Constantine Maroulis on NBC’s LXTV Openhouse NY Bachelor By Design

June 18, 2010

Working with the Broadway star of “Rock of Ages”, Constantine Maroulis on the transformation of his new apartment into a gracious home was great.

He truly loves the design process and is genuinely interested in making his apartment into a home that reflects who he is and his interests.  All of this came through in the final product, a home that he loves.

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Living Room, dale cohen designstudio

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His living room has an old Hollywood feel with vintage 1930’s club chairs – that recall old Hollywood screening rooms – and vintage James Bond posters.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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Constantine and I laughed the whole day that we worked with NBC’s LXTV’s Openhouse, as we shared the experience of designing his new apartment.

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Master Bedroom, dale cohen designstudio

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We gave Constantine a little glam, a little rock star for his bedroom!

Combining family, vintage and new pieces … all against the backdrop of a vibrant gold wallpaper from Neisha Crosland.  The pillows are a Missoni fabric that reminded me of old vinyl LPs.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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Constantine breaks into song, while moving his furniture.


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Hallway, dale cohen designstudio

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The infamous Hallway where we installed just a few of the innumerable press clippings about the American Idol and Broadway star.

We placed them in the entry foyer and the back hallways to keep them present, and not to upstage the star himself.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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A decorating serenade from Constantine.  A perfect way to end a wonderful collaboration!

The transformation is complete.

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dale cohen designstudio featured on The Tileist, a blog by Jen Renzi

January 28, 2010

This week dale cohen designstudio is featured on  The Tileist, a blog by the brilliant editor of  “The Art of Tile” Jen Renzi. I was interviewed for her series “White Bathroom Week” about the use of white tile in bathrooms.

The Tileist – White Bathroom Week concludes with: Expert advice!
January 24, 2010

For my final installment of White Bathroom Week (er, White Bathroom Fortnight?), I grilled architect/designer/blogger–and fervent tile enthusiast!–Dale Cohen, whose fab bathroom was featured in The Art of Tile. I knew she’d be a source of brilliant design advice:

Q. Any tips for keeping an all-white bath from looking too clinical?

A. In the wrong hands, white tile can look antiseptic. Be sure to choose the right white! Ideally one with a softness to it, like a handmade tile. If you are pairing white tile with thick stone countertops in Carrera or statuary marble, consider rounding the countertop edge, and then repeat the stone along the wall base as a molding. This could be as simple as 12-inch-square stone tiles cut in half and laid horizontally, which will bring the floor up to where the wall tile starts, thus creating a properly finished feel.

For the floor of my own New York bathroom, I chose a mosaic of hand-chopped stone—the technique used by the ancient Romans 2,000 years ago—and a wall base of handmade tile glazed a custom grey. These two handmade materials mesh gently with my stark white machine-made Italian tiles, softening the contemporary lines without being cloying. The feel is modern and chic.

Q. Tell us more about those Italian tiles. I remember you obsessed about finding one with a bright white bisque (i.e. the tile body)?

A. When designing a modern bathroom and using cool hues/tones, as so I often do, the color of the tile bisque is vital. It adds subtlety to the color of the glaze above. An off-white bisque makes the white glaze read warmer, while a white bisque gave a truer white. The Italian tiles I used in my bathroom—a modern, machine-made product—has a white bisque that works well with the cool, grey trim.

Q. Are you still digging the elongated format you chose for your wall tiles? Any subway-tile design advice?

I love the elongated tiles. And I think there are so many more ways to use subway tile than the standard running bond. Bring in pattern by adding some square tiles into the mix—alternating them to create a plaid, for example. I also like them installed vertically.

In addition to playing with pattern, using materials that are larger than you might feel comfortable with—not huge dimensions, just scaling up a bit—creates a greater sense of space. I’m not a fan of tiny, tiny anything; the little half-inch mosaics drive me wacky! When it comes to mosaics, tiles, and patterns in general, I find that people typically pick a smaller scale than is ideal. This is just a matter of inexperience with materials and their application (I may be shot for saying that, but oh well).

I remember working with my sister in Washington several years ago. I got a cry over the phone that could be heard the whole length of the Acela track: “Dale, I’m at the wallpaper store I am overwhelmed and have no idea what to do!” The next weekend I was in D.C. The three papers she’d chosen for her powder room were all tiny prints. I took her to her local paint/wallpaper store and chose three patterns that were larger in scale; when applied to the walls, they created a greater sense of space. Same with tile.

Q. Would love to hear your thoughts about when to splurge on handmade versus machine-made tiles, which I posted about earlier this week?

A. The reason to splurge on a handmade tile is for the look. They have a soft, old-world feeling and inject a sense of warmth that cannot be achieved with machine-made tiles. Don’t get me wrong, I love machine-made tiles—just in the right setting. When working on historic spaces like Gracie Mansion or a Victorian-era house in the West Village, I almost always use handmade tiles in subtle tones. They add a sense of patina and age and are historically appropriate; they’re still made similarly to how they were back in the day. If your floors are statuary marble and you live in a Brooklyn brownstone, for instance, I would use handmade tile because it makes a real difference.

Q. Do you ever source crazy-colored tiles in baths, or do you always favor a more neutral look?

A. The craziest I went was a mustard-yellow tile for the kitchen backsplash of an historic apartment on the Upper West Side—and that was only to complement the client’s mustardy granite.

The reason I choose neutrals for bathrooms is that they are very expensive rooms to design. If you’re going to live in your home for the next 10 or 20 years, you need to really love your material choices over that period time because the effort and expense to redo them is prohibitive.

Q. Any other advice about designing white-tiled loos??

A. White is just as complicated as any other color choice. Using white tile in a bathroom and making it feel warm and inviting takes work and an ever-so-subtle use of materials—everything screams “color!” against white. Small tonal changes will be noticed in a white bathroom. So choose tile with care and an eye for sophistication and your bathroom can go from everyday to spectacular!

Q. In your blog, A Bachelor’s Decorated Life, you discourse about about masculine style! Have you found bachelors to have specific taste in tile?

A. Bachelors generally like to play it safe and not add too much sparkle. I use warmer, earthier tones, sometimes deeper colors—although rarely in tile. The middle warm greys would be as dark as I might go, with the occasional subtle deep accent. I have found that men like a home that is inviting, laid back, and that can be easily maintained—nothing too fussy: i.e. clean lines, warm colors, and very little pattern. I like to think of it as their cool cave—leaving the caveman behind.

Stylish single gents (and you ladies who want to snag ‘em) take note!

Thanks, Dale!

Jen Renzi

preview – NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE, decorating for Constantine Maroulis!

November 4, 2009

This fall I was asked by NBC’s LXTV OPENHOUSE to decorate the living room and bedroom of the new apartment of  American Idol star and Tony nominated actor of the Rock of Ages, Constantine Maroulis.

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Constantine and his mom at the 2009 Tony's.

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From the beginning Constantine’s style was clear; he loved vintage Hollywood Deco having inherited several pieces from his family.   Layered with the vintage pieces would be a hint of his rocker self … amounting to Hollywood meets Rocker!

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Here are a few of the design elements we had to work with and new ones that we found for Constantine.

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Our initial great find was a pair of 1930’s Italian club chairs, reminiscent of old Hollywood private screening rooms with their low slung deep shape and beautiful midnight blue velvet seats.  We loved these so much that we designed the living room around them.

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I thought that these super luxe chairs would compliment a cocktail table that  Constantine had from his brother, once we restored it and brought out it’s original luster.

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mirror.table

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In designing Constantine’s bedroom, we began with a vintage dresser of his that has a sleek understated vibe of Hollywood mid-60’s.  With restoration we would bring out the piece’s original rich finish.

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dresser

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And to bring out the  “Rocker” element we found a great wallpaper for the wall behind the bed.  This rich gold foil wallpaper is bold and has sophisticated pattern that is named “Hollywood Grape”.  The wallpaper adds drama and glam to the room and was the element we worked with to design the look of Constantine’s bedroom.

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hollywoodgrape

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In terms of artwork, Constantine had many pieces he loved, one of his favorites was this Yankees poster.

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And since he is a bit of an old Hollywood movie buff, we found a couple of quintessential James Bond posters.

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See how all of these elements and many more came together for Constantine’s Hollywood meets Rocker style:

Please tune your tv’s to NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE NY on sunday November 15th at 8:30am in the New York region and to NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE National Edition on sunday December 6th, check your local listings.

dale b. cohen

new york city

november 2009

Dating 101 with matchmaker Janis Spindel

September 15, 2009

Working with bachelors I learn about their dating life in the course of conversation.  And while I operate with my clients under the premise of “if you build it / decorate it, she will appear”, my interviewee takes a much more active and truly effective approach to dating, marriage, etc.  Janis Spindel is the country’s leading matchmaker with approximately 869 marriages to her credit, 1000 long-term committed relationships and zero divorces.

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JaniceSpindel

Matchmaker Janice Spindel

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Janis Spindel has been interviewed by the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and many more.  She has been seen on 60 Minutes, CNN, the Today show, ABC, NBC.  Janis has serious credibility and is serious about her passion, finding you your wife!  Her services come at a dear price, however her wisdom is there for us all to learn from.

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"What's Love Gotta Do With It?" New York Times Magazine, February 13, 2005

"What's Love Gotta Do With It?" New York Times Magazine, February 13, 2005

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I pulled up to the Bridgehampton home, complete with heart-shaped street number, of Janis and her husband of 27 years on a busy summer Friday afternoon to ask her questions about the pitfalls and secrets for men about dating women, in counter balance to her recently published a book for women,   “How to Date Men” (which she has her male clients read).  Janis is fiercely dedicated to her mission and she will tell you, “I am not a dating service, I am a matchmaker.  I am here for the exclusive purpose of finding my clients the woman whom they will marry.”

During our interview a Mr. X. calls, Janis takes every call from everyone, no screening.  This is a woman who means business even if her business is love.  Mr. X is hemming and hawing about coming to a party of Janis is throwing out in the Hamptons the following Sunday evening.  I am uncertain if he is a current or potential client, Janis is to the point regardless, “What are you waiting for? You are 40 plus years old … “  She is very clear, he needs to be there, she has someone for him to meet, he needs to get off the fence and be there.  I ask her a few days later if he is coming to the party, she said “He’s coming, of course I DON’T take no for an answer.”

Part of what I learned from interviewing Janis Spindel and reading many of the articles written about her is that while she is direct, almost withering, she has a point.  We’ve all been waiting around looking for the right person, or staying in a relationship too long because it is easier than finding a new one.  Janis is gifted in her craft, and an important part of the services she provides is to prepare the field.  She gets her clients ready, she is grooming you to take your life and getting married seriously.

Graciously, Janis shared with me some of her thoughts about dating a woman.  Most of them seem obvious to me, and since Janis says, “I own the minds of men” let’s listen to her advice directly.

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“What are the first date do’s and don’ts?”
– (and she applies these to the second and third dates as well)
1.    do be on time.
2.    do pick her up at her home (but do not go in).
3.    do bring a small gift, maybe a single rose or some chocolate or a book.
4.    do be a gentleman, open her car door, open all doors for her, pull out her chair – serious brownie points.
5.    do go out for more than dinner on your second and third date, a movie, an activity, a charity function or a sports event.
6.    don’t talk about your Ex-anything! Your ex-girlfriend, ex-fiance, ex-wife, ex-business partner – whatever! Nothing negative!
7.    don’t be pushy, rude or anxious, to your date or anyone you come into contact with.  If a woman sees you yelling at the parking attendant she is going to think that you will yell at her that way someday too.
8.    don’t be desperate, relax, this is fun.
9.    don’t talk about politics.
10.    don’t bring your baggage to the table. She doesn’t want to hear about your tragedies, keep it light and fun.

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“What creates a lasting relationship?”
1, 2 and 3 – communication – as this is so important, I asked Janis to elaborate on this
– never go to bed angry, talk about it, make peace.
– communication with the woman you are seeing is a 24/7 thing, not a call twice a week.
– share the good and the bad stuff, be a team.
4. really get to know her, be incisive, ask questions and listen to her answers.
5. respect her and listen to her.
6. commonalities – whether they be upbringing, lifestyle, or interests you need to share things that matter to you in common or respect the things you do not share.

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“How do you work with your clients?”
1.    Initially there is a phone interview with one of my assistants.
2.   The home visit – like it sounds, we visit his home, look inside the drawers, the fridge, the closets, as you know best, someone’s home is very telling of who a person really is and I need to know it all to find “the right one”.
3.    The simulated date – the man takes me out on a series of dates so that I see how he treats women.
4.    The dates – our service is a 12 month contract and we usually we find “the right one” in two or three dates.
5.    if he doesn’t find “the one” in these first two or three dates, I talk to him about this because either he is not articulating what he wants or he is just “dating” and I am matchmaker.
6.    If he begins to date someone then his membership “freezes” for up to a year, and he has up to 24 months to be matched. However if he’s been dating someone for a year and he’s not to “I do” then there is something else wrong.

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“What makes for a good client?”
1.    he has to be emotionally available.
2.    commitment minded.
3.    well educated and successful in his chosen profession.
4.    well traveled.
5.    healthy, athletic.

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While Janis works with the elite of our species, her words are not wasted on the rest of the crowd.  What she says is valid for every man and woman, be your best, take care of yourself, be polite and be determined, there is someone out there for everyone … but you have to have done the work to prepare yourself or else you will have the same life you have today. Ouch!

Without a doubt Janis’ unsaid motto is life is short, find a mate, you’ll be happier and then she can move on to find the next great match.

dale b. cohen

new york city

a few luxuries for your summer beach or country rental

July 23, 2009

Summer is well underway and here in New York City that means summer rentals or summer shares everywhere from the Hamptons, to Connecticut, the Hudson Valley and more.  And with those rentals come surprises, so best to be prepared.  Here are a few “luxuries” to bring along, re-creating a bit of home in your summer rental.

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1   sheets

My very top must have, beautiful sheets!  While thread count is not everything, it is a big part of the picture, as well as the type of cotton, where it is made and where it is finished.  My favorite sheets are made by Signoria di Firenze.  They are silky smooth, come in a myriad of colors to work with anyone’s palette and they are so very luxurious.

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Signoria di Firenze, Fine Italian Linens

Signoria di Firenze, Fine Italian Linens

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2   down duvet and pillows

Along with your sheets you will need a full down duvet and pillows.  Everyone says to me, and I mean everyone, I have allergies and I cannot have down.  This is simply not true! you cannot have down feathers!  You can use a full down comforter and pillows, just make sure it is 100% down without any feathers.  I recommend Scandia mid-weight with a set of firm 100% down pillows.  Nothing feels sexier than a bed made with luxurious sheets and a cloudlike down comforter and then falling into down pillows!

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Scandia Down Comforters

Scandia Down Comforters and Pillows

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3   bath towels

Bringing a few sets of fine bath towels because you never know what you are going to encounter at your rental property.  They may have locked away the lovely turkish towels and you will be left with the usual mis-match of old, worn-out towels.  My preferred bath towels are from Yves Delorme, match the color of your towels to the bedding for a complete look.

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Yves Delorme Bath Towels

Yves Delorme Bath Towels

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4   votive candles

As this is not your home, you never know what you are going to encounter upon entering someone else’s home.  The odors may be unpleasant, with a stale, dampness in the air.  A box of fragrant votive will go a long way to creating a more pleasant environment for your sensitive olfactory and add some ambiance as well.  A close friend of mine gave a box of Voluspa votive candles to me when I moved into my new home and I simply love them.

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Voluspa Cream Candle Set

Voluspa Cream Candle Set

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Please watch for next week’s blogpost, an interview with the famous matchmaker Janis Spindel.

Enjoy your summer travels.

dale b. cohen

new york city

energizing your career area

June 23, 2009

an interview with feng shui master Kate MacKinnon

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As we explore feng shui and how to work with it in your home, it seems to be a good time to work with your “career area”.  In the bagua, this area is located is on the lower center area as you walk in your home.  If it turns out that your home or your apartment is square in floorplan and fits easily into the bagua diagram below, the “career area” is in the center lower area as you walk in your home.  For those of you who live in a traditional colonial home, that will be right as you walk in your front door with the living room to the right and the dining room on the left, that small entry way/vestibule/foyer is your “career area”.  For those of us who live in a city, that is not what happens, often we open our door either to a narrow hallway.  In my case, we enter into the “mentor corner” and my entire career area was missing.  So Kate has helped me with feng shui cures to create the area in my home that was energetically missing.

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a feng shui diagram of your “career area"

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In the ideal situation, your career area is a generous foyer/entry way allows the chi – the life force, as known in Chinese culture, into your home.  The idea is to do everything possible to welcome this energy into your home with ease and grace.  Traditional, the color of that area is dark blue to black, like water – the element associated with this area.  The color can be used as painting a wall, or in accents or the actual element of water – a fountain or a fishbowl or tank.  These elements, a fountain, are “active water”, bringing good energy, money and abundance to your home.  Additionally this is a great spot to have bookshelves in your career area, books about your career, your aspirations, your passions, etc.

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Foyer by Shaun Jackson, Elle Decor October 2007, Photographer Roger Davies

Foyer by Shaun Jackson, Elle Decor October 2007, Photographer Roger Davies

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In my case, Kate needed to energize  the “career area” because that area was missing because you enter my home through a slender corridor.  Her recommendations were to place mirrors the entry foyer.  In addition, I installed bookshelves in the niche in my entryway, which were perfect in the “career area”.   So after a bit of ruminating and pushing and pulling with Kate about the placement of these mirrors – she really wanted the whole place plastered with mirror and I just couldn’t walk into my home and into one of those 70’s discos, I mean who wants a mirrored ball in the foyer – ok, so Hugh Hefner would be ok with it, just not for me.  We came up with a solution, to mirror the three sides of the bookshelf alcove and add a slender frame to accent the architecture of the space.  On the wall facing the alcove will be a large mirror with a floating photograph in the center of a library that I particularly love.

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Foyer by Dan Barsanti, Metropolitan Home, December 2008, Photographer: Antoine Bootz

Foyer by Dan Barsanti, Metropolitan Home, December 2008, Photographer: Antoine Bootz

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In your home, if you have the “skinny hall” version of an entry foyer, Kate recommends mirroring as much of the walls as you can stand and there are many way to achieve this.  This is to allow for the expansion of the energy, bringing you abundance in your career.  If you have the career area of your home and it is not your entryway, reference the Bagua chart above, then this is a good spot for your home office/desk area.

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Aquarium at the Galleries Lafayette, Paris, France

Aquarium at the Galleries Lafayette, Paris, France

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This same position for your career area of your home, is also the location of the career area in room, however Kate made a point to say that she often does not emphasize the career area of each room, often only focusing on the entry way, the living room and the home office.  Since you really don’t want to have a fish tank as you enter each room, Kate recommends that the career area of your living room or office is a good spot to have a fountain, bookshelf, a painting of moving water or a if you are doing painted accent walls then this is where you might want a dark blue wall or painting with deep blues and blacks.

Jean Jorges Vongerichten's Restaurant 66

Jean Jorges Vongerichten's Restaurant 66

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Interesting footnote, when you sit at your desk, you are sitting in the career area of your desk.  So use a beautiful, comfortable chair.

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If you have any questions, please post them to blog and Kate will answer them.

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dale b. cohen

posted from Eilat, Israel

Summer grilling

May 26, 2009

Summer has unofficially begun with the passing of Memorial Day!  And with summer comes entertaining, and that means grilling and cocktails long into the evening.   So now comes the question, what kind of grill?  The query is beyond just the usual gas vs. charcoal (gas is the obvious choice at this point, it has a smaller carbon footprint) for some people there are limitations because of where they live.  You might have a swell backyard deck, replete with pool and fancy umbrellas.  Then again, maybe you live in the city and have a balcony or terrace. Or maybe you do not have a balcony, terrace or summer house and would like those nice grill marks on your steak or fish … now what?  We have suggestions for everyone.

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For the man who has everything and wants the BMW of grilling, sleek, sexy and nice handling, there is the Viking Outdoor Series.  I love cooking with Viking indoors and their outdoor equipment comes highly recommended.  They have a feature, called “TruSear which is 30,000 BTUs of searing infrared power.”   You want the hottest grill possible and this is one of them.  In addition, Viking has everything you could possibly imagine to create an elaborate outdoor kitchen.

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Viking 30" Ultra-Premium Gas Grill
Viking 30″ Ultra-Premium Gas Grill

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I imagine you thought I would recommend one of Weber’s charcoal grills, in truth, I do not recommend anyone use a charcoal grill unless you are camping.  Why?  Because it is not a responsible choice for the environment.  Research into this question by the Oak Ridge National Labratory has determined, “the majority of carbon dioxide emissions are from grills using charcoal briquettes, because the amount of carbon per Btu of gas is about one-third that of charcoal … A liquefied petroleum gas grill operated for an hour would emit 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide while a charcoal grill would emit about 11 pounds.And then I read on Huffington Post, “Bobby Flay in Boy Meets Grill expresses his preference for his gas grills, because, he says, “the real flavor boost (from grilling) comes from marinades and seasonings, and from quick searing directly over a very hot fire—which a good gas grill does as well as charcoal.” So there you have it from the mouth of the master.

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That being said, Weber does make some of the very best gas grills on the market.  If you are not creating an entire outdoor kitchen with a suite of matching appliances, then I recommend the Weber.  Their Genesis EP-310 series has 42,000 BTU-per-hour output and really, what more could you ask for since the hottest grill possible is always the best.  Searing the outside, seals in  juices and creates a delicious, moist product with a beautifully caramelized exterior.   How do you know that your food is done?  Firmness is the answer.  Do not cut into the meat, touch it, as it cooks the flesh gets firmer, the more firm the more cooked.  As the grill master, Bobby Flay says on his website, “A rare steak feels squishy; a medium steak feels more springy; a well-done steak feels as taut as a trampoline.” It will take a bit of experimenting until you get it just right.  Allow your meat and chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to congeal inside the meat, keeping it moist.  Since your food is still cooking while it rests, it is a good idea to under cook your food slightly.

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Weber Genesis Series Grill
Weber Genesis Series Grill

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For those of you who would like to grill and feel impeded by the lack of outdoor space there are several easy solutions.  All-Clad, one of my favorite kitchen suppliers, has a wonderful indoor electric grill.  This will not have the very high heat of an outdoor gas grill, it will produce nice grill marks and use less oil than pan sauteing your food.

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All-Clad Electric Indoor Grill

All-Clad Electric Indoor Grill

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If the thought of another indoor appliance has you running out of your local kitchen store, and you still want those lovely grill marks and some of the flavor, then a grill pan is a great alternative.  I recommend Le Creuset’s cast-iron square grill pan.  Their enameled cast iron is industrial strength , it will last your lifetime and beyond.  As Le Creuset says “Cast iron has been used as “the” material for cooking pots since Roman times.”  And the Romans know something about cooking.  Their products come in several colors, just in case that is more inspirational for your cooking.

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Le Creuset Square Grill Pan
Le Creuset Square Grill Pan

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Lastly, marinades and dry rubs are the key to enhancing the flavor of anything you throw on the grill.  A marinade can be as simple as salt, pepper, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  A friend of mine from South American used to marinate his lamb chops in a serious layer of sea salt and vodka.  They were incredible!  For steak, often salt is all you need.  For fish and chicken I recommend something more elaborate.  Experiment with dry spices, fresh herbs and citrus.  If that seems a bit too risky, Whole Foods has their own pre-packaged dry rubs and bottled marinades, which are wonderful and take all the worry out of getting it right.  Make sure you have a few basting brushes to apply the marinade and a good set of kitchen tongs to work with.

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Footnote, if you are going to use a charcoal grill because that is your only choice, I have two footnotes.  One, use a chimney starter to heat your coals, it is easy and does not require the use of lighter fluid.  Two, buy only charcoal that is made of wood ONLY.  Typically charcoal that you find at your local convenience store is composed of saw dust and lighter fluid. Really you do not want that in your food. Additionally, Oak Ridge National Labs did research and found that “Common charcoal has a heating value of 9,700 Btu per pound while solid wood charcoal has a heating value of about 13,000 Btu per pound.”  As I mentioned before, the higher the heat the better the better it is for searing.

Happy grilling!

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dale b. cohen

new york city

sofa shopping, lesson one

May 15, 2009

To err is human, to choose well, is divine!

So often I find that people assume that because you are buying something for your home, you feel that you should be able to choose the right item – meaning the shape, scale and color of say, your new living room sofa.  In fact, this is rarely the case and when you choose the wrong item, it is a very costly mistake.

In most areas of our lives we believe in the division of labor, leaving work we are not trained to do to the professionals.  As most of my clients are not trained in architecture, interiors or design, they understand that it is best to leave these decisions/suggestions to a professional.  Goodness knows I leave my legal work to my lawyers and my accounting work to my accountant.

And while you may spend a bit more working with a professional – the look of your home will be appreciably improved.  Additionally, you will avoid those expensive mistakes, buying a sofa that might be too large with a fabric that is possibly too dark or not durable.  Therefore when you move to your next home, there is a good chance that the sofa might stay behind or if it does move with you, you might get it in place and realize it does not work.

All of that being said, how do you buy a sofa?  I laugh when friends call and say “I need a sofa, where should I go shopping”, as if there was just one place to go.  I then retort, that would be like me asking you where to buy a pair of black pants?  There are hundreds of resources, price points, sizes and styles to choose from.  Where does that leave you when you are shopping for a sofa?  When I work with clients, all upholstery (ie. your sofas, lounge chairs, arm chairs, etc) is custom, in some manner.  And that can mean different things.

One custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like Lewis Mittman.  Your designer places the order with them and sends in your own fabric to be used to upholster the sofa (this is called COM – customer’s own merchandise).  This fabric is chosen from a fabric showroom, samples will be selected by your designer.

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Lewiss Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

Lewis Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

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Another custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like B&B Italia.  In this instance you choose your fabric from their showroom since they have stringent fabric requirements and make it a bit of a chore to use your own materials (you have send fabric samples to Italy for approval, and if approved sending your fabric to Italy is fraught with problems.  Thereby making an already lengthy process, interminably long).  They have a wide selection of neutral fabrics and leathers.

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B&B Italia, Sofa by Anthony Citterio

B&B Italia, Charles Large Sofa by Anthony Citterio

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And then there is a hybrid option at showrooms like Holly Hunt.  Here you choose from one of the lines that they rep, like my favorite Christian Liagre, and you have the option to choose one of their wonderful fabrics or send in your own materials.

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Holly Hunt, Augustin Sofa by Christian Liagre

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There is much more to know about purchasing a sofa, things like seat depth, seat height, back height, what is most comfortable is determined by the owner’s size, height and the length of your legs.  In the end I feel it is important to work with a designer because to a person there are two mistakes that are made by just about everyone who buys a sofa on their own – the piece is too large for the space and the finishes are much too dark.  In order to have a happy beautiful home, one that will sing either “swinging bachelor bad” or “I am looking for a wife and family”, it is imperative that you employ a professional to the task at hand.

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dale b. cohen

new york city

the 10 essential items for breakfast in bed

May 6, 2009

This list comprises the 10 essential items you need to prepare a simple breakfast in case she stays over.  Since a woman would rather lie around your, hopefully, tidy apartment than wander out to breakfast wearing last night’s outfit, running out to the grocery store and stocking-up might be a good idea. Most items will keep for a long time so you will be covered in between conquests.

1 Coffee

It goes without saying that one of the most important items you have to have for breakfast in bed is great coffee.  Many people like electronic coffee makers, I say it’s just the two of you, make it the old fashioned way.

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This stylish coffee maker is designed by the German designer Tassilo von Grolman. Cafino can be found at Mossonline.com.

pph_6112_lMany people like a french press.  This modern interpretation of the french press coffee maker is designed by the Italian architect, Aldo Rossi.

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My preference is the old fashioned Italian stovetop type.  This one from Oliver Hemming’s 66 Collection is simply beautiful.

drip_group_trio_250x250Make sure you buy the proper type of coffee grounds for the type of coffee maker you actually own.  I only use Illy Coffee.  It is like having a little piece of Rome right at home.

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Tea

Because not everyone drinks coffee, have at least one black tea, Lipton or Earl Grey or English Breakfast or Green and at least one herbal, mint, chamomile or a mixed floral.

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Bread

Buy sliced bread, one loaf of whole wheat and one of sourdough or rye and put them in the freezer (make sure sure you have a toaster).  Far and away the best sliced bread I have ever had, and I always have a loaf of in my freezer, is Eli Zabar’s Health Loaf.  Toast this bread and spread a little sweet cream butter and all is well with the world.

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For those of you who like old fashioned white bread, you are on your own.  I left white bread in the dust years ago along with fluffenutter sandwiches.  They were great, but our tastes have grown more sophisticated since then.

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Salt and Pepper

I love the flaky crystals of the Scottish salt, Maldon.  I have asked many chefs what their favorite salt is and to a person they all say Maldon is their every day salt.

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Eggs

Eggs, unbroken last a very long time, you might want to do what my dad does, write the purchase date on each egg, they will keep for 6 months.  Always best to buy cage free and organic, if possible.

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Butter

Buy a pound of organic sweet cream butter or unsalted butter, it is better for breakfast, and keep it in the freezer. It lasts practically forever in there.

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Milk

This is the only item with any real temporal issues, I buy organic low fat milk, which is healthier.  As an added bonus it has a much longer shelf life. If you want a very very long shelf life then buy Lactaid, it seems to last practically forever, but I have no idea what’s in it.

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Sugar and Sugar substitute

Pick your poison, I have organic Florida crystals at home and the “yellow” packets for those who prefer synthetic sweeteners. Choose from the Pink, Blue or Yellow artificial sweeteners and have at least of few packets of one of them.  They will all last even after a nuclear holocaust, which is why I stick with the real stuff.

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9 Pancake mix and real Maple Syrup

My favorite pancake mix is the Multigrain Pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, it makes fluffy hearty pancakes every time.

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10  Oranges, Orange Juice

Of course, what could be better than fresh squeezed orange juice.  Either you acquire a small juice press and keep some oranges on hand in the fridge – they do keep quite a while in there – or you find the best fresh frozen organic organic juice (from Whole Foods).

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The OrangeX Chrome Juicer is nicely styled, a bit retro and simple to use.

The elegant Breville Citurs press is easy to use, simply pressing the fruit in the press activates the motor.

The elegant Breville Citrus Press is easy to use, pressing the fruit activates the motor. Just lovely.

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If you are a very lucky man, the woman you choose to be with will be a great cook and can prepare breakfast with the materials laid out in this blogpost.  I know, this is wishful thinking.  Many women I know do not know how to cook, which always mystified me … until one day when I was living in Los Angeles and preparing an elaborate dinner party for 20 or so friends and I asked my adorable and very slender friend V.M. “Why don’t you or any of our girlfriends know how to cook?”   To which she replied, “My mother always told me not to eat, so why would I learn to cook?”  And with that I understood so much about my many years in Los Angeles and moved back to New York the following year.

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dale b. cohen

new york city

boys and their toys – The TV of your dreams

February 27, 2009

March Madness is around the corner!  While I know little about basketball, I do know that a great deal of TV watching occurs in the month of March.  So it seems like a good time to talk about televisions.  And who better to talk about TV’s with than Neil Greenberg, owner of Audio Interiors, Inc., a premier audiovisual design and installation company since 1982.  Having worked with Neil before he understands my dilemma when working with my clients, what size television is best for the space and where should it be located.  Then there are the ins and outs of the actual TV selection.  The whole process is one of design and compromise in ways that are not often seen by our clients.

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As a designer, I always try to err on the smaller side, unless we are doing a screening room.  This instinct of mine is in direct opposition to most of my male clients, their motto is bigger is better … my motto is bigger is too heavy visually for the room and not very sexy.  There should be some relationship between the size of your room and the placement of the TV to determine its size.  Part of that decision is the gut instinct of your designer and then there is Neil’s “general rule of thumb” that he has used for the past 20 years.  “For optimal TV viewing, you do not want to be any closer than twice the width of the screen.”  This works out that if you have a TV with an actual width, not the diagonal measurement, of 48 inches you want to be seated at least 8 ft from the screen.  Neil says that this rule of thumb can be altered with the advent of the new higher resolution sets and you can sit slightly closer, though I feel a little distance is better.

When you are determining the size TV you are going to purchase, here are a few guide lines.
LCD TV’s are available in the following diagonal sizes 19/22/26/32/37/40/42/46/52/55/65/70 inch  and there is a limited production 108 inch available from Sharp.  Neil mentioned, “It is $100k and while have installed them, we don’t sell too many.”  Neil’s preference for LCD manufacturers is Samsung, Sony and Sharp, and there are the ultrathins from Hitachi.
Plasma TVs are available in 42/46/50/58/60/65 inches and Neil recommends Panasonic, Samsung and the Runco Plasma, which is a “high end” plasma TV with a DHD (High Definition Image Processor). And for those of you for whom 65 inch isn’t large enough, Panasonic also produces a “jumbo” plasma, 103 inches diagonal.

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Once you determine the size of your TV, the next question is, LCD vs Plasma?  Neil answers this question, “In my opinion, the quality of the image is still better with the plasma TV and it is what I have at home.  The difference is found in the black level, which is the contrast ratio, and the construction of the plasma screen is measurably sharper and brighter.”  There is an added cost when you choose a plasma TV, however Neil feels it is worth it.  He then added, “there is a new technology, LED Backlighting, that is worth looking into and does it’s best to mimic the black quality level of the plasma TV.”  This new technology is available from Samsung and Sony.  The Sony’s with LED Backlighting are available in their XBR8 series 46” and 55”, which are a little deeper than other LCD TV’s at almost 6” – so while the picture has improved, and you are giving up some depth.  The Sony XBRs also have good sound quality, just in case you were not planning on integrating your TV into your sound system.

Then there is the question of what is High Definition and what is the best technology available today.  A quick lesson from Neil, “High Definition TVs for a number of years have maxed out at 1080i resolution or 720p.  The newest HDTVs have 1080p resolution.  However there is one big caveat, you can only get that resolution from a blu-ray disk or a computer source.”  So what does that mean for your TV viewing?  If you want to get the most out of your fabulous new TV, you will need either watch all your movies on blu-ray or have AppleTv, Vudu or Netflix (box by Roku) streaming your movies.

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Architect Jeffrey Povero’s home, Metropolitan Home, March 2008

Photographed by Peter Murdock

The last guideline for today’s post is the installation of your TV.  Both Neil and I have noticed that clients have a tendency to install their TV’s too high for optimal, let alone comfortable viewing.  Neil’s rule of thumb, which also happens to be my rule of thumb, is the bottom of your TV screen is ideally placed at 36- 38” above the floor and should not be placed any higher than 42” off the floor.

In the future we will talk about concealing that lovely new TV in any number of beautiful and technologically advanced ways.  Until then, enjoy the game.

dale b. cohen
new york city

footnote: the top two photos are from my client’s homes here in New York City.