FitBump Features EO Design

Check out FitBump's latest article, A Well-Designed Approach to Pumping at Work, featuring EO Design's work creating 'luxe lactation lounges' for nursing moms at work.

If you work at company without a privacy room for its employees, let me know and I can send your Human Resources department my proposal for an inexpensive, yet elegant, solution. All you need is a storage closet that can be emptied out and given new purpose. The bonus is that these rooms double as a prayer room or space for meditation. 

Visit my Portfolio section to see other privacy rooms like this one. They're easy to do and really show moms returning to work that breastfeeding is important and should be done in a nice, calming space. 

To Niche or Not to Niche...

Having lived in NYC for 20 years, you often forget that the rest of the world has all these little perks around their home because they're not super old. Case in point: a shower niche for shampoo, soaps, sponges, etc. When you are living primarily in small prewar buildings, you're lucky if your door doesn't hit the toilet. 

In renovating this 1945 row house, I was asked by the contractor, "Would you like a shower insert?" Um, yes. Most of us without this feature use those over-the-showerhead organizers and it can be a nuisance during a shower to reach up there and grab what you need. In this situation, I still had to place it on the same shower wall due to space constraints, but it's below the showerhead. The other nice thing about having it away from the stream of water is that moisture won't settle in the nook as much as other areas, keeping mold and mildew at bay. 

I struggled with whether to leave the niche finished with the same subway tile on the rest of the walls in the bathroom, or do something a little different. I went with a pop of mosaic and some white quartz to frame the transition from the subway tiles to the special, little niche. I got inspiration from a Pinterest post of course (right image below). When complete, I'll post the end result for all to envy (me included, I still have the metal thing hanging off my showerhead). 

Turning a War Zone into Beauty

For my next act, I will be completely gutting and renovating a 3-story row house in Astoria, including its deck and backyard. The house has great bones but needed to be upgraded from 1945 to 2015. Biggest project yet. Check out some of the demolition so far. There will surely be many 'before' and 'after' photos to peruse at a later date. Once I get out of the rubble... 

The term 'lived in' is discussed

Where I grew up, most of my friends' homes were 'lived in.' There were family photos on the walls, mail strewn about in the foyer, and boxes of cereal on the kitchen counter. Can 'lived in' coexist with chic décor? Absolutely.

I recently read the quote below and it struck me that I've always aspired to create the 'lived in' look and feel in my designs. 

“It’s not hard to make a space that looks good by itself. The trick is to craft a room that’s even more attractive when it’s occupied. That’s when it becomes magical.”— Interior Designer Kerry Joyce, Elle Decor's Quote of the Week

You can always order everything you see on a Pottery Barn catalog page, but wouldn't it be nice to feel like your home reflects your personality and you can actually live in it without 'messing it up?' One friend growing up wasn't allowed to enter their formal living room because the carpet was light-colored and the furniture had to remain pristine in case the President ever came to visit. Now, is that living? 

Photo credits: (left) Elle Decor; (right) The Washington Post, Bill O'Leary

I always want people to feel comfortable in my home: put their feet up on the couch, grab 'Humans of New York' to flip through while we chat, or notice photos and tchotchkes and ask about our latest trip. Making people feel 'at home,' but managing to show your home as attractive and approachable is a balance I love to tackle. I'll always take an occupied, comfy home over a cordoned off, pristine room.

With kids, pets, and working from home these days, we need our spaces to be designed with all of that in mind. We live in our spaces, so they should function as such. Easy-to-clean fabrics for spills, being mindful of traffic patterns around sofas, out-of-the-box storage solutions, and considering certain colors when calculating dog or cat fur all figure into the fabulous (sometimes misunderstood) 'lived in' look, without discounting great design and optimal functionality. 

Real Estate Photos Gone Bad

We all know that most everyone that is looking to buy a home is starting on the internet. Therefore, photos of the home you're selling must be the best they can be. Staging and having professional photos taken is your best bet. But for a little giggle, I thought I'd share this link that demonstrates how serious this is: http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

Reupholster at home? Sure.

Let me preface this post by saying that not all chairs are created equal. This awesome vintage chair, that I either found for free or inherited from someone, had a dingy upholstered seat but was super easy to take apart and figure out how to put back together. The cushion effect was gone and when I opened it up, the padding was crumbling away and the fabric was disintegrating.

For years, I had this subtle chenille fabric with a blue/tan pattern that I got in a clearance bin at JoAnn Fabrics for less than $5. I bought foam pad at Michael's with my 40% off coupon ($6.50 for 2-pack) but only needed one of them. And since I didn't have one in my arsenal of tools, I also picked up a stapler gun via Amazon.com ($12.50).

Removing the existing seat was easy. You just unscrew the screws that are there and it pops right off. Throw out the padding and fabric and clean off the wood base. Cut your new fabric with a good 6 inches on each side so there's room to pull it over the foam. Cut your foam to fit the wood base and give it 1/4 inch more on all sides so you don't feel the wood's edge once it's done. 

Now you're ready for the stapler gun. Even the light-duty versions of stapler guns are fierce, so be careful. On a good size workspace, lay out the foam on the wood base with your 6 inches on each side. Some folks glue the foam to the wood but that's up to you. I didn't and it worked just fine. Pull tight on one side making sure you're not pulling away from the even distribution, and staple once in the middle. Then go to the opposing side and staple once again. Do the same to the other sides until you have the center points firmly taut. Then work your way from those center points and staple as far as you can to the corners, always keeping the fabric tight but making sure not to pull fabric away from the opposing side's allowance. You will have more fabric than you need at those corners once you reach them, so cut some away carefully so you'll be able to neatly tuck the excess and make a nice, smooth corner staple for each (see how I did it by bunching it up a bit). 

Once you're done stapling, it's ready to go back on the chair. Use some blue painting tape to secure it to the chair so when you flip it upside down, it won't fall away. Flip your chair and screw those same screws back into the wood base. Viola! 

Stripper Pole Uncovered

Stripper can be your best friend for those pesky old steam pipes in our precious pre-war buildings. Those of us who walk by our kitchen or bathroom pole and cringe at how rusty the peeling paint has gotten might not realize how easy it is to get it to look brand-spanking new! All you need is stripper (spray), high heat spray paint (in various colors), after wash, gloves, goggles, a mask and a scraper tool. 

Behind the pole, tape up drop cloth (or just cut into plastic shopping bags the long way) to protect your wall. With gloves, mask and goggles on (this stuff is toxic), start at the top and spray the stripper solution generously over as much surface area as you can reach. You can do the entire pole but sometimes it's easier to do it in two or three parts. The stripper will drip down and start working on the lower half.

Let it sit on there, working its magic, for a good 20 minutes. You'll see in the photo that it does a lot of the work for you. Once time has passed, take your scraping tool and go to town. Scrape down so it all collects on the floor on top of your plastic drop cloth and doesn't land on any exposed skin. You might not get it all off the first time. I had to spray it twice to get some of the more stuck-on pieces. Be patient though. Let the solution work for you so you have less scraping to do. Behind the pole, where your spray range may not have been ideal, you might have to just scrape at that and do your best. But remember, no one will see that portion so don't worry too much as long as big bits are gone. 

Once you've removed as much as possible, use the after wash on a rag or stripper cloths to clean residue off for painting. Once it's dry to the touch, start at the top and work your way down with the high heat paint. Spray far enough away so you don't make drip marks. You might have to do two coats since the pole is quite dark stripped down to the metal and you'll notice shadows with just one coat. To finish off the pole at the base, you can buy a $4 chrome plate to cover up any nasty bits.

This is obviously not a job to do with kids around. There may be lead paint on portions of the pipe depending on when it was last stripped. But the result is a pole you can rub your hand down and not get cut. And let's not forget the best part, it's pristine. Viola!

Steam and water may still leak down your pipe but it usually takes 3-4 years before signs of rust start showing up again. If this happens, you can skip most of these steps and just put another coat of the high heat paint on. Some folks might spray Great Stuff in any crevice up top to stop leaking but my friendly Home Depot experts said that this will not matter since the condensation from the steam doesn't have to travel through those holes. 

Cheaper way to make your area rug slip-proof

If you've purchased an area rug online or in a store, you've gotten the upsell pitch to buy the padding to go underneath. If the rug is thick enough that it's not an issue of sound barrier but you would like it to stay in place, this is a cheap and easy solution (thank you Martha Stewart). 

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I just did it myself on both my new area rugs and I can attest to the fact that it does indeed work wonderfully. Not the best photo (below) since the back of the rug is white, but you'll get the idea from Martha's photo.

As you can see, I left some blobs in places and was not exact in the distance between lines. It really doesn't matter as long as you get enough on there throughout. Let it dry overnight to be sure it's ready to flip. You can even buy caulk that is clear. You'll need less than a tube of caulk which is only $2.73 and the 'gun' to squirt it out with is only $1.97. It's super easy to use and it saves you $20-30 for each rug you would have bought a pad for. BONUS: the caulk doesn't dry up so you can put it away with the gun and use it for years to come. 

Sneak peek: the chair in this photo is my next project. It had an insufficient amount of padding on the seat and a super old fabric that had disintegrated over the years. I bought cool new fabric, some batting and have my trusty stapler on hand to finish the job. Wait to see what I accomplish in my next post (fingers crossed). 

 

The unhidden pitfall of dark wood floors

Every time I walk into a room with those gorgeous rich dark wood floors, I comment on how modern and sleek they look. Without fail, whomever lives there says, "Yeah, they look great from a distance but they SHOW everything up close." This information is not meant to discourage homeowners from installing dark wood on their floors but just be forewarned that things like cat/dog hair, crumbs, lint, etc. show up so much more thanks to the stark contrast. If you love daily Swiffing, then it may not be an issue for you. 

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Curtain size does matter

One of the most common mistakes when choosing curtains is to assume that the length should be based on the height of the actual window. In some cases, this may prove to be the only option due to obstacles in your way. More often than not, regardless of opting for sheer or opaque, having curtain panels start above the actual top of the window and drape to the floor is your best solution.

These before and after photos illustrate this point well.

These curtains fall just below where the radiator begins and it creates awkward sight lines. The contrast of the dark brown curtains next to the pale yellow radiator also comes across jarring. There's also the concern of heat affecting the panels. 

These curtains fall just below where the radiator begins and it creates awkward sight lines. The contrast of the dark brown curtains next to the pale yellow radiator also comes across jarring. There's also the concern of heat affecting the panels. 

Instead, install tie-backs like these branch pulls to create a nice shape at the window area and now the radiator attracts less focus. The off-white hue with ivy detailing on these panels compliments the room and goes well with the new wall color.

Instead, install tie-backs like these branch pulls to create a nice shape at the window area and now the radiator attracts less focus. The off-white hue with ivy detailing on these panels compliments the room and goes well with the new wall color.