Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Women of Atticmag

I've been wanting to do a series of posts about the three talented women behind Atticmag for quite awhile now.

Atticmag is a blog/online magazine which is very near and dear to my heart!  I stumbled upon it a few years ago while planning my kitchen remodel, and I've been hooked ever since!

Every time I had a question about which direction I wanted to go with my own kitchen remodel, I knew I could click on the Atticmag link I had saved in my favorites and peruse any number of all white, black and white, or whatever style and color kitchen (like the one pictured below) I wanted.  Having that resource helped me achieve the kitchen I have today, and I will be forever thankful to Jane F, Jane T, and Allison.

Not only do these three women share their varied talents and expertise on a myriad of design topics, but they are simply nice people to boot!  So what's not to like about that?! 

I decided to start my three part series on Atticmag with a post about Jane F, the editor of this wonderful online magazine and blog.

Because Jane and her family split their time between their New York City apartment and their wonderful country home, and along with all of her duties for Atticmag, Jane is a very busy lady.  But she was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions, and she also sent me all of the wonderful photos in this post from both of her great properties.

Jane doing product testing at a recent Home Design Show.

Besides Atticmag, Jane has had a number of successful careers over the years.  Right out of college, she worked in a major contemporary art gallery in NY, and then moved on to what’s now Sotheby’s auction house.

There I first saw antique furniture, china, English silver and rugs, chandeliers. I had never seen old things -- I had grown up in L.A.

From the galleries I went into art book editing and working with contemporary artists – that took me to France for the summer – my first time abroad.  Meanwhile, cooking had become my hobby and I began to take classes at night with James Beard.

 Jane heading out to do some antiquing!

When I got married and moved to Chicago, I decided I wanted out of art and decided to teach cooking. I built my first kitchen there – it’s on Atticmag as Hommage to James Beard's kitchen via photos that appeared in Home Magazine. 

I had started writing about restaurants for the Chicago Tribune – my first newspaper.  I also wrote a food processor cookbook and after moving back to New York, in 1983 (after a divorce), I finished my second cookbook, Dinner Party.  I spent a year as consulting editor at Cook’s magazine (now Cook’s Illustrated) and then moved to New York Magazine writing the Underground Gourmet column.  After that I spent six years as the restaurant critic at New York Newsday. 

 Jane's country house

Unlike her very urban New York apartment, Jane's country house is set on wooded acreage in upstate New York.  It's an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of busy city living.

Again, I was ready to move on and decided to become an editor instead of a writer. At  the New York Daily News (for 8 years), I was an editor responsible for all the lifestyle, entertainment and celebrity coverage but I always wanted back into magazines. 

When I left the News, in 2003, I spent more than a year renovating our house and at the time went back to school, to Parsons to study interior design. Both my Mom and Grandmother had been designers. The house renovation really led to the Atticmag concept since it essentially pulled together everything I had ever done – art, food, publishing, design and especially kitchen design. 

I’m basically in my fourth career phase – I’m one of those people who becomes intensely interested in something, jumps right into the deep end and keeps going until I’ve digested it.  Then I’m ready to move on. But I for me, moving on also is adding on.

Crisp white cabinetry, dramatic tiles taken up to the ceiling, and hardwood floors add a modern country feel to Jane's country house kitchen

A plate rack and Ann Sacks Sur La Mer Tile (no longer made) in Jane's country house kitchen

An antique hutch in Jane's kitchen provides the perfect place to display colorful dishware.  The walls are painted Farrow and Ball's House White

As you know, Atticmag has been such a wonderful resource for me personally.  Could you tell me a little bit about how it came to fruition?

Atticmag is my creation. It began as a print magazine concept that I developed after leaving the New York Daily News. I had spent nearly a decade there, eventually becoming a Managing Editor where I spent a good amount of time redesigning the features (arts, lifestyle, celebrity) areas, both daily and Sunday.  But I always wanted to edit my own magazine again. I had spent a year as the acting editor at Cook’s (now Cook’s Illustrated) and really loved doing magazines. My original concept for Atticmag was Attic Magazine, which would be devoted to pop culture and collecting.

I developed a prototype for the magazine and took it to one of the major publishing houses here. The CEO there suggested starting it on the web since the start up costs otherwise would be prohibitive. That was shortly before the magazine industry started to implode. So, having no idea what I was doing, I began groping through the process of starting a website and Atticmag was born.

A charming screened door at Jane's Country House

I know that Atticmag isn't technically a blog, was there a reason why you chose not to design your site purely in a blog format?

Well, technically Atticmag is a blog – it operates like a blog but it has a magazine concept. Plus it’s a community blog because there are 3 of us who contribute.

The country house property boasts beautiful hydrangea bushes, perfect for creating impromptu floral arrangements

A ginger jar lamp coordinates perfectly with the Swedish blue and white color scheme Jane has created in her country house

The lamp sits atop this gorgeous glass topped verdigris table

Do you think that having three creative women working on Atticmag is an advantage?  Do you find that you are able to brainstorm about which areas of design to write about, and does it help to lessen the load when one of you gets busy and needs a break?

Having blogging partners is terrific. We’re both colleagues and friends, we consult with and talk and laugh a lot, albeit via email because we all live in different parts of the country. 

Since we each have our areas, we come up with our own ideas but we discuss them with each other if we have questions or want to talk something through.  Also, we will backread posts for one another before they are published – it’s hard to see your own typos, especially if something is long. 

We also sub in for each other.  We all have busy, active lives and responsibilities so it’s great to be able to back each other up.   

Wicker rocking chairs in a soft gray from Crate and Barrel provide the perfect spot to relax and read a book in the sunroom

By removing an old screened porch and doubling the size, Jane was able to create a dining area and extra space for overnight guests in the new sunroom

Do each of you have other jobs aside from the work that you do with Atticmag?

I was writing professionally for Shelterpop, the AOL Home home design website, but left recently because Atticmag is getting so large it needs my full attention.

A mix of imported European furnishings add instant history to Jane's country house.  
Most of my pieces in the living room came from the same dealer, Lani Sternerup, of Real Gustavian in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  Jane purchased the sofa at the Rhinebeck Antiques fair.

The lovely Swedish clock was another lucky find

By bumping out the wall, Jane was able to create cozy window seat and reading nook

Where do you find the wonderful content that you provide?  Do you have to contact designers or do people contact you to have their homes featured?

Content is everywhere. I like to go out and meet people, take pictures and find stories.  I get ideas from everywhere – magazines, designers, individuals, stores, the street, design stores, expos and the wholesale market.  If I see a kitchen I like I’ll save the photo but my interest always depends on the ideas I find.  I suppose there’s a lot of material out there because we have about 700 pages on our blog.   

18th Century Stockholm made Gustavian Armchair with original paint in Jane's Country House Living Room.

Soft pale blue walls, painted in Ellen Kennon's Seaglass, unify the TV room and living room and create a soothing color palette throughout Jane's country house.

Treasured collectibles sit atop a beautiful antique painted table

How would you define your own personal style?

I feel my style is edgy, urban and eclectic.  I like tension – something just a bit off.  I like monochromatic color schemes that flow.  I don’t like dark rooms or dark spaces or clutter but I do like super-ultra-modern. I could easily live in a loft with concrete walls, antique floors and one of those black glass kitchens.  

I have lived in a Victorian house.  When we bought our place in upstate New York and renovated, I actually aged the house to look as if it was old and had been renovated (it was built in 1991).  I don’t really own much new furniture except for upholstered pieces. I prefer antiques, reupholstered things and old rugs.  

I don’t care for studied rooms that look like someone’s life began the day they met their decorator.  But I totally admire professional rooms by designers like Jeffrey Bilhuber and Juan Montoya.  I know that’s as much of a contradiction as my buying a new rug this year from Odegard.  My life is contradictory in many ways, as is my temperament. I’ve come to accept those inconsistencies and hope they make me a more interesting and open person.  

Jane's NYC Apartment Kitchen 
NYC Kitchen

Jane's NYC Dining Room (still a work in progress)

Do you ever think that Atticmag will become a hard copy style magazine or do you plan to keep it as an online entity only?

Find me the publisher and we’ll talk about it!

I would like to thank Jane for taking the time to tell all of us a little bit more about Atticmag and herself, and for sending me all of the wonderful pictures of her NYC apartment and her gorgeous country home!

Be sure to pop over to her great blog, Atticmag , where you'll find plenty of design know how and inspiration!

*On a separate note, please keep the Divine Ms. M (the wonderful florist I've spoken of so often) in your thoughts.  She fell at her home on Monday morning and wasn't discovered until yesterday afternoon!  She is suffering from dehydration, and they are running many other tests to find out what caused her fall and why she was unable to get up or to a phone!  As you can imagine, we are all very worried about her, and I'm heading back to the hospital to find out more this morning!  So please send some healing thoughts her way, I would greatly appreciate it!*


  1. What a lovely interview! Jane has had such a fascinating career, it seems that all of her previous jobs were preparing her for Atticmag. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This up close and personal interview gave me a real peek at the woman and her craft behind the blog. Very interesting. You asked all the questions I would want to know!
    Kudos to you! Wonderful post!

  3. My kitchen is layed out like the 6th picture, love it and loved the interview, what a interesting lady!


  4. enjoyed your interview alot talent...thoughts and prayers for your friend.

  5. What a great interview and what an interesting life she has had with all her adventures. I don't think that you need to "do" one thing all your life, exploring all aspects of yourself, like Jane did, is so wonderful to see. Thank you for introducing her and Atticmag to us!

  6. Sending healing thoughts and prayers for your dear Ms. M. I must go over and check out Atticmag! I really enjoyed learning about Jane and getting a look at all her interiors. Why is it I've never come across a Mora clock? I love them!! ~Lili

  7. It is always nice to learn more about the people behind the blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.


  8. Kat, great informative post. I love her country home. I could just move in. She is one busy lady.

  9. I'll say a prayer for Mrs. M and hope that she recovers quickly and completely. Thanks for the wonderful post on this amazing venture. I'm so excited to go to the blog and see what I can learn! Enjoy your day! ♥

  10. Atticmag is something I'll save for a time when I can really get into the site. It looks like a wonderful resource - and I do have that guest room to complete before the Danish invasion at the end of August!

  11. I really enjoyed this interview and look forward to the others. They really do have a wonderful online blog magazine, and personalities to boot! You were dead on with that one! Such kind ladies! So neat to hear the whole story behind the creation of Atticmag! Both of her homes are absolutely beautiful!

  12. Very informative interview. Thank you for sharing it with us. I will definitely hold good thoughts for Ms. M.

  13. Loved the interview. Glad you introduced us to this site! Beautiful properties too get ideas from.

  14. Loved this post! I have followed Attic Mag for a while and love Jane's style. It was so nice to get to know more about her. A truly talented lady!

  15. Wow Kat, you do expand my horizons! What an interesting article (and I'm with Jane on Odegard rugs, I've been lusting for 'Simdu' for years).

    Heading over to Atticmag right now...

    (Holding Ms M.)

  16. Great post! Thanks for teaching us more about Atticmag!!

    Eddie & Jaithan

  17. Kat, great interview and I especially like her country home. olive♥

  18. Thanks for sharing this great site and interview, Kat! I'm now a subscriber!

  19. Such an interesting post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I am also happy to have found your blog. The name brought me over. ;)


  20. I'm so sorry to hear about Ms M and hope she is feeling better today.

    Lovely post. Jane is wonderful to work with.


  21. Kat, what wonderful pictures!! I love the first kitchen picture-just gorgeous!!

  22. I've "known" Jane from being online with her for about 6 years now. She helped me a lot when I first moved into my home and is great with window treatments!! Some of her home pictures were new for me and it's exciting to see more of her beautiful spaces. Allison and Jane T are lovely as well---I look forward to reading their interviews too!


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