Monday, February 4th, 2008
The other day I was happily scouting apartments, (it’s as much fun as clothes shopping and even better: it’s free!), for 1stdibs.com.
Before I get into the distinct pleasures of seeing of how other people personalize great design, (whether its with tapestries or toothbrush holders), I need to wax a little poetic about 1stdibs.com.
Even if you’re not in the market for antiques or vintage tables, chairs, chandeliers, jewelry, fashion or anything fabulous, from Paris to Pennsylvania, just mining this richly visual site is the equivalent of eating an entire bag of your favorite potato chips while wrapped in eight ply cashmere. In other words, you don’t want to stop the feeling. Even if you can’t yet/ever afford that Seguso Frosted Glass Flower Sputnick chandelier, no harm, no foul in just attaching that glorious image at the top of your Wish List ceiling. I always find that the designers and tastemakers I admire most, get a little breathless when they talk about 1stdibs. It’s like entering the coolest corner of the most beautiful playground and unlike childhood, everyone wants to talk to you. But I diverge…
Back to scouting. Every time someone is gracious enough to open their doors for me, I am piqued with anticipation. It’s sort of like getting fixed up on a blind date. There’s a feeling a house immediately gives you that’s as distinctive as a first handshake. With the right house, there’s no small talk. You enter right into its soul from the moment you cross its hearth. (No coincidence what word you get by simply removing the “h” from “hearth.”)
When 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno and I stepped into a little jewel box of a pad just off Bryant Park I was instantly drawn to the scarcity of the space. There wasn’t a lot of furniture but what furniture was, looked just right. (Think mid century modern meets Ikea).
For two expert photography editors, the walls were strangely void of artwork. Along a single section of hallway was a casual yet careful cluster of dozens of framed family photographs. You instantly were drawn closer, wanting to relish each of the hung moments even though you didn’t know anyone in them. They were postcards of a life and you wished you were there.
At the end of this hallway was the dining room which overlooked the outskirts of Bryant Park and the public library. But it wasn’t the glorious view that struck you, it was the color of the walls. A vivid, beyond-chartreuse green I promise you’d never in a million years think of painting your dining room. And yet here, in this four room apartment, where there was not a smidgeon of extra room for whimsy, two people had chosen it. Painted all four walls in it. And didn’t hang a single thing on it. It felt formal and friendly all at once. You wanted to sit down, you wanted to look outside the window, you wanted to have a martini, you wanted to read a children’s book. When I asked them why this green, they told me: ” We loved how green everything gets outside in the Spring and Summer and wanted to bring a bit of that indoors. With the classic lines of the room we thought we could be a bit bold with color. It’s kinda preppy gone mad.” No wonder it all felt exactly and absolutely right. Because the decision behind it was so personal. The perfect match.