As a former editor for top shelter magazines, New York City-based interior designer Charles Riley is no stranger to the intoxicating yet sometimes overwhelming world of design trends. We talked with Riley about how he learned to quiet the noise and instead use his clients as inspiration.
Long Island Pulse: You started out in design and then worked as a magazine editor for a while. What made you decide to step back into the design business?
Charles Riley: Interior design was always my first interest. I started as an assistant, gained some photo styling experience and then entered the editorial world. I enjoyed finding interesting locations and props to style shoots with. As an editor I had a first look at the latest trends and new products ahead of time, but had mixed feelings about it when working with my private clients. Sometimes I was seeing great ideas so far in advance that by the time they came to market, I wasn’t as interested.
LIP: How do you navigate design trends with clients today?
CR: Most of my clients aren’t so focused on trends, they are more concerned with being comfortable and what works for them. I do have one client who wanted a Hollywood Hills-type feeling for his summer home in the Hamptons. So for that, we dipped into the mid-century modern trend a few years ago. Lots of inspiration from magazines heavily drove that project.
LIP: Where do your projects take you and what have you been working on lately?
CR: I am based out of New York City, so I do a lot of work there, some on the West Coast and in New Hampshire, where I am originally from. Right now I’m working with a couple on Long Island, helping them downsize from their family home to a condo. I’m seeing more of this lately—empty nesters seeking help with how to take on a move like this. After accumulating so much over a lifetime, it’s very hard to narrow down what should stay and what should go. It’s easier to have someone else work with you to edit it all.
Design Tip: Copying design from a printed or digital image won’t necessarily create the same room you see in the photo—most of these rooms were styled and photographed professionally. Instead, find what draws you in, such as specific colors or fabrics, and use those for inspiration.