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the COZY COTTAGE

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IT WAS A BLANK CANVAS THAT HE'D BE ABLE TO DESIGN FROM SCRATCH

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Inside, he says, he chose "happy, spring-like colors that work well with the abundant natural light of this area," says Cruz. "It's a small house, around 2,200 square feet. You can see from one room to another." An artist through and through, Cruz painted samples of all the colors on large pieces of watercolor paper to visually depict the progression from one room to another to the clients, who gave him a thumbs-up on all. "My favorite is the delicate whisper of pink that bathes the living room in a beautiful conch-shell glow," says Cruz, who selected a creamy white hue for all the trims and ceilings to visually connect the spaces.

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RUSTIC REPAST
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Usually, says Cruz, clients tend to belabor decisions about upholstery selection, spending days or even weeks surveying color samples and fabric swatches. Furniture is another story entirely, as are rugs, which typically take as long as four months to receive. In this case, though, "the family was anxious to move into the home in time for the children's summer vacation and have fun."

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So he found the fastest ways to get furniture, while still maintaining his signature eclectic style: "Buy directly off the floors at retail stores, purchase on the Internet, on eBay or 1st Dibs, go to tag sales and use lots of antiques!" Cruz believes that mixing new and old yields character while avoiding being overly precious. Fresh, spontaneous results are also extremely family friendly. "No white sofas here," Cruz says, "but rather relaxed furnishings for entertaining and enjoying." He found a muted green tufted sofa at ABC Carpet & Home, which is very forgiving with an extra-deep, extra-comfy seat. The vintage farm-style dining table, also from ABC, came with a patina of age, and so no worries about scratches and stains—they just add to its history. Paired with new Shaker-style chairs, it offers a go-to perch for long meals overlooking the garden.

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Among Cruz's other favorite sources are Steven Sclaroff, who has a great eye for quirky vintage furniture, 145 Antiques in NYC for antique French lighting fixtures, Design Within Reach for classic, modern stools and accessories and ULAE (Universal Limited Art Editions), fine art prints by well-known artists. And, of course, 1st Dibs. "I was able to see dozens of antiques in just a few hours, and purchase quickly, too," says Cruz. "It was extremely helpful, since my interiors are always an eclectic mix of 20 to 30 sources, no matter the size or scope of the project."

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SWEET DREAMS
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Whereas such extensive sourcing might bewilder some designers, for Cruz it's all part of a project's work—a fun and exhilarating way of creating artful interiors that are relaxed and comfortable. "It was fast, organic and all came together seamlessly; this proved my core belief that sometimes too much discussion can kill the freshness of the project," he says. The outcome was such a success, in fact, that the family spends much more time with him than they did previously—Cruz, now a good friend, is often one of their weekend guests.

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PICKET PROWESS
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