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10 Minutes with Rose Praino: Touching up (and custom-fitting) NYC apartments until they're move-in ready

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For eight years, Rose Praino and her husband, Frank, have run Your Decor NYC, a handyman/design/contractor service that does bite-sized jobs for New York City apartment dwellers.  No job is too small, but some are too big. 

The Prainos met as real estate agents at Prudential Douglas Elliman, and they work throughout Manhattan and Riverdale.

We spoke with Rose to get the inside scoop.

How did you get into your business?

Frank worked for Glenwood Management. He noted that people moved in and wanted painting, curtain hanging, flat screen tv mounting, and such. Glenwood turns the apartments over in perfect condition, but the guys on the payroll were not meant to spend a couple of hours hanging artwork for a new tenant.

As soon as they signed the lease, the husband and wife would look at each other and say, "Oh my gosh, what do we do now?" 

What are your most common projects?

Interior painting is at the top of the list. We also hang artwork, shelves, mirrors and different decorative items. We hang everything from museum-quality pictures to things people grab from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

For window treatments, hardware needs to be hung in improvised ways. The windows are never what they look like in Pottery Barn catalogs. A lot of times the window isn't symmetrical.

We do simple light fixtures and towel racks, if they are not going into the tile. Regrouting is big. Recaulking around the bathtub and sink makes a huge difference. No matter how much you bleach it, it always looks dingy.

What don't you do?

We don't do gut renovations of kitchens or bathrooms. We don't do California-type closets. We know our limits.

What was one of your most unique projects?

We turned a corner into a guest sleeping area. We came up with the idea of having a daybed in an otherwise useless corner. We hung a rod with floor-to-ceiling drapes so it could be completely closed off.

The dining room is near the bed, so as people finish eating they go and sit on the daybed. More people gravitate to this unique corner daybed than to the custom-made sofa.

What is the difference between working in a rental vs. working in a co-op or condo?

In a rental, we have to come in and work swiftly. We are on a timer. As soon as that lease is signed, people want to move in. We have to really organize ourselves. Anything that needs to be done before the furniture comes needs to be done efficiently.

In rentals, the changes are very superficial, whereas when people purchase they are able to customize the home. They are going to be there for a while. We are able to take a little more time.

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