Trends may come and go, but when you’re designing your home, the most essential factor is that the space be a direct reflection of yourself—your wants, needs, inspirations, and style. This is how Homepolish designer Nicole Watts plans her vision for a space, and so, when it came to her client Avni Shah’s new build in New York, she had a blank palette with which to truly understand who Shah was.
In this case, Shah knew that she wanted her background to be displayed in the home in a modern, fresh way. “The initial inspiration came from wanting to do a modern twist on Avni's Indian heritage,” explains Watts. “I wanted the space to feel colorful, but not overwhelming.”
To do so, Watts focused on color and texture, but balanced out those artful elements with neutrals. In Shah’s living room, for example, all-white walls play off an ombre rug (“ABC Home’s silk rugs are to die for!” says Watts) and gold accessories, while playful pillows provide a vibrant pop. The open shelving also allows for more opportunity to display objects close to Shah’s heart.
“I wanted the rug to play off the wild wallpaper in the adjoining dining room,” explains Watts, who really went all out with that particular space. Not only does dramatic lighting and a huge mirror bring in sparkle, but bold aqua and white wallpaper is quite the maximalist backdrop for the metallic decorative objects. For Watts, this is truly the room in which her design ethos is most succinctly explained.
“I was exploring using a lot of patterns, shapes, and textures with this project, and it is reflected in the dining room,” she says. “I think the minimalist dining table from Design Within Reach really kept everything balanced, and I love the way all the elements came together.” All the metallic elements, for instance, play off each other. Even the table accessories have hints of gold. Sourced from Indian homegoods store Good Earth, they were an easy way to add traditional Indian accents into the home.
“I also love the attached bar cabinet,” says Watts. “We loved the design from a Jonathan Adler piece, but the materials were too glossy for this space. We incorporated our own design for the interior and fabricated—the results are quite beautiful.” That attention to detail ensures that each furniture piece has elements that play off the overall theme of the home, with a few neutrals mixed in to keep things cohesive.
Watts’s favorite room in the home, however, is actually a mix of two distinct areas—the study and the foyer. Knowing that these two spaces needed to be separate, Watts invested in what she considers her “biggest hit yet”: a brass and walnut divider custom created by NYC-based design studio Lafunc.
“After looking through some inspiration images, I thought a divider that still allowed a lot of light through would really make a impact,” explains Watts of the inspired design choice. “Avni tells me the divider gets a lot of compliments and attention... just what I was looking for. Mission accomplished!” The intricate designs in the divider allow for a peep into the study, without giving too much away.
The study itself is also a fun play on contrast, with bright red drapes and crisp whites lending an elevated look. “It’s hard to pick just one, but I would say the study is my favorite room in the house,” says Watts. “The bright whites, pops of color, the iridescent fire orange drapes... and the walnut and brass divider! The divider was a home run.”
This combination of elements makes for a space that both showcases Shah’s personality and provides an area in which she can focus. Playful elements like a peacock statue and feathers are subtle homages to Shah’s Indian heritage. "Peacocks are India's national bird, and symbolize grace, pride and beauty, which I think both of these decorative elements do well for the study,” explains Watts.
A more subdued kitchen and bedroom round out the home, as Watts finds those places work best as minimalist rooms in order to keep things clean. “I wanted to keep the bedroom in the skin tone world to provide a soft, relaxing feeling,” she explains. “The wallpaper adds interest, and offers the eye to move around the room without being overwhelming.” Dark accents add some drama, but not too much.
More peacock inspiration can be found in the bathroom, with the stunning wallpaper adding a punch in the small space. “Life is short—use color!” advises Watts. “Start small by adding color with textiles such as pillows, drapes, decor, etc. This will give you a chance to ease into it…. before you go big!” And go big, she did.
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