What happens when you marry a pop-up shop with a designer showhouse? You get a shoppable showhouse. This brilliant concept was brought to life in New York City by Domino magazine in the form of its first-ever ShopHouse. For the project, the editors of Domino chose four rising interior design firms to design four apartments on the 37th floor of the Financial District’s 15 William condominium. Each was paired with a favorite home furnishings brand — which is where we come in. Ballard Designs was lucky enough to be matched with design duo (and recent cover girls for Domino’s spring issue) Dolores Suarez and Caroline Grant of Dekar Design.
Guests are welcome to tour the quartet of apartments and shop any of the decor they see in any of the rooms. But since some of us can’t just hop on a jet for New York, we have the next best thing: a personal tour of the home with one half of the design team at Dekar Design. We got to chat with Dolores about the apartment and some of their inspirations for the project.
Ballard Designs: We were quite excited when we heard we would be matched with you.
Dolores Suarez: Same here! When Domino asked us to be a part of the project, they had suggested we might be a very good fit for Ballard. We were super excited. We were familiar with your brand — we had used some of your products on past projects — but this was a whole new level of introduction to things we love. We really had to go through all of your items, which was a great exercise for us. We were like, “Look at these amazing baskets and those fabulous curtains!” There were so many things we didn’t even know about.
BD: The apartment came together nicely. Can you describe the overall aesthetic of your design?
DS: Our concept was a young couple with a child who has traveled the world and collected something from every place they’ve visited. So it’s modern meets classic with a twist of boho chic.
BD: You have said that often in your work you take inspiration from the architectural bones of a place. How did this building inspire your choices?
DS: Because the building is so modern and really kind of a straight-forward design, we wanted to add some warmth and coziness to it. It has wonderful high ceilings and we were able to take advantage of that by creating different layering with wallpaper, texture and paint.
BD: Did the amazing view influence your design at all?
DS: Yes, we didn’t want to obstruct the view. And because the windows were so large, we were able to use some darker paints and some darker wall papers while still maintaining a great lightness in the apartment.
BD: As is the case with most apartments in New York City, the spaces are somewhat small. How did that influence your choices in furniture? It seems like most of the pieces you chose are pretty versatile.
DS: They are. For instance, in the living room, we chose a smaller sofa, a settee, and these comfortable armless chairs to try to make the room feel much lighter.
BD: Much of the furniture you chose has a classic shape, but you gave them a modern feel with your fabric choices.
DS: The sofa in the living room has a very classic shape, which we love, so we paired it with fabric that is a little more ethnic in feel to make it feel less straightforward. We wanted to kind of throw it on its head a bit. We did the same thing with the slipper chairs. They are very traditional, especially with those casters, so giving it this geometric print gave it a point of interest. It’s that push-pull of classic modern that we love.
BD: The fabric on the headboard in the bedroom was an interesting choice as well.
DS: Yes, we love that headboard. The pattern is really almost like blue waves, which we picked up from the view, because you see these blue skies right outside the window. The reason we picked that shape is because everything in the room is so square and the headboard is rounded and a little more elaborate, so it creates a softness.
BD: You have this great mix of patterns. What is your strategy for mixing patterns?
DS: We feel you’ve just got to throw it all in a blender and mix it up. We love to mix different patterns. We typically mix a small scale with a larger scale and vary the tones. Never have everything the exact color. It’s all about creating texture and a layered look.
BD: In the bedroom, you’ve got this deep plum color on the walls, which is kind of a bold choice for a bedroom. Why did you choose that color?
DS: We wanted to give it a moody vibe that felt very cozy, because we’ve got those large windows and the room can hold up to a dark paint color. We wanted to make it a bit of a jewel box.
BD: Tell us about the bedding mix.
DS: Your ticking stripes are just perfect, they really are. We used the stripes in both bedrooms. We mixed up all of the bedding — we used the Pom Pom Bedding with the Ticking Stripe Bedskirt. You have such great bedding, and people may not realize you can mix and match.
BD: The nursery is very chic and non-traditional.
DS: We’ve done numerous nurseries, and none of our clients want the traditional look. They want something a little more interesting and a little more timeless and grown up. We did it in a way that is very gender neutral, because we love that balance of the feminine and masculine. Nothing is ever too girly or too masculine. The crib is this wonderful gray and white, and we used our own wallpaper as a backdrop for it. We did the rest of the walls a moody blue and we did chalkboard paint in the bathroom.
BD: You put a chaise in the nursery rather than the typical glider. Why is that?
DS: We love the chaise for a nursery. Many of our clients don’t want the traditional glider, because they want a piece that’s going to stay there and that they can use for years. We kind of feel like nurseries are more for adults in a way. The chaise was a wonderful pick because it’s so comfortable. The adults are the ones who are going to be using it.
BD: The living room is very rich in texture.
DS: Again, we love layering. People tend to only pay attention to the furniture, but for us the backdrop — the walls, the flooring, the molding — is where we like to play with layers. We painted the baseboards dark. The wallpaper has almost a tonal weave of blues, deep navies. And we have that great chunky rug. The texture on the chairs and the patterns are adding another layer.
BD: You’re really working the “classic modern” vibe in the kitchen. You’ve got the more rustic Dorchester seating around the Terrific table in this very sleek kitchen.
DS: There wasn’t much room in the apartment for a big traditional dining room, but we imagined that this is a young couple in the apartment, and we thought it would be perfect for two or three people to fit around that round table in the kitchen. And, again, we layered it with colored glasses and dishes and a great tablecloth. The lighting fixture really grounds the dining space. If you didn’t have that pendant, the space wouldn’t have gotten the statement it needed.
BD: You’ve mentioned some of your wallpaper choices in several of the rooms. In every instance, you used only one wall as a focal point. Is that how you prefer to use wallpaper?
DS: In this apartment, because the rooms are small and there are a lot of beams and large windows, we felt the accent wall was plenty. If you started doing that dark wallpaper everywhere it would have made the room feel a little too closed in, so we tried to keep that balance with the accent walls. The nursery is bold with color and pattern, so we thought one wall with wallpaper was enough.
Lastly, are there any particular pieces you love?
DS: I have to say that headboard is absolutely fabulous. The nailheads and the ticking accents really make it feel so custom. That detail is fabulous. We loved it.
And we love the apartment. Thanks, Delores and Caroline!
See all of the apartments from the Domino ShopHouse in the Summer 2015 issue of Domino Magazine. ShopHouse is open by appointment through September. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a viewing.