I art directed 10 seasons of Project Runway/Project Runway All-Stars. Every summer (for pretty much the majority of my 20s) you could find me a couple blocks south of Times Square, melting to death in the heat, mocking up crazy patterns on walls and lugging furniture and bedding for 16 contestants. Then one day my friend Sue had a proposition — work on her show Flea Market Flip instead. The decision wasn’t easy, but eventually I decided to retire from Runway and give this new gig a shot.
Flea Market Flip is the brainchild of Lara Spencer, the effervescent host of Good Morning America who happens to be a thrift store/flea market/garage sale-trolling guru. (Did you know she hosted Antiques Roadshow for a while?) Long story short, I designed the set for Flea Market Flip, which led to the opportunity to work on her home makeover show I Brake for Yard Sales on HGTV, which led to Lara hiring me to project manage the renovation of her NYC pied-à-terre.
Lara has multiple design personalities. Her homes over the years have all been distinctly different styles. She told me she she wanted her NYC condo to be more industrial and rustic than her previous homes, so I whipped up a simple mood board, pulling inspiration from some flea market finds that I knew she had been hoarding…just waiting for the perfect project to feature them.
Her 600 square foot studio was in great condition but had virtually zero personality. Our priorities were to maximize space, incorporate enough sleeping spaces for her family, and update the kitchen.
This photo above is of the bedroom nook.
The kitchen was not representative of her chic style at all. Instead of gutting it, we kept the cabinets and the appliances but completely transformed it with trim and paint.
Lara is a brave lady — she proposed painting her wood floors, then putting wood floors on her walls. I was always 100% on board with the wood wall idea, but I was initially a little nervous about painting the floors. There’s no way a rustic wood wall would have worked with the color of her existing floor, so I’m glad we painted the floors in the end.
All of her doors were solid but super plain. We painted them a deep navy/gray and added moulding and new knobs.
The kitchen was definitely the most challenging project. First, we ripped out the 2 small cabinets that were over the sink. There was a large gap above the cabinets so Aaron closed up that gap with some hardwood and moulding to give the kitchen a more high-end look. We painted the cabinets a dusty blue/gray color and added a mini-subway tile backspash and new countertops.
We had some leftover wood scaffolding from another project, so we cut a couple to size and made some display shelves for over the sink.
There I am… re-wiring a chandelier that Lara found at a flea market. I love how this condensed blog-style summary makes everything seem SUPER simple. It really wasn’t easy at all, especially because of the space and time constraints, but it’s of those things where you look back on a project a year later, and you forget how hard it was and you only remember how pretty it turned out :).
I could not have done this project without Aaron. He basically made all the furniture in here that wasn’t from a thrift store. Lara wanted a day-bed style sofa so her kids could crash in the city with her, so Aaron made this custom platform sofa to fit perfectly in the living room.
All the textiles and bedding were from John Robshaw. I remember the day all the pillows came in the mail. I pretty much freaked out and instagramed the hell out of them. They are so pretty. (Insert heart eyes emoticon.)
With the success of her first book, I Brake for Yard Sales, Lara landed a deal for a 2nd book, Flea Market Fabulous, based on the makeovers from her HGTV show. You can find more photos of this makeover and many more in the book, which is available an Amazon, and pretty much everywhere else. Some of the photos above were taken by ChiChi Ubiña who also took most of the photos in the book.