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    Looking to buy a home in the city? It's often clear when a place is all wrong. But what about that hazy middle ground, when a listing seems to have potential, the price is within striking distance, and you're prepared to do some remodeling?

    There are crucial if not-so-obvious details to take into consideration, says Elizabeth Roberts of Ensemble Architecture, DPC in New York City. Here are her top five deal-breakers. 

    1. Brick wall views. 

    Exposure is extremely important for so many reasons: Does the house get enough light? Do the rooms feel airy or closed off? When you're purchasing a house (versus building a structure from the ground up), existing factors that affect exposure, such as the skyscraper next door, are often something architects and designers can't do anything about.

    The best exposure in North America is south-facing, and is especially important in cold climates. Personally, if a house doesn't get enough natural light, I find myself wanting to leave and get outside all the time.

    window facing brick wal via Sheila's Wanderings | Remodelista

    Above: A less-than-ideal lookout. Photograph via Sheila's Wanderings.

    2. Low ceilings.

    Grand spaces can't be made out of foxholes. True, ceilings can sometimes be raised—on several projects, we've removed ceilings altogether to expose joists and create some architectural interest, and, yes, height. But it's complicated: You have to first look into city codes, and if you have a neighbor above you, in NYC your ceiling will need to provide a fire separation between the lower and upper unit, and its wooden structure usually can't be exposed.  Also, if you're on the top level of a building, it's not legal to expose the roof structure. Additionally, the sheetrock and insulation between joists help prevent sound transmission between neighbors (or your own kids in the room above) and also keep out the cold. All of which is why it's very nice to begin with soaring ceilings.

    Elizabeth Roberts Beadboard Backsplash, Remodelista

    Above: In a Brooklyn townhouse with a low-ceilinged garden-level kitchen, Roberts gained height by exposing the kitchen's rustic rafters. Tour the project in Indoor/Outdoor Living, Brooklyn Style and Steal This Look: The Ultimate Chef's Kitchen. Photograph by Dustin Aksland.

    3. Lack of greenery.

    I'm talking about the building's surroundings, and yes, this is true even in an urban setting. I focus on street-front trees and look for mature specimens in particular. Leafy branches lend a lot to a neighborhood: They can mask eyesores and create good privacy in a congested environment. Blocks without trees feel pretty hard and exposed.

    NYC brownstone remodeled by O'neill Rose | Remodelista

    Above: A tree with a shady canopy grows in front of a brownstone on New York's Upper West Side. Read about O'Neill Rose Architects' rebuilding of the townhouse—that stoop, new—in A Brownstone for the 21st Century.

    4. No sign of a past life. 

    It's nice to have some historic details, such as doors and moldings, to contrast with new additions and transformations. Inserting historic detail into a building that is clearly newer than the era the client is hoping for just doesn't work. But re-creating historic detail doesn't have to be expensive or complicated; adding to what's already there is often possible.

    As for white boxes devoid of detail, I think the most successful treatment of these spaces is to make them modern and minimalist. To me, it's important that the exterior of the building have some influence on the interior, so if you're working in a standard New York City high-rise, I would not recommend filling the apartment with prewar-style plaster detailing.

    Before and After of the Chaplin Townhouse in Brooklyn remodeled by Elizabeth Roberts/Ensemble Architecture | Remodelista

    Above: Before and After views of the Chaplin Townhouse, a 19th-century Brooklyn dwelling that had much of its original detailing covered or stripped. In the remodel, Roberts revealed pine floors under the linoleum and highlighted the entry and stair rail in black.

    5. Bad neighbors.

    Bad can mean a lot of things: Noisy is the most obvious. It would be so nice if we could test-drive apartments by camping out in them for a night or two, but short of that, it's important to close the door and listen. And to visit at different times of day and night. My firm has clients who were assured that the extremely expensive loft they were purchasing was sound tight, but after it was theirs, they came by one day and could hear the neighbor practicing on a keyboard loud and clear.

    Development plans for surrounding properties are also worth sussing out. Check with your local building department—many larger cities have websites where you can look up projects that are pending. This is a good way to find out if your neighbor is hoping to put up a big addition abutting your backyard.

    Lastly, oftentimes there are problematic neighbors who are well-known to the community. Why is the seller selling? Ask around before you close the deal—and while you're waiting to hear, keep hunting.

    Noho Loft with Drums | Remodelista

    Above: A Noho loft for a musician by Studio MDA.

    Take a look at some properties, including Roberts's own brownstone, that passed muster and received the Elizabeth Roberts Design/Ensemble Architecture treatment:

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    Read on to see what we loved this week. 

    Dinosaur Coffee via SfGirlByBay, Photograph by Lily Glass | Remodelista

    • Above: In preparation for our upcoming West Coast Cool issue, we came across a tour of Dinosaur Coffee in Los Angeles. Photograph by Lily Glass for SFGirlByBay. 
    • Online home decor retailer Dering Hall has updated their website design; head over and take a look. 
    • If you're in the Bay Area, drop in on Glassybaby's just opened Hot Shop (745 Heinz St.) on Saturday, October 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., for glassblowing demonstrations, live music, and food. And next Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, find some of our favorite local makers at the Everyday Home Studiopatro Pop Up. Go to Studiopatro for information.
    • If you're in the New York area, designer Brad Ford is hosting his second annual Field + Supply Modern Makers Craft Fair in High Falls, New York. For information and directions, go to Field + Supply. Come see what Workstead, Apparatus, Joshua Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile, and lots of other high-end craftspeople have been up to; we'll be making a day of it and hope to see you there.

    Plumen's First Dimming Light Bulb | Remodelista  

    • Above: Plumen's sleek LED lightbulb is now available in a dimmable version. Photograph by Ian Nolan and styled by Poppy Norton. 
    • Take a look at the dramatic transformation of Shoppe by Amber Interiors in Calabasas, California. 
    • It's no surprise that the world's most stylish college dorms are in Berlin. 

    A+R Store, Line Depping Wooden Hook | Remodelista

    • Above: On our wish list: The bentwood ash hook by Copenhagen's Line Depping, invisible hardware included. 
    • Ten minutes is all you need to clean a bedroom.
    • Eight tabletop essentials for Halloween. 

    Lonny Magazine, Benjamin Moore Color of the Year, 2016, Simply White | Remodelista

    • Above: Benjamin Moore named Simply White as their color of 2016. Photograph courtesy of Benjamin Moore. 

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

    Remodelista Pinterest Pick of the Week: @henrybuilt

    • Above: This week we're keeping up with Henry Built (@henrybuilt) via Instagram. Stay tuned for a tour of their new Mill Valley, California, showroom next week. 

    Remodelista Pinterest Pick of the Week: @clairelindsay

    • Above: Our new Pinterest obsession is artist Claire Cottrell's Architecture board. 

    Dip into the darkness with our latest issue, Nightshade. Then head to Gardenista to see the darker side of landscape design, curb appeal, and garden trends. 

    remodelista email subscribe

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    This week in design news: Norwegians smash 100 chairs, Frank Gehry designs a luxury sailboat, and another Steve Jobs biopic opens this weekend. 

    Frank Gehry Designs a Sailboat 

    Frank Gehry Sailboat | Remodelista Design News

    Above: The first Frank Gehry-designed sailboat is made of wood, titanium, and glass and is named "Foggy"—a play on the acronym for Frank Owen Gehry.

    With help from Argentine naval architect Germán Frers, architect Frank Gehry designed a luxury sailboat to be used for both pleasure sailing and racing. The boat will be moored in Marina del Rey, California, near Gehry's LA home, but first Gehry plans to sail with the boat's owner, real estate developerRichard Cohen, to Miami, Cuba, and Panama. Gehry, who is known for creating dramatically curved designs, told his co-designer: "Don't let me go too crazy—the boat has to work." Read it at Town & Country

    Crackdown on Copycat Furniture in Norway

    Wegner Round Chair | Remodelista Design News

    Above: Manufacturer PP Møbler calls the Round Chair "absolutely the most important work of Hans J. Wegner." 

    Norwegian customs agents destroyed an order of 100 fakes resembling Hans Wegner’s Round Chair, made in China and ordered by a Norwegian restaurant owner. The owner offered to compensate Danish manufacturer PP Møbler—who owns the copyright to the chair—in exchange for retaining his order, but he was ultimately forced to pay to have the chairs destroyed instead. Read it at Dezeen

    Amazon Launches "Handmade"

    Stained Glass Trays from Amazon Handmade | Remodelista Design News

    Above: Marbled Stained Glass Trays are $55 to $75 from Debbie Bean on Amazon Handmade. 

    On Thursday, Amazon launched a competitor to online crafts marketplace Etsy called Amazon Handmade. The initial product lineup includes more than 80,000 items from 5,000 sellers in 60 countries. Amazon Handmade forbids outsourced production and says it is strictly reviewing vendors to ensure all wares are made by hand. (Meanwhile, recently launched Etsy Manufacturing moves that retailer toward machine-made goods.) Read it at The New York Times

    Yves Béhar Wins Design Miami Award

    Yves Behar | Remodelista Design News

    Above: Photo via Fast Company

    Swiss-born designer Yves Béhar is the 2015 recipient of Design Miami’s Design Visionary Awards. Through his San Francisco firm, Fuseproject, Béhar is known for designing for positive social change and environmental impact; projects include an inexpensive tablet computer for children in developing countries and a wearable illness-testing device for people who lack access to consistent medical care. The award will be presented during Miami Design Week, December 2-6. Read it at Design Miami

    Would Steve Jobs Approve?

    Apple Sunnyvale Campus | Remodelista Design News

    Above: The newest Apple campus was designed by Studio HOK, the designers of Apple's current headquarters.

    Steve Jobs is in the news again with this weekend's limited release (in NYC and LA) of Aaron Sorkin's new biopic on the Apple founder. Head designer Jony Ive disapproves of the film, telling an audience at a recent Vanity Fair summit that "We are celebrating Steve’s life, and at the same time we are [seeing] the incredibly choreographed release of a film about him, and I don’t recognize that man at all. It’s heartbreaking." Read it at Vanity Fair.

    Meanwhile, we wonder what Jobs would think of Studio HOK's design for Apple's latest "spaceship" style supercampus in Sunnyvale, California. The 770,000-square-foot structure, designed by Foster + Partners, is five miles from Apple's main campus-to-be in Cupertino and is currently under construction. Read more at Wired

    More from this week: 

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    At home with California's creative class; photographers, makers, designers; we're gearing up for our Remodelista Holiday Markets in SF and LA, as you can see. 

    Remodelista Table of Contents, California Creatives | Remodelista

    Above: Later in the week we'll be introducing our new favorite lamp line, made in LA.

    Monday

    Lauren Soloff in Malibu | Remodelista

    Above: In Designer Visit, Margot heads to Malibu, California, (virtually) to profile a newly renovated house. 

    Tuesday

    Hannah Quinn Broom | Remodelista

    Above: Our Domestic Science feature: the wares of a design student whose thesis on ordinary household goods inspired a new line of brooms, dustpans, rolling pins, and more. 

    Wednesday

    Leslie Williamson in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: Brian Ferry of the Blue Hour trains his camera on the SF home of one of our favorite fine arts photographers in House Call.

    Thursday

    Verve Coffee Shop by Commune | Remodelista

    Above: California's premier purveyor of architectural cool designs a coffee shop, featured in Design News.

    Friday

    Jacob May Furniture | Remodelista

    Above: For our Furniture spotlight, we profile a San Francisco company that's unveiling a new line of refined designs.

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    With its knotty-pine interior and broken-down infrastructure, the single-story seventies beach house was considered a teardown. Instead, LA designer Lauren Soloff and her client, a bicoastal woman who works in finance, decided to transform it. Of course, a lot of the work is invisible, including all updated wiring and plumbing. But the powers of paint, restored concrete floors, bright rugs, and a new kitchen are on full display. Scroll down to see the Befores—from has-been to state-of-the-art Malibu modern.

    Photography by Nancy Neil.

    White-washed dining room in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The heart of the 1,625-square-foot bungalow is its open dining room and kitchen. "We didn't increase the footprint or tear down many walls," says Soloff. "The directive was to work with what was there and to keep an easy, beachy feel." The rugs and the classic modern furniture came from the owner's years of international living: "It was so exciting to go through her storage unit."

    The room's exposed beams were already in place, but had to be reworked when the roof was raised to create a taller porch. "I was committed to having the barn ceiling," says Soloff. The pine paneling throughout was sanded down and painted Benjamin Moore Cloud White. The floors are the original concrete: "I loved the idea of bright rugs on bare concrete, so we decided to keep them. Some areas had to be ground down and then stained and sealed."

    Fish-shaped light in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Avove: Saddle Leather Chairs by Remodelista favorite Garza Marfa surround a Restoration Hardware dining table. The owner bought the vintage fish pendant in Paris.

    Open kitchen in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: Soloff designed the kitchen around a quartzite slab called Azul Mary that she found in an LA stone yard—"we were looking for something really special and liked quartzite for its durability." The vintage rattan stools are from Amsterdam Modern in LA. The cabinetry is all custom; it's faced with Metro Collection Lakeshore Oak, a laminate that "has the feeling of beach-weathered wood," says Soloff. "I was very surprised by how real it looks."

    Open kitchen in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The quartzite is paired with Heath tiles in a matte glaze called Fog. The range, hood, and refrigerator are by Viking.

    Open kitchen in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The cook can easily man the stove while chatting with guests. The white metal ceiling lights are Ivanhoe Esso Warehouse Porcelain Pendants from Barn Light Electric. (Thinking about a Viking range? Read our Remodeling 101: Viking vs. Wolf Debate.)

    Malibu midcentury beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The living room has a B&B Italia sofa and vintage iron and wood tables. The crystal table lamp is one of a pair by French designer Jacques Adnet from the 1930s.

    Peak-roofed living room in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The room has its original fireplace and shelves, all newly painted and playing off well against the wall-hung TV. The leather butterfly chair is the Palermo from the Citizenry. (See more butterfly chair designs here.) The pale pink chair is a vintage Knoll design.

    Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The master suite has its own lounge furnished with a Ligne Roset loveseat/daybed and midcentury Marco Zanuso Lady chair in a Rogers & Goffigan fabric. The glass doors open to a private patio.

    Lauren Soloff Malibu Remodel | Remodelista

    Above L: One of the storage unit finds, a classic bentwood chair stands outside the master bedroom. Above R: A vintage Saarinen side table with a vase that echoes the kitchen tiles.

    Beach house bedroom in a Malibu remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: A Moroccan rug patterns the master bedroom. The window coverings throughout are Woven Wood Shades from 3 Day Blinds.

    Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: A Robert Indiana print hangs over a luggage rack—the owner is based in New York.

    White bath in a Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: Ann Sacks subway tile, Waterworks plumbing fixtures, and a Duravit sink in one of the two baths—"the request was for a very simple and clean look."

    Malibu beach house remodel bedroom by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: A queen-size bed fit neatly into the guest room's "super funky shape." The tasseled bed cover is from Nicky Kehoe in LA and the ceiling fan is from Design Within Reach. (See more ceiling fans in 10 Easy Pieces.)

    Malibu 1970s house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: "We added bricks to the columns and raised the roof to open up the feeling under the porch," says Soloff. Admiring the lush, new hardscaping? Go to Gardenista for a tour of the grounds.

    Floorplan Malibu beach house remodel by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The house's original footprint was preserved. The master suite is neatly sequestered at one end.

    Before

    Before photo of a Malibu house remodeled by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: A detail of the side of the house before the roof was raised.

    Before photo, the knotty pine interior of a Malibu house remodeled by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The knotty pine main room where the dining table now stands.

    Before photo of a Malibu kitchen remodeled by Lauren Soloff | Remodelista

    Above: The old kitchen.

    Go to The Bohemian Good Life to see Lauren Soloff's own LA house.

    And when in Malibu, a good place to know about is Helene Henderson's Malibu Farm Cafe.

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    Scout Regalia's catalog of offerings is a quick download of what is happening in LA: camping, biking, raised garden beds, geodesic domes, all designed with a heavy dose of powder-coated color. Their punchy wall hooks have made our list of top hardware for years, but some of us can't commit to salmon pink or bright orange. Luckily Scout Regalia has recently introduced the same hooks in brass and steel, for a more subdued version of LA cool.

    Scout Regalia SR Wall Hooks in Metal | Remodelista

    Above: The trio of Metallic Wall Hooks are also available at Lawson Fenning.

    Scout Regalia SR Wall Hooks in Polished Brass | Remodelista

    Above: The Polished Brass SR Wall Hook is $40 from Scout Regalia.

    Scout Regalia SR Wall Hooks in Brushed Brass | Remodelista

    Above: The Brushed Brass SR Wall Hook is $25 from Scout Regalia.

    Scout Regalia SR Wall Hooks in Stainless Steel | Remodelista

    Above: The Brushed Stainless Steel SR Wall Bracket is $35 from Scout Regalia.

    Scout Regalia SR Wall Rack of Hooks | Remodelista

    Above: The SR Wall Rack, shown in brushed brass, is a group of three wall hooks with a single shelf for emptying your pockets at the entryway.

    For more favorite wall hooks, see our posts:

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    We've posted about concrete block coffee tables before (see 12 Tables Made with Cinder Blocks, Economy Edition), but we hadn't seen one with a glass top until we spotted this one in the airy downtown showroom of LA fashion designer Shaina Mote. Here's how to make your own.

    Photography via The Dreslyn.

    Shaina Mota Glass Coffee Table DIY | Remodelista

    Above: Located in downtown LA, Shaina Mote's loft is outfitted with simple furniture and is flooded with natural light. 

    Shaina Mote Coffee Table | Remodelista

    Above: The rattan Alseda poufs are from Ikea.

    Shaina Mote Coffee Table | Remodelista

    Above: Nothing is too fancy in the showroom, including the houseplant pot wrapped in Kraft paper.

    Cinderblock | Remodelista

    Above: A Standard Cored Concrete Block (8 by 8 by 16 inches) is $1.78 from Lowe's.

    Tempered Glass Rectangular Table Top | Remodelista

    Above: A 15-by-28-inch Flat-Edge Tempered Radius Corner Rectangular Glass Tabletop is $91.99 (other sizes available) from Fab Glass & Mirror. To protect the glass from scratching, use either clear rubber Stick-It Glass Protective Pads ($4.97 for a pack of 20 from Amazon) or Self-Stick Furniture Felt Pads ($5.49 from Amazon).

    For another low-cost DIY project with components sourced from the hardware store, see Alexa's Elevated $15 Hardware Store Clamp Light.

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    If your bedding is everything you've ever wanted it to be, you can stop reading here. For everyone else: Room & Board is giving away a complete bedding set—valued at more than $2,500—to one lucky Remodelista reader. The queen-sized set includes a Memory Foam Mattress, Mattress Pad, Sateen Sheet Set, two Sateen Pillowcases, two Feather Pillows, a Down Duvet, and a Duvet Cover, plus free shipping. To enter, sign up for dispatches from Room & Board and Remodelista by entering your email address by Monday, October 26, in the box at the bottom of this post. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email by October 28. The contest is open to residents of the contiguous US only; see Official Rules for details. 

    San Francisco Readers: Join Us in Conversation on October 14

    On Wednesday, October 14, from 6 to 8 pm, join Gardenista editor in chief Michelle Slatalla and Remodelista contributor Jackie Ashton in a conversation about the importance of the well-made bed. We'll be discussing techniques for making the perfect bed, why it's important to make your bed every day, and the wellness benefits to getting enough sleep. Enjoy drinks and light fare courtesy of Room & Board and enter to win the giveaway in person. The conversation starts at 6:30 pm at Room & Board, 685 Seventh Street in San Francisco's Design District. Click here to RSVP

    Room & Board Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Room & Board's Hale Bed is an update on the traditional canopy bed, with slightly angled posts and dovetail joints. Made by hand in West Virginia, the walnut bed comes in four sizes ranging in price from $1,899 for full to $2,199 for California king. It's also stocked in cherry and available in maple by special order, priced from $1,599 to $1,899. The bed is shown here with the Washable Wool Blanket ($129 to $219) and Sham ($79) in charcoal, the Horizon Solid Throw in light grey ($169), the wool Sivas Rug ($2,299), the Anders Nightstand ($649 to $949), and the Soria Table Lamp in graphite ($399). 

    Room & Board Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Room & Board's Bedding Basics collection offers six down duvet fillers ranging from lightweight to ultra-warm and hypoallergenic. Feather beds, a mattress pad, pillows, and a pillow protector round out the collection, and all are made in the USA.

    Room & Board Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Room & Board's Grove Bed is handmade in Pennsylvania of walnut wood, with hand-turned tapered legs and beveled edges. Simply finished in wood oil and wax, the bed is available in five sizes ranging in price from $1,499 for a twin to $2,099 for a California king. (It's also available in cherry for $1,299 to $1,799.) 

    Room & Board Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Room & Board's Down Duvet Filler in Ultra-Lightweight warmth is made in Michigan of pure white down inside a cotton cover, box-stitched to ensure the down stays evenly distributed; starting at $159 for twin size. Down Pillows are available in soft, medium, and firm in both standard and king sizes, starting at $89. The Thatcher Chair shown here is made in Vermont of solid wood with traditional mortise-and-tenon joints in a nod to Shaker style. Shown here in cherry, it's also available in maple, walnut, and maple with a charcoal stain; $299. ($399 for walnut.) 

    Don't delay. Enter your email address by October 26 for a chance to win our Room & Board "Perfect Bed" giveaway. And while you're at it, head to Room & Board to browse their new line of Accessories

    More Stories from Remodelista


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    Yesterday we checked in at LA's buzzing new Hotel Covell, designed by Sally Breer of Co-Mingle. We're particularly taken with the playful, glam-retro vibe of the kitchenette in Suite 5, known as The Heir. Here's how to replicate the look.

    Photography by Bethany Nauert.

    Covell Hotel Kitchen in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Someone suave lives here: Suite 5's kitchenette with black and gold accents.

    Hotel Covell Kitchenette in Los Angeles | Remodelista

    Above: The design has simple open shelving and a Smeg refrigerator.

    Heath Cups at Hotel Covell in Los Angeles | Remodelista

    Above: A detail from Suite 3, the Parisian Atelier, with hexagonal cement tile from Kismet Tile (read our posts about Kismet and How to Select a Backsplash.) Each kitchenette is equipped with Studio Mugs ($31), Plates ($29), and Cereal Bowls ($30) from Heath Ceramics' Coupe line.

    Smeg FAB28YB1 White Retro Fridge I Remodelista

    Above: The 1950s-style Smeg Refrigerator holds 9.22 cubic feet and comes in more than a dozen colors; $1,999 from AJ Madison. 

    Corian Black Countertop I Remodelista  

    Above: The kitchenette countertop is matte black Corian. Learn about the made-to-last material in Remodeling 101: Corian Countertops, (and the New Corian Look-Alikes)

    Kingston Brass Satin Nickel Magellan Centerset Bar Faucet I Remodelista  

    Above: The Kingston Brass Satin Nickel Magellan Centerset Bar Faucet with Metal Lever Handles is $51.87 from Faucet Direct. 

    Barclay Bar Sink in Brass I Remodelista.  

    Above: The kitchenette has a vintage bar sink in brass. For a look-alike, consider the Barclay Bar Sink with Ledge in Polished Brass; $225 from Amazon. 

    Vintage-Brass-Cabinet-Bin-Pullby-Cal-Crystal-Remodelista  

    Above: Breer used vintage pulls on the cabinets. For a similar look, try these Vintage Brass Cabinet Bin/Cup Pulls by Cal Crystal; $12.86 from Martell Hardware. Another good option: a Depression-Era Glass Bin Pull from Crown City Hardware.

    Olema-Wall-Scones-by-Park-Studio-LA-Remodelista  

    Above: The matte black Colfax Wall Sconce was custom-made for the hotel by Park Studio LA. It's now available for $80 from Park Studio's online shop. 

    Half Gold Lightbulb I Remodelista

    Above: The Half Gold Light Bulb is $6 from Anthropologie.

    ekby-hemnes-shelf-brown-black-ikea-Remodelista  

    Above: The Ekby Hemnes Shelf in black/brown is made of solid pine and comes in two lengths, starting at $14.99 from Ikea.

    Ekby Valter Bracket in Black from Ikea I Remodelista  

    Above: For mounting the shelves, Ekby Valter Brackets come in two sizes and are $3 or $4 each at Ikea. 

    Architec Gripperwood Concave Cutting Board I Remodelista  

    Above: The Architec Gripperwood Concave Cutting Board is made of beechwood; $30.23 from Amazon. 

    Gold Flatware Sets by West-Elm I Remodelista  

    Above: West Elm's Gold Flatware Set is gold electroplated stainless steel. A single place setting is currently on sale for $31 (marked down from $39), and a four place-setting set is $112 (marked down from $140).

    Chemex I Remodelista  

    Above: The Chemex Wood Collar Glass Coffeemaker comes in four sizes, starting at $34.95 from Williams-Sonoma.

    VIntage Charcoal Drawing from Etsy | Remodelista

    Above: Original Charcoal Drawing circa 1940, from an artist's estate in Carmel, California; $120 from Etsy seller Vintage Paramour. Search "vintage charcoal portraits" on Etsy for more options.

    See more of our recent Steal This Look posts:

    And for inspired kitchen designs, go to our Kitchen archive.

    Remodelista subscribe | Remodelista

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    The least-fun thing to think about when designing a kitchen? Our vote goes to the range hood, that hardworking, often noisy machine that can hog precious space and ruin sight lines. That’s why we were excited to see a new, discreet option starting to appear in open kitchens with center islands. Meet the ceiling-mounted surface vent. Blink and you might not even notice it.

    Bulthaup B2 kitchen | Remodelista

    Above: In place of an intrusive ceiling hood, this setup has an inset stainless-steel-framed vent over a stainless steel island from German kitchen systems masters Bulthaup—island and cabinets are from Bulthaup's B2 line. (See Good Küchen: 9 German Kitchen Systems for more details.)

    What are these vents?

    They're remote-controlled hoods that are inset in ceilings, so that only a stainless-steel frame and panel (often of dark glass detailed with lights) is visible. Positioned directly over a cooktop, the vents, like all hoods, are there to absorb cooking odors and grease. Available in a range of rectangular sizes and increasingly popular in Europe, these unobtrusive versions are just starting to make inroads in the US.

    The recessed kitchen vent: Siemens ceiling hood | Remodelista

    Above: To decrease the distance between stovetop and vent, a Siemens ceiling-mounted recessed hood is set in a soffit in this newly remodeled kitchen belonging to Norwegian blogger Nina of Stylizimo.

    Where do they work—and what's the catch?

    The majority of these vents are ducted to the outside, so in most cases, you need to be in a house to have one in your kitchen. (On top of venting considerations, many states have strict requirements for the amount of "makeup air" channeled in in proportion to what goes out, and not all recessed ceiling vents are strong enough to meet these codes. Local appliance specialists can fill you in on the details.)

    For a ceiling-mounted recessed kitchen vent to be most effective, it needs to be larger than the cooktop that's under it—for a 36-inch cooktop, for example, use a 42- or 48-inch hood—and to be close enough to do its job: The ideal distance between ceiling vent and stovetop varies, but for optimal effectiveness, Matt Avery of Faber tells us no more than four feet is recommended.

    If you have a powerful commercial-style range and do a lot of frying, one of these models isn't likely to do the trick. But if you do regular cooking  and there isn't a great distance between stove and vent—a too tall ceiling can be remedied by inserting the vent into a soffit—this open-plan option may be the perfect problem solver.

    Corian model kitchen | Remodelista

    Above: A recessed hoods draws steam in a Corian model kitchen in the UK. 

    Who makes ceiling-mounted recessed vents?

    A number of familiar brands have started introducing flush ceiling vents, including Best (see its Cirrus models), Miele, Futuro Futuro, Falmec, Zephyr, and Faber (so far in Europe only). 

    The ceiling-mounted kitchen vent, Heaven by Falmec | Remodelista

    Above: Cloud, a ceiling vent by Italian company Falmec, is shown here at Expo Milan 2015. Photograph via Edilportale.

    Are there other unobtrusive kitchen vent options?

    Yes, under-the-cabinet hoods are another popular choice (and can work in apartments) as are downdraft hoods, that rise in the back of the range at the press of a button. The latter, we're told, work particularly well with induction cooktops.

    The invisible kitchen vent: Miele built-in range hood | Remodelista

    Above: A Miele stainless steel Extractor Unit with dimmable halogen lights is neatly incorporated in a shelf over a cooktop. Its price, $1,699, including external blower, is in the ballpark for most ceiling vent brands.

    Go to our Kitchen Appliance posts for more advice, including:

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    Hannah Beatrice Quinn, a recent graduate of the furniture design program at California College of the Arts, is fascinated by ordinary household goods; for her 2014 thesis, she fabricated a series of domestic essentials, including brooms, dustpans, and ironing boards. "I strive to understand what makes an object precious in the eyes of an individual," she says. "As a maker, I want to craft objects that help consumers reconnect with the histories, processes, and materials used in the making of ordinary household goods." This past year, she set herself a goal of making 400 brooms, which she'll be selling on her own online shop and other local outlets (for a full list of stockists, go to Hannah Beatrice Quinn).

    If you're in San Francisco, Hannah will be selling her work at Studiopatro's two-day Everyday Home Popup Shop on Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17. And stay tuned: she'll be launching a new line of dyed black brooms with black broom corn at the West Coast Craft Fair in SF on November 14 and 15.

    Hannah Beatrice Quinn Brooms | Remodelista

    Above (L to R): Hannah Quinn's Handmade Broom is available in three sizes (regular, kids, and hand) for $48 each from the Workshop Residence in San Francisco; the handles are available in bleached ash or walnut. Hannah makes the wood broom handles and Duane Penner, a third-generation broom maker from Dinuba, CA, adds the finishing touches. Photo by Micah Gibson.

    Hannah Beatrice Quinn Dustpan | Remodelista

    Above: A dustpan from Hannah's 2014 thesis project at Cal Arts; in November, she'll be the featured artist at the Workshop Residence in San Francisco, where she'll be holding workshops and offering dustpans, Doug Fir hand brooms, and a number of exclusive broom designs. 

    Hannah Beatrice Quinn Brooms | Remodelista

    Above: Each broom is signed by Hannah herself.

    For a roundup of our favorite brooms, go to The Artful Sweep: Display-Worthy Household Brooms

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    In California it seems as though everyone has a wine refrigerator (half the state is wine country, after all). If you're cultivating a wine collection, it might be time to start thinking about a sophisticated wine storage system. Here are some options selected for both appearance and functionality.

    Alpes Column Wine Cooler | Remodelista

    Above: The Alpes Inox Column 128 Wine Cooler has two columns and a single drawer. Contact Alpes Inox for pricing and availability. Read more about the company in Race-Car-Style Appliances for Compact Kitchens.

    Miele Tri Zone Wine Refrigerator | Remodelista

    Above: The Miele 28-Inch Tri-Zone Wine Storage has a 178-bottle capacity and separate controls for storing wine at three different temperatures. It's $6,999 at AJ Madison.

    Monogram Steel Wine Reserve Cooler | Remodelista

    Above: The GE Monogram Stainless Steel Wine Reserve has a red or white wine temperature setting and seven cherry wood shelves. It installs flush under counters and is $1,899.

    Marvel Single Zone Wine Cooler | Remodelista

    Above: Aga's Marvel 15-Inch High-Efficiency Single-Zone Wine Cellar has maple shelving and a stainless steel handle. It controls temperatures precisely from 40 to 65 degrees.

    Miele Undercounter Wine Storage Refrigerator | Remodelista

    Above: Miele's DWT 6312 UGS Under Counter Wine Storage System is another wine refrigerator from Miele with a smaller profile holding 46 bottles of wine. Contact Miele for pricing and availability.

    Gaggenau Wine Storage Unit | Remodelista

    Above: The Gaggenau Wine Storage Unit holds 99 bottles and has two independently controlled climate zones. Contact Gaggenau for pricing and availabilty.

    U-Line Wine Captain Storage | Remodelista

    Above: The U-Line 15-Inch Wine Captain has six beech shelves, holds 24 bottles, and has a black exterior. The refrigerator can be built-in or freestanding; $1,719 at U-Line.

    Smeg Classic Aesthetic Wine Refrigerator | Remodelista

    Above: The Smeg Classic Aesthetic Wine Cooler holds 115 bottles (or 198 bottles facing front to back). Its glass door has an anti-UV-ray tint, and the cooler can be built-in or freestanding. Contact Smeg for pricing and availability.

    SubZero Wine Storage with Refrigerator Doors | Remodelista

    Above: Sub Zero's 30-Inch Integrated Wine Storage with Refrigerator Drawers holds 86 bottles of wine and also has a pair of refrigerator drawers for other beverages; $7,995 through Sub Zero.

    Electrolux Under Counter Wine Refrigerator | Remodelista

    Above: The Electrolux 24-Inch Under Counter Beverage Center has multiple storage options on each shelf, designed for wine and other beverages; $2,099.

    Viking Full Height Wine Cellar | Remodelista

    Above: The Viking 30-Inch Full-Height Wine Cellar holds 150 bottles. Contact Viking for pricing and retailers.

    Liebherr WU 4500 Wine Refrigerator | Remodelista

    Above: The Liebherr WU 4500 holds 46 bottles of wine with exact temperature controls. Contact Liebherr for pricing and availability. And check out our post Keeping It Cool: Liebherr's 5-Zone Refrigerator for more info on the refrigerator/wine cooler duo.

    For more on kitchen cooling, see our posts:

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    "I got to SF before the techies," says rising crafts star Windy Chien. "It was freaks, bohemians, and artists; you could do anything and it was a valid life." Windy is a case in point. Now a full-time master spoon carver living in the heart of San Francisco's Mission district, she has been a punk rocker, a filmmaker, a record shop owner, and an Apple executive who helped create iTunes. "The whole time I was at Apple, I knew it was temporary," she says. "I will always be a punk rocker at heart." Her work combines the sensual with the pragmatic, updating classic genres: wooden spoons, but also macramé and jewelry. Each piece is slyly funny as well as beautiful, something both Steve Jobs and Jello Biafra would love. To see more, go to Windy Chien.

    carved spoons by Windy Chien on Remodelista

    Above: Windy's walnut Small Corner Everything Spoons are $92 each.

    Windy Chien with her hand-carved spoons by Leslie Santarina, SpottedSF.com

    Above: Windy with a bouquet of her hand-carved spoons.

    Modern Macrame Lights by Windy Chien on Remodelista

    Above: The Modern Macramé Light, made from natural white cotton rope, is $180.

    Bad Ass Brass Knuckle Rings by Windy Chien | Remodleista

    Above: A set of four Bad Ass Brass Knuckles, designed to be worn every day, everywhere, is $160.

    See all our favorite Kitchenware products here

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    San Francisco photographer Leslie Williamson specializes in capturing the nuanced homes of midcentury artists, architects, and designers; her two books, Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Midcentury Designers and Modern Originals: At Home with Midcentury European Designers, are instant classics. So it's not surprising that she lives in a nostalgia-laden 1960s Joseph Eichler house in SF, unseen until now. When our friends at Freunde von Freunden approached her about photographing the interiors, she called on Brian Ferry, a Brooklyn photographer known for his artfully intimate work.

    "I've admired Leslie's work for a long time and she's had a big impact on my own photography," Brian says. "No one has photographed her home for a feature before so I was honored that she had chosen to let me do it. I felt a responsibility to capture Leslie and her interior with sensitivity and emotion, in a way she has done so many times in her career."

    See the full feature on Freunde von Freunden, with photography by Brian Ferry and writing by Laura Spencer King.

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: Slanting sunlight in the paneled dining room. "The day was bright and sunny, a rarity in the area of San Francisco where Leslie lives, so I took that as a good sign," Brian says.

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: "The things I collect all have stories and are from my family, both my genetic and chosen families," Leslie tells FvF. "These things are deeply rooted in telling the story of my life."

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: A fiber art wall hanging above a midcentury sofa. "The house is a Joseph Eichler, and it was built in the 1960s," Leslie tells FvF. "I have been living here for about 10 years. Believe it or not, I found it on Craigslist." Eichlers are known for their open plans, signature interior wood paneling, and modest scale (for a revamped example, go to Reader Rehab: A Respectful Eichler Remodel in Marin).

    Leslie Williamson SF House by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: A Marimekko wall hanging.

    Leslie Williamson in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: Leslie captured in a quiet moment. "I always feel a bit nervous before a shoot no matter who I'm shooting," Brian says. "For this one, you can imagine how I felt. I was shooting an interior portrait of one of my photography heroes, a woman who has made iconic photographs of the exact subject matter."

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: A single dark wall sets off a collection of found and inherited objects in the bedroom.

    Leslie Williamson at Home by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: An artful bedside tableau: a wall-mounted table, framed feathers, and a beveled mirror.

    Leslie Williamson Guest Bedroom by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: In a guest room with a daybed, a piece of leather serves as a table covering.

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: Williamson's work area includes a chalkboard for lists and a vintage coat rack.

    Leslie Williamson at Home in SF by Brian Ferry | Remodelista

    Above: A pair of wicker chairs and potted plants define the outdoor space.

    Interested in learning more about Leslie's books? See our post Modern Originals: At Home with Midcentury European Designers and Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Midcentury Designers. To see a Brooklyn interior photographed by Brian Ferry, go to Designer Lena Corwin at Home in Fort Greene.

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    One benefit to spending years designing kitchens for others is that when you're ready to design your own, you know exactly what you want. Such was the case for LA interior designer Amy Sklar, who wanted beauty in her own kitchen—but wanted efficiency even more.

    Sklar set out to design her dream kitchen in the 1936 "Colonial Revival" style bungalow she's shared with her husband for 13 years. The house, in LA's Silverlake neighborhood, came with plentiful period details and a desperate need for an update. Over the years, Sklar and her husband added two daughters and one "very drooly" English bulldog to their family, so by the time renovation was in the cards Sklar knew practicality was key. So was an adherence to a budget. As advice to fellow remodelers, Sklar sums up her philosophy on both utility and spending: "Not everything has to be top of the line," she says, "but the things that will get heavy use should be good quality. It's a tragedy to have to replace things after a short time." 

    Photography by Amy Bartlam.  

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: Because she cooks for her family every night, Sklar's overarching goal was to design her kitchen for efficiency. To her, an efficient kitchen is one that follows the old adage: "A place for everything, and everything in its place."

    Sklar chose an East Linear faucet from Newport Brass, Calacatta Delicato marble countertops, and Benjamin Moore Black Iron for trim on the original bay windows. Her countertops taught her an important lesson: White marble is a good choice for a family kitchen if you accept this as truth: "Marble will patina."

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: "Digging for a pot or utensils gets old when you cook every night," says Sklar. To eliminate the problem, she outfitted every cabinet with interior fittings designed for specific cooking tools, such as a vertical pullout tray for baking pans and flat pullout drawers for bowls and serving pieces. To banish countertop clutter, she added appliance garages for the toaster, coffeemaker, and laptop and cell phone chargers, plus a hidden set of drawers to stash paperwork and kids' homework supplies.

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: Like most people, Sklar and her family had to keep budget top-of-mind. She purchased materials over the course of a year to distribute costs over time, and chose her splurges carefully: Thermador appliances (range, hood, refrigerator, and dishwasher) and Kitchen Aid wall ovens to last for the long haul, plus a light touch with the pricey cabinet hardware she fell in love with: "I chose solid white bronze handles and pulls; they were a splurge, but they feel good in my hand every time I open a cabinet and they patina so beautifully." For the lesser-used island and pantry, Sklar used inexpensive hardware from Anthropologie. 

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: To avoid a pricey overhaul, Sklar worked with the existing placement of windows and doors—meaning flexibility in layout was minimal. "We toyed with the idea of knocking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, but in the end the expense—coupled with the fact that I am a sucker for a formal dining room—made the decision for us." Sklar used Benjamin Moore White Dove for the walls and Pale Oak for the cabinets.

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: One of Sklar's favorite features is her custom walnut butcher-block island on casters. The island hides the trash and recycling bins, and can be easily tucked away for party time. "For big holidays where there are a lot of people milling around, it nests back against the wall near the kitchen table, so I still have the counter space but with more floor area for standing guests." 

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: The breakfast nook sports a Saarinen Tulip Table and Chairs, a Rudi pendant light from Roll & Hill, and Khotan Rubia upholstery by Zak & Fox. One thing Sklar learned from spending years designing other people's kitchens: "Laminate the seat cushions in homes with kids!" Sklar's distressed floors are from Martin Lane—"They are so forgiving with spills," she says.

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: In the bay window above the sink, an art print by graphic artist Gregory Beauchamp and a Heath Ceramics bud vase by Adam Silverman.

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: Sklar's catchall pegboard storage for pots and pans is a copy from her mother—"a great cook and pastry chef"—who had been inspired by Julia Child's own pegboard rack. Says Sklar, "It's just so easy to grab what you need, and to me the pans feel like art."

    Kitchen by Amy Sklar Design | Remodelista

    Above: The door off the hallway is painted in Black Iron by Benjamin Moore and the wall hooks are from West Elm. 

    Browse more kitchen inspiration in these Kitchen of the Week posts: 

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    Has Stephen Kenn created the ultimate masculine sofa? A self-taught designer who grew up in Edmonton, Canada, he arrived in LA in 2005 at age 20 and launched a denim line called Iron Army. Several years ago, he shifted his focus and made use of WWII military fabrics for upholstery.

    What distinguishes Kenn's work is its construction: When he set out to create a sofa, he decided to strip it down to its barest elements, likening the frame, webbing, and cushions to bones, muscles, and skin. The results are impressive: Each sofa is handmade in LA and takes Kenn and his crew four to six weeks to complete (you can watch process videos on his site). Kenn's designs have attracted other designers to come hang out with him. I especially took notice when he unveiled his joint project with one of my (and Remodelista's) longtime favorite companies, Truck Furniture of Japan. He worked with Tok Kise of Truck, and then took a coastal motorcycle trip with him out of LA. How's that for the California dream?

    Stephen Kenn sofa at Nick Wooster's apartment via House of Style | Remodelista

    Above: The Stephen Kenn City Gym Sofa, $6,800, upholstered in US Navy blankets, shown in the West Village apartment of New York fashion director Nick Wooster. Each of Kenn's pieces has an exposed, welded metal frame that's been rusted or oxidized and then coated with polyurethane to halt the aging process. His designs are available directly through his studio. Photograph via Scene Magazine.

      Stephen Kenn-Simon Miller sofa | Remodelista

    Above: The Stephen Kenn x Simon Miller Sofa is upholstered in hand-dyed indigo cotton canvas and has a copper-plated frame; $6,900. 

    Stephen Kenn sofa detail | Remodelista

    Above: Kenn's sofas all have a support structure of custom leather belts.

    Stephen Kenn and Truck Furniture sofa | Remodelista
    Above: Kenn and Tok Kise of Truck Furniture sent each other fabric for design inspiration. The Cord Sofa is made in LA using Truck Furniture's olive green wide wale corduroy from Japan; $6,500. Read more about Truck Furniture here.

    Stephen Kenn and Truck Furniture sofa | Remodelista

    Above: The back of the sofa is detailed with leather and webbing belts modeled after 1940s Swiss military belts used to strap supplies on pack mules.

    Stephen Kenn and Truck Furniture Chair | Remodelista

    Above: The Boomerang Chair and Ottoman, $2,800, is made in the Truck Furniture studio in Osaka and upholstered in Kenn's signature military canvas.

    Stephen Kenn sofa at Juice Served Here in Venice, CA | Remodelista

    Above: A Stephen Kenn Inheritance Collection Sofa, $5,600, at Juice Sold Here in Venice, California. Most of the Inheritance pieces are upholstered in repurposed World World II military canvas that's been washed and softened. 

    Stephen Kenn Inheritence Collection chair made with army canvas | Remodelista

    Above: An Inheritance Collection Armchair, $2,600, and Ottoman, $800. Kenn says that he likes his designs to tell stories via the work that goes into them and the tales old fabrics have to tell.

    Stephen Kenn sofa at Frank Muytjens country house via Trnk | Remodelista

    Above: An Inheritance Love Seat, $4,000, in the upstate NY home of Frank Muytjens, head of menswear design at J. Crew. Photograph via Trnk, which also sells Kenn's furniture.

    Stay tuned for Kenn's in-progress collections of shelving, stacking benches, and outdoor furniture.

    Remodelista subscribe | Remodelista

    For more small workshop furniture, take a look at:

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    We recently toured the new, light-flooded Henrybuilt studio in Mill Valley, California, located in a former auto repair shop not far from Remodelista's West Coast headquarters. The company's clients include Google and the French Laundry, and they've got ongoing projects all over the Bay Area (Lake Tahoe, Russian Hill, Silicon Valley), so it makes sense for them to open a local office. We reached out to founder Scott Hudson to find out more.

    Henrybuilt in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: The 4,000-square-foot space, a former garage, has whitewashed walls. The original concrete floors were cleaned up and polished but otherwise left untouched (cracks included). Factory windows allow ample sunlight to flood the space. 

    Remodelista: Why Mill Valley? We have to ask since we launched Remodelista right down the street from the Henrybuilt showroom.

    Scott Hudson: The town is an unusual combination of sophisticated and down to earth, located in the middle of an amazing swath of landscape. It's not a shopping destination, which was something we wanted to stay away from, and it's relatively easy to get to from much of the Bay Area, including Sonoma and Napa.

    RM: Who is the Henrybuilt client? 

    SH: We work with a wide range of people, of course, but they are all serious about really living well in their homes. Some might guess that we work with a lot of people who have their homes done for them, who leave for six months and come back to a house fully set up with dinner on the table when they walk in, but that’s not the case. Our clients are very involved in creating the place they are going to live in. Their taste tends to be oriented toward creating a natural ease, regardless of the style of their home. They are interested very much in how things look, but also how they will function and hold up. The change since we started the company is mostly centered around more people having increasingly high expectations for the level of design and function in their home overall, especially in their kitchen, which is a great thing for Henrybuilt.

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: A detail shot of Henrybuilt's Bar Block, which keeps essentials close at hand.

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: Henrybuilt leather handles from the Pull collection.

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: The Opencase Wall System is a flexible, panel-based system that be used for a variety of purposes; in an entryway, a study, an office, or a wardrobe.

    RM: What's next; what new products are you working on?

    SH: Our new tongue and groove panels enable us to extend the aesthetic range of what we do, and add a beautiful new textural component. You can see them in person in the Mill Valley showroom, along with our Opencase Panel system.

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: An entryway system in the Mill Valley showroom.

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: A kitchen detail. 

    Henrybuilt Studio in Mill Valley | Remodelista

    Above: A storage niche with built-in bench.

    To see more of our posts on Henrybuilt, go to High-Style Storage from Henrybuilt and A Storage System for the Whole Home

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    Contractor Aaron Gordon bought the modest cottage in SF's Bernal Heights with his own family in mind. But when he approached Red Dot Studio architect Karen Curtiss to modernize it, he had decided to overhaul the house for resale and came to her with a mandate: "I was asked to transform the structure from one bedroom to three without expanding the building's envelope," says Curtiss. "It was a dream project."

    Photography by Joe Fletcher via Red Dot Studio.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: Built in the early 20th century, the newly whitewashed 1,253-square-foot house—a mere 17.1 inches wide from stud to stud—was originally almost equal parts garage and living quarters (scroll below to see the Before). Applying space-efficiency tactics throughout, Curtiss reordered the ground floor to include room for the main living space.

    On the exterior, she introduced new windows (ornamented on the top story with panels of succulents she dubbed "succulintels"), and built a side entry and garage door of western red cedar. Other interesting details include a new concrete walkway and drive inset with front and side gardens. That's a rain chain hanging over a collection barrel—learn about rain chains on Gardenista. All plantings came from The Succulence in Bernal Heights.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: An open kitchen-dining-living room (with a Bertazzoni range) now occupies the ground floor and extends out to the side garden. How did Curtiss create the space? She and her crew were able to excavate and lower the ground floor by two feet and to raise the ceiling two feet by exposing the joists, an ingenious case of using construction to reveal hidden resources.

    The team at Aaron Gordon Construction (Chad Greensberg served as foreman) worked on the project over a two-year period, slotting it in whenever they could. Gordon, Curtiss says, "gave me carte blanche to design the space and to showcase quality craftsmanship." Green building was also a priority: The remodel is Build It Green–certified and beats California's sustainability requirements by over 50 percent. 

    Kitchen storage in the Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: Curtiss applied a materials palette of wood and industrial elements throughout the house. The kitchen has custom counters and cabinets in a white laminate built by Bob Clausen. The stainless steel sink is by Blanco and the faucet is by Santec.

    To echo the house's wood siding, the interior walls and second-floor ceiling are newly paneled in knotty pine and treated with an undisclosed white paint to allow the grain to show through. "It was a labor of love to get the color right and not too pink" says Curtiss, who chronicled the whole remodel process on Red Dot Studio's journal.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: The dining table has Cherner legs and a new laminate top. Dutch doors of red cedar open from the side yard.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: A new central skylight on the top floor floods the center of the house with light and expands the sense of space. The stairs are made of ipé wood.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: "By opening up to the peak instead of having a dropped ceiling on the second floor, we got two full floors," says Curtiss. Shown here, the skylit landing that leads to three bedrooms and two baths. At the low side of the peak, the ceiling is seven-foot-six; at the peak, it's about 15 feet.

    "The walls will run right up to the skylight giving the light a surface to reflect on," writes Curtiss in her construction notes. "One benefit of a small house is we are allowed to have a skylight at the property line, since we're under 1,000 square feet per floor. This will get us a pool of light right at the stair landing and a feeling of height where the roof would otherwise come down a bit low."

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: The master bedroom opens to a steel balcony. A freestanding paneled wall divides the space from the bathroom. 

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: The master bath has a double sink by Duravit over a custom cabinet and cork floor. The fixtures are by Grohe, Hansgrohe, and Kohler.

    The Bank Street house, a Red Dot Studio Bay Area remodel from one bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista

    Above: Vaulted ceilings and new windows make the compact guest bedrooms feel much bigger than they actually are. How big exactly? " Divide 17 feet, 1 inch by two and subtract a wall thickness," says Curtiss. 

    Red Dot Studio Bay Area small house remodel, from one bedroom to three, without adding to the building evelope | Remodelista

    Above: In the back, the house opens to a compact gravel garden. (Learn inventive ways to use gravel in the garden on Gardenista.)

    Floor plans for the Red Dot Studio Bank St. house, a remodel from one-bedroom to three without adding to the building envelope | Remodelista  

    Above: Floor plans detail Curtiss's "make every inch count" approach to the remodel.

    Before

    Red Dot Studio Bay Area small house remodel BEFORE photo | Remodelista

    Above: The original house (shown left, in yellow) had a garage on the ground floor and one-bedroom living quarters upstairs. It shares a lot with a single-story cottage (shown right, in pale green).

    Looking to maximize space? Here are more compact design ideas:

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    Los Angeles–based potter Victoria Morris is known for her tableware—large serving bowls in speckled, earthy brown and lavender glazes—in a style somewhere between California craftsman and countryside Japanese. We recently took note of her lamps, which she has been throwing for the past 10 years.

    At first, all Victoria wanted were decent lamps for her home, "I couldn't afford anything I liked, and couldn't find much otherwise that didn't feel generic, so I figured I should make them myself," she says. Friends in New York started asking for them, then came LA—in particular friends Roman Alonso and Stephen Johanknecht at LA studio Commune who approached her on a collaboration. The series of smaller, hand-carved patterned lamps is still available through Commune.

    Today Victoria is focused on lighting, using the lamps as a forum to experiment and expand on designs. Here's a look at some of her lamps available directly at Victoria Morris Pottery. They also can be found at Lawson-Fenning in LA and the Future Perfect in NY, and can be made to order.

    Victoria Morris Carved Lamp Cobalt Blue | Remodelista

    Above: The Carved Matte Cobalt Lamp is 22 inches tall and $800.

    Victoria Morris Linen Lampshade | Remodelista

    Above: All lamps are hand-thrown and carved and include a linen lampshade.

    Victoria Morris Stoneware Mini Lamp | Remodelista

    Above: The Black Stoneware Mini Lamp is 13 inches tall and $440.

    Victoria Morris Carved Yellow Lamp | Remodelista

    Above: Victoria cites Modernist artists Gordan and Jane Martz as inspiration. The Matte Yellow Carved Angle Lamp is a modern update on their style; 21 inches tall for $700.

    Victoria Morris Lamp Detail | Remodelista

    Above: A detail of the hand-carved lamp base.

    Victoria Morris Small Ceramic Lamps | Remodelista

    Above: "I've also found that a nice pair of lamps is similar to an expensive pair of shoes or handbag—it brings up the rest of what you've got going on," says Victoria. The Small Matte Black Accent Lamp is 15.5 inches tall for $600.

    Victoria Morris Soft Blue Sphere Lamp | Remodelista

    Above: The Soft Blue Sphere Lamp is 15 inches tall and comes with a burlap lampshade; $575.

    For more lighting ideas, see our posts:

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    A feng shui master who hails from North Carolina, Katherine Anne Lewis studied under three grand masters and has had her LA-based global consultancy for more than a decade, specializing in the intersection of feng shui, design, and well-being. Feng shui, Lewis explains, is the 4,000-year-old Chinese art of placement, aimed at creating rooms that impart harmony and balance, and, in turn, health, love, and wealth. "Today feng shui is such a highly regarded practice that nearly all homes, buildings, and gardens in China have been feng shuied," she says.

    Lewis's clients include LA shopping hub The Grove, which she worked on from inception to finish—"it has more foot traffic than Disneyland"—and our friend Shiva Rose of the Local Rose, an actress and healthy lifestyle blogger, who enlisted Lewis's help with her furniture arrangements. All manner of restless sleepers and insomniacs have also called upon Lewis for guidance. "Your bedroom ought to be a place you love being in—and not a catchall storage place," she says. "Regardless of the size and shape of your room, what you see should make you happy." Toward that end, Lewis explained these five feng shui basic principles for a better night's rest.

    1. Have nothing under your bed.

    London Victorian House, Farrow & Ball Great White, Purple Velvet Headboard | Remodelista

    Above: Arranged in consultation with a feng shui master, Michelle McKenna's serene London bedroom has an all-clear space under and surrounding her bed. Go to The Power of Pastels to see more. Photograph by Emma Lee for Remodelista.

    "Luggage, tax returns, winter clothes. All of it creates blocks that prevent you from feeling grounded (and that also keep your mind busy). For optimal sleep, clear it all out, so that the chi, energy, can flow evenly all night. 

    "Similarly, keep the piles on your floor to a minimum. Things on the floor are dams; you want the river to be able to move easily. So free your room of stressors, such as laundry that needs folding. And if you're only using your exercise equipment as a clothes rack, move it out."

    2. Move your bed away from the wall.

    Hotel-Henriette-Paris-Remodelista-16.png

    Above: Well placed—this alcove bed at the Hotel Henriette in Paris has just enough room for wall space on each side and two bedside tables.

    "I realize in small quarters this can be tricky, but a bed with access to only one side blocks energy from coming in. The bed heals the body at night, and when you push your mattress against a wall, you're keeping out new opportunities. The same goes for bedside tables—even if you're single or have the tiniest space, you should have some sort of table on each side of the bed to keep channels open to receive love. As for lighting, that's a case of individual preference, but, yes, each side should have a light; symmetry, while not essential, is also nice." (For advice, see Remodeling 101: Bedroom Lighting Secrets.) 

    3. Surround yourself with restful colors. 

    Shiva Rose bedroom and vanity | Remodelista

    Above L and R: Shiva Rose's bedroom in the Santa Monica Mountains received the Lewis treatment, which included introducing a soft palette, shifting the antique vanity so the mirror is directed away from the bed,  and using a rose-colored base sheet "to bring in passion." Photograph by Ulrica Wihlborg via Sweden with Love.

    "Stay away from big fields of reds, oranges, and bold pinks because those are active colors that energize the body and make it hard to fall asleep. Whites, creams, pastels, grays, silvers, and soothing yellows, greens, and blues are a better choice. Patterns and stripes are also okay as are hints of strong colors. The bottom line is your bedroom should feel like an oasis, so you should choose colors that speak to you."

    4. Remove mirrors or cover them up at night.

    Elizabeth-Roberts-Ensemble-Architecture- master-bedroom-Matthew-Williams-Remodelista

    Above: A mirror can visually enlarge a small room, but it also can have a depleting effect when positioned near a bed. In architect Elizabeth Roberts' Brooklyn bedroom, shown here, Lewis would recommend draping fabric over the mirror next to the mantel during sleeping hours. Go to House Call to see more.

    "Mirrors that face you while you're in bed pull energy away from you—making it hard for you to fully reap the benefits of sleep. The solution? Either reposition the mirror or cover it up with fabric at night."

    5. Banish electronics 

    Bedside detailing at L'Hotel Fontevraud at the 12th-century Fontevraud Abbey in France's Loire Valley | Remodelista

    Above: In this restful bedroom at Fontevraud Abbey, a Loire Valley landmark newly converted into a hotel, the bedside table is equipped with an outlet—but Lewis advises placing your phone and charger elsewhere at bedtime.

    "Electronics stimulate the brain. Having them in the bedroom as you're going to sleep keeps the mind activated. Instead, store your gadgets in another room. But if you have to have your phone with you—for example, you're a doctor who's on call—move the port so it isn't right next to your head. The floor is a better alternative. The same, of course, goes for computers. The eventual goal is to move them out of your bedroom at night for peace of mind and body.

    "As for the TV, it, too, should be banished from the bedroom, but a lot of my clients say they’ll do everything but that. I'm OK with that; I want you to be happy in your bedroom. But having artwork and photos on the walls is the calmer way to go: When you open your eyes, you should see something that lifts your spirit rather than dampens it." 

    Read more about feng shui at Katherine Anne Lewis's site, Harmony and Balance.

    For more sleep remedies, see:

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