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{ADVICE} Decorating 101



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?


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






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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?”


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:


Ballard Designs

Brooklyn Flea

Brooklyn Reclamation

Brimfield Antique Show

Build It Green

By Brooklyn

The Find

Jim & Lala Howard Pottery

Klaff’s Lighting


What A Difference Some Paint Makes


When you have a wall that looks like this in the backyard of your home, it’s pretty cool for all of maybe 5 minutes. Then when you live with it for a year and realize that your Brooklyn backyard graffiti probably contributed to why you got a good deal on the apartment. It was great for a fashion shoot I hosted and styled (above), but right after I decided it needed a makeover.


I debated for the past year whether to paint another mural over it, but my trip to New Orleans really inspired me, as well the walls of the East Village restaurant, Edie & The Wolf (above). I wanted a weathered oasis that seemed as though it naturally faded over time.


What a difference some paint makes, right?

Here’s how I did it:

- 1 coat of Benjamin Moore outdoor primer paint

-2 coats of Benjamin Moore in Vintage Vogue with thick rollers and extenders

-2 light coats of the two paints mixed with a textured roller in all different directions. Focus more in the areas that would get weathered the most.



I also painted the back wall with chalkboard paint for a different look to pull in the black of our dining set.

Stay tuned for more of my home improvements as the journey of being a new homeowner continues…

A Closet Fit For A Stylist


“You need a wall of shoes.”

That was the first thing my friend Jason, the owner the NYC bar, The Wayland, when he saw the sad looking closet area in our new Brooklyn apartment. Jason designed his award-winning bar (DailyCandy even declared it the best bar in the country for 2013) from reclaimed materials, such as flooring from a school gym that was torn down a few blocks away and even a wine casket that creates the perfect sculptural rest for bar snacks. When he said he would help design my closet, I was all ears.

I knew that the reach-in closet in our garden-level bedroom wouldn’t be enough room for this stylist’s wardrobe, so I originally had a popular closet company come in to design and estimate for a walk-in closet to be created around this space. When I found out that they wanted to charge me $1500 to put up shelves and that didn’t even include the wall, door, moving the lights, etc., I gave those blueprints to Jason and we came up with a game plan—and of course, scrapped all of their plans. Here’s what we came up with:


This is the same wall as the pre-existing reach-in closet, but we decided to raise the bar (literally and figuratively) and include a second bar for my pants to get more out of the space.

Jason came up with the idea of partitioning the left-hand side for my longer items like dresses and gowns.

To the right you can see there’s shelving we created for my sweaters, hats and even a cubbie for my sunglasses.


The plan is to share this closet with the hubby, but of course it was devised more with my needs in mind (oops), as he tends to shove his daily wardrobe into drawers and shelves. We created a long bar for his nicer clothing to hang and one big shelf for him to throw his pants on at the end of the day, which is right above this nook that we customized for our hamper unit to tuck into. Brilliant, right?


It wouldn’t be a stylist’s closet without a wall for shoes. Jason told his contractor to create different sizes based on my shoe heights and they actually measured my shoes to fit! What they didn’t account for where the ridiculous amount of handbags I own, so I had them stop adding shelves to fit them.

Somehow the hubby’s wardrobe is going to fit in here (to the left), but no one will be looking at that when there’s a wall of shoes!




I’m a little embarrassed by this picture above, to be honest. I’ve lived in my Brooklyn condo for 9 months now and have spent all of my time and money (hence some of my last fall wardrobe that you may be sick of already) updating each room. Still, I haven’t gotten around to redecorating my bedroom, which remains pretty much in the same state as when I moved in.

This room is a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs like the antique chair that was my grandmother’s, as well as the antique rug and dresser passed down from my mother-in-law. I recently updated the large dresser with a coat of paint and some knobs from Anthropologie, which are always my solution to perk up furniture.

I’m still saving up for the perfect headboard/bedframe, lamps and night stands, not to mention, my much-needed walk-in-closet addition. As you can see, I haven’t even hung much on my walls because I’m not ready to commit to anything until I have a plan of action. I’ve been so focused on the rooms that my visitors see and don’t know where to start on this one!

That’s where Remodo came in.

I was a little bit hesitant at first to have someone else style for me, but I was curious to see other ideas. I did warn my personal designer that I wanted a more adult room than most of their customers, who are often tweens, teens and college students. She listened to that and everything else I requested, including that I didn’t want to re-paint the walls.

Here’s what she came up with:


remodo redesign and style room

Not bad! If only I could replace my tiled floor with that wood!

There were a few items that she hit the nail on the head, like the headboard, which is exactly what I’ve been wanting.

She also opened my eyes to some ideas that I haven’t even thought of like black and white photos over my bed with a Brooklyn theme. It’s very elegant and also very me. A chaise lounge, especially in a chevron pattern, is also a brilliant idea that would be a nice addition for those who spill over from my backyard get-togethers (yes, the door to my yard is oddly in my bedroom).

I’m not sure if the rug is something I’d want in my bedroom–I tend to opt for cooler colors, as they are soothing. Though, I think modern rug would freshen up all of the antiques.

You can try Remodo yourself with these 3 ways:
1. Work With A Designer (fill out a questionnaire and someone will get back to you within a day or two)
2. Be Your Own Designer (design your own room with their library of items)
3. Shop Remodo’s Online Store (shop for what you like. duh.)

Now you can try it for yourself and get 25% off on both the designer package (WWAD2013) and on all Remodo products (Shop10).

Post your room makeover on Twitter and let both Remodo (@myremodo) and myself (@dear_andi) know what you’ve designed!

How To Cover An Eye-Sore In Your Home


art by Randy Howard

When we found our condo in Brooklyn, there were certain elements that nearly turned me off—and I’m sure other potential buyers as well—one of which being these eye-sore of air conditioner units being the focal point of two rooms. While I can’t complain that we have a/c during summers in the city (#firstworldproblems?), I didn’t love that was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the room.

My solution was to hang a great piece of art over it when it’s not in use, but how in the world do you hang something that is that far away from the wall?

Fortunately I have a retired aerospace engineer as a father, and he came up with using curtain rod hooks to rest the canvas on. Brilliant.

Now you know the secret in this stylist’s home!
STYLIST TIP: Don’t have a large canvas of beautiful art hanging around? Purchase a blank one at the art / craft store and create your own art! Even a wash of one or two colors can be an interesting conversation piece (hello, Rothko). You can also paint the canvas one color, then cut up vegetables and have your kids stamp them into another color paint onto the canvas for a personal piece.

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