Jan 21

A Pretty Apartment 14 Years in the Making.

NH_moodboardpin it!I’ve never been particularly academic ­— much to my parents’ chagrin. I’ve received awards for perfect attendance at school, but even though I was physically present each and every day, I was usually chatting, doodling, or passing notes in class. Sorry mom and dad. I knew better. I just had the attention span of a fly…except when it came to art class where I unapologetically kicked ass.

I sat behind Natasha in my high school physics class. We would get to class a few minutes early and share flaming hot Cheetos and gossip. We probably laughed too loudly and talked a lot about eyeliner and hairstyles. I’ve always been pretty good at manipulating materials — hair being one of them. Every time there was a school formal, I would do elaborate up-dos for 10 girls in a row and make $350 in a night. I seriously thought I was rich.

In high school Natasha was dating some guy who would take her out on semi-fancy dates (for a 17 year old) and we got into this routine where every Friday I would do her hair before date night. That was our “thing”.

01pin it!We didn’t hang out that much outside of school, so when I shipped off to university in Irvine and she to San Francisco, we lost touch. She was busy attending sorority soirees and developing a taste for designer shoes and Michael Buble. Meanwhile, I was busy being an art freak, designing flyers for hip hop parties, and developing a taste for fine interiors but not for Michael Buble.

Fast forward a half decade — I get an email from her saying that she’s quitting her corporate job and moving to NYC! We reconnected and surprisingly, I have not braided her hair a single time.

02pin it!However, Natasha eventually started her own PR business and I helped her design her website and business cards.

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I decorated her office.

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I Designed her engagement party invites. But somehow I have never decorated her apartment…until now.

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05pin it! Plainly stated: girlfriend needs help. The apartment has great bones — it’s a charming 1 bedroom right off Central Park with a storage loft and beautiful brick walls, but everything else needs some serious love. I feel the need to save this apartment. It’s just like saving animals…except not at all. But still.

Here’s the deal: Natasha is getting married this fall so she’s on a super super tight budget. I’m totally down for budget decorating but this one is going to be tricky because she really needs to purge a bunch of her old stuff to make room for new things that will make her home more functional.  The green couch cover HAS to go. We need way more concealed storage. I need to display her momentos in a way that doesn’t make them look like clutter.

This is the plan: everything black, grey, white, pink, or gold. They already have some quirky accessories I can work with so I’m going to keep it fun and light and bright (to combat that dark brick).  I’m going to donate my services to the cause as an early wedding present and it’s going to be super cute. This is all going down in the next couple weeks and there’s going to be gold leafing involved. Stay tuned!

IMG_7886pin it!PS, if you’re wondering “Why is this lady obsessed with cats?” it’s because her cat, thoughtfully named Kitty, is TOOOO cute.

Posted by Jen at 6:55 pm — 5 comments
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Jan 7

If Someone Gave Me This Kitchen, I Would Accept.

There’s no room in the house that requires more thoughtful design than the kitchen. A well designed kitchen should look minimal, yet the functions it must perform are complex, so designing one is like mental Tetris, and I REALLY love doing it. I enjoy obsessing over the necessary shelf clearance for tall cooking wine bottles… heming and hawing for hours over whether polished chrome and polished nickel can be used interchangeably.

I hit the rental lottery with my current kitchen. It’s definitely not a designer kitchen, but it’s bright, functional, and big (for NYC). All my appliances are clean and white, I have pull-out shelves in my cabinets, and I have a beautiful view of a 100 year old giant oak tree. My apartment kitchen beats the kitchen I grew up in on all fronts. I really have nothing to complain about. I already put quite a bit of work into making it decent and at this point, I can call it “done.”

As they say, an idle brain is the devil’s workshop, so I simply cannot stop myself from checking out other sexy kitchens on the side. I feel a bit like I’m cheating on my current home by pretend-shopping for my future (nonexistent) house. I have thousands and thousands of tear sheets and images saved on my computer, but every now and then I see a room that sticks. This is one of them:

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*SIGH* She’s a beauty. This kitchen was designed by Jessica Helgerson who is pretty much design Jesus IMO.

My future bank account is screwed because now my future house must have a black and white kitchen that’s just the perfect mix of traditional, contemporary, industrial, and Moorish. I have no idea where that stove is from, but for all I know it costs more than what I make in a year.  (Although I did find this similar looking model at William Sonoma Home which is expensive but not like sell-your-liver-on-the-black-market expensive.)

I thought to myself…what if I had a fixer upper and wanted to achieve this look for less. Is it doable for $20K? Obviously it would depend on a lot of factors, but assuming that my boyfriend is a master carpenter, and assuming I’d be willing to completely forgo my social life and painstakingly lay tile for the rest of my life… I’m gonna say, SURE why not.

I went on an online bargain hunting frenzy and put together a little board of goodies that I may or may not buy one day. Honestly, it’s really ALL ABOUT THE TILE. Gotta have it.

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Atlas cup pulls from amazon

Cosmas knobs from amazon

Vigo undermount stainless sink from overstock

Contemporary chrome pull down kitchen faucet from amazon

Walnut butcher block from lumber liquidators

2 aluminum and glass pendants from ebay (ugh, someone beat me to it)

3×6 carrera marble honed subway tile from amazon

Reed medium walnut / charcoal counter stools from overstock

Treviso tile form villa lagoon tile

Pommegranite print from society6

Since I don’t have a house yet, let’s assume that the “big reveal” for the project will happen sometime between 2016 and 2020.

Happy New Year all! XO

Posted by Jen at 8:10 pm — comment
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Oct 31

My First Pumpkin!

It’s autumn in NYC, which in my humble opinion, is the BEST season. Everyone is back to business, working hard, looking mucho sexy in their jackets, hair blowing in the wind, fire-colroed tress aplenty.

I’m going on 7 (!!!!!) years in Brooklyn and still happy as a clam and lucky to be here. I made a middle-of-the-year resolution to be more outgoing and take advantage of what this city has to offer to balance out the fact that I work too much.I’ve been actively knocking items off my NYC bucket list and that list includes a trip to the Catskills to see the autumn leaves (I’ll post pics of that in a few days), and carving a pumpkin for the stoop.

I’ve never carved a pumpkin before. I don’t recall if it ever came up during my childhood, but my mom is a super practical lady, and somehow I have a hard time imagining her going out of her way to buy a $15 in-edible vegetable just to cut holes in it and toss it in the trash. But now I’m a freelancer! All I do in my spare time is come up with impractical/expensive arts and crafts projects! Ok, this one wasn’t THAT expensive. Aaron bought me a super attractive pumpkin for $10 at the fancy market by our house. The carving kit was $6 from Michaels. Time commitment: approx 4 hours.

01pin it!Since I graphic design everything in my life, I figured, why not graphic design my pumpkin. A little type…some triangles and dots, and BAM. Hipster pumpkin!!!

02pin it!Apparently these days, the cool kids are cutting the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin. I support that. Keeps the top looking clean. I scraped the inside then scooped out the guts.

03pin it!My pumpkin carving kit came with this nifty wheel that you can use to poke through paper and easily transfer your designs onto the pumpkin using the little holes as guidelines. I used 3 little serrated knives and a drill to make all my holes and shapes.

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Looks way better in the dark.

Posted by Jen at 10:52 am — comment
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Aug 20

Aaron Made It Dot Com.

My boyfriend Aaron is super talented and makes all kinds of amazing stuff from custom furniture to custom cars. We met while working on a TV show and we’ve created all kinds of stuff together, some of which has been featured on this blog.  He’s been building custom stuff since he was old enough to hold a hammer, so we thought it was about time to put together a website showcasing a sampling of his handiwork.

He’s a freelancer, so if you need a dog mansion, a master bathroom, a treehouse,  a chicken coop or a china cabinet… feel free to drop him a line. Way more pics coming soon. Check it out! www.aaronmadeit.com

Thank you Lowell for getting this site up and running so quickly! I owe you 50 burritos.

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Posted by Jen at 11:13 pm — 2 comments
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Nov 19

Hello New Website & Blog.

Some people like to change their hair. Some people like to change their clothes. I have looked pretty much the same for 10 years, but my website is constantly in a style crisis. Since I’m an interior designer/graphic designer/photographer, I always get self conscious that my site is too designy or not designy enough. “Is the font too distracting? Are my portfolio photos big enough? I think I need color. No, wait. I hate color.”

Maintaining photo archives, updating websites, and writing blog posts is like a part time job. It’s a fantastic way to keep a journal of my life, but as with all things, I’m always thinking about how to make it better. As you can see I just re-designed JenChuDesign.com for the 4th time. Each iteration winds up being more minimal than the last, and I’m ok with that. I’ve embedded my blog into my portfolio site so now I only have 3 websites instead of 4! I updated my set design portfolio with a few new projects that I have not featured before. My old blog, jenchudesign.blogspot.com still exists, but I’m going to shut it down soon. I transferred everything to this blog, so the content is the same. Anyway, WELCOME!  Subscribe. Stay a while.

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pin it!Pics taken in Beacon, NY. Big huge thanks to Lowell for helping me get this beast up and running. I owe you a burrito, man.

Posted by Jen at 2:31 pm — comment