From the category archives:

Design Team

I recently was interviewed for the September 16th issue of Rochester Business Journal via a phone call with Debbie Walzer, a freelance writer.  As always, when I can preach about the value of good design to a sympathetic ear I am at no loss for words.  I didn’t have a clue what the article was going to focus on, but as long it was about design then I was happy.

“Interior design projects without guidance pose risks” Working with no plan can mean losing sight of the big picture, designers say….and so the article began.  Particularly fascinating to me is that three interior designers (one of them me) were interviewed independently and we shared very similar experiences.  Heather DeMoras’ solution for clients without a plan is straightforward: “Work with a professional to create a long-term plan, which can be executed over time and in the end, a well-conceived plan will save you money.”  Jason Longo’s advice: “Invest in a good interior designer and the expertise will help you understand the value of this profession.”

In my personal experience, the most successful results are achieved when the client hires interior design services in the beginning of a project.  In the case of a new build, this can sometimes mean joining the design team when the preliminary architectural drawings are done.  Unfortunately, too many people resist hiring a designer until they have already made many costly mistakes.  There is always something I can do to remedy the problem but usually the room will never achieve its full potential that would have been achievable if the project got off to the right start.

The following drawings are examples of how I begin designing a room.  First I begin with the floor plan and furniture arrangements.  You will see the shape of the new built-in cabinetry in this family room.  The fireplace is the only thing that exists in the current space.  Since the room is quite large, the furniture arrangement is created to achieve a conversational grouping and yet the primary seating faces the TV or the fireplace.  To add additional character to the room and create a cozy intimate feeling in a space of this size, I decided to show my clients how the room would look if we continued the woodwork all around the room.  They loved the idea and after finessing the designs, a local woodworker was hired to build the custom cherry cabinetry and frame and panel walls.  With all this beautiful cherry in the room, we were struggling to find the right size end tables in the right style, so I designed a pair of tables that my woodworker will create as well.  You might be thinking that custom furniture would be extremely expensive, but his price was competitive with similar tables that we saw in stores, plus my clients think “it’s really cool” to know the person who made their furniture.

Family Room Floor Plan

Design for Built-in Cabinetry

Design for Cherry End Tables

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20110630-095300.jpgClockwise from left: The Finished ‘First Lady Piano’ at the Steinway & Sons factory in NYC, The Blue Room at the White House, Detail of the final embroidered medallion used to create the Piano Bench fabric

Collaborations can be so rewarding, especially when you have an opportunity to work with other professionals who are at the top of their field. This was certainly the case on a recent project involving Steinway and Sons, Artist Rick Muto and Embroidery Artisans at Penn & Fletcher. The concept for this piano was conceived by Performer-Singer-Pianist Michael Feinstein as a vehicle to raise money at an auction for the Alzheimer’s Foundation. Titled “First Lady Piano” because it would be personally signed by all the Living First Ladies.

Steinway & Sons provided the baby grand piano and shipped components to Decorative Arts Studio in Rochester, NY where Rick Muto designed and painted a beautiful spring-time image of the White House framed in branches of cherry blossoms. The color palette for the imagery was inspired by famous White House’s Blue Room. The staff at Robin Muto Interiors researched fabric resources to upholster the piano seat. We discovered that the original fabric was custom made by Scalamandre, who offered to reproduce the fabric. The amount of fabric required to create the seat cushion did not justify the costs of setting up looms to weave the pattern. As it turned out, the perfect shade of blue silk was found at Brunschswig & Fils and the gold medallion motif was embroidered by Penn & Fletcher from detailed drawings done by Rick Muto.

For additional images on the design process to create this piano, please see the previous blog.



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‘First Lady Piano’

July 4, 2011

Here are some images of the design process for ‘The First Lady Piano’.  You can see more of these images and the finished piano by going to the next post titled ‘A Little Red, White & a Whole Lotta Blue’. Clockwise from left: 1) Concept drawing for the ‘First Lady Piano’ by Steinway and Sons, […]

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When Only The Finest Will Do

June 1, 2010

A visit to Cornell’s jewelers has always been a magical, wonderful experience. Expect it to be even more so now, thanks to a grand renovation completed in the Fall of 2009, just in time for the holidays. David and Olivia Cornell welcome you to their brand-new showroom at 3100 Monroe Avenue, in suburban Rochester. As […]

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Team Spirit

September 19, 2009

As an experienced builder of high-end residential homes, Dominick understands the value of selecting your team members and coordinating all phases of the design before the shovel hits the ground. His approach to a project is: “Begin with the end in mind”.  When building a new home, many people begin with an architect and a […]

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Ranch Renovation

December 16, 2008

A Rochesterian took his childhood home and decided to transform it. The owner wanted a formal, elegant look reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg. Here’s how interior designer Robin Muto, owner of Positive Environments, made it happen, working with architect Ken Bracker, general contractor Gerry Kuebler and landscape architect Mark Bayer. At left: Decades ago, two poorly […]

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