By Caitlin Kelly
As some of you know from my previous posts, I’m
obsessed with, addicted to…ahem..enjoy designing our home.
I studied interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, which has trained some of the best designers in the U.S., and learned a great deal about color, texture, materials and how to create a welcoming interior space. I had hoped to change careers from journalism but decided, for a variety of reasons, to continue as a writer, albeit one passionate, always, about beauty and assembling a space that’s both elegant and comfortable.
We live in a one-bedroom apartment that overlooks trees and the Hudson River. The building itself is nothing special. I find it pretty ugly, frankly — a 1960s red brick slab, six stories, with no architectural merit, even after 20+ years here.
But the landscaping is lovely, and we sit atop a high hill with great views…from our building’s southern exposure, (we face northwest), you can literally see the towers of lower Manhattan.
Inside our (nasty beige metal) door?
It’s English country house:
— layered textiles, a mix of old and new, of flea market finds and some valuable photos and antiques, my father’s oil paintings, my husband’s images and my photos, photos of us and our families, etchings and engravings, posters from Paris and Mexico and Australia…
Fresh flowers and plants, always!
I buy and read a range of design magazines, from Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Architectural Digest to Period Living, Country Living, House & Garden (all British) and, occasionally, one of the gorgeous Cote series from France or World of Interiors.
It’s one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. And I learn something every time I read one — about color, tone, mixing things up, design history. Even if the home featured is, (and in the UK ones, it is sometimes!), a castle or enormous mansion, I always find some inspiration and sheer visual pleasure.
I haven’t lived in a house since 1988 when we rented a flat in a New Hampshire house. I often hanker for a house, (a small, old one — 1840s or earlier), but our finances don’t allow for a second home and I like where we live right now.
My esthetic is eclectic, a little bohemian, but polished.
I like bold and interesting prints (in small doses.) I like patina, craquelure, weathered wood (but immaculate walls, windows and sills.) I love candles in all shapes and sizes, from votives to pierced lanterns that show glorious shadows. Textiles, especially vintage or ethnic.
I find things affordably everywhere: flea markets, auctions, department stores, discount stores, consignment shops, thrift shops, garden supply stores. (Yes, I’ve even traveled with bubble wrap).
From London, Paris, Stockholm, Istanbul, Mexico, Toronto, I’ve brought home early ceramics, 18th century prints, a tray and even our bathroom sink — ($32, handmade copper) — from Mexico.
Over the decades, I’ve invested most heavily in a few fine case goods, (two armoires, three chests of drawers) and Jose and I both enjoy a small but good collection of classic photos.
I’ve furnished our home (with Jose’s approval!) as I do my wardrobe, a mix of vintage and new, classic and funky, some playful bits, some very good bits.
As fall arrives, here are some of the changes I’m making:
— Adding two lovely new fabrics, one for our headboard and the other for our bedside tables. I totally blew it on the scale of the check! But, you know what? Better bold than bitsy. (total cost $150.)
— An antique Chinese ginger jar lamp we recently found at an antiques dealer in Grafton, Ontario. It needed a new shade and cord.
— A dramatic new hallway rug, a kilim. I love these flatweaves, with their bold-but-faded colors and intricate designs; this one is striped: faded teal, faded carmine with a narrow black and white stripe. I found it roaming on-line; it will be shipped to us from Istanbul after they repair it.
— Switching out our art from summer, (pale colors and bleached frames), to winter: deeper hues, gold frames.
— Rehanging the Victorian mirror I scored in Ontario.
— Using deeper-toned pillows, table covers and rugs: reds, oranges, bits of black for drama.
As the days shorten and daylight so quickly fades and disappears, I wrap our home in color, texture, style and beauty.
Here in New York, winter lasts from November to March, at least, and we’ll soon miss the brilliant external colors of fall leaves and summer flowers.
Lucky you, readers in more tropical climes and countries — with gorgeous year-round greenery, flowers and and brightly colored birds!
Every day, our pretty home soothes and nurtures us both — and the people we welcome.
How about you?
Does nesting appeal to you?