Benjamin Moore Releases Color Trends for 2013

Taking cues from the fashion and art world, paint super giant Benjamin Moore has released their color trends for 2013 on their blog today. Categorizing each new color family into four distinct palettes, they’ve laid out unique and envelope-pushing ideas to create the perfect pallet for your pad. Take a look and leave your comments:

Urbanite Palette – “The raw and edgy side of our Urbanite design theme was influenced by pattern, color and the desire for a new take on contemporary styling.” – Benjamin Moore

Ubanite Palette in Action – “Yellow and blue are such a traditional color combination, but when we added green-based grays to the mix, we got the exciting palette this contemporary theme needed.” – Benjamin Moore

New Traditional Palette – “This wonderfully sophisticated theme illustrates the best of geometric pattern and color to create a new twist on the conventional look of time-honored style.” -Benjamin Moore

New Traditional Palette in Action - “Feminine colors such as dusty mauve mixed with masculine shades of evening dove and baja dunes offer a mature compromise for this theme.” – Benjamin Moore

Artisan Palette - “Deep, rich and cozy is the only way to describe the Artisan color palette.” -Benjamin Moore

Artisan Palette in Action - “It’s all about found objects and family heirlooms. Surround yourself in this eclectic mix of cherished items and warm comforting colors, you may never leave the space!” – Benjamin Moore

Coastal Palette - “Think of very soft and fluid colors; the next level of “spa” used in many bathroom design schemes, finding it’s way into other rooms in the home.” – Benjamin Moore

Coastal Palette in Action - ‘We took inspiration from the sea without it looking like a seaside resort. The relaxing and soothing palette of stratton blue, lemon sorbet, and tranquility are bound together by the watery hues of van courtland blue and simply white creating a restful retreat within your own home.” -Benjamin Moore

To explore more of all things Benjamin Moore, please visit

Wall Decals – Size Does Matter

You know us and wall treatments: its a sick obsession. Wallflower, a company based in Culver City, CA is upping the ante on high-resolution, jaw dropping images which double as bold statements on any wall.
Creating dramatic statements on big white walls is always a challenge. With these decals you can now have high-quality, larger-than-life images which are durable and can be moved with ease. Smaller decals are available for spaces like bathrooms and living rooms.

For more information on this great company, visit them at

‘No Door’ Policy Shapes a Local Ad Agency

Alfonso Santaniello is CEO of The Creative Strategy Agency in Springfield, MA

In a corporate world of cubicle farms and water coolers, Alfonso Santaniello is breaking the mold. CEO of The Creative Strategy Agency, Santaniello has taken a different approach to creating a work environment for his employees and clients that fosters collaboration and creativity.

The company specializes in digital and media strategy for businesses in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, and is located in a former 19th century hotel at 1242 Main Street. The building’s worn marble stairs leads to the fourth floor office suite where The Creative Strategy Agency has called home since July. Visitors are immediately greeted by a small foyer which, in lieu of commercial wallpaper, chalkboard paint has been applied to the walls where messages, quotes and working notes are displayed.

Santaniello has a ‘no door’ creative philosophy and has physically
removed the doors from his office.

Chalkboard paint transforms walls into meeting places.

No fabric–lined cubicles or stodgy office furniture fill this wood-floored space, only cozy sitting areas, a spacious conference room and a foosball table in the corner of the main office.

Every surface is a place to brainstorm and share ideas.

“In a creative agency, you need to be able to step away and take a breath,” says Santaniello, who feels like he’s at home in the space. “I couldn’t do that in a traditional office.”

Santaniello didn’t break the bank with designing his new office, either. Furniture and artwork are a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs and Craigslist finds. But it works. The sitting areas are inviting and modern.

“We kept it simple and used what we had. Easy things like removing all the doors in the space. There’s no need to have a closed door in a creative space.”

This space is also where The Creative Strategy Agency will also resume recording and webcasts of the eNews Business Channel, which features interviews with local guests in a talk-show setting. Currently, in the studio room sits a piñata from the company’s third birthday party held in the office last month.

“It’s a really fun place to work,” says newcomer Emily Marino. “At my former job, I had to send an email to someone in the next office. Now it’s easy to just ask them across the room.”

Communication is easier when the atmosphere is relaxed and open.

Random sitting areas are placed throughout the office in attempts to make clients feel comfortable and informal.

For more information about The Creative Agency, please visit them at

Know of a local business that is getting creative with their interiors? Drop me a note in the ‘contact‘ section above.

Not Your Typical Pub: The Ruin Bar

A ceiling made out of plants hangs overhead.     Communist-era cars sit hollowed in the open air with bar stools around it.   A ship’s female figurehead perches in the corner wearing safety goggles.     Rusted bathtubs filled with cushions double as loveseats.

This is Szimpla Kertmozia, a bar and cafe in Hungary. It sits in the heart of the Pest section of Budapest and is constructed from the remains of a pre-war building and courtyard which has had it’s insides gutted. Not the perfect place to grab a drink, one might think. However, the expansive and eclectic atmosphere of this artist’s wonderland is visually stunning and surprisingly cozy.

Szimpla Kertmozia‘s charm is enabled by it’s constant evolution and collection of crazy artifacts and ‘accidental art’ decor. Patrons claim and move their own seating, there is no dress code and pretty much anything goes. The bartenders are surly but experts in their field and if you’d like to add to the decor by writing your name in Sharpie on the bar, no one would care.

For a small-town, seemingly uptight American boy, this place was too amazing not to photograph and write about. My mind kept racing on how I could bring the vibe of this place to the States. With our own city ruins, and crumbling factory buildings, this could be a niche to develop!

Please take the visual tour below. Enjoy!

Photos in gallery: Michael Chunyk

fend interiors Launches Today

As many of you know, interior design has been a passion of mine for many years. Throughout my career, I’ve always had a soft spot for any project that involved designing, revamping or organizing spaces to reflect the style and brand of the company I was working for. In my personal life, I’ve been rearranging furniture, hanging pictures, painting walls and adjusting lighting since I was a kid. I know what looks right when I see it, and this is the part of me that brought me into photography and visual branding. Now, it’s time to evolve once again.

FEND Photography was started in 2009 by Danielle Belden and Michael Chunyk

To me, there’s always been something extremely gratifying about changing a space to make it better. I bought my home, a 1913 Colonial Revival when I was 25 years old, and have dedicated the last five years to restoring, decorating and restyling my own space. Now as I venture into my 30’s, I will be transforming FEND – originally created to be a trendy portrait studio, into an interior styling business.

My focus will be commercial clients who need direction transforming their space to reflect their branding efforts. How often do you have a perception of a company, restaurant or cafe after seeing their logo or advertising only to have a non-congruent experience when you walk through the door? How many companies would benefit from banning cubicle farms and create spaces to facilitate collaboration and creativity? These are all questions I aim to address as I move forward.

I will also be tackling residential projects, helping clients create or restyle their spaces to reflect who they truly are, while prioritizing the design to manifest the things that they want in their lives. It’s my firm belief that one must change their surroundings in order to change one’s life.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in this decision to move forward with the evolution of FEND. It’s going to be a great adventure! Thanks for your support.



Style in Budapest

Whilst in Budapest, we visited the home of Gordon Finlayson and Natella Safar Ali, recent transplants from Dubai. Living in Budapest (and most of Europe for that matter) comes with different offerings than the Western world. 19th century buildings which stood through world wars and public strife now play as safe haven for city dwellers and boast tall ceilings, herringbone parquet floors and gracious windows that open onto small but intimate terraces.

In Gordon and Natella’s flat, the use of crisp white and cream colors is an amazing contrast to the colorful books and keepsakes they have collected on their world travels. The simple lines of minimal furniture complimented thick glossy door trim and vintage chandeliers. Many thanks to them for opening up their home (and a bottle of champagne).

This Old Porch

Here at the FEND Test Lab, (AKA my 100 year-old Colonial Revival) we’ll be tackling our outside space this month with a ongoing overhaul of the porch that runs the length of the side of the home. The home was built in 1913 with the porch open and overlooking the Mount Holyoke range, the Connecticut River and the rolling acres of dairy farmland that once abutted Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.The view today is now obscured by tall black walnuts and pines.

Southwest view of the house circa 1913. The porch is in it’s original state and would have had an unobstructed view of the Mt. Holyoke range.

100 years ago, the northern winter wind would have bombarded the porch and the two sets of French doors which open to the living room. The setting summer sun would have emblazoned the occupants of the porch and made it unbearable to sit outside.

By the 1920’s, screening had been added to the porch for bug control.

When we purchased the home in 2007, we were able to see the potential of the porch which had been fully enclosed in the 1950’s. Heavy, custom-made walls were erected around the gorgeous pillars and screens were framed and hung to keep insects away. Giant aluminum roll-up awnings attached to the outside of the columns hung dilapidated and broken. Birds found refuge in crevices and nooks, building an intricate community of nests. The porch was cavernous with little light – not my ideal outdoor retreat whatsoever. After hours of wielding sledgehammers and Sawzalls, we dismantled the structures, which in their hay day, were an impressive feat of carpentry.

By 2007, the enclosed porch was in need of some TLC, to say the least.

The porch became an open space again, it’s columns and railing finally free to the air after half a century. As we sat sweaty and tired, there was a quiet appreciation for restoring the porch to the way it was built 100 years ago and also for the evolution of design it had undergone. An unearthing of an unusual time capsule in an ordinary place. This is why I love old, grand things.


Removing the custom made walls, the columns and railings were discovered intact. Preparations are underway for painting.

For the next three years, the porch then sat open and in need of a serious reconditioning and painting. There was a sort of shabby charm the cracking paint and weathered floors presented as we sat in rockers drinking coffee or hosting dinner parties in late spring. I guess you could say the evolution of the porch became our evolution, as our homes often do. Life collided with good intentions and we were comfortable just existing with porch the way it was.


The current state of the porch has served it’s purpose for all residents in the home.

Now, the next step in the porch’s journey will take place over the next few weeks. Finally, new white paint, and glossy grey floors will put the finishing touch on one of my home’s favorite places. Stay tuned for the ‘after’ transformation shots. Thanks for reading. -Michael

The north end of the porch overlooking the trees that weren’t there 100 years ago.






How to Choose the Right Rug

Choosing the right rug can be a challenge. The size, color, construction material will either lend to your design or dominate it. In my travels, I am always on the lookout for companies who understand these potential design pitfalls and help educate their customers before they make an investment purchase such as a large hand-woven area rug.

West Elm offers a three step ‘how-to’ process as part of their Design Lab to walk you through the often nail-biting process of purchasing the right rug for your space.

West Elm offers a three step process on choosing the right rug. For more information visit them at

Even as a designer, I appreciate such a tool that is educational and informative to help keep me focused and present inspiration. It’s also a great way to get a crash course on a company’s products or explain a product to a client. Albeit, this tool is sales-driven (and how could it not be), it’s still a great way to get the right rug.

Educating customers on the differences in material is one of the steps of this tool. Color, pattern, and material are also addressed.


For more information or to start shopping for that perfect rug, visit the West Elm Design Lab.