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Thomas O'Brien's New York apartment photographed by Martyn Thompson.

Thomas O’Brien’s New York apartment photographed by Martyn Thompson.

Somewhere between 19th-century-style eclecticism and pared-down Modernism lies a highly personal style that I am very much drawn to, what I call Collected Cool. For those of us who want to embrace Modernism but feel left out in the cold where it comes to spare and stream-lined spaces this look summons the tradition of 19th-century collectors reinterpreted for modern living. The success of these rooms lies in their creator’s ability to synthesize antique, vintage and modern design into one decorative resolution. Often resembling artist’s ateliers they speak to my inner artist – rooms layered with art, curiosities and beloved collections; rooms that speak of the ever-evolving creative process. There is a casual insouciance inherent in their design … the leaning and stacked art work; the piles of books; the trays artfully displayed with bibelots; the occasional oddity.  Anything but formulaic, the creation of such rooms requires a discerning eye with the ability to curate and assemble objects so that their expressive qualities and spirit share a dialogue. It’s not an easy feat and requires trial and error, and constant editing. It requires the creator to know who they are and what they want. I think many of us reach a point, with the decoration of our homes, when we no longer want matching pillows and curtains. We want something more … something deeper that is a reflection of where we’ve been and where we’re going. The following rooms celebrate our artist within and open us up to a world of possibilities. Enjoy!

James Huniford-New York-Vernada-William Waldron

James Huniford’s New York apartment photographed by William Waldron for Veranda.

Adam Dolle-NYC-Met Home-Peter Estersohn

Designer Adam Dolle’s NYC apartment photographed by Peter Estersohn for Metropolitan Home.

Florence Lopez-Paris Studio-WoI-Jacques Dirand

Florence Lopez’s Paris studio-cum-apartment, c. 1995. Photo by Jacques Dirand for The World of Interiors.

Frédéric Méchiche-Paris-Elle Decor-Jacques Dirand

An earlier incarnation of Frédéric Méchiche’s Directoire-style Paris flat.  Photographed by Jacques Dirand for ElleDecor.

Nate Berkus-Hollywood Hills-Bazaar-Douglas Friedman

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s West Hollywood home. Photo by Douglas Friedman for Bazaar.

Paul Fortune-Hollywood Hills-HG-Oberto Gili

An aura of Old Hollywood imbues the Laurel Canyon home of Paul Fortune. Photography by Oberto Gili for House & Garden.

David Cruz & Richard Hochberg -Schiff House-Los Angeles-Tim Street Porter

David Cruz and Richard Hochberg’s Schiff House in Los Angeles. Photo by Tim Street-Porter.


Benoist Drut’s upstate New York home. Photo by William Waldron for Elle Decor.


The Montauk home of Robin Standefer and Kevin Guyer of Roman-Williams. From Martha Stewart Living.

Mark Cunningham-Hudson Valley-Elle Decor-WIlliam Waldron

Mark Cunningham’s Hudson Valley home photographed by William Waldron for Elle Decor.

Lorenzo Castillo

From Lorenzo Castillo on-line

Alredo Paredes-Brad Goldfarb-AD-Miguel Flores-Vianna

Alfredo Paredes and Brad Goldfarb’s New York City Apartment.  Photography by Miguel Flores-Vianna

Vicente Wolf-NYC loft-Elle Decor-May 2002

A photo taken by Vicente Wolf of his Manhattan loft for the May, 2002, issue of Elle Decor.

Vicente Wolf-Manhattan Apt-Rue Magazine-Jamie Beck

Vicente Wolf’s Manhattan bedroom. Photo by Jamie Beck for Rue Magazine.

Visit my Pinterest album Collected Cool + Urban Alchemy for more photos.

One Response to COLLECTED COOL

  1. January 28, 2015 at 6:34 am


    Thanks for the beautiful and inspiring images!