Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

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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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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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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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

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

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.

knives, knives, knives … part one

February 20, 2009

An interview with  Gretchen Young, Chef

This week we are going to begin to delve into knives and as Chef Gretchen says, “If you’re going to cook, you need good knives since scissors and ripping by hand are two methods that do not work in every food prep situation.”  As with any tool, it is a given that all are the not the same in terms of quality or function.  There are reasons to buy the very best and different knives do different tasks.

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In my conversation with Chef Gretchen, she stressed quality matters more than quantity.  Her feeling is that you begin your knife drawer with 3 knives and build from there.  Those 3 knives should be of the highest quality you can afford and “be based on how you cook. If your repertoire is limited to burgers, pastas and the occasional stir-fry, why have every knife known to man? Keep it simple!”

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Here are the selection of knives that Chef Gretchen recommends;
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Shun Kaji Chef’s Knife

A good quality chef’s knife will cost in the range of $75 to $300.  A chef’s knife comes in 8″ or 10″ blade length, choose depending on your size, and is for general all-purpose knife work.  This Shun Kaji Chef’s knife comes in a 6″, 8″ and 10″ blade.

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Shun Kaji Paring Knife, 4 1/2″

A good paring knife is $35 to $80.  Which you use “for the details, like coring apples, cutting limes, etc.”

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Shun Kaji Bread Knife, 9″

A good serrated bread knife is $60 to $150.  A serrated knife is used to slice through breads and other baked goods, and can also be used for tomatoes.
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Chef Gretchen had a few other salient points about knives, buying them, choosing them and why …

First, she stresses that you need to buy your own knives, as she said “Even if you move mom’s well-worn couch to your new apartment, it’s best to leave her old knives at home.”

Second,  you choose a knife because of how it works for you and how it feels.  To that end, she remarked “Similar to car shopping, before you plunk down any money, take the knife on a test drive — have the salesperson in the store take the knife out of the packaging (or use a floor model) and feel the knife in your hand. The handle should fit. It should feel balanced and not weigh your arm down.”

Thirdly, if you have a girlfriend and she cooks when she is at your home,  Chef Gretchen says “I always suggest that couples each maintain their own chef’s knife.”  This is so you can cook together and because the size and weight of the knife is related to the height of the person using it and the size of their hands.  “So if you are a tall guy with big hands, an 8″ chef’s knife will be like a toothpick in your hand, it is better to get a 10″ or longer bladed knife.  Alternatively, if your significant other is smaller than you, she’ll have a hard time maneuvering the knife (no kidding!). So in addition to giving a her a set of keys, she will also need her own knife.”

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As for which manufacturer to buy, there is the question of Japanese or Western.  Chef Gretchen has the following thoughts.  “Japanese knives, such as Shun, Global or Kyoce, are single ground; meaning, they’re sharpened only on one side, at approximately 22 degrees, and are designed for people who are right handed (they can often be special-ordered for left handed users).   The German, or Western, knives are double-beveled, sharpened at a 45 degree angle on both sides.”

If you are left handed you may prefer a Western knife, such as Lamson Sharp, Cutco, Wustof and Henckel.  “These knives are made primarily in the German tradition of knife making. As these knives are double-beveled, they are therefore ambidextrous.”

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Here is the real deal, when I spoke with my friend Chef Mitchell London, owner of Burgers & Cupcakes and Mitchell London Foods, about Japanese knives, and the Shun specifically, he spoke longingly, fondly of his now lost Shun Chef’s knife (someone else in his kitchen loved it so much that they ran off with it).  Chef Mitchell talked about the feel, the weight and the knife’s dexterity.  He said “it was a dream to work with”.  And when I was wondering around the knife department with Chef Gretchen, she too was clearly enamored of the Shun and while she liked other knives and thought they could do the job, you could see in her eyes how much she loved the Shun knives.  My next knives will be Shun, thank goodness I am right handed.

There is much more to say, as Chef Gretchen remarked to me, “I could talk about knives for days”.  To be continued …

Please be sure to share your thoughts about the blogpost and any ideas you have for future posts.

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Gretchen Young has a culinary career that stretches over 10 years, satisfying high profile individuals, restaurants, small businesses and non-profit groups through a catering business, cake design studio and as a private chef. She teaches cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Education Center. During the Fragrance Foundation’s 2006 Fragrance Week, Chef Gretchen partnered with Takasago Perfumerie and Bacardi to create a multi-sensory experience of food, cocktails and scent.  She earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and trained at the Institute of Culinary Education.

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dale b. cohen

new york city

why your white dress shirt is your best friend

February 13, 2009

The lost art of dressing is our topic for this week’s post.  Even when casual dressing, your white shirt is your best friend and I might say that your white shirt is possibly a better friend to you when dressing casually.   In conversation this week with a friend of mine, Gabriel Zeller, who is a Brooks Brother’s Master Specialist, we spoke about men’s casual dressing and the art of it.  What has been misplaced in the era of dressing casually is that dressing well takes thought and that often times men without the compass of a suit go astray.  Ask any woman you have gone out with, as beautiful as you look in your suit, when you pull something together for a Saturday night date or dinner with friends, it does not show you at your best.  Of course, it is when you are dressed casually that we spend the most time with you.

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Paul Newman

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Upon looking up the definition of casual on http://www.merriam-webster.com, casual is defined as;

1: subject to, resulting from, or occurring by chance. 2 a: occurring without regularity : occasional.  3 a  (1): feeling or showing little concern : nonchalant.  (2): lacking a high degree of interest or devotion  (3): done without serious intent or commitment. b  (1): informal, natural   (2): designed for informal use.  Synonyms see accidental, random.

Gabriel remarked, “The issue being that even Webster views dressing casual as synonymous with accidental and random.  Lets avoid some accidents out there.  Casual is  an opportunity for being natural and relaxed, and being comfortable.”   So from our conversation, what we came up with is a man needs a casual uniform the way he leans on his cadre of suits as his professional uniform.
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Steve McQueen

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The key is to keep it simple and elegant.  This is where we get to why your white dress shirt is your best friend.  “Not only is it one of the most understated and elegant ways to be appropriate and taken seriously, it is as simple as it sounds.  An understated white dress shirt,  with a white undershirt, will be a perfect choice from work transitioning into dinner on Saturday night. Pair it with a cleanly pressed chino or untucked with dark jeans for the more casual outing.”  I know many men prefer khakis or chinos, my vote is for jeans with an untucked white dress shirt.

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Robert Redford

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Gabriel had a long conversation with me about the custom fit shirt.  He feels that when a man walks down the street in a shirt that is properly fitted, you know it and it defines the man.  “I’m a big supporter of the ‘your shirt should fit you’ club. Not all men have the same build and not all shirts are made the same either.  More and more clothing companies are becoming aware that fit matters.  From the multiple fit options ready made at Brooks Brothers, (traditional, luxury and slim) to the best in show, made to measure or custom made shirting.”

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Daniel Craig

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Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

And no matter what, be sweet to your sweetheart!

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Jeff Koons ‘Hanging Heart’

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dale b. cohen

new york city

valentine’s day for every woman in your life

February 5, 2009

This time every year men are scurrying around to figure out, to plot, to conjure what on earth to do for Valentine’s Day.  Of course, we all wrestle with the fact that this is a completely made-up holiday! And yet, we all know that if you, the guy,  ignore V-day, it is at our peril!

So this being the case, we have tried to take some of the heat off of you and are providing here the perfect gift for every woman in your life.  Each plant conveys something to the woman you are giving it to in just the right tone.  Of course, if she is really really “the one” well then you need to dangle a diamond of some sort from one of the branches.

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your Grandmother

A  Blue Hydrangea, with it’s broad round shape and deep color, emanates with warmth and is thought to imply a steadfastness of affection.

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your Mom

The Kaleidoscope or Raspberry Phalaenopsis Orchid.  It’s pale yellow flower with a pink stripe is soft and glows beautifully, expressing maternal love.

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your Sister

Yellow Calla Lilies, shine beautifully and brightly.

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your Girlfriend, The keeper, the one you might actually marry …

The timeless, elegant White Phalaenopsis Orchid.  Orchids have long been thought to represent delicate beauty. The White Orchid speaks to pure love.

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your Girlfriend, a more casual affair

This orchid is called the Solar Flare Orchid … you can imply it’s meaning.

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your Girlfriend / Best friend
Who just happens to be a woman.  The clean crisp White Narcissus, also called Paperwhite, is thought to represent purity and sweetness.

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Today’s post was inspired by the wonderful Foliage Garden in New York City.  All photographs were taken in their shop with the assistance of Jeff and Meredith.  I work with Foliage Garden because I love their finishing/arranging work with their plants.  They take great pride in their work and possess  a  beautiful eye, and their work always makes my clients happy.

Additionally, my friend  Judy Fertel, the national manager of Remains Lighting,  was instrumental in the photography of this blog post.

Happy V-day!

dale b. cohen