Category Archives: Magazine

“Common Sky” From Studio Other Spaces Envelops This Art Museum Courtyard In Glass

Sculpture and architecture converge at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, where Studio Other Spaces (SOS), led by artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann, have constructed a towering canopy of glass and mirrors known as Common Sky. Enveloping the courtyard of the Seymour H. Knox Building, Common Sky provides a space that is free and open to the public, and that reflects the museum’s vision of a twenty-first-century art institution of inclusion.

The glass roof acts as a lens, inviting people to connect with their immediate environment, while bringing the ephemeral qualities of the atmosphere into focus: the changing seasons, the dappled light, and the cloud formations. The alternating mirror and transparent glass panels emphasize physical movement as a means to shape space, making visitors visible within the work, and prompting them to co-create fragmented inward and outward perspectives. The various angles of the mirrors cast complex, kaleidoscopic reflections that frame unexpected views as people move around the courtyard below.

“Common Sky is a dynamic, sculptural statement that combines a geometric language and a playful, poetic approach,” says Eliasson. “As an artwork, it sensitizes you to the world outside, to the surrounding environment of Buffalo. It draws your attention to things that are difficult to measure, and to things that depend on emotion and on your active involvement. If you don’t get involved, nothing will change.”

“It draws your attention to things that are difficult to measure, and to things that depend on emotion and on your active involvement. If you don’t get involved, nothing will change.”

The geometry of the canopy forms a trajectory across the courtyard, from a triangular pattern at the roof’s edges to a hexagonal pattern towards the middle. In cross-section, the roof structure has two levels, which are covered by alternating mirror surfaces. These reflect sunlight and minimize heat gain, which is necessary for environmental reasons. The distribution of hexagons and triangles thus also serves to balance the opening and closing of the roof. Even though nearly half of the surface is closed, the space feels open and airy. The structure curves and reaches down to the ground at a single off-center point of support, maintaining an asymmetry of space. This funnel-like column marks the spot where a lone hawthorn tree, planted in the 1960s, once stood, evoking a memorial to what came before. The presence of this feature means that the roof structure need not impose a new support system on the building. It also adds movement and, like a hollow tree trunk, draws the outside elements in – whether rain, snow, leaves, or light.

“The structure forms a unique design that takes into account all of the surrounding elements from the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, including the park, and neighboring buildings,” explains Behmann. “We created a site-specific artwork that amplifies the existing situation and combines it with the idea of a modern courtyard. We hope visitors enjoy this new space that is accessible to everyone all year round, in all weather conditions, without a ticket, and where public events can be held.”

Studio Other Spaces designed Common Sky to create a connection between the historic museum and the adjacent Delaware Park. Inspired by the intense weather patterns of the City of Buffalo, and the lush park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, it strives to form space with non-classical architectural elements that are already inherent to the site, while also honoring the original architecture. The strict modernism of the Seymour H. Knox Building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft and completed in 1962, is complemented by Common Sky’s organic shape, which rhymes with the forms found in the surrounding landscape, such as the trees, winding paths, clouds, and shafts of sunlight.

Each element of the canopy was developed especially for Buffalo AKG Art Museum, in collaboration with engineer Herwig Bretis from ArtEngineering, and Petersberg-based steel constructor Hahner Technik.

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Small Changes Had A Dramatic Impact On This Designer’s Home

The disruptions of the pandemic and its aftermath have challenged interior designer Tara Kantor to rethink the four-level sprawling, shingle-style custom home she and her husband, Brian, built on a wooded lot in Scarsdale, New York a decade ago, an area they have loved setting down roots in.

In 2020, Kantor had begun meeting with clients on her covered porch to maintain social distancing. Even though life slowly returned to normal, she pondered continuing the practice by creating a studio space where she could receive clients. When the icemaker in her poolside bar sprung a leak that destroyed the cabinetry, it was the final nudge she needed to take on the reno. “We didn’t change anything too drastically,” she notes. “I just enhanced what was already an amazing space.”

While the living room sported plaster walls and a classic marble fireplace, furnished as it was with a smallish sofa and a Ping-Pong table, it wasn’t the most inviting spot to gather. Kantor incorporated a mix of upholstered pieces and case goods made with her favorite materials: think oak, marble, plaster, wool and mohair. “I’m very influenced by Parisian design, and there are little hints of that here,” she admits. “It’s a collected look.”

Kantor then subdivided a large bathroom into a smaller bathroom and a walk-in closet to create space for her growing fabric and rug library. Additional fabrics are stored in an oxidized maple console staged with sculptural black-and-white pottery. “My house is filled with product from the vendors I work with, so it’s beneficial for clients to see what the end result could be.”

A plaster-ring chandelier softly lights the room while playing off the shape of the crushed concrete wall sculpture over the linear marble fireplace. Colorful mohair ring pillows and a small, round side table continue the alliteration of curvaceous shapes. “I am drawn to curves because they make a space feel warm,” Kantor shares. “When a space is as minimalistic as this, you have to bring in warmth in other ways.”

Indeed, Kantor’s two young sons often curl up on the low-slung, boucle-covered sofa, though it is designed mostly for use by clients. And a sculptural oak table and boucle-covered side chairs near the fireplace serve for both client meetings and overflow at holiday gatherings. A sleek black arm sconce softly illuminates the vignette. Kantor states, “I wanted the space to be white and bright, but every room should have a kiss of black for contrast.” The dark veining in the monolithic, rectangular Viola marble cocktail table drives her point home.

Determined to create a one-of-a-kind interior, Kantor also designed several pieces, including the wavy mirror and console table in the front foyer and, in collaboration with Thomas Hayes, the stools at the kitchen island. Made with oak, faux leather and shearling, they nicely juxtapose the classic white cabinetry and marble countertops.

Post renovation, Kantor has fallen in love with her home all over again. While establishing the right vibe is always important in any design, she insists that it’s the comfort and functionality that make it special.

Photography by Adam Kane Macchia.

For more like this renovation from Tara Kantor, be sure to check out this soothing space in San Francisco

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Designer Friday: An aspire Exclusive Interview With Julie Paulino

NYC and Ohio-based Julie Paulino creates interiors that are a personal reflection of her client’s lifestyle, with a sophisticated yet relaxed approach. She believes that living beautifully goes beyond the visual– it’s a lifestyle where all the senses are at play. Julie’s initiation into Interior Design started as a Vintage furniture dealer, with an outpost in Stamford, CT. Raised in the melting pot of New York City, her exposure to such a multicultural and diverse upbringing granted her a profound understanding of global and refined aesthetics. Learn more about Julie and her designs in today’s Designer Friday.

This traditional Edwardian-style sitting room has added flare with the brass palm tree and decorative glass chandelier hanging above.

This traditional Edwardian-style sitting room has added flare with the brass palm tree and decorative glass chandelier hanging above.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Julie Paulino: First, it is authentic to my client’s lifestyle and way of living. It enhances their daily lives by means of functionality but also by textures, harmonious colors, and smart accessorizing. You’ll find curves and less rough and straight edges. Comfort is paramount in every room I design because you won’t only look at the spaces, you will actually live in them. So functionality and comfort comes first. When it’s done with good taste it delivers beauty in different ways and every time.

AJ: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
JP: I’m inspired by new possibilities and big dreams hence, my online store, Julie & Ev, a globally inspired and sourced homeware store, which I launched along with my husband in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. It’s a store that came as a result of my second biggest inspiration: travel.

The combination of the mountainous, textural wallpaper in powdery blue, marble tile flooring, marble console table, and a wall mirror that mimics the peaks and curves of a mountainside, make for a timeless and serene entryway into this home.

The combination of the mountainous, textural wallpaper in powdery blue, marble tile flooring, marble console table, and a wall mirror that mimics the peaks and curves of a mountainside, make for a timeless and serene entryway into this home.

AJ: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
JP: I’d love to see more antiques and vintage pieces being used. Vintage furniture, either heirloom passed down through generations or recently purchased ones add weight and substance to any room. It is also perfectly permissible to reuse furniture and give it new life by upholstering them in new fabric; not everything needs to be new. It’s also the most Earth-conscious thing we can do.

AJ: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
JP: A panda. Pandas seem to have discovered the true meaning of dolce far niente all while being happy. Did you know that Panda cuddling is a real job trade in China? I’ll take that job anytime.

This coastal corner features shiplap paneling and a seashell-inspired plaster mirror.

This coastal corner features shiplap paneling and a seashell-inspired plaster mirror.

AJ: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
JP: Never, ever underestimate the power of blogging. My blog Belle Vivir was the first blog of its kind on the island of Manhattan. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the vision and took it for granted. Others that started after me have gone on to publish books and create personal brands. I would be in a much better place today if I understood what branding was back then.

AJ: What do you find yourself daydreaming about most these days?
JP: My next mansion, my next Porsche Panamera, a Cartier watch, going to Hermes often to actually buy, you know the usual.

AJ: Style (or design) icon?
JP: Lauren Santo Domingo. I really admire people who don’t have a herd mentality when it comes to lifestyle and fashion choices. She is a real trendsetter and risk-taker.

About the Designer | Julie Paulino Design, an Interior Design company operating in New York and Ohio and serving clients nationwide, specializes in interior architecture and decoration. Our comprehensive range of services covers every aspect of the design process, including space planning, sourcing, budgeting, art acquisitions, and final installation.

Julie’s design aesthetic was honed through her studies at Parsons School of Design and her experience living in Europe with her family. Her journey in Interior Design began as a Vintage furniture dealer with a store in Stamford, CT. Growing up in the culturally diverse environment of New York City provided her with a deep understanding of refined aesthetics from around the world.

During her time abroad, Julie achieved great acclaim with her jewelry line, Tyche Jewelry, which was featured in numerous international publications. More recently, she launched an online concept store called Julie and Ev. It offers a socially sourced, globally curated selection of home decor, tabletops, and fashion accessories for conscious buyers.

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Vibrant Designs Juxtapose The Historic Bones Of This Early-20th-Century Retreat

The first things that Anna Maria Enselmi noticed about the 1900s-era villa near the old port in Castro Marina were its ancient stone staircase and the large rosemary plant near the front door. Then she saw the views of the Adriatic Sea from nearly every room. Indeed, it felt like being on a ship. Boasting such a panorama and a lush Mediterranean garden, the home seemed like an ideal retreat for Enselmi, her husband and their two children from their hectic lives in Milan.

It was also an opportunity for Enselmi — who runs a Pilates studio — to exercise her creative mind. She was a young girl when she became enchanted by design. When she began working in Milan after college, she put money aside so that she would be able to acquire the sort of original pieces she so adored.

Such sculptural, colorful artworks can be found in the family’s seaside escape. “I like to call this a joyful house,” Enselmi shares. “It brings together everything I have always loved: furnishings, colors and materials choices follow a mood completely free from the diktat of the perfect matching.” She adds, “Living amid art and design has become an innate part of my being and an integral aspect of my character.”

Inspired by Ettore Sottsass’ vibrant designs, Enselmi has imbued every room with color, many with the architect’s iconic pieces. (Her first major design purchase was Sottsass’ famous Carlton bookcase by Memphis). For example, the designer is the source of the graphic area rug, sculpture and colorful totem in the spacious formal living room.

“I am continually amazed by the collection of Sottsass’ historical pieces I have acquired over time,” she admits. “Each piece holds a cherished memory, imbuing my home with a sense of history and a deeply personal connection to the world of art and design.”

While Sottsass is the star of the show, the home also features work by many important designers. Lighting by Louis Poulsen can be found throughout, and the dining area includes pieces by Ignazio Gardella, Ico Parisi, Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Nao Tamura. Many, such as the green cabinet by Pietro Consagra in the living room, walk the line between form and function. “I’ve always been drawn to colorful works,” Enselmi explains. “I couldn’t imagine living in an entirely gray or beige home, as it would feel soulless to me.”

The vibrant palette flows throughout the interior: A colorful area rug with stripes, polka dots and white fringe creates a boisterous backdrop for twin beds with citron-green bedding and pillows in the guest suite. And sky-blue accessories accent the light walls, flooring and bedding in the primary suite. Clad in Carrara marble, the en suite bathroom includes a soaker tub and French doors that open to a covered patio. “I spend entire afternoons here with my mum, doing our makeup and chatting,” she admits.

In fact, the house is an ideal retreat for family or friends to come together. Enselmi often invites her pals to stay there and watch over the place when she and her family must return to their day-to-day lives in Milan. She isn’t surprised that people enjoy spending time there. “Wherever you turn, you can see the sea,” she describes, “a destination we all voluntarily return to time and again.”

Photography by Helenio Barbetta.

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A Chicago Family Downsizes To A Charming Lakeside Community

“It’s amazing and so peaceful,” says interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and principal designer at KitchenLab Interiors, of the lakefront locale where she helped clients create a dream home rich with vintage finds and treasured items. Boasting a history with the homeowner that stretches back to their youth, Zaveloff was involved in the project right from the beginning and the finished result speaks to the influences with which they grew up. “The client was my babysitter a million years ago,” the designer explains. “We had a lot in common in terms of the aesthetic that influenced us. We’re both a lot of 70s disco mixed with a more earthy, organic, traveled vibe—that time when the hippie era was rolling over to the more glam era of the 70s. We both grew up in houses that had elements of both and so we were influenced by it as well.”

That influence can be witnessed in the bright and open home where a mixture of textures, patterns, and metals are layered together in a visual story that speaks to the family who lives there. “I’ve always been a big proponent of living like you’re on vacation,” Zaveloff explains. “Trying to really channel that. It’s more casual, it’s more about ease of living, and we’re happier that way.” For this new build, KLI played a role in everything from the window and door orders to the hardware, the beam design, the molding, the flooring… even the stone, the stucco color, and the roofing material for the exterior, not to mention the furnishings and accessories throughout. “It’s about the interior, the exterior, how it flows, how people will really use the space.”

The designer explains one of the issues with a new build is “it’s very hard to create patina.” That issue was tackled via a multitude of vintage finds—like the Gaetano Sciolari light fixture in the foyer. “It was the first thing we bought,” she recalls. “It’s a really cool piece and a great example of that crazy ‘70s, almost Brutalist influence—very organic and also very glam. It set the tone.”

The more aged vibe carries into the kitchen as well, where a custom-designed hutch that was inspired by a 20-year-old tearsheet from a French magazine holds court among vintage seating and hand-painted tile. The terracotta tile from Tabarka Studio includes a brass inlay that won over the designer. “The raw brass and the antiquing on the white is just delicious,” she says. “I could do rattan and brass all day; they’re like my alter egos.”

Throughout the open floorplan, the eye travels easily among pieces that work perfectly together even though they don’t exactly match. The vintage Maguire chairs in the kitchen, the goat skin coffee table and channel back chairs—affectionately dubbed “the hot dog chairs” by the homeowner—in the living area, might all be considered wildly different from one another but here, they live in perfect harmony. “When you’re working on layering a house like this, and making it look like it happened over time, you’re going to have pieces that don’t all match,” Zaveloff explains. “And that’s a good thing.”

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Architect Jane Smith Builds Her Dream Home In Upstate New York

Every architect dreams of living in a home they’ve created, and for Jane Smith that dream became a reality in upstate New York’s Columbia County.

“I love the elegant simplicity of it,” she states about the home she completed in Hudson. “I was very careful about everything working together. It’s peaceful and calming.”

The long, narrow house is an homage to the area’s rural setting, where farms once dotted the landscape. Indeed, the functional elegance of area barns were an inspiration to Smith, founder of Spacesmith, the architectural firm based in Manhattan with a second office in Hudson.

“I wanted something that was like a white country house, but I didn’t want it to be painted wood,” she explains. She opted for traditional plaster. “I’ve traveled the world and always gone to places – the Mediterranean, French country farms – where they use that plaster.”

The clean lines complement the steel inset windows, giving the home a modern look and feel. Huge sliding glass doors complete the look. “I wanted to join the outside with the inside,” notes Smith. “I was creating spaces that have light and volume but feel comfortable – and inspirational – to be in.” The 2,600-square-foot home includes a main floor with the living room, kitchen and two bedrooms, while a versatile upstairs loft offers views on both sides to the lower level.

The home is nestled on the property, which dips down from the road, and the entry faces north. A southern exterior can be accessed from the open living area or the primary bedroom; a western wall of glass looks over a grassy meadow and deep woods. “The views from the windows are like ever-shifting landscapes,” decribes Smith. “Constantly changing, constantly dramatic.”

Photography by Peter Aaron.

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Giorgetti’s Bespoke Italian Designs Brings 108 Leonard’s Amenity Spaces To Life

108 Leonard, a neoclassical McKim, Mead & White landmark meticulously restored and reimagined to comprise 167 stunning homes in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, has partnered with bespoke Italian powerhouse Giorgetti to custom furnish its amenity spaces, imparting thoughtfully curated luxury throughout the iconic building. This amenities installation represents the first collaboration of its kind for the 125-year-old firm, which has been celebrated for providing coveted design solutions for residential, hospitality and luxury retail for a roster of luxury clients including Dolce Gabbana, Dior, Gucci and Brioni. Each piece in the 108 Leonard installation was tailor-made for the collaboration.

108 Leonard’s more than 20,000 square feet of wellness-driven amenities include a 75-foot lap pool with adjacent hot tub and sauna; over 2,200-square-foot fitness center; chef’s demonstration kitchen with adjoining entertaining lounge; private dining room with a bespoke wine cellar; beautifully appointed media and game rooms; Alice in Wonderland-themed children’s playroom; and an exquisite, landmarked, mezzanine-level lounge space known simply as the marble room. The building also features rooftop gardens with lounge and entertaining spaces designed to offer a serene escape.

“Both 108 Leonard and Giorgetti have a shared tradition of heritage, craftsmanship, luxury and lifestyle,” says Moreno Vitaloni, CEO of Giorgetti USA Inc., noting that the upscale collection of curated furnishings and décor pay homage to the building’s stunning architecture. “We went for extreme sophistication – as evidenced by the painstaking selection of fabrics and materials – and in the level of customization we brought to the project.”

Coincidentally, both Giorgetti and 108 Leonard were established in the same year, 1898, making them both 125 years old. “Between our McKim, Mead & White pedigree and Giorgetti’s incredible story of working in New York City in the early 20th Century, the historic connection feels like magic,” says Shalaiwah Alveranga, SVP, Marketing & Sales for Elad Group.

All of the design elements that went into 108 reflect Giorgetti’s intrinsic values, which combine the company’s rich heritage with the latest technological advancements. Their distinctive ethos is evident throughout, from the media lounge, where the Skyline modular sofa boasts exquisite leather trim alongside a coordinating leather ottoman and bouclé Topaze poofs, to the marble room (arguably the most magnificent waiting room in all of New York City), debuting Giorgetti’s ‘1819’ chandelier, a massive undertaking thanks to the rooms over 15 ft. ceilings and landmarked status. Other pieces include the private dining room’s centerpiece — a 14-foot-long, over 500-pound farm table which was sourced from a single piece of wood, lacquered, and installed in what Giorgetti’s Business Development Leader Andrew Griffin described as “an engineering feat.” Elsewhere, the game room’s custom leather-clad Foosball table and white leather (AGO) sofa in the entertainment lounge represent the firm’s signature merging of multiple materials, in this case leather, stone, metal and wood.

“Giorgetti’s passion for beautiful yet functional design and consideration of each and every detail are what attracted us to them; they understand classic elegance and comfort like none other,” noted Alveranga. “We were thrilled to be able to work with them on this curated experience that residents will enjoy for years to come.”

These sophisticated spaces are being brought to life courtesy of operator Urban Playground with wide-ranging programming that includes everything from Pilates classes taught by the best in the industry, to in-home spa treatments by renowned estheticians, award winning Sommelier-led wine tastings, and kids’ story-hours with children’s favorite authors, and more.

Currently, there are nine available residences listed for sale, with prices ranging between $1,980,000 and $24,450,000. For more information, visit

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Architect Marc Appleton Updates An 1891 California Compound

East Coast heirs and heiresses have long lived well in Montecito, California, discovering it as far back as the 1890s. By the Roaring Twenties, half of Hollywood had made it a weekend getaway. Stars and celebrities still reign here, living large in houses old and new.

Our homeowners have created a charming compound for themselves from the out-buildings of an estate first established in 1891 by Philadelphian Isaac C. Waterman. Marc Appleton, architect and noted historian on California architecture, served as their North Star.

Appleton’s clients, who hail from South Africa, originally lived in the carriage house. When an adjacent parcel with a barn and blacksmith’s cottage became available, they snapped it up and began improving the property. Their primary goal was to decamp from the carriage house and make it available to visiting family and friends, and to transform the 19th-century barn into their primary residence.

The barn was a true barn, with a hayloft and a floor grimy from decades of heavy use. It was far from habitable and required quite a clean-up before Appleton began to give it new life. Although the building needed some major sprucing up, client and architect embraced its authenticity. The exterior was stripped of its flaking green paint, dormers were inserted on the second story and the hayloft opening was glazed in, but otherwise, the building retains its existing profile.

Inside, Appleton turned the central breezeway into a living room and dining area and reconfigured the stalls and hayloft as bedrooms, kitchen and library. Expanses of bare wood in ceilings and walls reinforce a sense of the building’s original purpose, while also creating an enveloping warmth. Working without an interior designer, the homeowners artfully deployed their collection of antiques, traditional upholstered pieces, and varied artworks to achieve wonderfully at-ease spaces that manage to look both fresh and time-settled. While hardly minimalist, thanks to an essential restraint, they are endowed with appreciable breathing room.

Although humble compared with the grand estates that put Montecito on the map – and practically primitive compared with the souped-up contemporary residences that dot the area today – this family-oriented compound is impressive in its cohesiveness and simplicity. It is a testament to the fact that scale isn’t everything, and that sometimes, all we need is a place to put our feet up, watch the grandkids play and revel in the late afternoon sun raking across a stone wall.

Photography by Matt Walla.

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Designer Friday: An aspire Exclusive Interview With Courtney Banner

Home building is a project of passion. The passion that a homebuilder feels is always matched step for step by luxury home designer Courtney Banner. Passion has been Courtney’s forte through her extensive design education, design achievements, and through establishing her own firm, GOAT Interiors. This passion has led Courtney to follow her dreams and has aided her in finding success at an irregularly young age within the industry. Get to know Courtney Banner and her work in today’s Designer Friday.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Courtney Banner: I’ve always been a designer of modern, organic spaces. ‘Modern’ can often be described as having exclusively clean lines and flat textures. Where it often does take shape minimalistically, I gravitate to the boldness of it, with forward thinking shapes, lines, and textures. Pair that with soft colors, and natural textures and you’ve described my style to a ‘T’.

AJ: What’s your design pet peeve?
CB: Designing a home for other people to respect you for, rather than to bring you comfort and joy. A lot of the time this is showcased by following trends by the book, or in other words, being afraid to branch out from what other people have proven to like. I thoroughly believe that a home should be a place of respite, rejuvenation, and peace for the owner first and foremost.

AJ: What are you most proud of?
CB: Locking down my husband! He holds value in my eyes above anything that I will ever accomplish professionally. Plus, he is the accomplishment that has no ending or completion date, and what could possibly be better than that? In all seriousness, being able to look at him every day and recognize that he sees value in me as well is the greatest compliment I could receive.

AJ: What’s your biggest fear in life?
CB: Living too much for what other people think of me. I think it’s a natural human tendency to care about what people think of us, but I want to work every day to break free of that trend. I’ve found that life is much better enjoyed when I am the one determining my worth and value. I never want to live a life without growth and progression, but I am also very proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished at such a young age.

AJ: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
CB: I am loving the Tuscan movement that’s becoming ever more present in the design industry today. It has such a luxe, timeless, and comfortable feel to it that, if done right, pulls the eye in and keeps it there. Plus, I’ve always been an advocate for organic interior design, so the soft feel that it pulls has me all on board!

AJ: What are three things you can’t live without?
CB: HIGH Fitness, sleep, and my husband. Not everyone knows this, but I teach HIGH fitness classes on the side and have been doing so for about 4 years. It is my own personal rejuvenation and relief on both the craziest and happiest of days. Where sleep is concerned, I have never been one to live without an 8 hour night. If forced otherwise, I am no good to anybody! Last but not least, my husband is not only my better half, but he is my joy beyond anything else (and that’s saying something, because I don’t know what I’d be without Interior Design and HIGH Fitness!).

AJ: How do you define beauty?
CB: I don’t think there’s any one style that can be used to define beauty. Rather, I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Some people would classify graffiti as beauty, and some would call it trash. Who are we to tell somebody that what they classify as beauty, isn’t? To me, beauty is something that you never want to look away from because it makes you happy.

About the Designer | Courtney has been in love with the home industry for her entire life. Growing up with a General Contractor for a father, she was able to have a front-row view of what goes into building a home. After obtaining her Interior Design degree and working in the field extensively, she went after her dream and started her own company.

“As an interior designer, it is my goal to create homes that will influence my clients’ lives for the better. I believe that our surroundings play a crucial role in our mental strength, so I never consider my job done until I see the light in my client’s eyes that only comes through having a complete love of their surroundings. Through 9+ years of experience, I have gained critical industry, design detail, and computer skills; all of which provide me with the ability to do my work the right way.”

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A Renovation For Real Life From Jennifer Robin Interiors

A collaborative residential re-design in northern California’s Portola Valley was a clean-lined triumph from award-winning designer Jennifer Robin of Jennifer Robin Interiors, who teamed with Cris Kummerer of CKA Architects and Drew Martin Construction. Sprawling and outdated, the older ranch home needed a new layout to support a family’s active and creative lifestyle. Its choppy floor plan was expansive but dysfunctional. Working closely with the homeowner, the team introduced a bright, open concept that was much more conducive to their real life. Robin shares how her clients’ vision became a reality, and the importance of a collaborative approach.

Gwen Donovan: What did the owners envision for their remodeled home?
Jennifer Robin: They wanted to create a more open floor plan to maximize their connection as a family. They also wanted to modernize the interior for a home that was current and fresh.

“I believe a well-designed home is without ego: meaning the architecture, interiors and landscape are cohesive in effort and aesthetic.”

GD: How did your team work together to make the owner’s wish list come true?
JR: Our team collaborated to ensure that the home’s architectural integrity was maintained while they opened up its layout:

  • In the kitchen, we created a more open floor plan and flipped the layout to shift the views to the garden. Then we wrapped the new kitchen and family room in wire-brushed white oak to provide warmth and scale. We were able to tuck in an inviting breakfast nook with a custom reclaimed wood table and vintage chairs from Obsolete. The custom lighting in the nook was fabricated by Bourgeois Boheme. Tall blue-painted cabinets have pocketing doors lined in white oak that neatly house a coffee and breakfast bar while conveniently hiding any mess when not in use.

  • Creating a bar area in the previously awkward L-shaped living room gave purpose and function to a once unused space. The bar’s brass backsplash and plumbing will patina beautifully with time.

  • We connected the bar area with the rest of the living room area by furnishing it with custom curved sofas and swivel chairs to create a better connection between the rooms. We mirrored the furniture in the two areas, including round Nim Dune coffee tables, to unify and create a functional entertaining space. Floral fabrics and pink tones were added for a bit of femininity.

  • Along with the architect, we transformed the dining room by adding new painted tongue and groove ceiling paneling for texture. Previous windows were replaced with solid glass to modernize the space. The Jonathan Browning chandelier was chosen for its scale and linear shape to complement the space, as well as its curves to soften the space. Further curves in the Rose Uniacke oak dining chairs add warmth. An organic maple slab table from Tod Von Mertens with a brass base lends a bit of glam.

Photography by John Merkl.

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