RBD notepad

RBD Notepad: Mainstream vs. Upstream

This edition of Mainstream vs. Upstream hits on a couple of trends that I love and use in my own home.

You can’t go wrong with barn lighting; a classic industrial-chic look that I’ve used in my home for years and probably will for years to come. The pendant over my childhood dinner table was a white barn pendant like the one pictured below. They go with every style of decor and are fairly inexpensive. This trend isn’t going anywhere.

If you’re looking for the next-level iteration of metallic pendants try the copper pendant. I prefer Tom Dixon’s rendition with its super sleek shape and high shine finish.

Kilim rugs are flat weave Persian rugs that were traditionally used for prayer but made their way into American households as furnishings in the 1960’s. Today they’re a super popular option in modern eclectic homes and do a great job of softening super modern lines with an edgy, rugged look.

But another traditional rug style is making its way back on the scene: the hooked rug. Originating in colonial New England, rug hooking had its moment in the 1980’s folk art craze (my mom was is a master hooker…don’t tell her I said so). Today’s spin on this country craft uses geometric designs and brings in bright cheerful colors. I’m totally into it.

How does your garden grow? Terrariums are another trusty trend that is definitely staying put. There are tons of options in stores these days so if you’re hankering for a miniature ecosystem for your succulents and baby ferns, you shouldn’t have to hunt too hard.

I’m seeing a lot of macrame planters creeping back into haute homes. The difference between these and your mom’s macrame are the brightly colored fibers being woven in. Gimme some a ‘dat!

Raised by Design - Mainstream vs. Upstream - hooked rugs - copper pendant - macrame planters
Image credits: barn pendants /// copper pendant /// kilim rug /// kaleidoscope hooked rug /// glass terrarium /// macrame planters

Loveyoubye! Mags


RBD Concept: The Blue Madonna Part II

A couple weeks back I posted about a design concept for a modern Italian Restaurant. ‘Member? Here’s the post if you missed it. I’m calling this hip downtown Italian eatery The Blue Madonna and the concept is inspired by Italian-American suburbia and Roman-Catholic iconography.

Below is the mood board I put together to visualize the overall concept:

raised by design concept - the blue madonna italian restaurant

But I couldn’t stop there…so I sketched out a (very) rough floor plan. This gets me thinking about the space in reality and how the different zones – dining, bar, bathrooms, courtyard, reception – would play out. Check the layout I’m envisioning below:

the blue madonna - raised by design

Once I got my bearings in the space, I could start to think about the materials in each of the zones, starting with the flooring. Here’s a look at the finish floor plan showing the chosen materials:

the blue madonna - raised by design

In the main reception and dining room areas painted white, unpolished concrete brings rich ‘lived in’ texture without crowding the eye. In the bar area: same material, but painted an icy stone blue, reminiscent of stucco on suburban buildings.

A faux-grass walkway brings the suburban landscape indoors and leads the patron from the front entrance back to the bathrooms and into the courtyard.

Let’s take a walk through the space, looking at some of the furnishings and finishes.


raised by design - the blue madonna - restaurant design concept - reception area

Nonna’s living room, turnt up. Vintage faux marble wallpaper, a pair of peach velour sofas joined by an inflatable terrarium stool, reproduced and enlarged to function as a cocktail table. Can we talk about these gorgeous babies for a second and how I need to have one in my living room as soon as possible? They are just incredible. Cute little mcm legs supporting an inflatable plastic poof, filled with carefully arranged plastic flowers. So much kitschy awesomeness I can’t even stand it.


The space is punctuated by a statement chandelier – a vintage Italian glass find on 1stDibs.


The reception area leads into the bar and lounge area to your right. While guests are waiting for their table, they can sip on their Negroni in one of the mid-century side chairs with champagne basket weave upholstery.


You’ll notice in the top floor plan that there are two art features planned for the space – one in the main reception area and one in the bar and lounge area. Opposite those champagne lounge chairs is the Bathtub Madonna art feature:

raised by design - the blue madonna - restaurant design concept - art feature - bathtub madonnas

I put this together quickly in Photoshop so it’s a pretty rough interpretation of the installation, but you get the idea. Four large ‘Bathtub Madonnas’ suspended by heavy chain and anchor against a large scale custom graphic of traditional vintage oilcloth normally used as tablecloth.

Bathtub Madonnas are a real thing. Nowadays you can order a factory-made grotto online for your Blessed Virgin Mary garden shrine, but back in the day people used an upended bathtub, which I find much more interesting. These garden shrines are not exclusive to Italian neighborhoods, of course. Some of the most impressive displays are in the German-American neighborhoods in the Midwest. Our neighborhood is mostly made up of Croatian and Portuguese families and there are lots of modern versions of Bathtub Madonnas around.

I’m having so much fun with this concept and love how everything is coming together but there is more to explore. Thinking about the bathrooms – what do suburban kitsch bathrooms look like to you? Stay tuned for one last installment on this design in the coming weeks!



RBD Notepad: Mainstream // Upstream

Hi there! I snuck away last week from blogging to work on a new client project – a living room plan for an UES apartment that belongs to a lovely (newly engaged) couple who are merging their French Country + Modern Minimalist tastes. Should be a really fun project and I hope to share some details on RBD as the project progresses.

For now, I have my notepad out again and have been thinking about some of the current trends floating around: the glowy hue of pink himilayan salt, the ever-present Eames molded fiberglass chair, and the playful motif du jour – pineapples! Here are 3 ways to spin those trends around and head upstream…

RBD Notepad - Mainstream // Upstream

Image credits: Overstock // House Beautiful // Keltainen talo rannalla // Chairish // Society 6 // Jenny Wilkinson

** I used Jenny Wilkinson’s pineapple wallpaper in the powder room of one of my Parson’s design projects last summer. The concept for the TriBeCa loft space was centered around colonial shipping and exploration (hence the pineapple)…and if I ever get my act together, you’ll be able to see it in my portfolio! I just love that wallpaper – especially since it’s paint by number! She’s a genius.

Loveyoubye! Maggie

RBD Notepad: Mainstream // Upstream


In an effort to post more of my design notes and work on this blog, I’ve started a new feature called “RBD Notepad”. If someone saw my actual notepads (of which there are about 5 scattered around the house) they would probably get shifty-eyed and back towards the door.

These notes I’m posting here are more curated and tidy, but they’re still a reflection of things I think about when it comes to design.

When I’m thinking about a new project, I tend to want to mix in something next level – something unexpected and maybe a little questionable. Not because of ‘wow factor’ or cache, but because it creates balance. Like a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with a pinch of black pepper.

But then there’s that part of human nature that’s drawn to the comfort and familiarity of the mainstream. I’m not anti-mainstream. I embrace trends with wide open arms because they’re a reflection of our culture and they create a tribe among participants – not to get all anthropologist up in here. But mass appeal is….well, appealing.

I want a client (or my guests) to feel at ease in their space first and foremost, but there should always be something that’s sparky and aloof – deviant, even. 

These notes are about appreciating what’s mainstream vs. what’s upstream.

RBD notepad - mainstream vs. upstream

Image credits: HomeyOhMy // Exterior Con Vistas // Adore Magazine // Domaine Home // Snoogs and Wilde // Berkley Illustration