Archive for November 2017

This Hollywood Hills Hideaway Is a Study in Rich Jewel Tones

November 29th, 2017

When a young tech entrepreneur made the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, he landed in an outdated home in the Hollywood Hills. The space needed updating, but the homeowner didn’t want just any bachelor pad. His main concern? His art collection.

“Adam was pretty much game for anything so long as the finished product complemented his existing art collection,” Interior Designer Caitlin Murray Black Lacquer Design of said. “He also wanted a space where he could easily entertain friends and family.”

Along with sleek white walls, the firm incorporated colors pulled from the homeowner’s art collection. Vibrant green and blue hues play off the home’s surrounding foliage and water features for an indoor-outdoor effect. The final product? A non-traditional bachelor pad that’s worthy of the homeowner’s L.A. debut.

An Organic Modernism peacock credenza topped with a Noir Furniture brass peace sign sculpture give good vibes to visitors in the entryway. A West Elm floor runner adds texture to the sleek flooring.

Keeping a focus on entertaining, the firm sourced a custom large, L-shaped sectional for the living room to maximize guest seating areas. A Zuo Modern Scion Arc floor lamp leans over a vintage coffee table.

The firm removed a wall to open up the kitchen, while extending another wall to make the living space feel larger. They lined the kitchen island with Lawson-Fenning bar stools for more guest seating.


A portrait from Etsy hangs in the master bathroom above a partial wall covered in Mission Tile West black penny tile. Digita tile by Kismet Tile covers the floor, while gold Kohler bath fixtures add a metallic touch.

In the master bedroom, a Serena & Lily rattan chair hangs near a Modshop red lacquer credenza. Restoration Hardware linens top the bed made by Blu Dot.

In the guest bedroom, Restoration Hardware linens cover a CB2 bed flanked by CB2 nightstands.

In the office, an Eames Management Chair pulls up to an ABC Home desk topped with an Arteriors table lamp. Jayson Home bookcases round out the space.

Murray had a long, wall-to-wall banquette fabricated for the dining room. It meets the Eero Saarinen table and ABC Home chairs underneath an Arteriors Zanadoo light fixture.


This story was originally published on Hunker on October 18, 2017.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Interior Designer

November 27th, 2017

Decorating your home is no easy feat, even for the design-minded. Finding that enviable mix of style and warmth that exudes an aesthetic that is truly yours–while keeping in line with a budget–can be a challenge. Thankfully, Homepolish, a brilliant interior design resource, has help to solve the riddle. Curating the talents of interior designers across the country, the firm works to create spaces tailored to your exact tastes–all for an hourly fee. (Their current roster includes designers in nineteen cities across the US.) We asked Ariel Farmer, Liz Lipkin, and Amy Row, three NYC-based Homepolish designers, for their advice on how to navigate the ins and outs of working with an interior designer. Here, their tips for keeping the decorating journey going smoothly.

A Q&A with Ariel Farmer, Liz Lipkin, and Amy Row

Q: What should you look for in a meeting with an interior designer to ensure it will be a good fit from a taste, vision, and budget perspective?

A: ARIEL FARMER: I think a successful consultation comes down to three things: communication, an open mind, and personality. Communication is so important. It ensures that your vision is being heard, and also allows the designer insight into the your world. With effective communication, we’re able to put together spaces that are truly reflective of our clients needs and aesthetic. Unfortunately, designers are not mind readers (although that would be awesome!), so it’s important to keep an open mind as the designer begins to delve into your personal style.

“It’s important for you to be able to relate to your designer professionally and personally. You don’t have to be best friends, but you do want to make sure you feel comfortable and excited to work alongside them.”

Try to let your designer show you some things you may not have had first considered. It’s often the ‘I never thought of that!’ element that takes a design from nice–to wow! It’s important for you to be able to relate to your designer professionally and personally. You don’t have to be best friends, but you do want to make sure you feel comfortable and excited to work alongside them.


Q: What does hiring a designer entail? What are the benefits?

A: FARMER: Often more times than not, clients do have a distinct vision. It’s the implementation of that design where a designer really makes all the difference. Design is a big picture process: There are so many factors to consider in each specification, from finish to scale to materials. We take that all into account while simultaneously considering and designing the big picture. This allows for you to be able to engage in a creative process that is as equally inspiring as it is enjoyable. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious is no way to design your dream space.

Q: What are some tips to expressing your vision to your designer?

A: FARMER: We’re lucky to live in the age of social media where boundless amounts of inspiration are at our fingertips. Instagram, Pinterest, and shelter magazines are often where I point clients trying to hone in on their aesthetic. If that proves overwhelming, I will have clients think of a restaurant or brand they feel expresses a mood or aesthetic they relate to. A client may not always have the design vocabulary to articulate specific design elements but we all have a favorite place that inspires us and makes us feel good–and our homes should make us feel the same way.

Q: Can you explain the relationship between an interior designer and a general contractor?

A: LIZ LIPKIN: An interior designer is your advocate on a renovation–and she or he will be in close communication with the general contractor from the hiring process through project completion. Once your design, materials, and fixtures have been determined, your designer will convey the project vision to the contractor via a written scope of work, detailed drawings, and product spec sheets. The designer and the contractor will coordinate deliveries, meet at the site frequently, and work together to ensure that the project is progressing according to plan.  Ideally, the interior designer and contractor are buds who bounce ideas off of each other, troubleshoot problems, and text each other photos of the project’s progress every day.

Q: Are there any red flags to look out for?

A: LIPKIN: Be wary of contractors who are unresponsive, who over promise, have negative reviews, don’t have recent references, or whose budget proposals or timelines are out of sync with those of other contractors that you’re considering. And don’t trust anyone who can’t produce a tape measure at a moment’s notice!

Q: Are there certain things (testimonials, references) that you should always ask for?

A: LIPKIN: Always do your homework! To ensure that you’re hiring the best contractor, use someone who’s licensed and insured–and check state and local agencies and the Better Business Bureau for any issues or complaints. Ask for references: Speak to former clients whose jobs were similar to yours, and get feedback on the quality of the contractor’s reliability, quality of their work, and their reaction to issues that came up in the course of the project. It is also beneficial to ask to visit one of your contractor’s current job sites. This will give you a sense of their level of attention to detail, their professionalism, and their relationship with the crew. Lastly, ask how often they’ll be on site once your job starts, which should be at least once a day.

Q: How much of a budget overage should you expect?

A: LIPKIN: Establish a clear budget with your designer before the project starts. This will avoid overages altogether. As a client, you control the amount spent on sourcing. If you have a budget range in mind, target the lower number to leave a cushion for taxes, delivery fees, and surcharges (like white glove service).  A shared line item budget sheet will keep you and the designer on budget–and on task.

“If you have a budget range in mind, target the lower number to leave a cushion for taxes, delivery fees, and surcharges (like white glove service).”

Each item is assigned a max amount, and every purchase is recorded to maintain a running total of expenses by room and by project. My clients and I love using Google sheets for budget management.

Q: What’s a typical amount to spend for a living room, bedroom, or study, assuming that you already have some basics?

A: LIPKIN: There’s really no standard amount since every client has a different budget–but always be thoughtful about how you’re allocating what you spend. The sofa, bed frame, and desk are the most important pieces in each of those rooms. Invest more in well-made, long-term key items that will get the most use, and spend less on smaller items or accessories that you may want to switch out in a few years.

Q: Any recommendations for keeping the design process going smoothly–and keeping it fun?

A: AMY ROW: The smoothest projects I’ve had are the ones where the clients gave me their total and complete trust. I know how hard that can be, being that your home is a very personal space, but trust that every suggestion from your designer has been painstakingly thought through from every angle. I’m constantly thinking about dimensions, the lifestyle of my client, the mood we’re creating, what other pieces are in the space… so when I bring design suggestions to my clients they come from a place of deep thought and care. Find a designer you love, trust them for the professional they are, and allow them to take the lead. Do planning meetings over drinks to keep it fun.

“Invest more in well made, long term key items that will get the most use, and spend less on smaller items or accessories that you may want to switch out in a few years.”

I love to see my clients face to face for the opportunity to explain my ideas thoroughly, and this allows us to have the back and forth that can be cumbersome over e-mail. There truly is a relationship between client and designers and it’s nice to get together every once in a while and not only make progress on the project, but check in on life as well.

Q: Is it more economical to design one room at a time or an entire home?

A: ROW: I always say do the entire home. It’s so worth it to commit to the complete project because then you and your designer are in it together from start to finish to make a cohesive, comfortable living space. You build a relationship, and you also create something whole that you love to come home to.

Q: How can you tell you’re being charged fairly?

A: ROW: I like to compare interior design to therapy, personal fitness training, going to the chiropractor. Buying Design Hours is like treating yourself to a service like a massage that will benefit your mental health and your overall well-being.

This article was originally published on Goop

The Ultimate Home Cleaning Cheat Sheet

November 24th, 2017

Having a clean house no longer has to be a chore thanks to our handy home cleaning guide with tips from expert Courtenay Hartford, author of The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques. Here’s how to get your house to sparkle in a matter of seconds.

Hartford’s criteria for daily cleaning tasks is if it falls into the “gets used a lot every day” category. For example, keeping on top of the kitchen and first floor bathroom is key, but you don’t need to tidy up your bedroom every day. Who has time for that?

“I find that we tend to default our thinking that cleaning should be done weekly,” says Hartford. “This actually results in a lot of frustration because it’s just not ideal for most people’s homes.”

Toss in one load of laundry
The whole idea of “laundry day” is a thing of the past, says Hartford. “If you do one load a day, you’ll never have to spend a day doing eight loads again.” Bonus points if you can do it to completion: wash, dry, fold and put away.

Dust Public Areas
Hartford relies on the “unexpected guest” test to keep certain areas of the house clean. A quick dust in the main parts of the house where a visitor would be are the areas you should target daily.

Spot Vacuum and Mop
You don’t need to vacuum an entire room, but instead hit the high traffic areas. “I’ll vacuum the living area where my kids play but ignore the rest of the room. Same goes for spots in the kitchen, like in front of the sink.”

Make Bed
Even if your room isn’t sparkling clean, this will make it feel tidy.

Wash Dishes
Never keep a sink full of dirty dishes that pile up quickly. Tackle these every morning or before bed every night.

Wipe Down Surfaces
Hartford loves to use a microfiber cloth and water on all surfaces that get used the most: bathroom and kitchen counters.

Empty Any Full Trash Bins
This will cut down on clutter and any potential household stink.

Some chores require a little but more than weekly work, but definitely don’t need to be something you slave over every day. Instead, keep these on a biweekly rotation.

Wash or Swap Out Pillowcases
These should be changed more frequently than your sheets since they’re prone to things like makeup residue and sweat.

Wash or Swap Out Bath Towels
Germs build up on towels, even if they’re hung to dry properly. Keep clean ones on rotation.

Mop Floors
Hit any hardwood floors with the mop, especially in high traffic areas where kids, pets and the occasional dirty shoe makes an appearance.

Clean Fridge
Empty take-out food, tupperware filled with food that’s gone bad, anything past its prime – you get the idea.

Wipe Down Tubs/Showers
“Prevention is key,” says Hartford. If you wait too long to tackle to shower, soap scum can build up fast. Keep it nice and shiny by using a microfiber cloth and water on it every few days.


Change Sheets
Designate one day each week where you always swap out sheets. Nothing is better for your bed (and you) than a fresh set.

Clean Out Litter Boxes
If you’re a cat owner, scooping should be a daily task. But Hartford recommends completely changing out litter and spraying out the box each week to keep it feline-friendly.

Good news. A lot of tasks you do weekly could easily be reassigned to the monthly category according to Hartford. Tackle the below to dos on the same day every month to keep your home super sparkly.

  • Clean windows and mirrors
  • Vacuum whole home thoroughly
  • Wash any washable rugs or mats
  • Wipe down all screens and keyboards
  • Wash walls
  • Wipe leaves of houseplants
  • Clean kids’ toys
  • Polish silverWipe down kitchen cabinets
  • Soak your dryer’s lint trap and clean out the vent
  • Change out furnace and A/C filters
  • Clean your vacuum cleaner

You might notice that I don’t have much of a weekly cleaning list whereas a lot of lists telling you “what to clean when” have most of their tasks listed under “weekly.” With the weekly cleaning list, you end up wasting a lot of time because you’re often re-doing tasks too soon, when they don’t really need to be completed yet and that time could be spent elsewhere on something that really needs it.

There are also a lot of tasks that need to be done a lot more often than weekly and we can end up feeling confused and frustrated when our homes always feel dirty despite the fact that we’re doing our weekly cleaning religiously every weekend. I find that by tweaking that default cleaning schedule a little bit, we can have a much more efficient, effective, and rewarding cleaning experience.

The tasks below only need to be tackled every six months—hurray!

  • Wash all curtains
  • Have any high-end or wool rugs professionally cleaned
  • Clean out seasonal storage bins and boxes to declutter old/unwanted items
  • Remove everything from closets, wipe down shelving, interior walls, and hanging rods
  • Shampoo carpets
  • Remove everything from bookshelves and dust
  • Scrub and re-seal tile grout in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Remove bathroom fan vent covers and vacuum


This article was originally published in Domino on November 6, 2017.