Category Archives: Home and Garden

Home Virtual Decorator

Over the last few years, the rise of online decorating services has made a once-rarefied world much more accessible. Companies that offer personalized, virtual interior design ideas—Laurel & Wolf, Home Polish, Decorist, and Havenly, to name a few—have made hiring a decorator as easy as shopping for shoes online. It no longer requires deep pockets, a lengthy research process, or even an in-person meeting. But is online decorating right for everyone—or every room? We turned to a couple of experts to find out how to get the most out of the experience, and get the (real life) space of your dreams.

DO the groundwork
The more information you can provide from the outset, the better. Complete the online quizzes and style assessments to hone in on the look you’re going for. And when it comes to describing your current space, go overboard. “More is more when it comes to working virtually,” says Kimberly Winthrop, a designer with Laurel & Wolf. “The more communication, photos, measurements, and inspiration references, the better your designer will know you and the better your project will flow.” In addition to taking full-room shots, “take photos of details that make your space unique, like moldings, so that your designer can factor them into the design,” says Emily Motayed, co-founder of Havenly.

DON’T be a stickler
The decorators working with these services are vetted—a great reassurance that you’re working with a pro. Look through online portfolios to get a feel for a designer’s work before you hire him or her, but keep in mind it’s better to see that they can work within a range of aesthetics rather than deliver a highly specific look. “Their style may not be exactly your style, but any good designer should be able to deliver what you like,” explains Winthrop.

DO be brutally honest
This process is one of give and take. If your decorator floats an idea that you hate, say so. “A common mistake that people make is not expressing their true opinion on a design or item out of fear of hurting a designer’s feelings,” says Motayed. “Don’t be afraid to be honest.”

DON’T overreach
Virtual decorating services are best for spaces that have fairly straightforward needs and don’t require a renovation, such as living rooms and bedrooms. “When you get into kitchens and baths, where the main elements of the space are built-in or custom, it can be a more challenging project,” says Winthrop.

 

Design Rules That Miles Redd Loves

In the world of interior design, decorating rules often become so embedded they are second nature—but not for everyone. We’re looking to those boundary-pushing talents to find out the popular design ideas they’re ready to move on from, and what they are trying out instead. First up: Miles Redd, who defies easy labels, bringing his own special blend of glamour and wit to every project. Whether he’s decorating a tropical vacation home or a Texas mansion, the New York designer can always be counted on to defy conventions. We turned to Redd, the former creative director of Oscar de la Renta and author of The Big Book of Chic, to learn which design rules he thinks were made to be broken.

Rule to break: Use color in small doses

“Often when I flip through a catalogue, it would appear we live in a world of beige, a great big bowl of coffee ice cream,” says Redd. The designer prefers to embrace rich hues, as in this windowless entryway “where it appears glittering rather than dull like dishwater.”
“I think people see tiny rooms and they think they need tiny furniture, but often one large thing kissing the ceiling will expand the room,” he says.
“Good decoration can be so correct, it can be a little boring,” says Redd. The mega metal mosquito on the ceiling of an otherwise formal living room in Houston “takes the edge off things and shows you have a sense of humor.”

How to Incorporate Technology into Your Kitchen

A little more than a decade ago the world met Lo Bosworth—Lauren Conrad’s sweet-as-pie best friend—on the hit MTV series Laguna Beach and, a few years later, The Hills. These days you won’t find Bosworth tiffing with her friends on reality TV, but you can tune in to one of many videos on her new lifestyle blog, TheLoDown, for an afternoon of baking or making breakfast quiche. And after all, wasn’t Bosworth the cast member you always wished you could hang out in the kitchen with?

With a childhood spent cooking at her mother’s side—“She makes dinner from scratch almost every single night of the week,”—and a degree from the French Culinary Institute that sealed the deal, Bosworth is right at home in the lifestyle blogosphere. And while the New Yorker can’t say she cooks every day, she spends a lot of time in the kitchen on summer weekends out in the Hamptons. “You don’t have Seamless on your phone, so you have to go to the store and make meals for yourself,” she laughs. “It’s such a delightful way to eat healthy and cook seasonally.” Bosworth says her diet revolves mostly around lean proteins and seasonal vegetables—though she occasionally indulges in one of her mother’s famous roast garlic chickens.

Now, as a partner of the tech-forward kitchen appliance line, Signature Kitchen Suite, Bosworth has gotten a lot more tech savvy with her cooking. We caught up with the culinary queen to find out her tips for creating a seriously innovative kitchen that will be just as connected as you are.

1. Use a connected oven.

“My oven is Wi-Fi enabled, so if I’m coming down Manhattan’s West Side Highway in a taxi, running 30 minutes late, I can turn on the oven to preheat from my cell phone so that I still get dinner ready in time.”

2. Let your apps create the menu.

“There are so many apps out there that make finding a recipe in an instant really easy. Food52 is one of my favorites for fabulous recipes.”

3. Ditch your old timer.

“I always used a traditional timer that you wind, but I’m newly in love with this product called the Amazon Echo. You just say, ‘Alexa, turn on a timer for 45 minutes,’ without touching a thing.”

4. Try a smart microwave.

“My microwave has sensors that understand how far along the food has been cooked and lets you know. So if you are cooking popcorn, it won’t overcook it.”

5. Get some high-tech help for your herb garden.

“I love using fresh herbs in my cooking, but I have tried to grow plants in my New York City kitchen so many times and I go out of town and the rest is history. Recently, I’ve been using a planter called the Click and Grow that allows you to grow herbs all in one device. It waters and fertilizes what you’re growing automatically.”

 

Virtual House Reality

Today marks the launch of The People’s House: Inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama, the first-ever Facebook 360 project filmed inside the world’s most famous home. The piece, produced by Emmy-winning cinematic virtual reality creators Félix & Paul Studios alongside the Oculus team at Facebook, takes viewers to nine famous areas within the iconic building—from sitting with the President in the Oval Office to walking around the Situation Room to stopping into the Old Family Dining Room with Mrs. Obama.

“Michelle and I always joke, ‘We’re just renters here. ’ . . . The owners are the American people and all those invested in creating this amazing place with so much history,” President Obama says in the VR experience. “What we wanted to do is make sure that everybody felt they had access to the White House, . . . that as many people as possible could come in and appreciate the place where Lincoln, FDR, or Reagan made the decisions that helped to shape America.”

Of course, collecting wine as a hobby is going to cost you—so it might not be a shock that Spiral Cellars run between $23,000 and $67,000 each. Take a deeper look at what goes into making one below.

It’s a wine lover’s dream, as it’s not only an über-luxurious way of showcasing your collection, it’s also practical. The storage unit has a commercial-grade climate-control system, which means that bottles can be kept at the ideal temperature as the ventilation setup swaps out warm air for cold.

Spectacular Green Roofs

Green roofs are sprouting up more and more on buildings around the world, from private residences and schools to cultural institutions and businesses. Made with hardy varieties of succulents, grasses, wildflowers, and herbs atop several structural layers—including a waterproof membrane and levels for drainage, insulation, and filtering—these self-sustaining living architectural features can bring natural beauty to urban buildings or connect rural structures to their surrounding landscapes. The sky-high functional gardens also have a wide variety of ecological benefits, such as the ability to absorb carbon dioxide, reduce stormwater runoff, limit heat absorption, and provide habitats for insects, birds, and other wildlife. Factor in lower heating and cooling costs, extended roof life, and tax incentives (depending on the city), and it’s easy to see why this building trend continues to grow. Click through these spectacular examples from San Francisco to Singapore to discover how top architects—including Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano and AD Innovator Weiss/Manfredi—are incorporating green roofs into their projects.

Green roofs are sprouting up more and more on buildings around the world, from private residences and schools to cultural institutions and businesses. Made with hardy varieties of succulents, grasses, wildflowers, and herbs atop several structural layers—including a waterproof membrane and levels for drainage, insulation, and filtering—these self-sustaining living architectural features can bring natural beauty to urban buildings or connect rural structures to their surrounding landscapes. The sky-high functional gardens also have a wide variety of ecological benefits, such as the ability to absorb carbon dioxide, reduce stormwater runoff, limit heat absorption, and provide habitats for insects, birds, and other wildlife. Factor in lower heating and cooling costs, extended roof life, and tax incentives (depending on the city), and it’s easy to see why this building trend continues to grow. Click through these spectacular examples from San Francisco to Singapore to discover how top architects—including Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano and ADInnovator Weiss/Manfredi—are incorporating green roofs into their projects.

Watermill Residence, Water Mill, New York Architect Andrew Berman conceived this waterfront residence on Long Island as a summer and weekend retreat for three generations of one family. The home includes a single-story guest wing and garage, each featuring a living roof planted with wildflowers and local grasses by design firm Goode Green.

Robert Konieczny of architecture firm KWK Promes devised this unique residence for an art collector in Poland. The home is accessed through a covered driveway, which wraps around to the elevated living quarters. The entire structure features a green roof, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the landscape when viewed from above.

Museum Influenced This Classic Fifth Avenue Apartment

Though designer Marshall Watson was delighted with his new project’s location—in a pedigreed building with direct views of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Beaux Arts façade and into its galleries of classical antiquities—the space, as he found it, was far from problem-free. It had a palatial “head” (entry hall and double parlor), but the body, toward the natural light–deficient back, was disproportionately restrained, thanks to a subdivision some years prior.

“No surprise: our major inspiration lay just across the street,” says Marshall, whose new book, The Art of Elegance: Classic Interiors (Rizzoli New York, $55), will be released on March 14. “Since the apartment looked directly into into the museum’s Greek and Roman galleries, we decided that the residence would be a de facto extension of them.” So Marshall, a designer renowned for his meticulously researched interiors, set to work with the owners’ architect, reapportioning oversize public rooms, creating new spaces: a half bath, a prelude to the master suite, a library, and passages connecting each. With an eye toward getting the best use of natural light, the parlor, library, and bedroom were all positioned along Fifth Avenue, while the formal dining room, occupied almost exclusively at night, was set on the dim inner court.

“I was gratified to see that the couple’s very contemporary art collection sat naturally and comfortably within a classical setting,” Marshall says. “Rather than being at odds with one another, art, architecture, and décor are all mutually enriching.”

Striking Belgian marble floors mix with poured, mercury glass–paned mirrors set behind Hellenic art, playing on the fact that across the street from this Fifth Avenue pied-à-terre sit the classical and antiquity galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lovers of all things equine will feel right at home at the Equestrian Centre, which features 18 stables, 14 paddocks, a 400-yard polo field, and several rings for jumping, dressage, and lunging, and offers everything from riding lessons to full-service boarding.

The Luxurious Way People Are Now Storing Their Wine

Wine cellars are a luxury most city dwellers don’t expect to find in a home, but soon that might change. To make the amenity more accessible, one company is digging deep, literally. Spiral Cellars specialize in exactly what their name suggests—vertical wine cellars that are wrapped around a cylindrical opening beneath your floorboards. The design, created from engineered concrete, allows for the storage of 1,900 bottles of wine, without compromising on square footage.

It’s a wine lover’s dream, as it’s not only an über-luxurious way of showcasing your collection, it’s also practical. The storage unit has a commercial-grade climate-control system, which means that bottles can be kept at the ideal temperature as the ventilation setup swaps out warm air for cold.

Best of all, though, is how easy the unit is to install. The in-home process only takes three to nine days when done by Spiral Cellars. Plus, it doesn’t require any foundation work or breaking into belowground, as it can be housed within a basement or crawlspace.

Of course, collecting wine as a hobby is going to cost you—so it might not be a shock that Spiral Cellars run between $23,000 and $67,000 each. Take a deeper look at what goes into making one below.

The Exclusive Seaside Home View

Sitting on 425 acres of verdant land in Vero Beach, Florida, is the luxury residential community of Windsor. It was founded in 1989 by Canadian businessman W. Galen Weston and his philanthropist wife, Hilary Weston, the former lieutenant governor of Ontario. The Westons had been searching for a more permanent warm-weather home for themselves and their children after renting a retreat in the Bahamas. At the recommendation of Mr. Weston’s father, they chose Florida, and Vero Beach was the perfect locale for their dream seaside village. After building a couple of homes and a private polo field (Mr. Weston is an avid fan of the sport) for themselves, they enlisted Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk to design Windsor in the New Urbanism style of living, making it a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a focus on community and public spaces.

Windsor comprise 350 palatial homes—Anglo-Caribbean residences designed by power hitters such as AD100 firm Jacobsen Architecture and Merrill, Pastor & Colgan Architects. Meanwhile, residents include the likes of the Swarovskis, tennis player Ivan Lendl, businessman Pete Peterson, and of course the Westons. As you cruise around on a golf cart or bike your way through palm tree–lined streets, the vibe is Charleston meets Bermuda meets the Bahamas—it’s pristine, it’s manicured, it’s downright beautiful. Aside from an upcoming 2,000-square-foot wine cellar and tasting room, we take a look at all of the details that have us wanting to live in this exclusive community.

Not only are the eight tennis courts designed by Wimbledon champion and fashion sneaker icon Stan Smith, they are also lined with walls of fragrant jasmine that act as an amazing backdrop in the warmer months.

Home Products You Need

With the popularity of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home on the rise comes an influx of other products designed to make your home a little smarter. Whether you want some extra help in the kitchen or a way to monitor your pets when you aren’t home, there is a smart home product for all of your needs. From a refrigerator equipped with a touchscreen for looking up recipes to a sleep machine that analyzes your bedroom to create a “sound blanket,” these seven devices will take your home to the next level in 2017.

With features like two-way talk and one-way video, smart visitor detection, and notifications right to your phone, Vivint’s doorbell camera makes knowing who’s at your front door easy, whether you’re upstairs or out of town. Monthly plans start at $40.

Master the sous vide method with the Anova Precision Cooker. Easily attachable to any pot, the device allows for flavorful, expertly cooked meals every time by using temperature control. Download Anova’s app for tips and hundreds of recipes for every skill level; $149.

Designed for light sleepers, Nightingale works with the acoustics of your room and your existing sleeping conditions (like snoring) to diffuse sound and create white noise for better slumber. Available in February; preorder for $249.

Attach GeniCan to your trash bin and as you throw food items away, it automatically scans their barcodes to keep track of what you need to buy on your next trip to the grocery store. Or you can have your food delivered from Amazon right to your doorstep. Available in early 2017; preorder for $125.

Cork Can Be a Beautiful and Practical Design Practice

Cork has taken a few stops on its winding journey to showstopping interior design element: From the wine industry as bottle-stoppers (its most common and most lucrative use), then to badminton shuttlecocks and bulletin boards, next to a purely functional use in architecture as sub-flooring and insulation, and finally the walls, ceilings and floors in the homes featured in AD. The woody material’s pragmatic use in architecture is well deserved because of its elastic, cellular structure, its thermal-regulating and soundproofing qualities, and its natural resistance to fire, but it’s the cork’s natural warm hue and subtly dappled texture that are the secret to its modern design success. The versatile material can be dyed or painted (and still maintain its speckled look), it can be applied to walls and ceilings, and its inherent durability make it a prime choice for floors. Here, AD explores the varied uses of cork in spaces like one of Seth Meyers’s dressing rooms, a summer house designed by Thom Filicia, and the modernist home of GQ‘s Fred Woodward.

Designed by Ashe + Leandro, a dressing room backstage at Late Night: Seth Meyers features the warm, natural texture of a cork wall covering by Wolf-Gordon. The space, which also boasts an overhead cork pendant light made by Benjamin Hubert, is livened up with a bright-red sofa, colorful artwork, and a lime green floral arrangement.

The striking black cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances are balanced with the softer, more natural tones of cork flooring by DuroDesign in this Hudson Valley home. Known as Obercreek Farm, the countryside residence has been in the family of financier Alex Reese for six generations and was renovated by his wife, architect Alison Spear.