The Luxury of an Outdoor Space…

Any urban dweller knows what luxury means when speaking about apartments… closet space, two bathrooms, washer/dryer in the apartment, and the ultimate luxury…outdoor space. The coveted outdoor space has become a premium when looking for a home to buy or rent. It also reflects in the rental or sale price. What does having an outdoor space,  in a city like New York mean? It is the ultimate oasis and entertainment center of the home in the warm months or even in the cool autumn. It invokes the spirit of privacy and serenity. If you are lucky enough to find a space with a terrace, backyard or front patio, grab it.

New York City has a strong café culture, with restaurant after bar after café lining the streets filled with people enjoying the outdoors.The idea that you have that in your home and can decorate and creating mood lighting and decide the amenities, is heaven. When I am doing a project with outdoor space, just like the indoor space, I ask the client what is on their wish list. Do they want a garden, barbecue area, outdoor kitchen, specially designed lighting, built in seating? The options are wide ranging. If it is a small space, what is their goal? Entertaining? Outdoor eating space? An extension of the kitchen or dining area? There are so many ideas and budgets for an outdoor area.

 Luxury is not always based on a monetary value, it is based on the convenience and freedom that a luxury item or service can give to someone. An outdoor space is a welcome addition to any home, it brings nature to an urban dweller and space for family life and entertaining and creating memories.

Whether it is a barbecue grill, comfortable chaise for lying in the summer sun or a flower or vegetable garden promoting sustainability, an outdoor sanctuary is a luxury and something that a lucky few will have in a crowded city


Making the Most of an Interior Design Consultation…

I have had experiences with Clients that began with a consultation and then the decision to do a project came later. I am a firm believer in a thorough and no commitment consultation option for Clients thinking of doing a renovation on their home. In my practice I offer what is called a Space Analysis Consultation which gives the Client some ideas, conceptual layouts and preliminary budget for their potential upgrade (see image above). There are some Clients who need to see a visual representation and have many questions before they embark on a renovation journey. This is where this type of meeting with a designer is incredibly beneficial. For a reasonable fee, they receive a report concerning their space and some idea of budget and basic layouts, color and material consultation, basic lighting and some guidance as to the best improvements for their home.

A site visit is included in the consultation, so the designer can visualize the area and meet the potential clients. My consultation does not require the Client to continue in the process with me. This is a stand-alone service, which I think entices the client to invest in this type of consultation. They do not feel forced to enter into a contract with me and are free to use their report with any designer of their choice.

The decision to do a renovation is a huge commitment, especially if it is the first time for a client. There are so many questions they have, most importantly, the budget to fulfill the items on their wish list. That is why this consultation is beneficial. It can give the client a sense of the big picture and the perspective to fully understand what their home can become with the proper renovations done by a skilled designer and a trusted contractor. A trusted designer can be a client’s best friend. The money the client invests in this Space Analysis Consultation in the long run will save them money if they decide to sign a contract and proceed with the renovation. The designer will have already made some decisions that can further the process along without any trial and error discovery. The designer also has spent time in the space and begun the creative process.

If you are considering a renovation of your home or office,and would like more information on ORA studio’s Space Analysis Consultation please email us at: and we can send you a Space Analysis Consultation form.



The Modern Color Mix…

140 Charles Street NYC

The unexpected mixing of vibrant color is in full effect in home décor. The rise of pop color with neutrals and mixed jewel tones in Interior Design is directly influenced by fashion’s runways and what we see in stores and boutiques.

What we like to wear is what we like to see reflected in our home décor too. The key is mixing these bold tones with complementary hues that look chic, modern and not overstated. Clients like to see some drama in their living space, aspects that add energy and a touch of their own personality and aesthetic.

How can clients adapt the modern color mix in their own homes? First, do not fear bold color. Bold color can be one accent piece, wallpaper or artwork or it can be an artful mix of all these items working together harmoniously.

Mixed jewel tones can give your space a moody and romantic feel, creating warmth and coziness. Pop colors like neon shades work well when mixed with beige or earthy neutral tones as a backdrop. Pastels in different shades can be combined creating a soft and serene environment and have a calming effect. Appropriate lighting is essential so that the colors can be properly showcased to their potential.

Try accent pieces that are moderately priced to begin to incorporate color, and if you really like the effect invest in something with a higher value. A jewel toned pouf, a bright colored carpet or ceramics in bold colors can be a cost-effective way to try this new style. If you want to take it to an elevated level, try a bold paint color or larger piece of furniture to turn up the volume.

Think about what you like to see, about how color can affect you and then begin your selection. If you love soft colors, try lavenders, seafoam green, pale pink. If you love bold, go for red, royal blue, eggplant, emerald or wine-colored hues. If you love neon color, bright hot pink, chartreuse or fuchsia. There is no limit, go for what makes you feel energized, relaxed or regal, just try something out of the ordinary and create a space that really shines.

2018 Design Trends We Love…

Lexington Avenue Project

With the start of every New Year, there is a desire to reboot and refresh our lives. Whether it be in attitude, our personal look, or in our home décor, we want to see change; some enhancement ushering in a new and hopeful attitude. If your home is your focus, this is a good time to consult with a designer who can sense the changing needs of their clients and create design trends that will make positive changes.

One area that can benefit by revisiting its objective is the bedroom, stripping it of being a functional core and bringing it back to an oasis of peace and intimacy that it was intended for.

The Tufty bed from B&B Italia pictured here, is the epitome of luxury sleeping, with a calming soft neutral tone. The velvety carpet with its soothing feel adds warmth to the room. The lavender bedding complements and enhances the serene ambiance. Lavender’s properties are often associated with royalty and luxury, wisdom, dignity, and peace. This room is a great example of design trends working harmoniously, and lavender is becoming a color of choice of design professionals.

This space is simple and sophisticated, possessing the qualities of a modern fresh bedroom where we can really rest and detach. In large homes or small apartments, the way we live determines so much in our behavior. Every opportunity to create a sanctuary that we can relax in has become ever more appealing and necessary.

By using color, texture and lighting we can alter our mood, and focus our outlook to live in a complicated world another day, with a calming interior presence.

I am looking positively into the future carrying my love of design and my desire to fulfill my client’s needs with me along the way. With every step I take with my client during their project, I strive to find design elements that enrich their existing lifestyle, and for me that is always trending.

Happy New Year!

Dream Clients Delight in Duplex…

This is the story of a perfect client… clients who brought enthusiasm, intelligence and input, while knowing how to value their Architect’s advice. The beginning of this process was a challenge because when they called me to look at their space they already had an Architect.

The project was a duplex on Sutton Place South in NYC. They chose an Architect who had done work there 10 years earlier, who was a friend and principal of a highly respected firm. The wife was in charge of communicating with the Architect and sharing their desires and wishes; she was knowledgeable about design and had great taste. She soon realized that she would be working with a young designer assigned to their project instead of working with the principal.

We had an opportunity to meet a year earlier through a mutual acquaintance that highly recommended me to her, and at that time I told her to feel free to call me for a consultation if she was ever in need.

After demolition and at the beginning of construction, she called me because she had some concerns. Without specifying what type of concern or give me any information about the project she asked me to visit the site, and see how I could read and interpret the space based on the demolition that was performed and the few metal studs that were up for construction.

During my space analysis consultation I identified a few elements that would be pivotal for the outcome of the project. I asked the client some questions, like why it appeared that a wall would cover the view from the gallery, and how the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room that contained the dual fireplace would be treated and with what material? How would the fireplace north relate to the rest of the living room as far as material and layout? Why were the master bathrooms so chopped up with tiny walls?  The client became very emotional admitting that those were her questions also and had no answer and after one year of design with their Architect she still did not have a clear view of how these items would look. I suggested that she ask her Architect to produce some extra drawings related to those items to have a better understanding and I would help her read the drawings if she needed help. When she received the drawings, it was clear for her and for me that the aesthetic of the design was quite traditional, contrary to what she asked from the beginning, which was minimal and very high end contemporary. She decided to hire me to design these items.

Soon the client found out that the super modern doors she was planning to buy from Italy were very complex and her Architect was not able to use the system in the way she wanted. At that point she dismissed the other architect and hired me to finish the project. This is when I realized that working with this client was a joy, this was a special client. Her taste, input and vision of what she liked was so clear. For every item or idea I brought she was able to understand very quickly. The project progressed rapidly and she trusted me entirely to the point of even having me make changes in the lighting design for the entire apartment to ensure that the new items that we were designing were lit properly.

One of the reasons the client appreciated working with me is that she could communicate directly with me, not with an assistant or junior designer.

My client had discerning taste and knew high end design and high end Architecture. The couple had an extensive collection of artwork. One of our first tasks at the beginning of our collaboration was going through the photos and discussed how we could display them in a way that showcases them best.

We brought the husband into the conversation many times but when it came to designing his music room, the attention was focused on his needs. He wanted to design a beautiful glass case to display his guitars. In the evolution of the music room design which included panels for acoustic insulation on walls and ceiling, I suggested displaying his guitars on the wall, because he would be able to play his guitar every day as he pleased instead of opening and closing a glass case. Basically the entire room became a guitar case.

I am lucky to have wonderful clients, and this particular couple was very special. It was a pleasure showing them something new and innovative and because of their quick understanding, it made the design process go faster. But as with everything in life when you connect positively at an emotional level there is always a better result.

The Top 8 Home Design Mistakes…

Even the savviest home designer can be tripped up by these styling pitfalls. Sometimes we choose fashion and trend over form and function. Here are some of the top decorating no-no’s

  1. Choosing fashion before function: We are all attracted to things that are visually appealing, including furniture that looks great but maybe not really that comfortable for daily use. It is the combination of beauty and function that makes for long lasting appeal and usability. Trendy pieces that are impulse buys often fall into this category. Focus on classic beauty that has a timeless design.
  2. Not Testing before you paint: Color plays an integral part in home décor and the right paint color can make or break your design dreams. It is smart to always test the color on your wall before promptly painting an entire room in a bold color. Test with the lighting, furniture and artwork for an integrated look. Harmony in your design is the most important. Select different tones and try them out before committing to one color.
  3. “I have always wanted this…”: Sometimes our dream purchase is not really the right choice. Seeing an item in your mind that you love, may not coincide with your lifestyle and the size and layout of your space. Think about how that item would fit in with the way you live daily and envision that in your space.
  4. Snap or Quick Fix Decisions: If you need some design therapy, think clearly about your goals and proceed accordingly. Doing any kind of decorating or renovation requires the requisite time and focus to envision, source, shop and integrate these new elements into the home. Buy quality items that are durable, instead of less expensive ones that will not stand the test of time. Buy once and be satisfied with your purchase.
  5. Over complicated Organization: Being organized is a positive but it can become overwhelming when you adhere to a system that is overly complicated and not something that you can incorporate into your daily life. Find a way to store and organize your personal items that suits you, that is easy and delivers on the look and feel you desire.
  6. Do Your Research When Incorporating Plants in the Home: Adapting a green lifestyle can be very beneficial and having flowers and plants in the home is good not only aesthetically but for our wellbeing. This décor decision requires research, upkeep, and maintenance. Purchasing the right plants or flowers for the home depends on many factors; lighting, climate, and environment.
  7. DIY remorse: The internet shows us so many pretty pictures of home décor ideas that “we can do ourselves” and makes a sometimes-difficult task look very easy. If you are not someone who is crafty, artistic or good with their hands, home décor DIY may not be for you. Ask an expert.
  8. White is so Calming…: the color white can be a great mood enhancer and de-stresser in a home, bringing serenity. White also requires careful consideration, especially if you are envisioning that fluffy white carpet, white leather sofa or white velvet chair in a well frequented room. Think about how you live… are there small children in the home? will you devote the time to keeping those white items pristine? If not, maybe choose a different color in a  lighter tone with a durable material

These are some of the common mistakes that people can make when we they to refresh or completely redecorate their home. The common thread of advice to avoid these errors is to think carefully, know your lifestyle and your space, and understand how decorating will enrich your life…

How to Quickly Decorate Your Kitchen & Bathroom….

ORA studio is pleased to present our guest blogger this month from Graham and Brown, purveyors of beautiful wallpaper, coverings and home accessories.

Irina Scalabrino from Graham and Brown explains a little bit of what they do and their philosophy on decorating and design….


How to Quickly Decorate Your Kitchen and Bathroom

Whether you live in a busy household or your own personal little hideaway, no one likes an untidy mess greeting them in the rooms they use the most. Disrupting your daily routine, home maintenance tasks in high-traffic areas such as the kitchen and bathroom can often take time, but not with our help! You don’t want to be greeted by tins of paint or rolls of soaking paper when all you want is a long hot soak or a good meal after a day at work. When you’re planning a new kitchen and bathroom, you need to be in and out in a flash to resume regular order and that’s why you need Superfresco Easy wallpaper by Graham & Brown. The gorgeous range of non-woven paper boasts sophisticated designs with a practical application method. Instead of cutting your paper and waiting for each sheet to soak, with Superfresco Easy you simply apply the adhesive directly on to your walls, line up your paper and go!

It’s time to abandon the traditional wallpapering method and keep things simple. Revamp both your kitchen and bathroom in a day with our stunning range of easy-to-apply wallpaper.

Afternoon Tea Wallpaper from Graham and Brown

Perhaps you’re looking for something a little more contemporary? The typography wallpaper makes a great choice for kitchens that need a more modern finish. The Afternoon Tea wallpaper in particular looks fantastic in large open-plan kitchens, providing a white backdrop that bounces light around the room. A quirky twist on the traditional kitchen look, this creative motif brings a sense of coziness to your kitchen.

For bathrooms, the stunning Nature Trail Duck Egg wallpaper adds an exotic twist. Pamper yourself with this pastel blue tone that transforms your bathroom into a chic salon. With just a flicker of pink and green from fluttering butterflies and dragonflies that swoop across the design, this gorgeous backdrop gives speedy style to your home in a matter of hours.


Graham & Brown also has a contrasting typographic wallpaper too! The Coffee Shop black/white wallpaper really gives your home that chic barista vibe. Coating your room in coffee lover quotes, this wallpaper brings a charming touch to your room. You’ll be done so fast with this DIY project you’ll be kicking back with a cuppa in no time!