Homepolish designer Marc Houston applies his connoisseur's eye for color and movement to create a whimsical, playful escape for his Brooklyn-based client.
Photos by Claire Esparros.
Some clients are afraid of color, but Homepolish designer Marc Houston quickly found his client, Hilary Park was not that kind of person.
“From the start, she made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with white, so I took this as license for temerity with the palette,” Marc tells us. “While I don’t shy away from color in my work if I feel there is sufficient context for it, Hilary’s ardent inclination toward it bolstered my choice of hyper-saturated tones.”
Hyper-saturated might be an understatement. Before Marc arrived, the home was certainly not devoid of color and pattern. Hilary, an avid traveler, has a large collection of pieces picked up from around the globe, but needed help making it all work in a cohesive manner.
“Hilary has a distinct affinity for spirited color and came armed with a melange of global inspirations and artifacts collected from her travels, so there was a wealth of material with which to work. However, the space felt haphazard and frenetic and was severely overcrowded with furniture,” recalls Marc.
Marc’s goal was to find ways to translate that personality into something that reflected the refinement of the loft’s bones. Beanbags and tiki-inspired thatched window canopies showed off the client’s whimsy but didn’t reflect the loft’s bones.
“The charm and architectural presence of this historic cast iron building was literally buried under a myriad of competing influences all vying for attention,” Marc said.
But before Marc got started on adding pieces to the home, he and Hilary settled on a setup that would create a flow and sense of openness to the space. “The first order or business was to edit and organize her inventory into a more focused narrative without sacrificing an atmosphere that felt authentically eclectic,” Marc tells us.
For the overall vibe of the space, Marc decided to bring playfulness and art together as one. To channel “Paul Klee meets Frida Kahlo” and “bohemian surrealism,” Marc implemented Mondrian-esque storage cabinets and infusions of color and texture at every turn.
Ultimately, the pair made the big decision to swap the living and dining spaces creating a more pleasing flow for both morning breakfasts and major dinner parties.
To help knit together the new flow, a 20-foot-long window seat (that doubles as storage) now wraps around the space. This neat feature allows Hillary to tuck away some of her more precious books, while also providing ample seating for guests.
Once Marc and Hilary wrapped up the living and dining rooms—the original scope of the project—they both felt that the traditional kitchen felt too bland compared to its elevated counterparts.
To match the level of the rest of the home, Marc was hit with an unusual inspiration for the cabinetry.
“I had escaped to Miami during the winter months and was sitting on the beach looking out on the ocean which displayed an intense chromatic gradient from which waves were racing toward the shore and crashing at the water’s edge, rippling and foaming in their return to the sea,” Marc recalls.
“Hilary and I had expressed a kinship over tropical climates and she had recently returned from one such trip to the bitter cold of New York when I had the thought, ‘If we can’t be at the beach, why not bring the beach to us?’”
“That exchange sparked the genesis of the concept,” the designer continues. “I wanted to inject movement and tactility into the space which occupies a rather static corner of the apartment. The texturing of the cabinet faces recalls the ebb and flow of an enveloping surf, almost as if it’s subtly advancing from the backdrop of stacked ceramic glazed tile before retreating back into its expanse.”
Attaining such an artistic vision wasn’t easy. Each cabinet had to be mapped, carved, and sanded by hand in coordination with the each neighboring cabinet as well.
The surf-inspired work was a bit more radical than usual, but Hilary took it in stride.
“I am in constant pursuit of innovation and I push my clients to take risks and step beyond the familiar,” Marc tells us. “Despite my prodding, I am typically not met with such enthusiastic support, much less approval, of daring and often polarizing concepts, the textured cabinets being one of them. Hilary didn’t bat an eye.”