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SoHo Shopping Trip: Part I

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First stop, Brentano's.

1 First stop, Brentano's.

Here I am discussing my options with Joseph Brentano.

2 Here I am discussing my options with Joseph Brentano.

The choices seem to be endless - I'm so happy that I had an expert there to help me navigate.

3 The choices seem to be endless - I'm so happy that I had an expert there to help me navigate.

Brentano's has a lovely selection of traditional frames.

4 Brentano's has a lovely selection of traditional frames.

As well as more sleek and modern frames, which appeal to me as I search for frames to use in my apartment.

5 As well as more sleek and modern frames, which appeal to me as I search for frames to use in my apartment.

Here we have a simple white frame next to a photograph I took of the wall in my hallway -- I taped out twelve frames for the Albers prints I want to frame and mount.

6 Here we have a simple white frame next to a photograph I took of the wall in my hallway -- I taped out twelve frames for the Albers prints I want to frame and mount.

I also like this darker option.

7 I also like this darker option.

This is very close to the style of frame I would like to put around the artwork above my bed, but I'm not sure which finish I should go with.

8 This is very close to the style of frame I would like to put around the artwork above my bed, but I'm not sure which finish I should go with.

Meet today's expert: Joseph Brentano, proprietor of Brentanos in Manhattan's Soho (121 Crosby to be exact).

Joe's knowledge of framing and the skill and artistry surrounding it amazes me, as he has been in the business for more than 30 years. So, it was no surprise on one of my trips downtown, I would stop by and see what he thinks I should do with the Albers images that are going to fill my hallway wall and the large-scale piece above my bed.

While the shop specializes in Sgraffito frames (scratching paint away to create a design), Brentano's has an enormous display of traditional and modern frames. We talked about the thickness of the frame (a thicker one for above the bed as a showstopper and thinner ones for the Albers so they almost disappear) as well as matte size and shade and glass options. It can be overwhelming but we narrowed it down. Sorry, you'll have to wait and see what I chose at the final reveals.

Martha's Pantry Must-Have's

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Image from "Chalkboard Paint," Martha Stewart Living, January 2007.

In preparation for the holidays, organized and comprehensive lists can be life-savers. This Thanksgiving, I'll be thanking Martha for giving me this complete list of pantry must-haves. Surprisingly she left Girl Scout cookies off of her list - something I know to always have in-stock. How many of the following items do you currently have in your kitchen?

Baking Staples

  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla beans
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Semisweet dark chocolate
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Dry yeast
  • Cornstarch

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Decorator's Toolkit

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The Canon PowerShot digital camera is easy to use and affordable - every decorator should have one.

1 The Canon PowerShot digital camera is easy to use and affordable - every decorator should have one.

Blue tape is among the most useful tools I can think of as a decorator.  It has such a wide variety of uses - from protecting windows and door frames when painting, to taping out artwork and furniture before committing to a layout.

2 Blue tape is among the most useful tools I can think of as a decorator. It has such a wide variety of uses - from protecting windows and door frames when painting, to taping out artwork and furniture before committing to a layout.

Starrett (no affiliation with our office building) makes great measuring tools that come in a wide variety of lengths. (http://www.starrett.com/)

3 Starrett (no affiliation with our office building) makes great measuring tools that come in a wide variety of lengths. (http://www.starrett.com/)

I like to keep all of my decorating ideas and stats (dimensions, constructions dates, etc.) in one place. Postalco makes some of the most beautifully designed notebooks I've seen.

4 I like to keep all of my decorating ideas and stats (dimensions, constructions dates, etc.) in one place. Postalco makes some of the most beautifully designed notebooks I've seen.

  • Digital Camera – many of us in the Home and Decorating department at MSL use the Canon Powershot digital camera. At $160 it is very reasonably priced and it comes in several fun colors – though I prefer the classic silver.
  • Blue Tape – I mentioned blue tape in one of my last posts as something that I simply cannot live without, and I wasn't kidding. Every decorator knows that floor & wall plans can be among the most complicated decisions in the design process -- envisioning a space before committing to a layout is vital. By taping out the dimensions of your furniture on the floor, or artwork on your walls, you can play around with the layout and even walk around the imaginary pieces before the moving process begins. Trust me, it will save you a lot of time and plenty of headaches!
  • Tape Measure - this tool is essential to every decorator. If you don't know the dimensions of what you're working with, you can't really move forward with your interior design - everything from window and door frames to floor space and furniture should be carefully measured.
  • Notebook - every designer needs a notebook to write down their inspiration and sources.
  • Dimensions – of all of your rooms, furniture, etc. Get yourself a good tape measure (see above) and diligently note all of the measurements of your home to reference while you plan the design of your space.
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Paint chips can be a decorator's best friend.

1 Paint chips can be a decorator's best friend.

As you can see, I have a variety of fabric swatches to mull over before I make any final decisions on upholstery.

2 As you can see, I have a variety of fabric swatches to mull over before I make any final decisions on upholstery.

I like to keep everything together by using binder rings...

3 I like to keep everything together by using binder rings...

And accordion folders like this one by MUJI.

4 And accordion folders like this one by MUJI.

  • Paint chips - deciding what color(s) to paint your apartment can be among the hardest and most crucial decisions during redecorating.  I've had the same six swatches of paint samples on my walls for months and I'm still not 100% sure! Every decorator should have the paint colors they're considering with them at all time until they make the final decision.
  • Fabric swatches - along with paint, upholstery is another serious decorating decision that should be given a lot of thought before you commit.
  • Hole puncher
  • Binder Rings - In order to carry around both the paint and fabric swatches more easily, I punch holes in them and clip them together using binder rings. It is such an ingenious way to make my life easier when I am out on the town looking for decorating inspiration.
  • Small accordion folder - these folders have a great, functional design that allows me to store and carry everything in one place.