Tag Archive for: design advice

design tips

Helping Daughters Decorate: Design Tips from Mom Alla DIY Ally

As previously mentioned, I visited both of my daughters in New York last month. They have just moved from Manhattan to Williamsburg/Brooklyn into their new digs. Mia, a veteran at this — it’s her third move — is working on a guest post. No doubt she’ll share some of her wisdom and experience along with design tips from Alla DIY Ally (AKA mom). So very grateful that she involves me in the process. Read More

French doors, windows

Designing Exterior Elevations: French Doors & Windows

I received an email from a DIY Ally client with the subject line: “Exterior elevations. Front door entrance, steel French doors and windows.” The message read: “Alla, I am thrilled to find your website and would appreciate your help. I am in the midst of remodeling my 1930 home and having difficulty determining the appropriate look of French doors, windows as well as the front/back door.” Read More


A Fireplace Is a Heart of a Home

Phew! Just emailed a revised set of drawings to a client. Having gotten a NY State license, I am picking up the pace — we’re planning to submit for permits in less than a month. My passion for the project in Bridgehampton is all-consuming. Now that I’ve worked out all of the “big moves,” it’s time to get to details — I’ve been designing a fireplace. Read More

bathroom, efficiency, compact, shower stall, enclosure

Bathroom Efficiency: Compact Shower Stall / Enclosure

We’re on a family vacation in Mammoth. The only one who doesn’t ski, I’m sitting in our cute cabin, mulling over the subject matter for my next blog post. I waited to get here, assuming that our master bathroom will prompt a good discussion. Well… Outdated or not, I can still ponder the efficiency of its compact shower stall or enclosure. Read More

scale, proportions

Trendy or Timeless? Don’t Forget Scale & Proportions. Part Two

I am feeling better compared to last week. Not able to visualize the massing — confused by how various pitched roofs came together — I made a crude model to assist myself. And finally, I got on the right track. Big or small, the most important design rule is to pay attention to the scale and proportions of the space. Read More

bad experience, IKEA, kitchen, cabinet installation

A Bad Experience with an IKEA Kitchen Cabinet Installation

I wrote about helping a friend with an IKEA kitchen remodel recently. Unfortunately, it has not gone well. We are very disappointed with the cabinet installation. A problem that could’ve been addressed and resolved on site was ignored. The resulting mistake has not been acknowledged and fixed. Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing, the contractor in charge is still arguing, causing a major delay, not to mention a headache. Read More

plumbing, submersible sewage simplex pump

Plumbing Question: Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump

A client wants to act as a general contractor on her own small addition project. She asked me to help her understand the plumbing issues involved, as I’ve done with rainwater harvesting. Today I’m researching the installation requirements for a Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump, which will have to accommodate a new bathroom and possibly another small bathroom / kitchen if she converts a garage in the future. Read More

creative work, imitation

All Creative Work Begins With Imitation

Over the weekend, visiting Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I snapped a few images of Gerrit Rietveld’s sideboard and Red/Blue chair. At that point I was collecting ideas for my next post. The following day, another Maria Popova article struck a chord. Titled Oliver Sacks on the Three Essential Elements of Creativity, it stated that all creative work begins with imitation. Read More

seeking, beauty, treasures, everywhere

Seeking Beauty: Treasures Are Everywhere

I am averse to diversions. What’s the point of venturing out? At home, in my private space, everything is so familiar, comforting, and stimulating at the same time. Perhaps. But seeking beauty outside of the cocoon could be an enjoyable as well as a rewarding pursuit. Clearly, there’s plenty to marvel at if I just step out and open my eyes to the world all around me. Treasures are everywhere. Read More

midcentury, modern, landscapes

Ethne Clarke’s The Midcentury Modern Landscape

I recently saw a Gardenista article recommending a book by Ethne Clarke titled The Midcentury Modern Landscape. I’ve ordered and have just read it in preparation for an upcoming project. I’m going to Long Island, NY to plan a renovation and remodel. I will be adding an extension, a swimming pool, as well as (in Clarke’s words) “an easy-care landscape that ties it to the site.” Read More

space planning, renovation, conceptual, questions

Before Renovation: Space Planning & Conceptual Questions

A message from a new client in Miami made my morning: “Hello, Alla. I am so happy I came across your website – thank you for offering your services.” She was very smart to consult an online architect and address space planning or conceptual questions before taking on a renovation project. Obviously, when someone  says that “your help and insight are much appreciated,” you work a little harder. Read More

organizing ideas, beautification, lobby

Organizing Ideas: Beautification of a Lobby

I have to admit. My work schedule is getting more demanding. In the spirit of multi-tasking, this blog has become a platform for client meeting prep. Thus, I’d like to share my process of organizing ideas for a potential project. It involves a beautification of a lobby, a roof deck with a pool, and a subterranean 2-level parking garage. The client is the homeowners association of a 24-unit condo complex in the foothills of Hollywood. Read More

outdoor bathroom, wet room

An Outdoor Bathroom Will Function as a Wet Room

I am in the process of designing an enclosed patio attached to an existing house. The added space will have an outdoor bathroom. We are making it wheelchair accessible; it consists of a toilet, a sink, and a hand-held spray (without a showerhead). Since there’s no shower enclosure per se, the entire bathroom will function as a shower, which makes it a “wet room.” Read More

redesign, powder room, steps

How to Redesign a Powder Room in 5 Easy Steps

My friends are tired of the way their powder room looks and feels these days. They want to freshen it up, change the fixtures, replace a misbehaving pocket door. I think they should also redesign flooring and lighting. No big deal, right? But to them, even thinking about it feels like a huge undertaking. In this post I’ll show how to do it in 5 easy steps. Read More

good environment, meditation, routine

A Good Environment for a Meditation Routine

I am getting better at living in the now. These days, I start my day by doing a particular meditation routine called Falun Dafa. Thanks to a good environment and my husband, an experienced teacher, with every practice I feel more confident and able to focus. At first, I was really distracted. Losing concentration is still an issue, but slowly it’s getting better. Regardless, I keep at it —  not too much of a commitment, just a 15-minute routine. Consistent, brief, daily sessions eventually garner good results. Read More

shabby, studio, apartment, home

How I Was Able To Turn a Shabby Studio Apartment Into a Home

Hello, it’s Mia Kazovsky, and I’m back for another guest post after over a year. Here’s a refresher: I moved into a studio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the beginning of 2016. In the previous post, I wrote about the first steps in the process of upgrading my digs. Today, I’d like to share how I was able to turn a shabby studio apartment into a home. Read More

Hollywood Regency Style, remodel

How to Remodel in Hollywood Regency Style

Hollywood Regency Style, a synthesis of 19th-century French, Greek Revival, and Modern was never of interest to me. That is until last Wednesday, when I received a text: “Good morning Alla. I wanted to see how busy you are these days as my parents just bought a vacation home in Palm Desert that is in need of a full interior and exterior remodel. Would you be able to consult them/me and possibly help with the entire process?” Read More

working, little details, bath, shelf

Working Out Little Details: a Bath Shelf

A potential DIY Ally client asked me if I enjoy working out little details. She wrote: “Hello, I am remodeling a 1938 bath in Washington DC. Have worked with architects previously, so attempting this without an architect, with a very trustworthy contractor. But he’s not a designer, and I want to do something unconventional (from a standard builder point of view) with a long narrow shelf across the width of the room.” Read More

transitional space, design advice

Transitional Space Design Advice

My DIY Ally clients look to me for guidance, expertise, and design advice — I take their questions to heart. One writes: “I suddenly have the option of buying the apartment adjoining my own in NYC but the apartments are awkwardly connected at the kitchens!! I’m hoping for some advice about how we would join these two places and am concerned whether the transitional space would be so awkward that it wouldn’t be worth it.” Read More