Go Love Your Room–Michele Varian’s NYC Loft

I loved Michele Varian’s SoHo shop so much that I was thrilled when she posted on Instagram that her loft apartment had been featured in a New York magazine.

Michele Varian's Loft

And if you’ve seen her shop, her loft is everything you would imagine it would be – stuffed full of fascinating and beautiful objects, perfectly arranged in gorgeous vignettes. If you read the article (which you really should) you’ll realise that pretty much every single thing in her apartment has a story behind it. This is a place where people live and work and laugh and love. And it shows.

Michele Varian's Loft

This kitchen is giving me LIFE. From that perfect blue to the open shelving to the mismatched china, to the well-used pans, to the spices. It looks like the kitchen of someone who loves to cook, loves to eat and loves to entertain.

Michele Varian's Loft

Anyone would be inspired in this workspace.

Michele Varian's Loft

That bed and the THROW are gorgeous and there’s something really cool about that framed pair of gloves. And that mirror. Naughty girl Michele!

Michele Varian's Loft

Michele’s husband is a musician and I love that his presence is really obvious all round the apartment. 

Michele Varian's Loft

Michele’s wallpaper makes the perfect backdrop for his guitar collection and tiny vintage piano.

Do yourselves a favour and read the entire article by Eliza Krpoyan for Scene Magazine. All the beautiful photography is by Peter Murdock.

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New York, New York

So I’m back from two back to back trips to New York, New York – firstly to attend a food photography workshop given by Penny de los Santos (with the Minx and the Husband tagging along) and secondly for Blog Tour NYC and the Architectural Design Home Show. I am still processing all I learned, saw, thought and felt, though I will be blogging the bejeezus out of everything in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for sumptuous shops, stunning restaurants and sexy hotels.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

In the meantime, by way of an introduction, here are some of the sights and characters of New York City, which are still buzzing round my head.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

One day I AM going to start a Tumblr called ‘Hipsters in their Habitats’.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loved this hardworking little guy down in the subway.

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Love truly was in the air.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Pilgrimage to PurlSoho. Check.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Remember when we did a ‘Go Fug Your Room’ on Diane Von Furstenburg’s NYC penthouse? Well here it is, seen from the magnificent new High Line Park. I couldn’t quite see in to see if she’d taken our decorating advice.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Gorgeous chartreuse green tables and chairs on the High Line, and windows that look like makeup palettes.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ladies in green.

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Photogenic taxis? Check and check.

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New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

For some reason people kept mistaking me and my Canadian friend Danielle – fellow foodie and street photographer extraordinaire, for British tourists. Can’t think why.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

But I forgave her wearing that scarf when she introduced me to Balthazar’s.

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New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Fabulous street art everywhere.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

Can anyone tell me how water towers work? Do they collect rainwater? They fascinate me.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com
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Lots of neon.

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New York truly is a melting pot.

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And obviously many iconic tall buildings.

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com
New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com New York, New York photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’ve never been a big one for street photography, but I could get completely obsessed by it in New York. We didn’t have a huge amount of time for it on this trip, but I WILL be back. I love this city so much.

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Go Fug Your Room! – SJP NYC

I do believe it’s time for a Go Fug Your Room! It’s been so long that I’m sure we’ve all forgotten how to do them.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Anyway this one seems particularly fitting as I was in la Grande Pomme only last weekend and am flying back out this weekend for Blogtour and of course we’ve all dreamed of having a New York brownstone of our very own.

The pics are screen caps taken from a ‘73 Questions’ interview on Vogue TV. You’ll get an idea of the house from the screen caps but I do recommend that you watch the video as SJP comes across as cute and charming and the sort of person I would tragically like to be BFFs with (though I would have to have WORDS with her about her old-fashioned and derivative new shoe collection).

First of all I think we can all agree that the house has MAGNIFICENT bones – that arch, those stairs, those ceilings, those windows, THAT. LIGHT. And I do find it refreshing that it seems so normal and lived in. How wonderful to see a celebrity who has books and art, whose house doesn’t appear to be styled to within an inch of its life, and who could conceivably occasionally allow her three kids to share the space.

So SJP, take it away.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loving the hallway, not sure if that’s a rug or tiles on the stairs, but they look like quintessentially Victorian encaustic tiles and so work for me, though I thought that was more of a London thing rather than New York.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’m struggling with this room though Sarah J.  I just don’t like that green on the wall, it just seems too bright and unsophisticated really, especially when matched with peacock blue velvet and hot pink accents, including a pink zebra-striped pouffe thingy (just say those words out loud and you’ll know how WRONG that sounds).

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

And maybe there are rather too many books and little pictures and tchotchkes and THINGS just cluttering things up.  The bar is quite fun though.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

OK Ms P. No need to look like that, it’s just MY OPINION (which is what the Minx says when she is about to say something breathtakingly rude).

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Let’s move on shall we? Arch gorgeous, artwork lovely, light, windows and fireplace amazing. Possibly one too many ping pong tables.  (Seriously?)

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

But yes, SJP I would be proud of this end of the room too. So pretty. I’m particularly loving the celery green and robin’s egg blue (behind the door) accents – much nicer colours than the green on the sitting room walls. 

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s the full video, which I do recommend. Her English accent is terrible though.

So, in your considered opinion is this house fugly or not? Feel free to show additional workings in the comments.

Update: Oh and thanks to commenter Becky for reminding me that I blogged about SJP’s glorious house in the Hamptons more years ago than I care to remember. She is one lucky girl.

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Go Fug Your Room: Nina Garcia’s New York Apartment

 

This month Architectural Digest is featuring the Upper East Side apartment of legendary fashion editor and US Project Runway judge Nina Garcia.

Which I was very much expecting to like as I enjoy her personal style very much (check out Sirs T and Lo’s ‘Judging the Judges’ columns for some examples). 

 

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And at first I thought I did. The light airiness of the apartment itself is lovely and the colour scheme seemed refreshing and unusual.

 

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But oh, Nina, Nina.  The more I looked at it I realised that I didn’t really like it at all. The colour story is only interesting because the stylist brought in some hot pink flowers and green leaves.  Look more closely and you’ll see that it’s a rather bland combination of white, grey, terracotta and camel, with some powder blue accents.

It also all seems rather uptight and uncomfortable – I think due to the lack of personal items beyond busts and artwork, and the spiky, brittle, skinny, fashion model legs on nearly every single piece of furniture. These are chairs and sofas made for perching, not for cosy snuggling.

The stone bust, vase and fireplace surround also seem rather hard and unfriendly, while the hideous carpet in the dining room, which admittedly is one of the few things with any personality in the entire apartment, looks like some fiendishly complicated children’s board game.

 

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This is apparently the apartment that Nina shares with her young family, and though I’m a great believer in keeping some spaces free of kid stuff, the fact that there is no trace of them in any of the rooms on show – no photos, kid art, toys, clothes or kid-friendly furniture -  seems a little sad. Or perhaps they’re occasionally permitted to play on the dining room carpet when their mother isn’t looking.

All in all the whole ambience just seems too controlled and impersonal, with any hint of quirkiness, personality, warmth, exuberance or life, expertly stifled by layer upon layer of expensive ‘good taste’.  But heck what do I know.

 

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The closet, on the other hand, is completely and utterly to die for.

 

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What do you chaps think?

 

   
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My Hidden New York

 

OK chaps.  There's another limo waiting to take you to the airport. Places to see and people to do and all that. This time we're off to New York, New York!

I was also delighted to meet Tina at Holly Becker’s NYC workshop. She works for a very well-known interior designer in NYC and has a great eye. Her blog is also very special, full of unusual and creative products and ideas she comes across in her day to day life, so I thought she'd make the perfect guide to the city that never sleeps.  She’s lived in New York for six years now, so you know her recommendations will take you off the beaten tourist path. I want to do another weekend in New York immediately, just to try them out.

Hello mirrormirror readers! My name is Tina Ramchandani and I run the design blog Life in Sketch. I am an interior designer and I live and work in New York, New York. On my blog I focus on all aspects of design as well as highlighting places I visit and travel to. Since I live in one of the best cities in the world, I have tons of spotlights, right here in NYC. Today I'm going to share with you some of my favorite New York City spots. I have a few places to eat, shop and hang out, picked out for you. Hope you love them as much as I do!

 

To Hang:

How-I-learned

One of my favorite things to do is attend the How I Learned series by Blaise Allysen Kearsley. It's held once a month, usually on a Wednesday, at Happy Ending, at 302 Broome Street. If you are in town when the series is being held, you must go! It's a hilarious event where writers, comedians and other New Yorkers discuss their personal stories about the topic of the day. My very first time attending, the topic was "How I Learned to Live in New York". I can't explain how insanely funny it was. I was hooked!

Asssscatshow

On a Sunday night, the best thing to do is to head over to Upright Citizen's Brigade and watch the Asssscat show. UCB is an improvisational theatre and school that offers affordable classes and shows, which has never failed me. I have friends that have taken classes there, and every single show I have has left me in tears (from laughing so hard, obviously). The Asssscat show is the best of the best and often features comedians you love, that star in 30 Rock, The Office, SNL and more. There is a 7:30 show, which is $10 and a 9:30 show, which is free, but be prepared to wait in line as reservations are not accepted. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Ikea-ferry

This might seem odd, but I love the IKEA ferry! The ferry, run by New York Water Taxi, sails from South Street Seaport to Red Hook everyday. It's kind of amazing actually. You get on this ferry, virtually for free, and get a short tour of the East River. You leave from Pier 11 in southern Manhattan and get to see Jersey City, Ellis Island, Governor's Island and finally Brooklyn. I always run straight to the top of the boat where you get to sit outside and enjoy the view. The boat leaves every 40 minutes. On Mondays through Fridays, the cost is $5 but if you purchase something from IKEA you get your money back. Just be sure to present your receipt when you check out. On Saturdays and Sundays the ferry is free. When you're done you get to hop on the ferry back. It's a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

 

 

To Shop:

Housing-works-bookstore

There are tons of bookstores here in New York and it's hard to narrow down my favorite. But I had to do it for you and so I will say that Housing Works Bookstore is at the top of my list. Housing Works' goal is to help people affected with HIV and AIDS. In addition to the bookstore, Housing Works has an online shop and a few thrift stores around the city where you can purchase home goods and clothing. 100% of all profits are used to help those that need it. The bookstore is located at 126 Crosby Street and the selection of books is immense. There is a cafe inside with plenty of seating and they encourage you to sit and hang out! That is rare these days. If you needed another selling point – there are book events almost every day of the week.

treasure-bond-nyc

If I am looking to treat myself or get a one of a kind gift for a friend, I always go to Treasure & Bond. Each item is specifically picked for the New York City downtown market ranging from scented candles, stationery, to clothing and accessories. I recently purchased a PopUp Paris candle from here, that may have a hidden diamond inside! There is a huge benefit to shopping at this store as well. 100% of all profits go to charities benefiting children in NYC.

 

To Eat:

jehangir-mehta-nyc

My favorite chef is Jehangir Mehta and I am lucky to have his two restaurants extremely close by. One is within walking distance of my apartment, Mehtaphor, located in Tribeca. The other, Graffiti, is located in the East Village. While both menus are similar, there are items on each you can't resist. Jehangir's signature is a flavorful modern Indian food. If you go to Graffiti you will notice that he cooks in a 50 square foot kitchen, which we all know is hard to do! Both locations serve my favorite dish, the Graffiti burger, which you must try.

chinatown-icecream-factory

For dessert I always go to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. This place is fantastic. It has traditional and modern Chinese ice cream flavors, and it has been open since 1978! It's one of Chinatown's oldest businesses and it's definitely a place the neighbors love. My flavor of choice is black sesame, but it sells out quickly so if you want it, you have to get there early. The shop is open late so I usually end up stumbling in after a long day and I miss all the black sesame. All the flavors are super tasty, you can't really go wrong. It is located on 65 Bayard Street.

There are so many places that I discover every day, it's hard to just pick a few to share with you. I'm really lucky and I get to see tons of super cool stuff all the time, so if you stay tuned you'll be learning about more NYC gems. I hope you've enjoyed my spotlights today!

   
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Mad Men: Don Draper’s New Apartment

 

Zou Bisou Bisou.

I don’t think I’m ever going to get that song out of my head.

I trust we were all watching last night?  The big news of course is that Don Draper, apart from getting himself a sexy little package of a new wife -  who I predict is going to be nothing but trouble – but has also got himself a sexy, new, not-so-little apartment.

   

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Don now lives in the big city, away from Betty and her suburban angst and her suburban furniture (remember her er, lovely ‘fainting couch’?) in an apartment big enough that his kids can come visiting and where his wife can host wild surprise parties.

It’s a clever set.  Instead of filling it with mid-century icons such Saarinen tables and chairs and Arco lamps (unlike Roger’s office with its shipped-in style), it just feels very comfortable and of its time, very sixties, but not ostentatiously so. 

The colour scheme of burnt orange and turquoise is kept to the periphery and the accents  -  the aqua curtains, the seating out on the balcony, the orange kitchen cabinets and the gorgeous throw pillows, but the main body of the set is very brown, very boxy and very wood-panelled, with even the pattern on the curtains seeming quite subdued.

   

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A little light relief is offered by the white cupboard doors, the white feature wall and of course the infamous white rug, with the occasional dark red painted door or panel, but in general the main body of the set is kept quite spare and neutral.  Even the art on the walls is quite dull and nondescript.

   

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Which makes sense of course if the marriage-threatening surprise parties you hold are such a riot of sixties pattern and colour.  Weren’t the costumes in these scenes just awesome?

   

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I managed to spot a few Sixties icons dotted about – the Catherine Holm enamel bowls, the Eames lounge chair, the Murano glass and the zebra-striped cushion. Did any other Sixtie s paraphernalia catch your eye?

   

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And I have to give a shout out to the exquisite chandeliers in the entrance way, and that lovely low-hanging blue lamp.  What did you like most about the set?

   

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These images show how the designers had fun with costumes, party accoutrements and accent pieces to create a mood.  I’m sure we’re going to see that mood darken as the season progresses.

   

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I am certain the Husband had eyes for nothing but that glorious aqua Sixties vacuum cleaner in this scene.

   

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So did you watch? Did you enjoy it? What did you think of the new apartment? Any particular objects you were coveting?  I’m enjoying how the new Mrs Draper is quite literally leading Don by the balls.  I’m sure that’s going to end up well.

Zou Bisou Bisou.

   
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Go Fug Your Room – Carrie and Big’s Apartment

 

Well, we all know the movie’s crap – two of the best reviews here and here –  but what did we think of the set design?  Most specifically what about Carrie and Big’s new grown-up married folks apartment?

Carrie confesses in the film that over the past year or two she’s been ‘cheating on fashion for furniture’ and she’s been working with same designer, Lydia Marks, who also revamped her apartment in the first movie.

So let’s take a tour.

One of my main bugbears with this new apartment is the colour scheme, which is basically blue and brown. I know Carrie is trying to create an environment that Big will also feel at home in, but it just makes everything seem rather dark and depressing and yet again very not Carrie. I know she’s grown up now, but where’s the fun, the liveliness, the inventiveness, the eccentricity and the bohemia?

 

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The entrance way sets the tone for the whole, some great pieces – love the wallpaper and green glass bottle -  but just a little too fussy and cluttered and somehow old fashioned. Would Carrie really have a glass case of dead butterflies on display?

Entering the living room, I like this view of it. The Rug Company rug is beautiful, as is the coffee table, though, as in her old apartment, the sofa and chairs still seem rather more for ‘perching’ than truly relaxing, though much is made in the movie of Big turning into a couch potato.  I think I like the gold painting though I can’t help thinking that Big and Carrie would have a more striking piece of modern art. 

 

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Sex and the City 2

 

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Paul Smith got an excellent bit of product placement in here with his ‘Birdie Blossom’ cushion, which Carrie is seen cuddling like a new lover.  It’s lovely, though I’m not sure the pattern really works here, but it does seem more authentically ‘Carrie’ than much of the rest of the stuff.  It’s also great to see all the books everywhere. One of the things we all complained about last time was the lack of books in bookworm Carrie’s apartment.

 

Sex and the City 2

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From here though things go downhill faster than an Olympic skiier. This view of the sitting room is a cluttered and fussy as a pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers.  There are just too many little pieces of furniture, too many patterns and too many little splashes of colour against horribly dark and serious walls.

 

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This little seating area seems especially ridiculous. Are Carrie and Big really going to sit here as if they were in doctor’s waiting room taking afternoon tea? Isn’t this the perfect spot for a huge comfortable reading chair facing out towards the view?

 

Sex and the City 2

 Sex and the City 2

 

I like the lighter fresher feel in the formal dining area. The Lee Jofa fabric works well and the light fitting is wonderful, though shelves could do with a bit of editing. It goes through to what I think must be the kitchen, though it seems rather impractical to cook in, and I would never, ever, EVER put a rug, however pretty, in space for cooking.  But maybe that’s just me.

 

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Looking to the left from the entrance hall we catch a glimpse of the bedroom, with another fabulous light fitting in the small library and beautiful Cole & Son wallpaper on the bedroom walls, which echoes the paper in the hall.

 

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Carrie makes a huge amount of fuss in this movie about Big’s purchase of a big TV for their bedroom, thus confirming a) that we were right that the big TV in Carrie’s old apartment was incongruous and out of character and b) the TV product placement people have a lot of money.

 

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The bedroom feels a bit ‘hotelly’, but I do like the way they’ve echoed the pattern on the wallpaper with the headboard.  And below we’ve got another lovely rug/useless seating area/boring artwork situation happening.

 

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The piece de resistance is naturally the closet, with ridiculously twee ‘his and hers’ sides.  I know people have been charmed by this conceit, but to me it looks as ludicrous as having two different his and hers sinks, one ‘feminine’ and one ‘masculine’ side by side in a bathroom. 

 

Sex and the City 2

 

Not bad shoe storage though. 

 

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(By the way Habitually Chic has put together a great post on where to source many of these pieces, including identifying the books that Carrie and Big are currently reading.)

 

So what do you think?  Additional comments hugely encouraged.

 

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Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment – Love or Hate?

CropperCapture[1]

Love TOO Wallhanging by Paul Smith (seen hanging inside Carrie’s entrance hall, I haven’t been able to find a photo of this in situ)

So there’s been lots of chatter recently about Carrie’s apartment makeover in the movie.  It’s not too much of a spoiler (and by now the the whole world and her girlfriends have seen the movie anyway) to say that Carrie is apparently earning enough from her books to be able to afford an interior decorator to makeover her apartment.

It’s no secret that the producers of the show go to immense trouble to reflect the characters’ personalities and lives in their clothes and surroundings, so it does make sense for Carrie’s apartment to get an update as she becomes more successful and ‘grown up’.

The most obvious change – which really stood out in the cinema – is the colour of the walls throughout the apartment (custom-mixed, but apparently a close relation of Benjamin Moore’s Electric Blue). It’s a pretty colour but I thought it was just a bit too much. I’d have gone for something very slightly more muted and soft and not quite so, er, electric. (It also looked brighter in the film I thought than it does here).

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Carrie’s apartment AFTER

Her bedroom has been hugely smartened up.  The blue walls and white trim really bring out the brown floors, which again unify the space throughout the apartment and stop the blue from being too overwhelming. I also really like the billowy curtains, which soften the space and, because they are hung to each side of the window, really make the windows seem more imposing. However I really don’t like that bedspread, which looks like something you’d find in a seedy hotel.

I also don’t like the artwall.  Firstly aren’t art walls a bit over done now? And where did all this art come from?  Does Carrie have a secret Etsy/Ebay addiction which has never been mentioned? She’s never shown any interest in interior decor before. Or, heaven forbid, did the decorator just buy up all this art in one day?  And why is some of it tucked behind the headboard of the (rather uninspiring) bed?

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Carrie’s apartment BEFORE

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Big kudos to the Rug Company – one of my favourite UK design companies – for providing the rugs.  Such a good way of building up their profile in the US.  A big thumbs up from me for the purple one they’ve used here, which is the Overleaf by Marni. However I don’t think it really goes with either with the bedspread or with the little chintzy floral couches.  I’m all for mixing patterns – and on their own the couches are lovely -  but these patterns don’t have any relationship to each other at all, and if you’re mixing patterns I think there needs to be some sort of unifying thread (and throwing in a blue ikat pillow doesn’t really help matters).

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The huge TV seems hugely out of place here.  When does Carrie ever watch telly? Unlike Miranda, when you see her on your own she’s reading a book or magazine, which brings me to another bugbear.  Where are Carrie’s books? How is she going to reach her magazines? And where is the hugely comfortable chair/sofa for curling up and reading? Those floral couches are meant for perching, not snuggling.  And if she is going to settle down and watch the enormous telly, is she really meant to sit bolt upright on that incredibly uncomfortable-looking white chair?

I also wished that they would have kept a few of Carrie’s familiar old things around.  One of the key components of her personal style has always been her ability to mix new and vintage stuff. So wouldn’t she have kept that great coffee table and credenza?  And was it callous or inevitable that she ditched Aidan’s chair? And why not keep the fabulous Bakelite phone?

carrie_livingroom 

I suppose ultimately my complaint is that while it is definitely a much more beautiful apartment, it ends up not being Carrie’s apartment. All the personality has been sucked out of the place and replaced with interesting decorator pieces (and product placement opportunities).

What did you think?

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New York, New York

Oops, I’ve been so busy that I forgot to mention that we’re off to New York this afternoon, visiting friends over the weekend and then staying in the big city until next Thursday.

I can’t wait.  I lived in Manhattan for six months back in the day when I worked in banking and I love the city to bits.

I’m going to try and fit in a field trip to Rare Device and other indie shops while I’m there (though will mostly have the Minx in tow so am not sure how much shopping I’m actually going to be able to do).

If you’ve got any other shop or restaurant recommendations for me then I’m all ears.

There is wifi where we’re staying, so hopefully blogging will continue.

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