The project started the way most things in life start (at least, the best things): with a search.

A search for the perfect chair.

The one that reminded me of my favorite chair; the one from my grandmother’s home. Oma’s chair. With its deep comfy seat and its soft rolled arms, it was a place to sit for half a minute, or maybe half a day.ch for the perfect chair.

But times change, and so do our bodies and our needs. And so the search changed too. The chair needed a more streamlined silhouette. It needed just the right scale, and its legs needed to show just the right amount of wood.

And so, as the vision of that perfect chair became clearer in my mind, the search shifted to a craftsman who could realize my design: that of an updated re-imagining of the chair I loved.

MY OMA’S CHAIR, PERSONALIZED FOR YOUR TASTES

Today, the frame of Oma’s chair is still there, but with straight arms that give it a sleeker look. The legs are lovely, offering more of a dramatic reveal than just a hint of wood.

And its beauty is more than skin deep. The beauty of each bespoke piece lies in the way its arms, legs and back are customizable to fit your needs, effortlessly transforming my memory of a favorite into yours.

Together, we will design a chair that transports you back to the home you knew and loved, personalizing everything from its structure to its upholstery to create a treasured piece of furniture that will be handed down from generation to generation. 

To make your appointment and begin the personalization process, please give me a call at 201.848.9797.

Or if you prefer to schedule a time online, please click here.

I love when clients have artwork that serves as the inspiration for a space. Most often they are sharing a piece of their unique story.  

It becomes more challenging when we seek out artwork for our clients. The process needs to be approached in a thoughtful, creative, and authentic manner that lends itself to sharing their narrative.  

Although  art always is the “last piece of the design puzzle” we are asking questions from the very start that will lend inspiration.  It’s a process that needs to develop over time…not overnight. We make a point of learning about what our clients love…and hate. Discovering to where they have travel, how they spend their weekends, which books they’ve read and what shows they’re seeing.  It’s how we can choose pieces that truly reflect them.  

And oftentimes, we create original art for them.

The importance of art in a room not only adds beauty to a space but intrinsic meaning to the homeowners.

It connects us.

I’ve been designing homes for almost twenty years.  In all those years, can you guess how many clients come to us knowing exactly what their budget is?

The answer is one.

Surprised?   

Designing well for clients involves asking tons of personal questions – learning what a client is comfortable spending from the very start  is the most important question of all.  

In order to begin designing a space, we need to know if the vision you hold for your home is even realistic given the budget.  No client wants us spending hours on a project only to discover that financially it’s completely out of their comfort zone.

So how do help our clients in determining a budget?  

Our approach is simple: we use our past experiences in designing similar spaces. By discussing photos of recently designed spaces, we’re able to discuss a highly custom designed space versus one that might include a high/low mix of product. 

Design is an investment; this process allow us to educate our clients on their investment.

And educating our clients is key to being transparent from the very start of each project.

The new subway mosaic at Hudson Yards, NYC

According to the US Census, the number of households with three generations under one roof and at least one member the age of 65 and over has grown from 1.7 million in 2006 to 3.2 million in 2016.

At this month’s Business of Home Conference speakers from Curbed and Zillow, talked about how these multi-generational homes are impacting the future of real estate.  Referring to the large number of boomers moving into senior communities as the “silver tsunami”, they defined what’s trending with the Boomer market.

Boomers are:

  • Renovating their homes with “Aging-in-place” at the top of their list. These are homes that accommodate ALL generations. But taking it one step farther is that they’re also designing to meet the needs of parents with Alzheimers or Dementia. (more on both in future posts)
  • Seeking more upscale senior living accommodations in urban areas.

Smart Home Technology was noted as being important to millennials…but I see that technology has become more user friendly to all generations. From Google Nest Hub to Siri to Alexa – it’s becoming a part of how we stay connected with family members.

So where are they going?

One speaker commented: “You’re going to see people who value quality of life, who want to be able to own a home or a business and do it affordably, looking at cities like San Antonio, Austin, Memphis, Louisville and Nashville as their best option,”    Those secondary markets are going to grow quite considerably.”

Continue to follow this blog for more on that in future posts!

The “Vessel” NYC

“The Future of Home” design seminar took place last week in NYC. It was a great experience. One of the most interesting talks was given by Zillow and Curbed entitled “The Future of Real Estate”. They had plenty to say about millennials. Here are my three takeaways.

  1. More people under the age of 34 continue to live at home with their parents.
  2. Married couples are taking in roommates to help with finances.
  3. Most fascinating to me, co-living (aka communal living where tenants share kitchens and living rooms) is on the rise. To meet this trend, companies located in major east and west coast cities are offering move-in ready, fully furnished, wifi and even cleaning crews.

So what does this mean for the future of home design? To me, this reinforces the fact that multigenerational homes will only continue to rise. These are homes that need to be designed to adapt to all generations.

Next week I’ll follow up with how “the Silver Tsumani” – boomers – are effecting the future of real estate. Stay tuned!

A Wall Street Journal article cited statistics from The United States of Aging Survey – adults 60 and older were asked to identify their biggest concern about aging: 40% said that maintaining physical health was important; 32% said maintaining mental health; 25% said living independently and 13% said getting to visit family and/or friends was important.

A survey unrelated to this article caused me to view the last two results with some skepticism. That survey showed that lonely and isolated seniors are more likely on average to report poor physical and/or mental health. I believe that 13% may have answered differently with that knowledge.

So what do these stats even have to do with interior design you ask?

Nine in ten folks want to remain in their homes as they age.  Beautiful design is important but so is a home that is designed for the future – one that is accessible, regardless of your physical ability.

So why leave home if you don’t have to? We can design a beautiful home for you today with tomorrow in mind.

Why would anyone what to leave this guest room? Here are the steps we took to create it.

We started with measuring and drafting up a basic scaled floor plan.  Our client already had the majority of what she needed for the space, so our job was to interject color, personality and to create a space that flowed with the rest of the house. 

We decided to use this embroidered floral fabric on the window treatments.  Simple panels on a rod with black out lining were chosen. This fabric’s vibrant colors make such a statement and need no additional embellishments.  The once dark green walls were replaced with the office white ground found in the fabric.  We used a no VOC paint.

We discovered (and fell in love with) this artwork at High Point Market on our most recent trip.  A trio above the headboard injects color and joy to this space.

An overscaled wool navy striped rug was chosen to ground the space and balance the scale of the floral embroidered panels.  The bedside lamps we chose were a perfect indigo blue.

We were fortunate to be able to use the client’s chair and ottoman.   The vibrant Hermes boxes were pulled from storage and used as an accent and accessory in this space.  The last piece to this space was the artwork above the chair that blended perfectly with the two!

….because sometimes the best inspiration starts with what our clients already own.

Last year at the National Kitchen and Bath show there was one feature that stood out to us that we’re using in all of our designs: Lighting…everywhere. This “simple” feature combines beauty, safety and function.

These products are now readily available to consumers and they just make life easier…for anyone, at any ability.

Mirrors, sinks and vanities that keep us safe in the middle of the night.
Interior drawer lights add efficiency.
Interior lighting make any cabinet more efficient.

Our goal for any space we are designing is that it becomes a place where you will gravitate.

Here are our top five (simple yet effective) wellness tips for creating a space that is bound to make your guests want to stay longer.

1. Inject color – How do you want to feel in this space? Our client wanted this room to energize her as it’s also her home office. So we used saturated oranges and electric blues to do just that. Fun fact: orange is associated with joy and radiates warmth. In the body, it’s associated with circulation and the nervous system.

2. Material selections – Use materials that can alter your guest’s experience of warmth – when people are physically warmer, their levels of interpersonal warmth increase.  Because who needs a cranky guest? Simple additions include adding a warm throw and a few colorful pillows on the bed. Soft fabrics on upholstered pieces such as the chair in this space add to the comfort of this room.  (teaser for our next post!)

3. Lighting control – Lift your guest’s mood with natural sunlight but also give them the ability to control the amount of sunlight the room. Window treatments should not only be operable but also have black out lining to ensure a good night’s rest. (Did you know that direct access to daylight and views reduces blood pressure, lowers the incidence of headaches, and in healthcare setting results in the need for less pain medication and shorter stays in the hospital?)

4. If you have bare wood floors, adding a throw rug serves two purposes: added warmth to the space (who wants to wake up and put their feet on a bare floor?) and also addresses any acoustical challenges. The bold, large scaled striped throw rug that we used for this project injects personality and warmth to this space.

5. Artwork – We chose artwork that energizes…that “sparks joy” in our client. Artwork personalizes the room and becomes the perfect finishing touch.

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A friend recently told me the story of a woman named Rose who was a patient at the nursing home where her Dad resided. Each and every day my friend would see Rose, dressed to the nines with lipstick and hair styled – position her wheelchair by the front door…waiting for someone to take her home.  Sadly, there was no one and no plan for her return.

And I thought to myself – I will not be that woman.  

Studies show that 90% of people want to age in their homes.  Unfortunately, most people don’t plan properly to make that desire a reality.  My husband and I want to be in our “forever home” by the time our 11 year old graduates high school.

My vision of a stylish, well lit, universally designed home is so vivid that it will be impossible not to become reality.  

Because I refuse to sit waiting at the front door.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for my blog posts as I write about how your forever home can be designed so that you can “thrive in place”.

Can’t wait for future posts?  Read more by linking to articles under the blog category: livable design.

Are you thinking of building a second home? Not just another home but one with subtle nuances that will accommodate your family into the future? We call adding these inconspicuous refinements “livable design details”. Proactive design that enhances and welcomes every generation.

A “simple” first step is to find a house plan (or blueprints) that appeal to you. Start by paying attention to the overall flow of the floor plan…prior to meeting your architect. Envision yourself walking through the space and living there. This will enable you to initiate a productive in-depth conversation with your architect and designer about how you want your home to function for you and your family. (stay tuned for a future post where we go deep into what we recommend be in every second home)

Five tips to keep in mind when developing a livable design plan:

1. Look for a home with a single story floor plan that has a zero step entrance. If you prefer a multi storied home, the layout of the main areas should have at least one (master) bedroom suite on the main floor.

This traditional style cottage (above) could easily adapt to include a zero step entrance while the contemporary home, below, is a perfect example.

2. Thinking of adding an elevator? You don’t have to commit right away. Add a closet to the floor plan to be easily converted at a later date. To add one that is ADA compliant, (Americans with Disability Act) the minimum door width for an elevator interior is 36″. The depth of the interior must be at least 51″, and the width must be at least 68″, (unless the elevator has center-opening doors, in which case at least 80″ is required). Although this size may seem large, it’s important to plan to have enough space for not only the wheelchair bound person but also a caregiver.

Example of ADA compliant elevator.

3. Need to accommodate for family with special needs? Hallways and door openings should allow for a minimum of 32″ wide doorways and 36″ – 42″ for hallways.

4. Is bigger always better? In this case, yes. Think about increasing each room size to account for furniture plans that allow for a minimum 36″ pass by space should a wheelchair become necessary. Keeping this in mind – bathrooms need a turning radius of five foot minimum while kitchens need a pass through area of 42 – 48″.

A example of how a five foot turning radius affects the size of even a small bathroom.

5. Increase the amount of accessible walk-in storage. Not only will this hide clutter and prevent items from being left out, it will also help to prevent falls. Maximizing floor-to-ceiling storage increases orderliness throughout the home.

Bonus: Situate your home in a southern exposure for maximum light! Read more about how light affects design in our blog post entitled “The Healing effects of Light”

Is it just me or does everyone feel a bit off kilter when they walk into a dark and cluttered room? 

And, how about when you enter a light-filled space, filled with earth tones like beiges and browns with muted cranberry accents? Doesn’t that make you feel a little more serene and stable?

It’s amazing the effect the right design can have on our psyche. Research proves how a room’s design influences and enhances people’s moods and emotions.

Fiori Interior Design takes that concept, blending your goals with your personal style to design spaces that elevate moods, improve focus and enhance efficiency. By bringing your favorite vintage or patina items into the design, we raise the bar, making your space infinitely more interesting and welcoming.

We kept several of our client’s favorite pieces and blended them with new pieces in their master bedroom re-do.

One of our projects was recently recognized in The Star Ledger.

Our Wyckoff, NJ client was interviewed by the Star Ledger explaining the changes she made to her 1960s ranch-style home, and goes into detail about her experience with our process. 

Click the link below to read about it and to see before & after shots!

NJ Home Makeover

I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time with one of my favorite clients. We’ve been having a blast working on her house, designing one room at a time.   After finishing up her family room, she sat down on her new –and now favorite – sofa. She literally started petting it, saying how warm and happy her sofa makes her feel. As you might imagine, we cracked a few jokes over her new “pet!” 

But, in all seriousness, tactile experiences are important.  Research has revealed how significantly our sense of touch influences our worldview.  In one series of studies, participants negotiating while sitting in soft chairs did not drive as hard a bargain as those sitting on harder chairs with no cushions!

And while we’re not usually conducting serious business in our family rooms, the notion is the same. We are definitely influenced by how things look and feel.  In your home, a pleasant tactile experience can greatly improve our conversations as well as our own personal comfort. 

I can sometimes tolerate a room without windows on a dreary day but on a sunny day… it’s unbearable!  People tend to gravitate to the areas of their homes that provide them with the most sunlight and the best views. 
Why?  Because research repeatedly proves that natural light is healing. Stress levels decrease and mental energy is replenished in spaces that provide natural light and provide views of nature.  
Do you have a favorite place in your home where you can thrive?  

A recent statistic stated that the highest population of baby boomers live in Califorina.   It should really comes as no surprise.  As we age, we naturally yearn for more natural sunlight…simply stated because it makes us feel better.  

So, if you don’t live on the West Coast, here are a few easy tips as to how you can maximize the comfort and performance in your home from lighting expert Mariana Figueiro.

  • Lighting on a task area surface should be brighter than the surrounding space
  • Minimize glare by curbing the use of glossy materials
  • Lighting so shadows are “softer” (ones that don’t cast harsh shadows)
  • Balance light levels in an area
  • To keep circadian rhythms in sync: during the daytime hours (or at least for 2 hours in the morning) increase light levels and use bluish white for at least 2 hrs in the morning.”  In addition,  during the evening hours decrease light levels and use lights with a wam yellowish tint.
countertop how to take care of
countertop how to take care of

As a boutique sized interior designer firm located in Bergen County, NJ, we select and oversee the installation of countertops for projects about four times a year. Here are tips on how to maintain Quartz countertops.

For day to day use, clean up fresh spills with any brand dish soap and a soft microfiber or cotton cloth. Use a glass or surface cleaner, along with a nonabrasive sponge, to remove stains.

ROUTINE CLEANING

Though quartz will resist permanent staining when exposed to liquids like wine, vinegar, tea, lemon juice, and soda, or fruits and vegetables, it’s important to wipe up spills immediately—before they have a chance to dry.

For dried spills or heavy stains, your best bet is a glass or surface cleaner, a nonabrasive sponge (sponges designed for nonstick pans), and a little elbow grease. Keep a plastic putty knife handy to gently scrape off gum, food, nail polish, paint, or other messes that harden as they dry. Should you find yourself confronting a particularly sticky situation, your stain-busting might require a couple of extra tools.

Removing cooking grease

For left over messes, use a degreasing product, such as Easy-Off. Kitchen degreasers loosen and remove the grease from the quartz countertop surface.

Removing permanent markers

Should you find an ink or permanent marker stain, moisten a cloth with Goo Gone or a comparable product, and rub it into the stain. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove any cleanser residue.

DEEP CLEANING

Daily wiping and attention to spills and messes will satisfy your countertop’s basic daily maintenance requirements. But experts also recommend an overall deeper general cleaning at regular intervals. For best results, spray a generous amount of a nonabrasive surface cleaner over your countertop and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe away with a non-scratch sponge.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  1. Abrasives and Acid or Alkaline Cleaners. For starters, never use abrasive cleansers and avoid scouring pads (like Brillo pads), which can dull the surface. Soapy water will usually do the trick. If you need a gentle cleanser with a little more oomph to remove surface stains, make sure it is specifically designed for use on quartz. Beware, too, of harsh cleaning solutions at both ends of the pH spectrum. Culprits include products from nail polish remover and turpentine to drain cleaner and dishwasher rinsing agents. Whether highly acidic or highly alkaline, those chemicals can disintegrate the bonds between quartz and resin. Quartz will tolerate casual exposure to milder alkaline solutions, such as diluted bleach, but high-pH substances, such as oven cleaners and concentrated bleach, will damage the surface. If any of the substances mentioned above come into contact with your quartz countertop, rinse the exposed surface immediately and thoroughly with water.
  2. Extreme Heat. Trivets and hot pads are your quartz countertop’s best friends. Though the material is heat- and scorch-resistant, the resin used in manufacturing quartz countertops is a plastic and therefore prone to melting in heat above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. A sudden change in temperature or prolonged exposure to heat from a pan left on the countertop may even cause the quartz to crack. To be safe, always use a trivet or hot pad.
  3. Slicing or Dicing Without a Cutting Board Quartz is a hard surface, but not hard enough to withstand the effects of sharp objects like knives. Make sure to do it on a cutting board to avoid ugly scratches on your quartz countertops.
  4. The Elements Quartz is not the right choice for an open outdoor kitchen in direct sunlight. If you install it outdoors, you do so at your own risk, as all manufacturer warranties cover indoor use only. Day after day in direct sunlight will fade colors and lead to warping or splitting.

No Sealing required!

Unlike natural quartzite, which must be sealed on a regular basis (twice a year according to some experts) Quartz does not require any sealing. Because engineered quartz is factory-produced by combining quart with resins, and binding agents, it is nonporous, therefore making the material impervious to mold, mildew, and stain- and odor-causing bacteria.

( a portion of these instructions were borrowed from Bob Villa.com)

Metal or porcelain lighting should be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth or duster.   Never spray fixtures with a cleaning solution or polish.   If it is necessary to use a cleaning agent, please apply only a mild detergent to a soft, damp cloth for gentle cleansing.  DO NOT use scouring agents, abrasive sponges, hydrochloric acid, vinegar, ammonia, petroleum distillate or metal silicates. Shades should be dusted on a regular basis with a soft cloth.

For Stubborn Spots and Stains: Vacuum to remove loose soil. Use a mild solution of soap and water. Apply the solution to a clean wet sponge and wash, then rinse well. Let air dry naturally. Always try the cleaning method in a hidden area first to be sure of the results. Clean the entire area where the spill occurred.

For Butter, Oil or Grease: Wipe excess oil off the leather with a clean, dry cloth, and then leave it alone as the spot should dissipate into the leather in a short period of time. Do not apply water to clean these spots. Do not use: Hair dryers, any Saddle soaps, oils, abrasives, cleaners, furniture polish, varnish or ammonia water. The leather has already been permanently preserved in the tanning process and needs no maintenance other than the simple cleaning recommended.

We recommend the Moore and Giles leather cleaning care kit: https://www.mooreandgiles.com/care/

We recognize that your time is valuable. In order to work as efficiently as possible we have what we call “trade day”. This is the day where we are taking on-site measurements, filming and photographing every angle and reviewing any open final criteria. We’re also photographing and measuring any of our client’s furniture that will be incorporated into the design.

While on-site, we have arranged to meet with all the trades involved in your project – including the electricians, plumbers, window treatment installer, painters, paper hangers and of course the contractor. Any initial questions we or they have can be addressed at this time.

Not only does this part of the process save time, it also helps in opening up the lines of communication between all of our tradespeople.