Proof That Cork Can Be a Beautiful and Practical Design Practice

Proof That Cork Can Be a Beautiful and Practical Design Practice

We round up 8 examples from the pages of AD to provide you inspiration for your home’s next project

Cork has taken a few stops on its winding journey to showstopping interior design element: From the wine industry as bottle-stoppers (its most common and most lucrative use), then to badminton shuttlecocks and bulletin boards, next to a purely functional use in architecture as sub-flooring and insulation, and finally the walls, ceilings and floors in the homes featured in AD. The woody material’s pragmatic use in architecture is well deserved because of its elastic, cellular structure, its thermal-regulating and soundproofing qualities, and its natural resistance to fire, but it’s the cork’s natural warm hue and subtly dappled texture that are the secret to its modern design success. The versatile material can be dyed or painted (and still maintain its speckled look), it can be applied to walls and ceilings, and its inherent durability make it a prime choice for floors. Here, AD explores the varied uses of cork in spaces like one of Seth Meyers’s dressing rooms, a summer house designed by Thom Filicia, and the modernist home of GQ‘s Fred Woodward.

Designed by Ashe + Leandro, a dressing room backstage at Late Night: Seth Meyers features the warm, natural texture of a cork wall covering by Wolf-Gordon. The space, which also boasts an overhead cork pendant light made by Benjamin Hubert, is livened up with a bright-red sofa, colorful artwork, and a lime green floral arrangement.
Photo: Joshua McHugh

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Designed by Ashe + Leandro, a dressing room backstage at Late Night: Seth Meyers features the warm, natural texture of a cork wall covering by Wolf-Gordon. The space, which also boasts an overhead cork pendant light made by Benjamin Hubert, is livened up with a bright-red sofa, colorful artwork, and a lime green floral arrangement.
The striking black cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances are balanced with the softer, more natural tones of cork flooring by DuroDesign in this Hudson Valley home. Known as Obercreek Farm, the countryside residence has been in the family of financier Alex Reese for six generations and was renovated by his wife, architect Alison Spear.
Photo: Joshua McHugh

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The striking black cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances are balanced with the softer, more natural tones of cork flooring by DuroDesign in this Hudson Valley home. Known as Obercreek Farm, the countryside residence has been in the family of financier Alex Reese for six generations and was renovated by his wife, architect Alison Spear.
The cork-lined walls of this bathroom bring the surrounding landscape inside at a summer retreat on New York's Upper Saranac Lake. The woody wall covering was selected by designer Thom Filicia, who designed the home, known as Big Rock, with an aesthetic that combines classic Adirondack style with modern updates.
Photo: Pieter Estersohn

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The cork-lined walls of this bathroom bring the surrounding landscape inside at a summer retreat on New York’s Upper Saranac Lake. The woody wall covering was selected by designer Thom Filicia, who designed the home, known as Big Rock, with an aesthetic that combines classic Adirondack style with modern updates.
Renovated by Knight Architecture and designed by Miles Redd, a Connecticut home features this stunning playroom, whose walls and ceiling are lined with speckled sheets of cork. Complementing the statement walls are light, neutral furnishings, including an orblike paper lamp suspended above the beams, a white Saarinen Tulip table by Knoll, and sand-colored upholstery.
Photo: Miguel Flores-Vianna

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Renovated by Knight Architecture and designed by Miles Redd, a Connecticut home features this stunning playroom, whose walls and ceiling are lined with speckled sheets of cork. Complementing the statement walls are light, neutral furnishings, including an orblike paper lamp suspended above the beams, a white Saarinen Tulip table by Knoll, and sand-colored upholstery.
Designer Arthur Dunnam designed this postwar Manhattan apartment for himself and his partner, Roy Cohen, with cork floors throughout. The neutral flooring is subtle enough to act as a blank canvas for the couple's furniture collection, including a 1940s bench by Bernd Goeckler. Also shown here is a workspace, hidden by mirrored doors that reflect the warm-toned flooring.
Photo: Nick Johnson

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Designer Arthur Dunnam designed this postwar Manhattan apartment for himself and his partner, Roy Cohen, with cork floors throughout. The neutral flooring is subtle enough to act as a blank canvas for the couple’s furniture collection, including a 1940s bench by Bernd Goeckler. Also shown here is a workspace, hidden by mirrored doors that reflect the warm-toned flooring.
This master bath in a villa in Sichuan Province, China, features a clean, linear design accented with the subtle texture of white-painted cork walls. Designed by Taiwanese architect Wang Ta-Chun, the room is anchored by the rich tones of rosewood flooring and echoes the polished, minimalist aesthetic found throughout the rest of the home.
Photo: Marc Gerritsen

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This master bath in a villa in Sichuan Province, China, features a clean, linear design accented with the subtle texture of white-painted cork walls. Designed by Taiwanese architect Wang Ta-Chun, the room is anchored by the rich tones of rosewood flooring and echoes the polished, minimalist aesthetic found throughout the rest of the home.
A sheet of cork, which could easily double as a bulletin board, lines the desk-nook wall in the bedroom of an upstate New York glass house built in 1957 by architect Roy O. Allen. Owned by GQ design director Fred Woodward and his wife, Janice, the residence was renovated with a minimalist yet warm style by architect Sebastian Quinn and designer Brad Dunning.
Photo: Francois Dischinger

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A sheet of cork, which could easily double as a bulletin board, lines the desk-nook wall in the bedroom of an upstate New York glass house built in 1957 by architect Roy O. Allen. Owned by GQ design director Fred Woodward and his wife, Janice, the residence was renovated with a minimalist yet warm style by architect Sebastian Quinn and designer Brad Dunning.
The guest room of a Brooklyn residence designed by Nick Olsen is covered in sheets of cork, whose tonal texture provide a backdrop for the space's many eclectic patterns and decorations. A pink-and-green piece by artist Paul Hartigan pops against the neutral walls, while the cheetah-print bed covering blends in while still making a statement.
Photo: Pieter Estersohn

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The guest room of a Brooklyn residence designed by Nick Olsen is covered in sheets of cork, whose tonal texture provide a backdrop for the space’s many eclectic patterns and decorations. A pink-and-green piece by artist Paul Hartigan pops against the neutral walls, while the cheetah-print bed covering blends in while still making a statement.

7 Smart Home Products You Need in 2017

7 Smart Home Products You Need in 2017

Order groceries, keep an eye on your pets, and get a better night’s sleep with these innovative home devices from Amazon, Google, and more

With the popularity of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home on the rise comes an influx of other products designed to make your home a little smarter. Whether you want some extra help in the kitchen or a way to monitor your pets when you aren’t home, there is a smart home product for all of your needs. From a refrigerator equipped with a touchscreen for looking up recipes to a sleep machine that analyzes your bedroom to create a “sound blanket,” these seven devices will take your home to the next level in 2017.

With features like two-way talk and one-way video, smart visitor detection, and notifications right to your phone, Vivint’s doorbell camera makes knowing who's at your front door easy, whether you’re upstairs or out of town. Monthly plans start at $40. vivint.com
Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

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With features like two-way talk and one-way video, smart visitor detection, and notifications right to your phone, Vivint’s doorbell camera makes knowing who’s at your front door easy, whether you’re upstairs or out of town. Monthly plans start at $40. vivint.com
Master the sous vide method with the Anova Precision Cooker. Easily attachable to any pot, the device allows for flavorful, expertly cooked meals every time by using temperature control. Download Anova’s app for tips and hundreds of recipes for every skill level; $149. anovaculinary.com
Photo: Courtesy of Anova

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Master the sous vide method with the Anova Precision Cooker. Easily attachable to any pot, the device allows for flavorful, expertly cooked meals every time by using temperature control. Download Anova’s app for tips and hundreds of recipes for every skill level; $149. anovaculinary.com
Designed for light sleepers, Nightingale works with the acoustics of your room and your existing sleeping conditions (like snoring) to diffuse sound and create white noise for better slumber. Available in February; preorder for $249. meetnightingale.com
Photo: Courtesy of Nightingale

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Designed for light sleepers, Nightingale works with the acoustics of your room and your existing sleeping conditions (like snoring) to diffuse sound and create white noise for better slumber. Available in February; preorder for $249. meetnightingale.com
Attach GeniCan to your trash bin and as you throw food items away, it automatically scans their barcodes to keep track of what you need to buy on your next trip to the grocery store. Or you can have your food delivered from Amazon right to your doorstep. Available in early 2017; preorder for $125. genican.com
Photo: Courtesy of GeniCan

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Attach GeniCan to your trash bin and as you throw food items away, it automatically scans their barcodes to keep track of what you need to buy on your next trip to the grocery store. Or you can have your food delivered from Amazon right to your doorstep. Available in early 2017; preorder for $125. genican.com
Ecobee3 is a smart thermostat that uses room sensors to adjust the heat throughout your home, helping you save an average of 23 percent on your heating and cooling costs; $249. ecobee.com
Photo: Courtesy of Ecobee

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Ecobee3 is a smart thermostat that uses room sensors to adjust the heat throughout your home, helping you save an average of 23 percent on your heating and cooling costs; $249. ecobee.com
Never worry about whether your kitty needs food or water again with Catspad. The small pet pod is synced to an app that allows you to feed your furry friend from your phone, monitor how much she's eating and drinking, and receive alerts when supplies are running low. Available in February; preorder for $234. catspad.com
Photo: Courtesy of Catspad

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Never worry about whether your kitty needs food or water again with Catspad. The small pet pod is synced to an app that allows you to feed your furry friend from your phone, monitor how much she’s eating and drinking, and receive alerts when supplies are running low. Available in February; preorder for $234. catspad.com
Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator has a large touchscreen, allowing household members to read each other’s schedules, leave notes, order groceries, and even watch television; from $5,600. samsung.com
Photo: Courtesy of Samsung

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Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator has a large touchscreen, allowing household members to read each other’s schedules, leave notes, order groceries, and even watch television; from $5,600. samsung.com

How the Met Museum Influenced This Classic Fifth Avenue Apartment

How the Met Museum Influenced This Classic Fifth Avenue Apartment

Though designer Marshall Watson was delighted with his new project’s location—in a pedigreed building with direct views of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Beaux Arts façade and into its galleries of classical antiquities—the space, as he found it, was far from problem-free. It had a palatial “head” (entry hall and double parlor), but the body, toward the natural light–deficient back, was disproportionately restrained, thanks to a subdivision some years prior.

“No surprise: our major inspiration lay just across the street,” says Marshall, whose new book, The Art of Elegance: Classic Interiors (Rizzoli New York, $55), will be released on March 14. “Since the apartment looked directly into into the museum’s Greek and Roman galleries, we decided that the residence would be a de facto extension of them.” So Marshall, a designer renowned for his meticulously researched interiors, set to work with the owners’ architect, reapportioning oversize public rooms, creating new spaces: a half bath, a prelude to the master suite, a library, and passages connecting each. With an eye toward getting the best use of natural light, the parlor, library, and bedroom were all positioned along Fifth Avenue, while the formal dining room, occupied almost exclusively at night, was set on the dim inner court.

“I was gratified to see that the couple’s very contemporary art collection sat naturally and comfortably within a classical setting,” Marshall says. “Rather than being at odds with one another, art, architecture, and décor are all mutually enriching.”

Windsor, Florida, Is the Exclusive Seaside Enclave

Windsor, Florida, Is the Exclusive Seaside Enclave You Probably Don’t Know About—But Should

From a full-service equestrian center to an 18-hole golf course with no tee times, this is the ultimate luxury community

Sitting on 425 acres of verdant land in Vero Beach, Florida, is the luxury residential community of Windsor. It was founded in 1989 by Canadian businessman W. Galen Weston and his philanthropist wife, Hilary Weston, the former lieutenant governor of Ontario. The Westons had been searching for a more permanent warm-weather home for themselves and their children after renting a retreat in the Bahamas. At the recommendation of Mr. Weston’s father, they chose Florida, and Vero Beach was the perfect locale for their dream seaside village. After building a couple of homes and a private polo field (Mr. Weston is an avid fan of the sport) for themselves, they enlisted Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk to design Windsor in the New Urbanism style of living, making it a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a focus on community and public spaces.

Windsor comprise 350 palatial homes—Anglo-Caribbean residences designed by power hitters such as AD100 firm Jacobsen Architecture and Merrill, Pastor & Colgan Architects. Meanwhile, residents include the likes of the Swarovskis, tennis player Ivan Lendl, businessman Pete Peterson, and of course the Westons. As you cruise around on a golf cart or bike your way through palm tree–lined streets, the vibe is Charleston meets Bermuda meets the Bahamas—it’s pristine, it’s manicured, it’s downright beautiful. Aside from an upcoming 2,000-square-foot wine cellar and tasting room, we take a look at all of the details that have us wanting to live in this exclusive community.

For the avid golfer, in addition to an 18-hole links-style course designed by Robert Trent Jones, there is also a 400-yard driving range and 6,000-square-foot putting green onsite.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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For the avid golfer, in addition to an 18-hole links-style course designed by Robert Trent Jones, there is also a 400-yard driving range and 6,000-square-foot putting green on-site.
Not only are the eight tennis courts designed by Wimbledon champion and fashion sneaker icon Stan Smith, they are also lined with walls of fragrant jasmine that act as an amazing backdrop in the warmer months.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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Not only are the eight tennis courts designed by Wimbledon champion and fashion sneaker icon Stan Smith, they are also lined with walls of fragrant jasmine that act as an amazing backdrop in the warmer months.
Lovers of all things equine will feel right at home at the Equestrian Centre, which features 18 stables, 14 paddocks, a 400-yard polo field, several rings for jumping, dressage, and lunging, and offers everything from riding lessons to full-service boarding.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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Lovers of all things equine will feel right at home at the Equestrian Centre, which features 18 stables, 14 paddocks, a 400-yard polo field, and several rings for jumping, dressage, and lunging, and offers everything from riding lessons to full-service boarding.
If somehow all of the aforementioned sporting activities are not to your liking, a fitness center brimming with state-of-the-art equipment; yoga, pilates, and strength-building classes on offer; and beautiful vistas of the equestrian center will surely hit the right chords. There’s also a combined 10.5 miles of scenic trails throughout the community that can be used for walking, cycling, and horseback riding for those who prefer to exercise with some fresh air.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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If somehow all of the aforementioned sporting activities are not to your liking, a fitness center brimming with state-of-the-art equipment; yoga, pilates, and strength-building classes on offer; and beautiful vistas of the equestrian center will surely hit the right chords. There’s also a combined 10.5 miles of scenic trails throughout the community that can be used for walking, cycling, or horseback riding.
Every year The Gallery at Windsor holds at least one exhibition from notable artists or photographers such as Ed Ruscha, Alex Katz, and Bruce Weber. This year, the work of British painter and President of the Royal Academy of Arts Christopher Le Brun will be showcased from February 27 until April 27, featuring 16 works in total, including *Hereby*, 2016, pictured above.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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Every year the Gallery at Windsor holds at least one exhibition from notable artists or photographers such as Ed Ruscha, Alex Katz, and Bruce Weber. This year, the work of British painter and president of the Royal Academy of Arts Christopher Le Brun will be showcased from February 27 until April 27, featuring 16 works in total, including Hereby, 2016 (shown).
The patio of the Clubhouse acts as the perfect lunch spot, serving up bistro cuisine while overlooking the golf course.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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The patio of the Clubhouse acts as the perfect lunch spot, serving up bistro cuisine while overlooking the golf course.
The Beach Club’s restaurant overlooks an inviting 25-meter pool that is only steps away from soft, golden sand.
Photo: Jessica Klewicki Glynn / Courtesy of Windsor

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The Beach Club’s restaurant overlooks an inviting 25-meter pool that is only steps away from soft, golden sand.
From a pop-up dinner by Le Cirque to multi-course tastings paired with rare LVMH wines and champagnes, these special occasions give an excuse for Windsor’s homeowners to return often.
Photo: Jessica Klewicki Glynn / Courtesy of Windsor

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From a pop-up dinner by Le Cirque to multicourse tastings paired with rare LVMH wines and Champagnes, these special occasions give an excuse for Windsor’s homeowners to return often.
And while we all love and adore our guests, sometimes it’s nice to have them staying outside of the house. Seven accommodations at the Village Suites as well as seven suites at the Weston Guest House are available for such scenarios, and the concierge service at Windsor can take care of all of it for you.
Photo: Courtesy of Windsor

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And while we all love our guests, sometimes it’s nice for them to have their own space. Seven accommodations at the Village Suites as well as seven suites at the Weston Guest House are available for visitors, and the concierge service at Windsor can take care of it all for you.

Luxury Panic Rooms and VIP Evacuation Services Are in High Demand Celebrities and the super-wealthy are turning to stealth safe rooms and SWAT-like security teams

Luxury Panic Rooms and VIP Evacuation Services Are in High Demand

Celebrities and the super-wealthy are turning to stealth safe rooms and SWAT-like security teams

Protecting the rich and famous is a serious business. That’s why many prominent celebrities, athletes, and business tycoons are taking control of their safety and installing safe rooms, often referred to as “panic rooms,” in their homes. “It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity,” say Darren Sukenik, luxury sales broker with Douglas Elliman in New York, “for anyone with significant means or significant staff, or a coterie of people coming in and out of the house.”

A panic room is most successful based on its ability to camouflage itself: An extra bedroom, unused maid’s quarters, or a few closets that are strategically eliminated from the floor plan provide the most clandestine locations, hidden behind fake bookshelves or doors. Entry requires a passcode or combination, and, in some situations, thumbprints. Common requests include everything from generators and infrared surveillance systems to sleeping quarters and an escape tunnel. Many come equipped with Kevlar lining and autonomous air-filtration systems.

Sukenik says that in the luxury home sales market, a property with a safe room is even more desirable to prominent buyers, particularly if it’s able to serve double duty.

luxury study interior and decoration

A home office that doubles as a safe room.

Photo: Courtesy of Covert Interiors

“A lot of women use it as a dressing room. It truly is your own bank vault in your house. People could also use it as a wine cellar, because they’re climate controlled. They could use it for cigars, jewelry, papers,” Sukenik says. “It could be a room that’s actually used, but completely fire rated or flood protected—and locked off.”

“Mostly what we do is more of a useful space than a secluded room,” says Chris Cosban, owner of Covert Interiors in New York and the Hamptons. “It could be a home office, or a pantry in a kitchen that we make look like a bookcase, that also acts as a vault room in case of an intruder or an attacker.”

The Hamptons are a specifically popular venue for safe rooms, especially since people don’t have doormen as a protective barrier as they would in the city. But of course it also provides prime bragging rights.

“People in the Hamptons, a lot of it is for people to say, ‘I have a panic room.’ They have indoor pools, a bowling alley, a bar, and they need something else,” says Cosban. “It’s a conversation piece.”

Of course, if you’re looking to install a safe room into your existing property, it’ll cost you: Sukenik estimates that for a hidden space that requires cordoning off a room, it can cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Many prominent actors, politicians, and financial bigwigs have gone a step further in their mission to protect themselves and their families. Advanced Personal Protective Security Specialists, or APPSS, are an extreme level of experts equipped to protect you from everything from burglaries and terrorist attacks to kidnappings for ransom. But these highly trained professionals are hardly your average security workers. According to Courtney Sojka, president of Ballistic Security Enterprises, the training process is comparable to a mix of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Secret Service.

“It’s extensive and exhaustive, and they’re training you to provide service in the most hostile climates overseas,” says Sojka. “We’re highly trained tacticians.”

The rich and famous might not be as safe as they think, says Sojka, who adds that high-net-worth individuals may have fifty people watching out for their financial portfolio but lackluster security protecting them personally. “Taylor Swift’s place was infiltrated by a guy in a wetsuit,” says Sojka.

“If you were my VIP, and let’s say you were the inventor of some sort of new military technology that can erase a population at the stroke of a wand, and you go out to dinner with your family and people catch wind of that, and they don’t like you for what you do, they start protesting out in front of the restaurant,” says Sojka. “If they can reach out and touch you, they can kill you.”

Though having the opportunity to call 911 is important, having the ability to protect oneself proactively will save your life.

“Police are a reactionary element,” says Sojka. “That’s why you employ people especially to protect you—so you can relax and enjoy life.”

Kitchen Pantry Ideas for a Seriously Stylish—and Organized—Space

Kitchen Pantry Ideas for a Seriously Stylish—and Organized—Space

The key to a spotless kitchen is a well-organized pantry. These two spaces make a perfect team, with the kitchen doing the heavy lifting in terms of prep and the pantry providing plenty of room to stash tools, ingredients, and serving pieces. While storage is the centerpiece of the pantry and should be the main consideration when it comes to design, the space can do double duty as a bar or a secondary prep area for food and floral arrangements. It can also serve as a showcase for collections of glassware and china, on open shelving, in glass-front cabinets, or even on the wall. See how Steven Gambrel, Barbara Westbrook, Ray Booth, and other designers have created highly organized and beautifully functional pantry spaces.

 

How the Editor In Chief of Vogue Mexico Decorates with Local Design

How the Editor In Chief of Vogue Mexico Decorates with Local Design

Karla Martinez de Salas is always treasure hunting. This is partly by nature—the Vogue Mexico editor’s job is to sift through the best of the best—and partly by necessity. After 15 years working for publications including Vogue and W in Manhattan, Martinez de Salas settled with her husband, banker Francisco Salas, in Mexico City two years ago. Since then, the couple have had twin girls and have lived in two different apartments. Each time the Salases’ decor has become increasingly and satisfyingly Mexicano. “American and European brands are super-expensive here,” she explains, “so after we received our shipping container, we were like, ‘Let’s fill in with local design.’ And that’s when I went on my crazy search.”

Times have changed since the editor, who was raised in Texas, visited her south-of-the-border cousins as she was growing up. “They were always asking, ‘What’s going on in the U.S.?’ ” she says. Today, many hip young Mexicans are beginning to embrace what Martinez de Salas calls “a campaign to support regional style,” inspired in part by a capital city that is brimming with cultural gravitas. Blue-chip Latin American artists pack the Zona Maco contemporary-art fair, Design Week México, and the Salón Acme collective, and recurring bazaars—like the one where Martinez de Salas found her daughters’ cribs—feature the work of artisans from Guadalajara to San Miguel de Allende.

“People are doing really interesting things,” the editor notes. Since her arrival in the city, she’s begun living in cosmopolitan interiors where homegrown design serves as the exclamation point, particularly pieces from the 1960s and ’70s, when architect Luis Barragán, the Le Corbusier of Mexico, set the tone. Recently she’s been eyeing Arturo Pani bronze starburst lamps, and an Eduardo Sarabia painting now hangs in her sitting room.

“With all the craziness going on in the world, I feel like it’s important to support people who are doing things here,” Martinez de Salas says of her new country’s design gold mine. “The positive side of it is that everyone is taking a moment to be introspective.”

 

the Best Ways to Show Off a Textile in Your Home

the Best Ways to Show Off a Textile in Your Home

Some of which don’t even require upholstering

One of the best keepsakes to bring back from faraway travels is a textile. (Or, of course, you can source them from your favorite local designers; more wooly Scottish tartans and Chinese damasks for us.) Not only does a textile fold up nicely to fit inside your suitcase for the return trip home, it tells the story of another time and place. And it’s just the start of something: How you choose to show it off (or squirrel it away) in your home is entirely up to you. But in case you find the prospect overwhelming or the thought of committing terrifying—if I make it a pillow it can never again be used as a throw for the sofa!—we rounded up some designer-approved ideas to help a textile lover out. Here are six ways that textile designers and textile-loving designers like to show them off (none of which involve pillows, because you already know you can do that).

Framed

“I love the way framing really showcases the handwork of a textile,” says St. Frank designer Christina Bryant, who built an entire business around selling framed textiles. She prefers an acrylic box frame “because it shows off the three-dimensionality and texture of the piece” and “lends itself to sharing the history behind the piece—whether the craft method and motif or your personal connection to it.” I.e., you’ll be more inclined to tell your friends about it.

And this Houston living room from designer Meg Lonergan, which features a framed scarf, is a great reminder that not all textiles are just swaths of raw fabric:

A Houston, Texas living room by designer Meg Lonergan featuring sliding shutter doors on the cabinets.

Turned into a headboard

Designer Frances Merrill, of Reath Design, turned this African textile into a headboard by backing and upholstering it with light padding so that it would be comfortable to lean on. The project was completed for client’s house in the Windsor Square area of L.A.

Bedroom in a Reath Design home, featuring textile headboard.
Photo: Kimberly Genevieve

Spread across the seat of a couch

Perfect for the indecisive or noncommittal, spreading a textile across a couch’s seat cushions—as textile designer Nathalie Farman-Farma, of Décors Barbares, did with this vintage curtain in her own home—is about as low-touch an application as they come. Big impact, and no need to pay for upholstery.

A sitting room in the home of textile designer Nathalie Farman-Farma, of Décors Barbares.
Photo: Miguel Flores Vianna

You could also spread a piece of fabric across the back of the couch, as textile designer Rebecca Atwood did with one of her original designs in this calming room:

sofa with Rebecca Atwood textiles
Photo: Emily Johnston

Made into poufs

Smaller swaths of fabric can be upholstered into plush or structural poufs—one or a few are welcome added seating in a room that needs more places to perch. Sally Breer, of Co-Mingle Design, used kilims to create the poufs pictured here.

A living room by designer Sally Breer, featuring poufs made from vintage kilims.
Courtesy of Sally Breer

Other small-scale upholstering projects: the seat of a favorite chair, the front of a dresser, the top of a bench.

As window treatments

Sally Breer is also a fan of turning textiles into window treatments—especially “if you’ve got a funny-shaped window or a window on a wall that’s really needing some art,” look to vintage textiles for inspiration. As Sally notes, they often come in “very odd sizes,” so all the better for transforming them into something else.

A stately living room by Studio Four's Brian Paquette, featuring a leather couch and black and white roman blinds.
Courtesy of Rebecca Atwood

Hung directly on the wall

By draping a textile over a pole and then raising it to hang against the wall, you’ll “instantly transform it into a piece of art,” according to British interior designer Abigail Ahern. “By elevating the piece,” she says, “it can immediately turn a space into a warm cosy abode.”

A fuzzy textile accents a large wall in a room by Abigail Ahern.

DIY Home Decor Ideas Abound in This Sophisticated Brooklyn Apartment

DIY Home Decor Ideas Abound in This Sophisticated Brooklyn Apartment

Designers Casey Kenyon and Jonathon Beck have crafted a cozy first home together

Finding a place to live in Brooklyn is hard enough on a crisp spring day, frenzied as hopefuls can be, but interior designer Casey Kenyon didn’t even have that luxury when he found out he’d have to vacate his current rental in the middle of a polar vortex. (Non-Northeasterners, note: These are as no-fun as they sound.) Discouraged by the less-than-charming nature of more industrial, and therefore more affordable, Brooklyn neighborhoods, and a little desperate, he posted on Facebook: “Does anyone know of a well-priced one-bedroom apartment in dreamy tree-lined Fort Greene?” Fortune showed favor. A friend’s cousin’s cousin knew a 92-year-old woman who needed a renter in the top floor of her brownstone. That the space featured twin decorative fireplaces, a picture rail, original painted wood shutters, and “good light all day” from East-West exposures—more “charm” than most people dream of in sensibly-priced Brooklyn abodes—turned out to be the only catch.

In some cases, good things come to those who don’t wait. Kenyon jumped on it and signed the lease.

Despite the mad dash to get there, the move came at a perfect time. Not six months after that first rent check, Kenyon’s boyfriend Jonathon Beck moved in with him, and they tackled the design as a team. The added income helped them be a little bit choosier about the furnishings they sprung for—an antique Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin sofa and Ib Kofod-Larsen Penguin chair, both tracked down on Etsy to anchor the living room, for example—but the couple’s industriousness, wealth of DIY home decor ideas, and attention to detail is really what’s to thank for the apartment’s elevated look and feel.

 

A pair of glass sconces from “a 1stDibs dealer in Germany” inspired Kenyon to teach himself wiring. (“Youtube can tell you everything as long as you have an ounce of bravery,” he says with conviction.) And that Danish chair? He picked up a yard of fabric from Mood and did the upholstering himself. (“You just unscrew them and staple!”) They made pillows and cushions from thrift-ed African textiles, even weaving together upholstery webbing to replace the ripped canvas on an old camp cot. An ornate mirror, which Beck (a production and set designer) could tell had been painted “stage gold,” required four coats of white paint to cover up. “It looks now like it has always lived there,” Kenyon says of its placement over the mantel, so the couple plans to leave it with the apartment if they ever move. Troubleshooting snafus and space constraints required the same ingenuity. A sheepskin from Modern Link got tossed across the couch, which turned out to be scratchy, and two of the four dining room chairs got a gig moonlighting as nightstands—stacked high with books to keep the lamps from Stone & Sawyer level, but easily called upon if extra dinner guests arrive.

The paint choices, too, were methodically considered: The pair painted two coats of eight samples—“four grays, four beiges,” Kenyon recounts—on the walls before settling on the perfect “putty” color for the bedroom and living room, Park Avenue by Behr. Elsewhere, they sprung for jewel tones to appease Kenyon’s wish for bit more adventurous color. The bath is Royal Blue by Benjamin Moore, and the office is a dark, moody green—a Benjamin Moore match of Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green.

A variety of finishes were called upon to highlight the prewar architecture, such as a semigloss for the picture rail and upward in the living room, which makes a cracked ceiling read as wonderfully sculptural. And to make small rooms feel larger, a high-gloss was used for the bathroom. “If I did it again,” Kenyon says, a little wistfully, “I’d do a higher gloss above the picture molding—there’s something about it that adds more reflectivity, makes the light bounce automatically.”

But the finish of those walls is just the start; they feature a mix of delicate and expressive art, some of the couple’s own and some from friends. A lineup of skateboard decks decorate the office—some limited edition Marc Jacobs, some from Supreme collaborations with artists like John Baldessari and George Condo—and delicate, textural drawings appear in prominent slivers of wall space. The trio of Gabriella Crespi planters, perfectly dimpled and patinaed, that hold a riot of flowers on either mantel? On loan from a (very good) friend. “Everyone I know in New York has a storage unit,” Kenyon quips.

Is Epoxy Flooring the New Polished Concrete?

Is Epoxy Flooring the New Polished Concrete?

Why this high-shine, durable material is finding its way into home design

Epoxy flooring isn’t just for warehouses and hospitals anymore. Just ask designer James Saavedra, whose home boasts white epoxy floors that are as sleek and reflective as the Ralph Pucci gallery. The surface isn’t just pretty—it’s tough: “I’ve shattered mason jars on this floor filled with Bolognese, and let me tell you, the floor is victorious every time,” Saavedra says. Anyone else wondering what epoxy is? We’ll save you a google: It’s a synthetic material that’s got something to do with thermosetting polymers containing epoxide. In short, it’s a really strong plastic.

When Saavedra decided to use epoxy flooring to brighten up his 700-square-foot Austin, Texas home, numerous vendors told him it was a bad idea. He was dealing with pre-existing concrete that had been poorly maintained. The epoxy, which must be spread by hand, was sure to have small imperfections. But Saavedra had his mind set. So, he dished out a little more to have the floors prepped (epoxy costs about the same as a good quality pre-finished wood flooring), then crashed at a friend’s house for six days: three days to prep the floors, one to pour the epoxy, and two to let it cure. The result is stunning.

“The floor is one of the best decisions I made, because when you wish to live uncluttered and deliberate, it really elevates what lives in your space,” Saavedra says.

A minimal sitting room featuring epoxy floors, with a photo hung below eye level to draw attention to it.

This conversation grouping in the entry is kept deliberately minimal, as the reflective white floors make each accent beam.

Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck

Sold on epoxy floors? A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to their upkeep. Clearly, they are quite slippery when wet. You’ll want to lose your shoes at the door and put felt pads under furniture (things you’d likely do anyway). According to Saavedra, a magic eraser works wonders for any marks. Best of all? Epoxy is great under bare feet, but it’s even better for sliding through the house in your socks. So stop lacquering your walls and take to the floor.

A simple but luxurious kitchen, with no upper cabinets (behind every cabinet face there are two or three drawers).

“I’ve shattered mason jars on this floor filled with Bolognese,” Saavedra says, “and let me tell you, the floor is victorious every time.”

Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck