Raised by Design


Jo and Joe’s Tribeca High Rise

Today I’m excited to give you a peek at an e-design consult I’m currently working on.

Joanna and Joe are moving into a fabulous high rise apartment in TriBeCa next month and they’re in the process of defining their style as a couple as they merge the contents of their respective bachelor and bachelorette pads. Always a fun exercise.

Joe is a music/tech entrepreneur and Joanna is in finance and active in the NYC theater community. They’re both live music junkies and fell in love shredding fresh powder and building bon fires at a ski house they share with friends in Vermont.

In their Manhattan pad we’re pulling together a palette that will feel cozy in the winter and breezy in the summer. Grays, blues and whites anchor the living room, paired with warming wood surfaces and leaving room to introduce city-chic feminine details and layered masculine textures. 

Here’s the mood board I put together:

Raised by Design - Jo + Joe's Tribeca Highrise - Wintery Palette Mood Board

Our first step was to establish some basics in the space – they needed help putting together their living area starting with a new couch, area rug and end tables. Most of the furniture they’re bringing into the space, including their coffee table, is darkest brown wood so we wanted to lighten things up a bit.

I sent them to shop for couches at Room & Board‘s SoHo showroom, my favorite source for big ‘All Growns Up’ furniture purchases. Everything at R&B is American Made with high quality craftsmanship. Their pieces are gorgeous and it’s a great place to make that first investment purchase for your home. The Jo(e)s ended up going with the super versatile Metro Sofa in a custom L-shape with cement-gray upholstery.


Next we chose an area rug from West Elm – the Andes Wool Rug in Dusty Blue. Rugs are tricky and Joanna was leaning towards a playful chevron pattern but we agreed that chevron is a well-worn trend and she’d be sick of it in a matter of weeks. We settled on this more sophisticated, subtle iteration of a chevron in a wool blend that will stand up to high traffic but still feel soft under bare feet.

WE-andes-dusty-blueWith these anchor pieces locked in our next thing to tackle was end tables. Here’s where things got fun. I try to avoid anything too matchy-matchy or strictly symmetric in my designs – although the eye likes symmetry it can sometimes feel too rigid or bossy.

I think living spaces should make people feel inspired, calmed and comforted. The best way to achieve a relaxed vibe is to establish a balance while maintaining an ‘undone’ or organic feeling.

So to start down that path, I recommended that we go with two different end tables that will bring asymmetry into the space but play well with each other.

Joe and Joanna describe their style is ‘classic’ and didn’t want anything too ‘crazy, art deco or modern’. I turned down the funk and stayed away from anything too artistic, abstract, vintage or bohemian and tried to choose pieces that were simple and clean lined without being boring.

Here are some of the options we’re considering:

Raised by Design - Joanna and Joe's Tribeca Highrise - End Table Roundup

  1. Distressed Metal End Table from Target – $83
  2. Safavieh Wynton Table from Target – $136
  3. Allard End Table from Room & Board – 429
  4. Wicker Drum from Pottery Barn – $149
  5. Eden Table from World Market – $70
  6. Driftwood Side Table from Crate & Barrel – $399
  7. Martini Side Table from West Elm – $119
  8. Oslo End Table from Target – $129
  9. Safavieh Josef Table from Target – $229

The Jo(e)s are leaning towards the Driftwood Table from Crate & Barrel so I’m encouraging them to bring a new material into the mix. I’m loving the balance that a steel or bronze piece would bring into the picture. What do you think?

Loveyoubye! Maggie


Before + After – Painted Blanket Chest

In the bedroom of today’s woman, it’s absolutely, 100%, no bull crap essential to have a place where you can slump your clothes, sit and zip up your moto boots or rest a stack of clean laundry for a week before you finally get around to putting it away. Double bonus points if said place can also store extra blankets or bulky sweaters that don’t fit in your closet.

Ever since we moved into the smaller bedroom I’ve been searching for the right piece to go at the end of our bed. This toy chest from my childhood bedroom fit perfectly, but it needed a little love to go from 80’s nursery life to grown-ass lady bedroom.

Before and After - Raised by Design painted bedroom chest

Sometimes, all you need to pull off a good Before + After is a couple coats of paint, for real. All designers will tell you that paint is their best pal – the quickest (and cheapest) route to big time change.

For this project I used two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Midnight – a deep navy with slate gray undertones. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Benjamin Moore Midnight

In natural light, it looks more blue but by lamplight it looks almost black. It’s moody and lovely, just like me.

Raised by Design - Before and After - Painted Bedroom Chest

I’m especially happy with the way it makes the colorful art we hung above it pop.

The top work is a 1980 Mary Engelbreit original of three girls that reads “Koki, Muffie, and Bitsy shop for circle pins.” I love this drawing dearly because “Muffie” is my Mom, “Koki” is Mary – my faerie/art godmother – and “Bitsy” is Nicki Dwyer – my actual Godmother. I love these ladies and I love the cherry red frame Mary chose all those years back. This illustration hung right where I had my timeouts growing up. I wonder if Mom did that on purpose so we had to sit and reflect on how cute she was while we were being punished.

The bottom piece is an original masterpiece by my little sister, Mo, from when she was probably four or five years old – elevated to legit abstract art in an IKEA matte and frame. I adore the colors she chose – she had an eye for style even back then.

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

Here’s a view from the door of our bedroom:

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

And here’s a closeup of the dreamy breakfast in bed that I’ve never enjoyed in real life but totally makes the picture feel cozy:

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

And that, my friends, is all there is to it. Paint saves the day. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I eat that piece of apple cake in two bites.

Loveyoubye! Maggie

9 Easy Halloween DIY Projects

We already talked about my lukewarm enthusiasm for Halloween. And we’re still friends, right? So here are a few Halloween DIY projects that are just about my speed. Most take a few hours, some a few minutes (!!) and all can be done with things you either have at home or can find at your local hardware or dollar store. Go get weird!

raised by design - 9 easy halloween diy projects


Top Row: ghost garland /// spirit jugs /// spider ice cubes

Middle Row: pumpkin party cooler /// mousy book cutouts /// trash bag spider webs

Bottom Row: spooky eggs /// candy corn wine bottles /// spider’s nests

Loveyoubye! Mags

Before + After – Lettered Tray Table

before and after - printers tray table

Years ago, my Mom carted this beat up table home from someone’s trash pile.  Dumpster diving isn’t exactly a competitive sport up here in Westchester – most wouldn’t be caught dead getting out of their black SUV to throw a vintage castaway in the back. Ok, maybe I’m not being fair. They wouldn’t get out of their Mini. But my Mom’s an old pro and I love her for not letting go of her “One Man’s Trash” credo. She passed that credo, and this table, onto me.

 before and after - printers tray table

The table then sat in my place with its fate undecided for months. It had a worn look that dangerously teetered on shabby chic (blegh!) with its perfectly chipped paint, cabriole legs and Queen Anne profile. But it also had a recessed tray top that was begging to be crafted.

Finally one day we had the idea to use that cool old box of ceramic marquee letters that Mom scored at a thrift shop. I pulled the title of one of my favorite Talking Heads songs and used white premixed tile grout to arrange the letters at random around the quote (with a few hidden messages).

before and after printers table tray

before and after printers table tray

Shit was fun. To finish the table and make it usable, Mom and I cut a template from kraft paper and took it to the glass shop to have a piece of tempered glass cut for the top, which costs under $50.

This table is now one of my favorite pieces in the house because it was the first thing I made when we bought Lil’ Spot. Between the sans-serif font of the letters and the white on white canvas, I think we’ve successfully rescued it from its shabby chic bad dream. Maybe one day I’ll seal the deal and sand down the driftwood-y finish and paint it hot pink or cobalt blue. Maybe. IDK. Should I?

before and after printers tray table


before and after printers tray table


before and after printers tray table


Supplies Needed:

Good to Know:

  • the pre-mixed grout is latex so you can mix any color acrylic craft paint into it to change the color – just remember that since it’s already white, your color will be lightened…
  • the grout has the consistency of brownie mix, as my Mom puts it in her classes – so you can use it on any vessel or surface, really, and this project translates really well to pots, vases, plaques, etc.
  • when you’re working with the grout work pretty quickly; it dries within about 20 minutes so it’s a good idea to lay out your pattern, if you’re going to use one, beforehand so the grout isn’t drying while you’re figuring out what you’re going to do
  • if you’re using objects or letters that are different sizes, make sure you set aside 4 pieces that are the thickest and set them at each corner so your glass rests level
  • definitely download the Talking Heads song – you won’t regret it



RBD Makes: Copper Paper Towel Holder

Raised by Design - DIY Industrial Copper Paper Towel Holder

Yesterday, my Dad came over to help me make this industrial-style copper paper towel holder. We are pretty short on counter space in our small kitchen and I’ve been trying to declutter where I can.

Decluttering is a tough business for me because there’s a powerful gravity that exists between me and clutter. But I’m also a serious cook and I use my kitchen and everything in it a LOT. There are things that need to be within arm’s reach and I just have to accept that I’ll never be that person with one bowl of lemons and two rustic spoons on their counter. Plus we’re apparently running an illegal espresso bar and can’t possibly live without BOTH an espresso machine and coffee maker in our tiny coffee loving lives.

One easy win was to get rid of our countertop paper towel holder in favor of a hanging dispenser under one of our shelves by the sink.

Before you go hating on the asymmetry of these one-bracket shelves you should know that (a) there was a decent reason for building them like this and (b) I’ve already beat myself up good for not taking more time to design ones that I liked better. I just wanted them to be functional, sturdy and cheap (thanks to a good case of renovation fatigue). If I were to change them out I think I would go for something more rectilinear like these or floating shelves like these. But whatever. In 4 years when I get around to doing something about it maybe I will have changed my mind again.

Moving past the self deprecation…I’m going to show you how to make this kick arse copper paper towel holder.

Here’s what you need to hunt and gather from hardware stores, Dads and basements:

Raised by Design - DIY copper industrial style paper towel holder

  • propane torch with standard nozzle
  • 18″ piece (or longer) of ½” copper tubing cut to the following sizes:
    • (1) 14″ piece
    • (4) 3/4″ pieces
  • (4) ½” copper tees
  • (4) ½” copper caps
  • tin-lead or lead-free tin solder
  • soldering flux (we used paste flux but any form will work)
  • (2) screw hooks
  • emery paper
  • tubing cutter (any size will cut ½” tubing)
  • power drill fitted with 3/16″ bit

Other supplies you’ll need:

  • WD-40, Goo Gone or ketchup
  • rags
  • permanent marker
  • square (optional but very helpful)
  • measuring tape
  • gloves

Here’s my super technical design drawing:

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The two biggest considerations we had were (1) to make it easy to change the roll and (2) to prevent it from sliding out of the hook/hanging mechanism during use. I wanted a modern/industrial look so we headed to the plumbing aisle at the hardware store to see what we could dig up in Copper Land.

We decided to use screw hooks as our mounting/hanging mechanism because they’re easy to install and leave an opening for removing the dowel to change the roll.  Using copper tees would solve the issue of sliding and keep the dowel in place so we grabbed a couple of those.

In order to cap off the tees for a finished look, we would need to cut small pieces of tubing to use as connector pieces. They do make caps that fit inside the tees, eliminating the need to cut connector pieces. But they’re $5/ea versus the standard caps which are $0.75/ea. I went with the standard caps and bought myself an iced latte and piece of $12 cheese from the fancy food shop in town…because that’s what’s up with my priorities. 

OK here are THE STEPS:

First use your funny looking tubing cutter to cut one 14″ piece and four 3/4″ pieces from your copper tubing length. Cutting tubing and pipes sounds like it would be scary and involve goggles and sparks, but it’s actually really easy and about as scary as using scissors. I’m lucky because I have one of those Dads who knows how to do everything. Here’s a good video tutorial for cutting tubing that could stand in for an all-knowing Dad if you need it to.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Then you’ll want to clean up any serious gunk that’s on the tubing. For this you can use Goo Gone, WD-40 or…Ketchup! It’s nasty but it works.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder


Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

To really get your copper shining bright like a diamond, you’ll need to go over it with emery paper or very very fine sand paper. Sand the outside of your long piece and the ends and insides of your connector pieces, tees and caps. This step is really important because it removes any oxidation so that the solder will adhere to the copper. You want to work fairly quickly and do this when you’re ready to get right to soldering so that it doesn’t re-oxidize. (PS – those are my Dad’s ManHands…I love them.)

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder


Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

After all of your pieces are sanded inside and out, use your ManHands to apply flux (capacitor) to the parts of tubing that will be connected. I’m a fan of this kind of work just because it’s an excuse to use the word ‘flux’ all day.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

As you apply flux to each piece, begin to assemble the holder. Flux flux flux. Use my super technical drawing above as a reference…the long piece connects to the tee, which connects to the connectors, which connects to the caps. Capisce?

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Assembled and ready to solder…

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Use a paper towel to wipe off any extra fluxity-flux-flux.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Now get to torchin’. The only real safety tips for using a propane torch are these:

  • go outside in a well ventilated area, especially if you’re using solder that contains lead
  • wear goggles because it makes you look like you’re doing something dangerous
  • wear gloves to protect your gorgeous ManHands
  • work on a piece of wood or tin – no stone (you’ll crack it) and no asphalt (you’ll melt it) and no piles of leaves (you’ll start a forest fire)
  • don’t be a dope and burn yourself while you’re reaching for something
  • you know…workin’ with fire…
  • if all of this scares you too much, just grab someone who knows their way around a torch for help

Turn on your propane torch and heat up one end of the assembled rod, being careful not to place your hand too close to the flame (the entire pipe will heat up as it sits over the open flame, another good reason to wear gloves). Notice that Dad didn’t heed any of my safety warnings.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

As you heat the copper, hold the solder over the seam and allow it to drip into place and spread to form a bond.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The whole job takes about three minutes. Once you’ve covered your seams, use an old rag to wipe away extra tin and clean it up a little. If you want to get it really clean, you can bust out your emery paper again, being careful not to sand away your bond. Personally, I prefer the look of the mixed metals which will complement the screw hooks.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Head inside and do a whole bunch of head-hurting fraction math to figure out where to drill holes to hang your hooks so that the paper towels will have space to turn and you can easily take the rod out to change them. Measure a million times, cut once, is the goal.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Dad taught me another good trick for making sure you don’t drill clean through your beautiful shelves, which I’m 100% sure I would have done. Hold the screw up to your shelf and mark the depth on the screw with a permanent marker. You can do the same directly onto your drill bit for drilling your pilot holes. Then you just stop when you get to the line! And you can feel free to do this dance.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Drill some pilot holes…

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Screw in your hooks and hang that sucker!!

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

I LERVE it. Si! Si! Si! I think it complements the colors in our counters and coffee station quite nicely.

The asparagus dish, btw, was my Dad’s Mother’s and it has a good story. It hung in her kitchen for years when my Dad was growing up. When she passed, he and my Mom got it. It hung in our kitchen in Oak Park. Years later we moved to New York and down-sized to fit into a loft apartment. She gifted it to our dear friends Anne + Jeff across the street. It hung in their kitchen for the better part of 14 years until I got married and Anne gifted it to me at my shower. I cried. And it hangs here in proud memory of my Grandma Betty.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The whole project (including a run to the hardware store) took us just under 4 hours. It cost about $25 not including the solder, flux and tubing cutter. If you’re not into pyrotechnics but are loving the industrial copper look you can score a similar one for $65 at ScoutMob.

I’m pumped because I freed up about 8″ of counter space…and that’s a big deal for me. Plus I got to spend the day with Dad and play with fire.

Loveyoubye! Mags



Wrapping Up


Today I’m wrapping up some DIY gem magnets I made to add to the goodie bag at my Mom, Charlotte’s Vermont Getaway next weekend. I’m honored to be contributing something as a sponsor – there are some ridiculously talented ladies in her circle. I hope they like them!

I’m also wrapping up from our weekend with family at the beach in Old Lyme, CT. It’s one of my favorite places to be – the beach. I love everything about being near water. Especially the breezy New England beach on the Sound up at Old Lyme. It’s the best of both worlds – the coast and the country smooshed together in a kind of heaven that seems like it was made just for me.

old lyme beach weekend

This weekend had all the bells and whistles: kayaking, birding, reading, puzzling, fried clams, bonfires, sunset cocktails, painting, morning walks, pockets of shells and rocks, hot dogs, playoff hockey and long meals with loud laughs. I always wonder if life were like this all the time, would I love it this much?

old lyme beach weekend



watercolor - crab

Loveyoubye! Maggie

rbd makes: metallic stone coasters


Making your own stone coasters with metallic color blocking and geometric patterns is a super easy project with big results that will fool anyone into thinking you are a design mogul. A set of four would make a great gift for almost any person in your life and for any occasion. Guys would like these. Gals would like these. Heavy drinkers. Shmoopie newlyweds. Design snobs. College grads. Should I keep going? No? Ok, here’s the how-to:

DIY Painted Stone Coasters - Raised by Design
You’ll need a few supplies, all available at home improvement stores, craft stores, or online.
  • 4″ x 4″ stone samples or tiles – mine are honed limestone samples leftover from a design project, but you could do this project using these or any stone that you prefer; just keep in mind that a honed finish is easier for paint to adhere to than a polished finish
  • craft paint in various colors – I used Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Acrylic Craft Paint in White, Rust, Gold and Sterling
  • painter’s tape – I like Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape by 3M for Delicate Surfaces because it peels away easily and cleanly (we use this tape to paint our home as well)
  • paint brushes – every art teacher I’ve had confirms the notion that ‘the brush doesn’t make the painter’ so don’t buy expensive paint brushes; the ones I use are from this super-cheap value pack
  • felt squares – you know, the ones that cost a PENNY! 
  • scissors – you all know where to buy scissors, or probably have some already, but I like to have one pair marked “FOR FABRIC ONLY” so they stay nice and sharp and I stay nice and uptight
  • hot glue gun + glue sticks – super easy to get your hands on one of these, and every home should have one to keep things dangerous, just make sure you buy the glue sticks that are the right size for your glue gun
  • stone sealer for honed finishes – I think this one is your best bet, although it does come in a pint size at some stores
No prep – just tape and paint! Wait for paint to dry in between coats for best coverage. Also, peel your tape away at a 45 degree angle soon after you paint for the cleanest line. Don’t wait for the paint to dry before you peel because it may peel up with the tape – a great tip from James’ uncle who is a contractor.
It’s fun to experiment with different patterns and colors – use a wine cork to make polka dots if you’re in the mood.
I like a little opacity for a brushed look, but if you want to have a solid coat I would aim for at least 3 coats.
Raised-by-Design DIY metallic painted coasters
You can decide if you want to paint the edges or leave them natural. On some of my coasters I did a dipped look and wrapped the tape all the way around and painted the edges only where I had painted on the surface.
Once your paint has dried, cut out a square of felt to size and use the hot glue gun to adhere it to the bottom of your coaster as a backing. Then swipe on a coat or two of sealer and you’re done!


Tie them up with twine and a gift tag for easy wrapping. Pair the coasters with a bottle of Lillet or Celebtration Ale for a killer gift!

Loveyoubye! Maggie


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