Tammy Scileppi


How to Create Home Entertainment Spaces to ‘Wow’ Your Holiday Guests

home entertainment
Multipurpose entertainment space/game room with lots of pizzazz. (Courtesy Mary Middelemiss/Twice As Nice Interiors)

It’s tinsel time once again. This year, let’s make it extra special. 

Whether your holiday colors are red and green or blue and silver, celebrate this season of joy in style. Take a cue from these savvy design pros and transform ordinary living areas into amazing and welcoming entertainment spaces – on a budget. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding an eye-catching bar cart. Claudia Grunberger of Grunberger Interiors in Great Neck conjured up a retro-glam vignette for a project in Roslyn that features a swanky, gold-toned beauty, filled with a dazzling assortment of cocktail accessories. Above it hangs a stylish black and white vintage photo of James Bond star Roger Moore, sipping wine and holding a cigarette; a quirky lamp completes this fun yet sophisticated look.

BTW: Serving carts are versatile and can also be used for tea/coffee time, or for storing small appliances.

“First impressions count. When it comes to creating beautiful entertaining spaces, for me, there are always two factors that determine the overall design scheme and layout of a room,” Grunberger offers.

Add a glam bar cart to create a stylish entertainment space for guests — without breaking the bank. (Courtesy Claudia Grunberger/Grunberger Interiors)

The first is function

“How many people need to be accommodated? I love to incorporate flexible seating and dining arrangements that can function for smaller or larger gatherings: dining tables with extension leaves, additional chairs and benches in a corner of the dining room or in front of a window,” she explains. “These are never matchy-matchy pieces because it’s all about adding visual interest. I prefer to opt for a different silhouette and choose upholstery material in a contrasting fabric. It’s an opportunity to introduce a touch of the unexpected.”

Create welcoming conversation areas with your furniture layout 

“Ottomans not only add comfort, but can do double duty as additional seating, be part of a cocktail table arrangement, or tucked away under a console table,” Grunberger adds. “How about a pair of slipper chairs in a corner of the room which can be pulled up and added to your seating group?” 

Look to the past for inspiration: Bar cabinets are popular again 

“Today’s tall, freestanding cabinets are designed to look like jewelry in the room. When you open them up, the interior is illuminated, mirrored, and has gorgeous storage compartments and racks for suspending glassware. They make a stunning addition to your living room and are a must-have for people who like to entertain in style,” she says.

The second factor: Your style determines that design scheme 

How do you want the room to feel? Amazing entertainment spaces have one thing in common: They are skillfully layered. According to Grunberger: “From a gorgeous area rug, rich woods and metal accents, luxurious fabrics, statement lighting fixtures and lamps, bespoke window treatments, wallcoverings, pillows, and curated accessories. All add richness to a space and make it feel inviting and comfortable, no matter what design style you favor.” 

On a tight budget? Here are her top tips. 

  • Color is crucial in conveying a rich aesthetic

  • Go bold – opt for deep, saturated tones on walls 

  • Add colorful accents throughout 

  • With rugs, bigger is always better

  • Lots of lamps for mood (overhead lighting isn’t enough)

  • Oversized artwork creates a focal point 

Cozy living/family rooms are the go-to spots where folks gather for the holidays. Sandra Asdourian of Sandra Asdourian Interiors in Babylon says the key ingredients for a great design on a budget are:

  • Comfortable seating: oversized sofas/sectionals with built-in lounge seating 

  • Room-darkening window treatments

  • Deep, non reflective wall/ceiling colors (like moody blues)

  • Rugs/carpets to minimize sounds

Then, add some festive accessories

“I find the best way to transform a room in time for the holidays – in a cost-effective way – is to change the paint color,” adds Mary Middlemiss of Twice As Nice Interiors in East Islip. And who wouldn’t love her swell multipurpose game room, showcasing a fancy billiard table? On the flip side, a small game table, where the fam and guests can play cards or do puzzles, also creates a fun vibe, she says. And how about enhancing that bland sofa with some faux fur (or sequin) pillows and a plush animal print throw, to make it more inviting? 

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How to Sell Your Home For Top Dollar in Today’s Hectic LI Housing Market

housing market
Hiring a seasoned agent who understands the current market and what the buyers in your area are looking for is key. (Courtesy Compass)

Trying to get the best offer for your home? Several local realtors have come to the rescue with a bounty of helpful tips that will have Long Island sellers jumping for joy.

The good news, according to the experts: It’s still very much a seller’s market, even with rising inventory. And demand is still high.

“The effects of Covid-19 on the housing market—recession-induced low mortgage rates coupled with the work-from-home trend allowing buyers to search deeper into the burbs—are still at play and driving the housing market forward,” according to a recent Fortune.com piece by Lance Lambert.

In today’s housing climate, you can easily get top dollar for your property without investing time and money into extensive updates, says Melissa Infanzon, licensed real estate salesperson, Lucky To Live Here Realty, Cold Spring Harbor.

“Major renos also run the risk of updating your home to a preference that could turn a potential buyer away, and/or will cost a buyer more money to modify to their tastes, which could negatively impact an offer price,” she adds.

John McSherry, licensed associate real estate broker, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Garden City, notes: “Every market is different, so it’s important to have a guide who understands local inventory, days on market, and pricing strategies.”

To increase visibility and desirability, hire an agent who understands decluttering/staging/photography:

“Less is more, and put your best foot forward,” McSherry adds.

Next step: marketing the property/creating demand:

“It’s imperative to have an agent who can market your content across all social media/real estate platforms,” he notes. “And remember: Attention is currency.”

“Most buyers are looking for a move-in ready home. First impressions are top priority,” says Compass Greater NY (Long Island) agent, Tsui Ying (Judy) Hsu. “The landscaping captures that. Also, less furniture; paint walls with neutral colors.”

Infanzon and her team also help clients get the highest and best offers. A current seller took her advice and did the following, as they prepared to list their Huntington home, at 88 Vineyard Rd.:

  • Power washing

  • Cleaning, sealing stone floors

  • New tile, paint – primary en suite bathroom

  • Rear deck replaced with Ice wood

  • Freshly landscaped

  • Sealcoated driveway

  • Touched-up paint; new light bulbs

  • Organized; took down family photos

“When you look at the cost-benefit analysis of preparing your home for sale, in today’s market, less is more when it comes to upgrading,” Infanzon notes. “While minimal updates, i.e., power washing, will add value to your curb appeal, big renos like new flooring, aren’t always necessary to still get the best offers.”

What will drive the strongest offers is always focused on the seller’s individual needs and these three critical components – asking price, marketing approach, and offer terms – according to Infanzon, who says:

“When we advise clients on best pricing strategies, we evaluate: What is their timeline to sell? Are they planning on leveraging a like-kind exchange to purchase a new property? Do they need to sell this property to purchase their next home? How much equity do they have in their home? Is there a profit goal they are aiming for? By knowing what is most important to you and your future, we are able to strategize on what will yield the best offer for you.”

She adds: “You need to cast a wide net and work with the other 40,000 agents in New York State. In-house exclusives significantly reduce the buying pool.”

Since the market is moving so quickly now, making sure that only the most qualified buyers are coming through your home is crucial.

“We ensure due diligence is done before we open your doors to just anyone: Proof of funds before showings, understanding where buyers are in their purchase cycle, marketing strategically to the most qualified buyers, etc.,” Infanzon says. “This not only helps control things like the spread of viruses, but it also ensures that we can move quickly and confidently when a buyer submits an offer to purchase your home. “

“A blend of new-age and traditional marketing will always attract the most buyers to get you the best offer on your home.”

For more real estate news, visit longislandpress.com/category/real-estate.

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Realtors Weigh In on What Long Island Homebuyers Want Today

Homebuyers today want more space. (Getty Images)

The Covid-era real estate story is a complicated tale. 

While the market was hit hard during the shutdowns, pending home sales across the Island were skyrocketing at this time in 2020. So, what has changed? And what are buyers looking for now? To break it all down, the Press asked experts to provide a snapshot of the current situation on Long Island and beyond. 

“During the pandemic, many renters became homeowners, and millennials were the major buying force,” says Tsui Ying (Judy) Hsu, a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with Compass Greater NY, in Garden City.

She also notes: “Due to limited listings, bidding wars have occurred; supply couldn’t keep up with buyer demand. Plus the more square footage a house has, the fiercer the bidding wars can be.”

Overall, buyers want more space. Storage is a priority and necessity. A space for their Peloton indoor exercise bike is also on that list. And biking around the block is nice but a home near a park is even better! The pandemic made folks realize it’s time to own a home and invest in their families’ future. 

“A moving trend from New York City – skipping Queens, straight to Long Island and farther out to Suffolk County – became the new norm due to lower taxes there vs. Nassau County. Also, bigger houses and lot sizes for the same buck. It’s a no-brainer,” Hsu explains.

Her two recent sales echoed that trend. A young couple moved from small digs in South Ozone Park, Queens to a two-bedroom house with a huge backyard in Valley Stream, near shopping, restaurants, parks, and the Long Island Rail Road. A large, second-level attic serves as a walk-in closet. 

The other buyers – from Forest Hills, Queens – snagged a great starter home in Hempstead with nice outdoor spaces. A bus nearby goes to the Jamaica train station. After a reno, it met their needs for more living space.  

“Open concept is still optimal. Extra bedrooms and/or office spaces, a home gym top the list for most buyers,” Hsu says. “Nowadays, a little TLC is okay. But gut renos cost a lot because supply prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, so first-time buyers still steer away from it.”

John McSherry, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, in Garden City, also weighed in:

Two of my most recent sales were in Rockville Centre – a quiet, walkable community. Both had ample space for playrooms, home offices, and family/sunrooms, along with large lot sizes. These buyers were interested in open layouts, but also seeking Old World charm. A lot of the older Tudor- and Victorian-style homes may have choppier layouts and closed-off spaces. So, the key is to find a balance of old and new or be willing to make updates if needed. Seems most buyers want to move further out, but are mindful of staying close to public transportation, in case they need to go back to work in the city.”

He adds: “The post-pandemic buyer is faced with increasing prices on Long Island, which is forcing most to move further out east, but I see the market starting to normalize a bit as more inventory starts to come out. So, we will have to see where the market goes after most people start to commute back to work.”

Haley Mills, Communications Coordinator at Zillow Group, gave a broad overview:

“Across the country, suburban ZIP codes have become increasingly popular over the last 18 months, according to Zillow pageview data. However, that is not a sign that there isn’t demand for urban living, and the data show that demand is strong in both urban and suburban markets,” she notes.

The difference? There is high competition for limited suburban homes. For example, in March 2021, for-sale inventory in the suburbs was down nearly 40% compared to the previous year, whereas urban inventory was down only 15% in the same time period, according to Zillow.

“Those buyers seeking a suburban home are left looking at a shrinking number of homes, driving up competition. In New York specifically, inventory is down 14.1% since last year, but was up 2.4% from June,” Mills adds.

Buyers want features that mix functionality, entertainment and relaxation, and are willing to pay a premium for it. Homes with steam ovens, smart appliances, and quartz/butcher block countertops, were associated with a higher sale, as are highly desirable outdoor features, i.e., pizza ovens and outdoor kitchens. Amenities that create a spa-like vibe are also increasing in popularity.

For more real estate news, visit longislandpress.com/category/real-estate.

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Home Design Ideas to Help Brighten Your Days With Lively Energy

home design
This kitchen's eat-in area boasts colorful floral draperies, along with whimsical artwork and accessories. Designs by Grunberger Interiors. (Photos by Tim Hill Photography)

As Long Island continues to celebrate its reopening this summer, folks are enjoying outdoor adventures again.

Yet even as the pandemic ebbs locally, it seems that the notion of home as sanctuary – and more – won’t soon be forgotten. So, it’s important to maintain a happy vibe in one’s dwelling, with mood-boosting home design elements and personalized décor. Be fearless! Choose a color palette that speaks to you, let go of that cookie cutter mindset, and zhuzh up those white-on-white neutrals.

Recently chosen as one of 15 Top Interior Designers on Long Island, Claudia Grunberger of Grunberger Interiors, in Great Neck, knows a thing or two about creating uplifting spaces.

“I always love to play with color in a design scheme. I might use it in a subtle, understated manner, or I might be bold and adventurous,” she shares. “It’s amazing what a transformative effect color can have.” 

People are embracing stronger, more vibrant hues in their dwellings, as a way to boost mood and energy.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on our relationship with our homes and created an increased awareness of how good interior design can improve our quality of living. Our homes need to function like never before,” Grunberger adds. “And, with an upsurge in home sales and renovations, design services are in high demand.”

Now trending

Folks are craving comfort. “Fabrics are soft to the touch and full of texture – boucles [looped or curled yarns], organic linens, cottons, velvets,” Grunberger notes. “Wallpaper has never been more popular: Grasscloths, wood veneers, linen weaves, silks and vinyls come in a full spectrum of colors and add dimension and texture to a room. Bold patterns and digital murals are especially on trend and are a great way to inject some personality to a space.”

She adds, “The latest trends are also geared towards creating a cozy look with curved furnishings, an emphasis on natural materials, like rattan and terrazzo, and light woods (especially oak) for flooring/cabinetry. The gray color story is fading in favor of browns; warmer tones are replacing cooler ones.” 

Blue (especially navy), remains a classic favorite, while a richer, earthy palette is gaining momentum – olive, cinnamon, rust, butterscotch. Painted feature walls in saturated colors can create a stunning focal point.

For a family in Great Neck, Grunberger used cheerful colors everywhere. The kitchen eat-in area boasts colorful floral draperies with coordinating artwork and accessories, adding a whimsical touch. The living room has a Ralph Lauren aesthetic with a warm mix of colors. The golden woven wallpaper is balanced by a traditional Turkish rug in gold, olive, and red. The red onyx fireplace is the perfect choice for the deep wooden paneling and echoes the colors in the silk draperies. The plaid and paisley cushions add visual interest and comfort. 

In the teen’s bedroom, a chartreuse ceiling balances out the somber gray wall, hot pink vinyl headboard and colorful wall art. In the second girl’s room, the designer chose a metallic doggie wallpaper – perfect for her animal-loving client. Teal walls, a bright geometric rug, patterned bedding and pillows, and a refurbished mid-century modern armchair in a houndstooth print with colorful piping complete the look.

More uplifting ideas

Also chosen as one of 15 Top Interior Designers on Long Island, Amy Luria of Luria Design & Style, in Port Washington, says that many clients are looking for interesting textures, light, and lots of color.

In one kitchen project, she used unique tile work on backsplashes and chose white cabinets with paneling. And the island was painted a refreshing blue.

“Lighting is a big thing now; people are more aware of it, as it improves mood,” Luria notes. “And art is big too. People are hanging textured, [3-D] mixed-media artwork on their walls.”

Nowadays, even countertops can feature a color. “I like Cambria a lot; they’re coming out with exciting quartz textures and colors,” she adds. In another kitchen, Luria chose a backsplash with Confetti tiles in a penny-round mosaic.

Donald Altman, a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk and award-winning author of The Mindfulness Code and Simply Mindful, offers wellness tips for working at home. He says, “Place your workspace near a window or where you can have a view of nature or the sky.”

“We need to center and calm ourselves using the tools of our awareness and intentional shaping of our environment. If you work at home, you can create a soothing environment that brings you into the present moment, regulates your emotions, and motivates you.”

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The Latest Home Design Trends of 2021 As Told By Debra Design Group

home design trends
An inviting outdoor oasis is a perfect escape, rain or shine. (Courtesy of Pauline Debra Noel, Principal Designer, Debra Design Group, Hempstead)

Exciting but practical: Find out what’s in store for home design as 2021 unfolds. 

Zillow forecasts that this year will be less about keeping up with the latest style trends, and more about the features that increase our homes’ functionality and comfort – and in some cases, even add value.

For starters, some people are saying “bye-bye” to open floor plans.

“We expect to see a rise in intergenerational living in 2021, as young adults settle in at home and aging parents move in with adult children, sparking a preference for homes with more privacy features and separated living quarters, like backyard cottages, mother-in-law suites and double primary bedrooms,” says Amanda Pendleton, Zillow Home Trends Expert.

This month, another pro – Pauline Debra Noel, CEO and Principal Designer of Debra Design Group in Hempstead – offers Press readers her cool insights on hot trends. She has been helping homeowners reimagine and redesign with Zoom rooms, home offices and gyms, smarter kitchens, fun multifunctional family spaces, and fab home theaters. She says, “The way we design, the materials we use, how we furnish our homes, will forever be altered post-COVID.”

A desire for a home with a dedicated office tops the list of reasons Americans working from home say they would consider a move, according to a Zillow survey. But many homeowners who are staying put choose to revamp instead. Talk about a recent project. Everyone needs a place for fun, exercise, recreation, relaxation. Parents need office space for Zoom meetings. Our clients have asked for it all! Even the smallest space can be converted into an office. That was the case with an Elmont home. Our design partner, Creative Re-Design, turned an 8-by-8 spare bedroom into a gorgeous office for a busy boss lady!

Homecation amenities, like a pool or spa-inspired bathroom, add value and will become even more appealing to families, while smart home technology, like touchless faucets and self-cleaning toilets, will be must-have upgrades that help keep germs at bay, according to Zillow. Share your take on current trends. Everyone is looking for nonpourus materials that are easy to clean, and reduce the likelihood of infection. The main focus has been on using finishes that are antimicrobial. This year, we’re starting to look at metals, stones, and woods that are antimicrobial. While copper, brass, and bronze are hygienic, they also warm up a space much better than the past common (cool) brush or polished nickel. Woods like bamboo, oak, and cork are extremely durable, but they also stop the growth of bacteria. Quartz has been a favorite for a while; demand has dramatically increased because it is one of the most sanitary nonporous stone on the market to date.

Another trend: pocket doors. People still love the open floor plan layout, but with the kitchen island, dining, or coffee tables now becoming the pop-up office, more people are requesting pocket doors, to semi-close off rooms. Also in high demand: motion lighting. The virus can be transmitted through high-touch surfaces like light switches. Therefore, homeowners prefer to install motion switches throughout the home during reconstruction. This trend has added value by being an energy saver.

Intergenerational living is becoming a necessity as young adults and grandparents alike find themselves moving in with family. Have you had more requests for a revamped attic or basement? Basement projects that were being put off for years suddenly have become the priority. Families are cleaning out the basement to now become livable space: a grandparent suite or young adult’s apartment. One Baldwin client actually bought their home based on the guest suite in the attic. They asked us to include the furniture selection and decorating as part of our overall home redesign.

A Zillow survey found that 41 percent of people value a well-equipped kitchen more than ever, due to social distancing recommendations – and to show off their new culinary skills. Are clients asking for special elements in their cucinas? Clients have always asked to take down a wall between the kitchen and the other living spaces to open up the space. But more than ever, they want to add large islands to sit and congregate with family and friends while preparing meals and eating. For a Long Beach client, we added a small island in addition to the existing peninsula, and a tufted velvet high banquette for luxury seating comfort. 

Outdoor retreats are superpopular these days. Any tips? Folks have been adding outdoor heaters; smokeless firepit inserts are a hot item right now. Upgrading your outdoor space can definitely add value to a home. On average, these outdoor features — kitchen, fire pit, gathering areas — can add approximately $5,000 to $10,000 to a home’s value.

Debra Design Group can be reached at 917-940-2772 or debradesigngroup.com.

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Making Your Backyard a Playground For Your Children

Creative Playthings Swing Sets: ‘Limited Only by Your Imagination.’

Every parent knows that getting the kiddos outdoors is crucial, especially since family activities have been limited and educational screen time has become a necessity. That’s why savvy moms and dads are giving a big thumbs up to backyard playgrounds and swing sets.

“There is significant data indicating that time spent outdoors, whether in play, outdoor education, or recreation, can have a real and positive impact on mental and physical well-being,” Constance Scharff, Ph.D., an internationally recognized speaker/author on mental health and addiction recovery, writes in Psychology Today. “These types of experiences can also improve communication and social cues.”


Creative Playthings, one of the most popular manufacturers of swing sets, has been creating fun-filled outdoor experiences for active kids since 1951 and was founded by two elementary school teachers intent on keeping children more active. 

“Long recognized for our superior quality and value, Creative Playthings brand swing sets have been sold by quality national chains and high-quality independent retailers throughout the U.S. [including Long Island] and abroad. Every Premium Pine swing set is built by hand at our factory in Emporia, Virginia,” notes Senior Graphic Designer Steve Krikorian of Creative Playthings, which has its corporate headquarters in Framingham, Mass.

“Now more than ever, we are proud to keep more American kids playing and more Americans working.” 


Krikorian adds: “When you buy a Creative Playthings wooden swing set or accessory, you’ll find out why we’re one of the oldest, largest, and most respected names in the swing set industry.” 

The difference is in the details: steel reinforcement plates in swing sets, the nylon bushings swing wide steps installed at the right angle for easy climbing, and many other innovations that have become standard equipment on nearly all quality wooden swing sets made today. The company is also working to find new coatings that make ladder rungs more slip resistant.

Krikorian says the company stands behind each high-quality wooden swing set and supports customers every step of the way, from creating the best swing set configuration for your kids, your budget, and your backyard to complete installation.

Local dealer Wood Kingdom West, in Farmingdale, and its sister company, Backyard Solutions, in Medford have been serving Long Island and the tristate area for 30-plus years. They offer quality swing sets, trampolines and basketball hoops as well as wood sheds, gazebos, pool houses, pavilions, and many other great quality indoor/outdoor products from the industry’s best manufacturers.

“For many children, a backyard playground or swing set is a dream come true. An outdoor playset gives them the opportunity to explore, learn and improve physical skills on a daily basis, without ever leaving home, which in turn was critical during the pandemic,” says owner Jamie Maceroni.

“As they learn and play, they are expending energy and making memories on the swings, slide, tire swing, rock-climbing wall, and other activities. We have playsets of all sizes, colors, and material, and we highly recommend making it a fun family activity by shopping online at woodkingdomwest.com to customize the perfect swing set for your family!”  

Due to an uptick in Swing Kingdom PVC swing set sales in the past few years, a custom design feature was added to the website, so families can design the set of their dreams right from home. Springfree and AlleyOOP Trampolines are always a year-round favorite, as well as First Team Basketball hoops. (Swing sets start at $999; trampolines: $899 – $3,000. (Special financing available for all products).


“Playgrounds and parks are vital to our local communities. It fosters socialization, exercise, overcoming fears and challenges, among many other benefits [for kids],” says Sal Romanello, owner of PlaySafe Recreational & Aquatic Designs, Inc. in Syosset. It typically services commercial clients, i.e., schools and municipalities, but on occasion, has served residential homes that have large properties and budgets.

He adds: “Since Covid has come into our lives, I believe it has exposed the need for more outdoor spaces. It’s important that local and state governments recognize this and utilize federal and state resources to enhance outdoor exercise capabilities. Also, more and more municipalities are investing their monies towards water spray parks and creating ‘destination’ places for local communities to gather and play.”

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Interior Designer Shares Home Trends for the New Year

home trends
Interiors by Just Design Courtesy of Robyn Baumgarten.

The times they are a-changin’ …

In this enlightening and informative interview with Robyn Baumgarten of Interiors by Just Design of Woodbury and Manhasset, the seasoned interior discusses changing trends for 2021 and shares her unique perspective on all things home design …’cause there’s no place like home.

Despite the pandemic, she continues to safely meet with clients and help them reimagine their spaces to fit their families’ changing lifestyles. 

Can you give readers a glimpse into your recent design projects? A unique project, in Old Westbury, was designed around the visual idea of art and how it can impact overall design. Having a bold, one-of-a-kind art piece as the focal point lays the groundwork from which the remainder of the design follows. Adding artwork is one of the most versatile and crucial design elements; without it, a space will seem empty and lifeless. My secret? I use proper scale within the space and select works that my clients truly love.

In a more challenging project, in Old Brookville, custom mahogany wood panels were created and mounted on the existing stone fireplace, surrounded by beige limestone. The impact of the reveal was dramatic, showcasing a more contemporary, updated home.

What do you foresee as trends for 2021? Can we expect a natural aesthetic and a rise in minimalism, or perhaps, the opposite? I predict there will be an abundance of nature-inspired hues with a sense of calm. There has been more of a demand for warmer-toned palettes and rich accent colors, further noted with the important colors of the year: Sherwin-Williams’ Urban Bronze and Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal. 

Minimalism has been trending as clients prefer a sleeker look in bold monochromatic such as cobalt blue, Kelly green, and even black painted doors and molding, while the whites, grays, and taupes are becoming dated. Oversized hardware pulls and integrated hardware in kitchen design are not only user-friendly but add to the minimalistic feel of a space. 

Geometric prints are out, replaced with more feminine, organic florals. Clients are looking for an ease in their day-to-day life and prefer more environmentally friendly design solutions, like updated fireplaces, which are easy to install, while giving the same beautiful warmth to a finished space.

As the home takes front and center, which trends have evolved? People have been starting a lot of new projects; they look around and see that their design aesthetic has gotten stale! The most popular trends: creating/updating a comfortable, inspiring, functional home office, and enjoying great outdoor spaces. Homeowners are revamping patios with fire pits, pergolas, etc. Indoor/outdoor performance fabrics have also become popular. 

Will classic, traditional style continue to be a favorite? Talk about the resurgence of 1980s home décor. Traditional will always be timeless but we are seeing a trend toward eclectic style, i.e., mixing a few styles in a cohesive way. 1980s home décor has elements that are timeless (bold pops of color), and still readily available and sourced today: Lucite furniture frames, brass accents. When these pieces are added, paired with more contemporary designs, they create a fresh new look.

How do you balance form and function? The most important design aspect is the function of a space. Everything else will develop from there in a logical sequence, creating form and beauty. Tip: Adding a round area rug that plays off a curvilinear window, along with a round sofa and a piano, creates a consistency of form throughout.

Details like throw pillows, artwork, and decorative accessories only exist to tie a space together visually and to create ambiance. The space planning, furniture selection, and window treatments, must function properly while looking beautiful.

What are your clients asking for these days? Regardless of age, all my clients are looking for the same thing – a design that is timeless. Millennials are looking for a more simplistic, low-maintenance design, which is why I often suggest upholstering furniture in performance fabrics, such as Crypton Home; Kravet Inc. offers a wide variety, including Crypton, KravetArmor, and more.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Consider hiring a professional to guide you through the process. There are so many options available in today’s market that it can be overwhelming without proper education and knowledge. Interior designers also have access to quality brands and manufacturers that cannot be sourced by the general public. Having a long, working relationship with these vendors ensures reliability and quality of product. 

Designers help clients visualize a finished space by providing floor plans and mood boards, while working within the parameters of their client’s budget. A referral from a happy client is one of the best leads in generating business for many designers, and I am always thrilled to share these experiences with potential clients.

Interiors by Just Design, 217 Woodbury Rd., Suite 63, Woodbury, 516-470-0861, interiorsbyjustdesign.com

For more real estate news, visit longislandpress.com/category/real-estate.

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Home Design As Told By Your Zodiac Sign

Zodiac signs can drive home decor preferences. For example, Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn gravitate toward muted tones and earthy colors. (Getty Images)

Each of the 12 zodiac signs, from Aries to Pisces, say a lot about someone’s personality, attitude, and even style preferences. 

On Long Island and beyond, some homeowners are looking to the stars for zodiac-inspired décor ideas that reflect their own special mojo.

“Each sign has its own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes — especially when it comes to home design,” writes Camryn Rabideau for marthastewart.com. “Lucky colors associated with the Aquarius sign include calm, serene hues like blues and grays. You can incorporate these colors into your living room (or really any other room) through a new wall color, a chic couch, or even a few accent decorations.” 

Focusing on one’s abode, especially these days, is a great way to escape the craziness outside your front door.


Affectionate, kindhearted, adventurous Geminis (May 21 – June 21) seem to gravitate toward green, the color of nature and creativity and their numero uno personality hue.  But red, pink, and white can also be associated with that sign, and some astrologers say their “darker side” may be represented in the black of Gemini’s color palette. 

Visualize a refreshing, deep emerald green in a sofa, accent chair, or featured within a rug design for a fabulous look. Or how about a lot of greenery, as a more subtle alternative?

Hey Scorpios! A subdued style and classic furniture may work best for your spaces. Just add invigorating pops of red-orange or rust that represent your gung-ho attitude and passion. 

Generous, optimistic Sagittarians may wish to explore pink and purple shades for their home interiors.


With their lifestyle-centered approach, New York City-based astrologers Ophira and Tali Edut, aka the AstroTwins, reach millions worldwide through their accurate predictions and practical, empowering horoscopes. 

Noting that the zodiac is divided into four elements – water, fire, earth, and air – Ophira Edut explains how your astrological sign can translate into personalized decorating and color choices.

“Each element has different colors, energies and styles associated with it. Different styles suit the vibration of each zodiac sign and its element, so they might feel more at home in decor that resonates with them,” she notes.

“For example, fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) are active and may prefer more saturated colors and patterns with a global influence. Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) have more classic energy and might gravitate toward muted tones, earthy colors (beiges, caramel, oxblood) and traditional textiles or materials (leather, wood). These generalizations get even more specific when you do a person’s entire chart and look at the placements of all of the planets. The birth chart is a blueprint of each person’s unique personality. Décor can be tailored to that!”


Each of the five elements of feng shui, the ancient Chinese method of creating a harmonious environment, is associated with a different region of a home or room. 

“We have a new course called Home Reset that combines feng shui and astrology, that teaches people which colors, shapes, and placement of their furniture and décor will bring positive energy into the home,” Edut offers. “If your home isn’t feeling like the haven it could be, don’t despair! Our Home Decor Horoscopes reveal how to adorn your abode according to your sun sign.” 


Zodiac lovers can easily enhance their dwellings with eye-catching items like personalized horoscope cushions and candles, astrology figurines, customized constellation blankets, celestial wall art and tapestry, and more.

Thinking about bringing your zodiac style into your next interior design project? 

Well, it’s all about crafting your own visual story, according to design pro Kati Curtis, whose Gotham-based firm, Kati Curtis Design, specializes in classic design with a global influence. KCD crafts visual stories that become signature surroundings. 

“I’m a Pisces, so you’ll definitely see a water element in my work. I tend to gravitate towards blues and greens and the sandy colors of the beach,” Curtis shares. “Pisces tend to be dreamers, so much of my design work has a dreamlike quality to it.” 

She adds: “I love to use wallpapers to create magical spaces that provide a serene respite from the world outside for my clients. Reality can be harsh these days, and like a true Piscean, I want our clients to have a home they can escape to.”

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What Sheltering in Place Taught Us About Home Design

Balancing telecommuting and remote learning requires reimagining home design. (Getty Images)

Shelter has taken on a whole new meaning as everyday life evolves into a different normal, with changing expectations for what one’s home can and should be.

So, what has sheltering in place taught us and how has it transformed our personal spaces? As folks started seeing their dwellings in a different light, lessons were learned along the way about the power of resourcefulness and creativity through DIY projects on a budget, using space more efficiently, the importance of bringing the outdoors in, and more.

“Home became a necessary refuge,” says Jennifer Lock Oman, LISW, BCD, a Des Moines-based psychotherapist with more than 30 years of experience. “The spotlight has also turned to home in terms of functionality and design.”

A Zillow survey found that after spending more time stuck at home, one of the top reasons for considering a move is to get a place with more rooms. And, as people continue to work from home and start online schooling, more private spaces will be needed.

“Rooms have been repurposed,” Oman says. “I hear about a lot of people finishing basements or repainting rooms to create added space or a much-needed sense of comfort and coziness. Putting energy into being home-focused in this way also provides some sense of well-being and agency where there is little of those feelings to be found in the greater world right now.”

Designers and architects have been busy rethinking (pandemic-driven) home design and coming up with great ideas and solutions.

“With so much uncertainty, the importance of home as one constant has heightened,” Oman adds. “When the world feels overwhelming, retreating to what we know is a basic instinct, not just a COVID-mandated necessity.”


Think fluid and multifunctional spaces. Living rooms that transition into work, study, play, exercise/yoga areas or ”stations” for busy families; changes to the “home office” idea, i.e. mudrooms that serve as a temporary office space; adding/upgrading guest bedrooms. Flexibility is key in limited quarters, so a dining room table can become a workspace with flexible partitions.

“While open floor plans soared in popularity in the last few decades, there’s a lack of privacy that comes with these open spaces, and sheltering at home emphasized for many a loss of quiet spaces to work, reflect, and take a break from the chaos of life,” says Haley Johnson, communications coordinator of the real estate and rental marketplace Zillow. 


While New York City apartment dwellers yearned for design elements that merged indoor with outdoor living, i.e.  sunrooms, rooftop terraces/gardens, lots of greenery, Long Island homeowners turned patios and backyards into tranquil sanctuaries.

“This pandemic serves to remind us how important our houses are to our daily well-being,” Vicki Yuan, associate at Lake|Flato Architects, told design and architecture platform Dwell.com. “We delight in natural daylighting, quality materials, healthy indoor air quality, and access to livable outdoor spaces. In many ways, this analog moment is a return to simple living, and in designing future homes, we will think more about what is essential to the experience of how we want to live.”


Thoughtful design and retrofitting homes with technology offer new ways to conserve energy with projects that incorporate solar panels, battery-charging stations, and air filtration systems.

“As the pandemic emphasized the need to keep our homes as clean and germ free as possible, smart home features like touchless faucets, bidets, and self-cleaning toilets will start to become increasingly popular to help maintain a safe and healthy home,” Johnson says.

“Life will be much different on the other side of this,” says Oman. “But a definite constant will be the value most of us place on ‘home’ and what that means both practically and emotionally.”

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Home Spaces Reimagined Due To Pandemic

Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings.

When people have lots of time on their hands, they tend to get creative. 

That has certainly been true during the pandemic when DIY projects have become super popular, with home improvement stores seeing a boost in sales. Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings. 

Working from home and remote learning have meant that families have had to create dedicated spaces in a jiffy, while some parents have been busy repurposing rooms, attics, and basements for their grown kids, who were suddenly leaving college dorms and city pads and moving back home. 

According to a recent survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners on Houzz, 70 percent reported reported they were thinking about making changes that could help them enjoy their homes more. Outdoor, bathroom, and kitchen projects topped the wish list.

Here’s what design pros have been doing to help homeowners out during the pandemic. 


Haley Johnson, communications coordinator at real estate marketplace Zillow, points out that the pandemic emphasized the importance of keeping germs away from the main spaces of your home. 

“Consider upgrading your bathroom or kitchen with a touchless faucet to limit the amount of areas your family and guests are touching,” she suggests. “Plus, a nice, new faucet can add style to a bathroom or kitchen alike.”

Builders are also considering how coronavirus will drive building decisions in the future. 

“Staying at home emphasized there were not enough quiet spaces to work, and we might start to see the once-popular open floor plans change in favor of more privacy, adding in more doors to separate rooms,” she explains. “As people are working from home now, there needs to be space to accommodate. However, you can also have the best of both worlds by adding barn door features to give yourself privacy when needed, while still preserving the open-concept space.”


During quarantine, folks craved spending time outdoors and quickly learned how to transform any backyard or patio space, no matter how small or boring, into a lovely oasis. And now, it’s a hot trend. 

“It’s no surprise outdoor space is the top reason people would consider a move due to social distancing recommendations,” Haley says. “Spend this time sprucing up your yard by landscaping, adding a firepit, and overall making your outdoor spaces a cozy getaway you can enjoy safely.”

Design pros Jen Fox and Tonia Omeltchenko of LI-based Fox + Chenko touted some recent “pandemic-friendly” projects that have made a huge difference in their clients’ lives. In one, a multi-seasonal, screened outdoor living space with direct access to the backyard added sizable square footage to a family’s Port Washington residence. 

Careful space planning and selection of all-weather performance furnishings and lighting created both lounging and dining zones. In chillier months, heat from the natural stone gas fireplace will warm the room, while in nicer weather, framed screen windows and an oversized driftwood ceiling fan allow for ultimate cooling and airflow.  

A combination of pendant and sconce light fixtures adds style and function. Tall outdoor lanterns, patterned decorative pillows, a colorful textured area rug, and lush greenery add a relaxed ambiance to this nature-inspired refuge.


In another project, a new home office doubles as a guest room for a client in Great Neck.

“Not only does the user need a proper space for a laptop and cell phone, but other factors, like how quiet the area is for a phone call, how well-positioned the space is to WiFi, or what the background for a Zoom call is, has to be considered,” says Omeltchenko.

“The desk area has to be organized and have storage space,” she adds. “The bed – usually a pullout sofa – should have a comfortable mattress and be easy to operate.”

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