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James Stanley: 5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing James Stanley.

James Stanley is the Principal and Founder of James StanleyNY, a boutique Architectural Design firm in Tribeca, New York. James’s unique vision is backed by 12 years of hands-on experience. He has built his career and success around authentically being himself and meeting his clients where they are. James’ creativity and attention to detail can be seen at The Plaza, Tiffany & Co, and throughout residential homes in the Los Angeles, Miami and New York markets.

Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

A few things brought me to this career path, but mostly my Mother. Growing up with my Mom in SoCal, she owned a General / Engineering / Construction firm where she pushed me to watch and learn how to run the business and manage a team. As a result, I learned how to use my mind and hands to build just about anything. My Mother was also a major antique collector, so I honed my eye on that world as well. When I left SoCal for Miami Beach, I had the opportunity to design and remodel a few small boutique hotel lobbies in Miami Beach through my employment with a small design firm. I quickly became passionate about what I was doing and learned how to apply the skills I learned through my experience working with my Mother and her team.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

One of the proudest moments of my career was working as lead designer at IM PEI’s Centurion and it happened by fate or as some may call luck. During my early career in NYC, one of my real estate acquaintances was designated to lead the Inhouse real-estate team for selling Condos at The Centurion. My contact reached out and asked if I was interested in possibly designing one of the model apartments. Naturally, I jumped on the opportunity. We met onsite and did a walk-through, and with no prior preparation, I came up with a design concept on the spot and presented the design real time. My design concept was well received and I was asked to illustrate the design in a Story Board. After spending few days working on the Story Board, we met at a restaurant, as I didn’t have an office in those days. After presenting to her my design proposal, she loved the concept but did not feel the presentation had the professional edge to compete with the other big design firms who are also being considered for this project, however, she said she will keep me in mind.

Few days went by and as my disappointment was beginning to fade, my phone rang, and to my surprise, it was my contact asking me to meet with the owners of the building immediately and pitch my design because the big firm they were considering were not ready to meet in person and present. I knew right there and then that this was my shot and I had to take it. With no presentation on hand or assistance, I headed to the IM PEIs Centurion, walked into the lobby and met the developer and Mr Trump. During the elevator ride, Mr Trump asked about my design background, etc., then proceeded to ask if I had a choice to design the best unit or the worst unit, which would I choose. I said the worst, as it would be the more challenging and fulfilling to work on. Mr Trump replied with a slight smile on his face“ Right Answer” … We walked off the elevator, and there I was, unprepared and standing in the middle of the worst unit that was different than the unit I previously drafted the design for, with eyes all on me in anticipation for my design pitch. After taking few minutes to get a feel of the space, the developer/owners asked what my thoughts where. I intuitively went into Designer mode and started proposing and recommending ideas and concepts that are best suited for the type of buyers/clientele that would live in the space. After about 10 minutes, both Developer and Trump said “ We heard enough”. After we parted ways, I received a call an hour later from my contact telling “ You blew them away” there only concern was “ Could we afford his Firm” …

Always believe in yourself and give 110%.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

On one of my first design projects, I was fortunate to have my client’s full trust to let my creativity run wild when designing and fabricating several of his furniture pieces. Unfortunately, the thrill of artistry and innovation ruled over practicality, and consequently, I didn’t take into consideration his above average height when making the Principal Suite bedframe footboard. The client was elated with the pictures of the completed bed. After the bed was delivered to the client few weeks later, I received a call on my cell very late in the evening from my client laughing stating that I forgot to incorporate his height into the dimensions of the bed and he had to sleep with his feet up on the footboard. I, on the other hand, was mortified, and disappointed that I Iet this important detail slip through. We remade the frame to accommodate my client’s height.

Lesson: The Devil is in the details. Triple check all details and then check again…

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Brownstone on the UWS and a Duplex in trendy Brooklyn

  • The Brownstone is in CPW’s Historic Landmark District . Steps to New Yorks Central Park make’s for quintessential NYC living. We are gutting the entire home-building, interesting/exciting Architectural-Design features include a Full size elevator to the roof, Roof top garden-entertaining space-glass slide back door system in the Garden level to create indoor-outdoor living. A partial glass floor in the Principal suite letting additional natural light in while putting in Smart Tint at the push of a button for privacy when needed, not to mention a automated Principle Suite closet with Dry-Cleaning capability.
  • Brooklyn Duplex: Located in a very trendy part of BK, this newer construction home was initially purchased by my client as a two bedroom unit with a massive outdoor terrace that we completely redesigned to fit their specific needs and esthetic. Since then, the client purchased the mirrored unit above it, and we are in the process of combining the two units into one large Duplex.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? “Look Within For True Happiness”

I’ve been blessed to have found the Buddhist Path. The teachings have transformed my life. Like most of us, I used to seek happiness by surrounding myself with materialistic things associated with Luxury. Alas, the pleasure was transitory and passed faster than the trend associated with its extravagance. My meditations allowed me to truly connect with my inner self, which connects me to True Happiness. Don’t miss understand, I still gravitate to Luxury and the Materialistic, I’ve built my Brand on it, But, The Quote-Mantra “Look Within For True Happiness” really helped me focus on what’s important in the big picture… Enjoy what life has to offer, every detail, But be aware these are fleeting moments, and the Happiness we all seek is Within…

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

First: My Mother. She instilled an extremely hard work ethic in me and an eye for details.

Second: My first Big client. He trusted me enough to let me explore creatively and pushed me to really think out of the box, which gave birth to a insanely creative project and paved the way to opening my design/construction firm…

Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1.Paint- Painting the interior of your home the right color is one of the simplest elements about your home design decisions. Selecting a color pallet that best represents your personality will connect you emotionally with your home. Select colors that evoke calmness, contentment, gratitude and relaxation. Whether a single accent wall or an entire room, paint can create Joy…

2.Lighting — Lighting is the single most important design element that your home interior needs. The right lighting adds the element of intimacy, soft or striking, from just a table or floor lamp, to overhead fixtures and pinspots, lighting is key in sparking happiness.

3.Art- Art is particularly my personal favorite design element in a home. I know this may sound like a cliché, but beauty in Art is truly in the “eye of the beholder”. Chose art that speaks to you, that you can relate to, that you enjoy looking at and excited to share with your loved ones. Art comes in many forms and shapes, so don’t limit yourself to traditional paintings and prints, venture outside the box and go for vintage advertisement posters, blown-up back and white photograph that you personally took, framed old post cards from your favorite parts of the world, etc… Art should take you on an emotional experience and evoke pleasure.

4.Accessories- Accessories are the catalysts that tie your wall color, furniture and flooring all together. Pick pillows, area rugs, throws, coffee table books, small boxes, vases, candle holders, etc…that you absolutely love, have a personal meaning and complement your color theme. They are the icing on the cake and the bow on the gift. Accessories can unquestionably stimulate enjoyment in your home.

5.Textures. and last but not least, selecting the right and balance of textures. Choose soft and comforting fabrics for your pillows, throws, cushions and upholstered furniture, but balance with few accent pieces that are bold and daring such as leather and suede. Don’t be afraid to include faux fur for the holidays because the softness of faux fur induces warmth and calmness.

BONUS- Music. music is the ideal way of giving myself up to the warm and embrace of my home. Music sets the tone of the my mood and, depending on my intention, it can help me unplug and relax on the sofa with a glass of wine or help me cross the finish line with my never-ending home chores! In these troubled times, music playing in the background can be a solace and an easy way to turn the disappointments of the day to a Joyful consolation.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Creating-Tapping into our INNER Peace…You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? _He or she might see this, especially if we tag them :-)

ELON MUSK- My hero and indirectly my mentor. I look up to him because of his ability to take something he has no background or education in and create brilliant innovative solutions that revolutionized the industry. He defied critics who believe it could not be done and proved them wrong by making the impossible possible. His brilliance and courage to bring his ideas to fruition inspires me beyond words.

I believe his motto says it all:

“ Do your 5 yr plan in 1 yr. Even if you don’t get it all done, you’ll be much further ahead”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @ jamesstanleyny

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.