Originally from San Diego, Rhobin DelaCruz moved to New York City and founded his design firm in 2008. His goal is to offer clients the clean, breezy comfort of his California style combined with the urban sensibility of his adopted new home. Several years after launching his company, he was accepted at Parsons School of Design. DelaCruz has worked on a variety of projects including both residential homes, such as the Brooklyn Clock Towers, and commercial projects such as yoga studios, professional offices, and restaurant interiors.
We asked the designer of this colorful studio apartment to reveal how it all came together. Rhobin DelaCruz, the owner and principal designer at Rhobin DelaCruz Designs in New York, NY, explains how he created this vibrant, yet relaxing retreat for a busy executive. Read along as he shares his top designer tips for decorating any home.
1. What were you trying to accomplish with the design of this project?
This project was a studio design for Ms. Michelle Harris, an extremely busy executive for the New York Knicks NBA team. Ms. Harris requested a sanctuary that would provide comfort, class, and a chic urban sensibility, all while still offering her an immediate feeling of home when she walked in after a long day.
2. What was the inspiration for the project?
Ms. Harris was at a crossroads in her life requiring change and wanted her new apartment to fully express her current transformation. Her previous apartment had been a dreary basement studio with limited natural light. The new place, centrally located in west midtown Manhattan, was high up in the sky and full of light. The design selections had to reflect her new vitality and spirit. We started with the sofa and wallpaper as focal points. These pieces, coupled together with bold wall colors and fun objects, provided the new start she was after.
3. How did you choose the color palette? We chose the color palette to address the client's simultaneous need for calmness and vibrancy. We decided to incorporate the client's favorite colors; emphasizing blues and grays for tranquility with pops of yellow for vibrancy.
Our client wanted the largest, most comfortable sofa possible for decompressing after work and accommodating friends for watching movies and games. We chose a classic mid-century modern style gray sofa that became a foundation piece for the whole space. We next selected the wallpaper. The Marrakesh print in white and silver spoke to us for its classic, yet modern appeal. These two elements influenced and grounded many other choices for the studio design.
5. How did you begin the design process?
A task-oriented executive, Ms. Harris had a vision. To our surprise, she approached us with her own PowerPoint inspiration board that became our starting point. Incorporating her initial ideas, we added pieces with affordable elegance and maximum function. As you can see, every square inch of Ms. Harris's apartment is thoughtfully utilized.
6. What is your favorite part of the project and why?
For multiple reasons, my favorite part of this project was the accessorizing phase. This phase is toward the end of the project when you turn a design concept into a real living space—an extremely fun and exciting moment for all. Our client enjoyed shopping with us to pick some of the items that made her house a home. Near the end, we asked her to leave for the final unveiling. When she returned, we watched in satisfaction while seeing the emotions overwhelm her. For Ms. Harris, we knew we scored the winning game point.
7. What are your tips for someone trying to recreate the look of this project?
When choosing a bold wall color, we like to use white furniture and accent pieces as an excellent way to add contrast and vibrancy. The white elements create their own harmony and break up what could otherwise be an overpowering wall color. Also, use accessorizing as an opportunity to inject other colors into the space. Try to choose one or two repeating accessory colors so it doesn't become overwhelming.
8. What is your favorite designer trick?
My favorite designer trick is contrasting dark and light colors. If a large piece of furniture or other element in the room is dark, I'll use small accents in light colors to create contrast in the space. This rule also works in reverse.
9. Finish the sentence: Every room needs _____. A punch of color!
10. What is your best piece of advice for someone who is redecorating their home?
When decorating a home, each room should have a beautiful anchor piece. For example, when decorating a living room, start out with a beautiful, well-constructed sofa. The sofa is so important because it's usually the focal and gathering point of the room. Use the style and lines of the selected piece to influence the rest of your decisions.
11. Do you want to add anything?
We feel fortunate every day to be doing the work we do. By developing a shared vision, we have an opportunity to really enhance the quality of our clients' lives. We work to translate our enthusiasm and sense of fun into our collaboration with clients and the realization of their design aspirations.