My Portfolio

When the Covid lockdown basically cancelled shopping in 2020 and things at the store slowed down to a crawl, I suddenly had a lot of extra time on my hands so I signed up for a drafting course at Brookdale, our local community college.

Clearly I was not a quick study! But I perservered. And perservered. After mastering printing (not easy) I eventually learned how to draw fairly legible dimensioned floor plans.

And Furniture Plans. A furniture plan is a 2D, top-down representation of a space, created to scale, that gives you an idea of how a room’s furniture can be laid out. These plans enable you to visualize what items can fit where, and see exactly how much space there will be for walking around in the room.  (Before you buy even one piece of furniture you should always measure your space and make a plan to make sure it fits! Or ask me to.)

I also mastered how to make elevation drawings which are scaled two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional space. When designing an  interior, these drawings of a wall (or series of walls)–with varying degrees of detail–illustrate how your room will look furnished.

It was a huge amount of work to make all of these drawings by hand to scale, but I had to pass this course in order to take CAD–Computer Assisted Design.

That wasn’t a walk in the park either but, oh my goodness, what a difference a computer made! Here is a floor plan I created in CAD for a senior living apartment project. Pretty cool huh?

And look at these elevations! Still drawn to scale but so much clearer in CAD.

This past sememster I really upped my game and took a Sketch Up class. Sketch Up is a widely used piece of software that in interior design allows you to transform 2D drawings into fully customisedable 3D models–you get to add all the furniture and accessories you can ever imagine.

Our final assignment was to take the barebones floor plan for an actual apartment at 130 William Street in the city and create a fully furnished home for an active family of three. This is what I started with.

And this is where I wound up.

What’s really cool, is how you get to create actual three dimensional spaces, move walls, add millwork, create roofs, even if you can’t quite master the art of printing!

It’s like playing with a dollhouse–only better. With just a touch of the mouse you can change the paint color, add a chandelier, replace all the marble in the primary bath or add a sectional to the living room. The options are limited only by your imagination. For the final we were asked to make a video of the interior we created. How do you think I did?

To back up a little, I should probably mention the concept was to provide my (fictional) clients, a busy, very successful professional couple in NYC, with an Urban Oasis.  In ecology, an oasis is a fertile area of a desert environment that sustains plant life and provides a welcoming habitat for animals.

In this case the idea was to create an environment with style and verve that would enhance and sustain the interests of both spouses (she the owner of a chic gallery in Soho, he a musician/composer) while at the same time shelter their teenager from the storms of upcoming adulthood. They were looking for a combination of traditional style with a splash of boho chic. Ultimately, they wanted an uber-sophisticated home with room for all to work—and play!

Usually I include a recipe at the end of my blogs, but in this case my imaginary couple made it quite clear that they were not moving to NYC, one of the restaurant capitals of the world, to cook. While the kitchen is highly functional, it is more for having a cup of coffee and a bagle than creating five course meals. So I will take a page from their book and trot on over across the street to the B-2 Bistro and enjoy someone else’s cooking for a change!

Happy New Year!

Smoke and Mirrors

Pecan Sour Cream Coffee Cake

One of the upsides to downsizing is getting rid of the big yard and all the attendant landscaping chores, woes, and expense–though not for my friend. While she was willing to give up a few floors, scads of rooms and the Olympic-sized pool–the yard was not negotiable. Finally, after viewing dozens and dozens of listings, and a few wrong moves, she hit gold–green really.

In, well almost in, tony Sea Girt this acre plus property with its senior friendly ranch style home had nary a shrub but, to one beholder at least, potential galore. Over the past few years, from the safety of the store, I have heard the saga of the plantings; extensive. The kitchen reno, a master class in geometry; as for the bathroom remodels–let’s just say budget busting–but worth every penny. Or so my friend said. Finally, I was invited to go see for myself.

Upon entering the house the first thing I noticed was the British Cottage cupboard in the foyer from our French Country Era–say early 2008. I think it was employed as a server in one of their former dining rooms but certainly now it is more than up to its job front and center here. With the addition of a mirror (the first of many featured throughout this home) wrapped in brass and a table lamp in the same metal, an engaging entryway is achieved with a minimum of fuss–and most importantly in this case–space.

Because two steps later you are in the living room.

When a space is tres petite in scale, the temptation is to use all tres petit furniture but the bold move, for the win by the way, is to introduce a few oversized pieces to the mix–like the fairly massive French armoire in the background and this gorgeous antique pine table pictured below.

You’re barely through the living room when the dining room is upon you. Dining room you scoff. Who needs a dining room when space is at such a premium? Basically anyone over the age of 50 is the answer. We like a space out of the kitchen where dirty dishes can be forgotten; a dedicated place of beauty where we can feature our gorgeous linens, polished silver and lovely china, linger over drinks, over dessert, or over just about any darn anything we choose!

Make sure to note how the oversized mirror enlarges the room visually, a great trick when space is tight.

When downsizing there is an unwritten rule to never buy anything new. But sometimes the furniture from the first, second, or even third house simply does not fit the new one. In this case the space just cried out for a round table and we (British Cottage) were happy to deliver. In a warm oak, with faux bamboo chairs, also in oak, dinner parties are happily back in the picture.

Next up is the family room. Pocket sized, anyone with less bravado would have tacked a tv to the wall, set up two armchairs and called it a day. Not here. Here we have not one, but two sofas, two robust upholstered wing chairs, and, and a massive (well sort of) pine breakfront for the television from yours truly (this was for house number 2 I think).

The wing chairs in question have also been around for numerous moves and have seen better days but made of flexsteel and beloved by the man of the house they are, yet again, en route to the upholsterers. I like the tone on tone animal print that reads as a neutral and balances the boldness of the teal on the Hickory White mid-sized sofa (another new purchase) that fortunately fits like a glove–measure, measure and measure again is a good thing to remember when every inch counts.

There are three bedrooms with three dressers from British Cottage and two British Cottage beds (from the good old days when we used to manufacture our own line of bedroom furniture in England). They were bought, I think, for their Spring Lake house and were a perfect fit for that cozy coastal beach home–and even better–twenty years later they still are for this one.

We used to make them in either an antique white or natural pine.

Pecan Sour Cream Coffee Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter an 8×10-inch baking dish.
  2. Make the topping: Mix pecans, white sugar, brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, and salt together in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined and all components are coated with butter, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Make the cake: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. Mix sugar and butter together in a large bowl with a spatula until well blended. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Gradually whisk in flour mixture until flour is just incorporated; do not overmix.
  5. Spread 1/2 of the batter over the bottom of the prepared baking dish, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the topping. Carefully spoon remaining batter over topping, then sprinkle with remaining topping; very gently press topping into batter.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until a bamboo skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly before servingThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png