Friday
Jul052013

Project Apartment

I am so excited to share my latest completed project - a downtown NYC apartment for Seri Kertzner of Little Miss Party! Little Miss Party (LMP) is an amazing boutique party planning company that specializes in creating intimate, one-of-a-kind events in Manhattan, Long Island, and the Hamptons. Let me tell you, Seri has fabulous taste. Before starting LMP, she worked for J. Crew and her aesthetic is much like that of her former employer. Actually, that was the basis of our concept boards, a look we called Preppy Chic. Here's the main inspiration board:


Before this project, Seri and I had met a couple of times and had quite a few links in common, but we never really connected ourselves. We met when we were both first pregnant with our first children - secretly pregnant, you know, when you feel like crapola, look worse than you feel (hello, acne!), and can't tell anyone why. Good times. Obviously not the best state of mind for making friends. Anyway, over the years, I kept track of Seri through friends and was so excited for her when she launched LMP. And even more excited when it started getting seriously noticed right from the start! (If you haven't already checked out their website and blog, click here. Now, please. Thank you.)

Here's some eye candy while you're waiting for LMP's page to load. You can't really tell, but the wall behind the sofa is covered in a white grasscloth with metallic backing. The cowhide is also flecked with silver. Very Subtle. And very gorgeous:

Seri's success was one of the things that inspired me to start Play Chic. When I was looking for a photographer to shoot my first "real job", she introduced me to Raquel Langworthy, LMP's go-to photographer. I had seen Raquel's photos on Seri's site and her blog, and I knew that Seri would only work with someone whose skills matched her own. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was for Raquel's talent to go far beyond photography! By the end of that first project, Raquel and I were already talking about my website, my logo, blogging, and branding. Really, she's a one-stop-shop of fabulosity!! (You like that one, right? I'm trademarking it.)

Raquel is founder of Raquel Bianca Creative (RBC), a business that originally started as children and family photography, which has grown to include website design, branding, and art direction for family businesses. How cool is that? (And, yes, she's the mastermind behind my website, my logo, and all of my photography.) Here's one of my favorite shots of the apartment, which captures Raquel's style to a T:

This is a long way of saying that Raquel is the one who eventually reconnected me with Seri when Seri was looking to redo her family's apartment. And, wow, am I glad that she did! We viewed this project as a collaboration among the three of us from the start - the party planner client, the decorator, and the photographer who documents it all - and I cannot begin to tell you how much fun we all had in doing it! This blog post is just a taste.

So, back to that concept board I mentioned. We coined the style Preppy Chic. Here are some more concept boards:

Living Area

 

 Dining Area

The goal was to combine color, pattern, and a little sparkle into a casual, welcoming, and functional family home. Oh, and did I mention that everything had to be able to be moved around to accommodate guests on a minute's notice? Yeah, that too. Oh, oh, and what about that Seri was hosting a co-ed bridal shower at her house about six weeks after we started the project? Yep, add that to the list. Lucky for me, Seri moves at a speed heretofore unknown to man. (Or at least to me.) She's a whirling dervish of pinning and makes decisions in a snap! And she doesn't seem to need any sleep. At all.

While I thought a more apt name for this project was Mission Impossible, we decided to call it Project Apartment. Whatever the name, I think I can safely say that the project was a success!! Seri is thrilled with the outcome. The photos are gorgeous. And I had the best time working on this apartment. I wish Seri and her beautiful family many years of happiness and joy in their new(ly redone) home!

Without further ado, here come the photos! (All photos courtest of RBC, of course.)

Before

After

Entry

(The Woop Dee Doo print is actually a dishtowel I had framed as a gift to Seri. I have to also thank the wonderful Tom from Granath Colorworks for his miraculous job with the painting and wallpapering throughout the apartment.But those stripes? They're not paint. They're vinyl decals! They took less than an hour to put up and transformed the entire space from Hi, how ya doin? to Come on in and have some fun!)

Living Area

(The Haller media console from USM has to be one of my favorite pieces in the whole apartment! The white lacquer finish and metal accents pick up on the reflective touches throughout all the spaces. And I love mixing metals - the silver on the media unit and the gold accents on the cocktail bench complement each other and bring a touch more spunk to the room.)

Sitting Area 

(There's a bunch to say about this diminutive space. In the previous layout of the apartment, this bookcase was located where the blue chairs are now. This resulted in a lot of dead/unused space. By moving the bookcase next to the kitchen, we were able to create a whole new area in the apartment. The chairs are perfect for cozying up with a great book or magazine - and Seri's complete collection of W Magazine is within arms reach!

To enhance the feel of a "separate space," we needed to do something special with the bookcase wall. However, we had exhausted our painting/wallpaper budget. Not to fear! I was able to purchase this gorgeous decorative paper from Paper Source and decoupaged it to Seri's walls!! Problem solved. Beautifully.

Oh, and all those paper-wrapped books? Yes, Paper Source again. Again, they add texture and subtle interest to the bookcase wall, drawing you in. Want to know what's underneath all those bookcovers? I have no idea! I picked up maybe 150 discards from local libraries for free!! Great way to fill a bookcase, if you're light on books.)

Dining Area

(The gray wall is magnetic. We hung empty frames so Seri could change the contents on a whim. Great for a party and even better for displaying the kids' never ending supply of art projects!

And that dining table? It's a fabulous find from CB2. The best part? There are two drawers on each side! It's perfect for storing placemats, crayons, and whatever other clutter usually ends up on your kitchen table. The drawers have these gorgeous, faceted lucite pulls! Totally unexpected - and arguable unnecessary - but they make you smile everytime you see them and isn't that what furnishing your home is all about?)

Play Area

(One of Seri's initial requests was for the kids' area to have a built-in ipad holder! Not that practical in a rental. But we came close! This amazing ipad stand from an Etsy vendor brings in the same refined/rustic contrast found throughout the space, into the children's area. This just underscores one of my favorite sayings, Just because you have kids, doesn't mean you have to live like one!)

 

You can check out the posts Seri and Raquel did on this project here and here. See ya later, Aligator!

Sunday
Jun232013

5 Minutes with Raquel Langworthy of Raquel Bianca Creative


I am thrilled to introduce you to family photographer, website developer, art director, and branding extraordinaire, Raquel Langworthy of Raquel Bianca Creative (RBC).

Raquel is one talented lady. I was introduced to her by the lovely Seri and Michelle at Little Miss Party when the photos on their blog were suddenly upgraded to drop dead gorgeous! (By the way, if you don't know LMP, you should. Their parties are amazing! Check out their blog here. You won't be sorry.) In interest of full disclosure, Raquel is the genius behind the photos on my website, the website itself, and the branding - but, yes, the designs are my own. 

Lucky for all of us, Raquel is not just a computer whiz with a killer artistic eye, her true passion and the cornerstone of RBC is her love for photographing children and families. And, let me tell you, she is a magician with kids. I've seen her interact with the kids of clients on a number of photoshoots she's done for me, but I think I tested her mettle last August when I asked her to do a session with Lila and Jamesy.

Let's just say that 90 degree heat; two hungry, tired, nearly-three-year-olds; and a lady with a camera does not an instant lovefest make. Despite my kids' best efforts, Raquel turned their attitudes around in no time flat! (Ok, so let's add Super Nanny to her list of talents above.) In the end, I ended up with the most beautiful photos I ever could have asked for. I mean these are photos that truly capture who my kids are - in their best moments. Every time I look at them, I smile. I know I'm biased, but look at this:

Without further ado, here's my 5 Minute Interview with Raquel Langworthy. To get a better taste of her distinctive style, be sure to check out more of her work over at Raquel Bianca Creative.

The Interview

LH: Tell me a little bit about how you decided to start Raquel Bianca Creative?

RL: After graduate school, I worked as an art director in advertising for five years. My favorite aspect of the work was visual storytelling. I've always loved being behind the camera and this was a way to infuse my own creativity into the work. However, since I was working for big firms, the hours were grueling and I regretted not having the opportunity to get to know my client. Most of all, I had no time or energy left to develop my own work. Eventually, the time came when I had to choose between following my chosen career path and becoming a Creative Director or following my own heart and going off the beaten path. I chose the latter.

One thing that helped make the decision easier was the birth of my neice and nephew (twins) a year earlier. Every time I saw them, all I wanted to do was pick up my camera! I took tons of photos! It was such a release for me and I was so happy. I thought to myself, What if I could do this all the time? And then it occurred to me that I could!

LH: It's one thing to love photographing your own family, but what about other people's families? What draws you in?

RL: I love to play. It's that simple. I'm not afraid to let kids hold my camera, look in the lens, push the buttons. To them it's like another toy. I get right in there playing with them from the start and then I gradually back out. Funny thing is, the kids never seem to know or care that they're being photographed! It's so refreshing! The most important thing to them is the sand castle they're building or the truck they're playing with. There's no posing or cajoling. They live in the here and now. If you catch a kid playing, then it's easy to capture their personality. It's right there in front of you. That's the joy of a child doing what he or she loves most! To be able to capture that and give it to a parent is just wonderful.

LH: That explains a lot about your style. Your photos are always so whimsical but natural at the same time. Just like kids, I guess. So, what's your favorite part about photographing children?

RL: Meeting my model! If you're photographing an adult, generally you've had some contact with them beforehand, whether that's in person, over email, or on the phone. With a child, it's totally fresh! Maybe the parent has told you a little about him or her, but that's it. I'm always genuinely excited - and a little nervous - to meet the little person I'll be working with that day.

LH: Personally, I never send out holiday cards because I never get my act together in time. (I can't be the only one, can I?) When do you think is the best time of year to do the family photos that end up on everyone's holiday cards?

RL: Right now!! Seriously, the summer is the best time for photographing children. The light is fantastic; the clothes are generally brightly colored and easy to move around in; and, really, what kid doesn't love being outdoors in the summer? I know that the summer is a busy time for people, but I find that it really does pay off to figure out a time for a family photoshoot.

LH: You know, it's true. My favorite holiday cards are always the ones of the kids running around on the beach in the summer. It's always such a nice reminder of summer fun in the middle of winter! I never really thought about the logistics of it, though. I would much rather be in shorts and a t-shirt than a sweater and button down anyday! And I'm the parent! Speaking of parents, what can we do to help make a photoshoot go well?

RL: Two things - you have to prepare and you have to let go! First, the preparing part. A well-rested and well-fed kid is a happy kid, so you can try to make sure that they've napped or gotten a good night's sleep the night before the shoot. You can also give them a snack before we begin - modeling is hard work! And it never hurts to have some Cheerios on hand for mid-shoot snacking.

It's also great if you let your child know who I am and what I'll be doing before I come. That way they're not totally taken aback when I show up at the door.

You can also have a favorite toy or attachment object at the ready, in case the excitement gets overwhelming for the child.

For indoor shoots, it helps to take a little time to make sure your home is looking its best. You never really know where your child is going to take us!

That brings me to the second part of the equation. Letting go. My best photos of children are when I let them take me into their own special world. If the parent joins us, that makes it even better! So be prepared to put everything aside for an hour or so to join your child on the adventure of their choice!

 LH: Well, our time is up. Thanks so much, Raquel!

 

Tuesday
Jun182013

A little more love from Project Nursery

I was totally knocked-off-my-feet flattered to receive an email from Project Nursery this evening saying that this playroom design has been nominated for Room of the Month! 

This is particularly exciting for a few reasons: 1) it's Project Nursery; 2) it's Lila and Jamesy's playroom; and 3) those washi tape walls almost drove me to commit myself to a mental institution.

For those of you who remember, but need a refresher, and those who don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about, here's a brief synopsis:

- Lisa discovers love of washi tape. (Basically different colored/patterned masking tape from Japan.)

- Lisa finds out that washi tape comes in widths made especially for wall designs. The catch: The wall washi tape is only available in Japan. 

- Lisa is undeterred and searches for project on which to use said tape. All clients, friends, family, and anyone in their right mind demurs, mostly citing the classic "Great idea but you're not masking taping my wall" excuse. 

- Lisa finds Lila and Jamesy's playroom uninspiring. Girls have no objection to Mommy masking taping their walls. Bingo. Project found. 

- Lisa recruits unsuspecting stranger who speaks Japanese, via Etsy, to correspond with company and order said tapes. (Lisa feels like she just won the lottery!! Sad, I know.)

- Washi tapes arrive. Prove harder to apply than expected. Sit on desk for a matter of weeks. 

- Hurricane Sandy hits. No electricity for a week. Lisa decides to bide time by taping the playroom walls. During daylight hours. 

- A gazillion hours later, all walls of playroom are washi-taped! Hooray!! Lisa does happy dance and gloats about beautiful Japanese tape.

- Lisa looks at room next day and gets dizzy. Fighting back tears, de-tapes two walls. Overall impact is much more subdued. 

- Now all that's needed is a new light fixture (pretty cool, right?), a cowhide (thank you, Ikea), and some floor pillows. 

- Lila and Jamesy go right back to their playing like nothing ever happened. Lisa is happy every time she walks past the playroom. Josh wonders how all this happened with "a clear budget of ZERO." (he-he.)

MORAL OF THE STORY: Tape from Japan sometimes comes with a silver lining. That is, if you vote for me here! (Scroll to bottom of page.)

Thank you to all!

xo

Lisa

Friday
May312013

Play Chic featured on Project Nursery!

Big news! One of Play Chic's projects is being featured on Project Nursery as one of the editors' picks for Room and Parties We Love This Week! Best of all, the room they picked is the closest to my heart of all - Lila and Jamesy's room. (The girls are pretty stoked about it too!)

Project Nursery is a fantastic resource for parents and parents-to-be looking for any kind of design inspiration for their little ones. (Think: Houzz for kids.) I am super flattered and honored to have my work recognized by this highly revered site! 

Check out the feature here. And, if you have a second, you can vote for Lila and Jamesy's room to be this week's Viewers' Favorite by clicking the Like button in the project gallery here. As always, the beautiful photos are courtesy of the uber-talented Raquel Langworthy of Raquel Bianca Creative. Thank you for your support!

Bon weekend everyone!

Wednesday
May222013

Show House Inspiration: Treehouse Chic

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am truly honored to be participating in the Cedar Knolls Designer Show House. (Actually, I thought the invitation was spam at first. Glad I looked into that one.)

This is going to be a fabulous event, running from Labor Day to Columbus Day, with 25 seriously talented interior designers, landscapers, and artisans working their magic to transform a 1930's Gatsby-era mansion into an elegant exhibition of luxury. To top it all off, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Life's Worc, a nonprofit that assists people with developmental disabilities. 

I will be doing (what I hope will be) an over-the-top nursery. I'm calling the style "Treehouse Chic." Take a look at my mood board and let me know what you think! 

 

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