Brooklyn Brownstone Project Updates


brooklyn door before and after

From this…to this!

You may recall some posts from last year about numerous projects I was working on in a Brooklyn brownstone, including this door restoration. While the house will be professionally photographed soon, I got to stop by this weekend so I can’t resist showing you some quick updates. The front door has been returned to its 19th century glory but as beautiful as the outside now is, the interior of the entryway may very well have become the favorite room in the house. The new front doors added significant space but it is the Farrow & Ball Ringwold wallpaper in green and the black and white marble floor that have dressed it up to scream elegant welcome.

brooklyn entry farrow ball ringwold

The two are such divinely perfect partners that the young daughters of the house have taken to having tea parties in here – wouldn’t you? There is still an antique art deco iron coat rack to go in and while the marble is eminently durable and we don’t want to hide any of it, we need a simple entry mat for bad weather.

brooklyn entry farrow ball ringwold

Some of you may be scratching your head recalling we had originally planned for encaustic tiles on the floor. In the end, the marble was more sensitive to the period and design of the house. I found a better use for the encaustic tiles anyway, as you can see below!

brooklyn kitchen encaustic tile

The kitchen renovation at the brownstone is almost finished and looking stunning. If you recall the Sheila Bridges kitchen, shown below, that served as the original inspiration, we are very close, but the dark woods and rich colors elsewhere in the house demanded some pattern and color complexity be added to all the white. Enter encaustic tile backsplash!

Final painting and window treatments still to come, but the counter-depth refrigerator, farmhouse sink and paneled dishwasher make all the difference. Peek back here to compare. Other final choices included white macoubas quartzite for the counters (which is reading gray in these photos although it is white in person), the single lever Perrin & Rowe faucet, with sprayer and water filter, which really is easy to use and a budget choice with the Barclays fireclay sink. Links to the original posts on these decisions can be found at the bottom of the post.

brooklyn kitchen encaustic tiles

Speaking of Sheila Bridges, be sure to check out another luminescent brownstone she has designed in Harlem in the new June issue of Elle Decor.

Sheila Bridges ED June 2014 brownstone

Sheila Bridges dining room harlem brownstone ED June 2014

And on the wallpaper front, my client has generously offered to give me the leftover F & B Ringwold to line the back of my china cabinet at the beach. It would look great, or I might use this roll of Osborne & Little wallpaper, recently discovered in my stash from a project from almost 20 years ago. Trellis and quatrefoils – two of my favorite things still – on a soft blue-green background.

Osborne & Little wallpaper trellis quatrefoil

Sorry for the general quietness these last weeks. Between the launch of the new blog format, the launch – don’t forget to check over there regularly as I am adding to my boutique all the time – and this whirlwind trip to the USA, I have been utterly exhausted. Next week I’ll be giving you an update on my settling in here in Doha, including some of the decorating challenges we expats face. But I am super pumped to be headed to the beach in just 10 days!

Related Posts:
A New Entryway in Brooklyn…Door Change and Encaustic Tile
Late Night Design Epiphanies
Form Versus Function…White Marble Countertops? Really?
Form Versus Function…Inset or Overlay Cabinet Doors?
Form Versus Function…A Farmhouse Sink and That Perrin & Rowe Bridge Mixer Faucet
Brownstone Kitchen Inspiration From Sheila Bridges…Connecting the Dots for Makers & Tastemakers front page

So in addition to a brand new blog design, this week holds some other big news about an exciting new project I am involved in. Today is launch day for, a brand new e-commerce site designed to put tastemakers together with makers and create a platform for them to market and sell work. As my long time readers know, one of my missions has always been to showcase and support artists and artisans and their creations so I am so excited to be one of the initial 50 tastemakers on the new site. I have been busy curating my online boutiques which you can get to by clicking this link or using the button on the side bar. You’ll find work from familiar faces as well as new ones.

No surprise at all to see George of papergluebamboo there. As I hinted in my last post, she has been busy creating new colorways and patterns for her modern ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets to sell on From bright yellow lucky gourds…

ikkanbari papergluebamboo yellow gourd tray

…to absolutely on trend African motifs

African pods papergluebamboo ikkanbari

…to ume (plum blossom) and ichimatsu (checks) in bright new colors on Tsukiji market shopping baskets, her unique line of homewares and carryalls is spectacular. To read more about her modern take on this ancient craft, take a look here and here. Remember, every piece is one of a kind, so shop the boutique here early!

papergluebamboo ume shopping baskets

Another long time Tokyo Jinja favorite is the gorgeous handmade textiles of LuRu Home based out of Shanghai, China. Liza and Claire are working with modern versions of nankeen, a dense hand-woven cotton fabric which has been stencilled and dyed in an indigo bath. With their beautiful products, all made from the custom hand dyed fabric in updated versions of traditional Chinese patterns, they are taking up the banner of preservation of this ancient form of craft, while innovating at the same time.

LuRU Home indigo pillows
luru slideshow_8

Their blue and white textiles bring a sense of cool to my very hot – both literally and colorfully – backyard here in Doha. They also play very well with pillows in other colors and textures. Be sure to click here to read their full story and see the pillows in action and here to shop the boutique.

Luru Home pillows

One of the most exciting aspects of for me is getting to know new makers with interests and aesthetics that align with my own. Link Collective produces contemporary furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloths) through a network of artists and designers from around the world. They “aim to cross cultures and generations by creating beautiful and functional products, merging international design with traditional Japanese production methods.” Their modern furoshiki with whimsical names such as Mountain Blossom or The Hida Express can be used for their traditional wrapping purpose, be worn as a scarf…


…or be converted to a cross body bag with their ingenious strap. Seems like a ‘must have’ item for a good textile junkie, creating the possibility of a purse from any piece of cloth.


Their furoshiki are all made in Fujisawa, Japan, hand-printed and sewn by a family owned business with over 50 years experience in furoshiki production. Although Japan’s craftsmen often spend a lifetime perfecting their artistry, much of that skill and knowledge is being lost as today’s mass production, cost cutting and on-demand culture drives ever more business decisions. Invaluable knowhow is disappearing as tools are put down, and the last small factories and workshops die out. Like LuRu Home in China, they are playing a part in keeping these crafts alive by showing what can be achieved when creativity and craftsmanship come together.


For toting your heavier items, I am loving the work of the Tacoma, Washington-based duo Jacqui and Scott of Year Round Co. They hand make every bag themselves, from cutting each piece of fabric, to designing and screen printing it, then sewing and applying all the leather and hardware in their home studio. For a glimpse into their workshop this great video really demonstrates the artisanal quality of their products. Their collection is inspired by stormy seas, mossy rocks, and earthy travels.

Year Round Co

And as you all know from my past ten years of deep involvement with hanga, modern Japanese prints, I have long been a champion of works on paperWorks on paper, about paper, using paper, are some of the most affordable and charming artwork to be had. I am just beginning to explore some of the talent on, so be sure to keep watch on this boutique as I add items in the coming weeks.

art collage

In clockwise order: Gretchen Kelly Rosy Mist on the Hudson, watercolor, Shelley Kommers Blue Diamonds, Print, Candy Le Sueur Silver Flower, monotype, Shelly Kommers Sparrow, mixed media collage

To quote one of the new artists I am just getting to know, Shelley Kommers, “I am always on the lookout for beauty, and I find it everywhere: in the decayed, the imperfect, and the ironic; in the small, tucked away places no one else looks.” I’d like to adopt that as my personal mantra.

So come on over and check it out. Just click here and start exploring. There are many other makers and categories I don’t have room to mention here. I think you’ll like what you find. To be honest, there are still quite a few kinks to work out, so please be patient and let me know if you are having any trouble making a purchase. Be sure to keep coming back as I will be adding to my boutiques regularly.
And if you are a maker or know someone else who is, looking for an outlet to sell and show your work, please contact me, either by leaving a comment on the post or via email at jacquelinewein[at] Maybe and I are just what you are looking for!


A New Look for Tokyo Jinja

My dear readers, I’ll assume you already know what this post is all about, as you are looking right at it. If you are an email subscriber, please be sure to click into the post and view it on your browser. Welcome to the new Tokyo Jinja, which is the same as it ever was, but all wrapped in a brand new package. It’s been a very long time coming and I know I have talked about it before, but the redesign turned into a slow journey I couldn’t have made on my own. I could not be more excited to be shedding the skin of my old dated blog format!

Setting out to convey a bit of where I have been, coupled with where I am now, I am so lucky to have two wonderful artist friends, one steeped in the motifs and designs in Japan, the other new to the desert here in Doha and willing to embrace it. George of papergluebamboo can paint karakusa, the scrolling arabesque vine pattern found on Japanese decorative arts and dear to both our hearts, like no one else. How proper and perfect then that she painted the blue and white karakusa pattern for my new banner.

George Fukuda papergluebamboo

George has been hard at work for an exciting new project we are both involved in – you’ll be hearing about that in my very next post – on some fresh new colorways for her ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets.

papergluebamboo shopping basket lime ume

Isabelle Caraës, a French artist and illustrator, is a new friend here in Doha. She creates beautiful finely drawn images and is masterful at their digital manipulation. How proper and perfect that she created the Islamic arabesque pattern found in the mashrabiya, the lattice-work screens, seen all over Qatar and The Middle East. I am just obsessed with them and have mentioned them briefly here and here, but there is sure to be a full post on them soon. You’ve also seen a glimpse of her fantastic house and some of her small works here.

Isabelle Fromaget

L’arbre, a new mixed media piece, digitally arranged, is a perfect example of her whimsical work.

l'arbre Isabelle Caraes

So not to make too much of it, but I love the way the banner is symbolic of my experiences, my friendships and my life over the past ten years.

Saraswati Venkatram, better known as Saras, of SV3 Designs has been an outstanding Web Master, professional and impossibly quick to deliver. She transferred my 326 posts (!!!) and thousands of comments over from my old blog format without losing a letter and was invaluable help in the design process. The new format has larger and wider photos, simpler navigation and offers options for the future.

Now for some technical notes…I’d say we are about 85-90% finished so don’t be surprised if you notice little tweaks over the next few weeks. Please let me know if you notice any problems, glitches or have any constructive comments. If you are an email follower, hopefully your subscription has transferred over. If you are a follower via, I think you will need to resubscribe, but I am not entirely sure. I am really looking forward to hearing from you all and hope that you like this new and improved Tokyo Jinja reading experience.

And for a last goodbye to that street scene at the Saturday market in Azabu Juban…

Tokyo Jinja old blog format azabu juban

I’ll also have some other very exciting news coming out on Thursday, so be sure to keep your eyes open for my next post.

The 10th Ultimate IKEA Bargain


Apartment Therapy just ran a piece on their 9 Ultimate Cheap Chic Classics from IKEA and I decided I needed to chime in on my own 10th item. I don’t disagree with the items they are listing. After all, I have mentioned their number 1 item, the Stockholm Rand rug extensively before, I have used their #2 item, the Billy Bookcase in pretty much every space I have lived in and I am currently using a pair of their number 7 item, the Malm Dresser in my elder daughter’s bedroom. But I think the best bargain at IKEA these days – and one that is nowhere near as over exposed as the other nine – is the Tobias chair shown in our dining room above. Lately, I have noticed it popping up in some higher end places, so I think there are those out there who are agreeing with me.

At 79 dollars (or 265 Qatari Riyals), the price is excellent. In Japan, the chair is just over 15,000 Yen, so it’s about twice as expensive, but everything imported has about that same mark-up. I had never really given the Tobias any thought or attention until I moved to Doha, where IKEA plays an even bigger role in basic necessities than it did in Japan, and certainly than it ever did in the USA. I don’t think there is a single piece of IKEA anything at our beach house. When looking for chairs here to go with our Saarinen Tulip Table and Louis XV style chairs, they seemed like the perfect inexpensive placeholders until we found what we “really” wanted. Ironically, they have become a favorite item, being incredibly comfortable, easy to care for and slide effortlessly across the newly installed Madeline Weinrib dhurrie.


The flatweave/tulip table/Tobias chair combo is not a particularly new one, but it just works.


What has caught my eye lately is the places it has been popping up. I noticed them in the May issue of Elle Decor, in Ellen Rakieten’s Anne Coyle designed LA apartment. About as different as can be from her Chicago library – one of those all time favorite rooms of mine.


The larger room deserves a peek too, as it is making me continue to mourn the loss of the French chairs and desk I had scored.


Caught the smoky gray version of the Tobias in the portfolio of Michelle R. Smith when I was writing about her last week. There are also numerous other example all over the internet of it paired with farmhouse tables showing how it plays well and mixes well.


And they have recently launched a lilac version so I’ll be curious to see what folks do with that one. Girls room desk chair anyone?


What’s your favorite IKEA bargain?

Related Posts:
Dining Room Decision Made…Oval Saarinen Tulip Table

Dining Room Option Two…Inspiration from Angie Hranowsky
He Giveth…And He Taketh Away

Image credits: 1-2, me, 3. Elements of Style, 4-5. Elle Decor May 2014, photo credit: William Abranowicz, 6. Michelle R. Smith, 6. IKEA.

Countdown to Summer with Michelle R. Smith

 “If you buy something you love, there’s always a place for it.”
-Michelle R. Smith

There is a spring breeze blowing in the design world, courtesy of Michelle R. Smith. With numerous features on her NYC apartment and Sag Harbor home appearing over the last few months (here, herehere and her closet! here), this is a girl after my own true heart. She thinks interiors should be a bit “almost accidental looking” and is clearly no fan of the color red either. Ironically, what feels fresh is that Smith has her feet firmly planted in the past, using both beautiful antiques and flea market finds to ground her lovely interiors. That’s not to say there aren’t quirky modern pieces, but they are used to activate the spaces rather than as a list of big names of design giants past. Frankly I’ve been a bit exhausted with some of the design press lately in that sense. I even find myself being pulled from what I really love because of the difficulties in sourcing here in Doha, but she has gone and truly reminded me. All of this, plus the 100+ degree weather here, is starting to make me ache for our little Victorian beach house at the shore.


She has “make artwork look more valuable than it is” down pat, stacking and layering small pieces low on the walls. Artful but not overly styled vignettes are another signature.


Mellowed rugs and actual wooden antiques that aren’t painted. I feel like its been ages since we have seen large case pieces used in simple settings and she has many of them. Perhaps its just the New Yorker in me – there is never enough closet space – but a tall secretary or armoire just makes a room. Hers is one just peeking out on the right in this shot, a great vertical counterpoint to the built-in bookshelves.

Michelle R Smith living room bookshelves

She has the fancy meets rough equation down perfectly.

michelle_smith dining

A dream of a New York City galley kitchen – with a giant window no less – and quirky repurposed industrial egg beater light fixtures. Be sure to note the candy molds hung next to the window, reminding me of kashigata. Wondering if I should be considering this very neutral Farrow & Ball Charleston Gray for my beach house kitchen?

michelle_smith kitchen

An absolute mix of metals – copper, nickel, brass and a bit of tarnished silver.

michelle_smith_kitchen copper

The simplest of bathrooms with unlacquered brass hardware.

michelle_smith bathroom brass

Without sounding too scandalous it’s in the bedrooms that I truly fall in love. Antique bedsteads, marble-topped night stands, fluffy white linens and old-fashioned lampshades…

michelle_smith master bedroom

…aged Persians again and big antique mirrored wardrobes. It’s all just a little bit granny but not.

Michelle R Smith bedroom night stand

The guest room has a similar feel…

michelle_smith guest night stand

…with stacked works on paper and a giant campaign chest.

michelle_smith_guest corner

As much as I like her NYC apartment, its her house in Sag Harbor that has me dreaming of home (or home-home as my girls would call it). Maybe its the vintage cottage vibe, but somehow so many of her choices are familiar to me. 

Michelle Smith Sag harbor living room

European sideboards with gargoyles make the best drink stations.

Michelle R Smith drinks bar gargoyles

Most of the house has been painted Benjamin Moore’s Woodlawn Blue, the kind of neutral historic color that plays well with everything and seems just right for an old fishing village. These kind of soft grayed colors are found throughout our beach house, some Benjamin Moore and others Farrow & Ball.

Michelle Smith Sag Harbor fireplace

A familiar view, with a dining room side chair, resting quietly under a piece of artwork.

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor

Is this a gently tweaked original kitchen? I’m not sure but what I would give to have had something like this to work with!

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor Kitchen

The bathroom in Sag Harbor is making me the most homesick…

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor bathroom

…and I am wondering how much ‘oldating’ she had to do here and how much was original. Wait, just got my answer – the bathrooms were gut jobs and have been completely reimagined!

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor bathroom tub

Old houses always need quirky solutions to small spaces, like back-to-back beds in the guest room, and vacation ones need to sleep as many guests as possible. We know what that’s like and have managed to squeeze bed space in even unlikely places.

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor guest room

But more than any of the other spaces, I’m back to the dreamy master bedroom, with its blush pink walls, four-poster, white lace…

Michelle Smith Sag Harbor Bedroom

…gleaming wooden dresser and smoky antique rug.  It reminds me of the prettiest pink bedrooms ever and makes me want to be home-home to sleep in mine.

Michelle R Smith master bedroom pink lace Sag Harbor

Just forty days and counting!

Related Posts:
So Long Summer…Vignettes and Views Around the House
Renovation Report…”Oldating” the Beach House Bathroom
Brooklyn Belle from Hilary Robertson and Alastair McCowan
Weaving in Global Antiques…Katie Leede’s World Traveler’s Abode

Image credits: All images via Lonny, NYC & G, One Kings Lane or Studio MRS.

« Older Entries Newer Entries »

Tokyo Jinja

Back to top