Following the 1980’s advertising slogan “Never let them see you sweat”, interior designers work to make their projects look effortless; however, much effort goes on behind the scenes in advance of the ‘big reveal’. (We keep band-aids on hand in case of blood, there is always sweat, and sometimes even tears!)
To stylishly furnish a magnificent living room in a 25’ wide townhouse built in 1867 for the first Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse we found great enthusiasm and incredible assistance from a number of the New York City art and antique dealers we love and admire – all of whom are on 1stdibs: Berry Campbell, Maison Gerard, Apparatus, Bernd Goeckler, Hostler-Burrows, Karl Kemp, Pascal Boyer, Newel and Dmitriy & Co.
At the entry to the room, we paired a fantastic 1947 table by the legendary French designer Maxine Old, and a spunky but classical stool from Bernd Goeckler, with a vintage Vladimir Kagan sofa from Pascal Boyer, upholstered in a brown velvet. The large geometric 1967 Larry Zox painting over the original fireplace “Cordova Diamond Drill” is from Berry Campbell.
Our friends and showhouse sponsor Farrow & Ball proved their remarkable paint as well their remarkable handmade wallpaper. To create a soft and sophisticated background we used a subtle strie wallpaper ‘Drag – 1212’ on all of the walls; but what prompted many comments and smiles was the glimmering gold on white ‘Bumble Bee -516’ wallpaper we used on the ceiling.
My personal favorite painting in the room is by Judith Godwin entitled ‘Black Cross’, 1959. The fantastic circa 1960 Jules Leleu modernist table desk, is paired with a pair of circa 1950 Jacques Adnet leather-wrapped chairs and a Marino di Teana sculpture from Maison Gerard.
I started the design of this room, as I do with many projects, with the floor covering. Nazmiyal had an antique Persian Khorassan carpet with a mellow balanced field and border. And as if it were made for the room, the rug’s perfect dimensions serendipitously allowed me to keep the gloriously intact Greek key inlaid wood border exposed all around the room.
Many of us have gotten too used to shopping online; the backlit screen it is still no substitute for seeing the items in person. Working directly with the ever-generous and relentlessly enthusiastic Benoist F. Drut, owner of Maison Gerard, is always a trip full of surprises! Senior designer Craig Strulovitz and I spent a few hours in the magical and wondrous Maison Gerard warehouse in Brooklyn (I describe the experience as the closest I will ever get to being INSIDE Benoist’s peripatetic brain!) I will remember this mind-altering design shopping adventure for many years to come!
The surprisingly fresh and lyrical 1958 Walter Darby Bannard painting “The Till” stands up to the strong 19th century architectural details of the room inspiring the furnishings in this seating area including the 1930’s Bjorn Thagard armchairs from Hostler Burrows and the classically inspired T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings nesting tables from Karl Kemp Antiques.
Only a few items in the room are contemporary, however, they seem to belie their newness by gracefully integrating with all of the vintage items. Dmitriy & Co is known for their refined bench-made upholstery: here we used the Milano sofa in an understated grey-blue boucle. The bold-scaled yet understated wall sconces from APPARATUS have a vintage appeal yet integrate LED technology.
Hanging above the tableaux, the 1998 Dan Christiansen painting “Dolby” from Berry Campbell brings an eclipse-like element with a magenta glow into the room, inspiring us to use the coordinating “Tango Linen – Barolo” from showhouse sponsor S. Harris for the proverbial splash of coordinating color.
Every room needs at least some storage, but given the scale of the room we looked for and found a truly distinctive (and much talked about) English Arts & Crafts Armoire from Newel, adorned with a couple of ceramic sculptures from Hostler-Burrows, and accompanied by 1950’s works on paper by Walter Darby Bannard from Berry Campbell.
One important note on choosing art: having a great working relationship with Berry Campbell Gallery before the showhouse process made working together a fun and seamless experience. We were familiar with their program and were thrilled to curate a comprehensive installation from their extensive inventory with price being of very little consideration in our selections. Due to the grand scale of the room, we needed very large works to make the statement we envisioned, selecting a superb collection of historically and aesthetically diverse works to create a rich collection worthy of extended viewing.
When I was awarded the largest and most ambitious room at the very first Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse sponsored by NYC&G, to benefit the Brooklyn Heights Association I looked to my colleagues at 1stdibs to be my partner – it turned out to be a brilliant idea!