Since my Rowhouse Showhouse judging days, I am often asked what my design style is, which can sometimes be the most ubiquitous question: “Define your style in 3 words or less.” Whoa…WHAT? Lucky for me, I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve had time to distill this down to the essence of what defines Kathy Kuo Home—Luxury, Eclectic, & Timeless.
Ahem… I also want to be DARING, DRAMATIC, ROMANTIC, GLOBAL, MODERN, and GLAMOROUS (with a dramatic hair toss to the back!) Can’t I have more than 3 words? Obviously we are complex beings with travel, childhood, and experiences that inform our design style, and it would be impossible to define ourselves in three words. It is nostalgia for the beauty, comfort, and emotions of home that truly defines our interior design styles.
Which brings me to my just completed (almost) gut reno in a NYC duplex condo. Let me give you the home tour…
THIS is what we moved into. The first floor has 10-15′ ceilings, but is literally ONE GIANT WHITE BOX. Note: NO recessed lights… and what is that plug-in fireplace hanging on the wall?
This was the original floor plan. The downstairs was just OPEN SPACE. Imagination running wild here….
First stop on our home tour? Pinterest. I was very inspired by the stripes in these images I came across (btw, are you following us on Pinterest?). I think I probably saw them a few times in my dreams, and at one point I convinced myself that I was crazy… only to re-convince myself that it would be crazy NOT to do it!
So here goes nothing…
The kitchen, dining, and living room needed something to define each space while accentuating the verticality. Hello, horizontal stripes…please save our place from looking like an airplane hanger! Instead of an Advil and Drammamine inducing effect, we chose to do a thick 15″ stripe — yes, that’s 1′ and 3″. We could have done a smaller stripe, but we have a weird 15″H soffit near the top right window. Divying up the total height, 15″ worked out! That was a miracle bestowed upon us by the Great Gods of Home Improvement, of which, we were literally SAVED from having one stripe be a different height than the other 6. Like a picture that is hung just slightly off, this would have been INFINITY times worse.
I began testing black paints (I started out with about twenty) by lining them up next to each other and asking myself — which ones aren’t as good? — pulling out one by one until I narrowed it down to four GREAT blacks. We ended up with Benjamin Moore Carbon Copy. It reads black, but has a lot of rich brown purple pigment in it. Not in a purply way, but just rich with depth. It was the clear winner and a perfect match for the white that I loved — Super White, also from Benajmin Moore.
We also put in 87, yes EIGHTY SEVEN recessed LED lights. We spaced them at around 2.5′ apart for a more clean, contemporary look. We also specifically chose a 4″ square profile with a stainless trim to accentuate that contemporary feel.
And here is the final reveal!
A lot of the items that I live with are available on kathykuo.com. The chairs are our very own Fleming Chair with custom Iznik and Matteo Charcoal fabric. The sofas that are intentionally not supposed to match are in a super duper soft herringbone white cotton linen. Scotchgard, please come rescue me from my obsession with fifty shades of white!
We also did custom pillows with a gusseted edge for a more interesting look. The fabric is called Cape White Linen and the piping is a distressed chocolate leather.
The adorable hexagonal end table between the chairs is our Roja Table with a gorgeous cream marble top.
The artwork is from the wonderful and talented artist Aida Pascual. The minute I laid my eyes on this beauty, it HIT ME like a ton of bricks that I just HAD to Uber it home with me the same hour I saw it in a SOHO gallery. When you’re feeling happy or sad, your emotions are channeled through the dark coated figure. It’s as if he feels what you’re feeling and instantly commiserates.
Noticeably missing is a custom rug that is still being made in India and window treatments that don’t scream 1970’s post war condo.
The tall etageres (eh-ta-jairs…you’re welcome!) is a fancy French word for display shelves. It carries some of our favorite items that we’ve collected along our travels and a wedding photo of hubby and me.
Oh, and did you see Lucy? She’s our 14 year old English bulldog (in dog years, that’s 98) who has been through it ALL. Like a typical English bulldog breed, she is pretty happy just laying around the house and letting my 2 year old ride her around like a miniature (but more sturdy) pony. It’s a pretty funny sight to see!
So, that is our upper floor redo. What do you think so far?
More of our home tour coming up. Stay tuned!