One designer insists that if you stop looking for pieces that fit together and just buy what you love, eventually what you love will find a way to fit.
Neal Beckstedt is a designer’s designer.
His studio’s commissions include the oceanfront vacation home of fashion designer Derek Lam and the Manhattan apartment of eyewear designer Robert Marc. However, despite being known for an aesthetic that’s crisp, urbane and immaculately clean, he doesn’t necessarily expect his clients’ aesthetics to match.
“My role is not to impose my tastes on a client, but to reflect their own individual personalities,” Beckstedt explains. By playing detective and therapist, Beckstedt can discover the inner decorator in nearly everyone.
But how do people without interior design experience learn what works and what doesn’t? “First, you need to trust your instincts,” Beckstedt says. Keep on shopping and look everywhere — flea markets, online, street fairs. “The more you see, the more your taste evolves,” he says. If you don’t buy anything unless it speaks to you, eventually you will begin to see commonalities among what you’ve purchased. “You have to find pieces you really love and have faith that they will really work with each other eventually.”
Many New Yorkers’ ever-shuffling changes of address often helps distill their collections. “What you care about most will remain and reflect who you are and what you care about,” Beckstedt says.
“How to Put Things Together”
But does everything have a place? Beckstedt reassures that “you can take anything and make it look chic. A lot of people don’t know how to put things together, and that’s where I come in. I’m often asked to help people find certain things, and I also work with clients who want to reuse existing pieces.” Looking at his work, one can see how Beckstedt incorporates new finds with existing, refurbished and custom pieces to make a harmonious whole.
If you’re still discovering your own aesthetic, Beckstedt suggests starting with a look in the mirror. “One of the first things I look at is how [clients] dress, how they compose themselves. Are they formal? If they dress in plaids and tweeds, that can provide a lot of information immediately,” he says. “A lot of people know how to dress well, but don’t know how to translate that aesthetic into the furnishings around them.”
Trust the process, Beckstedt says, and eventually you’ll see how things tie together: ”It’s not just about filling your apartment. If you’re literally just starting out — say you’ve recently graduated and moved — I recommend you simply begin with a bed on the floor with great sheets. You don’t need to decorate for decoration’s sake alone. Give yourself time to grow.”
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Last modified: July 25, 2019