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Category Archives: Design Blog

The Art of Inspiration

I’m often asked: “Where do you get your inspiration?” I really do get excited and inspired by so many things. Often just walking through city streets, looking at interesting construction details, seeing lighting used in an interesting way, examining unplanned material juxtapositions, and seeing newly well-designed interiors helps me to think in new ways and want to try new things!

Then for the days when my heart just clamors for overwhelming beauty I go to the Metropolitan Museum – one of my favorite places in the world (more on those later!) The Met is filled with relocated rooms (the Art Nouveau “Wisteria Dining Room” with wood veneer that looks like crocodile skin), the stunning marble sculptures in the Sculpture Hall especially those by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux that feature stone that looks like skin, the Frank Lloyd Wright room (which I analyzed while in art school), the stained glass beauties from the Tiffany Studios, the Sullivan staircase, the color of the Impressionists, the large scale of the Moderns….and on and on. I spend time roaming the halls of that great library of art and design and am filled with an excitement, a sense that even small artists (such as I might consider myself) make an impact on this world.

The Met ranks up there with my favorite places along with the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (it’s like being inside a jewelry box with all the colorful stained glass windows), the Santa Maria Novella in Florence with its perfect proportions, and the NYC Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright with its beautiful spirals. These are places that are infused with beauty in form, color, and proportion and make my heart sing.

Lastly, traveling is a great source of inspiration for me. Here are a few photos from my recent trip to Barbados that sparked my imagination. I hope you find things today that serve to fill your heart and inspire you!

P1030167 FishP1030042 Accra HotelIMG_4285

P1030166 Turtles

Selecting art

There are so many things that help to give the finishing touches to a room: the perfect window treatment, ideal accessories, quality silk florals. But I believe a room doesn’t feel lived in until there is art on the walls.

This past week, we’ve been busy finalizing the selection of thirty pieces of art to complete a corporate office space prior to move in. We designed the space, selected all the furniture and were priviledged to complete the design by selecting the artwork. We chose all types of art: beautiful original lithographs, abstract photographic prints, colorful canvases, and 3-d wall decor. We also had the opportunity of commissioning a photographer to capture the essence of the client’s business to feature it as framed art. They are stunning views of their buildings and are wonderful abstract photos simultaneously.  Mobiles also enliven the large workstation area, bringing movement and color to the open space.

So how do you select the right art? First and foremost, art is visceral. What does that mean? It means you have to FEEL it. Something about the image will appeal to you on a physical/intellectual/emotional level: it will interest you, excite you, grab your attention. It may be the color, the form, the shapes, or a particular detail that attracts you. That’s the artwork to consider.

Then, size…yes, that’s important. Are you trying to fill a wall? Make sure the piece is large enough. Maybe two pieces will fill the wall better, or a triptych: three pieces that function as one may work well. Art for over a sofa? A horizontal piece usually works best, one that is about 12″ in from each side. Is the wall taller than wide?, Then go for a vertical artwork. Is the wall wider than tall?: Horizontal art is best.

Then color…Introducing or enhancing an accent color in the room is ideal. Color is energy, enlivening. Black can also be enlivening, usually in its form.

The key is to enjoy the art you select. When you look at it, it should make you Feel…..

“Color Creates Energy,

Energy Creates Inspiration,

and Inspiration creates Change.”

Ricky Lee Gordon

544 Union Avenue


In-Site is awarded 2014 Design In Excellence for 544 Union Avenue

We’re very excited to have been awarded this honor in a design competition by the QBBA, the Queens Bronx Builders Association. Despite their name, this builders association’s competition was open to all projects built in the City in 2014. Because we are proud of this project and the client was very satisfied with the design and how fast they achieved full occupancy, we decided to enter it. And we’re happy to have been selected as a winner! All of the Team members received an award: The Client, Heatherwood Communities; The Architect: Karl Fischer Architects, The Builder: J. Petrocelli Inc, and the Interior Design Team: In-Site Interior Design. Our design team consisted of Patricia Jorquera, Mallory Bohan and Cynthia Levine. Apts and Lofts, the real estate broker for the building also was heavily involved in bringing this building to its successful completion.

What goes into a successful project: good planning: the spaces have to be well planned, the program for recreation spaces has to be strong, and the design of the exterior has to be really good. And the teams involved need to have good communication to make a 16 month construction process flow smoothly.

In the beginning phases of construction, the team met bi-weekly to address issues. As construction progressed, the team meetings became weekly meetings to ensure that everything was moving smoothly and issues were addressed by all parties as they arose. As the interiors began, In-Site joined the meetings to address interior construction issues and provide solutions. Ceilings were modified when beams were lower than expected or electrical panels ended up being larger than anticipated. Materials were reselected when the lead time would impinge on the overall construction schedule. Finish samples were checked to verify what was being ordered matched what was specified.

For this project we were asked by the client to select all the furniture and art, so we had design control over the overall end look of the interiors and were happy for it. We had the opportunity to select all of the accessories as well, and when I last returned to the building to confirm the terrace furnishings were all in place, I had the pleasure of being complimented by one of the new tenants. She thought the building was beautiful and was very happy living, playing, and enjoying her life there. And that is my true reward for a job well done.

544 Union Avenue

Paint: It’s not all about the color

We all know the best things about paint: How it so quickly transforms a space or piece of furniture into something new or how it just creates a mood, sets a tone!

But there’s more to know about selecting the right quality of paint so it does the job you need. I’ve always been a big fan of Benjamin Moore paint. It goes on well (having many years of actual painting experience behind me as a big DIY person!)  It holds its color well after cleaning, and the range of color is so easy to work with as a designer! Here are some other things to plan on when you’re selecting paint for your next project:

-Consider using their Aura quality paint for high moisture areas like bathrooms and shower areas. It has a chemical bonding process that helps to prevent mildew. Having had this problem in one of my bathrooms, I can wholly testify to this particular benefit! I used the regular Aura quality but their Aura Bath and Spa quality is bound to be even better!

-For those of us who are looking to walk into a room after it is painted and not be able to smell it’s been painted, look to the Natura quality of paint. Right now all of Benjamin Moore’s paint are low-VOC’s. That means that the chemicals that cause the “paint smell” have been drastically reduced. The Natura quality actually has 0 VOC’s, which means you can’t smell it at all. This is great when you want to sleep in the same room the night that it’s been painted!

-When selecting paint for wood trim, consider using their Advance Alkyd quality. It goes on smooth like an oil paint but with low-VOC, it doesn’t have the oil smell. And it cleans up with water! They say it even holds white longer than other paints. It may be a little more expensive, but this one is worth it.

As a designer, color is always so VERY important! In my office I have the Benjamin Moore Classic Color, the Color Gallery, the Williamsburg Collection and their most up-to-date Color Story collection. I use them all! We have fun picking out color, determining the “personality” the room or furniture piece will have, judging which is the best color for the walls for the project at hand, and doing something special with trim (if that’s what we’re doing!) There are so many choices and we love having it all! White Benjamin Moore is our number one choice, we also have color sets from Mystic Paints, Farrow and Ball, Stark Paint, Lambert and Pratt and Sherwin Williams! We do color well!!

Here’s wishing you a great Color Day!


Outdoor Furniture

We’re into the month of July already and I’m just now blogging about outdoor furniture because it’s always a good time to make improvements outside. If you are looking to do something new, I would suggest some really great furniture that makes a strong impression and will enhance your time outside.

Janus et Cie: The Mood Collection. This lounge chair is so comfy, you’ll want to curl up with a good book! It’s very well made and is available in dining chairs and a daybed, but my favorite is the lounge version.

The other item I love of theirs is this Recamier Sofa with powder coated steel so you can put your feet up and just relax!

Janus Fibonacci Avanda








Sutherland has some beautiful pieces but I especially love their tables:

Sutherland Peninsula_CoffeeTable_480Sutherland RalphSideTable_480








And for well priced teak furniture, I always start with my favorite from Kinglsey-Bates, the Amalfi Chaise, and then get some great shade with the large umbrellas available from Country Casual. Whatever it is, Be sure to Stay Cool and Enjoy!

Kingsley Bate Amalfi ChaiseCountry Casual_UMBRELLAS_tilting_771x250


In-Site in the The News

544 Union Avenue, a new rental development with interiors designed by In-Site, hits its mark coming into the Williamsburg neighborhood, and the New York Times takes notice…

“The 95-unit 568 Union has been fully leased since early 2012, and 544 Union recently rented out all of its 94 apartments. When units are available at 544 Union, studios start at $2,400 a month, one-bedroom apartments at $3,150 and two-bedrooms at $4,100, said Douglas Partrick, the owner of Heatherwood Communities.”   NY Times, May 16, 2014

544 Union Avenue





Our own Principal, Elizabeth, was quoted in the Long Island Business News recently about the Importance of Amenity Spaces in New Developments:

“Common areas are increasingly being used as an extension of the apartment…Outdoor spaces also add entirely new opportunities for common areas…Rooftop amenities include kitchens and dining areas, lounges adjacent to outdoor fireplaces and recreational areas.” April 18, 2014 

For the full LI Business News article: In-Site Press and Awards

For the full NY Times article: Brooklyn article



How does an interior designer charge?

I get this question a lot. There are several different ways a designer charges to work with a client to make their office or home, a great place to be.

For commercial projects, a project fee is the best. While everyone wants to know what the full project would cost, commercial projects are easier to determine. There is a set Scope of Work, employee hours are budgeted, plans are developed, a complete presentation is prepared, the scheme is set. I estimate the number of total hours and put a flat fee to it. There may be a few revisions, but generally the entire scheme is accepted and the flat fee covers the few revisions.

Residential projects are harder to determine. I rarely, if ever, give a flat fee to a residential client because the time spent on the project is more often time spent working with a client. So how long will it take them to finally decide on the perfect sofa? the perfect fabric? the perfect tile? It’s impossible to calculate exactly. So for residential clients, I can give a base price for specific services: like putting together a full color scheme, but then I charge hourly for my time or my Design Assistant’s time to change any items or shop for additional items after that. So most often, residential schemes are billed on an hourly basis.

Rarely do I charge for a project as a percentage of the construction budget. The reason being that often clients are not forthcoming about their budgets. If I will be handling the full project management  and billing, then a percentage would work. Generally, it is 15%-20% of the construction budget.

I welcome any requests to look at and price a project. I’m always eager to work with nice people and to create something special, something that has meaning for them and makes them excited to go to their home or office. That’s one of the reasons, we’re called “In-Site”…for our insightful interiors.

In-Site Interior Design, incorporated in 2005

646-290-5232 (office)



The shiny on LED Lighting

I finally understand just why LED lighting is the future of all lighting. Of course I could see the crispness of the light and agree with the fact that for such a low usage of energy, the light output is considerable. But now I have a fine appreciation of how it has and will continue to change the world of interior design and lighting.

So here are a few things I recently learned at a “Qualifying LED Luminaires” seminar sponsored by a leading manufacturer of LED fixtures, RAB Lighting:

-When selecting LED light fixtures, make sure they use a 2 or 3 step binning process. What that means is that the LED modules are selected from a very small and specific range of the color spectrum during the manufacturing process. What that means for you is that the color of the fixture will be consistent, especially when you have them close together, over a long period of time. This holds for interior light fixtures. For outdoor light fixtures that are placed much further apart, look for a 5 to 7 step binning process.

-To avoid selecting poorly manufactured light fixtures, make sure the specifications state that it was tested to the LM-79 and LM-80 tests. These are standardized industry tests that will ensure quality fixtures. When lifetime fixture hours are shown (i.e., 100,000 hours) make sure it has been tested to the TM-21 test.

-With other sources of light, the quality of the lamp (professional speak for “bulb”) itself is of primary concern. With LED fixtures, the assembly is of utmost importance. The reason is that the LED burns so hot, that the “heat sink” is key. This is the fixture part that is responsible for cooling and dispersing the heat. When it all works together well, the fixture will rate well on the TM-21.

-Lastly, always choose a dimmer that has been tested and approved to work with the specific LED fixture you are using. This must be called out in the specs because the dimmer’s electrical characteristics must sync perfectly with the fixture in order to avoid problems like flickering or no-stepping.

I can recommend you check out these fixtures. With the right color temperature, these downlights will look and function beautifully.


ICFF 2014

For those of you In The Know, ICFF is always much anticipated. For those others who Like to Know: ICFF is the International Contemporary Furniture Fair that is typically held in May at the Jacob Javits Center….but it’s not just furniture!

The Javits Center is large enough to hold the hundreds of vendors exhibiting their latest and greatest products. There were great tables, chairs, handmade wallcoverings, fabrics, light fixtures and rugs. These photos show some of my favorite finds:

Check out the rolling glass door hardware for the shower! And have you seen the cool linear drains that are available?

And here are a couple of great three-dimensional design panels. We love using these in lobbies and public spaces.


Last is a great light fixture: fun and lively!


In-Site Interior Design nyc shower hardware insite interior design nyc photo 1 insite interior design nyc photo 2






The Importance of Amenity Spaces

As a designer of new apartment buildings, I understand just how important it is to include great amenity spaces. Tenants of large buildings want additional spaces so that it makes them feel as if they have larger living areas. The ability to go to a community lounge helps to extend their personal living space. Not only that, community rooms enable a “community” to develop. We all long to be connected so some buildings actually have “life style” concierges who plan parties and events in those community rooms. The building then becomes a great vertical “neighborhood!”

Here at In-Site, we strive to design exciting recreation spaces to facilitate those connections. One space we designed has a custom-built trapezoidal table: closed it’s a large conference table; open, it can be broken down to 3 separate tables. Flexibility is key.

The age-old pool table always offers a game to play, an area to congregate. Newer spaces like: yoga rooms, lounges with “genius bars” and open kitchens for classes and events offer tenants other means to enjoy their homes. We often work closely with the marketing team to come up with the best type of amenities. And our designs for outdoor spaces ensure that the building is extremely attractive to prospective tenants or owners.

Most recently, I was featured in the LI Business News in their article “Uncommon Areas, Multifamily developers putting greater focus on modern amenities.”  I was quoted:  “The idea is to make spaces more flexible, depending on the varied needs of tenants.”

Read more:In-Site Interior Design - Long Island Business News Article featuring Amenities - NYC Interior Designer April 2014