POST-COVID INTERIOR TRENDS
After a year of decorating to maximise comfort, homeowners happily spruce up their digs to entertain again.
After a year of decorating to maximise comfort, homeowners happily spruce up their digs to entertain again.
BOOTY’S IS now, finally, open for business.
The bar is not a commercial establishment, though Kiki Dikmen, a logistics executive, would probably be thrilled to see you. With the help of interior designer Lucinda Loya, he built the bar in his Houston home. It has Mediterranean-blue walls, cloudy mirrors and smoke rings painted on the ceiling. The space was a pandemic labour of love that he recently unveiled to friends and family on his birthday.
“We gave everybody who came a gift—monogrammed masks that said ‘Booty’s’,” said Mr. Dikmen.
Just as the pandemic is winding down for most people in the United States, an end-demic is revving up. Interior designers, furniture showrooms and tableware retailers report that after months of isolation, clients and customers can’t wait to welcome family, friends, colleagues—hell, just about anyone—into their homes. “They feel as though they’ve walked through the fire and survived. They want to reward themselves for the sacrifices and, in many cases, profound losses that they’ve experienced over the last year and a half,” said Palm Beach designer Jim Dove.
With gregarious abandon, homeowners are upgrading décor with a “you only live once” verve that some designers say is unprecedented. Hermès-orange vanities. Gold-striped ceilings.
“Warhol-flowered wallpaper? Yes, please!” said San Francisco designer Katie McCaffrey, who recently clad a powder room with the pop artist’s psychedelic hibiscus.
Sean Anderson, an interior designer in Memphis, Tenn., senses a déjà vu: “I keep hearing people refer to the months and years ahead as the Roaring Twenties, and that is absolutely reflected in some choices that are being made right now.”
The Rug Company has seen a 46% increase in online visits to its “Bright Rug” category, a spokesman said. Among those eye-popping carpets: swirling rainbows and blown-out florals by fashion designers Paul Smith and Mary Katrantzou, respectively. Resource Furniture has seen a noticeable uptick in demand for wall beds that convert home offices into guest rooms. At online furniture seller France & Son, sales of extension dining tables and stacking chairs have increased 40% year over year, said owner Kevin Wu. “We’re getting a lot of calls from people who say they need things delivered in time for a holiday. Memorial Day was just crazy.”
As we say goodbye to social distancing and hello to socializing, folks who had already dolled up their outdoor spaces—because that was the only safe place to get together—are now laying plans to welcome guests into the house. Here’s a room-by-room rundown of the joyful upgrades homeowners have in store for their visitors.
Chicago firm KBS Interiors is kitting out a dining room for a family that had decamped to the suburbs but who, as vaccinations began rolling out, wanted to make the room “a splashy, lively space to make up for lost time,” said Ana Nardi, co-founder of KBS. Plans include sculptural velvet chairs and a gnarly-chic sideboard made of live-edge wood. “They want their homes to feel more like the hotels and restaurants they missed going to.”
Many suddenly social homeowners want to break bread with as big a crowd as they can shoehorn—stylishly—into their homes. Interior designer Cara Fox in Salt Lake City said clients are requesting extra dining room chairs to accommodate hordes. To seat more guests, Greensboro, N.C., couple David and Rachel Lezcano recently bought a vintage midcentury Heywood-Wakefield dining table that expands—it came with two leaves—to seat up to 10 guests. The Lezcanos, who this week hosted their first dinner party in more than a year, seated six with the use of one leaf. “We’re so excited to have people come into our house again and make it feel alive,” he said.
“We are seeing a huge increase in sales of entertaining and tableware pieces, specifically in very large sets of glasses and plates,” said Noel Fahden, vice president of merchandising at online vintage retail site Chairish. Cocktail napkins are flying off the shelves, as are taper candles, “which is interesting, because typically we would see taper candle sales peak in the fall when there’s less daylight—not around the longest day of the year!” said Ms. Fahden.
And though glassware and candlesticks conjure thoughts of meticulous place settings, Dana Wolter, a designer in Mountain Brook, Ala., sees clients having fun with china patterns and textiles. “It’s formal entertaining but with a more organic and casual flair,” she said.
An earthy bestseller at tableware maker Haand in Burlington, N.C., is the brown Burl collection, which has “flecks of golden colour swirled” into the surface of each porcelain plate, said Haand co-founder Mark Warren. “One of our largest recent orders was 56 pieces, which the customer had mailed to a vacation house,” said Mr. Warren.
That customer happened to be Bob Pittman, creator of MTV Networks and a former chairman of AOL.
Reached by phone, Mr. Pittman described how he was recently overtaken by a strong and unusual desire to elevate his dinnerware. “If you had asked me about my dishes two years ago when I was rushing in and out of the house, I would have said I literally haven’t thought about it in 20 years,” he said. “But during quarantine, I realized I’d let a lot of stuff go to hell and I needed to upgrade. So I bought one piece, and then it became an addiction,” said Mr. Pittman. “Now I’ve got cabinets filled with it.”
Floral arrangements, too, are busting loose. “The formal centrepiece is a thing of the past,” said interior designer Heidi Caillier of Seattle. “Now people are jamming together just-picked wildflowers, poppies and peonies that they grew in their quarantine gardens.”
In anticipation of company post-lockdown, Portland, Maine, resident Candace Karu sold her condo a few months ago and upsized to a 1920s Dutch Colonial that has a spacious spare bedroom. Of course, with travel restrictions then in place, Ms. Karu had no idea when she’d actually be able to have her first sleepover.
“I have far-flung friends and was just hoping they would eventually be able to come and stay,” she said.
In an act of hope, she asked her daughter, interior designer Tyler Karu, to transform the guest bedroom into “the most beautiful room of the house.”
They chose luminous green paint for the walls. “It looks like a colour Vermeer would have used,” Candace Karu said, “and there’s a little corner with a comfy chair, and the bed sits very high so it has a beautiful view of the Portland skyline.” The window shade is a boldly striped fabric by local textiles artist Kels Haley, who created the design in homage to the costumes of 1920s flappers who were “dripping in pearls and wearing elaborate headdresses.”
Operation Houseguest officially got under way after travel restrictions ended in May. “I’ve got a full schedule pencilled in for the rest of the summer,” Ms. Karu said.
To create a welcoming atmosphere, clients are looking for “unshackled whimsy” in kitchen décor this year, said New York interior designer Nancy Mayerfield, who has been fielding clients’ requests for coloured appliances. “In recent months, we’ve done blue Lacanche ovens and white Bertazzoni ovens,” said interior designer Keren Richter of White Arrow in New York.
Two homeowners also transformed formerly humble kitchens into spaces fit for company. “We just did a kitchen island that seats eight to 10 people,” said Ms. Nardi of Chicago’s KBS. “We put in a very deep kitchen sink, so guests won’t see the mess.”
In Atlanta, homeowner Jaya Krishnaswami last month upgraded her kitchen with a new pantry with sliding storage shelves and cubbies, designed by California Closets. “We’re having a lot of family coming to visit and I wanted to be organized,” she said. This month Ms. Krishnaswami is hosting 10 relatives who are flying in for a family reunion.
Not all revellers who desire a domestic watering hole are turning to A-list designers to execute their dreams, à la Mr. Dikmen. Some find accoutrements themselves from sources like 1stDibs, a spokeswoman for whom said the site has seen a noticeable increase in demand for bar carts, dry bars, wine coolers and barware in the last three months.
After moving in May to a new apartment in Ontario, Calif., homewares stylist Miranda Rose Farmer created a serve-your-own bar nook in her dining room. Anchoring the alcove is a console table with three shelves floating above. “The aha moment was when I got a Lazy-susan tray for wine bottles. People can just spin it to whatever bottle they want,” she said. She stocked the nook with pale pink wine glasses, a cut-glass cocktail shaker with a rose-gold metal cap and green shot glasses. “I love the decadence of having people over again and I wouldn’t want to spoil that feeling by serving them drinks in plastic Solo cups.”
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 3, 2021
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Passionate about both decor and travel? Design industry pros are leading global tours to share their secret shopping sources—and help you score one-of-a-kind pieces.
WHEN MELANIE BURNS of Oklahoma City first entered the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, she was stunned by its sheer size and the pathways winding through its tented structures like a tangle of yarn. Though well-traveled and an old hand at hunting one-of-a-kind objets, she’d never experienced such an onslaught of potential riches. “The bazaar is intimidating,” she said, “the size of about five football fields.”
She had expert allies, however: Clare Louise Frost and Elizabeth Hewitt of Tamam, a lifestyle brand and Manhattan store specialising in Turkish antiques and their own collections. The duo led Ms. Burns to a shop layered deep behind other shops. “It was no more than about 14 feet square, and stacked high with the most beautiful hand-woven vintage tapestries I’ve ever seen,” Ms. Burns recalled. “I would never have tackled the place without these women. They are walking encyclopedias, they speak the language and when you shop with them, you don’t overpay.”
Ms. Frost, who calls the bazaar “her second home,” lived in Istanbul for nine years, and her business partners, Ms. Hewitt and Hüseyin Kaplan, still live there. Together they host trips to Turkey, capped at 14 participants, all eager to buy décor to take back home. Overseas shopping sprees like this are an increasingly popular new category of travel. Interior-design pros immerse travellers in a country’s culture and guide them to fabulous finds, whether an ornate vintage camel bag from Turkey or a contemporary French sculpture.
Indagare, a travel company in Manhattan, is seeing a growing market for overseas shopping trips. The 30 Insider Journey trips it ran in 2022, including seven design-centred jaunts, drew 540 travellers, twice as many as in 2019. Sicily, Japan and Mallorca are locales Indagare is eyeing for future design trips. Penta, a magazine that, like The Wall Street Journal, is published by Dow Jones & Co., has a partnership with Indagare to organise trips.
“Covid taught us we need to go when we have the opportunity,” said Grant K. Gibson, a San Francisco interior designer who himself has led eight trips to India and two to Morocco and is adding excursions to Egypt, Mexico and Turkey.
Trips are as cultural as they are commercial. Before Mr. Gibson’s group of 10 globetrotters start looking for linens or bargaining for bowls, they tour Jaipur by electric rickshaw and visit a textile museum. “I want them to understand the history and know where design ideas come from,” he said. Cynthia Smith, a biotech exec from San Francisco who traveled with Mr. Gibson to Morocco, came home with pottery in a vibrant green glaze unique to Tamegroute, a village that edges the Sahara. “Everyone asks me about the vase, and I have a story to tell about Tamegroute pottery,” she said. “It gives character to my house.”
The packages don’t come cheap—from around $4,000 to $18,000 (not including flights) depending on location and length—but offer you insider access. Designer Chloe Mackintosh of Boxwood Avenue Interiors in Reno, Nev., is leading her first trip this year to parts of Italy and France she knows well. One focus will be the weekend antique markets in L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue, in southeast France, but she’ll also introduce guests to local artisans, including a fifth-generation ceramist. Her group will take a pottery-making class to understand the process behind the product.
Known as “the huntress” because of her many years buying and selling vintage furniture, Ariene C. Bethea says people began asking her to lead a trip so they could hunt alongside her. The owner of Dressing Rooms Interiors, a shop and design studio in Charlotte, N.C., teamed with TrovaTrip to create a journey to the Paris flea markets this May. With Ms. Bethea’s input, the Portland, Ore., group-travel managers lined up accommodations, vendors, translators and tickets to museums. “I plan to help my guests shop, give them ideas and help them learn to tell stories in a space,” said Ms. Bethea, known for her playful use of colours, bold patterns and culturally inspired designs.
Lodging on these guided forays offers design cred, too. Ms. Mackintosh has reserved an entire 16-room château in the French countryside for just 12 people. Tamam’s Istanbul guests stay in a marble-floored hotel that was a late 19th-century Ottoman bank—with a vault that doubles as a wine cellar—and for excursions to Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey, they bed down in a traditional cavelike home carved out of soft rock.
On a trip to the South of France with Los Angeles-based designer Kathryn M. Ireland, visitors stay in Ms. Ireland’s farmhouse near Toulouse. Her trademark fabrics and colourful Bohemian and English-country style are on display in every bedroom lamp shade and living room chair. “Guests shop my house, and then I point them in the right direction to buy similar things,” she said. Ms. Ireland has been leading groups (a maximum of 10 people) for over a decade, taking them to neighbours’ villas, antique markets and out-of-the-way bakeries and bee yards.
Abby Landers first visited Ms. Ireland’s home as a high-school senior, traveling with her mother. Now five years out of college and living in Boston, she recently returned. “Kathryn embraced us, and she has been a mentor for me ever since.” Inspired by that first trip, Ms. Landers earned a master’s degree in interior architecture, and her current boss is someone she met on that trip. “You’re there for a week, and it’s a whirlwind of meeting artists and artisans, all friends of Kathryn’s.”
Kirstan Barnett, a tech investor from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., traveled to Tangier with Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare. Ms. Barnett was particularly moved by dinner at the 300-year-old, whitewashed, riad-style residence of Jamie Creel and Marco Scarani, two of the many designers she met at private events. The home was so richly layered and eclectic, she said, it inspired her to approach her own décor more bravely and reject the notion that a room must adhere to one style.
Some pros who organise such tours offer itinerary planning to folks who don’t want to travel with strangers. Mr. Gibson recently created a program for a group of four going to Jaipur. Though he won’t be joining them, he’s chosen the lodging and booked the restaurants and the experiences.
Travelers laser-focused on in-the-know shopping minus the touring can hire Chicago-based Skin Interior Design in cities such as London, Paris and Milan. The company arranges excursions so clients are shown exactly what they want—whether French midcentury chairs or Venetian-glass chandeliers. “We have an education in art history and antiques, and we help find pieces that keep value,” said Lauren Lozano Ziol, one of the founders. A recent two-day antique-furniture and art expedition in London cost $10,000.
How to get all the booty home? Mr. Gibson advises guests to travel with at least one empty suitcase. Bulky items can be packed and airfreighted home using DHL or FedEx. (Most carriers will pick up at the hotel.) Some vendors ship direct to the States from their stores at reasonable rates. For those who travel with Tamam to Turkey, easy shipping—including having your purchases collected from the vendors—is one of the perks. Ms. Burns, who bought ceramics, four suzani bedspreads and six rugs, said Tamam handled shipping for about $400. “Some of my things arrived before I even got home,” she said.
Five 2023 trips abroad devised and helmed by interiors experts imparting their insider info
Ready to shop your way around the world? Here are just some of the available packages that focus on home design. Prices are per person and generally include accommodations, meals and beverages, guided touring, activities and local transportation.
The owner of Dressing Rooms Interiors, a vintage-home-furnishings boutique and design studio in Charlotte, N.C., Ariene C. Bethea takes travellers shopping the Paris vintage markets and art galleries and on visits to lesser-known museums such as the Museum Nationale Gustave Moreau. Also on the agenda: a foray to Versailles and its gardens, a tour of Montmartre street art and a tasting at the Museum of Wine. From $3,649, Trips.TrovaTrip.com
Chloe Mackintosh, owner of Boxwood Avenue Interiors, a Reno, Nev., studio and shop, leads a 4-night trip in Florence, Italy. Travelers stay at the five-star Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa that mixes Renaissance and contemporary décor. Along with shopping excursions, antiquing and a workshop at a local artisan’s studio, the trip includes wine tasting and cooking lessons. Florence, from $5,500, Learn.BoxwoodAvenue.com
Designer Clare Louise Frost, Tulu Textiles owner Elizabeth Hewitt and carpet dealer Hüseyin Kaplan teamed up to create Tamam, located in Manhattan and Istanbul and specialising in antique and vintage Turkish textiles, rugs and ceramics. Travelers tour Istanbul, Konya and Cappadocia, shopping the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar and visiting textiles and antique dealers. Plus: a hot-air-balloon ride and cooking class. Tamam in Turkey, from $3,600, Shop-Tamam.com
In London, South African interior designer Serena Crawford guides travellers through Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden (Diana’s favourite) as well as shops such as heritage brand Fortnum & Mason. In the university town of Oxford, architectural highlights range from medieval to modern, and in the bucolic Cotswolds, guests visit private homes and gardens of renowned interior designers. London & the Cotswolds with Serena Crawford, from $15,350, Indagare.com
Los Angeles-based designer Kathryn M. Ireland takes you on private museum tours, flea market hunts and a trend-spotting tour of design fair Maison et Objet in Paris (ticket not included), followed by leisurely days in the French countryside at her farmhouse outside Toulouse. Paris & La Castellane, from $7,900, Paris hotel not included, KathrynIreland.com
San Francisco interior designer Grant K. Gibson shares his passion for India with a guided tour of Jaipur and Taj Mahal. Participants stay in a guesthouse once part of a maharajah’s gardens; enjoy traditional Indian feasts; learn the history of block printing; rendezvous with rescue elephants; and conquer the chaotic bazaar, comprising flower and spice markets and rug and textiles vendors. Travel with Grant from $9,500, GrantKGibson.com
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