CB2 Shopping Roundup -- "Manly yes, but I like it too"

"MANLY, YES, BUT I LIKE IT TOO!" Irish Spring Soap commercial, 1982

If you never saw these (or weren't born...ahem) take a look. This was how women 'took their power' in 1982. 

If I were doing a bachelor pad, CB2 would be my first stop. They have cornered the market on sophisticated masculine - These aren't even the most "manly" pieces in the collection. But they all represent outstanding design at a reasonable price. Great design -- I like it too ;-)

This burnt orange velvet sofa is the new emerald green velvet sofa. You know who you are, emerald green sofa lovers! Clean lines, a tight back. and a boxy shape in really nice proportions - a winner. I love the floating effect. $1799 folks. 

At $1799 for a 3-seater, I'm liking it

At $1799 for a 3-seater, I'm liking it

I’ve had my eye on daybeds a lot lately. This one has a great combo of materials, with a metal finish on the bottom. $1999

I like this low slung chair - boho meets mid-century. $349

$349 - enough leftover for a cool pillow on the back!

$349 - enough leftover for a cool pillow on the back!

I’ve seen these around quite a bit (Serena and Lilly has something similar) but this version has that snappy black and white element that gives it a bit of a modern feel, making it a versatile and well-priced dining chair! $179



My practical side is always chugging away in the background...Demi-lune tables are a great fit for a narrow hallway, but a lot of them don’t feel modern. This one is, and I love the slim and minimal lines. $299

This table looks like something inspired by a sea urchin. It has that natural, anthropomorphic thing going on, along with a classic marble top. $499

Industrial, metal, and kinda sexy!  The Trace Wire Mesh Cabinet. $1199

I really like the facets on the new Flat Glass Pendant - gives it interest without adding too many details. And, at $149 I’m afraid it gives my old favorite from Schoolhouse Electric a run for the money...

Is it an upside down face? I’m not sure. It’s angled and sharp yet old fashioned (actually it has a bit of old victorian lady in there) But rather than pay for therapy I’d just buy the Aubrey Brass Chandelier.

Hello, 60 bucks? I’m in. Matte Black Industrial Wall Sconce


And finally, this Driftwood Object (their words, not mine).I’m a sucker for anything that looks like burnt driftwood. Must have been those beach parties… But seriously, this is the kind of piece that will raise the aesthetic level of a tablescape or shelf.  $79 or $95

Throw Blankets and Hot Toddies - Staying cozy in the cold

Anyone ready for Spring? This is starting to feel like the never-ending Winter, and it’s just January, folks so we’re not done yet. I have never been happier to have a hot cup of tea (or a cider toddy)  and a warm throw blanket to cozy up with. 

My living room throws get a LOT of use, and if you don’t have a couple of these around, you should get one. It’s one of those totally functional accessories that are an easily justifiable purchase, especially if this weather continues.


I like this simple cotton weave from Target:

And this one from Schoolhouse - reminds me of a country house in the woods.

Mudcloth is a trending but timeless material, and this is a great layering piece from Etsy:

Chunky knits are also a great layering piece - they work as a throw or at the foot of a bed and never look wimpy! This one also from Etsy has some great size and color options:

Want to dream a bit more? OK Ladies, get ready for this one -- a MERMAID knit throw:

I guess the weather has gotten to me. 

You're cozying up with your blankie and need something hot to go with it, am I right? For a real warm up, I like a hot apple cider toddy, with bourbon, my new favorite winter drink.


Here’s a recipe courtesy of WHOLEFULLY. 

You could substitute a pinch of cinnamon for the stick and just heat it in the microwave, then stir in the honey and bourbon. Boom. Done. 

I always stock up on tea at Trader Joe’s. Favorites are the Chai and Peppermint, but they have it all. 


While at 'the Joe's' I  discovered this addictive Maple Pecan Shortbread Mix. It's a combination of pecan pie and shortbread. My sister used to make pecan bars just like them, and I swear these taste just as home made (sorry Monica).  It takes a bit of time to make but it’s worth it (and the hot oven will heat up the house!). If you see this package:


Buy it. Buy two. You will thank me  — unless you made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, in which case you be very, very angry with me ;-)

Stay Warm!


PS - Ready for some design advice but don't want to leave the house? Book an e-design consultation by skype and email! 

The Hidden Costs of a Design Project - Managing your budget

You are smart. You are a good planner. You know how to put together a budget and you happily populate your excel sheet or google spreadsheet with the cost of your sofa, your rug, or your kitchen tile. And yet, your project has somehow gotten out from under you with the actual costs on your credit card exceeding - by an uncomfortable margin - those tidy numbers you planned for. What happened? I mean, you are so GOOD at planning, right?

The big question is, what are the hidden costs that have crept into your project?

I thought I'd do this post as a case study: Here's a design board for a bedroom re-do. As you can see, there isn't a lot of furniture involved, just a few key pieces. Let's say you had put this together with your $6000 bedroom re-do budget. You put all the furniture pricing in your spreadsheet and you are right on target - just under 6g. 

CAVdesign Master Bedroom

You're on track, so you push the button and purchase the items.  Then the credit card bills roll in, and the stuff arrive and somehow it's not done AND it seems like it's costing a lot more than planned. 

Let's start with the most obvious cost we tend to ignore -- sales tax. In New York sales tax is 8.875%. That's pretty close to 9% which is pretty close to 10% in my book. But did you know that shipping is added on before tax is calculated? Yes it is, and that compounds things a bit. 

Here's how this room added up  - fortunately a few of the stores we sourced from don't charge shipping, and a couple don't even charge sales tax. Yay! (at least for now)...

Pre-tax, pre shipping cost: $5934

Shipping: $347

Taxes: $466

Total: $6747 - about $800 over the initial numbers -- or almost 12% over. 

But wait, there’s more...

The light fixtures need to be installed by an electrician, because they are hard wired (no cord) - $300

Then you'll likely need someone to repair the wall after the electrician is done - so let's say $300 for that. Then you need the wallpaper hanger to come in for $600. That’s another $1200 for labor, and your mirror still isn’t hung up…

Now, this is not meant to be depressing, but just a way to think about the budget. You thought you were coming in somewhere around $6000, but now, you are at about $8000. -- 20% over your intended budget. You can see where this heads with a larger initial budget. 

The takeaway? You should add at least 20% into your budget over the cost of your furniture. but if possible, I would bring that number up to 30%. So, plan to spend a third less than your total budget on the base furniture cost,  and save the rest to help with taxes, freight and installation. That way you’ll have a little left over to celebrate with a glass of champagne!

Interested in the items on the board? Here are the links:

Wallpaper | Bed | Wall Sconces |Mirror | Dresser | Bench | Pillows | Chair

What if I love the look but I need to cut back? There are some 'splurge' items here, like the dresser, but there are also a few well-designed pieces that are real bargains, like the sconces, the mirror and the chair. If you wanted to save a bit, you could substitute the 'non-leather' version of the bed, and find a lower priced seagrass bench. To save on the labor  you could source plug-in sconces instead. I think the wallpaper adds a lot to the space, so I would keep that.

TIP - if you are bringing in a wallpaper hanger for just a feature wall, ask yourself if there is anything else you want wallpapered? The back of cabinets? Another wall? A small powder room? The cost will likely not be much more since you are paying for them to get there in the first place, and you can get a big 'added value' from having more areas enhanced with wallpaper. 

Planning a room makeover? Want to give (or ask for!)  a truly special holiday gift? CAVdesign now offers a brand new package - the VIP Master Plan! And, for a quick room refresh, a Design Coaching Session will help get your mantle pretty,  your bookshelf styled or your artwork hung -- use it for what you need the most. 

Have questions or want to chat about a project? Schedule a call below!

Picking the perfect furniture for your room with Design Boards

If you've ever struggled over which chair (or table, or rug -- you fill in the blank) will work with your room and the rest of your furniture, then making a design board is the easy way to see how it will play. You may already have a Pinterest page or a Houzz book, but creating a dedicated board for your space that can be edited is key to getting the full benefits of this visualization tool. Here are a few tips for making it work:

1. ONE PAGE PER SPACE - Create a page for each room and if you need a reminder, put a small photo of the space on the board. 

2. USE WHITE BACKGROUND IMAGES If you have a choice of furniture images, always choose the one that doesn't have a background 



Not this

Not this

3. CREATE A WAREHOUSE -Don't put EVERYTHING on your primary room page. Create a second page for your image 'warehouse'. This is where you put other items so they don't clutter up your main page. Borrow items from your warehouse to try. 

4. KEEP IT CLEAN - Don't include any links or extra descriptions. These can also live on another page or in your 'warehouse'. 

5. DON'T LEARN A NEW PROGRAM TO DO THIS - Or you won't get it done! Use a program you are comfortable with - I use Pages, but I've seen some great boards with PowerPoint, Word, and of course Photoshop and Indesign. 

6. THIS IS ALL ABOUT EDITING - it costs you nothing to add and subtract pieces -on your board! Play around, reduce and add and you will see when it feels right. Ask yourself the age-old question from Sesame Street: Which one of these things is not like the other?

Here are a few boards I really liked...not all turned into final spaces so it's good to be able to go back and see the original plan.

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OM Board CAVdesign.jpg
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Have any questions? Would love to hear what's on your mind when it comes to design! Want to work with me on a design for your space? Let's talk -- you can book a call below. 

Great new picks from West Elm

I can't believe we are already into March - Phew! This year has already been a whirlwind and I'm loving it, but haven't had much time to post on the blog. Here's the first of several round-ups I'll be sharing over the next few weeks. While working on some new projects I've been keeping my eye out for new pieces and trends from stores you may know and some sources that are a bit 'off the beaten track'. To start things off, I think West Elm is once again delivering on some great design value this season, so here are some of my new favorites from West Elm:


Winter Sunset - it's cocktail time!

I know everyone is busy, busy, busy. I've been taking stock of 2016 and doing a lot of writing, thinking and planning in addition to the regular activities. One thing I decided was that this coming year, I'm going to share a bit more about myself and my interests outside of interior design. To ease in I'm going to start with another passion of mine -- tequila. I fancy myself a bit of a mixologist, and every season I create a new tequila cocktail. I feel tequila gets short shrift when it comes to seasonal cocktails (other than margaritas in summer), and I'm here to make it right.

I'm starting with my latest creation for the holiday season, which I call "Winter Sunset". Unfortunately winter sunsets seem to be around 4:30 here which is just a bit early to start with a cocktail, but as they say, it's 5:00 somewhere...

Here's what you need:

2 oz. Gold Tequila

2 oz. Aperol

1 oz. Apple Cider

1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar

two splashes Bitters

1/8 tsp. Ground Cardamom

Orange Peel

Cinnamon stick (optional)

Club Soda (plain or grapefruit)

Combine the first 5 ingredients and add the cardamom. Stir well. Serve over ice with a splash of soda or room temperature. Add the orange peel and cinnamon stick. 

I made a batch of this (4x the recipe) and kept it in the fridge, which worked great. Hope you like it!

Tips for furniture shopping online without making a mistake!

I know you've done it. I've done it. You've found the perfect thing, bought it, and finally it has arrived. But when you see it in person it's not what you thought!  Sound familiar? Yup, just like dating online. Pictures and profiles don't tell the whole story, so I decided to show you a funny example of a recent purchase that came with a big surprise -- and not the good kind. Take a look at "Size Matters: Tips for Online Shopping (and dating)."  

So, just to re-cap, here's what you need to check before you push that 'process order' button:

1. Pictures only show the good side. This is true for the descriptions as well. If you're not sure, take a few minutes to call the seller to find out more. 

2. Size Matters. Make sure you look closely at the dimensions and get a tape measure out to see how it will fit in your space. 

3. Check the assembly requirements. Most furniture comes unassembled when you buy it online. If you're not into spending a weekend putting it together, find out if you can get a 'white glove' delivery that includes assembly. Or, contact taskrabbit.com or your local handyman service to take care of that. 

4. Check the return policy. Even if you do a thorough job before you buy, you just might not love it. Things like color can be particularly hard to show accurately online. See if the seller will provide a Return Authorization by email, or better yet, include a return shipping label with the delivery. Most companies make you pay for return shipping, but see if you can find the same item at one that will pay for return shipping. 

Ready to start your room re-do and want some guidance? Get my comprehensive 10-step guide so you can get from start to finish without a hitch!

Having fun with a Retro Kitchen Design

I love my job, especially when a challenge comes along that really gets me to think more creatively. Truth is, I deal with a lot of logistics... chasing deliveries, sweet-talking cranky plumbers, returning damaged light fixtures...you get the idea. So I was really happy when appliance maker Big Chill asked if I could could put together a design board incorporating their line of gas stoves that come in AMAZING colors.  I have a beach shack fantasy so this was a perfect opportunity to engage in a bit of dreaming using their Beach Blue appliances. For the floors,  I knew right away I wanted to use these cement tiles I saw on a recent trip to Mosaic House  - and the color worked perfectly with the range.   Lately I've been thinking about using wallpaper in kitchens so I thought this would be a good opportunity to add a bit of wallpaper to the back of open cabinetry, and I liked the sweet yellow bird in this design by fellow Brooklynite Julia Rothman.  I thought this was just enough color to counter the blue, and the pendant light from Dot and Bo sealed the deal. I'm ready to pack up my towel, Coppertone and sunglasses and hop on my bike!

Want to add some of these elements without a full renovation?  You can wallpaper the back of cabinets after removing the doors, switch out light fixtures, and replace cabinet hardware -- it's a weekend makeover for your kitchen!

1. wallpaper from  Spoonflower  | 2.Range in Beach Blue from  Big Chill   | 3.Cement floor tile from  Mosaic House   | 4. Inset cabinets from  Cliqstudio  | 5. Glass handles from  Rejuvenation   6. Pendants from Dot&Bo

1. Wallpaper from Design Public | 2.  Range from Big Chill |3. Cement floor tile from Mosaic House | 4.  Inset Cabinets from Cliqstudio| 5. Glass Pull from Rejuvenation| 6. Pendants from


Ready to create your OWN design board for your room redo project? Find out exactly how in my free e-book, which shows you how to do a complete room makeover in TEN EASY STEPS!