Therese Interior Design

collaboration is the key to design

Brooklyn! Hipster Heaven

It’s a known fact. Designers travel for Inspiration.

Taking in new sites and sounds certainly gets the creative juices flowing.

I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Design Cartel Gal Pal, Decorator and Biz Owner, Victoria, of The Clearinghouse Exchange (Greenport,  when we set out to explore Brooklyn.

Summer is the perfect time to discover Brooklyn.  Tip:  Start in Williamsburg. This Indie enclave is all about Epicure, the Eclectic and the Experience.

Victoria and I started at what we first thought was an outdoor Flea Market only to happily discover was an outdoor Smorgasburg!  We ate our way through the cleverly named venue.  A personal delectable favorite was Bon Chovie whose tagline is Swim Fast. Fry Young.

Check out link

Brooklyn Soda Works was Victoria’s Favorite.  Tip:  try the Raspberry and Mint. It’s slick, cool, and decidedly unexpected.

Next stop:

Let me share what visually captured our attention.  Originality.  New twists on the obvious.  It’s amazing how many ways you can create a dress or jewelry or even hats…and hats are that much more expressive when they are hand crafted from newspaper!

Take a hard cover book and transform it into a clock (my fav was Nancy Drew)

When I came across antlers and crystals, I was giddy.  Victoria reminded me that there are no ‘lights’ in this light fixture.  That seemed like an odd placed after-thought because the lines are so lovingly  original…who needs lighting?! (

I came across a ‘jewelry box’ repurposed from Monopoly (my daughter’s favorite board game) and thought what a great keep box for her college dorm room! (

So yellow is out and gray is in.  That’s the current trend in home fashion.  Having said that, yellow is an amazing understudy to gray and it’s pop of exuberance is exactly what gray needs not to be ‘yawn’ boring.  Tip:  Use yellow in artwork, accessories, pillows and area rugs.

Architecture in Brooklyn captivates.

As Victoria and I wandered down a side street towards yet another outdoor fair (we literally ate our way through this borough) we happened upon a Church whose chandeliers spoke to us.  So we ventured inside.  Double whamy.  Architecture and a Lebanese food festival fund raiser out back.

Victoria scored dinner and I reveled in the beauty of the Church.

Our last stop was what captivated me the most.  As Victoria explained to me, Housing Works  is all about Healing, Advocating and Shopping for a Cure.  A cure for the twin crises of AIDS and Homelessness.  This treasure has superb items for resale at unreal prices.  Needless to say, we left with a trunk-full of treasures.

We visited the Shoppe at 122 Montague Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201

So how does all this translate to Design?

It’s about looking at everyday items and re-imagining them into their next life.

Take V’s trunks, for instance.  Victoria, as I mentioned, is the owner of The Clearing House, a unique home consignment store in Greenport, NY,

She comes across  some incredible pieces.  The more “out of the box” the better!  Recently, Victoria acquired an antique French steamer trunk.

As she tells it in her own words, “Yes, a gorgeous faded red paint graced the exterior much like lipstick after a sumptuous meal with clues to its place of origin stenciled on the front.  The lettering, meticulously done by hand yet barely visible, revealed these words which gave me goosebumps… Champs-Elysees.

So Not long after, in walks one of the most unique women I have ever met and immediately she spies the trunk.  “Oh my goodness” she remarks.  “Tell my about this piece!”  As we chatted and touched and walked around her to imagine the possibilities of a ‘restoration’ we both came to the conclusion that leaving her just as she was on the outside would tell the tale of her long and delicious life.  However, we agreed that a facelift to her inner beauty would be just the trick. Being the diva that she is, my client asked for an opulent yet practical remake of the interior so she might store her feminine wiles away as before.  “The more sparkle & bling the better” were her parting words.

Left to my imagination and true to my commitment to re-purpose & re-use, I began the creative fun.

Removing the old crumbling wallpaper as is sometimes the lining of these old trunks left a clean surface to attached the batting too.

Sheets of poly batting were cut to size once the interior surfaces were measured and these measurements can be used again to cut the fabric.  I used a spray adhesive to attach the batting.  Do this outdoors if possible due to the fumes.  Then, as I learned by trial & error, wash your hands before starting on the fabric…sticky fingers become a winning video for ‘America’s Funniest’ when working with fabric.

Then the thick, glamorous gold velvet is cut to size and hot glued to the corners.  You need to pull back or leave a teeny space at the corners were the batting meets so the hot glue for the fabric attaches to the wood & not the batting.  This is a “soft” upholstery style and not to be confused with nailing and a tight fit.  I wanted a soft almost cuddly interior for Madame Diva’s sweaters & girlie things.

Once the velvet was secure, I used scraps of teal & pink satin cording at the corners and around the bottom to hide any gaps and to finish the joined edges.  I guess if you’re really good at maneuvering a large piece of fabric into place you don’t’ have to cut each individual piece.  Not so for me, I handle smaller things with greater confidence.  Next, I had just enough dazzling pink/gold/teal crystal bead trim to finish all along the top edge.  This gave me that “OMG” response when opening the lid to peek inside.  Lastly, I used a teal brushy trim, very ‘kitty-cat tail’ to trim out the recessed sides of the top.

VOILA!!!!!  In all her glory as I had imagined!  The wonderful thing about any of this is that whatever you can imagine…you can do!  The colors you love… the textures that thrill… the objects transformed… are only limited by your vision.  Think beyond.”

Victoria taught me that Design is all about surrendering to the inevitable.  It’s there were you find your inner Inspiration.

It’s called Brooklyn….