5 Ways Designers Make Statement Decor Fit In and Stand Out
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5 Ways Designers Make Statement Decor Fit In and Stand Out

These design professionals figure out how to incorporate homeowner must-haves.

By ALINA DIZIK
Fri, Sep 10, 2021 11:27amGrey Clock 6 min

Weeks after Shetal Mehta purchased her “it” couch, she broke the news to her interior designer.

Her request? That the emerald-green velvet sofa become a focal point of the living room. “It was the first big purchase for our home, not an everyday kids-jumping-on-the-couch type of piece,” says Ms. Mehta, who lives in a 270sqm home in Rye, N.Y.

The bold seating choice meant her designer, Crystal Sinclair, needed to tweak her game plan. To play up the couch, Ms. Sinclair created a luxe black-and-white colour scheme around the sofa and a striped ceiling. Sourcing the perfect shade of pillows and making sure the ceiling’s green-and-white stripes looked straight from below took trial and error. “We had to really work with it,” says the designer from Tuxedo Park, N.Y.

Homeowners—never easy clients—seem to be more insistent than ever on having their favourite bold pieces front and centre as they redecorate their homes, thanks, in part, to ever-easier access to ever-increasing choices. That reality has their designers—typically used to having the final say—sharpening one of their least-favourite tools: compromise.

These homeowners are taking a buy-now-think-later approach and leaving it to the experts to work their magic, says Anthony Barzilay Freund, editorial director at 1stdibs, a vintage-furniture and décor site.

Online searches for “statement pieces” increased by 15% since last year, with furniture-style categories such as Japonisme, Rococo, Art Deco and Space Age gaining in popularity, according to 1stdibs data. “People are intrigued by something that has really cool lines or in a color that’s a little bit outrageous,” says Mr. Barzilay Freund. “They want a piece that’s not necessarily pretty or polite, but is sort of a talking point.”

Here is how some designers work to integrate their clients’ must-haves:

Bold Seating

New York interior designer Elena Frampton says she is fielding more requests to add unique and colourful seating, rather than more-common minimal boxy furniture, to main living areas. The larger curved or rounded pieces that now are in demand tend to do better in larger rooms or open-concept living areas alongside a mix of geometric furniture, she says.

Designer Keren Richter integrated Sandra Schpoont’s rare wood-slab George Nakashima coffee table into a paired-down seating area in the Martha’s Vineyard home. PHOTO: THOMAS RICHTER

For a recent project, figuring out where to put a lavender Cloverleaf sofa by Verner Panton in her client’s Manhattan loft took weeks of virtually experimenting with configurations, says Ms. Frampton. The $17,400 modular couch with three distinct curves and seating on either side was too upright for lounging. “It almost feels like something that would be in a hotel lobby,” says Ms. Frampton.

Ultimately, Ms. Frampton decided to add seating near a floor-to-ceiling window bordering a living-room setup in the space. The sofa allows the owner to use it for entertaining but leaves room for a more practical—and comfortable—seating corner surrounding a coffee table. She added a bold mix of shapes, including a spiked coral sculpture, so the piece wouldn’t stick out in the main living areas. “Even on projects where we have a carte blanche there’s always one wild card,” she says.

Statement Heirlooms

Beloved pieces passed down through generations are a delicate subject because of the added sentimental value and the client’s attachment to a particular item, says designer Keren Richter, of White Arrow in New York. When her client loves the style of the heirloom, she often uses it as a starting point and makes sure to highlight the piece within a room rather than “covering it with pillows.” When planning, she includes photos of the item in client inspiration boards along with any other predetermined home features, including mouldings, doorways and floors.

Designer Jhoiey Ramirez added a vintage Hollywood spotlight to a modern bedroom setup in a client’s Los Angeles home. PHOTO: DANIEL DAHLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Recently, Ms. Richter created a room that highlights a rare 60-year-old George Nakashima coffee table. The designer combined the midcentury wood-slab, V-shape table with natural fibers and a hanging branch. “There’s a sense of movement and nature in that space, but it’s also clean and modern,” says Ms. Richter.

Table owner Sandra Schpoont says it was important that the eye goes right to the piece that’s standing at the centre of the room. She still remembers tagging along with her father to purchase the table in 1962 for $225. Similar ones now sell for more than $30,000.

“I wanted it to stand out,” says the attorney, who worked with Ms. Richter to design her vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. “It’s the most important piece of furniture I have.”

One-Of-A-Kind Lighting

Integrating a vintage Hollywood spotlight and tripod into her client’s home without feeling overly theatrical took some fiddling, says Los Angeles-based designer Jhoiey Ramirez. The 1930s Mole Richardson Type 210 light, which her client purchased tarnished and broken, took months to restore and cost $5,500. Once it was done, he asked Ms. Ramirez to find a spot that highlights the glamour.

“He ordered it and is like, ‘Make this work,’ ” she says.

Designer Anne Grandinetti worked with homeowner Rod Meagher to incorporate more than 30 deer head mounts into his Texas home’s decor. PHOTOS: CLAY GRIER (2)

Originally, the light was intended for the living area, but the fireplace and other items made it feel cluttered, she says. “It was going to get lost in the living room, there were too many artifacts,” she says, referring to his collection of vintage items.

Instead, the light wows from a corner of the bedroom and stands out among more organic materials, including a wood platform bed and built-in shelving. “When you open the door, you see it right away; there’s nothing distracting your eye,” she says.

Curating Collections

When working on what she calls “a sophisticated hunting lodge” outside of Cotulla, Texas, designer Anne Grandinetti wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of deer-head mounts that showed up on site. In total, Ms. Grandinetti, a designer at Mark Ashby Design in Austin, incorporated more than 30 deer head mounts while leaving wall space for the collection to grow. (The collection cost $30,000, or roughly $1,000 per mount.)

To keep the deer from overwhelming the space, she added the mounts to the wide hallway with a 14-foot ceiling that runs the entirely of the 1021sqm home, while placing a few select pieces in other rooms. She kept the hallway walls and floor area sparse, while adding copper custom lighting made by local artisans.

Miami designer Brittany Farinas used darker accents to integrate photographer Terry O’Neill’s striking shot of actress Raquel Welch into a client’s main bedroom. PHOTO: BRITTANY FARINAS

“We tried to sprinkle them in and spread them out, so it doesn’t feel like a taxidermy showroom,” says Ms. Grandinetti.

Homeowner Rod Meagher, 64, a retired real estate appraiser, says his goal was to showcase both white-tailed and exotic species of deer without turning to dark traditional ranch décor.

“I wanted it to be clean cut,” says Mr. Meagher of his weekend eight-bedroom, 10-bathroom home that was completed in 2019.

Dramatic Wall Art

After Miami designer Brittany Farinas saw an art piece her client asked her to incorporate into his home, she wasn’t sure where it would fit. The oversize photography still, signed by photographer Terry O’Neill, of actress Raquel Welch posing partially clothed on a cross would be the centrepiece of any room.

“It’s different and very particular,” Ms. Farinas says of the image, which was originally shot as part of a series of publicity photos for the 1966 film “One Million Years B.C.” but wasn’t used.

Ultimately, Ms. Farinas found a spot for the $10,500 photograph on a bedroom wall, adding black accents and dark granite throughout the room. “I wanted to bounce off what that art piece is, which is dark and moody,” she says of the room’s décor. Adding a bold art piece helped visually separate the bed from a seating area and dry bar nook at the far end of the room, she adds.

The iconic photography still of actress Raquel Welch was taken to publicize her 1966 adventure film ‘One Million Years B.C.’ PHOTO: TERRY O’NEILL / ICONIC IMAGES

Not all designers are eager to accommodate requests. Recently, Ms. Sinclair, of Tuxedo Park, N.Y., turned down a client with a statement art piece that didn’t appeal to her. She said she felt it was loud. Instead of taking on the project, she referred the person to a design colleague that would better appreciate the style. “Sometimes it’s telltale of how we’re going to mesh,” she says.



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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