Prior to the pandemic, social clubs were becoming the urban version of country clubs in Los Angeles. Although there has been a pause due to the pandemic, Angelinos are definitely looking forward to spending more time outside their homes in the near future. And they’ll definitely be spending a lot of time at The Britely, which is set to open in late 2020. Located on the world-famous sunset strip, the social club is situated within the Pendry West Hollywood Hotel and Residences. In addition to two private dining spaces, The Britely offers several unique amenities including a rooftop pool, 24-hour gym, spa, bowling lanes, and a screening room.
The entire project was designed by Martin Brudnizki of MBDS. Inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Britely is the perfect setting for the city to come back to life after this incredibly challenging period.
In addition to the amenities, there’s also a music and performance venue, which holds 200 people standing or 80 people seated. The space will hold a variety of music and cultural programming including meditation and cooking classes, currently planned for two to three nights a week. In the beginning, the events will be limited to members only.
“The Britely was born out of the desire to create a place that feels personal, curious, and entertaining,” saysEstelle Lacroix, who is the Managing Director of Lifestyle. All of this ultimately increases the value of membership and creates a true community.
A Space That Harkens Back To Hollywood’s Golden Era
Brudnizki designed the 25000 square foot club (minus the music venue) to create an atmosphere of a time long gone. “The design is inspired by the glamour and vibrancy of Hollywood and the fresh colors synonymous with relaxed Californian style,” he tells me. “It feels evocative of the elegance of the Hollywood of old and I hope will offer members and their guests a feeling of escapism and fantasy.”
To inflect the spirit of old Hollywood, Brudnizki used high gloss timber paneling along with monochrome marble and brass. Accents such as antique brass mirrors and statement chandeliers resemble the iconic film sets of yesteryear.
The private dining area is an opulent room that combines a perfect mix of camp and sophistication. The pink and navy blue color palette is fun, while the Jazz Age inspired golden ceiling is a refined touch. Accented with animal print upholstery, floor lamps, and impossible-to-miss pink ostrich feathers, the space feels as if it has been around for nearly 100 years. Yet, it’s entirely new.
The bar is also one of the most dramatic and interesting pieces in the room. “[It] mixes the playful with the elegant, complete with pink and green marble and a striking blue and brass bar front,” says Brudnizki.
But comfort also factored into the design. The armchair-style stools are soft and cushioned. It’s an ideal atmosphere to sit for hours while conversing with friends and enjoying cocktails.
It’s also a place to truly enjoy a meal. The menu was even created by Hollywood favorite, two-Michelin-Star chef, Wolfgang Puck.
The Chic Outdoors
No social club in Los Angeles is truly complete without outdoor space and a swimming pool surrounded by jaw-dropping views. Brudnizki’s design process was inspired by the landscape of the city itself.
“When working in Los Angeles, we always look to the sky, the landscape, and the vista. In the case of The Britely’s outdoor spaces, this was the rule— to capitalize on the stunning view from our perch on Sunset Boulevard, to provide plentiful outdoor spaces for the guests and members to soak in the sun and enjoy the food and drink on offer,” he says.
Brudnizki also wanted to create a connection between the landscaping and interior design by incorporating flora and fauna into the textiles, furniture and decor. This is exemplified through the green hues and warm textures of the ladyfinger-style club chairs, as well as the leaf print benches, stools and woven seating.
The rooftop pool features a paver stone floor pattern in coral, blue, green, and white. But perhaps the most noticeable features of the pool area are the whimsically striped lounge chairs and cabanas. Creating a vacation-like atmosphere, they provide a much-needed respite that any Angelino or visitor can greatly appreciate.
In just four years, Elizabeth Sutton has seemingly come out of nowhere to become an incredibly successful artist, designer, entrepreneur, and podcaster. Combining whimsy, lots of color and a big dose of humor into her work, it still remains sophisticated.
Raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish household in Brooklyn, Sutton married young and lost (almost) everything in a divorce. However, that’s not the only challenge she’s experienced on her way up. But, like her signature butterfly designs, she’s managed to come out of the cocoon of pain to a thriving business and beautiful new life.
Artist As Influencer
Elizabeth Sutton’s story isn’t that of a typical New York City artist. She didn’t rise through the ranks at Parsons, or another prominent art school. Rather, she began to create out of necessity. After getting married at 21, things began to fall apartment both with her marriage as well as financially. In the middle of renovating her apartment, she realized she wasn’t going to be able to afford the art she wanted. So, she decided to make her own.
Then, after a no-pressure arts and crafts day with a friend, she posted a few of her paintings to Instagram for fun. “Somebody sent me a message saying I love your art. I just moved, would you be interested in making me something? And I said sure, a little bit of time, a little bit of money, why not? And that’s really how my career started,” Sutton tells me.
But this wasn’t the first time there was interest in her work “Over the years, people have come to my apartment and saw the collages that I made and asked me to buy them. I didn’t take them seriously,” she reveals.
However, after realizing she could have a career in art, Sutton circled back. “I hit a bunch of them up and asked if they were still interested. Some of them said yes.”
Then things just began to happen. Sutton would leave her art in the lobby of her Upper East Side apartment while pulling her car around to transport her work for delivery. Women in her building would notice the art and ask the doormen where it came from. Sutton started to get clients.
In 2016, star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, Ryan Serhant contacted Sutton to place her art in a new development in Tribeca. It ended up on the show, which was yet another win for the emerging artist.
Elizabeth Sutton Collection
Today, Sutton’s fine art and print collections fall into several categories: Animals, Geometrics/Patterns, Florals, Landscapes, Portraits, Quotes, and Butterflies, which are her signature. This design is used on her logo, packaging, and many of the other products she creates.
If there is another component of Sutton’s work that truly reflects who she is as a person, it’s her Quote line.
A large acrylic and glitter work reads: “Thank you Daddy. I appreciate your issues,” which is a tribute to the father who left her family as a teenager. She still doesn’t have a relationship with him.
Other pieces read “Dance Through The Pain,” and “Art Heals All Wounds,” which tell the story of the challenges she’s had in life such as her assistant and close friend tragically dying in a car accident the night of her birthday party a few years ago.
But perhaps the most telling piece is a black and white mixed media sign that reads “Life is fucking complicated.” What could be a better reflection of life right now?
Home Decor Line
Sutton isn’t just an artist, she’s a true creator whose designs can be integrated into any room of the home. She’s translated her butterfly logo into chic drawer knobs perfect for adding a touch of whimsy onto a dresser or étagère.
They’re even beautiful in a bathroom. Made of solid brass, the gold-plated pulls are available in gold, rose gold, and nickel finishes.
In addition to her decor line, Sutton also has a stunning fashion accessory collection with hand bags, handbag straps, belts and luggage tags.
Collaboration With Tile Bar
Her most successful collaboration to date has been with TileBar, which debuted during the 2019 Architectural Digest Design Show in New York and won Best In Show for wall treatments.
With six colorways in three formats, these polished marble tiles can have more than 100 different layouts. The style of these tiles, like everything else the artist does truly embodies elevated whimsy.
Paint Collection With Janovic
The same year, Sutton partnered with New York City paint institution Janovic on a line of Benjamin Moore paints inspired by her life called Shades of Grey, Autumn Allure, New York Goes to the Eden Rock, St. Barth’s, Earth Wind and Fire and Head in the Clouds.
To promote the collaboration, Sutton painted murals on the facades on four of Janovic’s buildings.
Blatt Billards Table
Sutton recently completed what she considers her most creative work to date— a custom built Blatt Billiards pool table. It features three different hand painted geometric abstractions, custom dyed and embossed Italian leather wrap around the base as well as printed felt featuring her noted artwork, Buy Yourself Roses. There are even custom balls with her trademark butterfly logo. “This table is my creative baby and included over 1000 hours of labor,” Sutton tells me. The price tag? $150000.
The Summer Of Staying Home
On July 22nd, Sutton launched a rug line featuring five different designs including a blue rose (which is rose-shaped), a round butterfly rug, a plaid rug as well as prisms and starbursts.
These are the artist’s signature designs in a combination of both bright and contrasting colors. Made of wool with a cotton foundation, these styles are more than accents, they’re true statement decor.
In addition to rugs, Sutton also launched an affordable line of 32 different placements in a variety of styles from floral to her signature butterflies, hot air balloons, and other animal designs.
Made of sustainably sourced materials, these disposable placemats are ideal for dinner parties and as Sutton personally knows, families with children.
As for the future, even after a challenging time, Sutton is incredibly optimistic. The artist tells me, “I am so grateful to have found something I truly love to do, something that fulfills me from the inside and makes me happy on the outside. I feel I am a much better role model for my children as well, having gotten more intelligent and confident thru my career, and I hope to instill these values into them—that with hard work and passion they can achieve their dreams. And of course, I am grateful for my team and my support system that provides me with the opportunities and assistance to make my dreams come true, one day at a time.”
While Bravo made Ryan Serhant a household name, it’s his innovative, forwarding-thinking approach to selling real estate that’s made him one of the top brokers in New York City. However, as with every other non-essential business, life changed on March 20th when Governor Cuomo put the state on lockdown due to the pandemic. While this slowed down business for many brokers, it’s clear Serhant won’t be stopping any time soon.
I recently spoke with the power broker and star of Million Dollar Listing New York about life during the lockdown. From quarantine closings to virtual showings, and pivoting marketing plans at 196 Orchard after making headlines earlier in the year, as well as his new book— Serhant was entirely open about what it takes to keep making deals during COVID.
Getting Real About New York City Real Estate
While people will always need to buy and sell apartments in New York City, the pandemic has unfortunately slowed down one of the busiest markets in the world. Still, Serhant hasn’t stopped working for a minute. “Transaction volume definitely went down over the last 90 days, but it wasn’t just because we couldn’t show property because we’re away,” he tells me. “There’s a lot of general fear and uncertainty. And when you have uncertainty in the market, people hesitate to spend money.”
But despite the uncontrollable, Serhant hasn’t skipped a beat. Nearly three years ago, he founded Serhant Media Group because the newest generation of luxury buyers has an entirely different approach than previous generations. “The younger buyers start to look on YouTube before they even go to Google,” he tells me.
“We’ve been making property videos for everything we sell regardless. We’ve had all these virtual tours lined up and ready prior to COVID, as if we’ve been planning for everything the entire time.”
While he anticipates virtual tours remaining popular for the foreseeable future, he also has a number of FaceTime tours scheduled now that New York is in phase two of re-opening. But most of these will be for homes that are currently on the market. The volume of new listings is likely to remain low for a while. “As for the people who need to list now, they’ve left,” he says.
As expected, buyers are hoping that distressed sellers will agree to accept lower offers. But New York is still New York. “We haven’t seen distressed sellers yet. I know people want distressed sellers, but I think the only distress you’re going to find are sellers who have been on the market before, [such as] those who had their apartments on the market in 2019, or going into this and didn’t sell.”
Marketing 196 Orchard Street
Serhant is very busy with the listings he already has including 196 Orchard Street. Located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the neighborhood has undergone an evolution in recent years and is now home high-end neighbors such as trendy social club Ludlow House and Drybar.
Like many properties, Serhant took over the marketing from a previous agent, re-invigorating interest in a major way. On New Year’s day 2020, he posted a video on Instagram offering $50k cash on top of commission to the first broker who would bring him a buyer for a two-bedroom or larger unit. “There was a lot of hoopla about it for some reason. We got a deal done because of that and our traffic increased [approximately] 320 percent. All of a sudden, we had all these agents who were calling us saying ‘I don’t have a client for 196 Orchard right now, but I really want that money. So I’m going to try and find a client.’ All it did was put the brokerage community to work for us.”
Another interesting way this property is being marketed is through a rent to own program. While this practice isn’t uncommon in locations outside of New York City, it’s an innovative approach for Manhattan, where 196 Orchard’s developer, Magnum Real Estate Group, had previous success with this model at 100 Barclay Street.
Rent to own is a great way to attract renters who may not be entirely sold on the location or are still saving for a down payment. If a tenant decides to buy their unit during the first six months of the lease, 75 percent of the rent paid will be credited towards the purchase price. After six months, 50 percent of the rent is credited.
This upscale condominium features 94 residences from studios to four bedroom apartments, some with private courtyards and terraces. With ceiling heights ranging from nine to twelve feet high in the living areas— every home has wide plank oak floors throughout as well as marble bathrooms, quartz countertops, and Waterworks faucets.
The building also offers a variety of luxury amenities including a 4100 square foot landscaped rooftop terrace with jaw-dropping city views, a furnished sun lounge with lawn, and two outdoor kitchens with dedicated dining and entertaining spaces.
But perhaps the best amenity is the on-site 30000 square foot Equinox gym which even has its own private entrance for residents only. While it isn’t currently open due to the pandemic, it will surely be appreciated when life in New York returns to normal.
Million Dollar Production Stop
But COVID hasn’t only closed down gyms. Film and television production is also on hold, including Serhant’s show. But he’s optimistic Million Dollar Listing New York will resume filming in early July.
As a husband and father, the pandemic has given him the gift of extra time with his wife, Emilia and their adorable daughter, Zena.
“It’s been nice to have a little break. We’ve filmed every week all year long since 2010. I love Million Dollar Listing. It’s the greatest thing ever. I owe my career to that show, but a little break isn’t so bad,” says Serhant.
Still, he’s excited for life to get back to normal. “We have storylines. Just like everyone else, we were filming and all of a sudden all non-essential businesses got shut down. We tried our best to do things with our cell phones— filming each other. I’m filming Emilia. Emilia’s filming me. It only gets you so far. I’m excited to get back out and finish the deals we’ve been working on this entire time.”
Big Money Energy
As for the future, Serhant has a big year planned for 2021. His new book Big Money Energy: How to Rule at Work, Dominate at Life, and Make Millionswill be out on January 21st. Currently available for preorder, it’s a follow up to his bestselling 2018 book Sell It Like Serhant.
Big Money Energy a personal development guide about the art of self-confidence. “It’s the secret sauce of how to have an amazing sales career and how to be confident in yourself when you don’t have the confidence. We all know those people who have no experience, but when you meet them, they seem like they know exactly what they’re doing. They carry themselves with the weight of someone who has twenty years experience, but just got into it yesterday.”
While incredibly successful today, the broker reveals that it hasn’t always been an easy road. “It’s something I had to figure out how to do when I first got here because I was a prematurely grey-haired hand model trying to rent and sell apartments in Manhattan. I felt like a fish out of water but I had to figure out how to be that person who I wanted clients to believe I was.”
Now that he’s become that person, Serhant is paying it forward and inspiring others.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives in a very short period of time. Most non-essential workers are out of their offices and working from home. But perhaps the biggest adjustment has been for students of all ages. With temporary school closings across the nation, more than a dozen states have opted to close schools for the rest of the year. More are likely to follow suit with families left scrambling about what to do. As most schools have pivoted to online learning, parents who have never considered homeschooling their children are left without a choice.
Trying to get through the work and school day is an even greater challenge for parents who currently have or are recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Diagnosed on March 22nd, it’s been especially difficult for Dave (who requested to redact his last name) of Sayville, New York. Better known as the host of the top Alternative Health podcast, Dopey— he has a relatively mild case, but a rather busy life. Producing the show, working a full-time job in marketing for Katz’s Deli, trying to take care of his wife (who also has the virus) and two-year-old, while overseeing his ten-year-old daughter’s homeschooling is “downright cataclysmic,” he reveals. “I have no time, and it feels like I get nothing done.”
However, Dave’s frustration exceeds his symptoms. He was initially worried about infecting his children, but the CDC is currently saying that younger kids are relatively safe. So, he’s actively participating in the homeschooling process— like most parents, as best he can. “I’ve learned a ton about the Dutch settlers in New York.”
Dave’s daughter does approximately 80 percent of her work in a guest room/office on a desk she shares with her pet gecko. “Sometimes she works in the basement. She has a little desk there too, and she reads in her bedroom. We are lucky we have a decent-sized house, but admittedly, we aren’t the most organized people.”
While using different spaces throughout the home is working for Dave’s daughter— is it really ideal? Is there a universal setup that’s best for children of all grade levels? I spoke with education and interior design experts to learn what parents need to do right now to establish a functional homeschooling environment for their kids.
How To Set Up A Homeschool
Architects Marissa Mead and Julia McFadden, of Svigals+Partners, specialize in designing education spaces for residences, nonprofits, colleges, and K-12 schools for challenged communities, including Sandy Hook School and the Columbus Family Academy. Their acclaimed firm has been named among the country’s most innovative.
Their goal is to create environments that help boost focus, minimize stress and nurturing learning. But the problem is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. “This is different for children of varying ages and needs. In general, you should try to create three kinds of areas, which can be near each other or spread out,” they say.
One area is for focused academic work like studying and tutoring. This might be more formal such as a standard desk or at a kitchen table.
The second space is a comfy reading nook, with pillows piled up. “This can literally be a corner of any room of the house, or make for a nice ‘study fort’ with a small lamp, or the top bunk of bunkbeds,” they say.
Kids can also help decorate their fort by choosing accessories such as beanbag chairs. Add soft fun elements like an Eric Carle Alphabet Zoo Educational Blue Area Rug from Wayfair for young children or a plush sheepskin rug for older kids. These furnishings will also be useful for studying and homework when the kids are eventually back in school.
There should also be a space to sprawl out, for crafts and other school projects. “The dining table is an obvious spot for sprawling, but some projects might want to stay out for a few days, so taking over the dining table might not work if you are coming together for meals. Perhaps set up a folding table in another room.”
Parents can also schedule various parts of the day in different spaces. “Students don’t necessarily need specialized furnishings,” the architects explain. “We can use tables, chairs, and various home settings to create opportunities for a child or for multiple children, such as a portion of the day sitting around the kitchen table to work together.”
Work areas should not always be relegated to bedrooms or the basement— parents can set up space in the living room, dining room or even outside. “As the weather gets nicer, think about how to get outdoors. Again you can set up a study table on a deck or patio or even just the backyard,” says McFadden.
How To Feng Shui A Homeschool Classroom
It can also be helpful for parents to apply feng shui principals to their homeschooling classrooms. The easiest one is de-cluttering, which can potentially give us the illusion of control, during a time when we have little control over anything. McFadden suggests scheduling a daily time to de-clutter. “Decluttering could be incorporated into the morning routine—after a little group yoga or dance moves to get the blood pumping and upward energy. Then everyone tackles one room to put away extraneous items as much as you can.”
She also emphasizes the importance of designating different zones for calming and stimulating activities. “One principle is to create a living environment that is calming, and to contrast areas of colorful stimulus and variety against places where you can be centered and focused.”
Homeschooling In A Small Space
Jennifer Meyers is a mother of four as well as the founder of Homeschool CEO with sixteen years of experience being both an entrepreneur and homeschooling mom. A few years ago, when her two youngest children were twelve and seventeen, they decided to pack up and live in an RV for a year. “It was then I learned that kids don’t need a huge homeschool space,” she says.
During this time, she developed several rules to make homeschooling work on the road. Her system is easily applicable to any family living in a smaller home or apartment.
The first rule is to have an established spot for schooling. In the RV, it was at the kitchen table.
She also gave each child a cabinet the size of a small milk crate for storing school supplies. But any designed container will do . “There is nothing worse than searching for a pen or notebook. My favorite system for storing supplies was using shoebox-sized clear plastic totes. Each kid had their own and it contained the items they used daily such as pens, pencils, a ruler, a calculator, scissors, etc,” she says.
Meyers also kept productivity at a high by establishing due dates for all of their work. “We had clear expectations about what needed to be done when. Each Sunday, I would plan out exactly what my kids needed to complete and when.”
Homeschool Furniture And Desk Accessories
Erin Condren who is an organization expert and the founder of her namesake paper product company, recommends using a simple or portable desk and allowing kids to make it their own. This can be especially helpful to any child who is currently making a transition to homeschooling. “Our sticker books have paper tape strips in pre-made color patterns that are perfect for decorating desk drawers. Or use our washi tape to decorate the desk legs,” she says.
If a child doesn’t their have their own desk, it’s essential to buy one now. For teenagers or college students, The Novogratz White Marble Athena Desk is a great choice because it’s large enough for a computer and has built-in storage, keeping the desktop clutter-free.
The back of the desk has a long cubby to store a power strip and prevent cords from becoming tangled. The gold angled legs add an element of whimsy to the mid century modern design of this piece.
Comfort is also important to keep in mind when buying a desk for younger students. The Brutsché Kids Computer Desk with Reversible Shelves is perfect for both girls and boys.
Ergonomically sized for children from five to twelve years old, there’s plenty of space to store books and supplies. It’s also inexpensive enough to allow them to decorate it any way they want.
Parents should consider the Lovejoy Writing Desk and Chair Set for elementary schoolers. Unlike a lot of typical children’s furniture, this set looks like a miniature version of what can be found at West Elm.
It’s easy to move from a bedroom to the living room and back again. At a very affordable price, parents don’t have to worry if it becomes damaged by stickers, markers, or paint.
Condren also suggests helping kids organize their desktop space with fun school supplies and desk accessories like colorful pens, erasers, desk trays, organizers, etc. “Desk organization that kids find motivating can get them excited about homeschooling, not to mention help them focus and stay on task,” she says.
Parents should also consider accessories like Erin Condren’s Watercolor Blooms Whiteboard Wall Organization Center. Isn’t simply helpful for writing notes, listing tasks, making to-do lists, etc, it’s also a stylish accent.
Some Final Words Of Advice
Despite his trepidation, it appears that Dave is doing everything right under these very trying circumstances. Better yet, it appears his daughter is actually completing her assignments. His recommendation for other parents is to be as patient as possible. “And make it as fun as you can. Or else it’s torture…”
In September 2019, the Bureau Of Labor Statistics reported that 29 percent of Americans worked from home. Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that number has increased substantially. As if this situation isn’t difficult enough for everyone personally and economically, working from home has its own challenges, especially if there isn’t a dedicated home office space. This is particularly true in New York City, where most of the population lives in smaller apartments.
Since most of the nation is likely working from home for the next couple of months, it’s essential to establish a dedicated home office space whether it’s located within a larger room, a closet or even a nook with a tiny footprint. Here’s are the best ways to convert any space into a home office.
Setting Up A Home Office In The Bedroom Or Guest Room
While it isn’t ideal to work and sleep in the same room, the advantage of having an office in your bedroom is that unless you live in a loft or studio apartment, every home has a bedroom with a door that closes. Interior designer Alexis Rogers of Home With Alexis suggests most bedrooms can accommodate a workspace with one of three configurations.
“If you have a closet that can be sacrificed, you can remove the doors of the closet and convert the closet space into an office nook,” she says. “Even if it’s a shallow closet, having the desk in that nook creates a purposeful workspace while also giving it a separate feel from the rest of the bedroom.”
If you’re only going to be working from home temporarily, this might be a smart idea because you can put clothing into storage and then re-attach the doors when you return to your regular office. Not sure where to store the doors? Try under the bed.
Another option Rodgers recommends is swapping out an end table for a desk, if you have room to do so. “This will work out better if you can keep your desk tidy, or if you just need a dedicated place to sit and work on your laptop that’s away from the noise and activities of the rest of the house,” she explains.
A third choice is either adding a desk to the existing bedroom furniture configuration or switching out a dresser for a desk. “If your closet has extra drawers and shelves and you can edit the contents of your dresser into those drawers and shelves, or if your closet has room for the dresser itself and you’d prefer to keep your desk in a main area of the bedroom, use the dresser’s former location for your desk,” she says.
Then bring in desk accessories. “Add a stylish chair, lamp, and beautiful piece of art above the desk. Create a little work sanctuary, and when it’s not in use, it still looks beautiful.”
Turn A Living Room Into A Working Room
The next most obvious choice for a workspace is the living room. Under the best circumstances, to turn your living room into a home office, consider purchasing a desk and then creating a small work corner. Then consider using a room divider. This can be particularly helpful if you have children because it sets a physical boundary. They also make excellent backgrounds for Zoom calls.
But if there isn’t a space for that, Sara Ianniciello, who is the director of design at Whitehall Interiors has some strategies for working on the sofa, if you must. “Make sure to keep proper ergonomic heights with the placement of your laptop, especially if you are working on a couch and coffee table,” she says. “This can be done with items that you already have in your home, like setting your laptop on a thick book or box to avoid neck strain.”
In most homes, miscellaneous objects tend to find their way into living rooms. Clutter can really hinder productivity, so Ianniciello suggests decluttering as often as possible. “This is something easy that you can do in any room of the house that makes a big difference. A clean workspace will help you stay organized and focus better,” she says.
Then bring in decor intentionally. “Candles, plants, picture frames, and art are great accessories to have at or near your workspace, even in the living room. Consider adding things like this or a table or task lamp during working hours and reverting back to normal when you are done for the day. This will help put you in work mode,” says Ianniciello.
Cook Up Productivity By Turning A Kitchen Into A Home Office
Yuna Megre of Megre Interiors suggests starting by de-cluttering your entire kitchen. “Clean out your kitchen cabinets, organize them and move anything you can from surfaces into the closets,” she says. “This is vital not only providing you with extra space, but in decluttering your thoughts. If there is a lack of space in your kitchen, grab a box, and put anything you don’t use on a daily basis and move the boxes to another room.”
Then strategize the best way to use the space you have. “Don’t forget your vertical surfaces—your walls, windows, cabinets, and fridge. These can all be spaces for Post-Its, notes, drawing, and putting up documents you need in front of you when you work,” she says.
But then the question is where to establish your workspace in the kitchen. The best-case scenario is having an eat-in kitchen without an attached family room, explains Raf Howery, CEO of Kukun. Kukun is a recently launched app that allows users to estimate and compare costs of home remodeling, which is something many people will likely be doing once the pandemic ends. “If you have an eat-in kitchen and you don’t have an attached family room,” he says, “Use your kitchen table, moving it so that it backs to a wall. You can move it back for meals. Avoid frying during that time.”
It’s always possible to use the kitchen island as a desk. However, Kukun cautions this setup can be uncomfortable for your back.
If that is the only choice in terms of set-up, Alexis Sheinman of Pembrooke and Ives proposes a few ways to work around this. “Whether at a bar-height counter, dining table or kitchen island, clear the surface off and match the table height with the most comfortable work chair you can find. If you have a wood or metal chair, bring a cushion [or pillow] along,” she says.
Accessories are also key to establishing the space. Consider buying a desk lamp. “Light can make or break the ambiance and brightness and is key to productivity. If your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light, bring a table or floor lamp. Then, adjust the light level throughout the day according to the weather and time of day,” Sheinman says.
From there, you can accessorize to improve the aesthetic. “Make it pretty – a small vase with flowers, a pretty table cloth, mason jars with pencils and pens, etc can make your workspace super fun,” shares Megre.
Convert A Playroom Into A Home Office
Remember when you thought it would be great to turn that extra room or basement into a playroom for the kids? Are you now regretting that decision? Turning the space into your office might be a great lesson in sharing for them. Luckily, this doesn’t require major construction and is simple enough to DIY using The Container Store’s entirely customizable Elfa Closet System.
The Home Edit’s collaboration with The Container Store on a homework station is a versatile workspace setup that can be used as a home office now and then for homework likely in the fall. It’s worth noting that this set up can work in any room that has a free wall.
First, measure the wall and then install an Easy Hang, which is available in a range of finishes. From there, choose a shelf to function as the desktop. Then build up with shelves and choose organizers depending on your needs. Utilizing the wall is essential if you don’t have a large footprint to work with.
Products like the Elfa Utility Board can help keep accessories neat and the desk clutter-free. Color coordinate everything in true Home Edit style for a whimsical look that both kids and adults can appreciate.
In just a few short weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has impacted many aspects of everyday life. Events and conventions have been canceled and postponed. Public fear of the unknown, along with an abundance of misinformation, has made supplies of personal and healthcare items unavailable, including hand sanitizer and face masks.
It has also forced the Fed to cut rates this week and mortgage rates to hit all-time lows, leaving many homebuyers with questions. Should they take advantage of current conditions or wait it out to see what happens next?
Low Mortgage Rates Incentivize Buyers
On Thursday, March 3, mortgage rates tumbled to an all-time low. Decreased mortgage rates historically boost home sales. However, between market instability, travel restrictions and a general feeling of public hysteria, it’s impossible to predict if low mortgage rates are enough incentive for buyers to make an offer.
No one knows with complete certainty how coronavirus will impact the real estate market long-term. There are also several other factors to consider.
“While the election year is a given, the fact that the stock market is rolling and the fear of coronavirus is only eight-nine days old in this country (meaning people here are fearful), it is just a bit too early to see how buyers and sellers will react,” Mary Hall Mayer, an agent with Warburg Realty in New York tells me.
It appears that smart buyers are truly taking advantage of this situation. Phones are ringing off the hook and inboxes are jammed for anyone working in the mortgage industry right now. Ryan E. Beverage, a senior mortgage advisor with Lenox Financial in Southern California says coronavirus has been a boon to his business. “I’m working twelve to fourteen hours a day right now and still have things to do when I leave. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and I have never been busier than I am now,” he says.
But will rates continue to drop? According to Beverage, it’s a possibility.
“COVID-19 has created a global emergency at this point. That has been the sole reason the stock market has seen the biggest losses in history, which has forced the Federal Reserve to drop rates as well. When stocks go down, interest rates do, too. It’s when we see the market starting to rebound when rates will go back up. But if nothing changes soon, interest rates more than likely will drop even further,” Beverage says.
Coronavirus Won’t Stop A Buyer’s Market
While travel restrictions might prevent foreign buyers from looking at property in New York, it’s status quo for locals. “Thus far, showings by appointment are going forward as are open houses. But if you had three people to an open house, might you have had six?” says Mayer.
First-time buyers are particularly savvy to take advantage of the moment. In a relatively short period, Robin Kencel of Compass has experienced an increase in motivation among this demographic.
“I had first-time buyers (newlyweds) out from Manhattan on Sunday who spent the afternoon looking at properties and made an offer on the next day. They did not reference the virus but their desire to have a home with some elbow room and outdoor space was critical in their rush to leave the city,” she says.
Beverage has also seen an influx of first-time buyers who want to take advantage of the current market. “I’ve noticed a lot of younger people especially, who have never thought about buying, are now more interested and finding out that they actually do qualify. People think that you have to be a millionaire to buy a house, but that is definitely not the case, especially in this current rate environment,” he says.
But Kencel believes it’s still too early to make accurate predictions. “For those of us who have some traction on our tires, we have seen the power of momentum that can be garnered when fear takes hold of the general populace. It is impossible to predict how large the coronavirus fear will grow and what the actual impact on the public health will be, therefore making any real estate fallout guesstimate irresponsible,” she says.
However, Kencel also notes that the uncertainty of financial markets could have investors pulling out of the stock market and funneling their cash into real estate instead.
Should Coronavirus Be A Cause Of Concern For Sellers?
It’s important to keep in mind that New York City and the surrounding areas were already buyer’s markets prior to the coronavirus outbreak. So, sellers were well aware they didn’t have the upper hand to begin with.
According to Noemi Bitterman of Warburg Realty, the sellers experiencing frustration have either already sold at less than they wanted or taken their properties off the market. So it’s safe to assume that the majority of sellers are extra motivated right now. “The properties that are on the market right now are priced to sell. Although sellers do not love the buyer’s market, they accept what is and have priced their properties accordingly,” she explains.
But Beverage thinks these low prices can ultimately benefit some sellers: “I think that Coronavirus, dropping the 10-year treasury to the lowest level in the history of the mortgage, is going to cause a price war in the home selling market. Prices are going to skyrocket. We will see another bubble again, and then eventually it will pop.”
On Sunday, February 16th HGTV will debut their reboot of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. During its original run from 2003-2012, this family-friendly reality hit, which originally aired on ABC, was one of the most beloved shows of the early aughts. But, HGTV could not be a more appropriate network in 2020 to give the audience a feel-good show focused on design.
During its original run, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was hosted by Ty Pennington with a variety of designers and celebrity guests coming and going over the seasons. In its new incarnation, Pennington’s role is filled by Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Casting also found the perfect dynamic trio in designers Breegan Jane and Carrie Locklyn along with carpenter Darren Keefe.
Meeting the cast in person, not only did the three have incredible chemistry (the kind of chemistry you can’t fake), but they were truly excited to be a part of this production “I think we’re all very grateful for the incarnation that existed before us and so happy to step into this role and carry the flag for this amazing show,” says Keefe.
The New Cast
Before being cast, Jane was best known for her work designing high-end homes and properties. Her name may sound familiar to some because she’s a media personality who regularly speaks at events and has appeared on KTLA in Los Angeles as well as The Hallmark Channel nationally. She also authored a children’s book titled Carbie.
Locklyn will certainly be recognizable to fans of The Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible where she served as lead designer. She has also been featured on several HGTV and DIY Network shows including Don’t Sweat It and Garage Mahal.
However, the mother who calls New Jersey home, didn’t start out as an interior designer, rather she pivoted from a previous career as a professional organizer. On the show and in real life, Locklyn applies organizational methods to design, telling me her philosophy is that “great design can’t start without great organization.”
Rounding out the cast is Keefe, who was born in Northern Ireland into a family of craftsmen. He moved to the Midwest as a teenager, but ultimately settled in Los Angeles. In 2017, he founded Drumcree Designs, creating one-of-a-kind handcrafted furniture pieces for celebrities and businesses. With his charming Irish accent, he provides a warm, calming presence to the show.
New Era, Same Formula
While the reboot will in some ways be different than the original, it’s still a tearjerker.
“It’s such an enormous show and it’s such a huge experience to be able to change people’s lives through design,” says Locklyn. “I mean, we all love design, at the core, but to be able to walk into someone’s house and walk into someone’s life and change their tomorrow. I mean, that’s really what this show is about.”
While many HGTV shows emphasize the glamour of design, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a bit different. Every family had specific needs and challenges that had to be prioritized over aesthetics, at least at the beginning of the project.
“We go in and we learn the story of the family, we see the family, we see their stories, we pinpoint what it is they need, and we move from there,” says Locklyn. “So we always start every design with practicality, organization, and functionality. Because we want these homes to be something that the families can grow with. We don’t want anything in the home to become a burden for them. We always say what is your story? What are your needs, and how do we attack that?”
As an expert in customizing furniture, Keefe’s skills were crucial. “Everything I designed was specific to the family. We really made sure that whatever we were building or designing, really fit the family. So a lot of the things that I built were at their specific request,” he says.
Unlike many HGTV shows where different designers and personalities build things with a signature aesthetic in mind, there simply couldn’t be a singular design template applied to all the projects on Extreme Makeover.
“Each home had a very different personality,” says Jane. “We were all pulling together. So each home is like a completely new style. Not any two were alike. They had completely different color palettes.”
Celebrity Guest Stars
Much like the first incarnation, there is no shortage of celebrity guest stars on the new show. Ty Pennington will return for several episodes along with Anthony Anderson, Derek Hough, LeAnn Rimes, Laila Ali, and Tyler Florence making appearances. A roster of HGTV stars including David Bromstad, Tamara Day, Tarek El Moussa and Jasmine Roth also grace the show this season.
Behind The Scenes
The cast gladly revealed how important the aspect of community was to the show. Many of the families featured are known locally for their own efforts to give back. In turn, their communities, even complete strangers, volunteered to help with the builds.
But, even with a massive crew working around the clock, there was no way to complete each project in five days (really, just five days) without the help of volunteers.
All The Feels
While there are ten episodes slated for the upcoming season, this is hopefully only the beginning of a long run.
“I think that it’s rare that TV is this positive and inspiring. And so to be a part of that was amazing. But I think that’s what we all loved about watching it,” says Jane. “And I want more content like this across all of our TVs. And I think this show really shows that viewers are looking for those heartfelt stories. They’re looking for something that’s bigger than them. And that’s what made me tune in, in the first rendition. And I hope that brings people back again now.”