Hot designers offer some cool decor tips

Sara Story designed this women's oasis as a response to the ever-popular request for “man-caves.”

Every artist begins with a blank canvas, and as three of Elle Decor’s top designers to watch in 2011, Sara Story, Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller were tasked with transforming their blank canvases — residences in New York City’s new +aRt condominium development — into livable works of art. If you’re just moving into a new space, or you think it’s time for changes to your current abode, read on for their tips.

Establish a flow
Carrier and Miller, who designed a modern living room with pieces from Room & Board, recommend determining the room’s function and traffic flow before going all out on decorations. And if you can live in the space before you start decorating, that’s even better. “To be able to try the space on for a little while and then ease your way into the decorating is always good,” Carrier says.

Know your limits
“If you’re living in a small apartment, everything has to be really edited,” says Story, who created a chic women’s salon with items from The New Traditionalists. “You can’t have a lot of stuff, but what you have you want to really, really love. The scale of the furniture should be the same size as the apartment — you shouldn’t do big, overstuffed chairs or big sofas. Everything should be tailored and crisp, and that’ll make the space feel bigger.” The designer also recommends jazzing up ceilings and doors, as well as making use of room dividers.

Decorate, then repeat
Create a mirror image of each half of the room — say, by incorporating matching bookcases or sofas facing opposite each other, as Carrier and Miller did. Using items in pairs or multiples adds balance and “doesn’t become visually overwhelming,” Carrier says.

Pick thoughtful storage
“You can have a good-looking box that you put your bills in that sits on the table right when you come in the door,” Miller says.

Take a tour of the designers’ work by visiting the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House at 540 W. 28th St., or by visiting ElleDecor.com.


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