Archive for the ‘remodeling’ Category

I have been looking for good art pieces for my apartment. Apartment Therapy has great examples of homes that use art decor to really bring the whole place to life. It has several examples of “smart art” rather than pretty art, which adds color to everything and yet gives a unified appearance to the whole apartment. I visited the Affordable Art Fair today to look for such perfect pieces, and had a wonderful time. Some pieces really stood out. Art is very expensive, probably because if a single piece is sold artists have to be able to live off that. I saw a painting in India which cost a little over $2K, and I had a heart-attack at the thought of spending so much. But after today’s outing, that piece seems more reasonably priced. Today’s artwork was not really affordable; the affordable pieces were a lot smaller in size.

The trend seems to be towards acrylic paint on aluminium. Strange choice, but the aluminium gives a totally different and realistic effect of sky and water. I will definitely have an aluminium painting in my place. Another trend is to have vertical and horizontal lines in different colors. Using a few of these together have an impact in adding color to a place, but in terms of actual art I find them lacking. I could easily draw lines in different colors all lined up and put it up in my apartment. Call me ignorant, but it doesn’t seem like hard work to me. Maybe the choice of colors has an impact, but really, do people pay thousands of dollars just for that? A third trend was to have dabs of colors to give shape to something, either a face, or people walking in rainy weather, or something. I found this interesting, but again why pay $$$$ for dabs of color when I could get a clear picture? My taste is more 20th century paintings with architectural effects and classics where the actual theme is clearly painted and you don’t have to guess. I learned to paint as a kid, and it is a lot of hard work! One of the teachers did not have hands, and he actually held the brushes in the toes of his feet – his paintings were breathtakingly beautiful!

My favorite today was David Kessler with Myers Contemporary. His paintings were on aluminium – one was brushed a lot to give the effect of water, and there were others that were less brushed. Really gorgeous pieces, but cost $10K per painting!! The paintings below are acrylic on aluminium, and the water effect at the bottom is brushed aluminium. As I moved to the side, the brushed part shone in the light.

David Kessler

David Kessler

Another artist of interest is Suzanne Howes-Stevens. She literally does her paintings over maps, and the paintings represent that location.

Suzanne Howes-Stevens

Lisa Lebofsky is another artist who paints on aluminium. Her paintings are quite pretty as well with trees, water, and sand, and aluminium as sky and water. In the photo below, eight on the top left corner and two large ones in the middle are all on aluminium.

Lisa Lebofsky

Another of my favorites was Michael Levin affiliated with The Weiss Gallery in Canada. His paintings were on aluminium as well, and most of them depict water. I looked at the painting below for a few minutes, and felt such an intense feeling of calm. I was quite overwhelmed and taken with it because it exuded such an intense sense of calm. I could not stop looking at it! The water reflection of the object is so subtle. I love his paintings – of all the paintings I saw today using aluminium, he has used it to the best effect because the shade of aluminium is natural and overpowers all other colors.

Michael Levin

I loved Philippe Jacquet as well. When I first saw his paintings, they seemed okay and yet I could not stop looking at them. I love the subtle use of colors and the greens. He was an architect and did painting as a hobby. Recently he started painting full-time. His paintings use mainly slate green with architectural elements such as buildings. He uses very subtle elements and colors – main objects (boat, man, building), even though small, stand out because the background is subtle. His paintings are an acquired taste – they don’t stand out right off the bat, but on close observation you understand his aesthetic and find a beauty in his colors. My favorite below is the second one with the building on a single rock.

Philippe Jacquet

Another one that stood out is Marie-Elaine Lalonde. Her paintings are entirely on wood. The website says “silkscreening on wood” – I don’t know the technique. Her work was different.

Marie-Élaine Lalonde

Another one to catch my eye was Vanessa Smith. I would probably put her paintings in a room with either the same dark color as her paintings so the interior depth in her work would stand out, or in a room with all walls in a lighter version than her work for her painting to stand out. What was different was that she used a single sharp color in the entire painting, different colors for some objects, and separate colors (primarily black and white sketches) on the exterior of the house as seen from the window. The layers added depth to her work. It was definitely eye-catching. At first glance it appears to be too dark and her work has a vintage look and feel, but it grows on you probably as a conversation piece.

Vanessa Smith

One artist used blood (real blood) which I found gross BTW and would never use in my apartment. It was just too disgusting and I could not appreciate the gothic “beauty”. The work was in a box-like structure. The front part of that box was transparent, and the blood was splattered in a sunburst look attached to the inside of the transparent piece.

Another artist had very intense paintings. AM liked them, but I could not stand to look at them. They were too intense, deep, and negative. There was some guy being pulled by other beings around him, and he was stepping on some beings that were drowned or something. It wasn’t exactly a painting as much as a sketch in orange color. A lot of his paintings had a similar look and feel. He used a globe in one case, where countries were dark brown with cream veins. The veining itself was unpleasant.

Below are a few others that I liked. I hope the guys doesn’t mind my posting their photo here – not my fault that they wouldn’t move while I was taking this pic.

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I love Manhattan — and living in Manhattan — you can really find everything you could ever want in the city. Problem is, it takes a hell of a lot of money to get there! I have taken some time off to buy furniture for my newly renovated place – no easy feat in Manhattan! I don’t have a single piece of furniture except for some chairs, and a tiny entertainment center. Wires are all over the floor, and I want to find something functional that keeps wires hidden.

I decided to conquer Manhattan. There are three main buildings to visit for remodeling and redecorating – Architects & Designers Building (A&D) on 58th & Lex, Decoration & Design Building (D&D) on 58th & 3rd, and New York Design Center (NYDC) on 33rd & Lex.

D&D and NYDC sell to trade only, and entry is restricted. Last year I was not allowed to enter. This year, I took my architect’s company name and entered the building. None of the stores shared prices – they said I should select pieces and leave my architect/designer’s contact info, and they would send prices to her. A lot of designers make money from them because they (designers) mark-up the prices – even if they don’t mark it up, in some cases shipping & handling charges wipe out the discount.

A&D: The building is primarily for people looking to remodel and can find appliances, tiles, shower enclosures, bathroom fixtures, closet organization, kitchens, and cabinets. The building houses brands such as GE Monogram, Miele, Wolf & Sub-Zero, Davis & Warshow, Woodmode, Hastings Tile & Bath, Poliform, Poggenpohl, Valli & Valli, and Artistic Tile. It also has furniture stores such as B&B Italia and Holly Hunt on the first level. I love Holly Hunt, but my architect has warned me of their prices – not as high as Cassina, but much much higher than Crate & Barrel.

D&D: The building is primarily for people who have tons of $$$ and looking to do custom work such as custom upholstery, curtains, and rugs. D&D mostly houses showrooms with textiles and fabrics. High-end Donghia and Holly Hunt are housed there. The Holly Hunt furniture in D&D is very different from the one a block away in A&D – D&D has a lot of traditional furniture stores so Holly Hunt has traditional pieces there, while its A&D store has very contemporary pieces. For contemporary furniture, a few of my favorite showrooms were A. Rudin, Donghia, Kravet, J. Robert Scott, Stark, and Missoni Home. David Sutherland was mostly outdoor furniture, but the decor of the store was excellent. It had seagrass limestone tiles, and as soon as you enter you feel as if you can smell the sea or beach, and the limestone tile with exotic sea shells added to the look. A. Rudin had the softest leather furniture – a few pieces were made of lambskin leather which had the softest feel, and I felt as if my fingers would melt in the buttery feeling. Stark had very good carpets of all kinds – contemporary, transitional, and oriental. I enjoyed visiting D&D but was very overwhelmed due to the numerous stores and fabrics. It is very difficult to pick colors and fabrics unless you go there with a designer. Not that I intend to return – the prices are too high.

NYDC: The building mainly houses furniture and rugs, with some lighting and home decor stores as well. The furniture is both traditional and contemporary, with more contemporary stores contrary to D&D. A number of showrooms specialize in contract furniture for offices. Some stores seemed sterile with few people and furniture lying around as if deserted. I wanted to check out Nicoletti Italia for Natuzzi sofas but it closed down a few months back (Natuzzi needs to update its site). I liked a number of stores including Dennis Miller Associates, and need to return because I tried to do all 16 floors in 1 hour!! I really liked some contemporary furniture, and need to go back to complete all the floors. It is good to visit NYDC because they have many furniture stores, which gives a good idea of how to redecorate and which colors to use together if you are looking for ideas.

I visited a few stand alone stores as well. Cassina is a high-end Italian furniture store, and has great sofas and chairs. A friend had bought something from there but told me of their ridiculously high prices. I liked one leather chair and it cost over $6.3K!!! They have an annual sale event every year, and this year they have it on Sep 24. I will wait for sale. Lazzoni is a contemporary furniture store located on 18th St. I liked their beds and mirrors, but it was very expensive. A simple side table cost over $1.5K. The furniture comes from Turkey, and at this time people in Turkey were on a 1 month holiday so usual lead time of 4-6 weeks is now 16 weeks! Roche Bobois is located on Madison Avenue a few blocks from the NYDC building. It is a French company and has very good beds and coffee tables. I really liked the furniture, but it costs $$$$$! Coffee tables cost around $3K, and each dining chair is around $1K. Eight years back I bought my coffee table for $200, and it is still intact today!

Jensen Lewis in West Village has good quality furniture. I liked their Calligaris beds, dining tables, chairs, and entertainment centers. Their walnut wood pieces have a warm feel and combined with black lend a very contemporary look. If they weren’t so expensive, I would have bought the entire Calligaris walnut set. Modani on 19th St is okay, with nothing new to offer. The showroom has a black-and-white feel and few pieces. I visited B&B Italia in Soho and in the A&D building. The A&D store is much better with a larger collection, but is open on weekdays only while the Soho store is open on weekends as well.

ABC Home & Carpet on Broadway & 19th St is a large store of 6 floors, and has a Calvin Klein section. It is super expensive, more so considering that the pieces were not that good or new. One recycled bar stool cost around $800. A Calvin Klein sectional sofa cost $18K. AM almost had a heart attack and looked for pieces to criticize specifically with respect to their prices. We walked across the street to Sitdown NY which had decent pieces but looked very cheap. After ABC, AM found the prices to be quite refreshing! Moss is another store in Soho, but specializes in novelty pieces. Not my style. I visited Raymour & Flanigan, but it is too traditional for my taste. There are so many traditional and barn-like furniture stores in NYC, which I found surprising because I thought New Yorkers like contemporary furniture – guess I was wrong. I like all things European.

Bo Concept is another store I quite liked. It has very good and sleek contemporary pieces, but the quality does not seem up to par with Crate and Barrel even though prices are comparable. I am having second thoughts about getting a Bo Concept walnut bed set because its nightstand costs over $500. Its so ridiculous that two nightstands at $1K cost more than the bed at $900! I mean, why is the nightstand so expensive even though its such a tiny thing? Of all the stores, Crate and Barrel has the best quality for the price. West Elm seems okay with reasonable prices. Design Within Reach is another store I visited, but am not too crazy about the quality. Its red Eames chair has appeared in several blogs and is comfortable, but very low. AM did not like it.

I have to yet visit department stores such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. I don’t have high hopes though, because Home is not their specialty. Since we liked Natuzzi sofas, I plan to visit Natuzzi in Soho. I also plan to make a trip to Calligaris and Concept Furniture in Brooklyn, and Room and Board in Soho.

I also made a trip to Paramus, NJ. I visited Ashley furniture, Huffman Koos, Jennifer Convertible, and Ethan Allen in Paramus. Ashley has very traditional furniture, totally not my style. Their rugs were not bad though. Jennifer Convertible was okay, and Google had bad reviews about the quality. I loved Huffman Koos – they had lots of Natuzzi sofas on sale, and it was a good deal because you could get the entire floor model set for $1,200. AM was sold on Natuzzi. I love burgundy and fell in love with a burgundy sofa, but it was being discontinued and I would have to buy the floor model. I found out yesterday that there is a Huffman Koos in Manhattan – yay! Ethan Allen was too country-like and traditional.

I did not go to Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware because they are too barn/coastal looking and not my style.

I am exhausted and cannot wait to get this over with. Its so difficult to make a decision – every contemporary store has a white sofa – how do you decide which one is the best? Once I decide on furniture, I will make a decision on rugs. Most of the showrooms featured neutral colors like beige, cream, brown, and white, with neutral contemporary rugs and low mood lighting. I intend to do simple neutral furniture and have a colorful oriental rug with Indian/Pakistani/Turkish colors and dark base. I love oriental rugs, and although I liked neutral contemporary rugs I think a splash of color would make it look less sterile.

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