Jan 09, 2024

Inside Rebecca Gardner’s NYC Pied-à-Terre

Founder of Houses & Parties, Rebecca Gardner, invites us into her Greenwich Village pied-à-terre — an ode to intimate fêtes and unapologetic maximalism. Read on to discover the inspiration behind Rebecca’s distinctive style and her tips for mastering trim in parties and interiors.

Photographed by Annie Schlechter | Styled by Bebe Howorth

Samuel & Sons: Can you walk us through the inspiration behind your fabulous pied-à-terre?
Rebecca Gardner: The apartment is on the highest floor in one of Greenwich Village’s highest buildings that was once the Fifth Avenue Hotel. It’s a glamorous address with a big brass awning and marble on every surface. I wanted the rooms to feel swishy despite their modest size. The design directive was very straightforward: den of iniquity at the turn of the last century. Everything covered in tassels.

S&S: How would you describe your personal style?
RG: Fortune favors the bold.

S&S: How do you balance making a space feel like home while maintaining a stylish interior ready for hosting?
RG: Oh I think that comfortable spaces that feel like home ARE stylish interiors ready for hosting. You have to be comfortable to have a good time and you have to have a good time for a successful party. Circle of (my) life.

S&S: Color is a defining element of this space. How did you develop such a vibrant palette that you can also live with day-to-day?
RG: All of the rooms face south so I have a glorious sunset each evening. When the sun hits the yolky silk curtains and bounces off of the paprika carpet onto the dirty lavender walls - it’s on fire. This is my pied-à-terre so I’m mostly here for pleasure. I’m out and about, working, most days. These spaces are to enjoy in the evening.

S&S: You have a lot of classical design elements, like passementerie, but the rooms as a whole feel fresh and whimsical. How do you walk that line between timeless and fun?
RG: Coco Chanel supposedly said “...before you leave the house look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” I’d like to point out that the fashion icon was known to wear eight to nine ropes of pearls at a time. I always add a few more notes just to make sure no one misses the point.

S&S: This project does not shy away from trim. How would you describe trim’s role in this space?
RG: Trim makes upholstery, curtains, lampshades, pillows, bookshelves and everything else look finished AND custom AND expensive. All of the tassels certainly help to tell my Victorian brothel narrative, but you are sure this madam is watching her books.

S&S: Would you credit your comfort with trim to your southern upbringing, or is that something that has developed over time?
RG: I don’t know if trim is Southern, but it’s certainly classic. I enjoy making spaces in good taste and then I serve them too much champagne. Nothing should ever be too appropriate. Boring is the worst.

S&S: The Caitlin Tassel Fringe has been a designer favorite this past year. What is it about this finishing touch that appealed to you for the bedroom?
RG: I’ve had a small memo of this decadent fringe on my bulletin board for years. The scale is lush and dramatic. The cotton threads are matte and a youthful alternative to shiny silk. I have a cheap floor light (like you would use on a parlor palm) on the floor behind my bed. It casts a killer shadow on the fringe - like a magician.

S&S: As a self-professed maximalist, how do you determine when a space has reached its zenith, a point where you feel it’s complete and resist the urge to add more?
RG: I know the space is finished when I’m ready to have a party. The truth is, no room is ever really complete.

S&S: Trim is often associated with interior design, but you’ve incorporated it into countless events. Talk us through trim’s place in party planning.
RG: Oh, I put key tassels on the corners of menu cards, tape with fringe around table lampshades, giant tie-backs on a Christmas tree! I went to a party last week and hung tassels from my Deco diamond ear clips. Everywhere! Anywhere!

S&S: What are your non-negotiable design details for hosting a party?
RG: This never changes: flattering candlelight and heavy pours.

S&S: What advice do you have for designers who have yet to embrace trim as wholeheartedly in their projects?
RG: Trim finishes all interior styles. A grosgrain cord on the leading edge of a simple curtain pushes that curtain further towards elegance in a modern interior. Trim adds interest. If you don’t believe me, count your yards of self-welt and weep.

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