Cristina Dos Santos

Sales in the City – How to Prepare Your Home for the Change in Season

Brrr! As winter’s chill slowly comes upon us, just as we collectively unearth our favorite sweaters and sip pumpkin-flavored beverages, we should also cozy up our apartments. Here are some tips we’ve garnered from design, staging and sales experts on how to warm up your home without sacrificing the chic!

Anjie Cho, Architect and Interior Designer, Holistic Spaces
Cathy Hobbs, Interior Designer, Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes
Cristina Dos Santos, Interior Designer, Cristina Dos Santos LLC
George Case, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Citi Habitats



Winter Greening

According to Anjie Cho, architect and feng shui interior designer, one should pay close attention to respecting the environment and conserving energy (and money), even before aesthetics. She suggests removing your air conditioner because air infiltrates through its vents; if it is impossible to remove it or if storage is a big problem, fit the vent with a fabric cover that can easily be found in a hardware store. Do not use plastic, as it is not breathable and may cause condensation, which can damage your appliance. “Heavy drapes will also help to keep the cold air out and heat in,” Cho advises. “Weather sealing on doors or getting a door sweep (or even putting a heavy towel at the bottom of the door) will block the gap, preventing cold air from getting in.” “Don’t forget about your foliage!” Cho adds. As it gets colder it is a good time to move plants from window sills or outdoor spaces. “The extreme difference between temperatures can kill your house plants. Instead, move greenery a foot or two from the sills or doors, or get an indoor grow light set on a timer for the colder months.”

Speaking of plants, George Case, a licensed real estate salesperson at Citi Habitats, suggests getting floral arrangements of seasonal offerings to help bring the outside in. Think tall branches, evergreens, eucalyptus. The smell will be amazing and conjure up images of the holidays.

Designer and stager Cathy Hobbs of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes agrees, “Why not brighten up your décor by placing cut flower stems in colored bottles or short jelly or canning jars?” She adds that potted succulents– plants having some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water, such as cacti– can be a nice alternative to leaves and foliage.

“Succulents are quite hardy. I especially love them because they last a long time and don’t require a lot of care. They are not only beautiful, but they look fabulous in everything from rubbed terra cotta pots to glass vessels filled with stones and moss.”

Yule Log

Once your environmental concerns are addressed, it is time to focus on the visual and tactile warmth of your space. If one is lucky enough to have a fireplace—either decorative or woodburning— a stack of fresh-cut birch logs “creates a narrative— bringing to mind cozy nights around a fire—and will be the visual focal point of your room,” explains Case.

Let There Be Light

Ambient lighting is important as the days grow shorter and darker. Adding low-key fill light—ancillary lighting that fills in where primary lights cannot – will not only highlight areas of the home that may get ‘lost in the shadows,’ but it’s a good way to romance a space on a grey, chilly day,” adds Case.

Seasonal Scents

Scents play a big role in the energy of one’s space. “I love introducing vanilla-based diffusers or candles with Bordeaux or fig notes into a home during the colder months,” says Cristina Dos Santos, an interior designer in NYC. With the prevalence of wool garb and textiles during the coldweather season, it is important to use cedar hangers, closet or trunks to prevent damage from moths. The added plus? That great scent permeating through the home on a cold day, conjuring up thoughts of brisk jaunts in the snow-covered woods.

Textural Healing

Thin, gauzy or flimsy bedding and curtains, be gone! “Winter is all about thick knits, fur, and wool styles,” says Dos Santos. “Exchange summer pillows and throws for rich and warm fabrics.”

“Interesting decorative pillows made from colorful scarves in gorgeous, fun, winter prints make for an affordable fabric choice when it comes to throw pillows,” says Hobbs.

She adds, “One of my favorite patterns right now is toile. Toile originated in France and typically depicts a scene or a story. Many toile fabrics also come in a myriad of colors (including warm colors like reds and oranges) and in some cases can even be reflective of a particular season.”

Hobbs sings the praises of velvet as well, whether cut or crushed. “I not only love the look and feel of velvet but also the versatility and richness of the fabric.”

Hazy Shade of Winter:
The Dos and Don’ts of Color

Christina Dos Santos says color is a major way to modify an apartment’s look for the change in season. “Add deep/bold colors to enrich your space. Changing your accessories to deep charcoals or earth tones brings warmth and comfort to your home.” Here are some easy and quick ways to update your home for the cold-weather season that don’t require a major commitment and can be easily updated every season–all according to Cathy Hobbs.

• Do consider using neutrals such as black, white, charcoal, gray or beige and accent them with a “bold color.”
• Do select a signature bold accent piece and build a color palette around it.
• Do consider an accent wall if you’re afraid to commit to a strong accent color in the entire room. You will probably want to change your colors somewhat for spring again.
• Do bring color into your décor through accent pieces such as artwork and accessories.

• Don’t just tie yourself into one shade of a bold color; consider tints and tones of the same color.
• Don’t use colors that are too grayed down or muted.
• Don’t use colors that are too warm in small rooms; it can make a room look smaller.
• Don’t paint your ceiling a color; it will automatically close in a space.

Maison et Objet: Mecca of European Design

Maison et Objet: Mecca of European Design
A Conversation with Cristina Dos Santos

By Amber Snider

By Amber Snider

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Cristina Dos Santos, a Manhattan home designer, about her recent experience at the Maison et Objet—a major bi-annual French trade show in Paris, France.

Lee Zee Soo

Lee Zee Soo

Maison et Objet is one of the most important events in Europe for interior design—a week-long event showcasing 3,000 artists and designers from all over the world, of which 45% are international brands. The show focuses on an array of design aesthetics; including textiles, furniture, home decor, lighting, and more. Each room is imbued with a particular design essence, ranging from natural and eco-friendly textiles, serenity and well-being as an art of living, to Scandinavian minimalism for home design.

Dos Santos prefers to feature new and emerging designers in her store, making the Parisian trade show the perfect venue to seek out new material. “As a designer, it is extremely inspiring just to walk around the streets of Paris. Maison et Objet is where you can find more specialty and fashion-forward items—in home accessories, furniture, lighting and so on.” She notes an apparent difference between American vs. European aesthetic: “The overall design [at M&O] has more of a European feel, with clean lines and stream-lighting. Colors are heavily navy and aubergine; found in everything from the different decorative throws to rugs and pillows.”

American vs. European. I assumed the new European aesthetic would be more of a pastoral, rustic revival, synthesized with high-tech modernity. But Dos Santos emphasized that trend to be more prominent in the States rather than Europe. “I think that whole modern rustic appeal is always important, but in general, the rustic look is more popular in the States. It tends to be more modern and technical over in Europe. Although it’s a nice mix of rustic chic–it is much more modern.”

Lighting Makes the Difference. Stream lighting with clean lines is very hard to find here in the States. There are very few lighting designers and resources on our side of the pond. “I’m always on the look-out for different types of lighting for my clients here in the States. It’s a very much underrepresented art form here,” says Dos Santos.

Rory Dobner installation

Rory Dobner installation

Top Trends. ”Gold plating with skulls and guns is big in Europe. They look cool, but it’s not something I would dare bring in the States and have represented in my stores. It’s more of a decorative wave, with the skulls and guns showcased on the wall, in plate design, throws and textiles, and even in decorative pieces for the home.” Hand-painted pieces featuring gold designs are also very cutting edge this fall season.

Prominent themes. When I asked about the possible correlation between the skulls and gun jewelry aesthetic found all over Brooklyn and its home-design prominence in Europe, Dos Santos replied, “I love the skull design—it’s something that’s been around for a very, very long time. I know a lot of designers in Europe that are represented in Brooklyn and a lot of booths are selling to different boutiques there. It’s a very hip, cool direction—and that’s where Brooklyn has been for a long time.”

Showcase the Individual. Dos Santos was privy to the aesthetic of a few German, English, and Japanese designers who certainly mastered home design; not only in the lightening department, but also with accessories. “There was this English Designer, Rory Dobner, who was quite amazing. He started doing art in his own apartment and then his apartment was photographed. People just admired it so much and said ‘why don’t you do this publicly?’ Barneys is now representing him here and I think Bergdorf wanted to pick him up…but again, it’s about the appreciation of having one small designer love his work so much and have people that admire it as well.”

“Out of the many fabulous Japanese designers, I really liked Lee Zee Soo. The pottery, fine china, and hand painted porcelain were just astounding. I have some of his Japanese towels.The glass is absolutely the finest in the world. When you’re there, you’re focusing on certain things relevant to your store, but one thing that sticks out is how everything is so wonderfully displayed. There’s just something about the way things are presented.”