New York City is a vibrant, energetic, creative and thought-provoking city and I decided to start my new year (not to mention celebrate a semi-significant birthday) with a seven day adventure. My goals? To re-fill my imagination bank and have some fun. As much as it sounds like a cliche, NYC makes me feel like anything is possible and I get completely inspired by it. There are hundreds of great decor stores in the city and I tracked down several that were outstanding- and different from what we have up here in Toronto (this was key). It was a very cold week in NYC last week so I dressed up in layers and took warm-up breaks whenever possible (hello, morning lattes and mid-afternoon wine). Despite the chill, there was a lot going on in January with blessedly few tourists to block my path. I worked my way through several different areas including the ritzy department stores of 5th Ave, the flower markets of Chelsea, the unlimited dress-making suppliers in the garment district, the boutiques of Soho and the vintage shops of Brooklyn. While it’s extremely hard to narrow down my favourites, I am going to give you my top pics to get you started. Truthfully, if you are in any of these areas you will find lots to see and I encourage you to get as lost as possible -with a handy subway map in your pocket of course. For those who can’t get away right now, check out the websites linked to each name. Sometimes just a quick peak at some pretty images can lift your spirits.
I’ll start at Bergdorf Goodman’s since I essentially made a beeline for it as soon as I got off the plane. Arguably the city’s most glamorous department store, the top floor is a heaven of small decorated rooms filled with treasure after treasure. Perhaps the most well-known is the Kelly Wearstler collection, which isn’t new but it IS jaw-dropping. Taking glam to it’s ultimate heights may not be your thing (nor is it mine) but it’s absolutely worth a look. And while your at it, make sure to drop in to BG (the gorgeous resto-lounge overlooking Central Park) for a cocktail and a true New York Moment. I treated myself to birthday lunch here and loved every minute of it.
The candle room at Bergdorf’s made me want to stay all day:My second must-see location is ABC Carpet and Home. This place is a decorator’s dreamland with 6 floors of absolutely mind-boggling creativity. While many of you decor-types have already visited, the trends on display here are still inspiring
and it’s worth another wander. I spent hours looking and found several themes that I also saw in Paris this past August. Namely, a very casual chic that is deconstructed and mismatched. Fabrics are textured, worn and lived-in. Glam is gone, replaced by real-living and comfort. There are hand-blown pendant lights over everything, sometimes hung so low that you have to walk around to get by. Couches are slouchy and often done in linen. Rugs are layered, frayed and essential. It’s a pleasurable style that doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy or bohemian- it’s just low maintenance and cool. Oh course, contemporary designers like Tom Dixon were also on display but I feel like the other room-sets were are where the juiciest ideas come to life.
In table-top, dishes are hand-made (or looked so) and are without decoration. One of the hottest style I saw was matte-black or grey. Table lines are gauzy and layered and let the beauty of worn-wood tables show through.
Ok, moving on the amazing boutiques of Soho. There are three that really stand out for me, although there are many more that I loved. The first is a wonderful shop called Michele Varian on Howard Street. This place is a must-see and carries everything from jewelry to wallpaper. With a truly unique, quirky vision it’s different from anything else I’ve seen. Really, it’s a good lesson for designers: let yourself fall ALL the way down the rabbit hole, wherever it may take you.
Next on my list is a custom-embroidery shop called Ankasa with an absolutely BEAUTIFUL selection of fabrics, furniture pieces, bedding and accessories. You can have anything custom done if you like or buy something off the floor and either way it’s a win win.
I also loved Calypso Home for it’s relaxed beachy rugs and furniture. I loved their circular table-top lights that cast a gorgeous glow and added a cool touch to a vignette. I’ve never seen these anywhere else and wanted to bring one home…but resisted the temptation -something I’ve since come to regret.
Two other greats in Soho worth checking out? Aero by Thomas O’brien (grown-up furniture also carried at Elte in Toronto) and Ochre (drop dead gorgeous everything).
Next stop for decor inspiration in New York is actually in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Just a quick subway ride away from Manhattan this area is chock-full of the weird and the wonderful and is worth an afternoon of mucking about. There aren’t any high-end boutiques here (yet and please never!) so there’s lots of room for smaller vintage shops with everything from mid-centure modern to Victoriana. The prices were very low –(compared with Toronto) and made me want to ship home a container to sell from my living room. Alas, my entrepreneurial spirit was dampened by a gin and soda at the Wythe Hotel…and I saved myself quite a jumble in my little condo. Maybe next time…. That’s all for now…it was a true task to narrow down my selects and I’m still processing all of the great new information that has come my way. All in all, I’ve decided that I need to go back, like now. In my next post I will give you a taste of the fabulous window displays I saw across the city because there are really nothing like them. I heart NY.