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Curve design for your space

Cooper Union’s engineering school required a state-of-the-art computer lab, a multimedia presentation room, study cubicles, and a gallery. All of these functions were to be linked with existing acoustics and materials laboratories and the milling and robotics equipment in an adjacent space.

Most significantly, the school emphasized the need to develop a design center that would, according to the architects, “encourage creative and poetic solutions to engineering problems,” and play a role in rethinking the curriculum in light of technological developments.

Faced with this challenge, the design team researched alternative teaching methodologies in which the flow of information was not a one-way proposition, from teacher to student, but multidirectional. Their decisive solution was to break with tradition on nearly every front.

Firm principals Scott Marble and Karen Fairbanks, along with colleagues David Riebe and Rebecca Garpenter, who served as project architects, tore down the walls of the old engineering classrooms to make way for the new design center.

Where once there were four self-contained, adjacent classrooms, each one entered independently from a double-loaded corridor, now stands a glass-enclosed design center organized into distinct but interconnected zones of activity. The original corridor wall was replaced with a glass gallery wall that is dominated by a vitrine. The great expanse of glass provides a visual connection between students in the lab and those coming and going through the school; the floor-to-ceiling display case currently holds an alumni-donated collection of antique mechanical devices, which provide an inspirational contrast to the computer-generated designs being developed by current-day students.


The largest portion of the nearly 3,000-sq.-ft. engineering design center is occupied by the design studio, which contains four clusters of work stations, each with seven computer terminals.

At the east end of this main space are four small, semiprivate study cubicles that provide a more intimate space for design groups of four or five people; these cubicles are outfitted with video conferencing equipment, monitors, and power and data terminals for laptop computers.

To the west is the multimedia presentation room, a 40-seat auditorium/lecture hall with a high-resolution, rear-projection system and an extensive installation of electronic devices for use by both instructors and students, including a podium with two networked computers.

Glass walls and perforated-panel doors separate the three main zones of the design center–the design studio, the study cubicles, and the multimedia theater–emphasizing the integrated, interactive methodology of the school. A curved, incised, and recessed ceiling plane also makes a dynamic statement about the connective nature of the space, uniting the three zones of the design center with the suggested movement of information and ideas across the whole of the interior.


The project team included Jenny Wu, Marl Fujita, Jake Nishimura, Todd Rouhe, and Scott Paterson.

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Space International

Space International brings order to a potentially dizzying merchandise mix at Kitson, a new shop in Los Angeles by shop design.

A NEWCOMER ON Robertson Boulevard, Kitson has something for everyone–men and women of all ages, their kids, and even their pets. The product mix ranges from gift cards and hair accessories to designer jewelry. In between, there’s an eye-boggling array of cosmetics and apothecary items; trendy shoes and handbags; T-shirts, jeans and dresses; books; gadgets; linens; ceramics; children’s furniture, toys, gifts and clothing; backpacks; plus dog bowls, collars and leashes. Did we leave out anything?

A luxurious style interior for a universal shop by using combination effects of lighting and furniture

A luxurious style interior for a universal shop by using combination effects of lighting and furniture

For Kitson’s owners, Fraser Ross and Joe Freeburn, the far-flung product mix translated into universal retail appeal. For John Hirsch and Mike Ferguson of Space International, the merchandising concept was a potential design nightmare. Imagine a long, narrow 2,500-sq.-ft. space and no precise breakdown of either product type or quantity to fill it. That’s the scenario Hirsch and Ferguson confronted when they were hired on the strength of their nearby project for Cynthia Leight Opticians (Interior Design, November 1999). Developing a smart, ultra-efficient display system for Kitson was one of the project’s crucial challenges. Another was the need to pump up the architectural volume of the nondescript shoebox venue.

Universal Retail Shop Design

The treatment of the storefront was a primary concern. Not only would it announce the shop’s presence and introduce an image, it would also need to lure drivers and pedestrians alike. Eschewing the traditional flat glass storefront, the architects punched out an entry sector to form a grand, glass display box. The treatment breaks down the divide between showcase vitrine and selling space. In effect, this window display says “touch me, buy me, not hands off,” according to the architects. Hirsch and Ferguson also broke with tradition above street level. Where neighboring shops all sport awnings, Kitson has none. Instead, aluminum panels surround a protruding aperture that makes “the entry form integral to the architecture,” according to Hirsch. “We’re capturing the sky and bringing it indoors,” he adds.

Inside the shop, the sky is visible through four added skylights that cap the newly exposed beams of the building’s roof structure. The wood beams and natural light draw attention to the ceiling plane, which is articulated with protrusions and cutaways. This strategy of architectural layering continues along the walls. Lengthwise elevations are built out with framed recesses–or “volumetric apertures,” as the architects call them–that accommodate the shelving system.

The all-important display system required inherent flexibility to accommodate everchanging merchandise and to unify the space. “We couldn’t have a dead section,” says Hirsch. Wall units, anchoring movable glass shelves, consist of six-ft.-high frames of dark brae wood in varying widths. The modules’ variety and their seemingly random placement “set up a cadence” that yields both unity and spatial diversity, the architects explain. Their solution helps shoppers focus on specific sales areas without being overwhelmed by the broad product offering. Freestanding tables, each 20-ft.-long, plus wall-adjoined cases–all intricately fitted with trays and drawers for storage–complete the program.

Selling products are decorated on the table

Selling products are decorated on the freestanding table

In addition to articulated planes and bold forms, Hirsch and Ferguson decided that Kitson needed something to make it pop. What could be more effective than a dose of color? Shades of sea foam green, periwinkle and yellow go a long way in lightening the shop’s attitude.

Co-owner Fraser Ross, who has two similar stores in Canada and whose first letter to Space International contained the warning “This will scare you,” couldn’t be more delighted with Kitson. “In our first two months, we’re already 30 percent over projections,” he reports. “The store is so well designed we’ve already had an international franchise offer.” Not bad for a five-week build-out accomplished on a $210,000 budget. Phillip Trigas and Britton Hefner collaborated on the design team for the Kitson project.

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Re-designing a house and make it to be a nice one: A story

When his client acquired the 526-sq.-ft. apartment in an 1880s building in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, “it had been divided into a labyrinthine two-bedroom unit,” recalls Wiens. The designer swiftly gutted the space, leaving only the original oak flooring, to create a single room. Inspired by the efficient designs of old railroad cars, Wiens reconfigured the apartment to appear more spacious and to function more effectively.

Re-design the house to be a nice one

Re-design the house to be a nice one

A sleek, Pullman-style kitchen is located along a ten-ft. expanse of one wall, flanked by a pair of closets containing a pantry and laundry machines. Deftly combining stainless-steel appliances and work surfaces with natural maple cabinetry, Wiens created a pleasant cooking area that need not be concealed. The kitchen’s restrained materials palette, strong geometric forms, and European fixtures relate to the owner’s affinity for modern furniture and design.

See this video to see the result after redesigning the house

The bathroom is contained within a nine-ft. by 11-ft. volume that also conceals closets, a bar, television, and stereo equipment. At the same time, the eight-ft.-tall cube functions as the apartment’s main organizing feature, says Wiens, “creating a sense of where the living room and bedroom are without walls.” Inside, the 54-sq.-ft. bathroom is clad in Elterwater stone (a veined English slate) with a stainless-steel vanity and maple cabinetry that echo the kitchen’s crisp, contemporary aesthetic.

The design and construction were completed in seven months’ time at an approximate cost of $50,000.

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A New Material for Home Furniture and Home Design

A Bright Material for Your House

According to team leaders Lewis Jay Goetz and Mansour Maboudian, Lucent wanted “to have a high profile in this high-rent neighborhood in Washington’s hub on par with Lockheed, TRW, and Oracle. The company also wanted to showcase its latest technology in an optimal networked setting atypical of a standard defense contractor.” In short, interiors were to sparkle.

How the material makes building and your house brighter

How the material makes building and your house brighter

But the site was problematic. It covered 80,000 sq. ft. on two floors of a pair of disparate buildings that had been erected around a shared atrium. “The floor plans of the buildings were different and fragmented,” says principal-in-charge Goetz, zeroing in on the main challenge. The lack of a grid and common structural elements created a complicated planning exercise.

Within an 80:20 ratio of open to closed work spaces, GGA accommodated a staff of about 320 divided into 15 groups according to job functions. Divisions among groups were loosely enforced. “The client wanted to encourage teamwork among them, blurring the lines between the different organizational aspects of the company,” Goetz says. “Before, people had worked in isolated groups.” GGA’s scheme deployed team areas, conference spaces, a lunchroom linked to reception above by a new internal staircase, plus a multi-media demonstration room at the heart of the fifth-floor plan.

Lucent Material for Staircase in Building or House

Though vital to the solution’s success, planning was not the only concern. Developing a palette of shimmering materials and devising their manipulation engaged the architects’ hearts and minds.

“Lucent is about light,” Maboudian says. “Light and how materials react to light were critical. Most of the materials are polished and reflective, contributing to an airy and open space.” The architects’ selected white terrazzo, stainless steel, aluminum in an array of finishes and treatments, plus glass, both transparent and translucent. In addition to its tactile qualities, the materials palette connotes a progressive spirit at Lucent.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the up-front, fifth-floor procession. The spatial sequence starts at the elevator lobby and proceeds through the reception area, past the stairway to the all-important demonstration room. It’s an all-out effort to wow established and prospective clients.

The material can be used for staircase in your house too

The material can be used for staircase in your house too

Sheathed in white back-painted glass, the elevator lobby begins the dialogue and segues to a reception zone with terrazzo flooring and a sculptural desk of aluminum and sandblasted glass panels. From here, space becomes slightly compressed in what Goetz terms “a pinched vista” to the demo room. Glistening and almost other-wordly, this segment is defined by a swath of terrazzo and a metal canopy whose curved members support flat-screen monitors with continuous video loops about Lucent. The canopy is a complex study in rolled, plate, and perforated aluminum in anodized and lacquered finishes with stainless-steel fasteners and supports.

bright home

bright home

For Office System, Team Room, or Combination with other Furniture

Adjacent to this walkway is the stairwell, where another materials study examining translucent, transparent, and reflective qualities gives one pause. The stair itself combines a painted steel structure and treads with perforated metal risers. Its threshold is marked by stainless-steel grating that gives way to a path of sandblasted glass panels. Double-height metal mesh panels, with turnbuckle fasteners, link fourth and fifth floors as a continuation of monitor backdrops on the upper level. It’s “all about luminosity,” says Goetz. Not only do the experiments “expand normal vistas, but also they develop the image of a forward-thinking, high-tech company.”

In office system and team room

In office system and team room

Deeper into the space, the razzle-dazzle subsides a bit. The demonstration room, however, is a technophile’s dream. At 1,200 sq. ft., the enclosure has a raised floor ringed with integrated uplighting, and a 12-ft. by 9-ft. portion of its back wall is a seamless surface for rear-screen projection. There’s a full quotient of audio/ visual components, neatly concealed behind a structural column and adjacent aluminum panels, plus equipment for teleconferencing and satellite connections. Almute panels of recycled aluminum front absorptive blankets for acoustics.

The work environment proper is a landscape of Steelcase’s Elective Elements office system and team rooms with bright table and chair, enclosed by partial walls to encourage informal interaction. Throughout, the open ceiling is articulated with canopies of varying material hung at different heights. Oversized acoustical panels, drywall, and sheets of perforated aluminum not only add lively variety, but also lend a finished quality to the 10-ft.-high space. “The continuity of the ceiling system, leading from reception through to offices,” says Goetz, “helps create the feeling that the back is not a secondary space.”

The project was designed and constructed within a year. Architecture and engineering costs came to $3 million excluding furnishings and audio/visual equipment. Additional team credits go to Timothy Bromiley, Claudia Cusumano, Gloria Wu, and Lucent’s Steven Torell.

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Style takes a front seat in recliners

Role of the best recliners mentioned by Cuddly Home Advisors‘ Recliner Reviews

Traditionally, the role of recliners has been to provide the most comfortable seats in the house. While the chairs have succeeded in that objective, their clumsy looks have tended to relegate them to the back room or den.

Not so anymore. Recliners still have to provide comfort and the looks have to say so, but today’s shrinking living space is bringing them out of the back room. As a result, manufacturers have been challenged to find a more stylish way to say comfort.

How comfortable to sit or lay on a recliner chair

How comfortable to sit or lay on a recliner chair

The most successful solution to this dilemma thus far has been something of a casual contemporary look–puffy chairs with loose pillows reminiscent of recent looks in Italian upholstery. Wood trim and rattan have also gained acceptance and a number of manufacturers are making attempts to reduce the oversized scale of the chair, or at the very least, to arrive at designs that give a smaller feeling.

See how a recliner can bring comfort to your home:

Covers have also been affected. Cottons and a variety of matched stripes and pastel colors are now taking their places beside the usual Herculons in mists and browns.

Contemporary Recliner Chair

Among the style statements, contemporary has gained the most acceptance. “The major trend has been in the European-Italian vein,” according to Pat Norton, senior vice president for sales and marketing for La-Z-Boy. “We’re seeing a lot in the floppy look.”

The style has worked, manufacturers say, not just because it is current, but because it also fits the role of a recliner. The soft look conveys the comfort story consumers are looking for. Stylish and cushy

“If you look at reclining chairs back about five years ago, everyone was going for a tailored, trim look,” said Mickey Waldrup, merchandise manager at Berkline. “Then the European influence with its generally softer look came in. It’s been successful because, besides being stylish, it provides the soft, cushy look that people look for in a recliner.”

Berkline’s introductions this spring will attempt to provide variations on the casual contemporary concept. “We’re trying to come up with some different shapes, wing treatments and arm looks to provide a softer look overall,” Waldrup said. “We’ll try some things to set ourselves apart, including the use of a cantilever arm on one of the five new models.” The unsupported arm design is meant to give the chair a more graceful, streamlined look.

Nowadays there are a lot of recliner style for you to choose

Nowadays there are a lot of recliner style for you to choose

Overall, however, Berkline’s introductions will stress shape. There will be no dramatic moves by the manufacturer toward smaller scale. “There’s some room in the market for smaller scale, but that’s not really our thing,” Waldrup said. “We have some well-scaled items, but that’s not the thrust of our line.”

Recliner Manufacturers

Recliner manufacturers may be doing well now with casual contemporary looks, but Leo Matheny, vice president of Catnapper, still believes there are limits to how fashionable a reclining chair can become.

“The best selling recliners today are those with a soft, contemporary look,” Matheny said. I see no move toward a dressier look. You don’t want to lose sight of the comfort factor. Ugly recliners will always sell well.” Sloppy pillow looks Dal Eckard, vice president of merchandising at Action, agreed that recliners have developed more of a sense of style, but he gave some of the credit to trends in the upholstery market.

“Styles in recliners tend to fall in line with what’s happening in upholstery, and we have been seeing more in casual and casual contemporary there,” Eckard said. “Generally, the rule of thumb is that if it is good on upholstery it works well on recliners, although the recliners are limited somewhat by the need to correlate with what’s already in the room.”

Cecliner Covers

The trend is similar in recliner covers, Eckard said. While there are now more cover choices than in the past, they still tend to be more conservative than what is seen other upholstered pieces. While recliners are more streamlined today, there are limits there as well. “It depends on how you define streamlined,” Eckard said. “They are not necessarily lower or that much sleeker, but they have a more fashionable appearance, partially as a result of mechanism streamlining.”

Traditional Recliner Chair

Traditional Recliner Chair

For Bill Muffi, sales manager at Peoploungers, today’s look in recliners reflects a “modern contemporary look” with loose cushions, more curves and generally more of a relaxed look.

“We’re finding that there are more sloppy pillow looks that, to me, reflect more of an Italian influence than anything else,” Muffi said. “Retailers are responding to the soft pillow look, and we are also finding that oak trim is doing well for us.” A matter of scale

Peoploungers is also looking at the family room as another possible area of growth for recliners. “With housing getting smaller, the family room will have to look better,” Muffi said. “I think that it may be timely now to go after that market.”

Peoploungers already markets sectional sofas with reclining sections, and by selling correlated reclining chairs, the company also expands style and cover options. “We do a fair amount of business in the traditional market,” Muffi said. “And we’re doing a lot in Early American with country covers that give us a country look.”

The floppy contemporary look works well within the parameters of large scale. But today’s smaller living spaces are putting more pressure on manufacturers to provide chairs with, at the very least, a feelinf of smaller scale.

Comfortable recliners

“We will be seeing more on a small scale, but it will be as much an illusion as anything else,” said La-Z-Boy’s Norton. “What’s coming is more of a refined transitional look, or perhaps something along the line of a moderate contemporary. I like to think of them as warm, inviting looks–probably on somewhat of a smaller scale–although not lower in height.”

While Barcalounger has a reputation for going a little farther than the average recliner manufacturer in terms of style, it is still limited by the nature of the product. ‘Buy it by the pound’

“We’re selling a comfort product, which generally translates to looks of a marshmallow nature,” said Jack Hafkey, vice president at Barcalounger. “There’s something of a ‘buy it by the pound syndrome’ in this business, so we have to acknowledge the puffy look.”

Still, Hafkey has seen more interest lately in more scaled-down, dressed-up looks. “You are going to see more matched stripes, and more product for smaller living spaces–maybe even for smaller people. Rattan has done well for us lately, and we will continue to strive for diversity.”

Stylish Recliners

While he agreed that recliners are becoming more stylish, Hafkey admitted that “the basic styling has not changed that much.” What is happening, he said, “is that they are being scaled, finessed and covered better.

“That’s about as much of a style trend as you will get in recliners,” Hafkey added. “To a great extent, the category has its own style-one that defies labels.”

Franklin Manufacturing has been a leader in the movement to smaller scale with its Princess line designed for condominiums and smaller homes, and the company plans to add some wood trim to the line this spring.

“The chairs still accommodate comfort, but they have a lighter, airy look,” said Coleman Cody, merchandise manager for Franklin. “The scale of the arms makes the chairs appear smaller, so while they’re not really smaller overall, they appear so. We plan new models in this group in the gravity mechanism and in a high leg. Both will be contemporary.”

Recliner in living room

Recliner in living room

Franklin is also planning a departure in covers by using more of what Cody called, “the ice cream colors,” such as peach and mauve. The company’s casual contemporary numbers will feature covers like Kiwi from Collins and Aikman and Blowout from Joan. A Chromatex matched stripe will also be used on some of the smaller scale contemporary products.

“We’re selling the smallness and casualness of the chair itself,” Cody said. “While they’re not for the tonnage market, the colors have lent themselves to selected markets in the South and in coastal towns. Generally, it’s an upscale, upbeat market.”

For the tonnage market, Franklin is going the way of the others: to casual contemporary, the dominant style statement in the mass market. “We’re working on three or four chairs with sloppy looks for this market,” Cody said. “They’ll have the overstuffed looks with pillows that have been around in upholstery, but are harder to achieve in recliners.”

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MIX Master – Home and Design

MIX Master – Home and Design

Writer and stylist LeeAnn Yare has transformed her bland and beige family home in New Zealand into a colourful & character-filled space. Here, she explains how she did it.

Renovating previous homes

Not one to shy away from any interiors challenge, I am the first to admit that my husband Glen and I took what might seem as the easy way out with this home. We haven’t had to knock down even one wall. Turning the worst house on the street into the best is something we have taken in our stride while renovating previous homes. I’m happy to take a sledgehammer to walls or rip out kitchens and bathrooms – exercising restraint is not something that comes naturally to me. One thing Glen and I both agreed on was that we had outgrown our previous little bungalow. If you asked Glen, he would tell you that it was all me, that I had accumulated so much furniture and stuff that I had to get a storage unit, and even then things still managed to spill out onto the verandah.

Each person may have different types of favorite house

Each person may have different types of favorite house

Tyler was 18 months old at the time and I was eight months pregnant with Dylan – what a silly time to start looking for a house you would think, but no, not for me. So while I had visions of Grand Designs, after looking at a few do-ups the idea of a full-scale renovation with a toddler and a new baby wasn’t exactly practical.

Which kind of house do you like?

We had never considered buying a renovated home, which the advertisement said this one was, but I was intrigued to see the converted “work from home” studio at the rear of the house. As soon as I walked in I knew Glen would love this place. All the hard work was done, both inside and out, and I could use the studio as my work space. Plus, it was in a central location in Auckland, with a great school just around the corner. Glen was sold on the easy stroll to Eden Park, New Zealand’s largest stadium. The downside was that the entire place was beige – everything from the walls and carpet to the kitchen cabinetry. While beige has its place, this was an overload and a complete contradiction to my colourful, eclectic style.

It’s tricky to create dramatic results without spending much money, but I’m a self-confessed wallpaper addict, so now almost every beige wall has either been papered or painted. A leftover roll from an interior design job I’d done now disguises the beige kitchen bench, while a collection of offcuts and samples in some of my favourite designs and colours have been patch-worked together to create my office space. Tyler’s room has a wall-size world map, while Dylan’s features a wall of yellow “Cockatoos” – a wallpaper by Florence Broadhurst. The main bedroom has painted black walls teamed with an abstract floral wallpaper design by Tom Dixon that I found in a bargain bin.

Modern and vintage kitchen

Modern and vintage kitchen

Modern or Vintage Style?

Combining between model and vintage style is a trend

Combining between model and vintage style is a trend

The remainder of the interior is constantly evolving. It’s a blend of modern and vintage, with punches of bold colour and touches of industrial style. In typical stylist’s fashion I never need an excuse to move things around. Glen often arrives home to find rooms completely transformed. He would prefer a more minimal style, but right now, there are too many things I fall in love with, such as one of special seating furniture like best recliners or best sleep sofas. Maybe one day if I ever have the budget to buy the pieces required to make minimal style really work I’ll give it a go. In the meantime I have sort of agreed with Glen on a “one in one out” policy. Well, we’ll see the video below.

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Small Beautiful; transform a small apartment into a light & spacious home

Small Beautiful;  transform a small apartment into a light & spacious home

Getting a new house

SOME PEOPLE BUY PROPERTY based on location, while others are drawn in by renovation potential. Olivia Tipler hit the jackpot with both when she snapped up a one-bedroom 1950s apartment on a leafy Melbourne street that was ripe for renewal. “The apartment was on the ground floor in a boutique block of four and it had fabulous bones. I knew one day I’d revamp it,” Olivia says.

get a new apartment or house

Get a new apartment or house

At the time of moving in Olivia wasn’t ready for a major reno and so she simply tidied up the apartment by pulling up the old carpets and polishing the floorboards. It was a couple of years later, with her first baby on the way, that Olivia and her partner Daryl Pelchen, an architect, decided to take the plunge and renovate. “It probably wasn’t the best time to start major building works, but we were running out of space and desperately needed an extra bedroom,” Olivia recalls.

“the clever division of space has opened up the apartment into a light & airy family home”

Decorating the house

Olivia was keen to imbue the space with an elegant edge while embracing a laidback open-plan layout. But before the decorating could start, reconfiguring the awkward floorplan was top priority for the renovation. First to go was the rear wall in the apartment – in its place glass bifold doors now flood the living room with light and lead directly out onto a sunny terrace. “Removing the rear wall was a major undertaking. We had to install two steel ceiling beams to prevent the apartment above from falling in,” Olivia explains.

decoration make your house beautiful

Decoration make your house beautiful

Next on the demolition list was the poky kitchen, replaced by a larger open-plan version complete with a Carrara marble-topped island unit, modern stainless-steel cooker and plenty of cupboard space. “Storage was really important, so we also added floor-to-ceiling robes in both bedrooms and a wide bookcase in the living room,” Olivia says.

Carving a second bedroom – the couple’s main bedroom – out of the limited space was an easier task, with the former living room lending itself perfectly to the job. The now elegant main bedroom seamlessly flows into the open-plan living zone through a retractable sliding door. “We included the pocket doors on both bedrooms to give a greater sense of space,” Olivia explains.

A beautiful living room

A beautiful living room

Baby Ivy’s nursery was given a fresh coat of paint and a custommade sisal rug before being dressed with simple white furniture and a vibrant Marimekko wall hanging to inject the room with colourful character. Coming to an end on a glamorous note, the apartment’s stylish bathroom is small but perfectly formed. Crying out for a contemporary makeover, the couple revitalised the room with chic white subway tiles, luxurious Carrara marble ledges, mirrored cupboards and simple, modern accessories.


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