to the room, consider adding a chandelier or cove lighting connected to a dimmer. These options provide the ideal light level for a nice relaxing bath or shower.”
So, go ahead and create your great bathroom!
It’s been an interesting 2016 so far. Past clients have been calling for redesign, add-ons and move-outs! (I guess that’s bound to happen when you’ve been a designer as long as I.) Others have decided to add a second home in Florida and I am being taken along on this journey, as well. All of which is part of why I love what I do. This progression shows me that people value their homes and want it to keep up with every age and stage of their lives. As a young designer, I wanted perfection in every aspect of design for my clients. Today I know for sure that the feelings your home evokes are even more important. How you feel about your home and how it makes you feel have become for me, the essence of good design.
I have often heard people say they’ve gone to someone’s newly decorated home and it “felt” wonderful as well as looked great. Sometimes people have the opposite reaction. The decorating may be updated and even expensive, yet it was not warm, welcoming or even comfortable. I remember my parents’ home when I was a little girl. People loved coming there and it was truly a gathering place. Yet it was neither lavish nor expensive, but it “felt” good.
So what makes a home feel good? Is it a good space plan? Is it colors that work well together? Is it furniture that is scaled well to the size and height of a room? Is it art and accessories that embrace the space, yet leave room for the people? Is it that walls and windows become part of the whole environment adding the needed finishing touches? Is it a place where people can have fun or relax or escape? Or is it all of the above? Of course, dear reader, you already know the answer. A home that combines all these elements of good design will also have the right “feeling” for both home owner and guest. Notice we did not say expensive, although it is certainly easier for both designer and client if there is more latitude in what can be spent. But spending more does not necessarily ensure a better result. A good shopper is a good shopper – and just like no one knows if the pearls are real worn on that basic black dress, no one will know how much the budget was for your well designed room.
So - what feeling does the change of season evoke in you? If you’ve got the urge to do some spring cleaning and redoing – go for it – that’s sweat equity that will surely pay off and give you a great start. Then perhaps you’ll have the next urge to make your home a more welcoming place for you and those who enter. This spring, go with the feeling and see how great your home can make you feel.
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Thank you so much for Sunday's seminar at Windows on the Lake. It was my first time attending and I thoroughly enjoyed and hope to attend many more.
Thanks Marian...you made our day!