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Trade Secrets

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Pleasing the animals: Pets -- particularly small dogs -- need flooring that their paws can grip. Industrial-grade carpet is ideal. If this doesn't work for you, a runner for ball-catching sessions that can be rolled up and stored is a great alternative. And when choosing upholstery, avoid roughly woven fabrics. Paws will get stuck in them, and they'll be destroyed in no time.

Coping with a small space: Keep the palette neutral and monotone: whites, pale warm grays, or canvas. Color can be added -- if you want it -- through the accessories, like towels. To make a small apartment seem bigger, use furniture and artwork sparingly. And if you can, knock all the walls down. The only thing we'd enclose is the bathroom.

Before you renovate: Get your material palette down first -- is the finished overall look, for example, marble with gold? Envisaging that palette will save you from costly mistakes later on and keep the price of the job down. Also, think about how you want to live -- do you want your TV in the bedroom, in the living room, or no TV at all? People take those questions for granted. But they set the mood for the overall space.

Carpet: Patterson, Flynn & Martin (979 Third Avenue, Suite 632; 212-688-7700). They have an enormous range. A lot of times we're looking for more wacky things, and if they don't have it, they will find it.

Fabric and upholstery: Kravet (979 Third Avenue, Suite 324; 212-421-6363) has everything from the very traditional to unusual synthetics. They stock Sensasuede, an Ultrasuede line from Japan. We do all our upholstery through Benchmark (300 Dewitt Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-257-4707, extension 21). For curtains, we use Jo-Vin (94-23 Jamaica Avenue, Queens; 718-441-9350).

Furniture and design stores: Definitely IKEA for kitchen cabinetry and built-in closets. Their kitchen department is great. Target carries very cool homeware. And we love Troy (138 Greene Street; 212-941-4777).


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