Insider Tips from Renovation & Decor Experts
New York magazine|New York Design Hunting Winter 2016 issue
Insider Tips from Renovation & Decor Experts
Renovation and decor advice from top professionals in five disciplines: decorative painter, window-treater, general contractor, interior designer, and landscape architect.

The Decorative Painter

Kevin McCormick, Founder, KMC Paint Design

How does your work differ from a regular paint job?

Decorative painting can capture a specific mood or add an extra boost of style. A coat of charcoal gray in a bedroom, for instance, is dramatic; an oversize pattern can transform a ceiling; and wide, horizontal stripes make a room look so much larger. When I painted the lobby of Kirkman Lofts, a converted soap factory in Dumbo, I made the walls look like they had been exposed to different chemicals with oxidized shades of pinks and blues.

How do you get to an idea like that?

Usually the client and I come together with some sort of shared visual reference or a mood board. Then we have a color ​consultation to make sure we are reflecting the desired mood within that palette. I’ll produce an 11-by-17-inch sample to mimic the feeling of what this painting might look like room-size. Before I get to work, I always let the client know that certain stages can be pretty rough-looking.

How do you mean? 

I often work with multiple colors and plaster sizes, which I’ll slice up with knives to give a suggestion of layers of different-colored paints that have been applied to the wall over several decades. Before I put paints and glazes over the wall, it’s one big mess. It all looks great at the end, but there’s the inevitable moment as things dry that can be difficult for some people.

All that layering sounds like it takes a lot of time. 

I try to stick to ten days max. I don’t want to intrude too much upon people’s living spaces.


“A wall-size canvas for renters. It doesn’t put you at risk of losing your security deposit.”

The Window Treater

Erik Bruce Founder, Erik Bruce Curtains

A lot of modern apartments don’t have curtains anymore. Are they out of style?

But there’s no reason why you can’t add an element of fine art to them. You can make curtains out of stainless-steel chains and felt appliqué. You can layer one fabric in three levels of opacity to allow light in at varying heights. I have a bright-yellow netting curtain with a yellow track in my studio, and I love the contrast of a black tracking system on a white New York City apartment wall.

So are you anti– roller blind?

Not at all. There’s a shade I love called the E Screen Koolblack that does a fantastic job at maintaining glare control and regulating heat. That, to me, is such a better option than a sad, heavy curtain.

How can you open up a small studio?

I’m a big fan of partitions, and they don’t have to be entirely opaque, either. I recently designed a curtain made of layers of netting that was designed to separate a room in various ways, depending on where you position it. A good partition will divide the space without making it feel claustrophobic.

Do you have a favorite brand for cheap blinds and hardware?

Ikea shades and curtain rods. They’re very inexpensive, but they’re clean-looking and get the job done.

How about installations—what’s best, what’s cleanest?

Use tracks whenever you can, instead of rods and rings. Tracks are a much easier element to use on a day-today basis. These are items you move every day, morning and night, and when you put a curtain on a cumbersome piece of hardware, it’s more irritating to use.

And what about keeping them clean?


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New York Design Hunting Winter 2016 issue