Defining Modern Baroque

Hilary White of Liv Chic certainly knows how to bring energy to a room. The Long Island-based designer has grown a successful business infusing her clients’ homes with funky designs that are trendy with a touch of romance. Here, we talk with White about her unique Modern Baroque style.

Long Island Pulse: Tell us about how you started your company.
Hilary White:
I started Hilary White Interior Design (HWID) six years ago, which developed into Liv Chic ( when I began to offer furniture as well as design services. At the time, I was working at a design firm and was involved [in] a project for a small clothing boutique in SoHo . That’s where my Modern Baroque aesthetic came about. The client shoppers at the store really loved how the whole look came together. We received such great feedback and so many people wanted a similar look, but the antique reproduction pieces we used are so expensive. That’s when I decided to start to set out on my own, manufacturing pieces myself.

LIP: Your work has such a funky vibe. Why Baroque?
I love the ornate details from that time period. It’s so romantic. To make it more modern, I like mixing pieces with bold, graphic patterns. In times of recession, I feel that people are more drawn to a more ornate aesthetic, because it gives them a feeling of grandeur in these tough times. This look is also very big in Europe, and while it is filtering over into the US, there just aren’t as many companies offering furniture with this look. I wanted to fill that void.

LIP: What are some ways to incorporate this look at home?
Some like to take this look way over the top, while others simply want a few statement pieces. Personally, I like to keep the majority of a room more muted and then add in one or two trendier pieces, such as a brightly–painted chair in a funky fabric, that make a splash. For the bedroom, it’s all about the bed and a great headboard, and then filling in with some accessories. After that, I always focus on good lighting and making sure artwork and photos are hung well.

LIP: Tell me about your furniture and fabric lines.
My designs are all based on antique French designs—they are timeless. They can work in a super modern space or look just at home in a traditional setting. I like to think our offerings are very fluid. They’re all so fun to work with, too. We can switch up the paint color or fabric choice. It’s fun to play around.

LIP: You are very active with social media. How has it changed the design industry?
With the access to just about everything and anything that the internet provides, it can be hard for companies to compete with one another. However, if your brand stands out, you can really reap the rewards. A majority of our clients are in that 24-to-35-year age range. They’re young and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Having a visibility in those spaces has helped us connect with so many of our clients. We tend to do a lot of work for NBA players and their wives. It’s been so great.

LIP: Any standout projects that you’d like to talk about?
We recently finished a house in Tennessee for an NBA player. The house is 8,000 square feet and we took on the complete renovations, including the architectural work. It was fun, but a definite challenge. He likes a more modern style, she wanted it colorful and funky—so we met in the middle and it turned out amazing! We’re also switching gears a bit and working on a home with a shabby chic vibe. I will still be using a lot of my furniture, but adding in lots of distressed white finishes and a softer palette. It’s great to mix things up sometimes.

Design Tip: Indulging in trends is fun, but too much can make a room look overdone. Introduce trends in subtle ways—reupholster a chair in a zebra print fabric, add a touch of glamour with a sparkling chandelier or update your bed with a few pillows in the season’s hottest color.

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.