Saturday, January 2, 2010

Frank Faulkner: An Artist's Eye

The Hudson, New York living room of the artist Frank Faulkner is a good example of a "real" room (not one styled for a magazine shot) that works -it functions for day to day living and provides comfort while looking good. It's obviously the home of a collector- there are interesting objects everywhere-  yet it feels contemporary, not cluttered or stuffy. Faulkner has renovated 14 (!) houses and has come up with some rather fun quotes that fit in well with what we're always preaching, so here they are:
PLAY WITH SCALE: "Nothing's more fun than an overscaled piece...when it's right." Here the small fireplace mantle is dwarfed by the over scale artwork above it. A daring move, but it works because the pictures hung on either side go right up to the ceiling, filling in the space and creating a clean, unbroken line for the eye. And the huge artwork is contemporary while the mantle is classical - the tension created between the two feels fresh and new.
TRUST SYMMETRY: "When you shop, look for pairs. If perfect symmetry isn't possible, then aim for balance by using things of equal volume." Here the chairs flanking the fireplace provide needed symmetry to the arrangement, while linking the 2 sofas together.

On this wall,  PLAYING WITH SCALE continues. Another huge canvas is mounted behind the sofa, filling the entire space and again going right up to the ceiling. The bust ("classical and whimsical") on a plinth in the corner is also on a grand scale. Both add a feeling of substance to the room.

USE COLOR CAUTIOUSLY: "I love color but I use it very respectfully." Color is at work here, although not in an obvious way. The animal print thrown on the back of the sofa adds contrast and texture and happily mixes with the stripe pillow. Lots of white is used throughout to add freshness. Although nothing really matches, it's all harmonious.

CURTAINS SHOULD BLEND: "The cheaper the fabric the better, so they can be very full...I usually do them out of muslin with brass grommets at the top, so i can hang them from a rod with white plastic shower rings. I always tell myself the rings are ivory." We say: "Whatever works!"

TREASURE THREADBARE RUGS: "I am a member of the confederation called The Rotten Rug Society." The large faded patterned rug grounds everything and adds subtle color, picking up the grey blues of the canvas. And while it doesn't have to be exactly "rotten",  a little wear and tear is perfectly acceptable, and often desirable.

MIX THE HUMBLE WITH THE REFINED: "I'd just as soon take a piece of junk and tart it up as buy an expensive antique. I"ll often spend as much as $40 a weekend at the flea market. and I'll find things that give me more joy than an antique with the highest provenance.  If I do have something good, i'll put something humble next to it, to de-glaze the good thing- make it less pompous. This sepia print was in ...Antique Center for at least two years. I finally bought it and hung it over this rather good Biedermeier chest of drawers. I can't tell you the number of decorators who've since asked to buy it from me. Yet it sat there for two years, unloved and unwanted, for no money." It's all in the mix.

NOTHING IS SACRED - PAINT IT, STRIP IT, BLEACH IT!: "When I first found this Gothic cupboard  in a flea market, it had a starved dark brown varnish finish. I've painted it, over the years, white, grey-green, several shades of red, and finally, as it is now, black-overlay with some red showing through." Also note the tattered burlap upholstered chair- it adds to the charm.

SPEND AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE ON KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS: "Fancy kitchens depress me. I think kitchens and baths should be simple and utilitarian." Kitchens don't have to look like sterile stainless steel laboratories- they can be as soulful and evocative as the rest of your home.

BRING IN LIGHT AND LIFE: "They are the two most important things a room can have. Sunshine, breezes, plants, books, of course, but also sparkle- mirrors, candles- lend vitality." Absolutely the key ingredients for a room that sings....Happy New Year!

Courtesy of Rural Intelligence

1 comment:


I absolutely love this. I agree with almost everything here- threadbare rugs, mixing fine with humble, and especially not treating anything as too precious. And the shower curtain rings in a living space? They WORK, and he owns it! Lauren