Rod found this astonishingly beautiful sculpture in a New York city junk shop, drawn to it because it reminded him of how his own brother looked as a little boy. Turns out it is a rare piece by Harlem Renaissance artist Richmond Barthe, one of eight believed by art experts to exist. (Two other known examples are displayed at Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic FallingWater and at the Chicago Art Institute.) The artistic merit of the piece was obvious, even among the junk, but, says Rod, “I never thought it would turn out to be the proverbial Van Gogh in the attic. For me it was something I felt emotionally drawn to and I would be regardless of its value.”
If an existing architectural element isn’t helping, like this brick fireplace and builder’s grade exit door, it’s hurting. So Roderick removed the fireplace and painted the wall in vertical stripes to distract from the darkness. “Whenever it’s dark or small, go for a strong pattern or strong color. Sometimes both. They work to distract the eye away from whatever problem the room has,” says Rod. Then he added a flourish of draperies to visually expand the door area while adding privacy and softness all at once. The pop of color – purple – enlivens the room and adds a touch of Dior to the grey and white theme. Lush touches, some flea market finds, others from elite trade-only design resources, add elegance and texture to the space. A ceiling medallion and crown molding add a been-here-forever architectural pedigree to the ceiling, while a crystal chandelier sheds light on main attraction, the bed. A simple, tufted, upholstered headboard opens up the bed to the room, provides storage thanks to a hinged platform and gives it a smaller footprint than the former sleigh bed. Rich charcoal grey slate flooring in a natural cleft finish replaces the carpeting, and area rugs make for a soft, warm landing spot upon waking. “it’s all about the contrast between rough, natural finishes and highly stylized elements.” Art by Benice Horowitz brings the outdoors in while adding bold, graphic punctuation points throughout the room.
Look for more on this terrific guest suite in upcoming posts, including a superb bathroom makeover on a budget, great ideas for storage and home office organization.