Monday, October 4, 2010

The Pool Lounge by Mabley Handler

Another summer, and another designer showhouse has come and gone...We always enjoy participating in the design showhouses in the Hamptons, it's an opportunity for us to be whimsical, to let our creativity run wild, and for once, we are our own client! At this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse we decided to have some fun and play outside of our comfort zone a little. If you are familiar with our work you will no doubt notice that we love using soft colors and cool tones in our design, grayish hues of mineral blues and green. So for our room at this showhouse, we switched things up a bit color-wise and made a splash by using tangerine orange with bold aqua accents. Not your typical Mabley Handler palate at all!

The inspiration for our room came to us when we received a sample card of a new wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries, which featured a stunning orange geometric chain link pattern printed on a grasscloth wallpaper (Voyage Collection - Chain Link 5136 Orange on Ivory Manila Hemp). We fell in love with it on the spot, and even though we didn't know what room we would be designing at that point, we knew we were going to use this great new Phillip Jeffries wallpaper.

After checking out the house, we thought that the Pool Lounge would be the perfect place to utilize this retro-chic geometric grasscloth, so we built our room around it. The concept: A Mad Men-era space designed for pre- or post-pool lounging and cocktailing. If Betty & Don Draper had a pool, they would definitely spend their time out of the pool lounging in this room!

To accommodate the lounging aspect of our Pool Lounge, we used a pair of vintage mid-century modern arm chairs that we had in our collection, and paired them with a smashing orange lacquer cocktail table (the color of this Fairfield table is literally called Knockout Orange!) with a grasscloth top, from a relatively new home furnishings vendor called Oomph, which has become one of our recent favs. And flanking the chairs, we have a pair of topiary trees in Mabley Handler custom-designed orange lacquer geometric planter boxes that play off the pattern in the wallpaper.

To add some pop to to our lounge chairs, we used a stunning pair of orange linen pillows embellished with silver nailheads from the newly-launched Michelle Hatch NY collection (Edinburgh pillow in color Papaya). These pillows are worth a closer look...What is difficult to see is the beautifully intricate geometric pattern of the nailheads. You will definitely want to check out the Michelle Hatch NY pillow collection, it's unlike anything we've ever seen before (And when a designer says that, that's saying something!).

Providing the cocktails in this lounge is this great vintage console table/bar that we found at Triangle Studio in Water Mill. If you squint, you practically can see Don Draper mixing an Old Fashioned for himself, and a Vodka Gimlet for Betty ;) We dressed the top of the console with lamps from Bungalow 5 (Cordova lamp in orange) and an amazing interlocking geometric mirror from Z Gallerie (Pierre mirror) that looks way more expensive that it actually was (and one guest at the opening gala was convinced that it was vintage!).

We framed the entrance into our room and the glass doors that lead out to the pool with drapes made from a brand new Kravet fabric designed by Queer Eye's Thom Filicia that features an orange geometric pattern on ivory linen (Pattern: CitySquare in color 12-Terratone). On the floor, we used one of our trademark Madeline Weinrib rugs (Brooke rug in color Orange) over a basketweave sisal rug from the Carpetman in Southampton. And providing the accessories, as well as the outdoor furniture that we used were our good friends at Mecox Gardens, also in Southampton.

So, there it is...The Phillip Jeffries-inspired, Betty & Don Draper-approved Mabley Handler Pool Lounge at the 2010 Hampton Designer Showhouse: The inspiration, the resources, and the photos! And speaking of photos, we've added a couple of photos below from the showhouse opening gala.

The Mabley Handler design team (l-r):
Renata Kiszkova, Jennifer Mabley, Austin Handler, Sara Bosworth

Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler with Philip Bershad, the president of Phillip Jeffries Ltd.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Hampton Designer Showhouse Photos

The 2010 Hampton Designer Showhouse opened last night in Sag Harbor, and although it was sweltering hot, at least the rains held off for the evening. There's nothing more depressing a rainy show house opening, especially at $225 a ticket for the opening gala!

The Hampton Designer Showhouse is a fund-raising event that benefits Southampton Hospital, and features the work of approximately 25 designers, each designing a room in the house. As far as benefits go, this is one of the major events of the season, right up there with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund's Super Saturday, and Grand Prix Sunday at the Hampton Classic. The Hampton Designer Showhouse is sponsored for the second year by Traditional Home Magazine, which will provide editorial coverage of the entire event in an upcoming issue.

This is our second year designing a room at this showhouse (we designed a guest suite in the 2008 Hamptons Designer Showhouse, and have designed rooms in four of the Hamptons Cottages & Gardens Idea Houses). After we gave our room one last spiff on Saturday afternoon, we took a quick spin through to check out all of the other designer's rooms before the house opened to the public...That way, we could get photos of all the rooms before the masses descended upon them! See below, and enjoy the work of all the many talented designers that made up this year's showhouse. And don't forget to vote for your favorite room in the comment section.

House - Built by Frank Bodenchak of Edge Real Estate

Living Room & Entry - HB Home

Den - Patrik Lönn Design

Dining Room - Richard Keith Langham Inc.

Kitchen - Robert Bakes of Bakes and Company

Family Room - foley & cox

Studio - Lucas Studio Inc.

Guest Suite - Brady Design

Powder Room - foley & cox

Butler's Pantry - Old Town Crossing

Studio Porch - Elsa Soyars

Kitchen Porch - Nancy Pearson Ltd

Den Porch - Christina Murphy Interiors

Side Porch - diSalvo Interiors

Loft - LSID Inc.

Pool - Couture Outdoor by Covertech

Back Hall - Boris Abromovich from Couture Interiors

Bedroom I - Irwin Interiors

Bedroom II - Jack Levy Design

Bedroom III - ARDEN Interior Architecture & Design

Master Bedroom Sitting Room - Kevin Isbell Interiors

Master Bedroom - Lillian August

Master Bathroom - Susanne Kelley of Bakes and Company

Master Bedroom Hall - Lucille Khornack Photography

Wine Room - Nathan Egan Interiors

Home Theater - Audio Command Systems, Inc.

with Barbara Ostrom Associates

Game Room - Bradley Stephens

Pool Lounge - Mabley Handler Interior Design

The 2010 Hampton Designer Showhouse is located at 129 Stoney Hill Road in Sag Harbor, and is open seven days a week from July 25th-September 5th, 11am-5pm. There is a $30 entrance fee that benefits Southampton Hospital, and includes a journal. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kravet's Social Media Event & Facility Tour

We were delighted to be invited by Kravet to speak at their presentation and panel discussion on social media in the interior design field at their Bethpage showroom last week, especially since we are big proponents of social media.

Beth Kimless Greene, Kravet's Vice President of Marketing & Communications, began the event with a presentation aimed at bringing the approximately 80 guests up to speed on the basics of what social media is, and then covered the four most commonly-used social media tools: Blogging, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. After her presentation, she sat down with panelists Austin Handler (Mabley Handler Interior Design), Kelly Dall (Kelly Dall Interiors), and Camila Pavone (Effortless Style Interiors and author of the High-Heeled Foot in the Door blog), and asked a series of questions that helped introduce each of the designers on the panel to the audience, and allowed them to speak about their respective area of expertise in the world of social media.

(L-R) Beth Kimless Greene, Austin Handler, Kelly Dall, Camila Pavone

I spoke about how we are utilizing our Hamptons design blog, Facebook and Twitter to connect with our friends, clients, and fans, and to help build our brand as Hamptons experts, a go-to source for all things Hamptons. Kelly explained how she uses Google Analytics to track her blog traffic and increase her readership, and Camila talked about how her design blog has become her full-time job, which then led her to offer e-decorating services to her readers and clients.

After the initial questions to the designers, Beth opened up the discussion to take questions from the audience, and Jennifer Powell, Kravet's Social Media Coordinator joined the panelists in fielding some of the questions. While a good portion of the designers in attendance were familiar with some of the basic components of social media, there definitely seemed to be some doubt in the minds of several of those designers on how social media could help grow their business...And a few designers were down-right suspicious of the whole concept of social media in general, especially with regards to privacy issues. But after the question-and-answer session, the majority of the audience seemed to understand that using social media can be a great new way to interact with people that admire their work, increase their following, and reach out to a greater circle of potential clients.

(L-R) Jennifer Powell, Jennifer Mabley, Austin Handler, Beth Kimless Greene

When the social media event ended, Brad Dull, our Kravet salesperson gave us a full tour of Kravet's Bethpage showroom, offices, and warehouse. We were amazed at how big the facility was, as well as the variety of operations that they have going on there. It was a great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the World of Kravet.

We toured the warehouse floor and could not believe the volume of fabrics that Kravet has on hand to supply designers in the Tri-State area. And their Bethpage warehouse is only a fraction of the size of their South Carolina facility!

What does the photo below remind you of? If you said the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you are correct! After seeing this, we were surprised that more fabric doesn't get lost or misplaced! This is just one row of fabrics, in Kravet's smaller warehouse...Can you imagine what it would look like if the had all of their fabric under one roof? Just thinking about how to organize all of that gave us anxiety!

We also finally got to meet some of the people we normally work with over the phone and via E-mail in person. Here is Jennifer with Courtney Candiano, our dedicated customer service representative. She had barely finished shaking our hands when she jumped onto her computer and gave us the latest completion and shipping dates of our various open orders. Courtney definitely knows her stuff.

A great resource that Kravet has at their Bethpage facility is the Designers' Sample Sale Room below...But beware: Designers only, no clients allowed! There have floor models of furniture pieces from Kravet's New York City showroom that are currently on sale for less than half the trade price...Perfect for clients that are on a budget (or for designers looking to pick up some great deals for themselves!).

Along our tour we came across some interesting items, such as the piece of equipment below. Any idea what it is? It's a Wyzenbeek machine, naturally. And what the heck does a Wyzenbeek machine do? Well, we're glad you asked...It measures the strength of a fabric by executing repeated back-and-forth rubs across the face of the fabric until it tears, known as a double rub. A double rub is a standard unit of measurement that describes wear and tear on a fabric, and is then quantified as a fabric's Wyzenbeek rating. That Wyzenbeek rating is a guarantee that a given fabric will hold up, at minimum, to the number of double rubs in it's Wyzenbeek rating prior to tearing, ripping, or breaking down. It essentially lets a designer and/or a client know how long they can expect a fabric to last. Under normal circumstances, a year's worth of getting up and down from an upholstered sofa, loveseat, or chair translates into an estimated 3,000 double rubs. A light duty fabric can take 3,000-9,000 double rubs, a medium duty fabric can stand up to 9,000-15,000 double rubs, and a heavy duty fabric should be able to withstand at minimum 15,000 double rubs (although it will most likely run into the range of 30,000-40,000 double rubs.).

And we're walking...Next, we got to visit briefly with Ann Feldstein, Kravet's Senior Director of Marketing & Communications. Here is Ann in her office, in front of her wall of all of the brilliant Kravet advertisements from the past few years that she has designed/overseen. As a former advertising agency man, hanging out in Ann's office made me very happy!

One of our last stops on the tour was the Fabric-booking Room, which is where the Kravet team spends hour after hour researching what fabrics are the best sellers, and what fabrics have not been so popular...And based on their research, they are constantly working on creating new books of fabric collections. The fabrics on the wall in the photo below are ranked in their order of popularity, and the fabrics on the tables are in the process of being grouped together for inclusion into future fabric books.

And finally, at the end of the tour we bumped into Cary Kravet, the owner of Kravet, Inc.. It's obviously no secret that we think Kravet has beautiful fabrics and great furniture, but one of the things that we admire most about Kravet is the way Cary runs his business.

(L-R) Brad Dull, Cary Kravet, Austin Handler

For the owner of such a large company, Cary is very approachable, and Kravet is very much a family-run company. Several of Cary's family members work right there in the Bethpage facility, and there are other employees who also have family members working there as well. It's a great way to do business, and we are proud to include them as one of our most trusted and well-respected vendors.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Design Studio Reno, Part 2: The Details

Yesterday's post probably satisfied most people's curiosity about our design studio renovation. But then there are the people that have to know every detail...We get E-mails from people all the time who have seen our projects that have been published, or from our website, and they just have to know what wallpaper we used in that bedroom, of where we found those lamps. They have to know every paint color, as if their life depended on it. If any of that sounds familiar, then this one's for you! We've got the details behind the details, and if we left anything out, just ask.

Upholstered Linen Walls

We've already been asked a dozen or so times what color we painted behind our desk areas...And the answer is, it's not paint. The light beige walls above the desks and throughout the rest of the studio are Benjamin Moore OC-48 Hazy Skies, but the blue areas on the wall directly behind each of our desks (and in between the windows at Jennifer's desk) are linen-upholstered panels of Homasote. Homasote is a similar product to Sheetrock, although the main difference is that the interior of a Sheetrock board is gypsum plaster (a dry powder base mixed with water), and the interior of a Homasote board has s a cellulose base (recycled paper mixed with glue, similar to paper-mâché). Both are used in drywall construction and, of the two, Sheetrock is by far the more popular. However, because Homasote is essentially paper-based at the core, it tends to be slightly more porous, and better suited to use as a memo board, as we are using it (we chose to have it upholstered, but Homasote can simply be put up as is, then painted, and used that way...And when it gets too many pushpin holes, you can just throw a fresh coat of paint on it, and it looks brand new.

The panels were upholstered by Enzo Valfrè, a charming Italian man from Sag Harbor (by way of Rome). Enzo has an upholstery workroom and a line of home furnishings called the Verduno Collection, and he does the majority of our custom pillows, drapes and bench cushions.

Custom Cabinets and Desktops
The major change to our work space was the creation of the U-shaped custom built-in desks, cabinets and drawers. The impetus for this renovation was that we literally had no more room to store design resources and client files, so any re-design was going to involve the addition of significant quantities of storage options. We worked on the design for over a year, and in the end, it was built pretty much exactly to our design (we had to add some additional support on the sides and under the desks due to the long spans of desk area) . Oh, and detail alert: The color of the cabinets is Benjamin Moore OC-130 Cloud White.

The entire custom-built desk system was built and installed by Peter Zambuto and Scott Tufarella of Finished Touch Carpentry in Shirley, NY. We have been working with Finished Touch for about six years, and they have done work for most of our clients as well as our own house and design studio. And after the great job that they did here, we plan to work with them for a long time to come.

Inset Glass Workspace
We knew that we might be getting ourselves into trouble with white-painted desktops in our workspace...Even though we used Benjamin Moore Regal semi-gloss paint, which wipes clean very easily, we knew that we were going to have to deal with scuffing at some point. In order to keep our working area free of scuffs and scratches, dings and dangs, we decided during the design phase that we would incorporate the use of glass at each of our desk areas so that our day-to-day usage wouldn't prematurely damage our beautiful new white desks.

Although you would think that glass is 100% clear, the standard soda-lime glass that is most commonly available actually has a greenish tint to it due to iron oxide impurities. We wanted a white glass that would blend in with the desktops and transition nicely between the wood. After some research, we discovered a product called Spandrel Glass (sometimes also called Architect's Glass). Spandrel Glass is a normal glass sheet that has a layer of an ultra-fine colored ceramic dust called 'frit' applied to the back of the glass with a heat process that permanently fuses it with the glass sheet. The end result is a piece of colored glass that is now stronger than standard glass (due to the heating process and ceramic backing), thus making it the perfect choice to use at our desks. We ordered 4 pieces of White Spandrel glass 40" wide by 28" deep from Hampton Glass, and then Peter and Scott from Finished Touch notched out the tops of the desks and inset the glass panels so that they would sit flush.

Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pulls
For our cabinets and drawers, we had originally wanted to use a recessed leather-wrapped cabinet pull that we found from an English hardware manufacturer called Turnstyle Designs. But as beautiful as they were, the cabinet pulls in their stocked colors were over £100 each (yes, 100 pounds stirling). So that would be over $150 per pull, and considering that we needed 26 of them, and that we wanted them in white (which isn't a stocked color, and would therefore incur a special order up-charge), it's safe to say to that put them a bit beyond our budget!

Our continued research led us to a similar product from Atlas Homewares called the Zanzibar pull. The Zanzibar was definitely more reasonably-priced (around $27 per pull), but they only came in brown and black leather, and the leather wasn't recessed as it was on the Turnstyle Design pulls. At that point, we felt that we were so far away from the level of detail that we were originally looking for, that we decided to start over. And while we were on the Atlas Housewares website, we came across the Sutton Place pull, which we loved, and came in at around $20 per pull. We ordered them in brushed nickel, and that gave us an idea to add one last detail....

Stainless Steel Toe Kicks
Although this may get overlooked by most people, one of our favorite details is the recessed stainless steel toe kicks under the cabinet drawer banks. Normally cabinet toe kicks are painted the same trim color as the cabinets, but we thought that using stainless steel would tie in perfectly with the hardware, and give the cabinets a crisp, more transitional look.

For such a distinct look, the installation was fairly simple: Peter and Scott took measurements of the toe kick, ordered sheets of stainless steel custom cut to size, and then applied them to the face of the existing wood kicks with an adhesive.

So that's it...More details than most people could ever possibly want! Thanks for reading, and for those rare few that still might have questions about any of the details, feel free to ask.