All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What a girl wants, what a girl needs...

Last week I posted about a crafty project I did for Monica, a doctor who came to me with a limited budget and multiple challenges. After living in one temporary white-box apartment after another down the peninsula, she finally decided to move to the city and put down some roots. She had just purchased a new sofa and wanted to work around that with a total budget of about $2000 (not including the sofa and a few other pieces she just bought.) She could swing $2500 if she, "pulled a few extra shifts at the clinic." Yikes!!

We talked about her school debts and how her particular focus in medicine wasn't terribly lucrative (she's in it to help people, not make money) and I cut her a deal. I'd try to do as much as I could with my lowest level of services and give her homework--she'd have to handle the purchases herself. In the past, she had acquired most of her domestic pieces online through Google Shopping, which had left place looking a little...clinical. When I suggested that her black metal tubular TV stand be replaced, she asked, "Why? I just bought that and I love it."


I had to use a little tough love and explain to Monica that her apartment looked a little like an '80s bachelor pad: teal sofa, black metal TV stand, bookcases from Staples...She asked if there was a way to work with what she already had.

"Sure," I said. "I can get you some Nagel posters and we can call it a day."

When my Duran Duran "Hungry Like The Wolf"/"Rio" reference clicked, she laughed, so I was relieved she could see the humor in my critique. She had never thought about design before (hello, medical school!), so it was going to take some time to figure out her tastes--what she loved and felt strongly about. Over several weeks we talked and e-mailed about things she liked and didn't like. Being the daughter of Indian immigrants, she felt a link to many organic and hand-crafted items that reminded her of certain family members. And being super budget-minded, she scoured Craigslist endlessly during the days and sent me links to treasures she found (ah the perks of working from home--I really miss it!)

We found a great mix of old and new pieces. Check it out.

Bedroom before and after:

Living Room before and after:

Additonal "afters":

Another area of the Living Room before and after:

Office nook before and after:

Hall/Dining Room before and after:

Another Dining Room before and after:

We kept the sofa, dining table, bedroom furniture and some side tables. I also loved how she had taken almost all of the photographs in the apartment herself. We added new dining chairs, accent chairs, bed linens, lighting, rugs, art, curtains, and bookshelves. There were a lot of cheap vintage finds as well some well-placed Ikea hacks (like the bulletin board I made for her kitchen.) It was quite a transformation from the clinical severity before. In fact, Monica told me last week, "I've learned two very important things during this process--I'm not some frat boy bachelor; I'm Indian, and I'm a girl."

Rad. My work is done.

Next stop: New York, where I kill two birds with one stone!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

...Where my love can be found and my heart rings true

Okay, last post was about going back to the roots of Retrograde and my mission to reuse as much as possible. This week it's time to show you how by getting crafty again!

I'm finishing up a project for a young doctor on a budget (girl's got some loans to pay back.) She didn't want to get rid of her well-functioning Ikea pieces, but agreed with me that they were really large and boxy--not what we had in mind when transforming her place from an '80s bachelor pad to a feminine retreat. (More photos will be posted next week after we hang up some art!)

So here's a look at her bedroom furniture before:

No real nightstand, Malm chests placed side by side...this room needed some help. I placed the small Malm next to the bed and encouraged the client to get another 3-drawer Malm to balance things out and give her more storage for things that were sitting in a plastic bin next to her bed (not shown.) The Malm chests were still pretty severe and masculine, so I gave them a faux contrasting inlay to break up the boxiness:

Tune in next week for all the before and after photos from this apartment!

RuPaul : Back To My Roots

Steven the Accursed

Myspace Video

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm going back, back, back to my roots...

Quick post this weeeknd because...

I'm donating some Retrograde services to an eco-minded fundraising event this Thursday!

As part of a slient auction/dinner/dancing fundraiser for a new documentary film, Out on a Limb, I'm offering up to 6 hours of interior design and decorating help. This personalized service includes an at-home consultation, measuring, specifying, and budget tracking for 2 rooms. Value: $400.

After wrapping up a project in Sacramento and hanging some curtains for a Potrero Hill project this weekend, I'm beat. But my filmmaker friends convinced me this is a good project and cause, and I can't wait to go to the event and see some footage from the project. They thought that Retrograde's main philosophy of reusing and recycling items fit well with the feeling of the documentary, and having met one of the film's subjects, I wanted to help in whatever way I could.

"Out on a Limb is a road movie, nature documentary and adventure film all rolled into one photographer's odyssey across America -- getting people to reconnect with nature, themselves and each other, while bringing attention to endangered trees across America. A transformative journey that takes photographer, participant and audience out on a limb."

'Nuff said--how could I not help?

If you're interested in supporting the film, having a gourmet (and I'm sure sustainable) dinner, and dancing the night away this Thursday, October 21st, check out for more information on tickets and donating.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dream A Little Dream...

Oooh, I've been bad at keeping up my self-imposed policy of once-a-week posting.

Anyhow, last week (or was it two weeks ago now?) I posted some crazy-expensive designer pieces and wrote about a couple of my favorite sofas that I'd love to have if I could re-do my own living room.

Well, I realized I'd keep my current bookshelves, which I love. Even if we lost everything in a fire, I think we'd try to re-create this combination of shelving again. You know it wouldn't take long for my partner to replace all the books!

Here's what an ideal living room would look, at least for this week/month/year:

It's got my usual mix of geometric and organic shapes, hard and soft materials, shiny and worn finishes. Here's the cost breakdown:

Hahn Sofa by Vladimir Kagan, $1899
Bookshelves, custom configurations at The Container Store
1930s-40s Navajo Rug, East Meets West Antiques, $1450
Arabesque pillows, Williams-Sonoma Home, $98
Greek key side table, $595
Onyx coffe table, One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale (Michelle Nussbaumer), $1999
Sketch, One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale (Michelle Nussbaumer), $549
Turquoise pot, One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale (Michael S. Smith), $49
Petrified wood lamps, One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale (Michelle Nussbaumer), $3199

I know a lot of stuff up there just came from One Kings Lane, but I've really been loving their site recently. Some of the stuff is still pretty pricey, but there are also quite a few deals, too. You never know which big-name designer is going to sell stuff on their weekend Tag Sales!

$3199 for a pair of lamps...sigh! Yeah, it's a bit of a dream for me. I know I could probably find comparable items for everything above at thrift stores and flea markets. But for now, just for this blog post, let's dream big, okay?