With a busy design firm, a book and 7 kids, it’s go, go, go for design duo Bob and Cortney Novogratz. Dabble talks to Cortney about the strategic mix of high and low and new and vintage.
DAB: How did you discover your passion for design, and how do you make it work living and working together, blending your creative personalities?
CN: I don’t know if passion found us or we found it. We bought a condemned building in New York City when we got engaged and renovated it. It took us about 3 buildings before people started saying, ‘you should do this for a living’. We found our job and career in that one home. We learned along the way. Eventually, friends and family members asked us to do their places and our careers took off.
DAB: Why is it important to create accessible design, regardless of budget?
CN: At the end of the day, everyone should have an amazing house. It really is a sanctuary, so to speak. For a lot of people, they don’t have the budget. Some of our best ideas come when we have a small budget. That’s when we have to be creative and think everything through because there is no room for mistakes. Buying items at flea markets gives you the freedom to be more unique. It doesn’t matter if you only paid $20 for an item at a garage sale. That’s what makes it cool.
DAB: You like to combine new and vintage. At what part in the process do you determine which items should be new and and which ones should be vintage?
CN: A sofa, for example, needs to be comfortable and it needs to last. You’re not going to buy a sofa every few years, so if you find a vintage one with good bones, you need to make sure it’s reupholstered properly. When we shop at chain stores, we buy a solid piece that’s gonna last and that’s adorable. Then we sprinkle in one-of-a-kind, funky, flea market pieces. I think the combination of modern, brand-new mixed with mom-and-pop, antiquey stores is ideal. That old piece brings soul to the house, and the new piece brings in the function that we need.
DAB: You aren’t afraid to use bold colours. What advice would you give to someone who wants to use colour but is afraid?
CN: Start off slowly if you’re having anxiety over color. Paint a focal wall a really bright color. Maybe the wall behind your bed or just a door. Live with it, see if you like it. Then, paint the ceiling, or finish off the other walls. You could also paint a chest of drawers in a really bright color. I think we can all live with more color and should take a risk.
DAB: What 3 tips would you give someone trying to achieve a vintage / modern look?
CN: Buy something old, a lamp, a chair, a vase. And then buy something contemporary, with clean lines. Maybe a sofa or coffee table. Add a mixture of textures with pillows and fabrics. If one fabric is a linen, add wool or an old quilt. If you bought an old lamp, buy a big, modern lamp shade. I think it’s just mixing all the things you love so it feels like a home, rather than something “decorated”. That’s important to me.
DAB: Is there a city or country where you haven’t designed, but would like to?
CN: Oh, definitely Asia. So we want to go to Japan. My daughter wants to go too. We have a place in South America so we go to Brazil quite a bit, which has really been inspiring. But I think the more travel we have… oh, India! My daughter would definitely say India.