Studio Brunstrum
They key is in not spending time but in investing it.
It feels as though time is moving faster than ever! In the hustle and bustle of summer schedules, I blinked, and it was July. As we adjust to life that feels almost normal, my schedule has been filled with dinners, walks, drinks, events, and trips with family and friends to make up for lost time last year. I’ve absolutely loved every minute of being with others in person, so much so that I’ve forgotten to schedule time for myself.
In an effort to stay mindful, I’m using the month of July to do a progress check on the goals I set for myself this year. At the halfway point of the year, it’s ideal to evaluate where you’re at and where you want to be, allowing yourself the grace to recognize that you’re on a journey and the middle can often feel the most daunting.
As a list maker, I like to write down what I’m feeling grateful for at this moment in time. What steps have I taken this far in the year to accomplish my goals? Am I feeling proud of something small I tend to overlook? Have I achieved any big accomplishments this year? I also like to look at where I want to be in the next 6 months and create a plan for how to get there. My list helps me stay grounded and grateful and carves out some time for just me in the craziness of summer.
To sun, summer, and staying true to self -
Susan, Kelsey, and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
Little Black Dress
Black Kitchens. Turn up the drama! Chic, classic, sophisticated – black has a reputation to maintain and all black kitchens won’t disappoint. While the concept of a black kitchen might feel intense, architectural and design details like hardware, accessories, and lighting can help elevate and soften. We love how an all-black kitchen feels fresh and exciting in a space that normally favors architecture and function over exciting and daring design. We’re deeming black kitchens the little black dress of interiors – always stylish and versatile.

Photos (left to right): Unknown
(W)All In
Murals. The latest wallpaper trend? Full scale murals. Take an accent wall to new heights by opting for a wallpaper mural. They can be a repeated pattern or a larger image or even textured – anything goes! A wall mural helps the eye focus within a room and can often make your space feel larger. We like to think of murals as art on a much larger scale and incorporate them into a design plan exactly like we would a bold piece of art – used as both a personality piece and an anchor.

Photos (left to right): Mitchell Black, Fliepaper by Don Flood
Mix It Up
Mixed Media Art. It’s often said that art is a sign of the times and helps artists interpret the world around them. We’ve noticed that much of the work that’s come from the pandemic has been mixed media and has a grittier, more textured attitude than styles from pre-pandemic times. It’s almost as though the combination of materials (photography with paint, clay with metal, canvas with layered fabric) expresses the notion that the world had other plans than what we originally thought.

Photos (left to right): Diana Al-Hadid, Mark Fox

Nolli's Orders (Al-Hadid), made of steel, polymer gympsum, fiberglass, wood, foam, plaster, aluminum foil, pigment

Untitled (Mark Fox), made of doodles on paper cut out with an exacto knife, combined with paint, canvas, clay
Bench Warmers
Bench Seating. When it comes to dining room or breakfast room seating, we’ve always been partial to combining styles for head chairs and side chairs. But the latest trend formed by the pandemic may be our new favorite option – bench seating. As we get back into the swing of gathering (and hosting!), we’re trying to see as many of our friends and family as possible. With a “the more the merrier” attitude comes a need for more seating. Utilizing bench seating (otherwise known as a banquette) for dining spaces allows us to add one or two more spaces to the table when necessary. Don’t forget – the change in seating design and layout doesn’t change our number one rule – make sure the bench is comfortable!

Photos (left to right): Unkown, Elle Decor
What can we say? We’ve got entertaining on the brain and that means we’re obsessing over kitchens. An oft overlooked element, the stove hood, serves a necessary function within a kitchen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get the designer treatment. Consider the below when picking the right hood for your space:
  1. Location: A hood in the center of an island has different aesthetic considerations than one on a side wall, so location should be the biggest factor in determining which is right. Island hoods can either be a statement element that stands out or one that creates minimal division within your space and allows the eye to focus elsewhere. A wall hood has a bit more opportunity for different styles, but has to “fit” with the style of the cabinetry and/or wall it’s on.
  2. Longevity: Unless you’re planning on a kitchen overhaul, your kitchen hood is going to stick around a pretty long time as it’s not that easy to change on a whim. When deciding on a new hood, keep in mind that you’ll want it to play nicely with a few potential design styles in case you decide to change your cabinet color or your countertops. If you decide to go for a statement like a bold color, make sure you absolutely love it.
  3. Aesthetic: There’s still plenty of ways to break the mold without being over the top. Consider a glass hood or a mixed metal that’s different than your appliances, or perhaps a trim that creates detail without being drastic.
While in Los Angeles this past week, I took a day trip with friends Connie and Raquel to Montecito and spent an hour or so with Catie Rini Patton at Heather James Fine Art. The gallery is unique in that it presents a rare look into art- both past and present, offering important works from a cross section of periods, movements and genres – including Post-War, Modern, Old Masters and Impressionist and Contemporary. Based on your specific collecting needs, they can help you find or sell pieces as they have a global network of galleries located throughout the US and Europe. We loved their exhibit, “A Beautiful Time: American Art in the Gilded Age” and viewed some hauntingly stunning pieces by Winslow Homer, Frederick Frieseke, Granville Redmond and N.C. Wyeth. And then of course, counter that with many more modern pieces by such artists as Takashi Murakami, Julian Opie, Barbara Hepworth (her sculptures are exquisite), Carl Ande and Robert Rauschenberg and we could have spent many more hours! But we had to do a little clothes shopping and have lunch as well. Some of my favorite shopping haunts (as this has been my second time in Montecito) include: Maison K, Angel and Wendy Foster along with Legacy for gorgeous entertaining accoutrements. I now have lots of white linen and white cotton pants, shirts, dresses for Chicago summer!  And lunch? Well, of course we went to Coast and Olive, the restaurant at the Montecito Inn right on Coast Village Road.   
Kelsey recently took a trip to New York City for a friend’s wedding – check out her foodie finds below:
For me travel is always synonymous with good food; I like to plan my vacations around the best dining spots and fill in with other activities in between. So, when planning travel to NYC I picked up some recommendations from friends and found some hidden gems in the city that never sleeps:
Ess-A-Bagel: You can’t go to New York without eating a bagel (or two or three). Ess-A-Bagel was within walking distance to our hotel in Midtown and came highly recommended by friends and food bloggers. It’s your typical New York deli – fast paced, loud, with a line out the door. The steamed bagels were amazing as was the iced coffee. Their specialty? Scallion cream cheese! Highly recommend for a quick breakfast on your way to a day of exploring.
Tavern on the Green: Central Park was a must-do on our list since I was traveling with friends who had never been to the city. We were walking around on our first day in town (prior to wedding weekend activities) and wanted a spot to grab a quick drink. We chose Tavern on the Green in west Central Park on a whim and it turned out to be a gem! We sat in the bar and only grabbed an appetizer and some cocktails but the food looked impeccable. Even better? Spots for outdoor and indoor dining, with a classic, rustic steakhouse vibe in the heart of the city.
North River Lobster Company: The bride planned some fun Thursday night activities for guests like us who tacked on a few extra days to the trip. We met in Chelsea at the North River Lobster Company boat. Boarding passes are only $10 for a two hour cruise on the Hudson; local tip - you can stay on the boat all day when you buy a single pass. I expected the boat to just have fun drinks but was pleasantly surprised with the food selection! We shared a lobster roll and a basket of popcorn shrimp – some of the best I’ve ever had! If you’re looking for a fun daytime or happy hour activity, North River Lobster Company has you covered!
Bar Pitti: I couldn’t go to NYC without going to Bar Pitti. Located in Greenwhich Village, this cash-only spot is famous for celeb sightings and is some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. The specials are updated daily and presented on a chalkboard brought to every table. My recommendation? The rigatoni or papparadelle. Don’t forget fresh buratta to start!
The Loyal: A hidden bistro in the West Village, Michelin starred chef John Fraser’s The Loyal was a great spot for Saturday brunch. We snagged a table outside for excellent people watching and even better food. Brunch had a robust menu of both breakfast and lunch items, with excellent mimosas and bloody mary’s. When in NYC! The Loyal now tops the list of places to go back to next trip – the dinner menu also looked incredible!
We’ve always been fans of Hamilton Sinkler’s sophisticated cabinetry hardware, so this custom design from artist Mig Perkins was love at first sight. Designed to fit the grooves of a hand (specifically the thumb and grip), the Versa Lever is both practical and stunning.
Sisters in Arms – Kaia Alderson.
Calling all fans of the movie “Hidden Figures”, we’ve found your new favorite book! Based on the true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-black, female battalion in the army during World War II, Sisters in Arms follows the stories of Grace Steele and Eliza Jones as they’re sent overseas as part of the 6888th Postal Battalion – tasked with delivering correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones. Risking their lives while combating the not-so-subtle racism and feminism within the army, the debut novel from Kaia Alderson explores the courage it takes to be the first and the dedication it takes to stay true to your ideals in the face of doubt and hardship.
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