Last week, NYC was filled with so many beautiful things to see. Below are a few of my top finds from some of the art & design shows. My favorites being: the single-arm Petit Frank chair, selections from the Kramarsky Collection, Nucleo resin furniture and the Round Cupside silver mirror which can be made in polished copper- imagine how stunning that would be!!
May is bustling with a number of great art and design shows throughout the city. If you have the time be sure and check out the following:
Have you ever stayed at a luxury hotel and fell in love with the bathroom? And then stayed at another hotel where the bathroom was the last place you wanted to spend any time? That is the difference between good and bad design!
So when I am renovating a bathroom, like all things in decorating, I like to tune into how I want my clients to feel in the space. Ideally in a bathroom you want to feel calm and peaceful. While I don’t decorate using Feng Shui principles aligned with one’s zodiac sign, five elements and so forth, I do tune into my own Feng Shui. That is based on function, balancing a space and creating a flow of positive light energy.
This can often be challenging in a bathroom, especially one in Manhattan with limited space and natural light, but it can be done. Here are some of the things I like to think about when designing a bathroom:
The first and most important factor is to work on the layout of your bathroom. In Manhattan apartment buildings, you are often dealing with smaller square footage, an inability to move water and/or waste lines and board approval. So before you redesign something that may never get passed, first investigate what is even viable and then work from there. To highlight this point, some pre-war buildings require the owner to replace all the plumbing lines when replacing the tile which will substantially alter your renovation budget.
In an ideal master bathroom, I would want a freestanding or built-in tub, a frameless shower with a small seat for shaving my legs, separate water closet, two vanities or at least one vanity with a double sink, recessed medicine cabinets, radiant floors, well placed towel bars and good lighting.
There are a wide variety of tubs from free standing, to built-ins, to under-mount tubs. You need to know what you are working with and how much you want to spend. My first choice is a free standing tub, then an under-mount, and lastly a tub with an apron to the floor.
If you are over 5’8” then you probably will want to go with a 6’ long tub. I am 5’5” so for me a 5’5” tub is perfect. But it’s a personal preference so do your due diligence and go to various showrooms. Don't be afraid to take off your shoes and lie down in them. You want to make sure you like the curve on your back and where it hits the nape of your neck. Like a good chair, you will know immediately if it is the one for you. If you love the look of it, but it’s terribly uncomfortable, keep looking!
I love the newer more modern “egg” shaped fiberglass free standing tubs. They have beautiful lines and look well. My favorite of course is a cedar tub- having experienced one at a traditional ryokan in Kyoto. It was heavenly but strictly for soaking and required cleaning before entering.
If you are doing an under-mount tub in a tub/shower configuration, there are many ways to tile and trim this out. I prefer doing a slab top with a slab tub face. I don’t love when people tile the tub face of an under-mount tub. The ceramic tiles rarely line up, there are issues with selecting a base, etc. If you are at the beach, you can do beadboard on the tub face if you have beadboard wainscotting in the room. Horizontal wide wood planks look well too. But no doubt a stone slab tub face always looks amazing and is better for a wet location.
If you need to bathe a baby or little child, then make sure to find a tub that is about 18” high. Less will feel like a cheap motel tub and deeper will be uncomfortable. Keep in mind if you do an under-mount tub, you are adding an additional 3/4-1.25” from the slab height. Most free standing tubs are deeper and not ideal for bathing a child.
If you are designing a children's room or a room of less importance and you want to be cost-conscious, then opt for a tub with the apron to the floor. Go with cast iron. Kohler makes some nice affordable options.
I am a huge fan of hand-helds in all tubs, tub/shower, and showers. They make bathing children easy- no need for plastic cups to wash their hair. They also make cleaning much easier.
If you are doing a free standing tub then, you will need a tub filler that comes from the floor. Be mindful where you want to sit in the tub, which way you want your head to face and then where you want the filler to be. If your tub large enough for two then make sure the spout is in the middle. If it is just for one person then the spout can go at one end of the tub, usually over the drain. But keep in mind if there are windows, views or a sleek LED TV that you want to watch while bathing, it is important to figure this out when designing the plumbing lines. Lastly, be mindful that you have left enough room around and behind the tub to clean with a mop/vacuum.
Tubs that for two people tend to be wider, so when placing your tub filler make sure you can reach them and don’t have to lean over too far or in an uncomfortable way.
If I were to design my ideal bathroom, it would be in a light colored marble, preferably white. You need to select materials that are appropriate to the location, style and decor of your home. White marbles for instance vary widely in price. Cararra is very affordable but runs more gray than white these days. Calacatta and its sister stones tend to be on the more pricey end. You need to know if you like an active marble with lots of veining or a subtle marble with little or no veining. Look through images and try and find a palette that you like or take a field trip to a well-stocked marble yard and see what you like. Seeing a slab of marble can be very different than a 4"square sample in a showroom.
Also be mindful of dark colored stones if you have limited or no natural light in the room. Dark floors may be ok, but once you bring it up the walls, it will make it even darker. Not that dark is bad, you just have to know what you are creating and if you need to balance it with lighter colors elsewhere.
There are many options for flooring: large tiles that you can run in various patterns from a running bond, to a brick pattern, to cutting them into pieces to form other shapes and patterns, mosaics, tiles, antique floors and more. There are a million options to chose from and there is not better way to figure that out than to go and look in person. Always keep in mind the scale of the stone you have selected in relation to the size of your bathroom floor. Have your architect scale the pattern into your drawings for a better visual.
I love radiant heated floors- walking onto a warm hard stone floor on a cold winter's night is delightful. Be mindful of the thickness of your floor tile. Most at 3/8” will be with radiant floors, but some stone/tile floors are thicker. You don’t want to have your floor tile above the height of your stone saddle.
Lastly, you want to marry all of your stones in the room or make sure they all look well together. The areas to address: bathroom floor tile, baseboard, bathroom walls, shower floor, shower walls, shower ceiling, shower curb and jamb, shower seat, vanity top, vanity backsplash & sidesplash, tub deck and tub face. Like all stone, you will need to go to stone yard and match your slab to what you are using in the room. So if you are doing a mosaic or tile, order a 12” square piece of the current lot and bring it with you when selecting the slab. If you select the slab first then you will need to match that to the tile. Matching them is key to making the bathroom feel seamless. When things don’t match it will be noticeable and who wants to feel like it’s a mistake especially when it can be avoided.
If I were on a budget but wanted to make my room look amazing I would do the following: select a well priced mosaic floor tile, 3/4” slab for the vanity countertop, side & backsplash (build-up the vanity edge so it appears thicker), slab on the shower curb and jambs. Then I would use same or different mosaic on the shower floor, and when you can’t afford slab on shower walls, opt for a large tile like a 18” x 24” size. Use the same tiles for a stone baseboard cut into 4-6”h x 24”long pieces. If you can afford it, I like my baseboard made of leftover slab because you have fewer seams. If you are using large tiles on the floor, then match the base to the floor.
I prefer under-mount sinks. Over-mount sinks or those that sit on a countertop, while they look cool, lose countertop space and drawer storage. I have pictured one below if you do however go in that direction. Personally, if you love the look of an over-mount sink, I suggest saving it for your powder room. I love rectangular under-mount sinks over oval shaped sinks when possible. If you have the room, go for a larger sized sink. A 14” x 17” sink is a good standard size. Selecting the right size sink all depends on what you are trying to accomplish, if you have limited space and want to maximize countertop space, and how your vanity drawer configuration will lay out. If you have the room, a 15” x 19” or larger sink is recommended.
Pedestal sinks often can make a small bathroom feel larger while allowing for more space to put a waste bin. To balance the storage you lose with a pedestal sink, consider adding a glass shelf above the sink under the medicine cabinet, a train rack for additional towel storage, enough towel rings, bars and robe hooks.
I prefer recessed medicine cabinets when possible. They look cleaner in my opinion. If you go with custom-made, use clear maple interiors with adjustable glass shelves. Otherwise Restoration Hardware makes nice ready-made metal trimmed medicine cabinets. If you use an electric toothbrush you may prefer the ones with interior electrical outlets. I also love a medicine cabinet with a full mirror on the inside of the door as well as the back of the medicine. However those are added bonuses. I am not a huge fan of surface mounted medicine cabinets- they look bulky and take away from the clean lines. If you want to add recessed medicine cabinets, you will need to have your contractor check to make sure there is no existing plumbing in the wall. I have furred out walls just to allow for recessed medicine cabinet. I also am a huge fan of mirroring your whole wall above your vanity and then having the custom medicine cabinet integrated into that. In this case you can mount the sconces onto the mirror. A full wall of mirror above your vanity will add more light, reflection and make a smaller bathroom seem larger.
Lighting is the most important things in any room, but especially in a bathroom. Multiple lighting sources: wall to ceiling is best. Sconces at eye-level flanking the medicine cabinet are nice. I prefer sconces in wet bathrooms to have glass shades vs. paper or linen shades. Start your electrical junction box at 66” above finished floor to the center of your backplate but you may need to raise or lower this based on your selected sconce and how it configures with your mirrors. Flushmounts with at least (2) 60 watt bulbs are best. Ones that take (2) 100 watt bulbs are even better. You can of course use recessed lighting in main ceiling area and/or over the sinks. Make sure in the shower you are using a recessed light for wet location with a milk glass cover-plate. Always check on wattage of each light to make sure it is ample. Some sconces that only have (1) 25 watt bulb, which may be ok for a bathroom in a dimly lit restaurant, but not what you want when you are putting on make-up or washing your face. If you do decide to go with a gorgeous sconce that takes a low wattage bulb consider adding recessed lighting or additional lighting in the area to help balance.
In Shower Storage
A shampoo niche is a nice touch. Make sure it is tall & deep enough for your shampoo bottles, especially if you buy the large pumps. And locate it at a height that is comfortable to your reach. When built-in stone niches are not an option I like using metal wire corner-baskets. If you use a hard soap and not liquid, a soap basket is always my preference.
Hardware & Accessories
Grab bars in showers and tubs are great. You can’t get enough towel bars, robe hooks and the like. Make sure they are well placed. Towel bars standardly at 40-42”AFF. I like towel rings above the vanity centered on the countertop. One robe hook behind the door is nice and/or by the shower. If you need to be creative and add more towel storage you can also double hang towel bars. I use a 30” wide towel bar for two side by side bath towels. A towel ring or an 18” wide towel bar for hand towels near the sink. Keep in mind if you do a metal based vanity then you can hang your hand towels from the metal pipes.
I like both deck mounted and wall mounted sink faucets. Both have their merits. If you want a 24” deep vanity then go with a deck mounted faucet. A wall mounted sink faucet will keep your vanity more like 21” deep, pending on the depth of the spout, and you will need a taller backsplash to mount it on- something like 10” h.
As I mentioned before I am a huge fan of hand-helds in both the shower and the tub. In a shower if you can afford it, a thermostatic valve (pre-sets water temperature) is nice, but if you want to save money then just opt for the pressure balanced valve.
Shower Doors & Hardware
Frameless shower doors can make a shower feel more spacious and open. Keep in mind the direction of the door swing in relation to the controls and also where you place the towel bar or robe hook. I prefer using a horizontal handle on shower door which you can use to hang a floor mat or towel on.
Vanity and Drawer Dimensions
The best way to design a vanity is to look on-line and get inspired by what you see. You will need to select a material- painted, wood stain, glass and metal, so on and so forth. The most affordable is painted vanity but you can be creative and go for a high gloss spray finish. Like all things, I love cerused oak in bathrooms as well. If you have no budget, custom metal framed glass drawers are stunning. Like a kitchen, make sure you have laid out the drawers well. Do you want them all the same height or graduated? If you want to store your hairdryer in the bottom drawer then you will need it about 10” h. Make sure your drawers are wide enough to actually put things in. You can get extra storage under the sink by adding a shelf on either side of the trap or cutting out around the trap.
Water Closets and Toilets
If you have the room and like your privacy then a water closet is always a nice addition. I love back-flush toilets where the flush control is on the wall behind the toilet. I also love TOTO’s “Roll Royce” with the heated toilet seat and multiple spray options. A built-in magazine rack in the water closet is always a nice touch for those that like to hang-out and catch up on their periodicals (referring to many men that spend their free-time reading the paper on the toilet).
Personally polished nickel is my top choice; however, this finish does show water marks and requires polishing. My second choice is polished chrome, a less expensive finish than polished nickel. Whatever you select, make sure all of your finishes match- that being your plumbing, light fixtures, hardware and lighting. Each vendor has their own metal composition so the finish can vary slightly in color. I have found that there is less color variation from one company to the next with polished nickel than with polished chrome. So be mindful when ordering.
Below are some of my favorite plumbing lines, toilets, tubs, stone mosaics, lighting and more to help you create a bathroom oasis.
I often day dream about the design of my ideal kitchen- what kind of materials would I use, what appliances would I select and so forth. While it's easy to design anything spectacular with an unlimited budget, we often make decisions based largely on cost. In working with my clients to design their kitchen, the first goal is to make the space as functional as possible. A good starting point is to list your necessary requirements and existing restrictions. Some clients are big cooks while others favor ordering in. And in Manhattan, one is often dealing with small existing spaces which have their own limitations and requires some creativity.
But let's start with the basics and go through the check list.
Ideally I love wood floors in kitchens. They are softer on your physical body, warmer and create a nice balance to all the hard surfaces (cabinets, appliances, stone countertops, etc). It is important to be mindful that in a high traffic and busy work areas, the darker and shiner the wood stain & finish the more scratches will show. In particular, you will see more signs by the sink and stove as these get constant wear and tear.
If you are going to use a stone or tile floor, I love the idea of an old material for the floor, like the Petit Granite from Equistite Surfaces. Old limestone or marble floor tiles add a nice contrast to modern cabinets and appliances.
In the last few years my taste in cabinetry leans more and more modern. Meaning, I like a clean plain profiles with little to no molding or recessed paneling. While paint grade cabinets can look well, I also love using cerused oak (yes it's tried and true my favorite). The nice thing about using wood cabinets, is that they won't chip like paint which inevitably will over time. While the upfront cost for wood is more, the long term maintenance cost is less as you won't need to repaint them. Since lower cabinets tend to take more of a beating than the uppers, I sometimes use cerused oak on the lower faces and then white high gloss lacquered cabinets on the uppers. Clear maple interiors with under drawer glides are a must and look and perform the best in my opinion.
Laying out all of the drawers with the architect and cabinetmakers is critical. Each drawer should be assigned for it's purpose- flatware, drying towels, tupperware, knives, etc. It's best to think logically here and try and organize the drawers and cabinets based on function. Plates and glasses are best near the dishwashers and so forth. If you want to keep your countertops clean, then I like knife drawers with built in knife blocks or a magnetic wall strip to house your knives. I like keeping my countertops as clean as possible and if you haven't figured it out yet- I have OCD tendencies so I like my kitchen to be organized in a logical way.
Make sure your uppers are deep enough to hold your dinner plates (most of which are 10" diameter) but some are larger so make double check and measure.
When reviewing plans, keep in mind that most drawer fronts are roughly 2" wider than the interior of the drawers. An 8" wide drawer front means the interior of your drawer is only 6". That won't allow for much! As such, it is crucial that you measure everything and double check the drawings over and over. Stiles in my opinion can be a waste of space that could be capitalized for storage and should be omitted when possible.
If saving money is key, and you don't mind seeing your dishes and glasses, then open shelves are the way to go. However this only looks good if you are organized and have one set of china & glasses, and so forth. If your tastes are eclectic and have a collection of mix and match stuff, best to hide it. If you opt for open shelves, reserve this for your plates and glasses only, not your pantry. Keep the pantry behind closed doors. Even if you are tidy and line up your crackers, cereals and nuts, it still looks better behind closed doors.
I love creating a vertical tray storage. This is great for baking sheets, cutting boards and large serving trays. You can never have enough of these in my opinion.
Often treated as an afterthought, choosing cabinet hardware that you love the look and feel of is crucial. Knobs vs. pulls. Long vs. short. How does it feel in your hand? These are all things to explore. I tend to prefer a long modern pull to a more traditional knob. I like using the long pulls on both the uppers (used vertical) and lowers (used horizontal). I would suggest having the cabinet maker create a sample drawer or cabinet panel for your approval to see the proportions and the quality of the finish. The sample face can be brought to the hardware store to select what looks best. I'll say it again, you want to hold the hardware in your hand and make sure if feels good to you. You will be grabbing for these multiple times throughout your day (assuming you actually go in your kitchen!) and it is important that the size and scale, as well as location, are comfortable for your grasp.
I am a huge fan of getting a filtered water tap. Most tap water, while touted to be clean, still contains high levels of certain metals among other properties. It also helps cut down on bottled water usage. Hot water spouts are not useful in my opinion. Why put money into them and take up counter-space and under-cabinet space when you can simply by a tea kettle? Check out Perrin & Rowe who make some nice filtered taps. One note- make sure you change the filter at least every 6 months!
I prefer a goose neck spout which is nice when filling large pots. I also like a built-in hose for the spout when possible.
I only like using undermount sinks and quite honestly loath overmounts. They tend to look messy because of the exposed caulking. I don't mind farm house sinks if it compliments the style of your kitchen. While white porcelain sinks are a classic look and are easier to clean, I prefer the clean modern look of stainless steel. I prefer one large sink vs. two smaller ones. A minimum of 30" wide x 8-10" deep is nice. Any deeper is unnecessary and too commercial. But anything less than 8" is far too shallow. Keep in mind if it is an undercount you are also gaining the thickness of the countertop in addition to the depth of your sink.
I loathe putting a dishwasher under a sink- simply terrible and unfunctional- in my opinion just don't do a dishwasher at that point. Make sure you don't have to move from the sink to open the dishwasher. I can't tell you how many kitchens are poorly layed out in such a manner. Function is put second to the promotional selling point of having a Meile dishwasher- ridiculous!
Unless you cook for large parties and often use massive pots, or you have trouble lifting things, I think they are rarely used and unfunctional. Reasons not to get one- it's nice to let the water run in any spout if it hasn't been on for a while. Pot filler are over stoves so running water over a gas burner is a bad idea. So logically that means you need to let it run over a pot, and then dump the pot out in the sink. Ask yourself- is it worth spending the extra money for the spout itself, cutting into the backsplash and running plumbing behind the stove?
These are of course lovely to have. Some people like them in the kitchen, others in the bar area or even in a basement or out of the way closet.
I try to discourage most clients from buying microwaves. I once had a person "Feng Shui" my office and with a special barometer she found the microwave had bad toxic energy- whatever that means!! Sadly, this has stuck in my head and I choose not to use one and encourage my clients to do the same. While they are quick and efficient, something about them screams NO. For me- they are an extra appliance that takes up space.
While I haven't owned one yet, I am loving the popular inductions stove tops. They have a clean and modern aesthetic and heat up in a flash. Bonus- they are very easy to clean. While there is still a demand for a gas cooktop range, I think these are very promising. If you are going for a gas stove, I think Wolf is just as good as Viking and a little less expensive (owned by the same company). Opt for the black knobs vs the red which will blend in more! Gringer in NYC is a great showroom to see all of the best lines from Miele, Bosch, Gaggenau, Viking, Wolf, Subzero, Liebherr, etc. Marvin is my go to man there!
Subzero's are gorgeous and nice, and also super expensive. So if you are on a budget then consider Fisher & Paykel or GE. Liebherr is great if you are tight on space and don't have a lot of depth. I am not a huge fan of refrigerator drawers. I don't know why but they just bug me. While they are nice in a bar bc you can panel the fronts to hide and integrate them, I just don't like them. Ice machines are another story too. If you are like me and don't use ice cubes in your beverages then you don't need this. But do make sure your refrigerator has built in ice trays- not all do, which requires a plumbing line. If you cannot get a plumbing line to your refrigerator then you will need to use old school ice trays. Ice machines to me are like microwaves, unnecessary. But if you are entertainging quite often, or love to chuck your own oysters, then maybe you want them. But be careful where you place them because no matter what ice machines make noise- so don't put one in your screening room!
I am not a fan of dishwasher drawers. Instead get an 18"wide Miele. And of course if you have the room for it, get a regular 24"wide dishwasher. I think Miele & Bosch are the best and worth the investment. I also am a huge fan of leaving appliances as appliances and not covering them with a face frame to hide or integrate them. Stainless steel is gorgeous- so just look for clean lines with a nice shaped handle. A hidden control panel on a dishwasher is a nice touch.
You can never have enough light in your kitchen. You first need to decide if you want to do recessed or decorative lights or a combination of the two. I usually like a combination- recessed over cabinets and decorative over an island. But of course it all depends. If your kitchen is very large, then it will look cleaner with recessed lights vs. dotting your ceiling with decorative lights. Keep in mind if using metal shades (like industrial halophonies)- they only shine down and not all around.
Undercounted lights are always a divisive topic. I like them- are they necessary? No. They provide nice ambient light. Make sure to get LED strips so they don't get hot. Some of the older under-counter lights tend to get super hot, which is not great right under your pantry or oil storage. Because you need to build a recessed niche under the cabinets to hide them, be sure that your cabinet maker & electrician are involved in the planning of such lights.
There are two options for outlets. You can either do backlash outlets (I prefer duplex outlets layed horizontally). Depending on the color of the stone I either use a stainless steel or white cover plate. You can also do a strip outlet, where there are plugs about every 6". This is great and very clean so you don't need to cut into your stone backsplash and these are located in the back and underside of your upper cabinets. Do not put these in the front of the upper cabinets- can you imagine having a cord hanging from the front near the countertop edge? If you plan on leaving your toaster or coffee maker plugged in at all time, then go for your duplex outlet in the backsplash. Otherwise be prepared to unplug these after use with the electrical strip unless you want to see your cord dangling down.
Countertop & Backsplash:
Marble and other natural stones are a beautiful look in a kitchen, however, I don't love polished stones which often looks too shiny, and most honed natural stones will pit with acid. All natural stones for the most part are susceptible to wear from lemon juice and other acids like red wine. And that's ok. A limestone top can look fabulous with pit marks if that is the look you are going for. You just need to know this going in. Also you need to select a stone with large enough slabs if you are doing an island in one piece. Otherwise, you need to cut the stone in such a way that it works. Generally speaking I like using 3cm or 1.25" thickness with a square 1/8" eased edge. I also love a thicker countertop, like a 2-3"thick countertop, which can be achieved by building up the countertop or mitering the edge. Note that you will see a seam so a good fabricator matters.
I prefer using slabs for the backlashes because I think it is a nice continuation of the countertop and looks clean. However this of course depends on what countertop you use. Keep in mind that if your countertop is 3cm you may want to use 2cm as the backsplash for cost and depth, unless of course you have waste from the countertop. If you are buying a 2cm slab for the backsplash it will need to match the 3cm slabs for the countertop. This is key- you need to go to stone yard and inspect the slabs in person. This may even require going to a few stone yards to find the material or pieces you like. All natural stone needs to be sealed and best done at least once a year!!
Recently I have been loving Caesarstone and Glassos. Caesarstone is a composite man-made stone, which functions much like granite so it's hard, but has a satin finish that is between a honed and polished. I love the white color best. I also love Glassos. This material is a little harder to fabricate and install, and has a more polished finish, but is gorgeous and modern and white!
Last word on stones, You need to select materials that matches your home and the style of your home and it's location. So if you have a traditional country house then consider using a honed stone and not polished. If you are modernizing it and want to add a modern kitchen, then be mindful of what you select so it doesn't feel like it flew in from the set of the Jetsons.
In general- I try and keep my kitchens on the lighter side. While dark wood kitchens, like Danish modern walnut cabinets, can look beautiful- in the end you will have a dark room that is more masculine, and for me, I like things lighter and airer.
If you are about to embark on a renovation or just thinking about one, here are a few of my favorite things to help in the process of building or renovating your kitchen.
Houston is one of my new favorite cities. The people are friendly, the weather perfect nine months of year, the outdoors are easily accessible and they have amazing ART. I was able to spend a few hours at the Menil Collection which stole my heart. The main building designed by Renzo Piano seamlessly integrates indoor and outdoor spaces with interior gardens and canopies that stretch beyond the roofline. Piano beautifully "suffuses" the natural light into the interior spaces through ceiling louvers. The collection is lovely, especially a gorgeous royal blue & green Rothko.
Dario Robleto's exhibition, The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed, connects the invention of the artificial heart with man's exploration of space. Scientists and astronauts postulated- should they encounter life in outer space, how would they communicate? The heartbeat was thought to be the universal language. I was most intrigued with the sound of the human heart beat and the first recordings of the human pulse. It was captivating to hear the sound of the human heart pulsing after various emotional stimuli. Something so pure and simple, so integral to every living being. I know what I want for Christmas- a stethoscope!!
I could have stayed for hours in the Twombly gallery. The architecture, also designed by Piano, was in my opinion pure perfection- no base board, no crown molding, no adornment, just simple elegance. Soft ivory cloth tarps draped the ceiling to diffuse the natural light. I found it meditative and calming to my soul. There is something about good art, set in the right context that could make my heart weep and never want to leave.
The Dan Flavin gallery is also meditative but in a totally different way. Colorful and dark with an industrial twist. Lastly the Rothko chapel, a bit somber for my mood but an important part of the collection and history. I left playing yet again with the idea of color and how it moves our soul in different ways from Rothko's paintings, to Flavin's neon lights, to Piano's ability to diffuse natural light in space. One's experience is further affected by the integration of art and architecture. The Menil Collection champions this notion.
I spent ten days in Turkey at the end of August and loved it. If you haven't been, add it to your bucket list!! Istanbul is a modern Middle Eastern city with so much history- it's the Rome of the Middle East. After a few days of site seeing we headed south to the coastal town of Bodrum for some R&R, sun, and swimming in the Mediterranean.
For anyone planning or just dreaming of visiting, I've made a list of the must see's and do's.
The Vault Simple, clean and nice. Well priced and in a great central location.
Karaköy Rooms I read about this in the Guardian and a few other sources, and it looks great. More of an apartment than hotel, larger rooms, etc.
The House Hotel We went for drinks at Banyan Bar next to this hotel, which has amazing views of the Bosphorus. This is toward the Bebek area near to where the Four Seasons and Kempinski Hotels are located. While I am not a fan of large marble laden hotels, both the Four Seasons and Kempinski have pools overlooking the Bosphorus. So if you want to site see in the morning and hang by a pool in the afternoon, then stay at one of these. But if you like a boutique hotel and want to be active all day exploring the city, then I would advise staying at one of the hotels noted above.
- An amazing and knowledgeable guide can make or break your travel experience. We had the great fortune to meet Zerrin Sapmaz. She used to be a tour guide for guests at the Four Seasons and then went off on her own. She is well informed and a joy to be with. $250/day. +90 532 368 0331. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We met Ansel Mullins for breakfast, who runs Istanbul Eats. This Chicagoan organizes day long eating tours that take you to all of the great finds in Istanbul providing visitors with historical facts of the city and local cuisine. $100-120/day. email@example.com
- Karaköy Lokantası Great spot for lunch.
- Ali Ocakbasi Enjoy the meze, salad with pomegranates and spiced lamb kebab at dinner. Head up to their roof deck before or after dinner for some truly amazing views of the city.
- Go to Karakoy Ozsut for a delicious breakfast of their homemade kaymak: boiled unpasteurized buffalo milk with honey. It is amazing and chalk full of enzymes for healthy digestion. We met Ansel there who provided us with a superb local experience introducing us to the amicable English speaking owner.
- Yeni Lokanta Bar Ansel also recommended this place- surprise, surprise, we loved it! The food was superb- particularly the tomato salad, the sausage, the Turkish ravioli and the hummus. That was just to start! The braised beef, lamb and fish followed. Everything was so delicious we had no room for dessert.
- Go for pre-dinner drinks down the street from Yeni Lokanta Bar at Leb-i-Derya to admire the city views.
- Mangerie & Lucca are two great spots in Bebek to grab drinks.
See & Do
- Head to the Old City to see the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, the largest Muslim mosque in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia with it's layered history & architectural nuances was my favorites next to the Archaeological Museum.
- Cistern Basilica
- Topkapi Palace
(We ended up site seeing more than shopping. However, I stumbled upon these few...)
- Shop Yastik by Rifat Ozbek for beautiful ikat pillows. While you can find some average ones at the Grand Bazaar, she offers a nice variety.
- The Nisantasi neighborhood is like the UES of Istanbul. Head there for all the fancy international stores.
- Simple Life Istanbul has some great housewares. Check out their selection of bath towels and dinnerware, soon to be at Barney's.
- I am a huge supporter of getting a massage the day you arrive as it helps reset the body from a long flight. Head to Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami for a traditional Turkish hammam experience. Note: men scrub men, women scrub women.
- Taksim Square, Isticklal Street, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market. Although some may love to wander around the Grand Bazaar, it's not my thing. A lot of overpriced Kilim rugs and knock-off designer handbags. Much too touristy and over-crowded for my taste.
Macakizi Fun, lively, quirky, boutique hotel. Even if you do not stay here, you can hang out on the docks for the day by the water and just relax and swim. The food is also great! Try sea bass ceviche appetizer and braised beef over eggplant for dinner.
Mandarin Oriental At first it took me a while to get used to the extensive grounds of the hotel since it was such a change from Macakizi, but it is truly stunning. Rooms are very well appointed with all of the modern necessities you could want. It is equipped with a large lap pool, beach and spa. I enjoyed their amazing steam room and indoor lap pool one afternoon while watching the setting sun- magical.
For dinner try Kuum 29 in Kuum Bay. They are supposed to have the most delicious fish.
- Paradise Beach is also said to be a great day trip.
Other things to do in Turkey
- Head to Cappadocia often compared to the Grand Canyon of Turkey. Take a morning hot air balloon ride and stay at the Cappadocia Hezen Cave Hotel.
- If traveling in late September, early October, it is highly were recommend to travel the coast of Turkey by boat.
If I had it my way, everything would be made in cerused oak- I can't seem to get enough of it! It's dressy and casual, and in the right context can look amazing. I've highlighted some of my favorite light and dark cerused oak pieces. Imagine a room with textured ivory Venetian plaster walls, cerused oak tables, parchment tabletops and white Murano glass lamps- stylish serenity. While some items can be pricey, Serena & Lily just offered a set of nesting night tables that are reasonably affordable with great lines. Here is a little piece on the history of cerusing (a.k.a. liming) for those who want to know more.
Where To Buy:
1. Carte Armchair by Mattaliano.
2. "Cardin" Table Lamp Designed by Kimille Taylor sold through Valerie Goodman Gallery.
3. Robjohn Gibbings for Widdicomb Cerused Sideboard sold through Eric Appel Antiques.
4. Natural Limed Oak Bookcase sold through Mecox Garden & Arteriors.
5. Pair of Grey Cerused Formation Benches designed by Irwin Feld sold through CF Modern.
6. Cerused Oak Wall and Floor Treatment by Kelly Wearstler for her client's Tribeca Triplex.
7. Black Oak Cabinet designed by Jean-Michel Frank sold through ROARK.
8. Ebonized "Pierre" lamp by Kimille Taylor sold through Valerie Goodman Gallery.
9. Rowe Nesting Tables by Serena and Lily.