Style: Modern minimalist with influences from Northern Europe (e.g. Germany, Sweden) and Asian (e.g. Japan, Hong Kong) architecture and living spaces. Inspiration: I purchased the apartment which I had rented for many years. The previous owner had subdivided the space, but I always knew the apartment could be more than it was. So the day after closing, I began a process of demolition to the studs (no walls, no drop ceilings, no counter tops - just pure open space) to live and get a feel of what the place could be. Though it was not easy, I lived for months in the space while developing a scapbook of ideas from design magazines. Then one day in Germany I was reading a magazine, 20 Private Wohntraume, that profiled an apartment in London. At that moment, my ideas started to flow and I began the creation process. I had found my starting point. Favorite Element: The creative collaboration between myself, the architect and the builder. Due to budget constraints, I worked with the architect during the design process, but was left to execute and interpret the plan with the builder. Biggest Challenge: Since it was a complete gut renovation, how to distribute the construction budget across multiple rooms while monitoring overall investment so that it could be recouped in the long term. Plus, I had to move into a hotel for two months. What Friends Say: Considering that my previous furniture collection consisted of a card table, two folding chairs and a mattress, "I never thought you could do this." Biggest Embarrassment: I should have involved the HVAC contractor much earlier in the design process which would have allowed for a more creative use of space. Ductwork is hard to change after the fact. Proudest DIY: Did more than half of the demolition myself. I remember the words of the Home Depot salesperson, "Buy this sledgehammer and crowbar, turn off the power and start swinging." Also, I picked out all of the fixtures, appliances and tile (I surprised myself. See "What Friends Say?"). Biggest Indulgence: The bathroom medicine cabinet. Due to the design of the bathroom, I needed a vertical setup rather than the traditional horizontal orientation. When I saw it in a catalog, I knew it was the perfect fit, but it cost more than my dishwasher. Best advice: Don't be afraid to get professional help early in the process. Though it might seem like an extra expense, it enabled me to be more creative, make better decisions and develop a more satisfying finished product. Trust your gut feeling when making decisions.