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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Haunted Row House in NYC Scares Interior Designer - Really!!


kitchen: photo by me
(I don't think the rats are real?)


Interior Designers are always doing research - the latest products, latest techniques, latest codes, etc. But sometimes we have to go back in time to research by gone days. You may have seen my earlier post about the Victoiran restoration I have been collaborating on, so when I in New York City I visited the Merchant’s House Museum at the suggestion of my Facebook interior designer friend Jim Fairfax.

Parlor and Sitting Room: Photo courtesy of Merchant House Museum
 
The Merchant's House Museum, constructed in 1832, is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark.  It is also a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City. This row house is among the finest surviving examples of late-Federal and Greek Revival architecture. It remains virtually unchanged from the time when it was the home of the affluent 19th century merchant family of Seabury (1780-1865) and Eliza (1797-1882) Tredwell and their eight children.
This house is a historical gem in the midst of a developing East Village.  It is perfectly preserved as the Tredwell family left it when Gertrude died in 1933. If you're at all "sensitive" to ghosts this is a great place to visit.  It is also a great place to see how wealthy New York City residents lived in the early 20th century.

On the evening I visited, Dan Sturges, gave a lecture on his investigations into the paranormal activities of the home. Sturges talked and shared many stories about the numerous times he and his team conducted investigations.  Sturges claims Gertrude, the youngest daughter, haunts the upstairs bedroom.  Seabury, the master of the house, still walks the hallways at night.  Interestingly, the servants, Anne and Brigitte, continue to make their rounds.
Prior to the lecture, I had an opportunity to chat with Anthony Bellov, a board member, and I took a few pictures. After the lecture, I needed to use the restroom downstairs but I was too scared!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Strong Woman


 
I traveled to New York City last week because my sister, Donna Stevens, a breast cancer survivor was walking in the 10th annual AvonWalk for Breast Cancer. This was her fifth walk and she and her team “The Pink Ribbon Gemz” have raised nearly $50,000. The first year she walked all the family and friends were supportive and eagerly wrote large checks. Heck, after all the treatments and surgeries she had endured, it was the least we could do. Frankly, in the preceding years we grew weary of doling out yet another check. We thought, “Seriously, how many times does she have to do this anyway?”
I was there at the finish line as she and her mates and about 3,700 other men and women all blinged out in pink regalia walked passed (some hobbling) after completing 39.3 miles. As the day went on and I watched all these jubilant women, it occurred to me – this is NOT about raising money for cancer research (albeit a by-product), this is about the camaraderie of woman coping with disfiguration and death in the only way they can positively have any control over what has happened to them. It is beautiful.

Then to my utter amazement in the closing ceremonies, the foundation began giving out grants totaling 7.8 million to organizations such as The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Center at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center, one of eight Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Centers of Excellence located in leading medical centers across the country, who received $750,000 to continue funding care for thousands of underserved women in its state-of-the art mammography center. They are helping many women receive early detection and treatment that they would not otherwise receive. This, to me, is what is extraordinary.

So my hero is my sister, whose never ending fund raising channels her anger and fear into happiness and hope for not only herself, but for many, many women.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

DIY Red Light Pendant



In September I participated in the Dream Room competition at the Modesto Home Improvement Show produced by Metro Expositions in Modesto California. The competition involves select interior designers from the Modesto and Stockton region. Each designer is given a 20 foot x 8 foot space enclosed in 2x6 wood framed wall covered by unfinished gypsum board. The design criteria is to design a room for a young couple with a small child who will be entertaining their family for the holidays. We have six hours on the first day and three hours on the second day to finish the walls, flooring and furnishing and decorations in the space.

I decided to do a dining room. I have participated in the competition before and I like to make curated light fixtures. I knew I wanted to make something out of wire in a domed shape for a pendant. I thought some kind of bowl could be transformed. One day shopping at Ikea for an unrelated project I came across this Tradig Bowl. Perfect shape and it already had a hole in the middle. Turn it up-side down and viola a pendant. The color was exciting and my design concept began to unfold.
To make the pendant I decided to use cotton fabric wrapped wire, an old fashioned type socket and a replica of Thomas Edison era, Victorian style carbon filament light bulb.  I purchased 2-conductor 18-gauge red cotton twisted wire - by the foot from Sundial Wire. It was the only sight I could find that sold the wire by the foot instead of by the spool.


I was shocked at the price of Edison style bulbs, but found a reasonably priced one at Antique Lamp Supply. I also purchased the black socket with a pull chain from Antique Lamp Supply.
As I began to assemble the lamp, I discovered that the socket was too short. We made a trip to the local big box store and purchased an extender.



Supplies Needed:
Tradig Bowl from Ikea
2-conductor 18-gauge red cotton twisted wire - by the foot from SundialWire
Leviton Brand Bakelite Turn Knob Socket w/Ring from Antique Lamp Supply
Edison Base "Squirrel Cage" Light Bulb from Antique Lamp Supply

If you need to know how to wire the socket, check out TheFamily Handyman for a nice tutorial.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Building Information Modeling - Victorian Style



 
Last week I completed a course in Advance Revit taught by John Bohan. AutoDesk Revit is Building Information Modeling software for architects and engineers. It allows users to design a building and its components in 3D.

I was first exposed to Revit in Art College in 2009 by a classmate, Karen Watt. She taught me so much about the use of the software and I quickly embraced all the great features it offers in contrast to other CAD 2D software. Our drafting in college was typically taught with AutoCAD, but Karen and I preferred Revit. When I started my interior design company, I continued to use Revit to prepare my interior design concepts, floor plans, and specifications for my clients. Believe me; I have watched just about every available YouTube video on Revit. Even with all the videos and books available, I still, at times, was pulling my hair out because although it is a program I adore, it is challenging.

Several months ago, my old instructor, Marosi White at The Art Institute asked me to be a guest instructor for her Revit class. I was happy to accept and for three hours tried to help her students with many of the tips and tricks I had learned through trial and error. Luckily for me, Marosi told me about the online Revit course.

At the same time I was drafting a Victorian Remodel for an architect and Mr. Bohan was able to help me immensely with all the intricate gingerbread so typical of Victorian Houses. This house was built in 1909 and the owner wants to restore it to near museum quality. Next week I am going to New York and will tour Merchant House Museum. It is a home built in 1832 and is preserved intact inside and out. It should provide lots of inspiration.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hitting A Wall



I have been hitting a wall when it comes to blogging, so I am taking a blogging ecourse "Blogging Your Way Boot Camp" by Holly Becker. It is an online course and it started today. I have read all the materials and watched all the videos - I am ready to start my blogging!! The first week’s homework assignment is to write three (yes THREE) new blogs from a list of 10 choices. One of the choices was to blog about the course, well that was easy. The next few may be a little harder. I have chosen to write about the course I took last month – Advanced Revit (yes, I have concluded that I am a habitual student).  My last blog (for this week) will be about a custom pendant that I made for the Dream Room Competition I just participated in September (I came in third – more to follow). I have a feeling that each week will consist of writing many blogs (it is Boot Camp after all). I am spending this weekend in San Francisco and the following week I am flying to New York. These are two fabulous cities that will provide lots of design and blogging inspiration.  

 

Oh, the image above you ask? Yes, it is called “Bury Circle.”  I found an old Polaroid image from when I was four years old and created this artwork that now hangs in my living room. I did hit a wall that day many, many years ago (not injured) and I have it to remind me that some days are harder than others, but I can carry on.