Monday, December 13, 2010

A Family Project

Congratulations are in order. My very creative sister and her entrepreneurial husband have just opened their third Just Cruizin clothing store in South Africa (As many of you know, I am originally from Cape Town in South Africa, and moved to the United States about 10 years ago.) My sister has helped develop the Just Cruizin brand into a "must have" product for the typical Capetonian or tourist. The clothing is super comfortable, but with fashion forward styling that makes it a coveted line currently in the country. If you know them as a couple, they are the picture perfect gorgeous laidback looking pair, and the style of the clothing epitomizes their casual lifestyle.

I had the honor of helping them bring their latest store in Tygervalley in the northern suburbs of Cape Town to life. I was not there in the flesh to help them out, but I created the space plan and overall concept for the store, which has worked incredibly well according to them during their first opening week. My head relates to things in feet and inches now after being here for so long, but it was fun for me to work in metric again after so many years. And I helped them out at the end of my recent pregnancy (baby is 10 weeks old now) and during the first few weeks of his birth. I guess family always come first.

View from the mall passage. high visibility and a sense of a seamless transition from the mall passage, makes the store feel inviting and larger than it actually is.

The subtle tones of the store add to the ambience too allow the clothing to fuse beautifully into the surrounding interior

Point of sale

The floor plan

My sister and brother in law, will surely not be pleased with the fact that I am posting this photo of them taken a few years ago on one of my trips to Cape Town, but here they are. Congrats and cheers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Small changes, big impact

We hosted the "Melrose Kitchen Tour" today which was a huge success with over 200 people visiting our kitchen and home, braving some raw New England weather. In preparation for the visits today, I decided to make a few updates to our living room to freshen things up, so there was a lot of activity on the homefront to say the least. Our home is quite monochromatic for the most part, which is great as it creates an easy flow from room to room and the overall feeling is one of calm and tranquility and it is quite timeless. What this particular room was missing though, was a true focal point and perhaps a little color splash. I added  this great almost black, charcoal color to the end wall, which allows the trim to pop, but also brings attention to the detailed ceiling. Next was the addition of the bright sofa cushions which tie in the "Le Furet" print at the entrance to the room. And lastly the two ottomans at the fireplace were added after they were painted black to tie in with the balance of the room. They had a previous life in a natural wicker color, but two cans of paint and 20 minutes later produced this great addition to the living room. I guess it is still a work in progress, but we're loving living with the new updates.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Melrose Kitchen Tour

The Melrose Kitchen Tour is this Sunday and our kitchen will be featured on the tour. I went on the tour last year and it is a really well organized local event, and I decided that our kitchen would be perfect to be on the list and would create a balance in the mix of mostly traditional kitchens. If you're in the local area and are looking for ideas or inspiration for your own potential kitchen renovation or makeover, or just have an interest, please stop by. It is first and foremost a great fundraising event for the local high school "iRAIDERS" tea, and well worth supporting.

Tickets are $20, and are available at the following Melrose locations: Brad Hutchinson Real Estate, 193 Green St.; RE/MAX Heritage, 536 Main St.; Sexton and Donahue Century 21, 29 Essex St.; Sit ‘n Knit, 167 West Emerson St. Tickets are also available from iRAIDERS team members and can be ordered online at or can purchased last minute at any of the tour homes.


Sunday, October 17, 2010


On the residential front, one of the easiest ways to help sell a home is to purge, reorganize, style and update any dated items or details. I had the opportunity of helping out a newly married couple stage their one bedroom condo in Charlestown. This was especially necessary for them, as the property market is tough and staying a few steps ahead of the competition is essential.

New draperies, rugs, pillows, bedding, and accessories were purchased to update the interior and create cohesive design stories to each room and area. A very neutral backdrop was spiced up with small color splashes to make the spaces feel clean, yet warm and inviting. Reusing all of the existing furniture, with a certain amount of purging and layout changes all made the world of difference and helped this couple sell their condo and allowed them to finally move into bigger quarters in the 'burbs, south of the city. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just Great Design

I stumbled upon these ingenious glass markers from Vacu Vin at a store yesterday and just fell in love with these cute little creatures. They have names like, "Sneaky, Deep, Cuddly, Devilish", which makes them even better! Those little wine charms that clipped to the stem of the glass are so done, and this was a perfect hostess gift for a party that I am going to this weekend. Naturally these come from the Netherlands. Home of some really great design. Talking of the Netherlands, one of my favorite home stores in Boston is called Lekker (Lekker is Dutch for "alluring, enticing and tempting" ) and I have been a fan for years. Most of our china, glassware and silverware is from there and it's gorgeous everyday china etc., but really good design at the same time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback

Who would have thought that the very pregnant designer would get her photo into the "Monday Morning Quarterback"?  

It was a great event where I got to see all of my "old commercial design" reps and friends and it's always fun to see new products, now that I don't get to the shows like I used to. I was a regular at Neocon and ICFF for years when I worked at a downtown Boston architectural and design firm, but going to these post parties, is just as good, except for missing out on the fabulous hotels, drinks, food, dancing etc. Ok, I do miss these shows just a little bit. Just not the aching feet after millions of miles that we had to walk over three days at NeoCon. Although I am doing more residential and less commercial design as of now, I do still like to keep up to date with what is going on and keeping in touch with the Boston A+D (Architectural and Design) community is just so important. Even if it is just for a little banter. 
Thanks to Ainslie Ritz for keeping me in the loop with this publication!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Boston Kitchen Renovation

I have working on this kitchen renovation in a Boston brownstone for a couple of months now and it is finally complete! I was brought onto the project by Erin Gates, who is a fellow designer and friend who already had been working with the client for a couple of months on the balance of her condo, so it was an easy project to get familiarized with the clients style, when a lot of the furnishings were already installed and the condo finishes were underway. Her blog post today highlight some of the latest developments, but keep reading here for some additional project information.

I love to do "old school" hand drawn renderings of what the final project will look like, not only for my own assessment of the final plan and elevation details, but mostly for the client to familiarize themselves with what they should expect to see as a final completed project. This is a great way to iron out any details that the client may want to change, which are not always caught by them on the elevation drawings. The style was contemporary and clean in design, with small hints of feminine glamour.

Final kitchen rendering 
"Before" kitchen. Gut rehab required.
The beginning of Erin's work in the living room, showing the wall on the left that would come down as part of the renovation effort.
And the walls comes down. Demolition is complete. The plumbing was a hidden crazy nightmare (luckily the only expensive unknown) and the floors had about about 3" of an angle in them, but it is now hardly noticeable with some crafty design and construction work.
The dropped ceilings go in and the studs are laid in place while the electrical and services are put in place.
The new "bones" of the kitchen can now be seen as all of the walls got a fresh coat of skim plaster.
And the cabinets arrive. Everything was kept pretty light in color (white painted cabinets and Carrera tops) and the appliances were all in stainless steel to keep the fresh contemporary aesthetic working well.
All of the final trim is now in place, marble and faucets are in and the final decorative lighting sparkle has been added to complete the project. You can see the latest shot from a few days ago on Erin's blog, with the addition of her choice of Imperial Trellis wallcovering in the cabinets and on the wall at the refrigerator, which help give the kitchen a lot of depth and relate it back so well to the furnishings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fort Point Channel Office Renovation

When Proteus, a branding company located in Boston, decided to downsize to their office space from a Cambridge location, the hunt began for a suitable new space that would require very little build out, but would still be interesting enough to showcase what they do and ensure that their culture could thrive. They eventually settled on space in the Fort Point Channel area, which is a hot new area for offices, restaurants and condo's in Boston. Parts of the area are still gritty, but that really gives it its unique feel. The area is really close to Fan Pier, which is also on the rise in terms of development and popularity.

We came up with a color scheme that would inspire and encourage positivity in the workplace. The build out included minor renovation in the kitchen and break area and creating a few new closed spaces for specific program items. We also completed in depth inventories and new furniture layouts to make the transition easier. The lobby, reception, corridors, break area and other open areas like the copy/fax areas received this new palette of colors (white offset with yellow and charcoal accents) which immediately changed the space to a much more happier environment for these designers. Just what Proteus needed in this economic climate. Inspiration.

The photographs were all taken by Jules Ko who is a friend and part time industrial designer at the firm, also pursuing her photography career in full force. These are not staged and styled professional shots, but they give you a  great sense of the color rehab project.

The new paint colors on the project are all Benjamin Moore colors:
White: I-04 Decorators White
Yellow Accent: 363 Lemon Grove
Charcoal Accent: 1603 Graphite

VIew from elevator into lobby. The moody charcoal color is offset with a temporary yellow sign, which sets the mood before entering the reception area
The open break area is combined with an open plan kitchen area. Proteus' last space had a  huge communal kitchen and eat-in kitchen area which can also now be catered for in the newly laid out space.
As in the case of the break area furniture, no new furniture was purchased, which saved the client a huge amount of money and allowed the schedule to be incredibly tight
A small island was added into the kitchen area to help bring in the open communal feel that Proteus was used to
The charcoal lined openings ad depth to the division walls and allow the yellow to pop
View from corridor into open area graphics meeting and collaboration space
The one wall of accent colors in the open office area, keep the space light and fresh and interesting
Touches of the accent colors bring continuity to the ring corridors in the space

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yoga Studio

Featured below is one of my most recently completed projects which is very much a local project in our downtown area of Melrose. Krista Basis owns B Yoga Center and when she moved to the new location, I was excited to be able to help her with the vision and changes that she could make to this space. It turned out really well, considering the tight budget constraints. Krista has a great vision for her company which made me helping her a breeze!

I had compiled two image boards at the onset of the project, one of which became B Yoga Centers favorite and provided a clear direction for us as we moved forward. A very clean, contemporary aesthetic became our mantra for the project.

The entire space has a dark stained bamboo from the reception/waiting area into the studio. The chartreuse color adds a pop of color behind the reception desk here and you will see the repeated color again in the main studio.

The reception area has incredible light from the main street. We had removed a few walls from this area that used to house a small room, which now allows this area to be light filled and also have fantastic visibility to the studio from the street. The studio is doing really well in this location, most likely due to the high visibility, but also the great classes of course.

By keeping the majority of the space white, the space feels quiet and spacious. B Yoga Center's retail neighbor Pepperberry, provided this colorful arrangement which complements the space and her branding colors perfectly!

In the waiting area, good old and faithful Ikea storage cabinets provide an area for students to stash bags and shoes. Keeping all of the cabinets white, the same color as the walls, again helped to reinforce the idea of keeping the space, bright, clean and uncluttered.

An iconic piece of Krista's in the main studio, looking over the class

These lanterns were from B Yoga's previous studio, but really work well with this new space to. They have small candles inside which are lit during classes.

A few students in the new studio. The ceiling and lighting are all existing and if money were of no object we would have addressed the lighting to provide a design more in keeping with the space. With that being said, the existing lighting is all on dimmer controls, which does give the studio a lot of flexibility. The budget was definitely spent in the right manner and I love taking my prenatal yoga classes here on Saturdays, especially knowing that I was part of the process of making this space a reality.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And so we begin

Shortly after the birth of my daughter Ruby, two and a half years ago, I decided that it was way past due for me to open up my own interior design business, Justine Sterling Design after almost 20 years in the field. Almost half of my career has been spent in South Africa and the other half being spent here, in Boston in the United States.

I have been writing a blog for my daughter for the past year and a half and love the idea of keeping people up to date with our lives and feel that I should be doing the same with my design work. Unfortunately not all of my projects get to be photographed professionally, so having this blog as a platform to showcase what is going on in the design part of my world seemed like the natural progression for me. I hope to post projects mainly, and potentially some interior inspiration when I have time. I say that, as baby number two is kicking away, with little hiccups in my tummy and is very much on its way, due in early October, so the blog might get a little light later on in the year!