My AHA moment

A highlight of Blogfest 2012 was House Beautiful’s panel on finding your “Aha!” moments.  Editor-in-Chief, Newell Turner, along with HB’s Next Wave Designers Jon CallJill Goldberg, and Michael Herold shared game changing moments that took their designs to the next level.  They then challenged us bloggers to share our own versions.

I must admit to feeling quite familiar with this “Aha!” feeling.  As a designer, I tend to experience 2-3 moments of brilliance every day.  Often they are followed by the “Hells-to-the-No” or “Close-but-No-Cigar” sensation.  The bold decision, the perfect pairing, the stunning focal point… they are like the thesis of my designs.  But no thesis is complete on its own.  My “Aha!” moments do not turn into great designs until I have thoughtfully edited, added, subtracted and tweaked my way to perfection.

My favorite example of this would be my office nook.  Right from the start, I was struck with the lightning bolt of inspiration to paint my wall a Yves Klein-inspired Blue and pair it with my hot pink desk.  Bold, provocative and fun on its own, the maximalist in me knew it was not complete.  Perhaps my “Aha” moment wasn’t the bold use of color, but the trust in my gut to keep adding on layers, art and textures until I got it just right.  Trust, at certain points this wall was a hot mess, but I edited until I achieved my balance.

And yes, that meant removing a beloved rug from the equation, because sometimes too much is too much… even if it is pretty. 

What have your “aha!” design moments been?  Was it adding in layers or taking them away?

Image: Courtney Apple Photography for Design Manifest

Want more of my Loft?  See all the posts HERE.

The Little Loft that Could

When I moved into my loft in Northern Liberties I had grand ambitions.  I was going to stretch my creative muscles and pour my heart and soul into creating the ultimate modern-bohemian-glam loft.  It had to be my first statement portfolio piece for decorating.  Hey World, I can do more than just kitchens and baths.  I can do it all.

I hoped people would notice me.  I hoped I would get published.  I’m not embarrassed to admit I dreamed big and was just crazy enough to believe it could happen.  I often stood staring at vignettes and arrangement- editing in my head- imagining how to make it lovely enough to appear on the pages of Lonny Magazine.  (I then I would occasionally tear myself down and believe I wasn’t good enough.  Three steps forward, two steps back, you know?)

And then it came out and I was blown away by how many people embraced the design.  Gratifying doesn’t begin to describe the feeling.  Just like that… after 10 months of designing and obsessing and fretting and jiving  and getting all risky and crazy, after all of that, I got what I wanted from the loft.

It was such a lovely place to live.  I feel so lucky to have lived there and enjoyed the space and the neighborhood!  But I have to tell you that I don’t live in my loft anymore.  I don’t want to get into the details, because I don’t want to ruin your pristine, angelic vision of the space.  The short story is there were serious leaks and suspected mold issues and it wasn’t the place for me.

So now I am looking for a new home.  It will probably take me a little while, as I truly have no idea what I want right now.  Plus it will take a lot to top the last place.  I promise you this, though, when I find Home, I’m going to create the most perfect haven.  My head is already spinning in new directions.  I’m excited, and I’m also willing to be patient.

I think it’s time to put the loft to bed.  You can always find it on the right hand side over there–>  NAOMI’S LOFT.  But I’m done talking about it.

Loft, you gave me more than I could ever imagined, and for that I am incredibly grateful.  My sister and I like to joke it’s the little loft that could.  And now it’s the little loft that’s been viewed around the world.  Crazypants.

Dream big, friends! And work hard!  I certainly intend to.

Happy Friday.  I’m spending it with my besties.  It’s such a treat :)

images via courtney apple, as seen through the lens of my instagram

Press and more stuff you should read

Heyoo, so some exciting news around these parts was that last week I was featured in a 6 page spread in the Israeli magazine, Go Style!  I’d like to give a huge thank you and shout out to my blog buddy, Chedva, of Rooms and Words, who sought me out and wrote the lovely article.  Truthfully, I have no idea if the article is lovely, as I can’t read Hebrew, but I have no doubt she did a great job.  (And I’m working on getting it translated… well not really, but I plan to.)

Internet press is all fun and good, but the fact that this is a real-life glossy really tickles my fancy.  I’m counting down the days until it arrives in the mail.  I can’t wait to touch it and smell it and skip around my office with the article in my hands.   I wonder if I can get a second copy so that I can sleep next to it at night and cuddle up to it.  


In other HUGE BIG NEWS, I succumbed to peer pressure and joined TWITTER.  Some A-Hole who I don’t know took the name DesignManifest, so my newest interwebs moniker is @NSteinDesign.   Kinda lame, right?  I’m still learning the whole thing, but please do me a big huge favor and FOLLOW ME!! 

And let’s chat.  I like how twitter is more chatty than the blog.  What can I say, sometimes I ‘m a chatty Kathy.  

Anywho, I’m super loaded up with work- juggling 10 projects (and no assistant)- so please bear with me while I sort everything out.  Hoping to be sharing lots of original content in upcoming weeks.

Thanks for reading as always.



My Bookshelves and Entry Area

Eff I still feel like hell in a handbasket.  Perusing the internet for new and mindblowing spaces hasn’t exactly been on the top of the to-do list, so today I’m taking the easy way out and finishing up my own house tour.  I’ve shown you the living area, the office nook, the dining area and the bar cart, so all that’s left is the entry.

This is my drop zone, just to the left of the entrance.  Essentials for a drop zone: mirror, place for keys and a few pretties.  I gave the 411 on an easy way to trace the mirror frame here.  The little table was scooped up at the Germantown Estate Warehouse.  I love the little scalloped arches… it kinda feels a little Moroccan, right?

I used to have the Eames chair in the living room, but it was always so hard to work around it- both size-wise and design-wise.  It’s much better off making its own statement over here and it’s a nice spot to read.  No one puts Baby in the corner, but I put Eames in the corner and gosh darn it, I like it.  Also love how the cowhide loosely defines this area.  A rectangular rug would have been all wrong here, but this organic carmely goodness just makes me happy.  

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that I put two plate mirrors behind the bookcase to give it a reflective-glam twist.  You can see the first iteration of the bookshelf here and learn more about the art there.  And no, I did not glue the mirrors to the wall or the shelf, they are just chillin back there.  (I get asked that all the time.)

A widdle-bit closer.  I just love how you can see my wallpaper reflected from across the room next to the horse’s butt.  

More details…

My birdcage makeover ended up getting edited out of my clients bookshelves, so I plopped it in mine and stuck an airplant inside

This outtake cracks me up because of the two “errors”- you can see Courtney in the mirror (this shelf was hard to shoot!) and you can also tell that the mirror stops before the end of the bookcase.  Oh well, it’s not perfect and that’s fine with me.  I still love my horsey.

To the right of the door is my entry bench.  It’s the spot where I pull on my boots, drop my purse and store Bailey’s toys and coats.  It’s handy having the bench so close to the living area because it acts as bonus seating on the fly.

I love the art.  It’s moved all over the apartment and looks great with everything.  You can see two other vignettes with it here.

Just had to get a little closer because I so love my La Fiorentina bench and ikat fabrics.  These pillows were the very last thing I sewed to finish up the place.   
And let me just finish up with the whole entry area, as seen from the living room.  Did you notice I don’t have any coat hooks?  Coat hooks just didn’t fit my style.  Truthfully, most people drop their coats on the bench, or I hang them up in my closet.

Thanks for hanging out with me, but I have to hit the fabric store now, so it’s time to kick you out.  

Later, Lovers.

Turning an Awkward Spot into a Focal Point

There’s this weird spot along the brick wall in between my office nook and my kitchen.  It looks like it used to be a doorway, but has since been drywalled over and it has two frames inside of it.  I’ve always thought of it as an eyesore amongst my beautiful white brick.

I think the frames confused me.  Should I hang pictures in there?  Should I wallpaper them?  For months that spot sat empty.  

I’m lying…  

For months that spot collected crap.  It was that awkward spot where I plopped a too-large buffet and dumped all my extra shit on top of it.

And then one day I won my little bar cart at an auction.   I placed the cart in front of the faux-door and started brainstorming.  The light bulb went off when I realized I didn’t need to work around the frames; I could decorate right over them.  So I painted the whole area black to set it apart from the brick and help the frames disappear.   

I hung my art right over the top frame and styled up my bar cart to obscure the bottom frame.

And that, my friends, is how my bar cart vignette was born. 

Funny how something that stumped me for so long could turn into one of my favorite focal points.

Do you have an awkward area that’s plaguing you?  Maybe it’s time to think outside the box.  Or just paint the box black.

bottom two images by Courtney Apple
Painting by Nicole Cohen,
but you already knew that if you read the Design Sponge Sneak Peek.