Anna Hoffman

Before & After: From IKEA to Dorothy Draper
Nancy from Marcus Design took the Rast dresser from IKEA and DIY’d it into a Dorothy Draper-inspired Hollywood Regency accent piece for her bedroom. Check out her step-by-step instructions and try this at home! Nancy’s first step was to prime the surface of the dresser and spray it with two coats of black lacquer spray paint from RustOleum.
Oct 17, 2022
What is a Moravian Star and How Do I Use It in My Home Decor?
All about the origins of these funky geometric shapes.
Jun 3, 2020
Quick History: Shaker Design
image:091a0421120d147dd94cb74569189c01f6d2e4ed w:540 s:"fit" class_name:"mt-image-center" show_pin_button:"true" show_image_credits:"true" Ideally, our furniture can reveal something about how we live and what we value. But in reality, other factors like cost, space and what is available in the marketplace ends up limiting us or diverting us from our true values. We might believe that form should follow function, but own an uncomfortably lumpy hand-me-down desk chair.
Jun 5, 2019
How To Turn Holiday Inspiration Into Reality: Tips from House Beautiful’s Sophie Donelson
The monthly delivery of House Beautiful is one of the only good reasons I check the mail. Lately I’ve been particularly jazzed about the new Editor in Chief, Sophie Donelson, who brings a fresh, youthful look to what’s considered America’s most established design mag – and the go-to spot for the best paint colors. This month’s issue features A-list event designer Bryan Rafanelli’s tips for a holiday tablescape in your own home.
Dec 1, 2015
Hello NYC and LA Readers! Would You & Your Home Like to Be Featured on Our Sites?
We are scouting NYC & LA—based readers to be part of future sponsored features on our sites. We love sharing our readers’ homes, challenges and successes with our audience, and we are often in search of participants for branded programs. Would you be interested in sharing your home and being on camera for future projects with the Apartment Therapy and Kitchn’s Creative Studio? We make sure working on these programs is a lot of fun for you!
Sep 22, 2014
Quick History: Mies van der Rohe and the Brno Chair
Earlier this week Regina showed us the classic Brno chair in various contemporary interiors. One of the most famous pieces attributed to Mies van der Rohe, the Brno chair was actually probably designed by Lilly Reich, and was heavily inspired by yet another designer. Check out the story of the Brno chair and the house it was designed for.In 1928, Mies met with Fritz and Grete Tugendhat, a Czech couple who wanted him to build them a house in Brno, Czechoslovakia.
Sep 28, 2012
Quick History: Tatami Mats
Tatami mats are a kind of rush flooring used in traditional Japanese homes. Made of woven rush grass around a rice straw core, they are gentle but firm underfoot, and also give off a lovely (I think) scent, especially on rainy or humid days. Increasingly rare in modern Japanese interiors, tatami deserves to be considered as a potential material in all homes. Let’s take a look at its rich history.
Sep 27, 2012
Quick History: The Parsons Table
The Parsons table is one where the square legs have the same width as the tabletop, regardless of its other dimensions. Its history is characterized by contradiction: created to be a simple canvas for exceptional materials, its design is simultaneously credited to the famous designer Jean-Michel Frank and to anonymous design students. But is the real story even more muddled?
Sep 20, 2012
Quick History: The Cherner Chair
You’ve seen the shapely, classic Cherner chairs, but do you know the designer behind them? Norman Cherner is an unsung hero of mid-century design, an innovator in plywood and in affordable design. And the story of his most famous design is a dramatic tale of innovation, betrayal and, ultimately, of justice.Norman Cherner (image 2) was an American architect and designer. He studied and taught at Columbia University, and was an instructor at MoMA in the late 1940s.
Sep 19, 2012
Quick History: Antique “Yoke-back” Chinese Chairs
Antique Chinese chairs are surprisingly at home in the contemporary Western interior. With a slender silhouette and graceful proportions, yoke-back chairs from the Ming and Qing dynasties offer particularly elegant and practical ways to bring a piece of history into the home.In China, this type of chair is known as an “official’s hat” chair, because of the shape of the crest rail.
Sep 14, 2012
Quick History: Wallpaper
It’s wallpaper week at Apartment Therapy, the perfect time to look at the history of wallpaper. Evidently the Chinese were hanging decorated rice paper on their walls for a couple thousand years, but the history of European wallpaper begins in the 16th century.The first European wall decorations were textiles — in the Middle Ages, sumptuous wool and silk tapestries were used not only as décor and artwork, but also as insulation.
Sep 13, 2012
Quick History: Wicker Furniture
Wicker furniture might seem like an invention of the Victorian era, but that’s just when it hit the English and American markets. In fact, wicker is one of the oldest methods of making furniture, common all over the world for thousands of years. But wait, I’ll bet you’re wondering what wicker is exactly, am I right? So let’s define our terms, and take a quick look at the history of wicker.
Sep 12, 2012
Quick History: Chinese Garden Stools
For the last few years, barrel-shaped ceramic stools have been a popular decorating accessory, adding luster, color or texture to a space while serving as little side tables or room accents. But where do they come from, and where were they traditionally used? Okay, the answer is in the title of the post: they come from China, and they were traditionally used in gardens. But read on to learn more about the fascinating origins of this familiar form.
Sep 11, 2012
Quick History: Adirondack Chairs
Now that we’ve reached asphalt-melting temperatures in New York, it’s time to start thinking about breezes skimming across lakes, icy tumblers full of Pimm’s Cup, and the rustic luxury of a quiet hour spent in an Adirondack chair. Which for me, design history nerd, means that it’s also time to start thinking, what ARE Adirondack chairs anyway, and where did they come from?The first Adirondack chair was created by Thomas Lee around 1903.
Sep 10, 2012
Quick History: Cane Furniture
The British Colonial look is always especially appealing during these tropical New York City summers, when creamy neutral spaces provide a cool haven from sizzling concrete. Caned furniture is classic in a colonial interior. Lightweight and airy, it seems at home in a palm house or on a veranda (image 1).
Sep 7, 2012
Quick History: The Arco Lamp
The Arco lamp is one of those classic designs where form and function meet and live happily ever after. Designed in 1962 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, it is so practical as to seem almost obvious — how else would you turn a floor lamp into an overhead light? — but the Castiglionis’ interest in ready-mades and functionalism makes this design complex in its simplicity.
Sep 6, 2012
Quick History: The Bauhaus & Its Influence
We’ve all seen Marcel Breuer’s famous Wassily chair — the first to use tubular steel for a domestic setting — supposedly inspired by a bicycle frame (image 1). Would you believe this chair, maybe the most famous design to emerge from the Bauhaus, is a grandfatherly 87-years-old? Yes, the Bauhaus turned 93 this past spring, a shocking fact given that Bauhaus design still feels incredibly fresh and current.
Sep 5, 2012
Fine Feathers: A Brief History of the Peacock as Decoration
Peacocks are everywhere these days, their iridescent feathers and decadent beauty inspiring decorative imitations both abstract and literal. But this is no recent trend. Peacocks have been a favorite ornamental motif for millennia. Let’s look at a few snapshots of the peacock in design history. Peacocks have been a symbol of wealth, beauty and rebirth since ancient times — and a symbol of dangerous pride, as well.
Mar 15, 2012
All About Moroccan Wedding Blankets
From aguayos to ikats to suzanis, ‘exotic’ handcrafted textiles are enjoying considerable popularity in Western interiors, and Moroccan Wedding Blankets are no exception. The creamy, sequined blankets, or handira, are a window onto traditional Berber culture.Known as Moroccan wedding blankets, handira are woven out of sheep’s wool, cotton and linen by Berber women in the Middle Atlas mountains of Northern Morocco.
Mar 8, 2012
Hung: Salon-Style Display
Salon-style art walls are so popular these days — it’s easy to forget that the look has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, the origins of this hot trend, at the French Salon, mark a democratic turning point, a moment when artists began responding to a public audience rather than a royal dictate.
Mar 1, 2012
The History of Ikat
Ikat is everywhere these days — as trendy as anything ancient can ever claim to be. Visible in traditional textiles ranging from Southeast Asia to South America to the Middle East and beyond, this type of pattern now lends interiors a kind of dressed-up bohemian vibe. But what is it, and where did it come from?Think about a typical patterned textile, say a floral upholstery fabric.
Feb 23, 2012
Quick History: Trumeau Mirrors
I’ve been shopping around for a mirror to replace one that broke last month, and keep coming across trumeau mirrors. Trumeau mirrors (pronounced troo-MO) are set in tall wooden frames with a large section of painted or sculptural decoration at the top. But what are these unusual mirrors, and where did they come from?The original trumeau mirrors were set into wood paneling, or boiserie (bwah-zer-EE), the fancy carved wall-covering of choice in the 17th and 18th centuries (images 2-4).
Feb 9, 2012
Quick History: Window Glass
Caspar David Friedrich, Woman At A Window (1822) There was a time not so long ago that glass was a precious material, so highly valued that only the wealthiest homes had glass in their windows. And for millennia, of course, people had no glass at all in their windows. So how did we get here from there?
Jan 27, 2012
Quick History: The Evolution of the Chimney
Chimneys at Casa Mila, by Antoní Gaudi, Barcelona, 1906-1910The idea that Santa Claus comes down the chimney to deliver gifts is a relatively recent tradition — its spread is mostly associated with Clement Clark Moore’s 1823 poem, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” (“‘Twas the night before Christmas…”) And, though fire has been the heart of the home for thousands of years, chimneys are only a few hundred years old, themselves.
Dec 8, 2011
Design Glossary: Herringbone and Chevron Floors
The Galerie François I at Fontainebleau, c. 1528-39 Last week on Retrospect, we looked at the history of parquet floors, which are hardwood floors arranged in repeating geometrical patterns. This week, let’s look at two of the earliest and most enduring parquet patterns: herringbone and chevron. Lately I’ve been pinning herringbone floors on my Pinterest with abandon, I’m so in love with the look.
Aug 11, 2011
Small Space Solution: Curtains Instead of Doors
In last month’s House Beautiful, Maxwell gave his top ten tips for decorating small spaces. One of his most interesting and unusual suggestions is to take doors off their hinges and replace them with curtains, adding visual interest and saving space. Here’s a gallery that makes me wonder why doors are even a thing.Of course, you need doors for sound barriers, security and privacy.
Aug 3, 2011
Good Ideas for the Kitchen & Bath
It’s Kitchen and Bath month at Apartment Therapy. I guess we lump these two rooms together not only because of their plumbing requirements, but also because of their ostensible emphasis on function. The considerations for these spaces can be the most demanding; after all, organization, aesthetics and efficiency can be mutually exclusive! Here are some random good ideas for decorating these crucial spaces.
May 13, 2011
Quick History: Public Baths & Bathing
For most of us (even bloggers), bathing is an essential part of every day, mostly for the hygiene factor, but also as an enforced moment of private contemplation at the start (or end) of a frantic day. For thousands of years, though, bathing was a public and social activity that bore little resemblance to our own rituals of cleanliness.Bathing was an important part of many ancient cultures, as evidenced by religious rules surrounding bathing in all the major religions.
May 12, 2011
Layered Rugs
The other day we looked at a bunch of rooms that went unexpectedly without rugs or carpets, embracing a relaxed bare-floor look. Today let’s go in the opposite direction: what does it look like when one rug just isn’t enough. The most common look for layering rugs seems to be an animal hide (faux or no) over a sisal — this is probably the most neutral option. Other examples mix patterns and colors, sometimes creating a bohemian wonderland of textiles.
Apr 22, 2011
Quick History: Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is the name for the artistic movement that started in Europe around 1890 and lasted until around 1910. It took on many different characteristics in different places, and some of the most famous designers from the era have disparate styles, including Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Josef Hoffmann in Vienna and Carlo Bugatti in Italy. What these designers had in common was an interest in finding a new artistic vocabulary that could best express the modern world.
Mar 31, 2011
Quick History: George Nelson’s Bubble Lamp
George Nelson’s Bubble lamps are familiar icons of Modernism. Somehow evocative of both paper lanterns and the space race, they have a warm simplicity that is always in style. The story behind their creation is best told in the words of George Nelson himself. Nelson designed the first bubble lamp in 1947, incorporating a self-webbing plastic that was developed for military use.
Feb 24, 2011
Before & After: Studio to One-Bedroom
Peter and Molly’s light-flooded West Village studio was perfect for the two of them plus Hugo, their dog. But when they were preparing for a new baby, they successfully reorganized the space and added a sliding door, creating a comfortable and calm one-bedroom. Initially, Peter and Molly used the larger area for their bed, a comfy chair and storage.
Feb 23, 2011
Valances, Pelmets and Lambrequins: Inspiration Gallery
Do you remember that Domino feature where they completely made over an apartment for only $2018? The part that stuck with me, other than THE WHOLE THING, was the window valances, made by staple-gunning IKEA fabric to plywood and adding ribbon trim. While I’m DIY-shy, it hasn’t stopped me from collecting images of valances I like and might want to copy some day. Which got me into all this valance terminology, which I’ll try to unpack below.
Feb 11, 2011
Tile Tattoos & More Removable Tile Decals
To the list of decor for renters and commitment-phobes, add removable tile decals. Similar to wall stickers, these are specifically sized and designed to fit on bath and kitchen tile. Here is a roundup of options currently on the market, including a couple vendors that will custom-make them to order.These tile decals are self-adhesive and water-resistant. When you’re done with them, you can peel them off easily without damaging the tile.
Feb 9, 2011
9 Ways to Organize Books: Which Is Your Style?
I’m not a particularly organized person … except when it comes to my bookshelves, which are arranged in a perfectly logical, consistent way (although it’s logical only to myself). If you have a sizable book collection, it’s worth taking the time to organize them so that you can find whatever you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at some of the best methods to choose from.
Jan 14, 2011
Quick History: Checkerboard Floors
Black and white checkerboard floors first appear in European paintings in the 15th century, but the pattern’s origins lie long before that, in ancient artifacts from Iranian ceramic vessels to Roman paved floors. Here is a quick look at the history of checkerboard floors.
Jan 6, 2011