NY Spaces Nov '08, "Inside Story"
pages 50-57 by Marjorie E. Gage
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS “TOO SAFE” IN INTERIOR DESIGN. A fine line where “good taste” threatens to suck the life out of “great style”. To create an environment that excites the imagination, you’ve got to toss out the rule books, and assume a certain degree of risk.
That’s exactly what the owners of this traditional, Georgian-style dwelling in Greenwich did when they hired Fox-Nahem Design to inject a little originality into an interior that was structurally sound and pleasantly laid out, but cosmetically unexceptional. “The owners had recently purchased the house and liked it the way it was,” Joe Nahem explains. They didn’t want to do any major renovations just make it their own.”
For a designer accustomed to taking on top-to-bottom overhauls requiring the hiring and supervision of teams of plumbers, electricians, plasterers, faux painters, and moving companies, the fine-tuned project was a nice change of pace. “There were no bathroom or kitchen renovations. So we could focus our full attention on searching for beautiful things,” says Nahem. “Almost everything we brought in was either designed or found in antique shops or artists’ studios.”
Nahem’s four-month hunt yielded furniture, lighting, ceramics, and glass from the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and represented the work of some of the best modern designers from Italy, Belgium, France, and America. Central to every room’s success was the homeowners’ own remarkable collection of modern and contemporary art, a bold body of original work by Vik Muniz, Jeff Koons, Sol Lewitt, and others.
“Some people might call the mix ‘eclectic’,” says Nahem. “But to me, that word suggests a room that has been thrown together by someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Nahem knew exactly how to make this mix work: With a dangerous palette of mauve, olive, and burnt orange, he skillfully wove together silk, wool, metal, and wood turning the tastefully traditional house into something brilliant and extraordinary.