Renovation Diary: A Clinton Hill townhouse makes room for layers of history and modernist design

Our Renovation Diary has been following 6sqft writer Michelle Cohen as she takes on the challenge of transforming a Brooklyn townhouse in the historic Clinton Hillneighborhood into a site-sensitive modern home. She previously shared plans for the 150-year-old building and the first big steps she and her husband, a public health lawyer and antique lighting dealer, have taken to make their dream home a reality, including two yearsof hunting, planning the renovation, and assembling the professionals needed to make it happen (and how the homeowners made the best of all the waiting time). With Landmarks’ signoff and permits in hand, a year-long renovation began. Below, the results, with plenty of hindsight, advice, resources and construction photos on the way.

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Our two-family Italianate row house in the Clinton Hill Historic District was built in the mid-1860s; a major renovation was done sometime around the 1920s-’30s which resulted in the original interior staircase being replaced by a grand central stair and hall. Somewhere along the way, the stoop was removed. The house also received various upgrades in the ensuing years, making it possible for us to spend time living in the house while pondering the daunting task of renovation. Designing three kitchens and four bathrooms was both an exciting and terrifying task to look forward to. With the help of Urban Pioneering Architectureand Alex Scott Porter for kitchen design, we got down to serious business.

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The sofa is from CB2. The corner pendant light is the Gubi Multi-Lite Pendant designed by Louis Weisdorf.

As described in the first installments of this multi-year saga, we totally fell in love with the house and we wanted to make it into the kind of home we felt it deserved to be. But also, speaking as a longtime design junkie and, for both of us, as people who like new projects, we really saw it as a design project. I think that made the actual process easier. We have both been project managers in our professional lives, and I can put on my producer hat so it doesn’t get too personal. But I also allowed myself to be the “crazy client,” which you can’t do when you’re the manager.

The house has retained many lovely details like molding and wainscoting, columns and arches, 11-foot ceilings, and plaster walls. We weren’t planning a gut renovation, but there was an awful lot of work to be done on practically every inch. And it was important that everything didn’t just look good but that it be conducive to daily use and enjoyment for a wide range of individuals of all ages. Within our major construction goals was a seemingly endless list of design items such as new flooring, paint, and lighting throughout, replication and placement of the home’s moldings and other original details, built-ins, and more.

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Structural updates included plumbing and electric; adding a ducted zoned split central air conditioning/backup heating system to our steam heat system; replacing all windows and doors; replacing the original stoop and adding a new front entry.

We created a separate rental apartment on the ground floor. This was by far the biggest task from an architectural standpoint–mostly a gut job. The home’s center stair, while grand, adds challenges beyond the average Victorian home layout. The apartment also has access to the backyard and the cellar (we share storage and laundry).

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On the parlor floor, we installed a new kitchen in the rear with a pair of massive steel doors to give the north-facing space lots of light, and a deck with stairs to the yard off the adjacent dining area. Custom steel doors are by A & S. The rug is from CB2 and the corner shelving is from Muji. Tray and vases from Hay.

renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation
renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation

Off the kitchen, a powder room, a closet, and a breakfast nook-slash-“modernist igloo” were created in the long, narrow rear extension, lined with floor-to-ceiling single-pane casement windows. The wallpaper is the Tourbillon pattern by Farrow & Ball. The mirror is from CB2. The basin is Duravit with a tap by Grohe. The sconce is by Cedar & Moss. The pendant lights are by Schoolhouse Electric.

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The table light is the Carrie LED light by Menu.

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Walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alaskan Husky custom mixed at 40%; finding the right color took many, many tries–most paint companies will custom mix anything for you. In the bedroom, the wall sconces are DCW Mantis; the print is by Jennifer Ament; the chair is from Urban Outfitters; and the quilt and pillow from Hay.

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The bathroom vanity was made by our contractor; vanity top and steps are Antique Grey marble from ABC Stone. Basin and tap are Kohler; sconces are Cedar & Moss.

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One flight up, the major structural change was expanding the closet in the master bedroom. The master bath got a complete overhaul and a private little upper deck atop the aforementioned two-story rear extension.

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The Eames Aluminum Group chairs are vintage from eBay. The desk lights are also vintage. The drawers are IKEA’s ALEX series, and the drawing at right is by Scott Teplin.

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The second bedroom is also our office/library (many books have arrived since this photo was taken). I work mostly from home so the fact that the room is spacious, quiet, and sunny make it perfect. It’s also our main guest room, and we wanted an actual decent bed rather than a convertible day bed, which can be dangerous for an office but so far it works. The office shelving is the amazing IKEA SVALNAS series.

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renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation

We had a custom stainless steel countertop and integrated sink made by our contractor in the kitchenette. I wanted a chance to use a stainless countertop, and I’m loving how indestructible and actually warm-feeling it is.

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On the top floor, we created a suite within the triplex with a little kitchenette as a “nanny suite,” or guest suite for friends and family who might be staying a while (no, we’re not planning to Airbnb it). The space had originally been a second kitchen, so the plumbing was already in place. There’s also a stacked washer/dryer up here tucked into the kitchenette. I liked the challenge of making a tiny, multi-use room in such a small space. And a full bath, of course.

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Also up here is the “Swiss Army knife” room: An extra office and cozy guest room for kids of guests. The bell light is by CB2 and the day bed is from IKEA.

Below, I share some larger thoughts on the renovation in an interview with 6sqft…

Renovation has a rep for being really stressful; what can you say about stress and keeping your sanity?

You have to be insane to do something like this. Ok, not really! But it definitely earns its reputation for being stressful if you let it. A project like this is actually great for people who tend toward ADD: Every day is a deus ex machina in a way. What kept us sane is the ability to keep it in perspective. The project was something that we were lucky to have the opportunity to experience; it’s not that issues that arose weren’t real, but they were renovation issues.

When stuff goes nuts or setbacks happen, it’s important to remember they’re things that involve a particular self-contained project and are relative to the rest of life. We actually didn’t even fight too much about house things. We’re a pretty good team. I’d step back and say, “this cannot be you vs. me, that’s completely counterproductive. We have to be united on this.”

You always hear about renovations taking years from when they’re first started; what’s the reason?

The time it took us to renovate this house is, I’m guessing, right in the middle for a project of this size. It took nearly a year and a half to finish up the regulatory phase of our project and get a team in place for demo and construction. Then from the beginning of construction, all told, the project took about one year.

The house is a landmarked building in the Clinton Hill Historic District, so plans and drawings for all of the above had to be submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Altering anything on the exterior was subject to their approval. The DOB is yet another regulatory body that requires the serious focus of an architect and often an engineer/expediter to tick off the boxes as far as building regulations are concerned. Even the Department of Transportation weighed in. Fortunately, we were able to live in and rent out lots of rooms during that time, an adventure in itself.

How would you describe the design vision you had for the house?

There was a massive renovation in the 1920s or ’30s, so actually, it’s hard to tell what’s “original” to the 1870s building. That’s part of what we love about it. As far as my own design and architectural style, I’m a complete modernist in theory. I think the idea of modern, clean, comfortable/casual interiors in an old house is really just beginning to catch on in most of America. In much of Europe, for example, where there are lots of much older homes, it’s common to create a space with a lot of modern design influence within homes much older than this one–with thick plaster walls, high ceilings, casement windows, parquet floors, and other beautiful details. The incredibly solid bones really do lend themselves to modern design. That’s definitely where my vision was. I’d been taking notes and collecting ideas as an interest and hobby for what seems like forever.

You really do have to have a vision in place for what you want. It’s great if you can find an architect or designer who is totally on your wavelength who can feed you good ideas, and who really takes the wheel as far as the execution of the project, but those “rock stars” tend to be very expensive and the process will still be time-consuming with lots of smaller decisions to be made by the homeowner. Bottom line: You really have to do your research, learn what you like, spend an enormous amount of time and effort sourcing the work and items you are looking for, ask tons of questions of strangers and do it over and over and over again.

Then there’s the whole question of getting the actual construction to fit the design and quality you have in mind and in the plans that have been drawn up. Again, research is key.

How do you feel about the many design trends out there?

I don’t have strong feelings about trends; I actually love them in general as someone who can recognize them for what they are and trace their elements and influences. I neither avoid trends on principle nor embrace them blindly. The current love affair with Scandinavian and French style often nails it as far as the look I love, with a little bit of opulent European vintage modern thrown in. And as trendy as some of my favorite pieces are right now, they’re ones I grew up with and have loved–and in some cases collected–for a lifetime. Stanley is an antique lighting dealer/collector and has always known antiques, but he’s learning a whole new language he wasn’t so familiar with before. And I think there is a lot of overlap with our design ideas.

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renovation diary, interiors, mysqft

What were the biggest tasks?

The garden (it’s referred to as the “basement” in official building lingo, though there’s a cellar) apartment was a total gut job, and there was a lot of work done on the rest of the house but most of the original structure was kept, except for adding the main kitchen, doors, deck, and stairs at the rear of the parlor floor. Formerly, the house had one main kitchen that was on the ground floor at the back. There was no way to get to the back yard from the parlor floor.

We re-created a stoop (it had been removed by a previous owner), which required a huge amount of work on the front entry with a lot of original details to be replicated, including lintels that were painstakingly sculpted by hand,  and some very big townhouse doors which had to be fabricated and installed.

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The outdoor lights are vintage from Old Lights On. All windows are Marvin. The door was custom fabricated in Pennsylvania by an acquaintance of Stanley’s after a search turned up some astounding prices on custom townhouse doors in NYC.

What stayed from your original wish list?

The deck, the stoop, the master closet/dressing room, breakfast nook in the extension, massive steel-framed back doors that open out to the deck.

What didn’t?

A huge expanse of glass with two doors at the rear of the house, a brick weave wall on the extension; we added the aforementioned steel-framed doors where the rear windows had been, and floor-to-ceiling casement windows in the extension–which turned out to be a pretty good compromise.

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 The walnut bench and paneling are custom by Maciek Winiarczyk/MW Construction.

What would you say makes this home different from the standard brownstone? 

I think if anything, in addition to our already history-layered “frankenhouse” with its center hall and columns, it’s a nearly obsessive focus on using every inch of space to its highest and best use. In addition to storage niches, nooks, and closets, creating the upstairs nanny suite using the existing kitchenette and layout, for one.

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Then there’s the “secret” patio deck off the master bath; it’s the rooftop of the extension below, so the deck part was already there. We just added some concrete decking, railings, and outdoor lighting and gave ourselves a little outdoor space for a morning weather check or a nightcap. It took forever to find a “windoor” that would work in this space, it’s custom by Starr in Brooklyn; it replaces an already-existing window of the same size. The recessed medicine cabinet was made by our contractor.

And my favorite space in the house might be the sunny breakfast nook, a great use of previously rarely-used space (it had held a back stairway going to the ground floor, and a dumbwaiter, which is how the original townhouses like this one were set up, so the servants could send food from the kitchen downstairs up to the formal dining room on the parlor floor.)

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DCW Mantis wall sconces; ceiling fixture is vintage from Old Lights On.

Let’s get into some of the big-impact design decisions.

We arrived at a cost-effective flooring strategy after some suggestions by designer Sarah Hill at Urban Pioneering and a ton of research on my part. The apartment and the first (parlor) floor are new white oak, site-finished with a clear matte finish using Bona Traffic HD water based poly, finished in place with a herringbone pattern on the parlor floor. The second floor original boards were treated to give them a bleached look using Bona Nordic Tone and Nordic Seal; the top floor was painted pale grey with Benjamin Moore floor paint in Pewter. Finding the right products and shades for each was really a learning curve and a challenge.

Regarding flooring, Debbie Gartner from The Flooring Girl blog is an amazing resource, her website is an endless trove of accurate information on all things flooring, and she is great at replying to questions and providing advice. I’m also endlessly grateful for the help of NYC-based architect Brent Buck, whose brownstone reno was a huge inspiration. After seeing his renovation diary I reached out to him with some questions about random things like floorboard size and finish, and though he’s super busy doing awesome high-end work, he immediately got back to me with some of the best and most thorough advice I’ve gotten.

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renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation


The black loveseat at left is a vintage Overman. The chandelier is an antique from the early 1900s from Stanley’s collection; he had an identical one which sold so quickly we had to hide this one. The stair and railing paint is Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball. The print over the stairs is by Aure Studio; the wall sconce is by Pholc.

Our center hall and center stair are probably the most dramatic thing about the house. The pillars and arches and grand, curving stair landing are from the late ’20s renovation. Overall, I was somewhat restrained with the use of color–most of the rooms are Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, a white that lots of architects and designers recommend. I love dark walls though, and this room was the perfect place for them. We used Benjamin Moore’s Witching Hour, an amazing blue-black-grey on the whole center hall. The dark walls make the adjoining rooms look huge and really define the room itself as well as adding both drama and a welcoming vibe.

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renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation


Countertops are Carrara marble from ABC Stone. Tap is the Purist by Kohler. Pendant lights over the island are the Mass Light NA5 by Norm Architects for &Tradition. The upper, walnut and white, shelving is custom. Alex designed the pull-out Best vent configuration to fit neatly inside the cabinetry. The range is Wolf.

The backsplash was a bit of a wild card until the last minute. We ended up choosing Boneyard Brick glazed thin brick tiles from Trikeenan, sourced from Chelsea Arts Tile & Stone, which were a bit of a splurge but we love them for their warmth and visual interest.

I had pretty much decided on the basic design for the kitchen, but because there were so many moving parts, we hired super-architect Alex Scott Porter as a design consultant. The millworker who did the custom carpentry for the kitchen also served as our kitchen contractor.

The lower cabinet interiors are all Ikea with custom fronts and panels made by Maciej Winiarczyk of MW Construction, our kitchen contractor. That strategy is the not-so-secret weapon in many a design arsenal. In the apartment we used the Danish company Reform–their Navy Yard showroom is amazing–to create the cabinet fronts. Reform designs are gorgeous, some are by design superstars like Bjarke Ingels and Cecilie Manz. And you can get them color-matched to any paint color you want.

My main inspirations were Henrybuilt and Vipp, and I love the Frama Studio kitchens. I wanted black cabinets and ended up choosing Benjamin Moore’s Midnight Dream, a dark velvety blue-black. My original plan was to have marble on the back run and concrete on the island but the concrete turned out to be not only expensive but complicated, though I’d still like to try it. I like the warmth of stone and concrete–they’re both authentic materials that patina nicely and I think they bring a kind of solid warmth to a kitchen.

What’s your favorite thing about the kitchen?

The coffee station! In general, between Alex and myself we were absolutely obsessive about everything having a function and a place. The idea of a kitchen that looks cool but doesn’t work horrifies me. This kitchen excels at everything it needs to do, from prep and cooking, entertaining and hanging out, to not being cluttered.

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The dining room table was one of the first things I owned after moving to the city decades ago. We made it from a 1940s vintage chrome desk frame and an IKEA wood top, with a custom slab of acrylic from the amazing Canal Plastics bolted at the corners. It’s indestructible. It started out as temporary but it’s really working. The pendant light over the table is the Louis Poulsen PH Snowball by Poul Henningsen, an online vintage find via First Dibs.

The steel-framed doors were another splurge, but they’re a great visual anchor and bring in a lot of light for a north-facing room that tends to get cool, flat afternoon light. I love having the deck right off the kitchen. The yard… that’s happening in the next phase.

renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation
renovation diary, mysqft, clinton hill, renovation, interiors, design, urban pioneering, alex scott porter, brooklyn brownstone, townhouse, renovation

The door is from Irreplaceable Artifacts. The vestibule floor tiles are circulos encaustic cement tiles from Cement Tile Shop.

Talk about repurposing materials.

We reused the original interior doors and even the old doorknobs on the top floor. We’d thought we’d find an old set of brownstone doors in a salvage shop, but, as anyone who has tried this will tell you, it’s easier said than done. As one shop owner told us, there are many more people who need this item than there are people who are getting rid of them. We ended up having those custom made, but we did find a great door with a Deco-esque inset at Irreplaceable Artifacts in Harlem that was refurbished by our contractor that we are using for the second entry door. We’re using the old radiators–cleaned and painted–for steam heat. We also converted the long-defunct fireplace in the living room to a working gas fireplace.

Some key pieces of advice?

  • Maintain a sense of context. There’s a lot of life outside of the project.
  • Live in the house before you renovate.
  • Do not live in the house while you renovate.
  • When hiring contractors and architects, do your homework. Make sure you see work they have done and talk to past clients. Ask about their project management strategies (scheduling, etc). Those are almost as important as the construction. They should answer all of your questions in a way that you’re satisfied with. Trust your gut if it’s telling you yes or no on someone. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these people.
  • Ask any and all knowledgeable people, including complete strangers, for advice and sources and don’t hesitate for fear of bugging people too much. Thank them heartily.
  • Look at tons and tons and tons of pictures. Follow all of your favorite inspirations on Instagram. Make a ton of folders/mood boards/pinterest boards, narrow them down to a reasonable amount for each room. Get really granular with your boards (appliances, hardware, paint, etc) as well as having overall inspiration collections. You’ll need these to share with your architect and/or designer.
  • Splurge on things you really dream of (as long as they aren’t really impractical), you can save and substitute elsewhere. That said, find creative ways to find the more expensive things you want, for less. Do NOT just buy from showrooms or go with your architect or designer’s usual source. Search Google, eBay, craigslist, etc. Just as one example, we found the same two-inch Nero Marquina marble hexagonal tiles for our master bath online from Builder Depot for about half the price of the tile place our architects regularly use.
  • It’s hard to be super-creative in every aspect of a large renovation, so don’t feel you have to. If you have a vision definitely go for it; that’s the easy part, but otherwise stick with classics you know you’ll like. When in doubt use classic, simple timeless materials, and colors (subway tile, etc) that wear well.
  • Optimize rental spaces as much as possible, don’t write them off as “just a rental” or plan to upgrade later. If you want to create an income-producing space, get it done first. Your bank account will thank you for years to come. And you probably won’t do it later.
  • Do not rule out IKEA no matter how “cheap” you may think it is. They know their stuff. (closets, cabinets, kitchens), especially if you think out of the box and get creative when looking at what they offer. Ikea “hack” kitchen cabinet fronts are some of the best and most creative out there.
  • Insist on excellence from contractors, architects, vendors and any other people who you are working with. Be kind and respectful of course, but don’t be shy or worry about being too demanding.
  • Let your contractor know if you are uncomfortable or unhappy with the work any subcontractor is doing (within reason). This is a tough one, but if you really think there’s a weak link for an important job (electrician, or flooring contractor for example) it’s better worked out before the work is done–poorly.
  • It’s ok to change your mind up to a point and/or if you’re really sure about the change.
  • Include lighting (especially), art and furniture in your plans and budget. They really make the space; in the end, any space is absolutely better off designed as a whole.

What do you like best about the house now that you’re (for now) done?

It really is hard to choose one thing, of course. I love the way the space looks overall and fits together; the few places we used color turned out great; I love the floors, especially the herringbone pattern on the parlor floor. I’m thrilled that it’s so functional and comfortable in the ways we’d hoped. I love that there are little hidden spaces, nooks and etc that set it apart from the average “brownstone” layout.

Touch By VLS – A Shining Example of Handmade Products From The Emerging Creative Industries In The Caribbean

All across the Caribbean region, beautiful handmade products, works of art are envisioned, designed, created, and sold. Some of these Caribbean handmade products I have discovered on social media or via my travels throughout the region. Sadly, this is not the case for most of the 30million stay-over tourists who visit the Caribbean as unlike me, they are not actively looking for these handmade products, and there is limited awareness of the many gorgeous works of art emerging from the creative industries in the Caribbean.

Design Caribbean – Showcasing The Caribbean’s Finest Handmade Products & Innovative Designs

Recognizing this as an opportunity, the Caribbean Export Development Agency funded in part by the European Union set up Design Caribbean a trade event to promote the creative industries in the Caribbean. When first held in 2011, it was the largest contemporary design trade event in the Caribbean with approximately 100 regional exhibitors showcasing more than 1000 products. The mix of contemporary handmade products at this event initially called the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show (CGCS) included aromatherapy and spa products, furniture, home accessories, home textiles, jewelry, and other lifestyle products. These handmade products were seen by over 3,000 consumers and 30 international buyers who placed around 125 initial orders valued in excess of US $250,000.

Building on the success of this first design trade event held in the Dominican Republic has taken Design Caribbean on the road to give the opportunity for Caribbean creatives and designers to participate at regional and international trade shows. Design Caribbean collections have participated at Calabash festival in Jamaica (2014), Autumn Fair in Birmingham, United Kingdom (2015), and as part of CARIFESTA XIII in Barbados (2017). There was also a week-long pop shop in artsy Camden Market, London during the 2016 Christmas season with six contemporary Caribbean handmade design brands.

Ongoing, there are also training workshops to help Caribbean creative business owners get ready to break into regional and international markets like the United States where according to the Association For Creative Industries, the sector is worth over US$43.9billion.

Touch by VLS – Contemporary Ceramics Studio in Jamaica

One Caribbean creative industries business that has been supported by the Caribbean Export Development Agency is Touch By VLS, a contemporary ceramics studio in Jamaica that produces art and artisanal pieces. Touch By VLS was provided marketing and financial support to showcase at the Design Caribbean trade event staged at the 2017 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIII) in Barbados.

The owner Victoria Leigh Silvera (VLS) set up Touch By VLS in 2013 after returning to Jamaica from studying in the United States first at Swarthmore College where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Arts and then at The New School where she received a Master’s Degree in Media Studies. While job hunting, Silvera who has been creative since childhood, started taking art classes to fill the time. Her dad’s cousin who owns the famous EITS (Europe In The Summer) Cafe saw her art class designs which included mugs and placed an order for 25. These 25 mugs were such a hit that most disappeared soon after with guests who visited the EITS Cafe in Irish Town, Jamaica.

Touch By VLS Founder Victoria Leigh Silvera at 2017 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIII) in Barbados with Design Caribbean.


Touch By VLS: Founder Victoria Leigh Silvera at 2017 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIII) in Barbados with Design Caribbean.

Building on the success of that first order, Touch By VLS whose mission is to “produce innovative designs that enrich people’s lives, reflect their past, allude to their future, and capture the global spirit of an age” now creates and sells a range of handmade Jamaican products. Current products from Touch By VLS include ceramic sculptures, adaptable lighting and crockery featuring experimental decorative processes such as 3D slip layering, hand carving, silk-screened decals and multimedia additions, including driftwood and pendant lighting. The collections are “animated, innovative and plucky extending from ground to table to ceiling and creating interactive worlds ripe for exhibition and retail.”

Each of the beautiful and often colorful pieces within her popular Urchin Collection is wheel thrown or slip cast, and hand decorated. There are three different types of decorative urchins in the Touch By VLS collection including spiked, cutwork and carved. These come in about 24 different styles, 16 vibrant colors, and four different sizes. The smaller urchins are typically displayed in groupings of three, five or seven in wooden bowls. Medium and large urchins are often presented with led or tea lights.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection is an intricate assortment of teapots, pendant light mobiles + decorative ceramics. Photo Credit: © Caribbean Export Development Agency.
Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection_White Soap Dish and Turquoise Decorative Ceramics. Photo Credit: © Caribbean Export Development Agency.


Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection is an intricate assortment of teapots, pendant light mobiles + decorative ceramics. Photo Credit: © Caribbean Export Development Agency.

Beyond this, Silvera also creates a series of cast sculptures under her Eggungun Collection which is mostly shown at art galleries and exhibitions. According to Silvera, ” the pieces reference the master plaster reproductions of New York-based Art Deco artist Rima. Her decorative sculptures were converted into lamps, and many of them found their way to her grandmother’s Stony Hill Hotel in Jamaica in the late 1950s. These reworked pieces are simple, matte black and postmodern in aesthetic and form. They are a nod to Jamaica’s African heritage and what some scholars term the Intuitive Period.”

Silvera’s memories of Stony Hill Hotel didn’t just inspire her Eggungun Collection, but all her handmade products. She indicates that the hotel was “swanky and filled with giant tiled mosaics, Picasso reproductions, Kapo, kitsche, ceramics by The 2 Todds and figurative lamps nestled against cut stone, antique white, gray and red walls.” Beyond the hotel, Silvera is inspired by what she indicates are “multitudinous trips to the beach, the ocean and her creatures, love of the process, details and its beauty.”

Touch By VLS: Eggungun Cast Sculpture. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

Touch By VLS: Eggungun Collection Cast Sculpture. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

Touch By VLS handmade products ranges in price from US$5 to US1500. For sculpture including Urchins, Eggungun, and Bhoddisatva, prices range from US$5 to US$1,400. For crockery including the Japanese teacups and mugs, prices range from US$5 to US$300. For lighting fixtures including sconces, pendant lights, and table lamps, prices range from US$200 to US$600. These beautiful and colorful handmade products are sold via many Jamaica galleries, boutiques, hotels, and gift shops.

Wanting to expand to the rest of the Caribbean, North America, and Europe, Silvera is currently working on her online shop. She is also presently working on hiring and training two new artisans to increase production. Beyond expanding the business regionally and internationally, Silvera hopes to hold the first gallery exhibition of 101 teapots in Jamaica, have a large-scale sculpture exhibition with the greater Caribbean with other potters, and install Marine Art within the Caribbean in tandem with a North American and local show at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection Three Stack Table Lamp. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection Three Stack Table Lamp. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

All very ambitious goals, but all achievable with Silvera’s creative and proactive drive to problem solve and push Touch By VLS forward. She states: “We’re a small company by most standards, but we’re aiming to do big things. We imagine a misery-free world and that starts with our working environment; we stretch on the job, play music in the studio, have a free meal program and pay our staff overtime. Plus we support part-time work and education. It’s not Shangri-La, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.”

Indeed Touch By VLS is heading in the right direction under Silvera’s leadership with her expanding staff and with continued assistance from organizations like the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Richard Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship where Silvera in 2013 won a pitch competition and was awarded a US$10,000 low-interest loan. In 2014 she also won first place in Industry Materials, the Authentic Jamaica Competition sponsored by the Jamaica Intellectual Properties Office earning JMD$250,000 (approximately US$2,000) which also helped to propel the business forward.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection_Cobalt Decorative Mugs. Photo Credit: © Caribbean Export Development Agency.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection_Cobalt Decorative Mugs. Photo Credit: © Caribbean Export Development Agency.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection_Decorative Ceramics. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

Touch By VLS: Urchin Collection_Decorative Ceramics. Photo Credit: © Touch By VLS.

Note: This blog post/article is part of a series featuring Caribbean entrepreneurs and businesses sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency. Working together with the European Union, the Caribbean Export Development Agency supports the sustainable development of Caribbean brands ultimately to increase employment in the region, inclusiveness, particularly for youth, women and indigenous groups, and secure overall poverty reduction.

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Find out about Touch By VLS - A Shining Example of Handmade Products From The Emerging Creative Industries In The Caribbean.

Bicycle Glass Review | One Stop Store to Buy Lunar Collection

Bicycle Glass Review | One Stop Store to Buy Lunar Collection

Bicycle Glass is a lighting company that makes high-quality and durable glass that will always stand the test of time. Consequently, it believes that each light should be beautiful, functional, sustainable, and economical as possible. Additionally, each light is made by hand, one at a time, from 100% recycled glass by exceptionally skilled artisans in the US and in a workshop that is increasingly powered by renewable energies.

Bicycle Glass Review | One Stop Store to Buy Lunar Collection

March 25, 2019

Bicycle Glass is a lighting company that makes high-quality and durable glass that will always stand the test of time. Consequently, it believes that each light should be beautiful, functional, sustainable, and economical as possible. Additionally, each light is made by hand, one at a time, from 100% recycled glass by exceptionally skilled artisans in the US and in a workshop that is increasingly powered by renewable energies.

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More importantly, it offers amazing Bicycle Glass coupon code and Bicycle Glass discount codes allow you to purchase the products at a more affordable price. Want to create a high-quality custom LED sabers to fill the gaps between your Star Wars fanatic self and your love for LED lights? then check here Kyberlight.

What Makes Bicycle Glass Special?

All Bicycle Glass light products are sustainably made using 100% locally recycled glass to make up the pendant lights. Additionally, the pendant lights are designed with you in mind and are ordained to be beautiful in your space.

Secondly, Bicycle Glass pendant light is of unique and of the highest quality to make them look beautiful in your home. Moreover, they provide you with a perfect light fixture that is surprisingly pleasant. wide range of high quality LED bulbs for cars then click here Car lighting District.

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Pendant Lights

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Bicycle Glass offers a wide collection of single pendant lights that can be used for both residential and commercial applications. Moreover, each pendant light is hand made by a great team of dedicated artisans, who designs the pendant light from locally sources recycled glass. Bicycle Glass Pendant lights are in line voltage and are designed to be hardwired into a standard junction box.

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Bicycle Glass offers a wide variety of sconce pendant lights that are suitable for residential and commercial applications. Each sconce is hand made by a team of dedicated and professional artisans in Saint Paul, MN.

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At Bicycle Glass, you will find all your hardware needs, such as bulbs and spare parts. Given that some situations require special attention. At Bicycle Grass is the place to come for extra cord length, special hardware for hanging pendants on sloped ceilings and in case you have recessed lighting fixture that you would like to convert to a pendant light easily.

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Lisa Armstrong saves the day as she offers to do bride’s makeup after original artist ‘messes her about’

Lisa Armstrong to the rescue! The talented make-up artist has offered to do one bride’s makeup after she was ‘messed about’ by her original makeup artist. Just goes to show not all heroes wear capes, you know – some come with foundation brush in hand. Bethany Turner took to Twitter on Saturday to ask the Strictly Come Dancing head of makeup whether she could work her magic for her bridal look. She posted to social media an innocent request as she said: ‘@lisaAmakeup fancy doing my bridal make up in Essex? The woman who was due to it has messed me about.’

It is a sweet ask and she probably didn’t expect the BBC artist – who split with husband Ant McPartlin last year – to respond to her plea and, better yet, be keen and free for the task. ‘When is it hun’, Lisa asked, before discovering it was in under a fortnight, on 28 August. Bethany revealed she was going to do her makeup herself, but 41-year-old Lisa wasn’t going to let a bride do her own face – there’s enough to worry about on your wedding day, after all.

After swapping more details with the bride to be, including the number of other faces needing makeup (three sisters, if you were curious), it all seemed to be a done deal as Lisa then told the probably much-less-stressed bride she would sort the rest out away from her followers in a private message

‘Ok sorted me and my assistant will be there,’ she said. ‘I’ll DM you now for details #cantletthebridedown x.’ Bethany, seemingly beside herself at the news, replied to Lisa: ‘That’s so amazing! Thank you so much. More excited about having my makeup done that getting married!!!!’ Doesn’t this just give you all the sweet feels? It’s not every day an award winning best makeup artist volunteers to do your wedding. It comes after Lisa was reunited with her beloved dog, Hurley, after a lengthy trip to the US where she basically lived her best life for a few weeks. After their jaunt in London together, Lisa posted to social media a snap of her with her pooch as they chilled out.



Kylie Jenner looks flawless as she plugs sister Kim Kardashian’s new wedding makeup collection… after launching her own Kylie Skin line

Kylie Jenner took to social media on Wednesday evening to plug her sister Kim Kardashian’s new bridal makeup line.

The 21-year-old mogul looked flawless as she brushed away in front of the camera while in a monogram robe.

This comes after the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star looked glamorous in light pink at the launch of her new skin care line Kylie Skin.

Jenner was at her Hidden Hills, California mansion as her Barbie photos could be seen in the background.

The mother to Stormi had on a white robe with a grey K on the front and her hair was down, slightly wet.

She had on beige sparkling eye shadow with just the right amount of mascara, nicely penciled in eyebrows and a matte pink lipstick.

She seemed to be adding powder.

Jenner also showed off very long light pink nails that looked super glam, though maybe not the easiest to wear with a toddler at home.

At the end, she put her hand under her chin and gave a wide-eyed look to the camera.

The whole time she gushed about how wonderful Kim’s products were.  

Kim has the Mrs West Collection from KKW Beauty; it is being launched to coincide with her May 24 wedding anniversary to rapper Kanye West.

This comes after Jenner gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of her outstanding launch party/

She posted clips and photos of the event to Instagram on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old cosmetics billionaire posted a short video of a bathroom photo shoot featuring her sisters Khloé, Kourtney and Kim Kardashian, as well as her mother Kris Jenner.

The brief clip showed the Kardashian–Jenner clan, minus Kylie’s sister Kendall, as they lounged about in an all-pink bathroom.

The set was filled with floating soap bubbles, and Kylie reclined seductively in the bath tub. 

Kylie was dressed in the same pale pink strapless mini-dress with peekaboo sides that she wore earlier in the evening. 

Khloé played with her long hair and Kourtney pretended to chat on the phone in the playful photo set. 

As the camera panned, it showed Kim struggling to hold herself up on the fluffy pink stool.

The skincare launch party featured a giant glass window with advertisements for Kylie Skin done up to look like a magazine cover.

She shared photos of herself, as well as her mother and sisters, posing behind the transparent filter.

Another post featured a series of snaps of the immaculately planned pink extravaganza, which was designed by Mindy Weiss, the LA-based party planner who also designed the enormous Stormi World party thrown for Kylie’s daughter’s first birthday.

‘Another magical Kylie Party brought to life by @mindyweiss & team,’ she captioned the photos. ‘Thank you for always bringing my visions to life so beautifully. Last night was SO MUCH FUN! Omg the best night with the best people. Thank you God so so blessed.’

Though much of the party was painted pink, the photos revealed that the interior was done up in shades of peach and lavender before being bathed in pink light.

In addition to photos of the stylized bathroom and its retro bathtub, she showed off the ’50’s-chic tables and artistically arrayed displays of her skin products.

The event featured a rink for guests to rollerskate in, and one wall was covered in dozens of hanging pink skates.

After posting videos of ramen in Kylie Skin containers, she showcased another transformed Japanese cuisine, intricate sushi featuring purple rice.

The event also featured pizza, french fries doused in melted cheese and pink cupcakes.

The space featured diner-style booths for guests, which were decorated with steamy portraits of the host. 


Selecting Your Wedding Photographer

You’ve set the date, booked the Church and the Reception Hall, and now it’s time to select your photographer. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap that some unfortunate Bride and Grooms do by enlisting a friend or relative to take their wedding photographs. Remember, this is a once in a lifetime event that can’t be repeated, and unless the person you’ve selected to capture your special memories is photographing weddings every week, chances are pretty good they simply don’t have the expertise or equipment to do the job properly. You’ve already spent a fortune on your dress, the flowers, the banquet hall, and everything else that makes the day so special, so it simply does not make sense to not get a professional photographer to look after your photographic needs for the day. If a friend or relative offers their services to you as their photographer, and unless they have wedding photography experience, it is best to use them only as a “second photographer” on the day of the wedding. By “second photographer”, I mean a photographer that stays in the background and simply shoots candid shots throughout the day. That way you won’t be ruining a friendship if the shots don’t turn out as you had hoped. By hiring a professional, one who does wedding photography for a living, you know you’ll get great keepsakes of your wedding day. Plus, the pressure will be off your friend or relative to “deliver the goods”.

If you haven’t started looking around for a photographer at least a year in advance of your wedding day, you should do so as soon as possible. As a general rule, you should begin your search anywhere from ten to sixteen months prior to the date. Why so early? The best photographers book up early, and since they can only shoot one wedding a day, once they are booked, that day is gone.

Before visiting a photographer, it’s a good idea to sit down with your better half and decide on what you would like in the way of photographs on your wedding day.

One of the first things to consider is the style of photography. Do you prefer candid shots (completely unposed with no direction from the photographer), the more traditional photography (where the photographer controls everything from posing to lighting), the uncandid candid (where the photographer has made the pose look natural, so that it looks completely unposed, or almost candid), or a combination of all styles? It is very important that you are clear with your photographer about which style of photography that you prefer, otherwise you may be disappointed in the results. When visiting various photographers, be sure to see works from a complete wedding, rather than samples from many weddings. This will give you a good idea of the style of photography that the photographer prefers, as well as a good indication of the photographer’s talents and expertise in lighting.

The next step in your journey of selecting a photographer is to know how much you would like to spend on the photography coverage of your wedding. Questions that you should ask yourself are: How long will I need the photographer for on the day of the wedding (often times you can save money by not having the photographer stay for the full reception coverage)? Would I like one or two photographers providing coverage (a second photographer usually concentrates on candid moments alone, so if you like candid photography, you should definitely consider having a second photographer—one photographer, no matter how experienced, simply can’t be in two places at the same time)? What would I like included in my photography package in the way of prints, wall portraits, albums, thank you cards? Would I like the negatives or digital negatives (high resolution image files) so that I can do all the printing myself? In photography, as with any other product or service, you generally get what you pay for. There is usually a good reason why one photographer will charge more for what appears to basically be the same thing. There may be hidden costs involved, such as mileage, or number of hours coverage, or limits on the number of photos taken that day. One photographer may have considerably less experience and expertise in photographing weddings. Some photographers simply charge less because they take wedding photographs as a part time hobby and work full time at another unrelated job. Ask yourself, do you really want to trust your memories to someone who does not make their livelihood and stake their reputation on photographing weddings? Decide in advance how important your wedding photographs are to you, and budget accordingly. When calling photographers to make viewing appointments of their work, be sure to ask their price ranges. A reputable photographer will tell you up front their price ranges. There is no sense in wasting your time, or the photographer’s time for that matter, if their price range is beyond your budget.

When meeting with the various photographers, it is important that both you and your fiance attend. Since you both will be working with the photographer for the good part of the day, it is vitally important that you feel relaxed with the person and you both like their work. Be sure to ask about their experience in photographing weddings. Just like any line of work, it can take a wedding photographer several years of shooting weddings before they have mastered the art. Keep in mind that a photographer can only shoot one wedding a day, and since the majority of weddings take place on a Saturday, and most weddings occur over the same six month period, a photographer with a year of two of experience may have actually only shot a handful of weddings over a one or two year period. Be sure to ask them how many weddings they have photographed over the years. If you are planning to have a lot of your photographs taken indoors, ask the photographer what type of lighting they will use. A good photographer will be able to set up portable studio strobe lighting for any formal shots indoors throughout the day. On camera flash for indoor formal shots will not provide the results that you would expect when hiring a professional.

Ask if the photographer is a member of any professional photographic organizations. This can tell you right away if the photographer that you are dealing with is reputable. Most photographic organizations that professional photographers are members of will require the photographer pass a stringent test and adhere to guidelines in order to become a member. They also require that the photographer abide to a list of proper business practices. Reputable photographic organizations include the PPA (Professional Photographers of America), WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International), PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada). And don’t forget, just because a photographer may specialize in commercial or fashion photography, it does not mean that they can handle the riggers and stress of a wedding shoot. It is important that the photographer that you select is a specialist in weddings.

An experienced photographer will have backup equipment for every piece of gear that they own. This includes cameras, lenses, flashes, strobe lighting. The last thing that you want to hear on your wedding day is that there is something wrong with the camera and they don’t have another one with them!

If your photographer works with an assistant, it will save you time and energy on your wedding day. A good assistant will fix dresses, speed things up with lighting setups, and even help the Bride with her dress and flowers when moving from location to location.

If you are dealing with a large photo studio, they may have several different photographers on staff who shoot weddings. Be sure to see the work of the photographer that will be shooting your wedding and meet with that person prior to booking. You don’t want any surprises on the day of the wedding!

Depending upon the type of wedding that you are having, you may want to check on how the photographer that will be shooting your wedding will be attired. Some photographers may feel that they can shoot your wedding in shorts and a T-shirt! This might be fine for some types of weddings, but if you are planning a formal affair, do you really want your photographer dressed casually?

Unless you have a specific location in mind for wedding pictures, it is always a good idea to ask the various photographers you visit about the venues they prefer for photos. Since this location will be used as the backdrop for the majority of your photos, it is very important that you love the setting. Look at samples of the spot in the photographer’s sample book, then visit the location in person. It is an excellent idea to visit the recommended site about a year in advance of your wedding date. Why so early? The answer is simple. It will give you a good idea of how your outdoor location will look on your wedding day. You’ll see how the gardens will be planted and what flowers are out. And if you are able to visit the location on the same day of the week as your wedding will be, you’ll see how busy the venue is, especially if you visit at about the same time as you’ll be arriving for your photos. Some spots are very popular, so it might be common to see ten or more Brides and their entourages at the same location, at the same time. While some venues can accommodate large Bridal crowds, others are simply too small. If your park is crowded, you may want to consider another location for pictures.

And don’t forget about parking. While finding a parking place may not be a problem for the Bride and Groom in their chauffeur driven limo, it may pose a problem for family members, the bridal party, and even the photographer. And last but not least, be sure to get the appropriate permits for use of the park.

If your photographs are important to you, then be sure to give your photographer sufficient time throughout the day. This is one day in your life that you don’t want to be rushed. A good photographer will work with any time frame that they are given, however, the more time you are able to give the photographer, the better the results will be. Things that can easily put you behind schedule on your wedding day are: hair and best bridal makeup appointments (can put you an hour behind schedule at the start of the day), service at the Church (it will always start a little late and run a little long), a receiving line (remember, the line only moves as fast as the most talkative guest), traffic congestion and construction (when travelling from location to location), and trying to find missing relatives or members of the bridal party for photos.

Perhaps the best way to find out about the various photographers is to ask friends and acquaintances, who have recently been married, who they used. Look at their albums and proofs. If you like their photos, then get the name of the photographer who did the work. A recommendation from someone you trust is always a good starting point when looking for a photographer.

Be sure to visit several different photographers and take a good look at samples of their work. A good photographer will take an interest in your wedding and be asking you a variety of questions about your plans for the day, and offering suggestions to make your day go smoothly for you and save you time. And don’t forget to shop around. Selecting a photographer is not something you should do in a last minute rush. And remember, like any product or service, you generally get what you pay for, nothing more and nothing less!

For professional best pre wedding photography or actual day wedding photography check our YIPMAGE Moments