Kristy Cohn has been a design enthusiast since childhood. Encouraged by her parents to explore her curiosity for design, her passion for great interiors has only grown since then. Now Kristy is both an interior designer and an antiques dealer, helping her clients create breathtaking and memorable homes through her business, Kristy Cohn Design. Kristy sat down with us to talk about her love for design, while spilling her secrets for creating beautiful interiors.
How did your passion for design and antiques begin?
I think I was born with an innate passion for design without actually realizing it. I incorporated it into daily life as one would with any regular routine. My dad had vision and my mother had classic taste, and I believe I inherited both qualities and applied them to everything from clothes to decorating my room to decorating a cake.
As for antiques, I fell in love with them after living in New Orleans in my early twenties. I loved the style of New Orleans. I developed an appreciation for the antiques, the old world design, the peeling paint, the architecture. When you have the luxury of immersing yourself into the local culture, it seeps into your bones and never leaves you. When I moved to L.A. later on, I would shop the local vintage and thrift stores for anything that struck me, art, tables, crystal goblets, lamps, rugs etc. I would happily live on cereal for a week so I could purchase my latest finds.
What was the first antique you collected?
I would say up until moving to New York in my thirties, I had mostly collected vintage. But when I met my ex-husband, the real collecting began. He was already a collector, and I started adding French and Italian antiques to the mostly English pieces he had acquired. A lot of the pieces are my favorite until another new favorite takes it place. Some of my favorites have been a neoclassical screen purchased in New Orleans, a 19th century French commode in an exquisite shade of blue, as well as a Venetian commode.
How important are antiques in creating beautiful interiors?
I think antiques create a one of a kind interior. I always tell my clients, you don’t need me to create a catalog room with everything shiny and new and trendy. Those elements are fine, but I like to create something classic where the “trendy” items can be replaced over time to keep the look fresh and classic. I want to know who is living in a space when I walk in, as opposed to wondering if I’ve stumbled into the pages of a catalog.
What is your signature style?
My overall underlying style is classic elegance. For me that incorporates a touch of whimsy, bold colors, wacky collections, and beautiful art. Sometimes the taste between husband and wife vary, so you have to get really creative and become a successful moderator to make it work for both.
How can someone hone their eye for design and antiques?
I think if one looks at enough design magazines and creates a file with tear sheets of those rooms that resonate the most, they will find an underlining theme of what appeals to them. It could be the colors, furniture style, or art. What I would caution is to avoid being too detail-oriented. Some people see a small corner of a space and wind up with a lot of vignette photographs that aren’t showing the overall look and feel of the room. I would also suggest noticing in the professional magazines which style antiques work best with other furniture. The most overused word in design is “eclectic”. That doesn’t mean that any old thing works well with everything. It doesn’t mean a hodgepodge, but rather pieces that flow and work well together effortlessly.
What do you look for when adding antiques to your collection?
For me personally, while I scan something I’m drawn to will pop out and say “take me, we are meant to be together.” As a dealer when buying in general, I still apply that principle, but I’ll purchase items that I like and think others will as well. Especially mirrors, lamps and accessories as those are always needed in any space.
What defines great style?
I think great style evokes a positive emotion, whether that’s a wow factor from a dramatic standpoint or a warm and inviting space you want to have gatherings with loved ones in. For me, I am always inspired by quality of architecture, furniture, fabrics, book collections as well as other personal collections. And of course, special touches like fresh flowers add a bit of beauty and happiness.
What is your most cherished antique?
My most cherished antique of the moment is a wing chair with an amazing gilded carved base I purchased from my good friend Cliff Leonard of C.M. Leonard Antiques. I’ve never seen one like it, and I had to have it. My collection of hand painted Venetian photographs from the Grand Tour are also some of my favorites. I have an obsession with Venice.
What is the most rewarding part of being a designer and a dealer?
I love designing and creating spaces for a client that they will enjoy living and raising their kids in. Getting to know my clients and their families and watching their kids grow is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in designing multiple residences and offices as my clients’ real estate investments grow. I even designed bar mitzvah invitations for one of my clients with twin boys. I also look forward to designing for those clients as they become empty nesters.
Cant’t get enough of Kristy’s classic style? Check out her collection right here on The HighBoy: