commercial design

Take Me Away // Marina Del Rey Hotel

106289528c495b61dc5591dcf98fd25bLast summer I was a bridesmaid for the 6th and (I assume) final time in my life. With the bride being April, my BFF from high school, this is what bridesmaid duty looked like.

IMG_2087Basically I helped the bride get dressed, and did my best to make sure she felt relaxed and gorgeous. So easy and fun!

As an added bonus, the reception of this beautiful wedding was held at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, where the airy lobby and bar became a new source of design inspiration for me. The hotel was renovated by the Pacifica Group, and I found that the thoughtful mix of design elements – nautical, mid-century, Moroccan, organic and more – all added up to a California Eclectic feel that works great for a hotel on the marina. I showed you the wonderful seagull sculpture installation that greets you in the lobby (above). Here are some other things that caught my eye.

Mid-century style furniture mixed with organic pieces like the live-edge coffee table….
image1…all working together with this very contemporary textured wall-treatment.
5ce26ac44da90a89c3d0354a7504a533I’m delighted by unexpected details like this in the floor
image2And this lounge area looked so fun and inviting!
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2d8ce043b366952b68adfa0d1d219faeSALT, the hotel’s bar and restaurant, has contemporary lighting features warmed up by mid-century style furniture.87b54bb43606415cd62189ea7b829345I love the mixture of Wishbone chairs with the quilted texture of the vinyl on the lounge-ier chairs.
f928a1e5eeb5bf2030b3826d143494d7The marina itself is a beautiful sight. I don’t get to this part of L.A. very often, so looking at all these boats bobbing around on the water made me feel like I was on vacation.967-0945a1ed05da7f70493d36317c73e363In fact, I think this place would be a great location for a Staycation!ef5fdf5a3b2f65bf8722c48905eb8874Photos 6-10 are from the Marina Del Rey Hotel website, the rest are by me and a kind bartender at Salt.


Take Me Away // Bemelmans Bar, NYC

This weekend I attended a charming baby shower with a “classic children’s books” theme. It got me thinking about one of my very favorite places to have a drink!  Bemelmans Bar is at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. It is named after Louis Bemelmans, creator of the Madeline series of books. His murals cover the walls of the bar, making it a most unusual and delightful place to throw one back.

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Bemelmans’ characters even adorn the lampshades on the tables! I love all the detail – there is so much to take in, but it all feels very warm and soothing.

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This bar is the only place where Bemelmans’ work is on display to the public. The space has a dark, clubby feeling at all times of the day, but the whimsical scenes the artist painted on the walls make it an uplifting place to drink. BB7Sitting in this bar for a little while, as I often do when I am in New York, puts me in touch with that part of my childhood self that wanted to jump into the books I read.  Sipping an Old Cuban at the same time makes me very glad to be a grown-up! This place is a treasure.

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Recently Completed // Apartment Laundry Room Remodel

This is my final post about The Virg, a 12-unit apartment building in Hollywood that I remodeled with 3SC Capital Partners. In previous posts, I have talked about what we did with the building’s Exterior, a typical Living Room, typical Kitchen, and typical Bedroom and Bathroom. The last piece was the Laundry Room, shared by all the apartment-dwellers. Our design directive was to make it feel fresh and inviting -on a tight budget! I knew immediately that we could do something fun with the stair risers to make the space memorable.1

This is what the laundry room looked like after it had been cleaned up and painted white to look respectable, as soon as the developers purchased the property. (I think the guy in the picture below is an inspector!)

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On the plus side, this was an apartment laundry room that was NOT in a scary basement! The space, though cramped, offered an abundance of natural light. My clients were ready to upgrade the laundry experience for their tenants by relocating the hot water tank elsewhere, adding a second set of washer and dryers, and putting in a little counter-space. They also needed some locked storage for cleaning supplies for this area. Here is what we did:2We painted all the railings and security “caging” the same light blue we used on the building’s exterior. (Far less prison-like than black!)  We laid new light grey linoleum on the floor. We located the washers side by side, and stacked the dryers opposite. And we added a small counter for folding clothes, with cupboards above and below.

3We gave the tenants some abstract art in soothing hues to set the tone. (Picked up this canvas for $35 at Target!. I styled it with some cute canvas laundry baskets from Target as well.)4Ilse and Anna, talented girls on my team, executed the bold “Laundry” sign and running stripe by hand, in a font and colors that were cohesive with the exterior of The Virg. The stripe gives the space energy, and connects the stairway and narrow mezzanine walkway to the actual laundry area for a more spacious overall feeling.
laundry-stairrailing I came up with the “laundry directions” to paint on the stair risers – wisdom gleaned from many years of doing apartment building laundry! Those dank, creepy laundry rooms were a far cry from this freshness.stair-overall

So fun to revisit this part of the project! Thanks, Anna and Ilse.IMG_0871“After” Photos by Caroline Froberg. Thanks, Caroline!

Past Work // The Virg – Apartment Bedroom & Bathroom Renovation

This is Part 4 of my series on the recent renovation of The Virg, a 12-unit apartment building in Hollywood that was re-developed by 3SC Capital Partners. I consulted on all the design decisions for the project. You can follow these links to read about what we did with the building’s Exterior, typical Living Room, and typical Kitchen. Now here is what we did with a typical Bedroom and Bathroom in each apartment.DSC_0840 copy
B E D R O O M // B E F O R E

This project was about elevating the property to re-position it in the rental market. The cookie-cutter apartment features of the 1980s had to go: industrial carpet, vertical blinds, and mirrored closet doors.

B E D R O O M // A F T E R

I favor simple white roller shades for this kind of architecture. They offer privacy, but let in light. And they almost disappear when they are rolled up, allowing the view to be a feature of the space. I recommend inside-mounted shades, so that a renter has the option of installing a curtain rod and some drapes over the window. That way, they have the flexibility to express their personal style AND block out more light, if that’s important to them!

blindsThe floors are durable laminate planks, and decently approximate hardwood flooring with a cerused finish. Waaaay more hygienic than carpet, and all a tenant needs to do is throw down their own rug for warmth and style.

Mirrored closet doors are hopelessly dated! (At least, the kind that you find in these 80s and 90s remodels are hopelessly dated!!) We replaced the junk-y sliders in place with simple sliding wood doors, painted white and mounted on a sturdy track. If this was my room, I would get a lightweight and inexpensive mirror, (look for them in hardware stores – about 48″ x 12″ ) and mount it on the back of the bedroom door for a full-length view. doors

B A T H R O O M // B E F O R E

You knew this wasn’t going to be good! This was one of the cleaner bathrooms when we started. The toilet in this unit was OK, but everything else needed to be upgraded. Modular plastic shower units and harsh light fixtures would not do.

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 B A T H R O O M // A F T E R

I have dwelled in many an apartment in my day, and I bring that experience to this kind of design. I know what I yearned for, all those years! So all the new fixtures installed are clean and contemporary-looking. I selected pieces that were relatively inexpensive, without sacrificing practicality. The medicine cabinet is generously sized, and if depth allowed, each bathroom got a double towel- rail. Everyone needs room for at least two towels to hang in a bathroom!bathroomvanityandlight copyWe selected a really neutral gray tile with a hint of texture for the bathroom floors, and continued with the same material in a different size for the shower enclosure. We also added an integrated shampoo niche.
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There is a major cost-saving upside in going with a shower curtain rod instead of glass enclosure, but I don’t like glass enclosures around a tub like this anyway! In a rental, it is more surface area and nooks and crannies to collect mildew and deteriorate the value of the space. There are more potential maintenance issues with glass and doors. And they can be a total pain if you’re trying to bathe babies and little kids. (This is the only bathroom in a 2-bedroom apartment, so we wanted to make it amenable to a young family.) One last reason that I value a curtain rod in a rental unit is style – this bathroom could go in so many directions according to the shower curtain that a tenant hangs. As a renter, I always took advantage of that.

Past Work // Apartment Kitchen Renovation

Here we are back at The Virg, the 12-unit apartment building in Hollywood where I recently completed a major renovation with 3SC developers. You can read about the Exterior transformation here and what we did in a typical Living Room here.  Onto a typical Kitchen!

This was one of the better kitchens in the building when it was bought – recently renovated and pretty clean. But the plan to re-position the property in the rental market meant that we were adding a dishwasher, expanding the foot-print, increasing the counter-space and adding storage. And of course, installing better appliances, finishes and fixtures all around. Tile countertops were not going to cut it!

K I T C H E N 1 // B E F O R E

K I T C H E N 1 // A F T E R

6-kitchenFresh and functional was the goal – in a neutral palette, with modern style. Caesarstone is my go-to counter-top material, and quartz is my answer to a Caesarstone look on a budget! One of the best things we did with it was to finish the top of the pony wall in the material, and extend it out on the end. It’s now a little bar for one.

Even though we were extending the kitchen’s length, we chose to leave the partial wall enclosing one side of the original area in its place. Apart from saving a bit of demo cost, we liked the way it tucked around the side of the fridge, which was black and looked kind of cheap compared to the stainless steel fronts of the appliances.
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How will people use this? This is something I’m always picturing when I design interiors. Here, I think the wall we left in place also defines the additional cabinets and counter-top we added on this side as a good place to charge a phone and throw down mail. Or maybe it’s the coffee bar…

 K I T C H E N  2 // B E F O R E

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K I T C H E N  2 // A F T E R

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White subway tile on the walls is inexpensive, neutral, and timeless. Fresh white cabinets, stainless steel appliances, a nice deep sink (always under-mount if I can help it – simply the cleanest-looking and easiest to clean) and a goose-neck facet with a pull-out spray elevate the design and increase the apartment’s value. I’m pleased to say that we were able to pull off these spanking new kitchens for under $10,000 each.12-kitchen

Design Details // Unusual Balconies

“Thinking outside the box” is an idea that the architects of these buildings have taken to heart. Each is an example of how an unusual balcony can be just the design detail to really distinguish an otherwise standard structure. Unexpected shapes and volumes, contrasting materials, and playful uses of color make these balconies show-stoppers! 0d09f89969f0495e44f82fb1fb147dda 41b60868f73b45f38e462f458de74a67-1
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34cd1841981033a5bc2833a4ab69cdb2 7862b6c7ed0c32023ede2838e2fcf361A quick Google search on this concept picture I pinned in 2012 makes me wonder if construction was ever completed on this luxury apartment building in Mumbai. It gives me vertigo just to think about it, but it COULD be the coolest balcony ever!
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I M A G E S // 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Past Work // Apartment Interior Design – Living Rooms

The Virg is a building in Hollywood that I have been working on for the last few months with 3SC developers. You can read about what we did with the building’s exterior here Read on for interior details!5

Inside the building, there are 12 units, and they have come with a variety of worn-out finishes and dated fixtures. Here are examples of how we have improved upon a typical one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment in the Living Room areas.

6-overallThis project has been about elevating this building to re-position it in the rental market. Things that had to go were: popcorn ceilings, gross carpet, and ugly tile.

I had tile like this in the last apartment I lived in – it looks dirty and feels gritty, even when it’s clean!

L I V I N G  R O O M // B E F O R E

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In addition to scraping the ceiling and painting everything, we laid hard-wearing laminate flooring that has the look of cerused hardwood. We replaced windows and doors, maximized built-in storage, and replaced dated vertical blinds with roller shades and curtain rods.

L I V I N G  R O O M // A F T E R

12-livingroomdetailThe result is a fresh, neutral space that maximizes natural light, and has attractive, durable finishes that are easy to keep clean. Regardless of architectural style and budget, this is what I aim to bring to any rental unit. A built-in view of palm trees doesn’t hurt my design!
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A fter shots by Caroline Froeberg

Take Me Away // Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford

The Napa Valley has been a favorite getaway for me and my husband since we were old enough to drink!  The scenery is unbelievable, the pace is relaxed, and everywhere you go, people are passionate about producing great wines – and food to go with it.
Napa_Valley_from_Auberge_du_Soleil_1Recently, a design project involving an intimate winery tasting room called me up there for a couple of days. I was sure to steal some time to spend on the patio of the restaurant at Auberge Du Soleil. It’s the best spot I know in the Valley to eat and drink something delish, while taking in breathtaking views.

2a357032ada8c52947ec1282c26c2e5cA stay at Auberge Du Soleil could break the bank, but a nice brunch, lunch or afternoon cocktail is pretty accessible. If you find yourself in the Napa Valley, make the drive up the hill and take advantage of this beauty.

d7e3f24207bbd873f6c13393eb424d7cAnd what a fun sculpture garden!a8cbfe33605a108cee77f67f7dd87718

Images // 1, 2, 3, 4

Design Details // Vertical Gardens

On a list of a few of my favorite things, let’s just put vertical gardens right up there. If you’re a city mouse who loves nature (that’s probably most humans) what could be better than swathing the side of a big urban building with lush plant-life?1

I am enthralled by the texture, color, pattern and movement of these living walls.2 3

Those walls look like awesome feats of landscape engineering.

The following vertical gardens look more like installations I can wrap my head around. They make my design wheels start turning as I imagine the possibilities for a commercial space, or even a residential project. I would love to collaborate with a landscape architect with these concept images in mind.
4 5And I definitely wouldn’t mind a small installation of succulents like this on my garden wall. A possible DIY project for the future!
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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Catch Natasha Jansz on HGTV's "HOUSE HUNTER'S RENOVATION" October 28th 10pm/9c