New Digs

Morning in August. Around 8:30. Grey day. Windy. But warm. Dark water. Empty beach. Beige chinos. Blue tee. Brown cardigan. Barefoot. Cup of coffee. Black. A little hungover. But on good stuff. Something dark. Or gin. Scruffy. Messy hair. Deck is still warm. Salt on my lips. Crashing waves. No horizon. No plans. Free.

This was the inspiration I pulled together when asked to describe a favorite memory in attempt to find a matching fragrance. (It’s Costarela by Carner Barcelona, FYI.)  It’s also the inspiration to my wardrobe, my choice of alcohol, and most recently, my photography. My apartment was going to be no different.

March 2017.

March 2017.

March 2017.

March 2017.

March 2017.

March 2017.

Working in interiors for the last few years has given me a world of insight (and quite the opinion) into how to see space. I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing designers and stylists from all different backgrounds and having stepped inside hundreds of homes and counting, I’ve certainly developed my own style.

This is a reflection of my tastes and travels and I wanted it to feel approachable, masculine, and collected. I call it Modern Day Hemingway though I can’t take credit for the name. (Still waiting for him to respond to my email about handing over rights…) Curated there are lots of moody, sea-themed imagery from fashion to interior design to travel. It’s become a huge source of inspiration.

August 2017.

August 2017.

August 2017.

August 2017.

August 2017.

August 2017.

But mostly, this is a tangible appreciation for my love of the sea. Everything from the palette, mood, textures, smells. I wanted to be able to envision all these items in a future beach house on the coast of Rhode Island someday. I at least tried to imagine there was an ocean in view out the windows instead of a brick wall when shooting. I sourced earth tones and utilized plenty of natural elements. I have some chotchkis from my trip to Havana and a wooden cat figurine from my tour of Hemingway’s house in Key West. And yes, there’s a copy of The Old Man and the Sea somewhere in my book collection.

I wanted the tone of the space to match my clothing style: lazy day basics. Nothing too bold or attention grabbing — less the orange sofa — and something functional and comfortable. I wanted it to look good dressed up and even better dressed down. It’s monochromatic and minimalist with an infatuation for craft and detail. There’s a wonderful Hardy Amies quote that reads, “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” I wanted the same feeling in my home.

I always have music playing but similarly to the feel of the space, I wanted the look to inspire a certain sound. When not listening to the distant Latin pulse of Washington Heights echoing throughout my building, you can hear anything from FKJ to Nicola Cruz, Azat to Isaac HayesChet Faker on a rainy day, and almost always the soundtrack to Chef. Or just refer to this playlist.

My favorite aspect is the transition from day to night. In the morning, it’s bright and inspires coffee while thumbing through the latest Dwell or a favored photo book with The Martini’s ”Hungover” playing in the background. At night, the lighting is low and sexy and demands a refill on a glass of wine, with something like ”Con Tu Nombre” by Raquel Sofia on.  A cool and grey beach day to a hot and humid Havana night. 

Without sounding like a hoarder, most pieces have a story and if asked to downsize, I’d reluctantly let things go without first giving you their history. Like the trunk in the bedroom, for example. I can’t rid of the musty smell for the life of me but a friend and I stumbled upon it near Washington Square Park and I had to have it. The driftwood with miscellaneous beach finds is a little craft Mrs. “B” made for me one summer when visiting Prudence Island. The secretary’s task lamp on the media console was a contribution by my mom from the Chesterfield Inn in NH. And the sofa, a rare find on AptDeco, was the exact burnt sienna I was looking for. And at 85”, it was a perfect fit for my weirdly long and outstretched body. Except that it wasn’t — it didn’t make it through the front door. I was then advised to call the Couch Doctor (yes, that’s a thing). They answer your call like a 9-1-1 dispatcher: “Couch Doctor, is this a couch emergency?” So happens if it’s stuck in an elevator, that constitutes a couch emergency. Regardless, the sofa slept in the hallway that night and the next morning, two guys pulled it apart and reassembled it in my sitting room in about 45 minutes. It’s here to stay.

But most importantly, when I shut the front door to the buzz of New York, drop my bag on the chair and fall onto the sofa, I want to be transported. I’ve never lived alone: I shared a room with my brother growing up; a two-by-two-foot bus seat with Ellen for summers touring the country in drum corps; what felt like a constantly open dorm room in college; and a revolving door of roommates in all my apartments in New York. Designing this space was entirely for me. 

While I wish my ficus was a bit taller for the photo shoot and I had more than Cocoa Puffs to style the kitchen with, if there’s anything I’ve learned about photographing interiors, it’s that they’re never going to be perfect — and it’s no different when designing them. 

I’ll close with some beautiful words from Oliver Gustav in an interview in The New York Times Style Magazine, Design Edition back in March:

“‘I have a love affair with things,’ says Gustav, who regularly visits auction houses in Germany and flea markets in France and Denmark, filling his stores with his finds. The trouble is parting with them: ‘I only buy those things that I want for myself.’ Often, he is so attached to a piece that he can’t bring himself to part with it, to the point where people started joking that nothing in his Copenhagen store was for sale. He laughs at this, but also notes that he doesn’t have a need for money. ‘I just want a beautiful life.’”



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