In the latest iteration of a column in which we draw together favorite examples of opposing — but equally appealing — decorating styles by top interior designers and architects, we examine spaces both urban and rural (at least insofar as Sagaponack and Malibu are considered rural). Peruse the looks, then bring them home with handpicked items from 1stdibs dealers.


Just as there is no way to capture the character of all cities — each has its own personality, aesthetic and feel — neither is it possible to define one urban look. For some, it means an art-filled downtown loft, for others an antiques-adorned house and for still others a minimalist glass box in the sky. Yet peruse a handful of city spaces and similar themes emerge: striking statement pieces of art and design; palettes of black, white and gray; and rich materials and finishes including metals, leather and velvet that convey an undeniable sense of urban glamour.

William Georgis, New York

With his distinctive style — which combines shock value and a propensity for designing “against the architecture” with a deep knowledge of art and design to create luxe spaces with a bit of an edge — New York architect and designer William Georgis has no shortage of high-profile clients. In the library of an Upper East Side townhouse, a mirrored ceiling and ebonized millwork cap the room, which sports skunk-patterned pillows on a custom sofa, a Sciolari chandelier, Carlo Bugatti chairs and a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet. Photo by T. Whitney Cox, courtesy of Monacelli

Rose Uniacke, London

Like the designer herself, Rose Uniacke’s own London home — a grand 1861 Victorian town house she shares with her movie-producer husband and their five children — is elegant, understated and timeless. It’s the residential equivalent of, say, the perfect cashmere sweater. When not decorating the home of the Marquess of Bute or creating offices for such brands as British beauty outfit Jo Malone, Uniacke deals in antiques and works on her own line of furniture, lighting and accessories. Photo courtesy of Rose Uniacke

Rodman Primack, New York

Before becoming an interior designer, Rodman Primack worked for Christie’s, Gagosian Gallery, Peter Marino and Phillips de Pury, and so, by no small coincidence, his projects abound with blue-chip art and design. (As director of the Design Miami fair, Primack further refines his eye.) Among the standout pieces in this Manhattan apartment are a Verner Panton shell light fixture, a painting by Richard Prince, terrarium sculptures by Paula Hayes and a dining table and chairs by Brazilian master Joaquim Tenreiro. Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna

Gary Hutton, San Francisco

A couple asked Gary Hutton, who first trained as a sculptor before turning to design, to channel a luxury hotel suite when designing their urban escape pad in one of the Fontana Towers of San Francisco’s Marina District. He complied, creating a mini-universe of white minimalism that seems to float above the city — and Alcatraz in the distance. Photo by Matthew Millman  

Steven Volpe, London

San Francisco interior designer Steven Volpe mixes eras and furniture creators with fluid aplomb, both in his schemes and at his gallery, Hedge, which specializes in 20th-century and contemporary art and furniture. In a London living room, Volpe surrounded a Martin Szekely lacquered-steel dining table with 19th-century mahogany chairs. The velvet banquette is a custom design; the paintings are by, from left, Shirazeh Houshiary and Julian Opie. Photo by Simon Upton/The Interior Archive

Stephanie Stokes, New York

Over the course of a 30-plus-year career, Stephanie Stokes has becomes known as the “closet queen” for the way she cleverly uses every inch of space in urban apartments that are often long on elegant pre-war detail but short on storage. In her own home, a sleeper sofa transforms a library and office into a guest room at a moment’s notice. Photo by Michael Arnaud, courtesy of Rizzoli

Ghislaine Viñas, New York

“My clients are people who smile when they look at my work and understand that I create spaces that are light and fun,” says the Dutch-born, South African-raised, New York-based Ghislaine Viñas. In the light-filled living room of a Financial District apartment dubbed the “Sky House” for its big views, a horse from Moooi presides over armchairs from Poltrona Frau; the Gold Table at right is by Yves Klein.

Jean-Louis Deniot, Paris

French designer Jean-Louis Deniot, who maintains offices in Paris and New York, manages to create city homes, often in grand 18th- and 19th-century buildings, that are rich in detail (gold-thread wallpaper, marble finishes) yet modern in presentation (contemporary design, shades of gray). In the serene master bedroom of a Paris pied-à-terre, a Pouenat resin chandelier, called Last Night, hangs overheard. The 1960s Ramos armchair is from Regis Royant Gallery. Photo by Xavier Bejot, courtesy of Rizzoli

Deborah Berke, New York

This New York architect is an unfussy modernist who imparts a pared-down beauty to everything she designs, from an art-filled hotel to a university conservatory to, most recently — and dramatically — the interiors of 432 Park Avenue, the high-profile Rafael Viñoly-designed luxury residential tower that will rise 96 floors over Manhattan upon its completion later this year. Photo courtesy of CIM Group & Macklowe Properties

Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet, Paris

Over the course of his storied career, acclaimed photographer François Halard has shot many of the world’s most stunning and often inaccessible interiors. One such space is La Maison de Verre, in Paris, an early exemplar of modern urban architecture that furniture and interior designer Pierre Chareau and architect Bernard Bijvoet created in 1932. Translated as “the House of Glass,” the residence is notable for the way in which industrial and mechanical fixtures are juxtaposed with traditional home furnishings, all under an impossibly light façade of glass. It presages the mixing and matching found in so many homes today. Photo by François Halard, courtesy of Rizzoli

Michael Dawkins, New York

Relying on a neutral yet strong palette of blacks, whites and grays; materials like leather, brass and stainless steel; and graphic lines in both furniture and art, interior designer Michael Dawkins creates sleek urban sanctuaries from New York to Miami to Mexico City. In this Chelsea apartment, a Jean de Merry reproduction of a Frits Henningsen chair faces a slate-topped desk designed by Dawkins and topped with works by Robert Motherwell and Helmut Newton. In the past few years, Dawkins has opened showrooms in Miami and New York and maintains an eponymous storefront on 1stdibs, all filled with both his custom furnishings and vintage finds. Photo by Craig Dennis


Similar to city spaces, there are as many country looks as there are types of country retreats, from beach to mountain, wine country to horse country. Yet all are united by a freedom of decor not found in urban homes, a rustic yet refined sensibility and a devotion to relaxation and playtime, whether that’s expressed through lazy hammocks on the porch or limited-edition surfboards stacked in the living room.

Furlow Gatewood, Americus, Georgia

At his own bucolic, 11-acre compound in the rural South, nonagenarian aesthete Furlow Gatewood — a leading expert in antiques and Southern vernacular architecture, and a former business partner of dealer John Rosselli — turned a mid-19th-century carriage house into a highly livable, eclectically collected space now known as “the Barn.” Here, tiles that Rosselli and his wife, decorator Bunny Williams, had made in Italy surround the fireplace and complement Gatewood’s prodigious collection of blue-and-white porcelain. Photo by Paul Costello, courtesy of Rizzoli

Michele Bönan, Maria Alm, Austria

In addition to designing some of the world’s most fashionable hotels and restaurants from Rome to Miami, the Florence-based Michele Bönan — a master of the artful and art-filled classic-contemporary interior — also owns two hotels. At one of them, Jagdgut Wachtelhof, a 17-room ski lodge in the Austrian Alps, rustic-chic decor comprising tactile textures and rich woods brings warmth to an otherwise chilly locale. Photo courtesy of the hotel

Jeffery Alan Marks, Malibu, California

At the Malibu home of a European couple, located a short walk from the beach, the L.A.-based Jeffrey Alan Marks carried over the unfussy, comfortable yet collected look of the house to an outdoor fire pit. Here, he covered cushions in Indian and Japanese textiles, added two Cleo Baldon campaign-style armchairs with removable leather cushions and, for an extra touch of luxury, an Hermès throw blanket. Photo by Douglas Friedman, courtesy of Rizzoli

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Seaside, Florida

RAMSA partner Gary Brewer had recently returned from Sweden when he designed this beachfront home on the Florida Panhandle. Inspired by what he had seen there, he chose to weave in historic Scandinavian architectural elements alongside the classic American details for which the firm headed by Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A.M. Stern is known. In the room of one of the family’s three children, which connects to a screened-porch, a pilastered Jeffersonian alcove surrounds the bed, which has a trundle underneath for sleepovers. Photo by Peter Aaron/OTTO

Shawn Henderson, Litchfield, Connecticut

Working on an 18th-century farmhouse in the posh and pastoral northwest corner of Connecticut, New York-based Shawn Henderson — who counts Glenn Close among his illustrious clients — converted a soaring-ceilinged barn into a capacious living area, carving out cozy, conversational configurations with a careful arrangement of furniture finds both fancy and informal, including a custom daybed and sofa and 1920s Paine pieces. Photo courtesy of Shawn Henderson

Howard Backen, Napa, California

At his own wine-country home, architect Howard Backen — known for creating headquarters and tasting rooms for some of the area’s most sought-after vineyards — merged indoors and out. Sliding walls of windows allow a multipurpose great room, which combines kitchen, dining and seating areas, to open onto a porch running its entire length. The neutral color schemes and use of wicker, sisal and wood paneling throughout seamlessly connects the two spaces. Photo by Erhard Pfeiffer, courtesy of Rizzoli

Gary McBournie, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Boston-based Gary McBournie (whose unabashed adoration of color can be seen in the blue floor here) designed this kitchen to resemble the galley of a boat, referencing the nautical history of Nantucket. A maritime light fixture hangs from the sloped ceiling, where rough-hewn wood recalls the hull of a ship. Photo by Christopher Baker

Alan Wanzenberg, Fire Island, New York

The rustic simplicity of barely finished wood and just a few sticks of clean-lined furniture reign supreme at the Manhattan-based Alan Wanzenberg’s own beach house off the southern coast of Long Island, which he bought in the 1980s. As he wrote in his recent book from Pointed Leaf Press, even 25 years later “the magic and uniqueness of the place still radiates for me.” Photo by Don Freeman

Richard Mishaan, Sagaponack, New York

Paying homage to the natural world with a massive Les Lalanne pigeon sculpture and Rob Wynne mushrooms — not to mention a pair of pristine white potted orchids — the foyer of Richard Mishaan‘s own Long Island beach house mixes bold artwork with beachy objects, including vintage surfboards by the likes of Italian carmaker Ferrari. Photo courtesy of the Monacelli Press

Tom Scheerer, Harbour Island, Bahamas

At a home in an exclusive enclave of the Bahamas’ Out Islands, New York-based designer Tom Scheerer made a house that invites relaxed, casual beach-front living, with plenty of stylish spaces to store hats, beach mats and flip-flops and an aesthetic that combines colonial Caribbean elements with bright white walls, stone tile floors and lots of natural light. Photo by Francesco Lagnese, courtesy of Vendome Press


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