I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be participating in the One Room Challenge! It will be a weekly series that follows the design process of ~20 bloggers for six weeks as they each transform a space in their homes. Because my apartment doesn’t really need six more weeks of work and I want this before and after to be as exciting as possible, I’m going to redecorate (drumroll, please!) my boyfriend Will’s living room!
He and his roommate Mike live in a beautiful Chelsea apartment and have a lot of awesome pieces to work with. But their apartment doesn’t get a ton of natural light and most of their furnishings are brown wood or leather, making their living room a fairly dark space even in broad daylight. I can’t wait to help make their space feel brighter, bigger, and better suited for all the entertaining they do (during football season at least). But first, the before pictures so you can see what we’re working with:
(Hey, Rory!) It’s definitely one of the nicer bachelor pads I’ve been in. (When my mom saw it for the first time, she was so impressed that Will and Mike own art and rugs. Low bar from my brothers…?) Like I said, there are definitely pieces worth keeping and repurposing. The goal isn’t to make their space less comfortable or masculine in any way but just to bring it from “pretty good” to “OMG awesome.”
Will loves these Albert Einstein paintings so they’re not going anywhere. But the couch? Let’s just say I’ve already found a much chicer replacement (stay tuned for that next week!).
I’m excited to streamline their TV set-up and hide a bunch of those cords. And we’re planning on a mega gallery wall on the same wall to add a little visual interest and keep the TV from being the focal point of the room.
This bar will be getting a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. It’s been a while since I’ve had the space to transform a piece of furniture so I’m pretty excited to tackle this one!
We haven’t decided what to do about the coffee table (any ideas?) but I can’t wait to switch out the rug and especially the lighting. I think those will both make a huge difference in terms of brightening this place up!
I’m a little nervous about the six week time frame (it’s definitely taken me much longer to decorate my own apartment) but I think there are a lot of small changes we can make in a short period of time that will make a big impact. (I sound like I’m on Trading Spaces getting ready to glue hay on the walls or something…) I’m really excited that Will and Mike are letting me spruce up their space and I can’t wait to share the process with all of you. Tune in each Wednesday for the next five weeks for new updates!
Where would you start with this space? I’d love to hear what you’d change about it!
Check out the other bloggers who will be participating in the One Room Challenge here:
The career spotlights have become one of my favorite features on Design Darling, not just because they actually require me to change into real clothes and leave my apartment but because they really seem to resonate with a lot of you. I tend to gravitate toward female entrepreneurs but today’s post is a little different — in a good way — in that I’m casting the spotlight on someone whose job typically plays out behind the scenes. Meet Emily Karpin, the director of communications for Benchmarc, a New York-based restaurant group founded by world-renowned chef Marc Murphy and his wife, Pamela. I loved getting to chat with her about the intersection of food and social media (and, you know, getting to try a few of the dishes at Landmarc — yum). For all of you interested in pursuing communications, event planning, or anything in the restaurant industry, I think you’ll love hearing what Emily has to say!
Tell me a little about how you wound up in event planning and the restaurant industry. Is this something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
I actually originally wanted to be an entertainment attorney in Beverly Hills! After college, I took the LSATs and moved to San Diego to be a paralegal. I was miserable so I left that to get into events. I had studied abroad in Greece in college and really wanted to go back to Europe and travel so I applied to a program in London and got a job working in client services at a law firm. After a year of that, I moved back to New York knowing that, if I was going to change my career, now was the time. I took a job as a marketing manager in Union Square, trying to market the neighborhood’s restaurants and various events in the park. I worked my way up over the course of three years but I really wanted to make a career around food and wine. So at 27, I started going to Barnes & Noble on my lunch break to highlight jobs in magazines and scour LinkedIn for potential opportunities. Finally, after a lot of nos, I heard about this job and Pamela and Marc took a chance on me. The rest is history!
It sounds like you’ve experienced a wide range of office environments. How would you describe the culture at Benchmarc or in the restaurant industry in general?
It’s certainly more relaxed than a corporate law firm! There are no cubicles, only open seating so everyone can talk freely and work together. What’s great about the restaurant industry is that it’s a lifestyle — you really have to love it. I love getting to work with people who love what they do. I mean, you spend more time with the people you work with than your significant other so it’s important to surround yourself with an amazing group of people.
That’s such great advice. What exactly do your job responsibilities look like?
I head up all of the external communications and social media for the restaurant group and Marc as a celebrity chef. One day I could be in the office working with publications getting quotes from Marc. Another day he could be on the Rachael Ray show. Anything that Marc or the restaurant is doing, I’m right there, whether it’s the Food Network or a charity function. It makes it really fun because as Marc’s career grows, mine does too. Right now we’re working on a cookbook!
What kinds of charity work does your group do?
Marc is involved with No Kid Hungry, a national organization that works to end childhood hunger. On a local level, he works with City Harvest, a food rescue program that delivers leftover food from restaurants to New Yorkers. He’ll literally go into what we call “food deserts” and teach lower income families how to stretch their dollar to afford fresh produce.
That must be so rewarding. And then on top of that, you’re also running social media for each of Marc’s restaurants?
Yes! Landmarc is a French bistro with Italian influences and has two locations, one in TriBeCa and one at the Time Warner Center.. Marc’s dad was an American diplomat so Marc developed a taste for food at a very young age! Then Ditch Plains taps into his more casual side — it’s more of a surf shack with lobster rolls and fresh seafood. Kingside is our partnership with the Viceroy, Marc’s take on new American. And then we have a catering arm called Benchmarc Events where we do in-house events and weddings.
I can’t believe you juggle all of those different entities! What’s one pinch me moment you’ve had so far?
This past April, Marc was invited to the White House to do a demo with Michelle Obama. So I got to work with the White House to coordinate the event. It was such a crazy moment: Marc Murphy is on stage with the First Lady and I’m right here taking photos!
I mean, how many people get to say they’ve seen the First Lady do a cooking demo with their boss?! What are some of the other goals you’re working on?
I would love for him to do another TV show or open a restaurant in another state. Marc was born in Milan and speaks Italian so an international restaurant would be amazing!
You’ll have to keep us posted! What advice do you have for readers who are interested in a similar career path?
Be persistent. A lot of people are going to tell you no, but all it takes is one person to read between the lines and see what experience you have that could transfer to a new role. Pamela and Marc did that for me and do such a great job investing in their employees — their people have been with them from day one. I feel really lucky to love what I do. Having bad jobs was a learning experience and it’s definitely hard to keep the faith when you’re hating your work but it makes me really appreciate where I am now.
Taking outfit pictures is never going to come naturally to me. I love having them to look back on and see what I was wearing at a particular time in my life — where I was headed, what clothes I was living in, what length my hair was. It’s a fun little personal diary. But it will forever be awkward to walk outside and have someone photograph what I’m wearing that day. It helps a lot to shoot with someone I love and trust, so of course I can’t say enough good things about Miss Amy Stone. These pictures make me happy because I know exactly where we were and how we felt taking them: waiting for a dinner reservation in Montauk, oohing and ahhing over the most insanely gorgeous sunset, starving after a day of exploring but genuinely happy in that moment.
Another thing that makes outfit pictures easier? Wearing clothes I’m totally comfortable in. This outfit is a great example of something that feels very “me” and probably how I’d dress every day if I had a reason to put on heels every morning. A few easy ingredients, some super affordable and others more thoughtful purchases: an Equipment shirt that I finally pulled the trigger on (on sale!), statement earrings in my favorite color, Old Navy jeans, and $30 heels because New York City puts my shoes through hell.
As a blogger and owner of an online boutique, I’m constantly brainstorming ways to make your experience as a reader and customer more enjoyable. With the blog redesign live and better than ever, I’m shifting my focus to the boutique and creating new categories to help you find what you’re looking for faster. Two recent additions? Best Sellers and the Blue and White Shop!
If you haven’t popped over to the boutique recently, I’d love for you to take a look and let me know what you think (or what other items you’re searching for!). I’m always open to new ideas, products, vendors, etc.!
P.S. A number of you have asked on Instagram where I buy my ginger jars. I’ve tried carrying them in my boutique but truthfully they were pretty slow sellers so now I’m sticking to these tried-and-true recs: Etsy, One Kings Lane, and Williams-Sonoma (save 20% with code SAVENOW). I hope that helps!
I’m so excited about this post because I get to share my new favorite item of clothing! Nordstrom asked if I would help spread the word about their assortment of Burberry for fall and I immediately knew it was time to take the plunge on a classic Burberry trench coat. Did you know they were first designed in 1856 and worn by soldiers during World War I? If a piece has been around for 150+ years, I think that makes it a pretty sound investment!
There are so many ways to wear it (I literally spent an hour playing dress-up when it arrived!). This is obviously a pretty casual look but I know it will be just as cute over a dress with heels for dinner dates this fall. And anything that cinches at the waist makes me feel instantly more ladylike!
It wouldn’t be Burberry without a splash of their signature plaid underneath the collar. Another thing I like about the Balmoral style in particular is that it has a detachable hood, which makes it infinitely more practical for unpredictable New England weather.
*Photos by Amy Stone. This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. I selected and purchased the Burberry trench coat myself and will be paid for this post by Nordstrom several weeks after it goes live. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brand partnerships that make Design Darling possible!