DECORATING A HOME is often a struggle between the desire to make a style statement and the need to embrace a relaxed, comfortable vibe. Aesthetics for homes vary as much as the owners’ personalities, but the style should first and foremost suit the space. As one half of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, the home furnishings company with a signature store in Manhasset, Bob Williams curates home décor with a modern bent. Blending the shiny things, delicate lines and special materials are the basis for Williams’ method for dressing up a home and saving spaces from looking like they came straight out of a showroom.
Which styles have the most staying power?
I like clean, classic and modern—rooms that are balanced, furniture that has thin, delicate lines, and anything that’s polished stainless steel or antique brass. It really has a timeless feel. A track arm sofa in a neutral color is something you can live with for a very long time. You can build a room around it. Lucite and stainless steel for cocktail tables or consoles are great statement pieces that are very beautiful, very elegant and very timeless. These key pieces in a room are the foundation that I would build everything around.
What are some helpful tips for designing for a room’s function?
Most of the time people are more concerned about style and color rather than the function of the space. If it doesn’t fit your needs, then it doesn’t work, no matter what the color is or how much you love it.
For a family room, the key thing is furniture where people can feel relaxed. It sounds so basic but it’s the biggest mistake most people make. They buy sofas that are not comfortable in a space where you want to hang out. And it’s just as true the other way around, when people have a living room where they want to have friends over for a conversation and they buy these pieces that don’t allow people to sit up and converse.
If it’s a place where I want to watch TV and relax, the sofa is very deep, very loungey. For a conversation, you want something not as deep and a seat that sits a little higher, almost like a dining chair. Personally, I prefer sectionals in a TV room. It gives people a lot more space. But it’s great to have one other chair so not everyone has to be sitting on top of each other. Aside from the seating, the room can have a warm color palette and warm and fuzzy chenille fabrics.
What’s the best way to add glamour into a room?
That has a lot to do with the materials. Use items that have Lucite, bright brass or stainless steel, Tibetan wool as an accent, or anything that’s shiny and bright and of course, more sophisticated fabrics like silk, damask or velvet. I think silk drapes are probably the richest and most luxurious thing you can possibly do. Pillows are the next. They’re the things in the room that people can actually touch—they’ll immediately know it’s silk. And the same thing with velvet, [which] has an incredibly luxurious feel.
What kinds of home accessories are trending?
Things I would refer to as being a bit more modern, things that are silver or have a shine or are made of stone, like marble. The style is very clean. The accessories might have glass, a hammered texture or a matte type or pearlescent finish. And they would be in modern shapes. For example, we’ve got a hurricane that’s hexagon shaped with polished stainless steel and round glass. It’s a very familiar, traditional piece but it’s done in a very modern way. It’s a way to update your home to feel fresh and unique. We’re also seeing a big trend with gray colors, whether it’s our Tibetan wool pillows, Alpaca Macramé Charcoal throws or our shag rugs in gray and dark charcoal that make a bold statement. It’s a way of adding texture to the living room.
What about decorating trends?
Keeping the room simple, neutral and understated is a trend. As soon as you step outside your front door, it’s crazy, with advertisements and flashing signs. We found that when people get home and close that door behind them, they want a calm and relaxing atmosphere, without visual noise.
What’s an effective way to combine these current idioms with antiques or family treasures?
If you love it, go for it. If you have a great antique or heirloom piece that you’ve either inherited or have collected over time, be proud of it. Put it in a place where people can see it. I like the contrast between the old and the new. When people get dressed, they wear a pair of jeans and a $3,000 cashmere jacket. It’s the same thing with the house. You should have stuff that’s old, that’s new; some that’s expensive, some that’s not. A house should really feel collected, not like it’s been staged. It should feel like the owner and it should feel like it has been put together over time, not all from one shopping experience.