The earth is something we all have in common

Interior designers & architects alike are given the responsibility to create & build your home, packaging function, serenity & safety together to make it your sanctuary. With that goal in mind and understanding that the materials surrounding us translate most of the energy into a space, our teams hold the responsibility to research the origin of all materials and holistically consider their impact on the overall build & furnishings we select.  Whenever possible, we strive to ensure each input of material comes from a naturally sustainable, eco-friendly, local source to minimize its carbon footprint.  Second to materials, your lifestyle is the most impactful element of energy in your home, and thus we also help educate our clients on sustainable lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of your health & overall psyche in your personal space, while simultaneously throwing the earth a bone.  


In honor of Earth Day today, when more than 1 billion people from 192 countries will mobilize to take part in the world's largest civic-focused day of action, we'd like to start this post by promoting reduction of waste and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. We all need to take a step back from consumerization and think about how our desire for "more" is harming the environment. The Earth is something we all have in common as our collective home, and while the concept of moving to Mars may seem like an appealing alternative (some days I feel like signing up!), unfortunately for us, the reality is this Earth is all we've got right now, and thus we are all equally responsible for keeping it healthy. Start by donating things you don't truly need or haven't used/seen in over a year, and think twice about purchasing something new if it's more of a want than a need.  In the Shea household, we follow Marie Kondo's KonMari method and highly recommend it, since it helps open up space in your home for clarity and light (in both the physical and mental sense).  You'll be shocked at how much "stuff" you can purge when you take the time to hold an item and ask yourself, "does this bring me joy?"  If the answer is, "kind of" or "no," donate it or recycle it.  I promise you won't miss it.  Cultivating a minimalist way of life will open your mindfulness, and you'll see it becomes a daily practice in all facets of your life; you may even find yourself saying, "no thank you" to that plastic straw at a restaurant by the time you're done!  

While certainly not an exhaustive list, here's a few other things you can do to shift gears and live a more earth-conscience lifestyle: 


- plant a tree or ivy (indoors) -

I know it may sound crazy, but don't be afraid of this idea! Even though a tree can grow to be 30 ft +, keep in mind it'll take years for your tree to get big enough to be an imposition on your day to day, so grow something indoors until your space can't contain it anymore. If the tree ends up getting too big, you can donate it to a school, garden or library or see if family/friends have interest in its adoption. There are countless opportunities to pay that tree forward, and it'll add so much life and happiness to your psyche in the meantime.  We have both a Southern Magnolia and Fiddle Leaf Fig in our little NYC apartment!  They keep the air clean & will bring a smile to your face each and every day.


- Living Walls -

I'm so fond of these installations for their impeccable finished look when properly designed and all the good they do for the world. Beyond being a work of art, they're functionally proven to offset the problem of urban materials increasing temperatures, because plants don't store solar energy, they reflect it. As an added bonus, they also help filter pollutants and dust particles naturally (one less air filter needed!). Psychologically, the color green invokes a sense of harmony and calmness, and is a soothing addition to any space whether it be at work or in your home. Some may not favor this as much, but it's important for our overall ecosystem: Living walls create habitats for birds (when outside) and beneficial insects, which strengthens biodiversity in our communities. 

A look at 1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.

- Paint -

Painting is an easy way to enhance your space in an impactful way without adding "more" to the planet, which is something we're approached about frequently. We love the application of any color on the light to dark spectrum, but we're a hard "no" when it comes to any paints that are not zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) interior paints. We have our preferred lineup of paint manufacturers that contain zero VOC, which our contractors use and we always recommend to our clients. Check out our top 4 zero-VOC paint brands: 

ECOS Paint

Benjamin Moore Premium Paints

Bioshield Paints

Valspar Invigorated Paint Line



- Invest in quality furniture - 

When we're/you’re on the hunt for something new to layer into your home, keep longevity a top priority and think about investing in something lovingly made locally vs. mass-produced globally. By shopping with this mindset, you're contributing to the overall mission of reductionism and sustainability. It may cost a bit more up-front, but the makers producing at a smaller scale "as needed" vs. those producing poorly-constructed, mass-volume items that will ultimately end up in a landfill are the guys you want to purchase your pieces from.  Not only will your piece be of higher quality, contain the maker's handmade energy and last generations, but it's highly unlikely you'll have friends over who say "I have that same piece! Did you get it during the spring sale?!?" It's also important to have the conversation about wood that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified with your makers (most of these guys follow this practice by trade, by the way.) Forests provide us with oxygen, they filter pollutants and free radicals, and they certainly help mitigate global warming, so it's important that we follow responsible forestry practices to help our world. As the proverbial "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," you're receiving a product that has gone through a million quality checks to make sure it's perfect, the materials used were carefully curated to construct a state of the art piece (couch, console, tables, pillows etc.), and that maker likely did a happy dance when they received your order as you support the local economy.

Allied Maker

NAFCO Studio

Soil & Oak




Estudio Persona

Mirena Kim Ceramics

- Water Filters vs. Plastic Water Bottles - 

Switching from plastic, bottled water to home water filtration is one of the most impactful steps to improving and protecting our planet. Adding this incredible system to your kitchen or wet bar is pretty easy as well; here's a how-to from This Old House. If you're renovating a home, make sure to consider a water purification system in your early-stage plans. It's seriously the most economical, convenient and effective way to give back and give yourself healthy, clean water. Of course it's not always feasible to add a system like this, so as an alternative, the tried and tested Brita or other filtered water pitcher is the next best thing, especially when combined with a S'well or similar insulated bottle.  To give you an idea of impact, if each person considered this or simply used a refillable water bottle from the tap, we could reduce the current consumption of 1500 plastic bottles per second to minimal numbers. It's a serious problem you guys; our oceans are drowning in our pollution (the "Pacific Garbage Patch" is now THREE times the size of France). In fact, Earth Day 2018's focus is specifically highlighting the enormous challenges we face directly related to plastic's impact on the planet's, and humans', ability to pull out of the hole we've created.  It's not too late, and each little decision we make respectively plays a part in our collective future.

 We equipped our Soho loft with a water filtration system from California Faucets  

We equipped our Soho loft with a water filtration system from California Faucets  

In summary, here's a few options to start the shift towards a more "eco conscience" way of thinking & living: 

  • Use Zero VOC (volatile organize compounds) in construction and fabric materials
  • Source solid vs laminate products so they last
  • Install water filters when possible & pair with reusable water bottles (no plastic) 
  • Invest in quality furniture that is made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) wood or other sustainably sourced, recycled materials
  • Plant trees in your home and consider living walls to embrace nature & its benefits

At the end of the day, every effort from a simple change in mindset to launching the next major initiative to help improve our environment is a step in the right direction, especially if we do it together. 

Happy Earth Day! Love our planet, it's our only home xx Becky




    how to keep your house plants alive

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    1. identify your plant.

    this definitely seems like an easy responsibility but most ignore what the tags explaining the conditions your plant needs say. make sure you read the tag carefully and familiarize yourself with the plant’s requirements for sunlight and watering. we recommend doing additional research on the species so that you know what to expect at any given stage.


    2. keep an eye on how your plant looks. 

    always check the soil before each watering. if the soil is still soaking after your last watering, you’ve drowned your poor plant but fear not, you can save it! it's important that you allow the soil to completely dry out before you water the plant again. once you've noticed or if you're just noticing that the soil is dry and crumbly, now it's time to water the plant until drops emerge from the drainage holes at the base. after that soaking, don't water the plant until you feel dry soil under the first layer. we stick our finger into the dirt and can tell if it's time for another watering based on the moisture.

    an important thing we may overlook is the growth your plant is undergoing. always check your plant for new leaves or branches. if your plant isn't producing new foliage, it's likely lacking light fertilization which will enable growth. there is also the chance you may need to repot your plant to allow the roots to grow if you've had it in the same container for an extended period of time. if you've been able to produce new growth (congratulations). if you've produced new growth and your leaves are looking thin and stretching towards the sun, your plant obviously needs more even sunlight. we recently learned that even growth requires rotating your plants a quarter turn weekly, who knew?!

    if there are brown spots on leaf tips, it's time to revisit your strategy and change your watering schedule and/or levels. the humidity in the area your plant sits could be too high or too low. if you've been over watering your plants, (accidentally) all that excess water will drown the roots and lead to rot and possibly even death (sorry for the dramatics, this is serious!) make sure to mist the leaves 2-3 times a week, it makes your plants so happy and keeps them fresh and green!


    3. Know thy water.

    if you’re not over or under watering, it could be the water itself that’s the problem. tap water can contain excessive levels of chlorine, which is toxic to plants. try filtered water or collect rainwater in a bucket and use that to hydrate your plants. you can also put tap water in a bucket and set it out in the sun for a day to evaporate the chlorine and make the water safe for your plants.


    4.location, location, location

    keep your plants away from very hot, cold or drafty areas in your home. if your plant is in direct sunlight and the leaves look dry, move the plant to a place in your home that receives indirect sun because leaves can get sunburned just like humans.

    make sure your planter is the right size for your little guy. if the pot’s soil looks crammed at the bottom, the roots are likely getting coiled and may be trying to escape through the drainage holes (escape artists!). these escape artists have been known to poke through the soil's surface, which is a key indicator it’s time to repot to give that bad boy more room to grow and spread it's little roots. we've always used containers that are roughly 2-4" wider and deeper than the original vessel the plant lived in. the first step to repotting is careful removal. place your plant on its side and pry it out with tender loving care. if the roots are coiled, pull them straight and prune if need be before repotting. place the plant in the new container and pour soil around the sides, then lightly water until the soil is moist, then give your plant a little mist, because who doesn't like a refresh after they've been pinched, poked and probed.


    5. Tender, loving care

    always make sure that your plants look and feel happy. check your plant while watering for pests or dust build-up on its leaves. if you find pests (mealybugs are one persistent variety and we've sadly had them ourselves) there's a few methods you can try, one of them is placing the plant in the shower and using your shower head to wash off the bugs. we also recommend washing one leaf at a time separately with a gentle micro fiber cloth. we recommend putting a little neem oil on a q-tip and sponging it on the front and backs of each leaf. for dust, you can use q-tips or paintbrushes to remove any unnecessary residuals to keep your plants breathing and happy inside your home!

    How to craft up the perfect charcuterie spread

    charcuterie boards have become a staple at chez de shea. whenever we have company or decide to have a romantic evening at home, you bet there will be one heck of a spread. we love putting together a medley of different cheeses, meats, spreads, breads, crackers, honey, nuts, veggies, fresh seasonal fruits and dried fruits. after years of many nights at home and company coming over, we like to think we've perfected our strategy, and it's sort of become an art form for us. from the board it sits on, to the selection of each ingredient, we carefully construct our board layer by layer.

    we're going to share some of our favorite cheeses, brands of delicious spreads and honey, crackers and boards so curating your charcuterie spread is a real treat! (no pun intended)

    first, let's get started with the board, since, after all, this is our stage, and it will set the tone.  we tend to gravitate towards dark, dramatic backdrops. you'll often find our spreads on beautiful, rich walnut or acacia wood boards, as well as slate. we have an affinity to dark pigmentation, since we feel it accentuates the food like no other palette can. here are our top three boards to give your guests, and yourself, that boost of aesthetic delight that helps the whole package come together in a memorable fashion:

     Homenature always has a way to make the ordinary look extraordinary. This teak cutting board is one of those moments! This one is great for any season and can definitely hold a heavy load with it's massive size.

    Homenature always has a way to make the ordinary look extraordinary. This teak cutting board is one of those moments! This one is great for any season and can definitely hold a heavy load with it's massive size.

     Brooklyn Slate Company knows how to rock the charcuterie train like it's nobodies business. They have an asbolutely beautiful assortment of slate in different shapes and sizes!

    Brooklyn Slate Company knows how to rock the charcuterie train like it's nobodies business. They have an asbolutely beautiful assortment of slate in different shapes and sizes!

     We love this live edge walnut board from Farmhouse Pottery. It has so much depth and character, and the richness of the wood definitely compliments those light-colored cheeses and dark-pigmented fruits. 

    We love this live edge walnut board from Farmhouse Pottery. It has so much depth and character, and the richness of the wood definitely compliments those light-colored cheeses and dark-pigmented fruits. 

    now that you've picked out your board, let's dive into the lineup. we found this extremely helpful little diagram on pinterest, which includes some of our favorite cheeses and meats, and thought you guys may find it handy too! you can always alternate based on your palette, but blending sharp, creamy, soft, and mild cheeses will hit the mark for a number of folks. when it comes to fruits, it's all based on the bounty the season provides. figs are definitely one of our favorites, so when those summer months roll in, those little guys automatically become a staple. not only are figs absolutely delicious and high in fiber along with a number of essential minerals like calcium and potassium, but they're drop dead gorgeous! we don't like to exclude anyone, so let's not forget blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and apples, all of which add a layer of color, dimension and sweetness to the palette, not to mention more raw vitamins and minerals. when it comes to spreads, we're pretty biased. we cannot live without truffle honey, simply put.  we know once you try it, especially the magic our friends at Truffleist have created, we know you won't be able to make another charcuterie board without this rock star in the mix. also, be sure to include all natural spreadable jams like this and this, both by St. Dalfour, which pioneered spreads with zero added sugar. we keep this in a separate, smaller scale container to avoid getting jam on the cheese, meats, nuts etc. different folks, different strokes.

    at this stage, you're probably antsy to start talking carbs. we always love including a fresh baguette from our local bakery, Parisi, in our beloved astoria, new york. before company arrives, preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and place your baguette in there for 3-5 minutes right before cutting/serving. guests will definitely enjoy the warm bread coupled with a spreadable cheese. we also love Mary's gluten free gone crackers and Absolutely gluten free crackers (cracked pepper and onion are our fav's). the fillers are your layers of nuts and garnishes. we always include raw cashews, almonds and pistachios for a little extra crunch and added protein with healthy fats and oils.

    tell us your method of styling and selecting all the right ingredients for a balanced charcuterie spread! we always love to hear what your favorites are and any new recommendations you can make to help us improve our love of dairy, carbs and meats!  



     Fresh Sage - Beautiful Garnish! 

    Fresh Sage - Beautiful Garnish! 



     Fresh Rosemary - Another stand out garnish to fill in the gaps. 

    Fresh Rosemary - Another stand out garnish to fill in the gaps. 



     Fresh Pomegranate - The burst of red, and chewyness looks great and tastes delicious

    Fresh Pomegranate - The burst of red, and chewyness looks great and tastes delicious


    Feast your eyes on these gorgeous spreads & allow inspiration to take over


    How to style your bookshelves so they look photoshoot ready

     Photo Capture By:  Claire Esparros  

    Photo Capture By: Claire Esparros 

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield 

    As an interior design studio, we're often approached to tackle the task of styling shelves once our creations come to life. This is truly when we can wave our merchandising freak flag in the air and put our strength to practice. we love working in all types of scale, from open shelving in the kitchen to large format built-in's in the media room. We look at shelving as the perfect opportunity to tell your narrative through a display of warm layers and personality that offer a window into your greatest pursuits and passions. what many folks find challenging is how to balance utility and aesthetics without cluttering the space. we're going to walk you through the art of styling a shelf, one book and object at a time!  

     Photo Capture by:  Sean Litchfield

    Photo Capture by: Sean Litchfield

    step 1: Take it all off, clear that puppy up! no man left behind. Give it a nice dusting and wash. No one wants real estate on a dirty shelf.

    step 2: Organize your objects by shape and size on a nearby table or on the floor directly by your shelf. Organize the taller objects together, all the picture frames together and so on and so forth. This technique makes life so much easier when you finally hit the ground running. sometimes we take it as far as to color coordinate books into piles so we know what to reach for when needed.

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield

    step 3: Before you add even a single book, start with a tall object, like a vase or large format picture frame. Adding the tallest object first helps establish the scale for all your other objects.

    step 4: Start layering in your beautiful books. we definitely suggest using books with decorative spines or covers in beautiful or monochromatic shades. grouping books is key. Always stack everything with the spine facing outward, working in a pyramid format with your largest book on the bottom and your smallest book at the top. or, you can group them by color for an extra-polished look from side to side. One thing to keep in mind: always steer clear of any worn down paperbacks or college textbooks - it doesn't quite fit in with your new sophisticated aesthetic.

    Here are a few of our favorite beautiful books:  Monochrome Home, The Kinfolk Home & Simplicity

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield 

    step 5: Pick an object for each shelf that you feel has sentimental value or can make an impactful difference. These are the key items that you'll want to work around. a decorative box or tray, picture frames, potted plants, vases and objects should all do the trick.

    step 6: Fill out the space with smaller items like bud vases (or these & these) and mementos that can easily be changed. We believe in collecting a few transitional pieces that will give your home a seasonal refresher without having to reimagine an entire space. It's always nice to see something new every few months. but do keep in mind, you want to keep these seasonal refreshers in a safe and known place after you've put them away. After all, they're only on display for 1 of the 4 seasons!

    Now you're definitely a seasoned pro! we'd love to hear your thoughts and own unique spin on styling the perfect bookshelves in the comments below!

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield