How to decorate an empty space

This article is part of our special Design section on how looks, materials, and even creators evolve.

I recently moved and took basically nothing with me. What is the best strategy to fill an apartment? Do I have to buy everything at once? Or wait and build it?

Even if you can afford to buy everything at once, it’s probably not a great idea, because you risk ending up with a showroom look, which is never appealing. The goal is to be your authentic (and perhaps contradictory) self, not to buy someone else’s unique uniformity.

So aim for a house that looks like it was put together over time. And the best way to do that, short of hiring people to search online auctions, rural flea markets, and vintage stores, is to take your time. Buy pieces that you love and want to keep. Enjoy the discovery process. Find inspiration on your travels.

To create some consistency, before you begin, decide on an overall style and color scheme. Create inspiration boards from magazine clippings, visit blogs, browse Instagram, and wander through home decor stores, antique markets, and garage sales. Using these inspirations, lay a foundation of basics like a sofa, coffee table, dressers, and the largest table that can fit in your kitchen – it can double as a dining area, work station, extra counter space, and more. family center. The rest will follow.

Oh, and you’ll need a mattress (perhaps I should have started with that?). It’s expensive, but it has one big advantage: no one will see it, so it doesn’t have to match anything that comes after.

My guest fold out bed is in the middle of the living room (as it usually is). I am a tenant and can’t do anything structural, but would like to make the area more private for guests.

Consider a folding screen. It can solve a multitude of problems and add a touch of glamor to your home. While the screen cannot replace an actual wall or door, it can be very effective in creating the illusion, or delusion, of separation.

Placing a screen in front of a drafty window creates a cozy spot for an easy chair (in French, folding screens are called “paravents” or “wind blockers”). Or you can use one to filter out an unattractive view without cutting out the light. A screen in one corner prevents the divan in front of it from “floating” in space. In a large room, a central screen allows you to delimit a small sitting area (or space for a sleeping guest).

Almost any material is fair game for a screen. The Italian-Danish team GamFratesi wove leather in geometric patterns for Poltrona Frau screens, available in two-, three-, and four-panel models, starting at $7,150. Alvar Aalto made a wood-slatted version in 1936 for Artek ($2,375 from the Finnish Design Store), and in 1946, Charles and Ray Eames designed a molded plywood shade for Herman Miller (on sale for $3,295 on Hive at closing of this edition). For displays in almost any style and pattern, 1stDibs is a true treasure trove.

I would like to install a marble countertop in my kitchen but I want to know: Is marble really sustainable?

Marble itself is extraordinarily durable and will probably outlive you, your kitchen, your home, and your children. It’s a natural material, mined from the earth, and the supply doesn’t seem to be in any danger of running out anytime soon. Important points for that.

However (and this is a big “however”), quarrying marble requires a tremendous amount of energy and water, and the process can generate waste in the form of offcuts (oddly shaped leftover pieces) and a lot of dust. . Many coveted types of marble come from Italy, including the city of Carrara, where the block on which Michelangelo’s David was carved was carved. But transporting something that heavy consumes a lot of fuel. If you’re building something with a long expected lifespan, marble might be a good choice. But if you’re working on a countertop that you plan to replace in five to 10 years, you may want to consider alternatives.

Or at least shorten the distance the marble needs to travel and buy Americana. The Vermont Danby Quarry is in New England, and the marble produced there was used to build the Jefferson Memorial.

I am doing a renovation and would like to update everything including my light switches. But a recent trip to Home Depot was not inspiring. Everything looks the same, and cheap. Any suggestion?

There are plenty of switches out there that are a big step up from what you’ll find in the typical home center inventory. What sets these switches apart is a significant reduction in plastic. Many are made of stainless steel or brass; they are pleasant to the touch. Instead of modern rocker switches, which rock from side to side, they work with levers that have a substantial feel and a very rewarding “click”. Similarly, the dimmers work with satisfying metal knobs.

Forbes & Lomax offers toggle, knob, and push button switches, as well as the so-called invisible light switch, which combines a metal switch with an acrylic plate. (Plastic passes here; transparency is useful when you have colored or patterned wallpaper and want the beauty to show through.) Buster & Punch switches have a slightly more industrial look, with knurled switches and dimmers that feature a carved texture. (And the company’s dimmer switch’s white anodized metal finish is the last word in clean, contemporary style.) Switches and plates from Futagami, a Japanese company founded in 1897 that specializes in sand-cast brass, have a subtle texture and a patina that will develop further over time. Find them through Housework.

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