Insider Tips from Renovation & Decor Experts
New York magazine|New York Design Hunting Winter 2016 issue
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.

TRICK OF THE TRADE

“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?

Shake the dust out weekly, vacuum with an upholstery brush, and send them to the dry cleaners only if they’re stained. Don’t put them in the washing machine— it can weaken the fibers.

TRICK OF THE TRADE

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINEView All

Nothing Like the Real Thing

Since when does a comedy special also need to be a documentary?

7 mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

God Help Her

A biopic that’s heavy on the eye shadow, light on coherence.

4 mins read
New York magazine
September 27 - October 10, 2021

Kumail Nanjiani's Feelings

The actor always wanted his own superhero transformation. Now he’s buff, a Marvel star, and struggling with how much of his new body is his own.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

How Miami Seduced Silicon Valley

Awash in coders, crypto, and capital, the city is loving— and beginning to shape—its newest industry.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
September 27 - October 10, 2021

Jonathan Franzen Thinks People Can Change

Even if his new book suggests it’s nearly impossible to make it stick.

10 mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

860 minutes with…Stephanie Grisham

In Kansas with Donald Trump’s former press secretary, who does not believe she will be redeemed.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

Bed in a Box

Just how much drama can you pack into a studio apartment?

2 mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

COVID Diaries: Sarah Jones

The 700,000 Death Toll An atheist stumbles toward a way to grieve.

6 mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

Performance Review: Ben Affleck Plays Himself

Becoming a tabloid star gave the actor his best role ever.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021

The Murders Down the Hall

393 POWELL STREET WAS A PEACEFUL HOME UNTIL RESIDENTS STARTED DYING IN BRUTAL, MYSTERIOUS WAYS.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
October 11 - 24, 2021
RELATED STORIES

Bathroom – An easy shower install

When installing a tile shower, the most difficult part is building the sloped base for the floor.

3 mins read
Family Handyman
September 2021

A Light in the Dark

Using a black underpainting, Jed Dorsey shares the advantages and joys of working from dark to light

7 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Yael Dryzin – Transitions

Yael Dryzin Born in 1986, lives and works in Israel and Greece. Graduate of Art Studies at Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem (2014).

3 mins read
Art Market
Issue #60 June 2021

Carlos Blanco Artero – Figurative Abstraction

My work could fit within a contemporary figuration but at the same time within abstraction. I have several lines of work, which often converge, and others go their own way.

4 mins read
Art Market
Issue #60 June 2021

Cristina BanBan – The Nuance of Memory

BanBan’s pieces evoke those complex states of mind when we feel like crying, and how being transported through time can elicit emotions of profound grief and joy.

10 mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Summer 2021

Jenna Gribbon – The Pleasure of Looking

Lucky for us, Jenna Gribbon is a painter whose work aims to reckon with the peculiarity of this indulgence.

10+ mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Summer 2021

Danielle Mckinney – Comfort and Quietude

Reclusive moments of deep reflection, introspection, and wonder come alive in her work, moods that have simmered all along as her new recipe arrives at the perfect temperature. Mckinney’s legacy is already rich with heartfelt interpretations of a universal sensibility.

10+ mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Summer 2021

A Painter's Journey Part 7 – The Painter As Teacher

In the final article of this seven-part series, John Hulsey concludes his visual journey through his outdoor and studio painting processes.

8 mins read
International Artist
December - January 2021

Color Block

A background in sculpture trained artist Aly Ytterberg to see objects more fully.

3 mins read
DesignSTL
January/February 2021

David “Mr. StarCity” White

The Year of the Big Bless

9 mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Winter 2021