Interior Designer Furniture

Interior Designer Furniture Interior Designer Furniture

Since founding his Rome-based firm, Achille Salvagni Architetti, in 2002, Italian designer Achille Salvagni has become renowned for his residential and super-yacht interiors. His style blends the simplicity of Italian modernism with historical references, such as glamorous touches of Art Deco or a bit of ancient Roman classicism. His materials are always sumptuous and bold; he particularly loves bronze, marble, velvet and lacquer finishes. After years of designing custom pieces for clients, he launched his first furniture and lighting collection with Maison Gerard in 2013, and it was a hit with collectors. “I can’t presuppose a space for these pieces, so I design for curiosity, giving the object a story,” he says. His Tango console table, with its intertwining bronze legs and noir doré marble top, was inspired by a trip to Buenos Aires, where he was captivated by the movements of the dancers in the city’s milongas.

This Charleston, South Carolina, living room features Workstead‘s Spool coffee table in cherry, Signal pendant in hewn brass and shaded floor lamp. Photo by Jeff Holt

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The biggest secret of the Speakeasy at 63 Wall Street is where the furnishings are from.The Design High

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Krasnow agrees: “Scaling your rug is extremely important. Measure to make sure your rug doesn’t end up looking like a bath mat.”

Caitlin Rutkay of C.R. Interior Designs likes to decorate bedrooms with items she discovers on the road. “Hotels often sell their luxury mattresses, down products, and bedding which give your project a complete luxury feel.”

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Egan also advocates for a thoughtful mix of furniture and furnishings: “We love to design with pieces that can curate space and movement themselves, and then we accentuate with composing objects and art. For that reason, we are extra conscious that clashing furniture and furnishing arrangements can make a space feel much smaller than it is. If art and decorative objects are part of your design, thoughtful placement is everything.”

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HomeGoods is another go-to. However, the selection can vary on any given day from store to store. So, if you want first dibs, Kate Marengo of Interior Chicago suggests finding out what days stores gets their deliveries and shop that morning. “The best inventory is snatched up quickly,” she explained.

Next up: seven subtle mistakes that instantly cheapen your bathroom.

Clockwise from left: Samuel Amoia (portrait by Eileen Chaing); black plaster and tourmaline side table; gray agate and white plaster drum side table; console of aluminum shavings and honed white Italian onyx (photos courtesy of Samuel Amoia)

The 7 Furniture Arranging Mistakes Interior Designers Always Notice

While most of us know that high-end retailers like Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus have beautiful home departments, designers don’t overlook their less expensive counterparts. Kate Clarke of Homes Reimagined loves to shop Macy’s for bedding. As does Doherty, who suggests their Home Hotel Collection for “fabulous sheeting with lots of thread count and budget options.”

9 Interior Designers Who Have a Flair for Crafting Furniture

You can also repurpose items you find when traveling to create something custom that has a deeper meaning to you. For example, Diana Weinstein of Diana Weinstein Designs told me, “I once had a client who brought back sari silks from India which I used to make a custom upholstered bed out of”.

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Stefanie Brechbuehler, Robert Andrew Highsmith and Ryan Mahoney, all alums of the Rhode Island School of Design, started Workstead in 2010 in Brooklyn and have since opened a satellite studio in Charleston, South Carolina. They made a name for themselves designing the interiors for Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel, a former cooperage, where their polished yet accessible interiors broke with the borough’s typically gritty vibe. “Our designs are modern and restrained, but we use rich materials, such as brass, bronze and walnut, that have historical meaning,” Highsmith says. Their furniture, too, puts a fresh twist on history: The group’s industrial chandelier, which has adjustable arms and an exposed hanging wire, was inspired by early factory lighting. The orbit sconce, their best-selling lighting fixture, is a spare modern take on a candle with a reflector.

If you can’t hire an interior designer, at least you can shop like one. And it turns out that’s easier than you think. While the public doesn’t have access to trade-only wholesalers, you might be surprised to learn that many interior designers are finding some of their best items at places where the rest of us shop every day.

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This living room by Dimore Studio contains a pair of Koala sofas by Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti, a Giò Ponti armchair and a chandelier by Hans-Agne Jakobsson. It also features a Tavolo Basso 055 table and a Paravento 055 screen, both by Dimore Studio.

Photo by Michel Bousquet

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Since founding her studio, in 1995, Kelly Wearstler has been a go-to designer for Hollywood’s A-list, as well as luxury hoteliers. Her signature style, often described as a new Hollywood Regency, is typified by sumptuous materials, such as marble and animal skins, sinuous lines, exuberant patterns and bold California colors. Over the years, her business has branched out to include everything from furniture and lighting to fabric and even fashion. The first custom piece of furniture she created, years ago, was a chair for a vintage low-profile desk. “We needed an artful chair with metal legs, so we sculpted and cast the legs to complement the desk’s silhouette,” she recalls. The Durant sofa from her new collection, whose arms seem to hug the bottom cushions in place, reflects her love of detail as well as her eye for functionality. “The deep seat, wide arm and low back make it comfortable, while the understated textured legs, which are made of ebonized oak, make the piece stand out,” she says.

This New York penthouse, designed by Nunnerley, exemplifies her expertise in showcasing clients’ art collections. Photo by Miguel Flores Vianna

Etsy is another great resource, but you have to know where to go. Gutierrez likes ModCreation Studio for lighting, art from Urban Epiphany Prints and ceramics from Vitrifried Studio.

You won’t believe where some of this is from.The Design High

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Krasnow also points out that dimensions are always key. “Scale furniture to the size of the room and search for vendors and furniture pieces accordingly,” she says. “For example, Urban Outfitters has great options for a smaller room. In regard to furniture selections, using a loveseat instead of a couch or café table instead of a traditional dining can assure a cohesive look without overwhelming the room with large pieces.”

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Above all else, it’s imperative that your furniture arrangement is conducive to easy navigation, but Garth Oldershaw, director of interiors at BCV Architecture + Interiors, points out that this is easier said than done: “I always notice when furniture disrupts the project flow. When an inefficient or careless furniture plan is confusing for people to navigate. We always strive for a clear initial plan that addresses potential complications that arise with an unusual space. Whether the feel is relaxed or refined, we believe the furniture selection and arrangement should reflect it.”

Lukas Machnik, who has worked for international clients since the late 1990s, describes his style as part minimalist, part Bauhaus, part avant-garde. The designer, who splits his time between Chicago and Paris, loves a palette of black and white. He prefers furniture with weight and substance and abhors anything fluffy. His own furniture designs, sold through his LMD/studio store, take this aesthetic to extremes: He drew inspiration from Brutalist architecture for his Monument chairs, which look like hefty puzzle pieces in black oak plywood. His Obelisk slit lamps, which are made of ebonized steel and stand more than seven feet tall, are reminiscent of pieces by Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. He had them in mind for his own home and studio — an enormous former glass factory in Chicago — but the pieces quickly became popular with collectors. “I like to push the boundaries,” he says.

For a loft in New York, Kelly Wearstler designed the dining area’s boldly patterned floors, of bleached and ebonized walnut. Her brass-and-leather Studio chairs surround the table. Photo by Annie Schlechter

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We try our best when it comes to decorating, but sometimes, no matter how much thought we give to a room, something still feels off. It’s hard to put a finger on the problem that causes an awkward furniture layout when you’re not a professional architect or interior designer, which is why a little help from professionals is never a bad idea.

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It might surprise you to learn that designers are also shopping at many of the same places we go to already—H&M, Zara Home, Amazon, Michaels and even Walmart. Ultimately, you can find anything anywhere as long as you keep your eyes open. Doherty has a practical philosophy when it comes to finding decor, “In the era of online shopping designers have to be open to sourcing from unusual places. Just like shopping for clothes, you can find nice things anywhere if you pay attention to quality and design. Nothing is off limits.”

Clockwise from left: Kelly Wearstler stands in front of her Selby console (portrait by Olivia Malone); Lineage stool; Selby console; Souffle settee in beige shearling (photos courtesy Kelly Wearstler)

Clockwise from left: Achille Salvagni (portrait by Serena Laudisa); bronze and onyx Octopus chandelier; Emerald side table; onyx and bronze Bubbles table lamp (photos courtesy of Achilles Salvagni)

After studying art and working in galleries, Sandra Nunnerley opened her design studio in the 1980s. Since then, Nunnerley, who splits her time between New York and London, has created comfortable yet chic interiors for many art collectors, often taking design cues from their favorite masterpieces. Born from her expert knowledge of materials, her new line of side tables for Maison Gerard — Solaris, Eclipse Black and Luna Ivory — is made of Corian, a composite that feels substantial but is light enough that the pieces can be moved around easily and grouped together in a sculptural manner. Of the idea’s genesis, Nunnerley recalls, “I was designing a vast penthouse in Berlin with wraparound views, and I knew the owners would want tables that they could reconfigure for entertaining.”

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Kelly Behun has created highly bespoke interiors since the 1990s, when she was an apprentice in Ian Schrager’s design studio, working side-by-side with legendary architects and designers like Philippe Starck and Andrée Putman. Custom furniture design has always been a part of her practice, and since going out on her own, in 2001, she has developed a stable of skilled makers who execute her modern twists on traditional techniques, such as stone mosaic work and wood marquetry. In 2012, she debuted her own furniture line in an exhibition at R & Company. Like her interiors, which deftly mix the artful and surreal with the laid-back, her furniture designs range in style from bohemian floor pillows made with Moroccan textiles to boxy chairs covered in eye-tripping Memphis stripes. She’s always thinking about how her pieces will be used: A dining table with a mosaic base that’s an homage to Roberto Burle Marx has an irregular curving top because, she says, “I noticed at a dinner party that people interacted more when seated around an oddly shaped table.”

In this dining room designed by Kelly Behun, Jason Koharik‘s Calve light fixture hangs over a custom marble table of her design surrounded by chairs from Van den Akker, behind which sits an Aria Hex stool by the Haas Brothers from R & Company.

Artworks include Soñe que revelabas (Colorado), 2016, by Juan Uslé and a wall sculpture by Lynda Benglis. Photo by Richard Powers

Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci have become a powerhouse design duo since opening Dimore Studio in Milan in 2003. Among their projects: the luxe, minimalist Pump Room bar, in Chicago; the glamorous, vintage-inspired Caffè Burlot, in Paris; and the Grand Hotel et de Milan, where they applied a light touch, keeping most of the original furnishings intact. Although their backgrounds differ — Moran is American, Salci Italian and a former art director at Cappellini — their style is utterly Italian, characterized by elegance, warmth and subtle colors. “We try to merge historical design and contemporary art in all our projects,” Salci says. So, it’s no surprise that the clean lines of their brass-and-ceramic vases are reminiscent of chairs by the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa and that their rugs resemble abstract paintings.

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Clockwise from left: Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran at Dimore Gallery (portrait by Silvia Rivoltella); Divano 067 sofa; Libreria 003 shelving unit; Paralleli B4 rug (photos courtesy of Dimore Gallery)

I interviewed interior designers from cities including New York, Chicago and Nashville to find out where they source some of their best items from. They gladly spilled, revealing their not-so-secret sauce.  

The bedroom of this Miami residence features a white opal and plaster drum side table by Samuel Amoia. Photo by Eileen Chaing

Maggie Natarelli of Raised By Design likes Kohl’s especially for mixing high and low. She told me, “I’m just wrapping up a bedroom for two little girls in Bedford, New York with beautiful hand printed wallpaper by an independent artist in Charleston, South Carolina, but we used bedding from Kohl’s. They have a huge selection of nice quality cotton bedding and some really cute poppy prints if you are looking for something playful but not alarming.” 

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Clockwise from left: Lukas Machnik (portrait by Andre Lenox); Minimalist wood dining table; Swan Neck by Rick Owens; Monument I chair (photos courtesy of LMD / Studio)

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Gone are the days of living room sets, but interior designers still notice matching sets in homes they visit: “One of our pet peeves is when everything in a room matches,” says Stucker. “Furniture sets that include a matching sofa, loveseat, and chair ends up looking like a showroom and can be very underwhelming. By mixing textures, colors, and even genres, you can create a much more elevated space that looks thoughtfully curated and well designed.”

Clockwise from left: Kelly Behun (portrait by Richard Powers); Memphis-inspired vessel; Memphis-inspired chair; wood marquetry cocktail table (photos courtesy Kelly Behun)

This suite at the Hotel Sorrento Seattle features Codor Design’s Painted credenza and Sorrento bedside table. Photo courtesy of Codor Design

Highlyann Krasnow of The Design High also points out the importance of coffee table height: “Make sure to size your coffee table height to your couch. Many modern companies’ coffee tables are very low, which can not only look off but create a dangerous situation where someone could run into the table. To fix this, we suggest using two modular side tables as coffee tables. This brings an interesting, modern vibe to the room without the common low height tables. The same goes for picking a nightstand. Make sure to measure your bed with the box spring, mattress, and frame included to assure the nightstand isn’t too low or too high.”

There are endless places to purchase furniture and decor online. But instead of staring at a screen for hours, Cullen highly recommends just shopping at Lulu and Georgia. “It’s like a curated showroom for everything I’m into right now, and almost always lands in budget.”

Tiffany Brooks, who you may know from HGTV’s Smart Home, is a big fan of scouring her local thrift shop. “Thrift stores are my go-to places for one-off items. An example would be a chair that would be $200-$300. Depending on the condition of the furniture, I would replace the upholstery with a really nice fabric. Or I’ll find a period piece and place it next to something brand new.”

Most designers agree that bigger is always better when it comes to rug size: “Using too small of a rug in a living room setting can actually make the space feel much smaller,” explains Stucker. “We’ve seen a lot of small-sized patterned rugs being placed underneath the coffee table, which makes the room look small and awkward. Rugs are a great way to create an aha moment and ground the space. We love using large natural fiber rugs, which add an element of luxury and sophistication.”

These nine designers have combined deep knowledge from years of client work with their own unfettered imaginations, to impressive effect.

Left: Sandra Nunnerley stands in front of a Richard Serra painting in a Manhattan living room she designed (portrait by Jessica Nash). Right: Solaris, Eclipse Black and Luna Ivory cocktail tables (photos courtesy of Sandra Nunnerley)

This space designed by Lukas Machnik features his Minimal dining table and artwork from Lonney White’s “Metamorphic” series. Photo by Jack Schneider

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This Paris apartment by Achille Salvagni features a pair of the designer’s Vittoria slipper chairs and his geometric Emerald side table. Photo by Paolo Petrignani

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One of the main mistakes Hanna Egan, director of interior design at D’Apostrophe Design, always notices, is too much furniture in a room: “Keep good circulation around a living room furniture layout,” she says. “A space should never feel too cramped, and there’s nothing worse than having to do the cha-cha as you try to get up from your sofa, shimmying between the coffee table! At D’Apostrophe, every piece of furniture we choose has a purpose—from a large sectional to a side table. To achieve an overall aesthetic that is pure and simple with plenty of space, maintain a comfortable distance (minimum 18″ if possible) from the edge of a sofa or lounge chair seat from the edge of the coffee table.”

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Samuel Amoia has spent the better part of a decade working on interiors around the world, including the DeLorenzo Gallery, on Madison Avenue, and Itz’ana Resort and Residences, in Belize. A few years ago, he created a custom drum side table out of stone, cement and salt for the 1 Hotel South Beach, in Miami. So many people commented on the piece that he ended up showing a similar version in a design showcase, where Stella McCartney discovered it and commissioned him to design a store-full of pieces expanding on the natural, textural theme. “Furniture design is where I can really be creative, letting my mind go wild. It’s exhilarating,” he says. At the same time, his interiors background gives him a good sense of what people want: rich textures and unusual materials. His glittery consoles, which are covered in aluminum or brass shavings, satisfy these desires.

Clockwise from left: Stefanie Brechbuehler, Robert Highsmith and Ryan Mahoney, of Workstead (portrait by Matthew Williams); Sling chair; wardrobe in beech with faceted doors; Helios table lamp (photos courtesy of Workstead)

Next time you’re in Nashville or just looking for southern style online, Zoë Cullen of Stay Domio says to check out 1767 Designs. “The owner, Patrick Hayes, and I have collaborated on a couple of really cool projects together. He always seems to read my mind and knows exactly what I’m looking for.  His art pieces are made from wood rescued from century-old homes in Nashville and each one has so much character. It’s rare that I decorate anything without including something from his shop.”

Art curator and advisor Kipton Cronkite loves the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California. “[It’s] where I find vintage pieces (furniture, art and misc items) from vendors all over California. I’m into 1950s and 1960s decor and these flea markets always have interesting pieces.” 

One of the main pet peeves of interior designers everywhere is furniture pushed up against the walls: “Don’t be afraid to float your couch,” suggests Krasnow. “It can be tempting to push all furniture up against the wall, but this can create dead space in the center of the room. Leaving a few inches between your wall and sofa creates a more inviting environment.”

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If you like unique things or are trying to find items that are not mass produced, Gina Gutierrez, founder and lead designer of Gina Rachelle Design thinks what you are looking for is probably right in front of you. “Get to know local makers in your area. I like going custom or purchasing pieces that tell a story—ethical housewares or an individual’s life story. I have been working with Brian Enright of 12 Sticks since 2013 and he is my go-to for millwork.”

Christine Stucker, co-founder of Stewart-Schafer, also points this out as being the number one mistake she always notices: “Adding way too many pieces of furniture in a room can make it feel overcrowded and negatively impact the flow of the space,” she explains. “We’re firm believers in ‘less is more.’ Start with one incredible piece and build around it. For example, if you have a large sofa, you do not need to have two chairs flanking it. Instead, try adding one chair and a small side table, which will create balance in the room and allow for an uninterrupted sense of flow.”

Perhaps the most unique store a designer suggested was likely the last place on earth anyone would ever think of. Gregory Augustine of Lucas Alexander revealed, “The best decor I’ve gotten from an unexpected source was Petco. It was a metal clip light for a snake tank, which became the perfect picture light when clipped on shelves. No wiring needed, plug and play!” 

To help shed the light on the most common furniture arranging mistakes you might be making in your own space, we asked a group of interior designers to share their layout pet peeves. Yes, it is likely that if an interior designer walks into your home, they’ll notice little details about your furniture arrangement that you may not have ever considered: Is the rug too small? Are the furniture pieces too close to each other or too far apart? Is the scale right for the space? Get ready to upgrade your room with very little effort. These are the furniture arranging mistakes interior designers always notice (and how to fix them).

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Items for sale on display during the monthly flea market held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Next time you’re picking up laundry detergent, don’t skip the furniture and decor aisle at Target. So many designers recommend Target for everything from kitchenware to decor and down inserts. While the store is known for great prices, you’d be surprised to learn that many designers buy items for high-end projects there too. Highlyann Krasnow, founder of The Design High, has decorated luxury buildings in New York City, including 63 Wall Street and 195 Sullivan Street. She revealed, “For small furniture items and decor, we often source from Target. They have a great selection of small tables, sconces, stools, poufs, room and wall decor.”

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Clockwise from left: Sterling Voss and Tamara Codor; Pink Sunset painting; Objet Trouvé double loop round gold mirror; Floating Drawer desk (photos courtesy of Codor Design)

Since 2012, Seattle-based Tamara Codor and Sterling Voss have designed the interiors of hotels, restaurants and residences throughout Seattle. Codor Design merges the former’s training in classical painting with the latter’s background in commercial design. Codor spent years creating intricate one-of-a-kind landscape murals, mostly in powder rooms, and creating luscious faux finishes. With their firm, her painting has expanded into other areas of interiors, such as a console in Seattle’s Hotel Sorrento on which she depicted a verdant landscape of trees reflected on a lake. The duo has also crafted a collection of chinoiserie-inspired painted panels that can be hung like artworks, installed as part of a wall or assembled into decorative screens. “Furniture design gives me the freedom to make the fantastical things I dream of,” Codor says.

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Another retailer in that realm is Serena & Lilly, which is Natarelli’s pick. “I recently discovered their collection of original oil paintings, which is beautifully curated— surprising for a major retailer. I’m seeing a lot of big vendors coming out with collections of original art that’s in line with their style.”

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Deidre Doherty of Deirdre Doherty Interiors says Ikea can be a great place to shop if you don’t want to overspend. “As much as Ikea has a bad wrap, there are some good staple pieces like wall mirrors, bath accessories and you can also upgrade their standard sofas with custom legs for a designer look. This works great for kids areas when you don’t want to break the bank.” 

Another common mistake designers always seem to notice is height clearance. “I can’t stress enough the importance of proper dining chair arm or task chair arm height versus table or desk height, not to mention leg clearance,” says Egan. I can just hear the screeching and scratching of the furniture. Keep as much clearance as possible from the chair arms to the underside of the table. If there’s a narrow pencil drawer, perhaps you even go armless.”

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