I often get asked to describe my "style." I usually reply that I don't have one specific look in the furnishings I sell or the interiors I design. That said, if you come by my furniture studio or see a space I have designed you'll definitely see similarities. You will see a style that is eclectic—old and new, sharp lines mixed with curves, metal and wood, a bright red baroque mirror frame in a room of sleek black and white photographs. It is often about juxtaposition for me. I like many styles—from ornate antiques to mid-century modern classics—it depends on how they come together. I rarely like a room that sticks rigidly to one style or period—too many modernist pieces together end up looking severe and cold, too many refined antiques in a room can look formal and humorless. But, mix a few together as accents in a room and it can really work. Tying it all together is the trick.
In my furniture studio I tend to focus on accent pieces that can give an interior an instant injection of style. The tag line of my website is: "Home Décor Reinvented." I like to "reinvent" pieces, making them hip, chic, funky, fun, cool... it depends on what I start with. In the furniture I do, I search for old or discarded pieces that have potential but need some reworking to really shine. I find my "raw material" in all sorts of places—in dumpsters and on the curb, in thrift stores, flea markets, on Craigslist.org, or a friend calls me with something they think I might be able to use.
Sometimes I find a hidden treasure that just needs some TLC. For example, a burl wood console table I recently sold (right) was something a friend saw being thrown away in his apartment's basement. He called to ask if I might have a use for it. I went to take a look and thought it had nice lines underneath its badly scratched and blemished finish. I took it to my studio, thinking that I could sand it down and perhaps try a "Shabby Chic" style distressed finish in a pale green. The curved front draws and legs, as well as the scalloped top suggested an approach that honored the table's graceful lines and period style. While I love furniture that is fun and funky, this was not a piece that would make sense in a "wild" color or a whimsical approach. Still, the table's shape could be ideal when juxtaposed with modern pieces. It fit my eclectic aesthetic.
I bought my paint and started sanding. The top of the piece had layers and layers of old varnish with scratches that looked like they had been made by an angry 9-year old with a large knife. I thought if I could sand the scratches down a little they would work with a distressed finish. To my surprise, as I sanded (and sanded, and sanded) under all those layers of varnish was a beautiful burl wood veneer that I hadn't seen a hint of at first. Too bad, I thought, that it can't be saved. Or can it? I realized that with a deep and even sanding the scratches were actually disappearing (with a few minor exceptions) and the beautiful wood underneath was revealed. The idea of painting this table started to look like a big mistake. I had to at least see if the table could be refinished. With a dark stain to bring out the wood grain and a coat of poly, it was a little miracle. Even though the result was far more traditional than my typical pieces, it was a beautiful gem in its own right. I worked with the piece I had and let it evolve in a way that made sense for the piece. I sold the table in one day—I kind of hated not to have it around a bit longer.
Unlike the traditional burl wood console, my red side chest was truly a "reinvention" and I think was probably the best example of my signature style—fun and funky, but also chic and sophisticated (pic). I created the chest in February and I've loved using it a variety of marketing photos for my ads and website. I sold it last month and I'm sad to see it go—it was my favorite piece (at least I know it has a good home).
I found the "raw material" on a sidewalk in the West Village one early morning last year. To be frank, it was no beauty at the time. The beat up chest I first saw was clearly "old," but calling it an antique was a stretch. It had no legs (strangely, it was on wheels), was sort of unfinished, was missing pulls, and the wood was not of high quality. Still, I was drawn to the scalloped back piece with the carved details, so I decided why not lug it home and see... Well, many months later I decided to see what I could do with it. I decided that the elaborate back piece would be the inspiration—if you can't hide it, feature it. Why not make the chest a whimsical fantasy in red lacquer? Over the course of about two weeks I let the fantasy evolve—I added ball feet to the back of the chest and antique carved ones to the front (found in a dumpster), appliqué in a variety of "Asian" looks to the drawers, antique crystal pulls mixed with green ones I had bought at a local hardware store, and a mirror to the cabinet door. With a few adjustments and lots and lots of red paint, and voila! Not everyone's thing, but to my eye... perfection!