The most important thing in a home to me is the art. Almost anything can be “art” if you find it beautiful. The piece over our dining table was painted by a Queens street preacher giving a sidewalk sermon on “grace and resurrection.” The bright colors and energy set the tone for the house. Here’s a look at more of the art that inspired our home renovation.
I’ve moved many times in New York City, to apartments large and small. Common decor elements for me are always bare hardwood floors, white walls, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and colorful art. I have accrued a substantial collection of artwork—ranging from beautiful canvases given to me by artist friends to a giant painting I found in a SoHo dumpster to framed street posters—and I love them all.
I fell in love with this home just looking at the floorplan. Grainy photos of rooms in “estate condition” didn’t do it justice. I saw symmetry and proportion—and underutilized space in the entryway that I could use as a dining room, allowing me to open the cramped galley kitchen.
A floating sideboard topped with a kitchen-marble remnant helps define the entryway as a dining area.
The art above it is a poster that was plastered all over London in 1980, juxtaposing the engagement photo of Charles and Di with images of Koo Stark and Mick Jagger—insinuating both Royals had a “past.”
The original kitchen in our home was a dark, enclosed galley. I designed the new kitchen myself, opening up walls and spreading out into what had been an adjacent dining area, both on a raised platform. I kept the platform, as a nod to the midcentury era of the home.
The neutral white palette in the kitchen was a deliberate choice that allows this marble backsplash to be the star of the show. To achieve the dramatic arc in the marble above the cooktop, I had a fabricator bookmatch two adjacent slabs. Even a kitchen backsplash can be art!
I kept all of the wall cabinets to one side in my layout, to keep the kitchen open and bright. Above the sink a brass picture rail picks up the finish of the sink fixtures—and is another place to lean art.
The view into the next room provides a tantalizing peek at floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. I love walls of book shelves. I find the collage of colorful spines also like art.
When I’m tucked up with a book in this room, the art that faces me is a dramatic painting that I call Red Dog.
The large canvas over our bed in the master bedroom I found in a dumpster in Soho while I was rollerblading up the westside highway.
Can you believe it? I gave it an hour in case someone decided they’d made a mistake. When I’d finished my workout and it was still there, that was the Art Gods telling me it was mine. Luckily my car was parked just a few blocks away. It’s a Mini, but I still managed to fit the painting in (barely) with the convertible top down, steering the car with one hand and holding onto this giant canvas for dear life with the other.
The painting on my nightstand is by a Jackson Heights painter whom I met at St. Mark’s summer flea market. The scene is one very familiar to me—the garden of the Towers, where my best friend’s family used to live.
The nightstands, by the way, are repurposed floating shelves with flip down doors—one of my more successful hacks. I’ve hacked many things—cut down window shades to fit and even created a desk-for-two from an old IKEA media center. You might say hacking furniture is my “creative” outlet.
Finally, let’s take a look at the art in the bathroom.
You might be tempted to put your least favorite art in a bathroom, but that’s a mistake. There’s really no better place for art than a bathroom.
In what other room do you spend enough time to actually contemplate the art?
I’m inspired every day by people who create things with their hands—makers, artists, artisans, painters. I don’t have that talent, to bring a vision in my head to life using raw materials, paint, textiles. The closest I ever get to that is when I renovate a home. An empty room or new home is my blank canvas.