Arlene Gross


Inside A Complete Family Room Renovation

family room
Before (left) and after (right)

It’s a new year and you’re tired of looking at the same old family room, which has worn out its welcome many, many moons ago.

Giovanni Naso of Giovanni Naso Interiors in Bellport, who recently transformed a Babylon family room with dark and dated walls, fabric, and furniture into an updated, transitional design with clean lines, shows us how he did it.

First Steps

To begin the renovation, Naso removed all the old moldings and  reenvisioned the color scheme from dark to light. 

“We implemented a design plan for the renovation with carefully curated selections of color, texture, and fabric,” explains Naso. 

To give a striking appearance to a space, Naso typically includes some type of feature wall in a renovation: In this case, he added an architectural wall with a boxed-panel effect, then, for a crisp look, painted it bright white. 

“A feature wall is unexpected and impactful; it adds texture and contrast, and stands out from the other walls,” says Naso. “Looking at all the same walls in all the same color will tire you over time.”

The room’s built-ins, which were an uninspired dark brown, were sprayed a light-gray hue. The scalloped edges were removed; old hardware was replaced with satin nickel, clean-lined handles, and pulls; and spotlights were added to showcase items.

“We hire professionals to spray the built-ins, which is done with sprayer guns with paint cups attached,” notes Naso.

The built-ins will be used to store accessories, display items, and a TV, and include a bench seat.

From Floor to Ceiling

After removing the wall-to-wall carpet, Naso added a driftwood-like floating floor. 

“A floating floor is a man-made, scratch-resistant surface that allows you to go over an existing surface by clicking the pieces together without nailing or glue,” says Naso, adding that it’s similar to a laminate. Next, they added a textured area rug. 

“We chose a geometric tone-on-tone pattern rug to go over the floor to create layers and give a cozy feel to the sitting area,” Naso explains. 

The sectional, which was the right proportion for the room, was reupholstered with a lively navy and white pattern. 

Lighting and Art

With dark tones dominating the original family room, Naso used liberal lighting to brighten the space.

“We updated all the high-hats and put them on dimmers and added a centralized chandelier and spotlight for the built-ins,” he says. 

Additional lighting comes from lamps in front of the mirror placed on a console table with a lucite  base. “The lamps are tall and regal-looking with a sand color, finished within a highly laminated glass,” Naso says.

For high-impact artwork placed behind the sofa, Naso hired a muralist to custom paint a 4-foot-by-4-foot abstract painting, using the same color palette as fabrics they’d selected for the room design.

Most accessories, now out of fashion, were discarded and switched out with blue and white accents that worked seamlessly with the overall design. 

“The one item we returned was the mirror,” says Naso. “We thought it was lovely to begin it, so it made its way back to adorn the room.”

Be Patient

For Naso’s family room redo, the project, from start to finish took six months. The demolition happened in different waves, according to scheduling and availability of textiles, wood for the feature wall, flooring, wall covering, and paint, as well as the various trades.

“Every trade has a different strength, such as a good wall-covering installer, a molding expert, floor installer, and painter,” Naso says. 

And, of course, there is a backed-up supply chain to consider.

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Interior Design Trends for 2022: What’s Hot, What’s Not

design trends
Donna Sheehan (Photo by Leslie O’Conner) and Christine Conte (Courtesy Christine Conte Interiors)

As we go out with the old and in with the new year, we asked a few interior designers what trends to look  for – and what to avoid – in 2022. Here’s what they said:

Inner Sense Interiors

Wallpaper is back in vogue for 2022, says Donna Sheehan, of Inner Sense Interiors in Bellport.

“With new designs possible through more sophisticated computer graphics, wallpaper offers an easy way to make a design statement,” says Sheehan.

Warm colors – whites, beiges, golds, copper, and brick tones — are back, says Sheehan.

Greens also take a more prominent place in design, which includes decorating your space with plants.

“One large plant in a room, like the fiddle-leaf fig tree, makes a bold statement,” says Sheehan. The Bellport designer sees a nod to post-modernism in furniture and forecasts plentiful sinuous features, from rounded headboards to round coffee tables. Eco-friendly design utilizing wood, stone, and other natural materials is a sign of the times, as is thrift-shopping and antiquing, a nod to the delays in furniture shipments in 2021 and beyond. 

Clutter – excess accessories and pillows — is out for 2022, says Sheehan. Also passe: word art. Those decorative signs that seem to label everything around the home have got to go.

“If you are having a hard time purging, keep one favorite and eliminate the rest,” she advises.

Christine Conte Interiors

Natural textures are hot for 2022, says Christine Conte of Huntington-based Christine Conte Interiors.

“Rattan, caning, wicker and rush are showing up strong in furniture and lighting, a look that is pretty and green-friendly when it comes to sustainable selections,” says Conte.

Light wood finishes and white paint, whitewash, or white-stained furniture are very popular options for achieving the light and airy look. Curves are also in, advises Conte.

“The curved sofa is back, along with curved angles on furniture and curved hardware,” she says.

What’s out for 2022: industrial-looking furniture and distressed barn doors.

“Today’s barn doors are much more sophisticated and come in beautiful finishes with high-end millwork details,” she explains.

Giovanni Naso Interiors

Bold colors and patterns – everywhere – are hot for 2022, says Sharon Munson, design assistant for Giovanni Naso Interiors of Bellport. Formality should be reimagined, says Munson.

“Formal rooms are being reinvented and reimagined for a utilitarian approach,” says Munson, adding that furniture and fabrics are now being selected for durability, not just for show. As more people are working from home, they’ll want to create inviting and inspiring workspaces, from turning a closet into a functional office to converting underused rooms into home offices. 

Antiques and heirlooms are taking center stage, notes Munson.

”The early pandemic days reminded us of the simple and sustainable activity of shopping our own homes to refresh a space,” Munson says, adding that the pandemic has also changed our attitude toward outdoor living areas, which are now an essential component of new residential projects.

For kitchens, definitely go with color, advises Munson. 

“Warm, moody, and vibrant kitchens are being ushered in with more color and personality for 2022,” Munson says.

From paint colors to other design elements, green is definitely in and offers a great way of bringing the outdoors in.

According to Munson, these trends are out for 2022: shiplap on walls (go instead with tile, plaster, or rattan); all-gray or all-white kitchens; barn doors (replace them with pocket or French doors); accent walls (stick with monochromatic walls that blend seamlessly with decor); and matching furniture sets, which simply don’t showcase personal style.

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Does Your Home Need A Re-paint? Try the Color of the Year: October Mist

color of the year
Courtesy BenjaminMoore.com.

It’s official and the winner has been announced: Benjamin Moore’s color of the year for 2022 is October Mist 1495.

The paint company describes the color as a “gently shaded sage” that evokes the “silver-green stem of a flower.”

October Mist is one hue of Benjamin Moore’s 14-color trends palette, chosen by color and design experts who determine the common threads across domestic and global cultures and the aesthetic disciplines of design, art, and fashion.


Choosing a paint color for a room is often the most challenging design decision for homeowners, says Merrick-based interior designer Marlaina Teich, of Marlaina Teich Designs.

“Even if it is easy to change out, it can feel like a big commitment and we want to get it right the first time,” Teich says.

Some colors, like blues and grays, are restful and have become more popular in recent years. Yellow, in contrast, though bright and happy, can be overstimulating and therefore is not advised for a nursery, Teich says. 

A paint color can serve as a backdrop, blending into the background in a room where furnishings take center stage, or it can define the mood of the space, from romantic to fun, energetic or moody, notes Teich.

“This has less to do with the hue itself or even the tone, but more to do with the relationship between the walls and the furnishings,” she explains.

Pairing dark walls with light decorations can create a sleek, monochromatic design scheme where the wall color is as important as that of the furnishings. Yet with bright colors and prints that draw the focus to the furnishings, dark walls become a neutral backdrop. 


October Mist, Teich opines, is a versatile color that gives off a restful, meditative vibe.

“October Mist can be used in a Zen meditation space to set a sleek, calm mood, or as effectively in a farmhouse for a modern homespun feel,” Teich remarks.

When paired with other neutral tones and in dim light, the shade can appear more gray-brown. Paired with flashier colored accents in brighter lighting, it looks more green-sage, and would be perfect for a shabby-chic space or kids’ playroom, she says.  

Teich recommends October Mist in a guest bedroom with fluffy white bedding, sheer window treatments, and soft lavender accents.

“A vase with fresh lavender or eucalyptus on the bedside table and crisp white linens folded on a luggage rack at the bed’s end would be the perfect way to welcome houseguests,” she says.


For ceiling and trim paint in an October Mist-painted room, Teich suggests Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17, in a matte finish. 

“Though I am a fan of high and semigloss in general, this color is a rare exception that calls for a more rustic application,” Teich explains. 

For furnishings, look for minimal, organic pieces: white upholstered sofas, chairs, and headboards; driftwood-colored wood floors; and wooden tables and surfaces. Accent with brushed silver hardware and silver sculptural objects. 

Next, turn the focus towards nubby textures that blend well with October Mist, such as a woven-wool area rug on top of wood flooring.

The color would also look great opposite an accent wall of grass-cloth wallpaper in a beige or deep brown for a more naturalistic texture and contrast for increased visual interest, says Teich. 

For lighting, wall sconces with an abstract, naturalistic motif and chandeliers made with natural, earthy materials such as wood over metal all on dimmers set a moody tone for the space.

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Interior Design Tips for Keeping Your Home a Place of Relaxation

Photos by Nicole Larson.

In these tumultuous times, your home should be a peaceful respite from the chaotic world an oasis for calm, relaxation and destressing. 

When creating soothing spaces in a home, Christine Conte, owner of Christine Conte Interiors of Huntington, employs the concept of biophilia, a bond between human beings and nature that, when used in design, can reduce stress and improve well-being. 

“The premise is to replicate characteristics of nature in our homes to trigger our minds to enter that restorative state that only nature provides,” explains Conte.

To achieve a relaxing space, start with the clean slate of an empty room, she advises.


Consider color palates that are represented in nature, such as seashore blues and creams or forest greens and browns, advises Conte.

“For a relaxing space, consider using tints and shades of these colors in your paint selections,” says Conte. “Use flat finishes that absorb light and colors of the same intensity throughout the room to allow the mind to reset and rest.”

To achieve an overall sense of envelopment, paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, Conte says.

“For added luxury, consider using wallpaper in a natural material, such as grasscloth, wood, or cork,” she adds.


To enhance relaxation, choose adjustable levels of light, such as recessed lighting on dimmers, suggests Conte.

“Use warmer temperature light bulbs in lamps or consider investing in color light-therapy bulbs,” she says. “Blue light accelerates the relaxation process and green light brings on sleep faster.” 


Select fabrics and finishes in colors from your natural palate, advises Conte.

“Keep patterns to a minimum and stick to either textural solids or those with an organic motif,” she says.

For texture, opt for unfinished woods or ones that appear closest to their natural state, with live edges, knots, and bark. 

“Furniture pieces using stone, cerused oak, rattan, and fossilized shell are very popular now and are an easy way to add natural texture to a room,” says Conte. “Natural fabrics like linen and wool that are textural and minimally processed are soft to the touch and wonderful to use in furniture selections, rugs, pillows and throws as a layer of natural comfort.” 


Warming up the room either through radiant heated floors or adding a fireplace feature can increase your room’s coziness factor, Conte says.

Art is the final element to set your natural stage.

“Consider large-scale photography of nature or natural pieces themselves, like grasses, shells, woven fabrics, and wood that have been turned into art,” Conte says.


For a recent bathroom renovation, Conte chose a soft blue and white color palette echoing the room’s water views.

Porcelain slabs with gray marble veining were used on the floor and shower walls, notes Conte, adding that a custom vanity and storage were crafted in the same color as the marble vein.

“The vanity is finished with a natural quartzite top that references water and crashing waves,” Conte says.

Coziness and warmth come from the tub, which is made from a material that always feels warm to the touch, a wall-mounted fireplace, radiant heated flooring, and a warming towel drawer.

“Recessed lighting and the tub chandelier are on dimmer switches for a relaxed setting when using the fireplace and tub,” she says. 

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Is It Time to Waterproof Your Basement? Here’s What You Should Know

waterproof basement
Getty Images

Now that we’re at the peak of hurricane season and possible relentless rainstorms, it might be a good time to make sure your basement is completely waterproofed.

Basement waterproofing is essential, as excess water that saturates the ground can damage the foundation, says Mark McAlpin, owner of Islip-based ACM Basement Waterproofing.

“It’s really a question of water management,” McAlpin says. “You can live in a house for 40 years without a problem and all of a sudden you walk down and there’s water all over.”

Signs of Water Damage

Though your basement may have never flooded, you might still see signs that water is seeping in by examining the interior walls, advises McAlpin. Indications of water damage include white powder on the walls; peeling paint, especially towards the floor; and cracks in the floor and walls.

Basement Moisture Hazards

In its early stages, mold may not be clearly visible to the naked eye, but it can still be there and potentially wreaking havoc on our health. 

Though we all may be breathing in mold to some degree each day, high concentrations of mold can cause respiratory complications, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and even compromised immune systems.

Over time, moisture can damage the structure of the home, as well as ruin the insulation, which can lead to increased energy consumption, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

As the weather is predicted to become more and more extreme over time, you should add waterproofing to the budget before you invest in other basement improvements, advises McAlpin, who notes that it’s cheaper to tackle waterproofing before you incur water-damaged furnishings. 

Waterproofing Techniques

Generally, the only way to guarantee a dry basement is to add an interior French drain (named after inventor Henry French), a drainage system under the floor of the basement that captures the water and leads it out to a sump pump. 

“The pump comes on automatically and takes the water outside,” notes McAlpin, adding that there’s a battery backup in case of power outages.

Installing a French drain entails breaking apart the basement’s concrete floor, digging down along the perimeter of the home, removing concrete and dirt, placing the French drain with perforated piping and gravel in the trench, recementing the floor, and adding wall drainage, explains McAlpin. The entire process takes between three and six days. 

“You can do half the perimeter, but it’s really recommended to do the full perimeter,” McAlpin says.

Homeowners should also maintain their roof gutters, keeping them clear of debris and efficiently directing the water away.

“But the bigger problem is the underground water,” he says. “That’s the root of it: underground water on a sunny day.” 

Ventilation Essential

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that everyone should be ventilating their basements, subterranean areas where there’s typically limited airflow, says McAlpin.

“Up top, there’s plenty of air leakage,” he says. “Downstairs, it’s a concrete vault and there’s almost no air coming in.”

ACM Basement Waterproofing utilizes an EZ Breathe Ventilation System that’s placed on the wall and draws moist air off the floor, exhausts it outside, and draws better air from upstairs.

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How to Design the Perfect Multipurpose Room For You And Your Family

multipurpose room

If you have a spare room in your house, several family members will no doubt be clamoring to claim it as their own.

A perfect solution is to turn the space into a multipurpose room, one that can function as more than one thing to one person.

Interior decorator Liz Kohart of Garden City-based Liz Kohart Interiors did just that, recently turning an unfinished third-floor attic in Garden City into a home office for dad and hangout room for the teenage kids.

The room now has a built-in wall unit with TV, shelving, cabinets, and drawers, to store games and other recreational items and seating, including a sofa and two swinging basket chairs that hang from the ceiling. An alcove of the room is a dedicated office area for the dad, who had been working from home remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though the room is basically one big open space, the office alcove, which has a built-in desk, file cabinet and computer monitors, is a somewhat self-contained area set apart from the rest of the room.

Details, Details, Details

Knowing that they intended to eventually finish the attic, the owners, who bought the house several years ago, had the space completely climate controlled with heating and air conditioning.

The renovation, which took 3 months, included adding shiplap to the walls and ceiling, which, Kohart says, brings a casual, modern farmhouse look to the space. Built-in window seats under the eave serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Recessed lighting was chosen to illuminate much of the space because it takes up less visual space in the room and makes the room feel bigger, explains Kohart.

“With the addition of recessed lighting in this space we were able to add high-hats on different switches that all have dimmers,” she adds. “So, we control the amount of light and the intensity of the light.”

Starting from one big open room, the contractor closed off some of the space for closets and storage in the eave, leaving the rest of the space open.

“For the built-in area, we used reclaimed wood from old buildings from Manhattan that’s really cool looking,” says Kohart.

Options, Options, Options

Though the dad has since returned to work mostly outside the home, the new room gives him and his family more flexibility.

“He says maybe one day a week from now on he’ll be able to work from home, where that wasn’t an option before,” notes Kohart.

Since the room was completed in January, the family has made great use of it.

“Even when they entertain friends, they all end up going up there and hanging out because everyone loves it,” Kohart says.

Next to the new third-floor office/hangout room, Kohart put finishing touches on a new bathroom, complete with shower, which opens yet another possible use for the renovated space: a private suite for guests.

How you choose to designate a multipurpose room depends on your individual needs.

A multipurpose room can accommodate any combination of varied hobbies and avocations, from quilting to scrapbooking, painting, journaling, playing an instrument, and composing music, to just about anything your heart desires.

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Parents, Educators Raise Concerns About the ‘Lost Year’ of Academics

Getty Images

Summer is always a time for plentiful fun and free time for students. 

But with many school districts not having in-person classes full time this year due to Covid-19, some people in the school community are concerned about how well students will fare this fall.  

Tina Brady thinks her daughter Braylin, who just completed fourth grade, will be fine, since she had in-person school each day and had to quarantine only for one short period. She does, however, worry about her older daughter Keely, 17, who’ll be a senior this fall at West Babylon Senior High School.

“She was only there every other day,” says Brady.

For her junior year, Keely had 80-minute learning blocks for math, English, social studies and science.  

“There are definite concerns,” her mom says. “She does work hard, but I think there’s going to be a gap there.”

Because of the disruption in learning, Brady had Keely opt out of her English Regents, which was optional this year. “I didn’t want to make her feel more stressed out,” says Brady.

Missing out on track and other social activities was also an issue for Keely, who will continue working with a tutor this summer for help with her SAT and math.

“I definitely feel she missed out,” says Brady. “They need to be in school all together, every day, without restrictions.”

A Tutor’s Take  

This summer, Heidi Fisher, a Port Washington-based tutor for middle school through college students, is working with more students than usual.

“The shift I’m seeing is tutoring becoming more of a hybrid,” says Fisher, who notes that the traditional one-hour lesson per week is changing. “There’s really a lot of communication with parents and students. That’s really key now, particularly with remote learning.” 

Parents and students are also questioning the validity and value of SAT and ACT tests, Fisher says.

“I think Covid really pushed that to the forefront,” she says. “I think those conversations were starting to happen, but now they’re really more front and center.” 

These days, a tutor needs to be more of a jack-of-all-trades.

“It can’t be just content anymore,” Fisher says. “It’s also being intuitively focused on the student and their need beyond just what’s on the page. As tutors, we have to be more and more flexible and responsive than ever.” 

Teachers Weigh In

“In my experience, a lot of teaching and learning went on this year,” says Ivy Cohen, who teaches third grade special ed at the Lawrence Primary School. “The children really became very responsible for their own learning. They became very independent learners. They developed excellent technology skills.”

For the most part, Cohen taught her students in the classroom, though there were several weeks of remote learning. 

This summer the Lawrence School District has expanded its summer reading program.

“It’s a brain fitness program that looks to improve language, reading, memory, attention and processing all at once,” says Cohen.   

Cohen thinks the students will be fine next year, but teachers should be on the lookout for anyone exhibiting social or emotional issues.

“There’s been a lot of communication between the teachers and families, so I really think if there’s any child that shows that they’re struggling or falling behind in any area, the district will be on top of that,” Cohen says. 

Come September, there will definitely be learning deficits, predicts Jessica Campbell of Lynbrook, who teaches fourth grade special ed in Brooklyn.

“We started in person,” says Campbell. “Every time we got tested, we were closed for 10 days. I had kids not logging on, not completing the work. It’s hard for them to do it over the computer it’s not for everyone.”

Because she didn’t see the students every day, the break in continuity resulted in learning losses, Campbell says. 

“When I start fourth grade in September, I definitely have to go back, because they missed so much,” she says.

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Tips for Renovating The Heart of Any Home: The Kitchen

the kitchen
Courtesy Giovanni Naso Interiors

If you’re looking to add some pizzazz to the room that your family and guests spend the most time in, you’ll want to redo the kitchen, the lifeblood of every home.  

Start with a wish list and assess your needs, recommends Giovanni Naso, owner of the eponymous Bellport-based Giovanni Naso Interiors. Next, hire a designer who’ll draw up floor plans and elevations so that you can visualize the space.

Some questions to consider: How much do you cook? Do you need spice drawers? Do you have lots of pots and pans and need rollout drawers? Do you boil a lot of water and need a waterspout over the stove? Is your style modern, traditional, or shabby chic?  

Open Floor Plan

If your kitchen is closed off from other rooms, consider knocking down walls wherever possible, as an open floor plan is ideal for traffic flow and keeping family members together while entertaining, Naso advises.

“It also has proven to bring better resale value to your home, should you sell it,” he adds.

Counters, Cabinets & Center Island

Counters in white or white with light grey veining are trending now, as are hues of grey and blue, notes Naso.

“Quartz takes the place of porous marbles or Carrara that stain and are not user friendly when it comes to serving red wine and leaving lemons on the counter,” Naso says.

Cabinet colors should match or complement the counters; choose from flat panels for a modern look with wood veneer in high -shine or satin finish. For a more traditional look, go with Shaker style. 

“If you have taller ceilings, having a taller cabinet displays elegance,” Naso says. “If your ceilings are soaring, then it’s nice to have a tall cabinet with some space above because soffits are dated.”

Naso always encourages adding an island if the kitchen space can accommodate one.

“It allows for additional storage and doubles as a place to sit and serve,” he says. “Three stools look great to the eye and if you have a smaller island, groups of three work best.” 

Floors and Lighting

Naso recommends commercial grade 12-millimeter luxury vinyl tiling for kitchen floors. The tiling, which comes in many tones and textures, is practically indestructible, water resistant, scratchproof, and comes with whisper technology underneath, which helps soften the sound and adds comfort when stood on for hours.

To light up the room, use a combination of recessed lights on the ceiling and pendant lights over the island or a chandelier for a more luxurious look, Naso advises.

Appliances and Hardware

If appliances are outdated or broken and need to be replaced, stainless steel is a good neutral option.

“The more modern kitchens we design have everything tucked away and hidden to provide a seamless cabinet facing so all disappears in a blink of an eye,” Naso says.

Hardware is the jewelry of the room and should be chosen to add a finishing touch to cabinets, he adds.

“We choose elegant and understated combinations of pulls and handles that complement one another, usually matching them to the faucet and or dishwasher/refrigerator, if they don’t have cabinet doors.” 

One more tip from Naso: For greater efficiency, store utensils in a two-level stacked drawer.

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Expert Organizers Give Tips for Decluttering Your Home


You look around your house and feel overwhelmed by the piles of papers and countless tchotchkes and simply don’t know what to do.

It might be a good time to call a professional organizer.

“Being organized and decluttering one’s home results in people feeling better emotionally, mentally, and physically,” says Vinnie Giacalone of Massapequa, owner of The Organized Guy, Inc. “It also makes you more productive and saves time and money.”

Giacalone says he starts by trying to get a general understanding of people’s issues, followed by an in-person or virtual tour of the problem areas of the home. The three-step process can be boiled down to the A.C.E. mnemonic: Assess the situation; Create the plan; Execute the plan.

Giacalone advises starting with smaller projects or tasks. Even if your goal is to organize the entire house, it’s better to tackle one space or room at a time.

“It’s easier to measure progress and it’s a great way to feel positive, productive, and empowered,” he says.

Through the years, a person’s belongings often gain sentimental value, so Giacalone says he’s careful to respect people’s wishes.

“However, I will make suggestions and recommendations that remain in line with the vision we defined,” he says.

To achieve a more manageable space, it’s not necessary to throw everything out, but to remain true to the goals set forth in the plan, advises Giacalone.

“If their goals were to clear out stuff but instead they keep giving me reasons to keep stuff, I will ask if they’re changing the goals or altering the plans. It’s always about accountability.” 

Basements, garages, attics, and closets prove the most challenging spaces to declutter because these are the places where we typically stash things away.

“Over time, these spaces become dumping areas for stuff that’s no longer used or wanted,” says Giacalone, who advises people to periodically clean out and remove old, unused, unwanted items from these areas.

Bonnie Reich, president of Symmetry Closets in Holbrook, suggests the following tips for organizing/decluttering closets and pantries:

  • Take everything off the shelves and place in groups of like items

  • Separate into three piles: Keep; Toss; Donate

  • If you spend more than 3 seconds choosing a pile for any item, place it in a fourth pile: Maybe

  • After sorting everything, return to the Maybe pile and sort items into first three piles

  • Place seldom-used items on the top and bottom shelves; frequently used items at eye/hand level; heavy items at the bottom

  • Add Hafele hooks to hang mops, dog leashes, reusable grocery bags and more

  • Add drawers or wire baskets to organize smaller items, table linens, cleaning supplies and spices that otherwise get lost on deep shelves

Once you’ve gotten things under control, Giacalone recommends creating a schedule and blocking out time in order to maintain the order and basically create new habits.

“We all have busy schedules, so if we can find or make the time to do everything else, then we need to do the same for keeping our spaces as neat and clutter free as possible,” he says, adding that he shares his calendar and reminders list to illustrate how this can be accomplished. “But if they have issues or challenges, I’m always available to conduct a ‘maintenance’ session to get them back on track.”

And if you begin to feel defeated in your quest to declutter, Giacalone suggests an old and helpful joke: Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time!

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Home Decorating Tips for Transforming Your Bathroom Into a Cozy Retreat


Obviously, a bathroom is an integral part of your home. But why not consider turning a utilitarian room into an appealing, cozy retreat?

First, decide whether you want to go with wallpaper or paint.

For paint, go with a semigloss for both walls and ceiling, notes interior designer Lynn Breindel, owner of LB Interiors of Bellport and New Rochelle. 

If you prefer the look of a matte finish, go with a flat paint made specifically for bathroom walls and ceilings, advises Breindel. 

“It’s a little more expensive, but well worth it,” she says. 


Color is all a matter of personal preference and truly anything goes – except for the ceiling, which should always be painted white, she says.

“You can go bold in a small bathroom with dark paint or wallpaper,” says Breindel. “If you want more of a dramatic effect, I tend to do that in a powder room that you don’t spend a lot of time in.” 

In small bathrooms, stick to a single color palette to keep it simple, clean and soothing. In a larger room, experiment with more color in towels, mats, and artwork.

“Any color with some gray added to it makes it more peaceful, especially lighter colors,” says Breindel.

With a plethora of designs and varying degrees of texture, wallpaper gives you many options, from grass cloth to more tactile, high-resolution materials that really stand out. 

Breindel recommends vinyl wallpaper for bathrooms that have showers. 

“There are beautiful ones now, even ones that look like grass cloth,” she says. 

For a powder room, Breindel advises any wallpaper, even paper backed, as long as you make sure it stays dry behind the sink. To protect the area behind the sink from wetness, add a 4-inch backsplash made from countertop material such as quartz or stone.


For a full bathroom, especially with enough wall space, a medicine cabinet is great for extra storage. 

“My favorites now are the ones with the built-in LED lights,” says Breindel. “You can stack medicine cabinets next to each other to create a wall of mirrors with function behind it.”

Generally, you won’t have the space nor the need for a medicine cabinet in a powder room, but you’ll want a good mirror, which also can have the built-in LED lights.

“Mirrors can be used to enlarge the space and reflect other elements in the room, such as lighting or wallpaper,” explains Breindel. “I also use wall-mounted vanities to give the impression of larger space in a small bath. It’s very effective.”


As with any room in your home, a bathroom should have layered lighting.

At the sink or overhead, lighting can be either recessed or a ceiling fixture. In a large bathroom, you can have both, and always use dimmers to control brightness, advises Breindel.

Hardware is the jewelry of a bathroom and there’s so much to choose from, adds Breindel.

“Polished nickel and brass look great in bathrooms, but do tarnish over time and need maintenance,” she advises. “Polished chrome is easier to maintain.”  

Tiles can reflect your taste and personality. If you have a full tiled shower, Breindel suggests adding shiplap to the walls to add texture and interest.

Besides adding color to the room, bath mats are essential to give the room a cozy feel, especially when you walk on a tiled floor, even with radiant-heated floors, notes Breindel. 

“A Toto Japanese heated toilet seat is also worth every penny,” she says.

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