Scandinavian Must-Haves

scandinavian-design

According to the UN report on World's Happiness for the last few years, we can observe that Scandinavian countries are fighting every year for the first place. One year, we have Denmark at the top of the chart, the next year (this year), Norway, closely followed by Iceland, Sweden and Finland.

Outside of highly effective social systems, what else can contribute to the happiness of the citizens of those countries, considering that the lack of light during the winter months should also get them the most affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? Our point of view is of course biased here but we stronly feel Scandinavian design plays a role in it.

But what is Scandinavian design? The movement itself started in the 50's in Northern Europe, where young designers started designing items accessible to the masses (so that design was no longer something for the wealthy), associating modernism, simplicity and functionality. Using woods, plastics, aluminium and steel, the designs quickly became popular due to their versatility and easy to clean/use. 

It also became widely popular with the international expansion of Ikea. 

One very important reason is the design definitely,  living in a positive welcoming warm home environment influences your life and well being and conducts happiness. The Scandinavian design is a world renowned design theme known for its simplicity wrapped up in white, releasing coziness and warmth, the perfect setup and scenario to help you beat and enjoy the winter.

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 9.10.28 PM.png

Add Some Color to your Interior for Spring: Pink!

MaisonKoduZen-blog-spring2017-pink.jpg

Let me get started on this post with a personal anecdote: the first apartment where I lived on my own was in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and was a railroad apartment covering an entire floor. I had defined color palettes for each room based on how I was using it: the kitchen/dining room was green and pink to gently wake me up in the morning, the living room was grey and green as a soothing, relaxing place and my bedroom was grey and dark blue to help me sleep.

MaisonKoduZen-Color-scheme.jpg

When I was hosting parties at home, I was somewhat always setting up the living room as the main reception area as it was the largest room - until I realized... Everyone was hanging out in the dining room. Not that the furniture layout was more convenient or the lighting better than in the living space - people were simply drawn to that area. I thought about it a lot and looked around whether at home or at other people's place and came to the conclusion that colors were the answer - and in this particular case, the color pink was key. 

In Feng Shui, colors have a very specific role based on the area of the space they are being used and how they reinforce a certain element. Pink is the color of the relationship area - that includes marriage, friendships, partnerships etc. It is also related to the fire element that plays a role in fame, reputation and recognition. In other words, pink is a powerful color that encourages social interactions in all shapes and forms. So no wonder why people were gravitating towards the dining area of my apartment!

Now in our culture, pink also has strong connotations: it is perceived as a feminine or childish color and we cannot help but think about bubble gum and popsicles when being told the word PINK

So how can you insert pink in your interior without transforming it into a candy store or the home of Barbara Cartland? Well, this is rather simple and here are a few tips: 

  • There are MANY shades of pinks you can choose from: the basic idea to get to pink is associating a vibrant hue of red with a hint of white. But then, it also includes most of the orange and purple variations - as long as they have a strong red component and some white. In other words, there are as many shades of pinks as shades of greys - below are just a few variations as an example.
MaisonKoduZen-shades-of-pink
  • You do not need to paint your entire room in pink to get its warm feel: a few accessories here and there, with the right hue (see comment above) can do the trick rather easily: accent pillows, a touch of pink in an artwork, your tea towels in the kitchen, a nice coffee table book cover... Possibilities are endless. The ombre trend going on right now also offers you interesting options to add pink in your interior. 
  • Pink works with most colors and while associated with yellow, you would definitely get a rather juvenile feel, it can also add sophistication if combined to a warm grey, a lilac shade or a deep brown.
  • If you are unsure about going pink, test it out with flowers! As Spring is upon us and flowers are starting to bloom, bring some nice cherry blossoms, pretty tulips or roses to your interior. Flowers come in many shades of pinks as well so try out different ones and see how it feels. 

In conclusion, pink is a great color to play with, it will make people feel at ease and willing to socialize so give it a try, be... playful and enjoy Spring!

For more ideas on pink, go to our Pink board on Pinterest!

What is my Style? - Part III

As promised with our last few blog posts, a little quizz here to help you understand your style a little better and make an informed choice when starting furniture and accessories shopping or a conversation with a designer. This survey is not managed by a bot and each and every answer will be reviewed by Maison KoduZen's team to give you a personal assessment (hence the demand for your email). 

If you wish to start from the beginning, go to the following posts:

What is my Style? - Part 1

What is my Style? - Part 2

Bring the World of Design into Your Home: NY NOW

Disclaimer: this post does not contain any affiliated links and was not sponsored by anyone - our reviews, comments and preferences are purely based on what we observed and liked at the show.

Several times a year, the design world comes to New York, putting on an exciting show for designers to see new products, trends and get access to vendors they would perhaps not know about. At Maison KoduZen, we spent one day browsing the show rooms and wanted to give you a quick overview of what we thought was exciting/interesting. Most of our picks are obviously related to sustainable and eco-friendly designs, principle dear to our hearts as a design firm.

Decors & Accessories

Uashmama: Australia-based, this company makes all sorts of item out of paper (that also happens to be washable). Produced largely in Italy, where the concept was discovered by the founder of the company, we really appreciate the sleek look of most of their designs. Our top pick being this simple basket/bucket (pictured) that can be used for virtually anything. 

Grainwell: the story of these three sisters from Kentucky is as heart-warming as their wood designs, customized and made in their workshop. Our favorite? The subtle little city names to nail on your wall or simply display on a shelf (pictured).

Nude: Turkish-based designs, inspired by nature, Nude presents a fantastic, yet simple collection created by brilliant designers. The work of Erdem Akan in particular is really remarkable. The proof? This pretty jewelry stand, Blossom (pictured).

Left: Uashmama paper bucket - Center: Grainwell city name - Right: Jewelry stand by Erdem Akan for Nude

Left: Uashmama paper bucket - Center: Grainwell city name - Right: Jewelry stand by Erdem Akan for Nude

Plants and Flowers

Kulvase: Clever vases designed to keep your bouquets fresh longer, thanks to a neat technology embedded in the containers, keeping them (and the water) cool. Our favorite item being the Softness vase (pictured) - transparent, simple and elegant.

Floral Import: for its cute porcelain-made planters in all shapes and forms. We recommend in particular the Pebble collection for its simple lines (pictured).
 

For the Kitchen

Swedish Treasures: its product Wet-it (pictured), an eco-friendly, dishwasher-resistant alternative to a sponge comes into a great variety of colors and designs to brighten up your kitchen. 

For the Kids' room

HapticLab: the already famous Brooklyn-based design firm was presenting its beautiful kites and other quilts. We could NOT not list them :) Our picks: this beautiful sail boat kite and this great constellation quilt (both pictured).
 

Furniture

Roost: for those who do not know yet this Californian furniture company specialized in organic, sustainable designs, they had the most beautiful booth at the show (and amongst the largest - pictures were unfortunately prohibited) but check out their website for some great design inspiration.

Nested: great discovery for us on this edition of NY NOW, this South African furniture manufacturer with breathtaking contemporary woodworks. Our favorite: Pick up a Stick shelf (pictured) and the whimsical Bucket Stool (pictured) - another great concept of theirs (could not find it online), the stackable furniture decorated by the South African artist, Renée Rossouw.

Rugs

Fab Habitat: great collection of rugs from India, fair trade and eco-friendly. Our favorite is amongst the Zen collection with the Lucent rug (pictured).

What is my Style? - Part II

As promised, the second part of our series helping you to define your style (there will be a third part - if you want to start from the beginning, go to read Part I).

We continue our search today in defining styles so that you can have an idea of where you land on the spectrum. Let's dive right in!

Wordcloud-styles-contemp.jpg

Contemporary: as its name indicates, it goes with the current trends and is constantly evolving. It can borrow from previous styles used as inspirations by designers from year to year - and also evolves around how society is evolving as well (an example being the open-planned kitchen and island that corresponds to the need of more counter space to prep: the traditional counter space being used up by coffee machines, micro-waves and so on).  Nowadays, contemporary interiors tend to be clean and unadorned, influenced by modern and Scandinavian styles for the most part. For the last few years, using more colors has become popular, making the distinction between contemporary and modern more clear.

 

Industrial: basically taking what was there JUST before the Modern style emerged but was not considered good enough to make its way into someone's home. The Industrial style items and furniture are inspired by the old 19th-century factories, with very raw materials, oversized elements and functional designs with no fuss, often associated with a dark color palette.

 

 

Hollywood Regency: also referred to as Hollywood Glam, it refers to the styles created by set designers for movies and TV in the 30's. Back then, movie plots often evolved around characters with incredible destinies, who often had a matching interior, full of luxurious and over-the-top, opulent details. Nowadays, this style is famous for its bold colors, Victorian looking ornaments, animal prints, velvety fabrics and extravagant chandeliers. This style is the perfect one to 'make a statement'. 

 

Transitional: for those who cannot choose between modern and traditional, transitional is the perfect blend between the two - hence its popularity. It can associate modern materials, like a glass coffee table to a flower-pattern upholstered sofa. The color palette tends to be rather neutral, to harmonize both styles together. 


Wordcloud-styles-eclectic.jpg

Eclectic: (often named contemporary eclectic) basically collects ideas from all styles to blend them into a truly unique interior design. The challenge here is to find a general thread that goes through the entire design to maintain a cohesive look.

 

 

 

Bohemian: style 'borrowed' from the fashion industry, bohemian interiors have no rule per se - regarding how the layout is organized or designed concept works or on how people within live. It often displays vintage furniture and light fixtures, all sorts of textiles from plaid to lace and can have a healthy dose of joyful clutter (the 'messy' look is part of the deal and contributes to the warm ambiance created). All colors are permitted, although it often evolves around brown tones.

 

Shabby chic: 'cousin' of the bohemian style, shabby chic tends to be more feminine and delicate and has more defined rules. Most items tend to be vintage (if not actual vintage, at least vintage-inspired with distressed looks) and the color palette goes towards the soft cream, white and light pink (pastels in general actually). Fabrics will also be more fluffy in general and lace will definitely be part of it.

 

Ethnic: also called Moroccan or African style, it refers to interiors with a strong vibe from another continent. With light materials and yet dark, earthy colors (browns, oranges) it often displays all sorts of items collected during trips, soft lighting fixtures made of clothes or distressed paper for a warm and cozy feel. 

 

 

This is the end of this post listing all the most common styles out there. We could obviously go into more details and list even more subcategories of styles but it would simply be too long (Art Deco, Zen that Aurélie likes very much, Mediterranean, etc). If you want further details on some other styles, please let us know!

Continue reading with the following blog post:

What is my style? - Part III

Brooklyn Apartment Transformation - Reportage

Brooklyn-apartment

A little blog post to give you more details about the story recently published on our home page

This young American couple living in this great apartment in Fort Greene came back to the US in October 2016, after 3 years spent in Zurich, Switzerland. Shortly after their move, they contacted us to help furnish their main living space and figure out how to make it look 'together'. 

The starting point

When they left for Europe, they knew their expat situation was going to be temporary so they did not purchase anything of value and did not bring much from Switzerland (apart from a few souvenirs here and there) so we were starting pretty much from scratch. The only things that we had to work with were:

  • The artworks inherited from a grandfather, finally in their possession after their few years abroad. 
  • A dining table purchased at Ikea and 2 wishbone chairs (the last two being inherited as well).
  • A black TV console (and flat screen TV).
  • Rugs purchased at Target.
  • A gray sofa they had already purchased and were waiting to be delivered.
  • 3 Empire lamps (mid-size).

The process

When we first met, the couple had already filled our style questionnaire so we already knew what their favorite colors were (purple and blue), whether they liked patterns (not really), how much color they wanted (pops of it here and there), how much accessories/furniture (a balanced amount) and what style they were attracted to (modern and contemporary). Our initial discussion went deeper into those questions, understanding how they were using the space so far, how they felt about the current layout and what was their biggest concern at this point (lighting in the evening as they had just 3 lamps, great for a traditional office space but not ideal for a living room).

After that initial meeting, we gave them 10 days to create and share a Pinterest board with us to see what aesthetic they were gravitating towards and understand better their preferences.  

Personal selection from the client (detail)

Personal selection from the client (detail)

After careful review of the items they had selected, it became clear to us they were gravitating towards airy elements, preferably with some sort of wires that got us immediately thinking about the American sculptor Alexander Calder. 

Examples of Calder's work.

Examples of Calder's work.

You can admire Calder's work at prestigious places such as the Guggenheim, the Tate Modern, MoMA etc - and his work is famous for being light, airy and whimsical at times. He was the inventor of the mobile structure as we know it today - a great mix between art and design. 

With that, we got started and shared with them the concept below.

Concept board submitted

Concept board submitted

Typically, we present this board in person to discuss but since the couple was traveling for the Thanksgiving break (and we wanted them to take advantage of the Black Friday sales), we recorded a little video to walk them through the concept... And they loved it! 

They picked the option 1 of the chair to match the wishbone chairs they already owned and we shared with them the full shopping list (after suggesting alternatives for the rug they were not fond of). 

The challenge

A few elements were from a vendor that has an average 4 to 6 weeks lead time for delivery, plus, the sofa they had ordered was being delayed every week. In other words, our client was on a roll to wait until March to get it all complete which was far too late.

The solution

We searched alternative options with vendors that would deliver quicker - the clients also searched on their end, providing options and asking what we thought would be best for their interior. After a few back and forth, we managed to update the entire shopping list with more acceptable delivery times - for the same price (sometimes even lower).

The result

Mid-January, everything had arrived, had been installed and they sent us pictures of their new space. As the last step in the process, we offered to go shopping for staging elements on their behalf and scheduled a last meeting to stage their interior and take pictures of the final result. Yay!

before-after-brooklyn-apartment
before-after-brooklyn-apartment
before-after-brooklyn-apartment

If you wish to view the full gallery, go here.

We want to warmly thank this lovely couple as it was such as great experience working with them and let us take pictures of their new interior. They also left us a stellar review which is always greatly appreciated!

What is my Style? - Part I

What-is-my-interior-design-style

One of the most doubting task for anyone starting to decorate an interior is to figure out what style you are after. Dreaded question for many, the 'style' question prevents a lot of people from hiring an interior designer as they would not even know where to begin to define it. In this short series of posts, we will try to explain, as simply as possible what the different styles are to help you define your own. 

First of all, there are MANY styles. That is one of the factors that makes the whole process of figuring it out so overwhelming - plus, you may be attracted by more than one style which makes it even more complicated. Fear not: we are here to help you navigate all styles so by the end of this series, you will be able to articulate what you like in each style you are attracted to and why.

To get things started, we have gathered the most obvious styles together so you can see what is the relationship between them.

traditional-living-room5.jpg

Traditional: inspired by old European styles (Victorian, Louis XV, etc), the Traditional style features very detailed and ornate work - especially on dark wood, large and comfortable furnishings with a plethora of accessories. Back in the days, abundance was a sign of wealth and one's interior was the best place to show it off: color palettes were complex, fabrics were pricey, with velvet and silk, intricate patterns, expensive rugs and flamboyant chandeliers. The layout is also pretty tight to facilitate multiple conversations at a time and accommodate a lot of people.

 

French Country: ironically called 'rustique' in French, it gathers ornamental wooden furnishing as well as the Traditional style, but with clearer and rawer finishes (while keeping some of the pretty ornaments). It is also more forgiving with the years going by and furniture being a bit worn can totally find their place in a French Country interior. With a general farmhouse feel, this style favors solid and at times 'heavy' elements, such as linens and drapery, or furnishings. The color palette is often more earthy with yellows, reds, beiges.

 

Rustic: this style was difficult to place as it is often paired up with modern furnishing nowadays - while it used to be paired up with traditional furnishings. Either way, it is the typical style of a cabin, where raw wood and stone get balanced out by the warmth and coziness of comfy throws and well-placed accessories. The recent trend to pair it with modern style helps brighten up its rather dark palette.

 

Coastal: also called Nautical style (or Hamptons), this style's main feature is a blue and white color palette - furnishing is often on the traditional side with many accessories related to the sea.


modern-style-chart

Modern: emerged in the early 20th century, the modern style refers to an interior searching for simplicity and functionality everywhere (as machines were starting making their way into our homes) with simple, clean and crisp lines. Wood is no longer the main material for furniture and metal, glass and steel start to find their way in, mixing well with a very subdued color palette of white and grays. The layout is also more opened and airy compared to the Traditional approach.

 

Minimalist: taking the simplicity of the Modern style one step further, with even fewer accessories and an even sleeker color palette.

 

 

 

Scandinavian: made popular by Ikea, Scandinavian designers have actually played a big role in design since the very beginning. The Scandinavian style can be defined as similar to Modern: sleek, functional and simple with a more systematic use of wood - a common and necessary material in Northern Europe, adding warmth and coziness. 

 

Mid-Century: we kept this one here for its long name: Mid-Century Modern, while it is a far more opulent than the Modern style. The Mid-century style came about (as its name indicates) in the 50's and 60's, 'correcting' what the Modern style was overdoing: oranges, browns and more poppy colors started making their way inside and more rounded shapes found their place in design stores - while keeping the airy and open layout of the Modern style. To place it in context: WW2 was over, the economy was on the rise and television becoming more and more common so while design used to be a niche, it became more accessible and affordable to the majority - and that majority was craving for colors to get out of the gloomy years. Mid-Century Modern also became very popular again recently with the revival of 'vintage' elements of decor.

That is it for today! In an upcoming post, we will cover a few more styles that are less obvious to pair up so stay tuned and let us know of any questions!

Continue reading with the following blog posts:

What is my style? - Part II

What is my style? - Part III

Happy New Year of the Rooster and Feng Shui Tips to Start it Right!

happy-new-year-rooster

This coming Saturday (Jan 28th), the celebrations for the Chinese New Year will begin to welcome the Year of the Rooster. For those of you who wonder: that day is defined by the Chinese Lunar calendar and takes place on the new moon that occurs roughly between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (we have attributed set dates to those events in our Gregorian calendars but they actually vary from year to year). That day is also considered to be the first day of Spring in China (as this is the time when seeds start sprouting upwards).

As we can all agree 2016 has been a rather chaotic year with a lot of unpredictable events happening, thanks to the whimsical Monkey, theoretically the upcoming year should be less frantic with the energy of the Rooster, the announcer of sunrise.

I will not get into predictions for this upcoming year in this post so if you want to know more on what to expect based on your actual date and place of birth, feel free to contact me so I can build a full chart for you. Today I will just concentrate on giving you the basics of what you can do in your home to harness the good energy of the Rooster (all without transforming your home into a Chinese store). :)

5-elements

First, you will probably hear about this year being the Year of the Fire Rooster: each year has its own animal (that comes back every 12 years) and an element. But each animal also has its own native element associated so the element of the year can uplift or tone down the animal sign pretty dramatically. The native element of the Rooster is Metal and as you can see on the chart above the Fire element melts the Metal one - which means it is not so auspicious. BUT the good news is: adding the Earth element can help counteract those antagonists: the Earth energy will keep the Fire busy (as the ashes and sediments of the fire give birth to the Earth) while feeding the Metal element of the Rooster.

How to add Earth energy to your home? Simply add some browns, yellows and beiges to your interior, place some hand-made pottery bowls here and there, hang pictures of paths, soils, soft rocks (nothing pointy!) into square frames and this should do the trick. 

But that would be pretty light if we were stopping here so here is another set of recommendations. 

When giving a Feng Shui consultation, practitioners also often used the technique of the 'Flying Star' which is based on the year's numerology (when combined with the dwelling's numerology and the inhabitant's one, you can get incredibly powerful results). So let me give you this year's reading as a starting point, along with some tips. 

2017-flying-star-chart

2017 is a year 1 (2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10, reduced to one digit = 1) which indicates a new beginning. Yay! This is why 1 is at the center of this year's chart. The numbers to watch out for are 2, 3, 5 and 7 (I will spare you why but all you need to remember is the direction they correspond to: North West, West, South and South West respectively). So below are the different things you can do in each direction of your home to ensure those inauspicious energies will remain at bay.

2 (sickness): can be counteracted with the Metal element so add grays, whites, rounded shapes, metallic or glass items in the North West side of your home. If you want to go with the traditional Chinese cure, hanging 6 metal coins is the most powerful adjustment.

3 (bad mouthing, gossip, lawsuits): can be counteracted with the Fire element so keep the Earth adjustments mentioned above to a minimum on the West side of your home and add only one item either pointy, triangular or red and you should be all good. 

5 (fire hazard, pain): same as 2, add some Metal element in the South side of your home. A metal wind chime is also a good idea - especially if it is around your front door: it will welcome your guests (and yourself) with its crystalline sound while keeping the bad energy at bay. 

7 (robbery, scandals): this one calls for the Water element so add wavy, curved elements, preferably black or blue, flowing as much as possible. Picture of waterfalls or waves can be a good idea too (refrain from using lake pictures as these symbolize stagnant water). If you have a fishtank, consider putting it to the South West of your home to help. Chinese traditions would call for a water fountain so if you are up for it, by all means, give it a try!

But first and foremost, the New Year is welcome with a good cleaning of your home so you can sweep out all the bad energies of 2016 to welcome the Rooster energy into your home. Clean your home from the back to the front with some natural cleaning products (salted water is the best), leave your doors and windows wide open to let the air circulate and burn some sage or other herbs to clean out the air. Happy New Year!

Want me to give some more Feng Shui tips? Send me an email or connect on social media! 

Reportage - Restore NY renovation project

Giving-back

Last week, I volunteered for a project renovating the office space of a non-profit organization called Restore NY.  Restore NY is dedicated to helping foreign women getting out of human trafficking and prostitution in New York City - needless to say, getting to hear what those people do on a daily basis was rather inspiring. I got involved in this project thanks to a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute - Carmita Sanchez: she has been working with Restore NY for the past year since they signed the lease for this new office space.

In January 2016, the team was in such a rush that the most urgent tasks got taken care of: the walls got painted and the floor replaced so the team could start working. Meanwhile, students at FIT started elaborating floor plans based on the following requirements:

  • Create a conference room that offered more privacy (the short-term solution was creating a room with a curtain - not sustainable to hold training, meetings, etc)
  • Create a layout to fit at least 10 working stations.
  • Add touches of red, the color of Restore NY. 

Three teams suggested designs and collaborated to eventually present a finalized layout to Restore that approved it and started searching for vendors to get the necessary material. Given the nature of the organization, funds were limited so the idea was to have students and anyone who wanted to volunteer to mount furniture, prep walls for painting, install and clean. That is also why it took so long: the work could only take place during the week for the glass doors to be installed and on consecutive days to be convenient to the Restore NY team who needed to relocate during that time period - it also had to be tied to the Academic calendar for students to participate.

The waiting and work areas are now clearly separated and a white board has been created so that people can write and sketch above their working station.

The waiting and work areas are now clearly separated and a white board has been created so that people can write and sketch above their working station.

Main space with conference room.

Main space with conference room.

Main working area - that can now fit 12 people.

Main working area - that can now fit 12 people.

The result? In 3 days, the glass doors got installed to create a new conference room area, the entire room and ceiling got repainted, furniture delivered, mounted and installed, a new white board is now available for writing notes and sketches and the space is overall more functional. Thanks to the company Space Plus that offered 50% off the glass doors needed and the furniture company Poppin that graciously offered chairs and filing cabinets. 
Restore NY has been very happy with the results and could not wait to get working in that clean and nice space!

Tricks of the Trade: 6 Tips for Antiques and Vintage Designs Shopping

vintage interior

In a recent post: '7 tips to style your interior like a Parisian', tip #5 was about mixing up styles: antiques, vintage and modern pieces all in one room. So first things first: let's redefine what is antique vs. vintage:

  • Antiques are furniture or accessories of 100 years old or more.
  • Vintage pieces are more recent pieces, this term being used for fashion and interior design alike.

In most recent years, the come-back of the Mid-Century Modern style saw the word 'vintage' being overly used for pretty much anything related to that era (70's) while this is a little restrictive. On the other hand, European-looking items also tend to be easily qualified as 'vintage' (I am thinking of old fashion clocks such as the ones in the picture above) while they are technically antiques. Either way, we are not the Nomenclature Police so feel free to call it whatever resonates with you - but beware when you are talking to a professional about it, they tend to make the distinction (as they should), especially as antiques come at a higher price point than vintage pieces.

As mentioned in the previous post, in Europe - and in France in particular - furniture is a part of the family's heritage in the same way real estate is: pieces were often ordered and made by the local carpenter (as wedding gifts for instance), with locally-sourced wood and were meant to be passed on from one generation to the next. In the US, given the size of the country and its very culture, family heirlooms are less common so here are a few tips for sourcing and purchasing vintage pieces and antiques in the US.

  1. First of all, define what you are after: real vintage and antique pieces? Or brand new, modern designs, inspired by past eras? Are you really open to searching for something in, at times, dusty stores and pick up an item that might not be the cleanest? Do you have the patience? Some people love it, some don't - just be clear on what you are after. If you are after real vintage, read on - if not, read on (some tips are applicable to any purchases) and feel free to contact us or comment and we will give you additional resources.
  2. Take your measurements. This may sound rather obvious but NEVER omit to have your measurements with you and we mean ALL your measurements: your ceiling height and depth or width available for a piece (especially if meant to be a storage piece): Both are critical so you do not end up with something that is out of proportion. Also search what are the standards used today for the piece you are after, to define your ideal proportions: people may have been smaller back then and chair depth may be uncomfortable for a long dinner or the width of the table may just be too small: all those details count and can vary greatly, especially when you shop for antiques. The reason it is important is that whether online or in stores, the return policy for antiques and vintage pieces is often very restricted so be sure you know this will fit (your space and your needs). 
  3. Know what you can fix. Prior going shopping, be aware of what you can or cannot repair. A nail that came off can be repaired, an entire sofa to upholster is a bigger project to take on. Of course, you can often get it done by someone else, but be sure you have an idea of how much this will cost you (upholstering can be very expensive for instance) and how easily you will find that person to do it for you. If it is a big piece, do not forget to factor in the transportation budget that will add up.
  4. Pay regular visits to the stores. We have nothing against online retailers (we will give some links further down) but as Europeans, we tend to be attached somehow to the story behind the piece, and this story often can come only from an actual shop owner who sources his/her stuff him/herself. So get the story, understand who made it, get down to the fine details of the material: not only you will have a better idea of where it comes from but you, yourself will have a better story to tell when people comment on it. (Extra tip: the shop owner will also be more inclined to negotiate the price down with someone he/she sees is genuinely interested in what the piece is about). Plus, if a piece does not sell quickly, chances are, the price will be reduced at some point so be sure to check it out regularly.
  5. Search for quality. In other words: if you do not feel you can sit on that chair or put your elbows on that table, you may just need to pass - even if you are a big DIY fan who can rebuild anything. During your search process, it is important to focus on 3 aspects:
    1. Look at whether the structure of the item is sturdy: sometimes, a wobbly table can be fixed with a simple wood chip under the right leg (not very pretty option) but if this has been going on for years, chances are, the entire structure is compromised (remember that wood expands and shrinks depending on humidity levels so nobody knows how it may have affected the whole shape). 
    2. Check out the quality of the material: is it good, solid wood (if so, check out for bugs) or is it veneer that you can see chipping on one corner? Search for signs of water damage, knock on the material to see whether it is hollow and may break anytime soon. Small scratches may give character, but poor quality does not.
    3. Signs of good craftsmanship can be identified on corners as this is where bent nails live and poorly done joins so check them out carefully to see if anything seems off. If there are ornaments as well: inspect them to see whether those have been done properly and consistently throughout. If not, don't purchase it.
  6. Google is your best friend. Yes, even for old items, if you happen to know what is the name of the designer (especially for vintage items) or the maker, just Google it to see whether what you are about to purchase is legit.
Shopping selection

Above is a selection of items we particularly like in stores we typically go to when in need of some antiques or vintage items (in the New York area). Of course, this list could go on - feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments or ask us for more details! 

Brooklyn

Brooklyn Reclamation: http://www.brooklynreclamation.com/ (metal tins* to be found here)

Repop New York: http://repopny.com/ (Eames office chair* to be found here)

Eclectic Collectibles and Antiques: does not have a website and no picture policy but worth the trip (store on 285 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg) - it also got reviewed by the NY Times 

Wynne City Works: http://www.wynnecityworks.com/ (Mid-Century School Chairs* to be found here)

Collier West: http://collierwest.com/ (Mid-Century Crystal and Iron Chandelier* to be found here)

Manhattan

Olde Good Things: https://ogtstore.com/ (Antique Bronze Cash Register* to be found here)

Online

1st Dibs: https://www.1stdibs.com/ - our favorite to start browsing would be this Brass and Mahogany chandelier by Hans Bergström* here.

Krrb: https://krrb.com/ - an upgraded version of Craigslist, specialized in vintage and antiques (so you can see before you buy). We LOVE this mid-century red chair* for instance.

Flea Pop/Polyvore: http://fleapop.polyvore.com/ - we really like the little arrangements they make to get you a sense of how things go together as in this example here.

* availability on items cannot be guaranteed given the nature of the business.