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Small-Space Entertaining Secrets You Need

Sep 24 2014 - 4:03am

When Heidi, an art director in her mid-30s, decided it was time to make her New York City rental feel like home, she knew she couldn't do it alone. With a modest budget and a two-month time frame, the design duo behind LABLstudio [1] stepped in to work their magic. Creative solutions like removable wallpaper, a foyer-turned-wine bar, and reimagined furniture helped Heidi's wish for a cozy yet sophisticated apartment that she could entertain in come true.

POPSUGAR: What were some of Heidi's biggest design challenges and how were you able to overcome them?

LABLstudio: She has an adorable Pit Bull named Tater who pretty much runs that apartment, so we opted for durable furnishings, such as a jute rug and iron coffee table. The other design challenge we faced, which pretty much any apartment dweller can understand, is that she loves to entertain. Small-space decorating tricks like using a glass tabletop and combining different silhouettes and materials (especially metallics!) help to make a home feel fresh and interesting without looking cluttered. When pieces vary in style/scale/shape, like a bunch of chairs in one room, the eye doesn't read them the same way.

PS: The color scheme is so pretty and unexpected! Do you have any tips for how to choose a palette?

LS: When selecting a palette, we like to begin by looking at the items in the space that are definitely staying and often look for an inspiration piece (whether it's an amazing pillow or piece of art) that both ties together and enhances those items. For instance, Heidi already had the sectional and armchair. Being a rental, we knew the flooring wasn't going to change, either. Before, those pieces were the only sources of color in the apartment, so the space read as being pretty neutral (and bland) overall. She is an effervescent art director, and that neutral color palette didn't seem to represent her, so we feminized the palette by pulling in some dusty mauve on the walls and popped it with that amazing Bolivian stripe pillow that adds vibrant jewel-toned accents. A little pop of bold color goes a long way — we keep that in mind when building our palettes and primarily tend to use neutrals and dusty/earth tones as the base layer and more vibrant colors as the finishing touches since they have a stronger impact.

PS: There is a great balance of big brand pieces and eclectic finds! Are there certain brands you rely on for certain things?

LS: CB2 [2] is definitely one of our "big brand" staples, for everything from chairs to rugs to lighting. We also love West Elm [3] and Crate and Barrel. Due to budget, timing, etc. it's often necessary to shop at big box stores, but we really love mixing in one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, as well as locally and/or custom-designed pieces whenever we can.

Framed typography art adds personality to a bare patch of wall while paying homage to Heidi's Texas roots.

PS: Tell us how you came up with the concept for the chalkboard bar area. What are some of your favorite DIY [4] moments in that area?

LS: Since having a space to entertain was one of her wish list items, we took advantage of her huge wine collection and wine refrigerator. We decided that her large-by-NYC-standards foyer was the perfect nook to create a wine bar. We wanted to capture a cozy, Parisian cafe vibe and decided it was the perfect place for some chalkboard (another wish list request!). The dark color of the chalkboard paint helped to disguise the wine refrigerator, but we also commissioned a custom bar made from reclaimed wood and added to her existing mirror collection to further distract the eye.

The chalkboard continues in the kitchen, doubling as a handy calendar.

The mixed patterns in the bedroom feel subtle and soothing, thanks to the coordinated colors.

PS: On the flip side, what are some resources you turn to for finding unique pieces loaded with character?

LS: We loved Hunter's Alley (may it rest in peace). We shop at the local antique/vintage stores near our Brooklyn HQ. Also, our friends over at Fiercely Curious [5] (a curated local NYC art site) are launching "Fiercely Made" in September, which will feature tons of great furniture, accessories, and objects that are handmade by various artisans in the NYC area.

A silver skull doubles as a creative solution for organizing jewelry.

A closer look at the beautiful bed, floral art, and nightstand.

PS: Love the rustic wooden table with hairpin legs in the bedroom! Where did you get it from?

LS: That was originally her coffee table! It was way too small as a coffee table and looked dwarfed by the large sectional, so we were able to get taller legs and repurpose it as her bedside table!

Not a New York City dweller? Not a problem! LABLstudio now offers both in-person and virtual consultations as well as edesigns! Get more details about their design services here [6].


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