{ADVICE} Decorating 101

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DEAR ANDI,

I’ve been following your blog for a couple years now. I am moving in with my boyfriend soon (yay!) and all I can think about is decorating. Of course, he has a couple wall decor items from his school, University of Michigan, that I don’t really see fitting into the apartment. However id like to at least consider the thought. Do you have any suggestions on how to take college paraphernalia and make it cute or fit into an apartment that still makes people go “wow! You did a great job decorating!”

Any help would be great!

Also…what’s the best way to start decorating an apartment? A theme/color throughout? Piece of art in each room?

-Alex

Dear Alex,

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your apartment decor. The best way to go about decorating a new home is to start with what you have and slowly add to it over time with pieces you love.

The best decor advice I’ve ever heard was from when I interviewed the VP of Merchandising at One Kings Lane, Day Kornbluth, she told me that the way she approaches decorating is what her mother actually taught her and is the way she builds her wardrobe as well: collect what you love and over time, you will develop your own style from that.

It happens to be the way I decorate my own apartment (and fill my closet)—whether it’s antiques passed down from generations, shopping from refurbished vintage finds, gifts from friends and even found at Target, one of my favorite affordable decorating resources, it slowly came together over time and my living room looks like it’s decorated, but still feels like me.

It’s important to me for my home to feel like “me” and not out of a catalog or recognizable pieces—nothing’s worse than someone coming in and pointing out a piece of furniture from a cookie-cutter store. My decor also had to work with the rest of the finishes in our new home, which were more modern (not my style), as well as my hubby’s taste, which tends to be more masculine than mine.

Here’s how I developed my living room decor in 6 easy steps:

1. Find key words to describe what you want to evoke in your home.

When I purchase new decor, it has to fall into these categories for me personally:

industrial / Brooklyn

vintage

artsy

eclectic

functional

unique

Figure out what words mean the most to you at this stage of your life and when shopping for decor, ask yourself if those words describe it.

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2. Color Inspiration

What I did when I moved into my apartment was assess the focal point of the room, which was this Randy Howard painting (RIGHT) that was a surprisingly a reject from the artist and given to us. The large scale of the painting and the bold colors draw people’s eyes in as soon as they enter our living room. I also was inspired by peacock feathers after falling in love with the colors of them after buying these (LEFT) for a peacock-colored-theme fashion shoot and never used them.

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3. Start with what you have an build from there.

I’ve had this chartreuse 1930′s settee since I moved into my previous apartment and my Pottery Barn sofabed wouldn’t fit through the door of my old brownstone. I snatched two halves of these on Craigslist by a couple that refinished them and have been stuck with them since. They cost exactly what I sold the sofabed for, so it’s hard to let go of a piece that didn’t cost me anything, not to mention the color is divine.

I picked up both of the pillows on it for a shoot and decided to keep them because they compliment the couch quite nicely. The throw is from my recent travel to Vietnam, so it’s not only the perfect piece to hide some wear on the old piece, but it’s also a beautiful reminder of the artisans we met on our trip.

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4. Incorporate personal pieces and art.

It immediately creates your own style when you incorporate pieces that have meaning to you, whether it’s from your travels, friends or your own designs. I have so much of my own art, having received a BFA in art, but I’ve only hung a few pieces of it through my home. These tree drawings (ABOVE) not only work with the space, but have a lot of meaning because I spent months drawing the same tree over and over. The “11231″ pillow also lends meaning to my decor because it’s my zip code in Brooklyn and it also was given to me by my talented artist friend, Kate.

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5. Accept hand-me-downs and get crafty

Until you can afford better furniture that you would choose on your own if money were not an object, allow friends and family to pawn off their old pieces on you. You’d be surprised how you can make it work with a slight change.

This lamp (ABOVE) was passed down from my hubby’s family and I revived it with a new lampshade for only $20 at Target. The side table (ABOVE) was from my grandmother and after some repairs, looks great. Over time, you will slowly replace pieces with ones that feel more like you. I splurged (with a coupon!) on this Crate & Barrel sofa after stalking it for months and years of waiting to find the perfect one for the price I could afford. It makes me more likely to add a coat of paint to update an existing piece I own to save money on items that I will replace over time.

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6. Fill in with affordable pieces

I’m not saying buy out your nearest Ikea, but instead I’m saying that it’s okay to mix in a few small pieces from stores like these, which will look more expensive when mixed in with other pieces than just from those stores. Target’s Threshold home collection has become one of my favorite resources for this. This tray (above) and my curtains are from there and I hardly spent anything to get asked “where did you get that?”

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Maybe you incorporate the colors of your boyfriend’s Alma Mater into your decor, perhaps use a college-themed blanket as a throw on a chair or even sew a pillow out of the flag, frame the banner…get creative with this. Chances are, you’ll develop your style together over time and incorporate more of what you love from your trips and experiences together that it will overpower looking like a college dorm. Make shopping for your decor a fun outing for you both, rather than a chore.

Check out some of my favorite home decor resources for my own home:

Anthropologie

Ballard Designs

Brooklyn Flea

Brooklyn Reclamation

Brimfield Antique Show

Build It Green

By Brooklyn

The Find

Jim & Lala Howard Pottery

Klaff’s Lighting

Target


Red Carpet Stylist Picks: Emmy’s 2014

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While I usually style for retail and advertising clients, this week I’m styling a celeb in evening gowns, which proved to be quite a challenge with nearly every designer gown sample being over in LA for the Emmy’s. I managed to score some gorgeous gowns from both perennial red-carpet designers featured here and talented up-and-comers, but this best dressed list makes me pretty envious of all of the fabulous ones that these TV stars were able to wear—especially this red number by one of my favorite designers, Christian Siriano that Orange Is The New Black star, Uzo Abuda shined in.

I hereby declare that red is the new black, not orange. Perhaps white too. You decide and share your favorite in the comments below.

ABOVE | Uzo Abuda // Christian Siriano

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus // Carolina Herrera

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Julie Bowen // Peter Som

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Amy Poehler // Theia

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Christina Hendricks // Marchesa

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Heidi Klum // Zac Posen

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Laverne Cox // Marc Bouwer

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Clare Danes // Givenchy

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Kristen Wiig // Vera Wang

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Michelle Monaghan // Giambattista Valli Couture

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Anna Chlumsky // Zac Posen

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Debra Messing // Angel Sanchez

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Lizzy Caplan // Donna Karan

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Teyonah Parris // Christian Siriano

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Louise Roe // Monique Lhullier

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Samira Wiley // Christian Siriano

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Sarah Hyland // Christian Siriano

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Camila Alves // Zuhair Murad

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Gwen Stefani // Versace

All photos via Getty Images


{Travel Diary} The Pacific Northwest

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As if traveling to the other side of the world wasn’t enough this summer, I took a quick trip across the country to visit my friend who just had a baby in Portland, Oregon and therefore had a little adventure in Pacific Northwest.

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While I’ve done the must-see things as a tourist in Portland like hike in Forest Park, admire the International Test Rose Garden and Lan Su Chinese Garden, spend time in the largest book store, Powells, wait in line for an hour just to get Voodoo Donuts, lunch at the food carts, and get the original Stumptown coffee, we decided to try some new things, including other coffee at Water Street Coffee (also good!).

|ABOVE| Mavi overalls (c/o) // J.Crew tank // Birkenstock sandals // Free People tote // Goorin hat (similar here) // etc… for By Brooklyn necklace // Stella and Dot spike bracelet // Maison Antonym ring (c/o)

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Doughnuts are the new cupcake in Portland—and definitely meant to split to try all of the fun flavors. Voodoo is the most famous doughnut shop there, but this trip we did as the locals do and tried Bluestar donuts, which had some of the most exciting flavors like including blueberry bourbon basil.

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After traveling across the world this summer, it took flying 30,000 feet over Portland to realize how magical some of our own country is.

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We took a road trip to Washington, which was surprisingly mostly desert through the middle and what little forest we saw was sadly on fire. On the bright side, we managed to get past the smoke and watch a beautiful sunset over the gorge next to Arcade Fire in concert. We laid on the grass and watched the stars, something us city folk don’t see often, and enjoyed the show that way.

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We stumbled upon the Renegade Craft Fair and found some amazing local designers and artists braving the oddly hot day for the Pacific Northwest.

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One of my favorites there happened to be a jewelry line called Dea Dia, which won me over with their beautiful recycled brass cuffs with raw crystals on it. I had a stack of them on one arm and was so tempted to buy them all. I’m kicking myself for not purchasing just one of these one-of-a-kind cuffs.

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Another tempting purchase was the most adorable cat food bowl I’ve ever seen by Cinder Ceramics, complete with golden fish scales and a fish in the inside. The designer told me she just sold the other half of the set, which houses the water and a fish actually moves around in it.

Below are more of my picks from these talented Portland designers. Click on the image below to shop their sites:

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Casually Polished

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As I’ve mentioned in the past, sometimes it’s just a few pieces in your wardrobe that make you always look polished and complete.

Case in point: when I went to visit my good friend Rachel on her family’s panoramic wrap around deck on the Upper West Side, I had been casually dressed in jeans and a tee all day. Then I swapped my flat sandals for heeled sandals, threw on a blazer and a killer bag, and I was then ready to go from my comfortable casual look to catching up with a friend and grabbing dinner with friends in the city.

Speaking of killer bags, I’ve coveted this bag since last winter to the point where I’ve had a picture of it from Harper’s Bazaar ripped out and hung in my office. To my dismay—and every other fashionista’s dismay—it’s been sold out to the point where I’m on the wait-list…for spring 2015. I couldn’t wait until then and who knows if this style will even be around then? Like the savvy shopper I am, I stalked eBay for a while until I found the one I want and a reasonable price.

If you’re loving the bucket bag look but can’t get your hands on one, check out the alternatives below.

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Rag & Bone blazer (sample never produced from sample sale, similar here and here) // Isabel Marant x H&M tee // J.Crew jeans (similar) // Iro shoes // Goorin hat (similar here and here) // Nona E. Rose belt // Mansur Gavriel bag (sold out everywhere, similar styles below)

photos by Rachel Sax

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{ADVICE} 7 Key Pieces For Your Wardrobe At Any Age

The Artist's Way

DEAR ANDI,

I love your style advice so I thought I would ask you a question. I am 54 years old and always wonder what is style appropriate for my age? I am a professional abstract artist and always have functions to attend. I always second guess what to wear. Any advice?

Thanks,

-Terri, Dallas, TX / SaatchiArt.com/TerriMcGhee

 

Dear Terri,

There’s a reason that you often see creative people—whether in art, fashion, or another right-brained industry—wearing either lots of black or the same style over and over like a uniform. It’s easy and once you have it down, you always look chic and put together.

If you focus your wardrobe on these few key and classic pieces, you’ll be able to mix and match and get ready for all of those fabulous events that you have to attend without too much thought.

1. THE BLAZER – Every women should own at least one well tailored blazer in her closet. This should be something you splurge on because quality of the structure can make a big difference. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a traditional black blazer. This mint green blazer is unexpected and sweeter.

2. A GREAT BLOUSE – This doesn’t need to be over-the-top or overly pricey, but a beautiful, yet simple silky blouse will be versatile in your wardrobe (dress it down with jeans and dress it up with a skirt or dress pants for evening). Throw over the blazer as a jacket and then take it off when the event gets crowded.

3. THE CASUAL/DRESSY LITTLE BLACK DRESS – Okay, so the LBD is probably not news to you, but finding a little black dress that you can dress down with sandals or booties and then dress up with a pair of killer heels is key.

4. CROPPED/CIGARETTE BLACK PANTS – A slim cropped black pant is really the perfect wardrobe staple. A good pair should make you feel polished (and bonus if it makes you feel slender!) and looks great with a pair of heels or booties with just a little skin showing at the ankle. If this is where you want to save, then utilize a tailor for these to make them tailored a bit more and get a longer pair hemmed shorter.

5. A LUXE BAG/CLUTCH – When you’re attending an event, chances are you’ll be carrying a bag and you want it to complete your look. A splurge-worthy small purse or a statement clutch will elevate an otherwise simple outfit.

6. A KILLER PAIR OF SHOES – If your style is more classic and polished then invest in at least one pair of attention-grabbing heels, otherwise a cool pair of booties will give your classic look a bit of an edge, whether paired with pants or a dress. A well-made pair like these booties will also be comfortable and in your closet for years to come.

7. A STATEMENT PIECE OF JEWELRY – Maybe this will be your signature piece, whether it be a cocktail ring, a stack of bangles, large earrings, or a chunky necklace, this one piece will have people notice and maybe strike up a conversation over it.

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