grand balcony finale

A few weeks ago we left you hanging just a bit (with bated breath, I'm sure) as we shared what's been happening behind the scenes of the 35th floor balcony at the W. Lots of little loose ends have been tied up since then and we are oh so excited to share this outdoor gem with you.

Here is a quick revisit to the 50' blank canvas we were given to love on - 

And here is this beauty today - 

The custom sofa spans a large chunk of the space, offering more than a handful of comfy spots to enjoy the views of Town Lake. Undercover Upholstery worked their magic creating plump, inviting cushions wrapped in Holly Hunt outdoor fabric. 

This sofa turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. In case you think you've reached maximum enjoyment sprawled out across the sofa - Topo Chico in hand & taking in all this balcony has to offer - do yourself a favor and slip back inside the unit. From there, you're able to see the playful, undulating form of the sofa - a visual delight in the most unexpected of places.

Our cushions were made to be removable and Petrified designed a great space for them to live when they aren't situated on the sofa. The storage cabinet takes its color & material cues from the sofa frame and combines them with teak, which is always a wonderful option to battle the elements. Two shelves line the inside and are able to be moved up or down depending on user preference. 

Who says greenery can't grow in the sky? We commissioned the talented team at Articulture to make a succulent garden grow and give a smidge of life to the 35th floor. And we have to say, we were taken aback by their green thumbs. Our three planters were dotted and lined with cacti and shells and driftwood and succulents of all sorts. These tiny little jungles sprinkled along the balcony were definitely the cherry on top.

And that's a wrap. We hope you've loved seeing this space unfold!

ALL ABOUT DRAPERY

Knowing the in's and out's and how-to's with drapery can seem like a lot. How high should they hang? How far should they fall? Do I need that sheer? And a ton of questions in between. We've compiled a list of tips to make you a drapery-hanging champion in no time. 

Tip 1 - The Higher, the Better
To make windows appear more ample and expansive, mount the rod halfway between the top of the window and the ceiling. This midpoint is a great rule of thumb, but feel free to experiment with heading even higher if you're in the mood for the dramatic. 

Tip 2: The Lower, the Better
Tip 1, but in reverse. Cutting the curtain off too soon can make a space feel like what happens when your favorite sweater is accidentally tossed in the dryer - you'll be pulling and tugging at the shrunken sleeves all afternoon. To avoid this super uncomfy feeling, it's best to let curtains fall past the sill and even better, to the floor (or beyond for that drama we mentioned earlier).

Tip 3: To the Brim
If you prefer the crisp and clean look of drapery that just kisses the floor, you'll actually want drapery that falls a tad above ground level, around 3/4". We are all aware of the effects of gravity and unfortunately, your drapery isn't safe from it either. Give gravity a bit of time and space to work and soon, the drapes that gave you a mild panic attack thinking they look more like that shrunken sweater will soon be the perfect length. 

 

Tip 4: Stack Back
Allow your window to have some breathing room by extending the end(s) of the rod a handful or two past the window trim. This way, when you pull back the drapes to let the light in, you'll have the space to do so. 

Tip 5: To Sheer or Not to Sheer
We like to consider two things when deciding whether or not to add a sheer behind your drapery. The first is function. How will your space be used? We recommend using a sheer in a room where both light and privacy are desired. If you only have curtains, you will drown out the sunlight while achieving that desired privacy and leave yourself fumbling around in the dimly lit space. A sheer quickly solves this dilemma by enabling you to open the heavier curtain while maintaining a soft barrier to the outside world.
 

The second thing we like to consider is consistency. If you're one that loves to mix it up and have different patterns, prints and colors in each space, a sheer is a wonderful solution to maintaining visual consistency from the exterior while allowing your inner artiste to shine from room to room. 

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Statement Lighting for Shallow ceilings

Sometimes you're working with an older home with those characteristic low ceilings. Other times you have surprises like air ducts or mechanical equipment that when encased, lower the height of a space. Either way, these spots still deserve equal treatment when it comes to making them something special. We've had our eyes on 6 fixtures that seamlessly scale into a shallow space while not compromising any visual punch. 

A favorite. Lindsey Adelman created her Blow series to include a pendant, wall-mount, and this ceiling-mounted fixture, mimicking French wine-barrel candelabras. We can see one statement fixture or several of these sprawled across a ceiling, creating a dreamy atmosphere from above.

Lighting-trifecta Rich Brilliant Willing collaborated with architect Norman Rockwell to create the Witt Series, based on platonic solids. (If you have to look up platonic solid like we might have, here's a quick hint - it is a 3d shape where each face is the same regular polygon and where the same number of polygons meet at each vertex.) Witt's understated, stark form gives volume without the weight, perfect for a low space where visual clutter should be kept at bay.

Apparatus' Cylinder Pendants are a top choice for layering different lengths of light. With custom lengths and various finishes, the Cylinder makes a stream-lined, straight-forward statement without making a space too top-heavy.

The Luna Light by Anna Karlin is all about perspective. With the right vantage point, what first seems like flat shapes stuck behind a bronze rectangle transforms into full-blown, three-dimensional forms carefully tucked into a comfy bronze pocket. The sphere and cylinder are made from rose alabaster acrylic, a material that serves to emit a soft, warm glow. We're saving our pennies for this one.

The NR2 light by Bertjan Pot for Moooi is an updated take on his original Non Random fixture. Whether you see a light inspired by a ball of yarn or maybe even an effervescent soap bubble, The NR2 is a woven web of delicate thread that dances and shimmers in the light of the hidden bulb within. It's elegant and minimal with a slightly more squished profile than the original, making it a very suitable candidate for any low space you may encounter.

Our last pick is this super one-dimensional beauty. It packs quite the punch and covers more than a bit of real estate within a single plane. This pendant is part of the Beaubien line by Lambert & Fils, which also has a free standing version as well as wall-mounted. 

So the next time you come face to face (literally) with a low ceiling, we hope these fixtures will offer inspiration to take full advantage of every inch in those 8 feet.

Outdoor Living on the 35th Floor

If the Downtown views from inside the space aren’t enough to make you weak in the knees, then you’ve got to step outside because the 50 foot long balcony overlooking Town Lake is sure to. We literally had so much room to play with in order to outfit this outdoor expanse for the W penthouse unit we're designing. We explored lots of outdoor seating options and quickly realized that nothing else besides a custom arrangement was fit to sit among these views. 

We experimented with scale and investigated materials that were both appropriate for the elements and able to be manipulated in an eye-catching way, because if this piece was going to make the statement it deserved, it needed to be over-sized and it needed to be artfully designed. 

Bent steel rods soon led the pack of materials we were exploring. Steel rods can be twisted and turned into almost any form you can imagine. The weight that the structure could provide would keep the piece from shifting to and fro - it gets windy on the 35th floor! And the rods could be spaced in such a way to maintain a visual transparency from inside looking out. Done and done. 

We reached out to our pals at Petrified Design to collaborate on the seating element as well as complementary planters and storage that would also live in the space. Sketches began to evolve as undulating rods wrapped themselves around each other, forming a visually playful piece.

Petrified’s design & renderings gave way to prototypes and a final piece that we are completely enamored with. 

Keep an eye out for the grand finale of the sofa as final fittings for the cushions are underway! 

MANTLE-ING

A mantle is a blank canvas where your most favorite objects can come out to play. It’s like your very own (mini) theatrical stage that you can set and re-set as often as your little heart desires to coordinate with what is most near & dear or current or swoon-worthy to you. 

Today we’ve found a handful of mantles both minimal and brimming that we can’t get enough of and a few helpful hints as to why we think they are styled to a T.

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Let’s start with this breath-taker. The over-sized print and pop of pink grounds the mantle and draws your eye upward. The curated objects that sit atop the mantle uphold the historic feel of the space by recalling time periods past, each unique from the rest to capture your attention for the entire marble span.

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Complementary textures, materials and shapes are at work on this mantle to create visual interest and movement. The verticality and height of the feathers compliments the horizontal form of the horn opposite and creates a frame for the in-between elements of paper, glass and earthenware to live. 

The woven basket and animal bust (can we all cross our fingers it’s a found piece) serve to anchor the mantle objects that may otherwise feel a bit under-sized on such an expansive white canvas.

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Oof! Sometimes all you need to create the perfect mantle display is a stuffed peacock. The decadence of the feathers pairs well with the ornate rug and gilded coffee table. With such a show-stopping element (even if it’s not a cascading peacock), we think keeping the other pieces refined and minimal, like the understated mirror and sconces used here, is a must.

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I’m guessing many of us may not be as fortunate to have original cottage charm situated above our mantle - not to mention a mantle that’s in our bedroom. If this whimsical architectural detail didn’t find its way into your space, you can still take cues from the other pieces above the fireplace. 

The staggered sculpture, mini-tapestry and print playfully move the eye to each visual destination and take advantage of such towering walls. The inset mirror is a cinch to incorporate and bounces back that clear, natural light into the space, making waking up in the morning a tad more enjoyable.

With these examples and tips, how will you style your mantle? 

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HOW TO RUG

I’ve always thought that a rug functions in a way similar to a kitchen island, beckoning to be surrounded by company and stories and conversations. They are the perfect piece to anchor, add visual and tactile interest, and draw guests into a space. But when a handful of rug sizes meets a handful of possible furniture layouts, the sudden amount of options can be overwhelming and daunting. 

In an effort to weed out any confusion and have your space up and running as the heart of the home you’ve been dreaming of, we’ve made a little cheat sheet to help select the ideal rug size for your room.

Tip 1: Are you anchoring a large space or a cozy space? Let the dimensions of your room guide the rug size. An oversized room will feel embarrassingly under-dressed if it is covered with an itty-bitty rug.  Alternatively, if you are outfitting a tight space, it is perfectly a-okay to snag a smaller rug. In this case, grounding the sofa against a wall and situating the seating elements outside the perimeter of the rug will help to maximize the impact the rug provides.

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Tip 2: It’s all or nothing. If the sofa is situated with all fours on the rug, the last thing you want to do is exclude your beloved pair of armchairs from sitting pretty too. However if the sofa is nudged back a tad from the edge of the rug, the chairs can also follow suit.

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Tip 3: I love waking up in the morning and stepping onto a warm, welcoming rug to start my day. But that doesn’t work if the rug isn’t sized to anchor the bed. To keep your feet free from the shock of a cold floor, make sure your rug extends 30-36″ past the perimeter of the bed. If you have flanking nightstands, the rug can be pulled just proud of them while still extending the recommended 30-36″ on the remaining three sides. 

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This rule of thumb should also be applied to sofas and dining tables. To avoid a sofa that appears to be swallowing your favorite new rug, choose a size that extends at least 6-12″ past either side of the sofa lengthwise. And for a visually comfy dining room with chairs that effortlessly slide in and out, select a rug that is 24-34″ larger on all table sides. 

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And there you have it, a short-listed way to grab the rug your room has been waiting for.

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DARK & DECADENT

We’re in the camp that believes paint color is the best budget-friendly way to pack a punch in any setting. These spaces took that tip to heart and went deep and dark. Because if you’re going to unfold the drop cloth, line the trim with tape, get paint in your hair and rinse brushes for days, why not make it worth it?

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A deep, charcoal ceiling gives way to a dark-tiled backsplash for a dramatic spot to scrub those pots and pans (source unknown).

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These dark denim walls perfectly anchor the lighter wood tones that fill the space. 

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The moody walls, the furry blankets - don’t you feel like you could hibernate in this cozy bedroom for days? 

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A black ceiling complements a hex-tiled floor to create a graphic statement by sandwiching the crisp white walls.

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The deep navy hue elevates this reading nook to a space where you want to flip pages all evening.

DID SOMEONE SAY COPPER?

Mention copper and you have our attention. Mention copper paired with thoughtful product design and we’re on our way! Take a peek below for some of our favorite classic and up+coming pieces, all outfitted in our beloved copper.

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Top Row: Water Pitcher by Kyss Studio, Spin Light by Lasvit, Charles Hook by Nikolas Kerl // Middle Row: U Candleholder by Minimalux, Aurelia Copper Clock by Made, Blanche Clothes Stand by Meike Langer // Last Row: Brew Stove Top by Tom Dixon, Rollerball Pen by Y Studio, 10 Stamp by Colonia, Bottle Opener by Kikkerland

PATTERN PLAY

Don’t take this the wrong way - we love a nice, white, subway-tiled bath - but these new takes on tiles have given the timeless go-to a run for its money. 

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A Knotting Hill bath is wrapped with a graphic, geometric tile and topped off with brass accents. Take a peek at how this tile continues throughout the space. You can snag a similar look with tiles by Heath Ceramics.

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Traditional Moroccan-inspired tiles are paired with washed-out hues of emerald to create a subtle - but still stimulating - take on an often bold pattern. Head over to New Ravenna and see more of their stunning line, Aurora. 

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This bath is all about the details. The limited color palette by Elite Tile serves to emphasize the contrasting hex and herringbone patterns and effortlessly creates bold, graphic planes of interest.

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Marrakech hex tile gives a streamlined, understated bath the perfect pop of playfulness.

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Sometimes a little bit goes a long way. Offsetting bright, punchy tile from the wall with a border of a more traditional format tile offers the right amount of color without overwhelming an otherwise minimal space. Browse more of this home that’s not afraid of color here

WALLPAPER EVERYWHERE.

Wallpaper. It can be time-intensive, laborious to install and often quite permanent - but the visual statements these beauties lend to a space are completely worth it all. Wallpaper is a commitment that we want to make.

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1. Alexandria by Grow House Grow // 2. Levante by Flat Vernacular // 3. Akimbo No. 2 by Eskayel 3. Sisters of the Sun by Juju Papers // 4. Perennial by Flat Vernacular

TRAVIS HEIGHTS RESIDENCE

Here are a few before and after sneak peeks of our Travis Heights Residence. 

Master Bath:

BEFORE/ DURING CONSTRUCTION– Hello pipes!

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AFTER: Just waiting for our custom mirrored medicine cabinets and sconces

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The Master Bath pre-renovation had a picture framed-mirror (that opened for hidden storage) above the vanity and a toilet and bidet on the wall perpendicular. The shower was a make-shift floating box that was never properly integrated. The existing plumbing pipes pushed the sink up so high it wasn’t easily accessible. 

We designed a tile-encased vanity and step-up to make the sink height more functional, which is at once striking and substantial. The playfully-tiled shower boasts seating as well as built-in shelves. We removed the bidet and relocated the toilet and of course, kept that beautiful natural light flooding the space through the ribbon windows.

Powder Room:

BEFORE: Another make-shift shower and head-banging IKEA sink cabinet.

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AFTER: Christian Lacroix wallpaper fixes everything.

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First things first, we framed-out a wall to conceal that bulky column and angled ceiling. Post-renovation, the new space is complete with floating fixtures, recessed mirror and frosted windows, and the aforementioned beautiful Christian Lacroix wallpaper and Jason Wu faucet. 

Guest Bath:

BEFORE: Just a teeny tiny utility room, but our client had a vision…

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AFTER: We also can’t believe this was possible…

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What was once cramped and filled to the brim with winter coats, a washer/dryer and cleaning supplies is now crisp, clear and bright. Subway-tiled walls create a subtle backdrop for a beautiful ‘Cyclone’ herringbone patterned Fileclay-tiled floor and the full-height glass shower doors keep the space full of natural light.

Big thanks to Ruby Ann Designs and Stay tuned for the big Kitchen reveal and Master Suite Updates. Also big thanks to Hannah Berryhill for the pics!

PENTHOUSE AT THE W

Welcome to the 35th floor of the W! The view from this condo is stunning– full sweeping views of Town Lake (AKA Ladybird for the new Austinites) and one of the largest balconies in the building. The canvas for this project is already beautiful, just a few simple moves and our client’s incredible art collection and it will be stunning. 

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This project is a fairly limited remodel with simple goals of adding functional storage for our client and creating a beautiful and simple backdrop for their art collection. While the unit is inherently beautiful, it is not intended to showcase art to its full potential. We’ll also be adding a significant amount of LED lighting which will help keep the Austin Energy Code satisfied.

We’ve also re-designed all three existing bathrooms, provided a functional new Kitchen bar, added a customized media room and executive office as well as custom designed millwork for a beautiful new Master Closet. This project required a full set of construction documents, which entailed detailing all millwork (cabinetry), selecting materials and finishes, coordinating with HVAC, electrical, and plumbing requirements, locating all lights and switches, and essentially detailing all other designed elements.

Wilmington Gordon is our general contractor and we can’t wait to get get started.

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We are also helping our client ‘Complete the Picture’ and selecting all the new furniture for their interior (furniture shown above is temporary). We currently have some beautiful rugs being made by one of our favorite vendors, Black Sheep Unique– here’s one that’s going in the Living Room. LOVE!

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Also found another excuse to use this Living Landscape Sofa by Walter Knoll that we previously used in the other W Penthouse we designed with Michael Hsu– double LOVE the flexibility of this piece:

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This Kitchen island is going to get a solid walnut countertop added to the back of it so our client can entertain and eat in the Kitchen– we all want to hang out there anyway, right?

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Here’s the Master Bedroom- the existing column location in here is incredibly awkward and the bed location is temporary. Rogue column locations tend to happen in high-rise condos so you just have to make the most of them– we’re likely going to wrap this one in a beautiful velvet. Wish we could get Paola Lenti to quilt us something beautiful… to be continued.

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Our client is a huge Ingo Maurer fan and we can’t wait to put this “Lacrime del Pescatore” (or in English, “Fisherman’s Tears”) in their Master Bedroom. Inspired by fisherman’s nets, hundreds of crystals are suspended on layers of nylon nets which are lit by a wall-mounted spotlight. The result is pretty mesmerizing to say the least.

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Last, we’ll likely bring in a landscape architect to soften the balcony and add a little organic color out there. The challenge here will be the wind conditions on the 35th floor and keeping furniture in place and out of the streets of Austin, but we love a good challenge. It’s all worth it to fully appreciate this incredible view of our incredible City of Austin.

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BARTON CREEK RESIDENCE

Last week we went out to see progress on our Barton Creek Residence. We’re elated to see this project finally under construction.

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This project entailed a full interiors package; coordination with Homestead Architecture on the layout, development of the kitchen plan, design of all cabinets, a custom bunk room, and selection of all finishes/materials, lighting, and plumbing.

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We were brought on to this project after Homestead designed the architecture, so our job has been to merge the client’s desired aesthetic with the architect’s existing design. More updates to come soon!

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SUGAR MAMA’S BAKESHOP

In 2013, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop reached out to us to design their second shop located in East Austin. They’re best known for their beautiful custom cakes, delicious cupcakes and other sweet treats (along with winning Cupcake Wars!), but their Eastside shop also offers cheeseboards, wine, cocktails, and beer on tap. Although this project was largely budget-driven, we think the final result turned out super sweet.

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Several tricks were used to keep this project budget-friendly. While VCT tiles don’t always have the best reputation in the design world, they can be a good low-cost option when used creatively. This gingham pattern is a throwback to 1950s retro diner-style and the checkerboard floors of the original Sugar Mama’s. It’s also super low maintenance which is a huge bonus for this family friendly establishment. Another economical source we love for lighting is Schoolhouse Electric Co. We used their “Tangled Chandelier” for the back space to add a little pop of their signature cherry red color as a focal point at the back of the space. The colorful wall sconces on the side wall were also an affordable option from another favorite lighting source, One Forty Three. All lighting is LED and compact fluorescent to keep everything nice an energy efficient— City of Austin requires it these days!

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The best part of this shell interior was the transom window located near the back of the space. The desired layout almost required omitting it, but we were determined to keep it in. After pushing and pulling the layout to fit all of Sugar Mama’s needs, we were able to keep this light well feature that draws you into the space. We highlighted the wall with a creative re-use of a door casing profile and added a pop of custom wallpaper and voila! The cutest littlebakeshop was born.

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The owners also did a bit of design-sourcing themselves. They hired local graphic designers Robb Harskamp and Craig Crutchfield to design a custom wallpaper and neon exterior sign, and a local furniture fabricator to make the cute turned wood tables. We sourced the Vienna chairs from Crate & Barrel, which is a great, attractive option for budget-driven dining spaces.

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If you live in Austin, be sure to stop by Sugar Mama’s East for one of their beautiful and delectable desserts and drinks; they’re open until 10pm almost every day. Many thanks to Mario Carlin Management for helping us make their new little bakery beautiful! 

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B&B ITALIA TABANO CHAIR

Today we received B&B Italia’s Tabano chair that we ordered for one of our clients at the W Residences. We think it’s a classy but unique piece that adds a lot of character to a space.

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Here’s ours in its temporary home while the penthouse is under construction!

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NEW YEAR, NEW BLOG

Welcome to our first blog post of 2015! We will be uploading pictures of works in progress, design tips, and overall things we love. Thanks to all of you who supported us in 2014 and we can’t wait to see where 2015 takes us! 

In December, we couldn’t have been more excited to find out that the very first ABID project, the Tarrytown Residence, won Best in Show and also Best Contemporary Large Space at the 2014 ASID Design Excellence Awards. Many thanks to A Parallel Architecture and Pilgrim Building Co. for their help and hard work.

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