Archive for the ‘Interior Design’ Category

Create an Art Wall

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Creating an art wall in your home is a great way to display multiple pieces in a group…and it’s not as hard as you might think.  Here are some step-by-step tips and photos to get you started.

Step 1:

Pick a wall for displaying your art and look through layout ideas on Pintrest.

Step 2:

Select a theme and stick with it.  Art walls work best when you decide on a central theme.  Here are some examples:

  • travel photos (see above photo)
  • kids art
  • family photos

Once you’ve selected the theme, pull out all options for the wall and narrow down to what’s important.  Select your favorites and make them larger if possible.  I prefer art/photos in different sizes because it moves the eye around the entire wall.  However, they could all be the same size if you are running them down a hallway and want it uniform.


Step 3:

Pick your frame style.  There are a few ways of doing this.  They could all be black or white if the art is all different or use different frames if the art relates to one another well.  Just keep something uniform throughout the wall.  So if you have all black and white photos, you could easily have many styles of frames or just use one color.  Here’s a beautiful shot from Christiane Lemieux (photo from Dwell Studio)…. showing different frames.  This works well because the art relates to each other.  The two pieces on the right both have red in them and all have some element of black and white.  Beautiful!


Step 4:

Print and layout all photos in their frames on the floor first.  This will allow you to easily arrange them many times before poking holes in your lovely walls.  If you can’t complete the hanging in one day or can’t decide on layout, take a picture of the layout options and see if you like it over the next hour or day.  Don’t worry too much about spacing.  In fact, if you don’t make it uniform, it will be much easier to hang!  Or you can fill the larger gaps with found objects (old keys, metal letters, etc).


Step 5:

Start hanging.  This can be tricky but I’ve found a few things that make it easier.  Purchase the sticky putty (you know, that stuff you used to hang posters as a kid).  Put it on the frame hook and press the frame onto the wall where you want it.  Then pull lightly, leaving the putty and the frame hook mark on the wall.  Now just position your nail where the hook mark is on the putty and nail through the putty.  Once nail is in, simply remove the putty and repeat.  I’ve also tried the Velcro strips.  These work well for smaller, lighter projects.  I personally wouldn’t use them above a bed on a heavy piece of art though.

Here are some other good resources:

Advice and pictures from Apartment Therapy.

No art?  Check out this site for ideas!


An Office-Nursery Combination

Friday, January 25th, 2013

In NYC, you make do with what you have and honestly, I love finding creative ways to make small spaces work.  Most people would never combine an office and nursery but if it’s properly executed, it can be done.  Our nursery and office combo are finally complete, in time to relax a bit before the baby arrives.  Here’s the progress and how it all came to life.

First the before shots.  We had a large desk that both my husband and I tried sharing (might I say that it is a very bad idea to share a desk with a creative person).  It was far too deep and just taking up space that could be utilized better.   The office was also very dark because it only had ONE recessed can light, which is why you see that lovely hanging bulb.

To the right of the old desk was a catch-all space for my design “stuff” (inspiration boards, drafting and office supplies, files etc) housed on the wall and in cheap plastic containers.

Behind the door is a funky little space that I filled with old wine crates to use as book shelves.

The only window in the room.  The apartment had come with these dark grayish-purple heavy cotton drapes.  I had the fun remnant piece of fabric so created a little window seat with hanging candles because it worked; not because I loved it.

And here’s the transformation!  Overall the room is eclectic and whimsical without screaming baby.  I used gold, white and pops of red against the soothing gray backdrop.  Several items are custom made by myself for the space including the desks on the right, storage unit on back wall and mobile above the crib.  The focal point of the room is the art wall that consists of some purchased art, framed art paper and paintings that my husband and I made.   The custom storage piece on the back wall hides office supplies, files, baby clothing & bedding and a changing area.  A rug from West Elm help soften all the wood and brighten the space.


Those wine crates behind the door served their purpose but they had to go.  I was tired of the temporary college furniture feel and it would not be safe for a child’s room.  We instead replaced it with a red lacquered book shelf that could be secured to the wall.  This holds both baby and our books, a nightlight and art.  I disliked the heaviness of the drapery so replaced it with a light, airy sheer.  To add a pop of red in that area, I added a pom pom trim to the leading edge.  This helped lighten the space further.  I changed the cushion to a solid gray eliminating a pattern that did not relate to the room.

Below is the “office side” of the room with the custom desks.  I actually enjoy working in here now that we have light.  This is probably the cleanest my desk will ever be and I’m sure eventually the right wall will slowly become filled with more inspirational photos but for now, I’m enjoying the cleanliness of this area.  I just need to find a great piece of art for above the desks.



A Bath Reborn

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

With the anticipated arrival of our child, it was time to update the basement bathroom so that it could accommodate storage.  Here are the before and after photos.  We are very happy with the results and have so much storage space…who gets to say that in New York!?

Although the bathroom is small (3’6″ x 6’5″), there was way more potential than what was currently there.  Here’s what we did to make it larger visually and provide lots of storage.  The before:

The after:

What we did:

  • Update the floor from a dark navy/turquoise octagonal tile to white carrara mosaic.
  • Replace the pedestal sink with a custom vanity to store toilet paper, toiletries, medicines, etc.  It’s a bit taller than the pedestal so it is super easy to wash your face and hands; bending way over is not required!  We also added an outlet under the sink (inside the cabinet) to charge toothbrushes out of sight.
  • Update the 3-hole faucet with a single-hole faucet.  This creates less visual clutter.
  • Remove the wall mounted medicine cabinet and replace with a custom sized mirror to open the space.  The new mirror does not protrude into the room so you don’t feel as squished.
  • Remove the ceiling mounted light fixture and replace with two recessed cans.  The ceiling is already low so keeping the lights in the ceiling helps to open the space visually.
  • Update paint from beige to a soft gray-blue that works beautifully with the tile and marble countertop.


  • Paint – Farrow and Ball Pavilion Gray
  • Cabinet – Artistory
  • Slab – White marble, from found remnant
  • Faucet – Grohe
  • Lav – Elements of Style
  • Mirror – Custom
  • Knobs – Du Verre

Travel Inspiration from Turkey

Monday, November 19th, 2012

At the end of September I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to explore and become inspired.  The people, architecture, patterns and colors will forever leave a mark on my designs.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

The view looking towards Sultanahmet.

Beautifully detail roof at dusk.

Interior view of the Blue Mosque…stunning.

Inside the Aya Sofya.

Ceiling detail of the Aya Sofya

Brightly colored ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar.

Shopping for textiles.

The runner that came home with us!  It’s from Dhoku and made from recycled rugs that have been patched together.

A metal shop within the Bazaar.

Hello, It’s Been a Long Time…

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Things have been busy over the past few months; it’s been hard finding the time to write.  So what’s been happening at Paradigm?  Here’s a briefing to bring you up to speed…

  • We are growing!  Well, my family that is.  My husband and I are expecting our first child in February.  We are super excited and will be sharing the transformation of the office/baby’s room as it progresses.  The space is small and challenging but I’m excited to share the results and ideas on making small spaces multi-functional.
  • I have started a furniture company, Artistory, to develop furniture designs that I’ve sketched over the years, up-cycle great market finds into a new life and create custom, one-of-a-kind pieces for my design clients.  It is a slow progress but the website will be up soon.  Until then, you can get a quick snippet of my first pieces on Pintrest.
  • We are now on Pintrest (Dawn Chau)!  I have started posting all great finds from magazines on Pintrest to share with you (instead of adding to my forever expanding binders in the office).  This helps me stay organized and will also be a place for you to see what inspires me.
  • I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and the South of France at the end of September.  I was so inspired by the mosques and amazing people of Turkey.  I’ll be posting some pictures next Monday.

I hope that summer treated you well and you are beginning to nest for the fall.  Cheers!

A Kitchen Conundrum

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Having a love for cooking can test all our limits if we don’t have space to chop away.  One of my readers asked what could be done with her small London kitchen.   I have a few ideas so hopefully it will come to life one day.


The biggest problem in all smallish kitchens comes down to storage.  In this example, the valuable work space is being over-taken by ingredients required to prepare a great meal.  Additionally, the wall to the left is angled, preventing the easy install of some store bought shelves.  Here are some recommendations that will work in this kitchen and so many others.


  • Add shelving as sketched in the photo.  Although you’d never find shelves to fit this space, it would be worth every penny to have a couple custom shelves made to fit perfectly in the niche.  They could be free floating and slide on and off the bracket if the need ever arises to access the instant hot water unit on the right.
  • Decide what you want to showcase visually.  In this case, I’d move the glass jars that are too big for the shelves on the right to the new lower shelf on the back wall.  I would add smaller jars (replacing all the little bags under the right cabinet), following the angled wall.  Opening up the existing shelves on the right will allow for less visually appealing storage such as canned goods, etc that are better hidden.
  • Cookbooks work nicely in corners when you position the spine in the corner versus the face of the book against the wall.  If you have too many, just showcase your favorites and find a new home for the less used ones.  If you have any large appliances, they usually tuck nicely in corners too!
  • Cereal boxes could go on the top shelf on the back wall and continue to fill the smaller, angled space with either more jars or serving dishes.
  • On the counter, leaving a fruit bowl and a serving piece or two would work under the new shelves.


Other suggestions:

  • If you need to free up a drawer for cabinet, consider installing a peg board that you can hang pots, pans or utensils from.  
  • Add some very shallow shelves (with a lip) to an open wall to showcase your serving pieces.  The one below is very well done but it doesn’t need to be this ornate or built-in.


If you have any other clever ideas that you’ve created over the years, let us know.  We love hearing about your smart solutions.  Happy kitchen organizing!

Help for Cord Clutter

Friday, July 6th, 2012

We all have cords in our homes…but certain areas (desks, entertainment centers and nightstands) become easily overwhelmed by all our gadgets.  Here are some quick suggestions on how to manage all those crazy cords.

I’m currently working on a home where we want to hide the cords from a crawling baby.  We are going to create a thick baseboard to run them through.  I’ll post pictures when we are done.  Until then, here are some simple solutions to clean up the cord clutter in your home.

Because I share a printer in our office, I am constantly looking for the USB to plug into.  This holder from Blue Lounge would certainly help (as would a wireless printer).  Although one has to be careful to limit the amount of “helpers” so the desk doesn’t become cluttered.


Room and Board offers these simple yet very functional cord covers that run along your furniture edges and legs.  Very well designed.


If you are in need of running cords around a room, this idea works and is a decorative element for a kids room or play room.  From Apartment Therapy.


This clever little outlet cover would be great behind a nightstand.  Lamps usually have long cords and this would work nicely.


There are several ways you could label your cords if needed.  Need a very inexpensive solution?  Here it is!  Cute idea from Simply Placed for all those little bread “things” that get tossed into the trash.

Picture labels from Dotz.  They have several versions as well.





Celebrate Independence Day with Style

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Here are some fun, classy ideas that I found online while looking for 4th of July ideas.


This is from Twig & Thistle blog.  They’ve done a great job keeping it elegant and simple by using a common motif and color.  Click on the link to see more ideas from this creative team.


A 4th of July picnic or Bar-B-Que is all about mobility and easy to eat foods.  Organize & Decorate Everything takes you step-by-step on how to make these simple food cones.


Another do it yourself project from Women’s Day.  I like this because you could add your own motif to it and reuse it every year.  Use it for silverware, condiments, etc.


I’m all about using items found around the house.  Try this cute idea reusing tin cans that have been pierced and painted.


And we can’t forget food!  I’m not sure what the drink is but you could easily make this with champagne and blueberries.

A nicely done Rice Crispy bar!


One of my favorite summer drinks is a watermelon slushy.  It’s super easy so thought I’d share it with you.  Just cut up large chunks of watermelon and throw in a blender; blend until smooth.  Add ice and fresh mint and enjoy a refreshing drink.  You can also add sparkling water or alcohol of your choice.  Cheers to a safe holiday!







Denver Home Update!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

We have been in our new home a little over two months and are beginning to get settled .  We still have a LONG way to go, but here is a little peek at some of the spaces as they progress little by little.

Our living room is livable at the moment. There are three things I would like to do in this space: get a new sofa, reupholster the arm chair, and reupholster the ottoman.

As previously mentioned, storage is our biggest issue.  I invested in a reasonably presentable door rack to hold spices and baking supplies.  On the other wall (not pictured) is a stainless steel shelf unit that holds all of our dishes.  We painted the walls a very soft gray but have yet to decide on a color for the kitchen nook – I am thinking about something bold like stripes but I am not sure Tobey will go for that.


Our bedroom is still in the organizational process (the walls aren’t as yellow as they look!!).  The patterned curtains are covering my closet since we had to remove the doors.  I am looking for a fun grey and white stripe fabric to make into panels. I would also like to mount the TV to the wall.

This is my office/storage room at the moment.  It is home to everything that I haven’t had time to hang, get rid of, or find a home for – pretty much a big mess. I have high hopes of tackling this room over the weekend!!

That’s all for now.  I will have a more finished product to show you in another few weeks!!!


Gift Ideas for the Man of the House

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I don’t know about you but shopping for my father is one of the biggest challenges I have.  He doesn’t golf like so many Hallmark cards think Dad’s do, he doesn’t have a time sucking hobby (although he does like several) nor does he need any grilling gadgetry (either you know how to make a mean steak or you don’t; tools won’t help).  Often times I try to get inspiration from doing a search online which always leaves me cringing because the ideas are often so cheesy.  So I compiled a few gifts that I think my Dad, along with others,  would enjoy.

  • Create a basket of local goodies or unique spices.  Add in a special utensil or gadget that will get lots of use.
  • A classic shave from a local barber.
  • A fly-fishing lesson or deep sea fishing trip.
  • A photo or piece of art that you’ve created.
  • A watches or new wallet seem to be necessary every so often.
  • Fine wine or whiskey.
  • A hammock for a lazy day in the yard.
  • A nice dinner out; because time together is often more important than gifts.

Hope you all have a wonderful day with your Dad’s.