Jun 14

Ken Gemes in the Lenox Hill Showhouse

The Lenox Hill Hospital Designer Showhouse presented its participants with an especially difficult challenge: complementing the incredible views of downtown New York without being overshadowed by them. Designer Ken Gemes’ rhythmic, structural, yet calming room design took command of the views and used them as a supportive element. From the boldly contrasting yet muted color scheme, to the refined, subtle whimsy of the decor, the room shines with the light and architecture of the surrounding city.

ken gemes lenox hill overview

What was the starting point for your design of this room? Or, what were some of the inspirations?

Ken Gemes: I had found a fabric from Jim Thompson, “Illumination”, which caught my attention.  It was all different shades of taupes and mocha’s and ivories, on an espresso ground.  A tight and specific color story, but with a strong personality.  The fabric tells the story of when Siamese diplomats, headed by a Thai named Kosa Pan, visited the court of Louis the XIV at Versailles. The fabric shows a procession of Thai nobles elegantly dressed in rich brocades and woven silks, parading in lines, giving a horizontal stripe effect to the fabric.  It has an architectural feel and relates to the myriad of buildings you see from the 55th floor of the apartment.

ken gemes merida window overlooking bay

ken gemes lenox hill rug corner

What do you usually look for in a rug, and how did Antwerp fit the bill for this space?

KG: Just as the fabric features the blending of all the subtle tones of color, the Antwerp rug accomplishes the same incredible blending of multiple colored yarns to create a subtle, rich rug.  I always like rugs that layer in texture without “stealing the show” from the rest of the room.  Antwerp is a perfect backdrop for a very focused black, white and mocha color story.

ken gemes merida lenox hill console

What kind of person could you see living here?

KG: I would see a young professional in this space, who would benefit from all the amenities of hotel living, but in a space that can be personalized to reflect one’s personality and lifestyle.

Was there a particular vignette in the room you felt was especially effective, or enjoyable to create?

KG: I had a bar/console made to sit at the exact height of the back of the sofa.  I had my wallpaper man cover the table in a grass cloth in the same shade of mocha that the sofa was upholstered in.  This allowed the sofa and bar to meld into one another and not overpower the space.  It also provided the perfect space for meals, with bar stools tucked underneath, or additional counter space while meals were being prepared.

Creating spaces that cater to social interaction is important to you; how does this room function in that way?

KG: With the views offered by this apartment, I felt the owner would want to enjoy it with friends and associates, so I worked hard to create a seating area capable of seating 10 guests, and still having the room feel open and inviting.  Several “pull up” pieces were included in the room, so the space can expand with the crowd.

ken gemes merida antwerp lenox hill showhouse detail

Rug featured: Antwerp Belgian Linen. Click to order samples or email

Visit Ken Gemes Interiors


May 14

foley&cox create a Home Show haven

Mary Foley and Michael Cox of New York City interior design firm foley&cox had the challenging task of designing the lounge for the Architectural Digest Home Show in March. Masterfully transforming a vast, stark industrial space into a cozy oasis, the team created a retreat where busy trade show attendees could relax and discuss. We caught up with the team to learn more about their philosophy and inspiration.

foley and cox in the arch digest lounge

How would you describe your design philosophy, and how did the AD lounge reflect it?

foley&cox: Our approach to design is based on our concept of “appropriateness” as it is specifically defined for each project by the individual elements of geographic location, architectural style, and client personality and preferences.  For an amazing opportunity like the salon at the AD show, we simply imagined what we, as visitors to a large industry event, would most appreciate in a lounge space. By attending furniture shows from Paris to Brussels to Milan, we’ve come to appreciate that nothing is more important than a cozy spot to recharge and reflect on all the wonderful inspirations being presented.

foley and cox in the arch digest lounge

What were some unique challenges with the space?

f&c: The vastness of the Piers and the industrial tone of the ceiling height forced us to incorporate several visual tricks to draw the eye downward in order to create the welcoming mood of a residential space.  Subdividing the 75 foot expanse of space into 3 zones, each with multiple seating arrangements, also contributed a unique intimacy within the context of the Pier.

foley and cox in the arch digest lounge

How did the rugs fit in to the space, or, why these particular rugs?

f&c: The Merida rugs were literally the foundation to achieving three distinct “living room” spaces. Then, the layering of the wool blend qualities on top of the commercial grade, stain resistant sisals created the soft, inviting mood of home.  The rugs were the most important horizontal building block to help us achieve the “human scale” we wanted since the space had only one backdrop wall to define the area.

We customized the colors from the poms supplied by Merida.  We wanted to add the natural colors with a bit of blue and cream to blend in with the colors we had chosen for the furniture.  We all had a very long dreary winter and we wanted the space to feel like spring and a happy place to be in.

foley and cox in the arch digest lounge

Do you find that your sources of inspiration change based on the seasons?

f&c: Again appropriateness as defined by geographic location often guides our selections of color palettes and fabric qualities (loden, suede, and shearling in a ski chalet but linens, cottons, and seagrass in a beach house) But for the AD lounge, the long, hard winter we’d just endured definitely inspired us to embrace the optimistic shades of an about-to-blossom spring and we loved the shades of soft, pale blues and greens of the Holland & Sherry fabrics!

foley and cox in the arch digest lounge

Do you have a favorite summer project you’ve done in the past?

f&c: We’ve had a lot of fun doing projects on two different islands in the Bahamas – though staying focused and in “work mode” is a real challenge when surrounded by such breathtaking beaches and turquoise ocean!

Is there something upcoming you are excited about?

f&c: In July we’ll install our first project in Hawaii and we’re so looking forward to being back in the charming, relaxed environment of the town of Paia!

Rugs used: Troy, Heywood, and Urbana












For more info, call 800-345-2200 or email

Visit foley&cox.

May 14

Highlights from Design on a Dime 2014

We were proud to donate a number of rugs to this year’s Design on a Dime benefit at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. Top designers created room vignettes, and all proceeds benefitted Housing Works’ mission to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS. Below are some of the wonderful vignettes and designers we were able to donate to.

J + G Design

J + G design vignette design on a dime

J + G design vignette close

J+G: For this year’s Design on a Dime, we were all about color blocking, but in neutrals and pastels for spring.  Merida’s rug fit in perfectly with our scheme because although it was neutral, it had just the right amount of interest with the graphic pattern.

Featuring a Celerie Kemble for Merida Climb sisal rug.

id 810 Design Group

photo by Xiangyun Chen

photo by Xiangyun Chen

id810: “Design on a Dime is such a wonderful event for a few reasons: first and foremost, because of the many people that Housing Works is able to help with the money raised. But, beyond that, the attendees and designers are also beneficiaries, which is really unique. Those who attend the event are exposed to inspirational design and have the opportunity to fill their homes with what are typically “trade only” products at seriously low prices, and interior designers have the benefit of being tasked with a huge creative challenge by working solely with donated goods that may not have anything in common with one another. It is both engaging and rewarding when it all threads together to create a comprehensive “room.”

As designers, we are lucky to work with many vendors who generously offer to donate their product to our vignette. However, we aren’t able to choose exactly what they donate and are at the mercy of what is available to each donor. We simply have to “make it work.” As 2nd time vets of this event, it’s amazing to see everything come together. Last year when in the planning phase we were convinced that we wanted to create a dark and masculine space. However all of the donations that were coming in were pink and champagne colored so we had to flex our creative muscles and change direction. This year our dark and masculine space came together organically, with our Merida Tonga area rug grounding the entire space. This sisal was not only the perfect color to compliment the other large pieces that were donated to us, but we are lovers of texture, and the weave on this particular sisal has a great quality of dimension and a sense of movement. Also, the “guy” that lives in our space is a world traveler and lover of all things exotic, so the fact that this rug was inspired by the thatched hut roofs in the South Pacific islands just added to his story.

It is incredibly gratifying for us as designers to have created a space from what is truly a random assortment of furnishings that looks complete, thought out, and intentional. Our vignette looks like something we would have designed and built for a real client, and we would have sourced each of the furnishings that our wonderful vendors donated to us.”

Featuring a Tonga sisal rug.

Barclay Butera

Barclay Butera: “The overall theme for this vignette was to mix my classic all-American aesthetic with a touch of old Hollywood glamour.  The space featured a grand white linen sofa with brass nailhead detail topped with several signature navy accent pillows. Tastefully anchoring the entire vignette is Merida’s Bleeker Platinum rug with its subtle coloring and a unique woven diamond design.  To spice up the tranquil color scheme, I added a leopard print club chair with high gloss lacquered étagères and cocktail table with bold abstract art covering the walls.”

Featuring a Bleecker Platinum wool & sisal rug.

Eric Cohler

Eric cohler vignette design on a dime

Eric Cohler vignette 2
Featuring a Broadway sisal rug.

Tamara Stephenson

tamara stephenson vignette edit

Tamara Stephenson vignette 2

Featuring a Celerie Kemble by Merida Climb rug.

De La Torre Design Studio

De La Torre vignette 1

De La Torre Vignette close

Featuring a Bleecker Platinum wool & sisal rug.

For more information about any of the rugs featured, email or call 800-345-2200.

Apr 14

A Q&A with Ellie Cullman of Cullman & Kravis

The Detailed Interior by Ellie Cullman and Tracey Pruzan

We’re proud to be hosting cocktails and conversation with Ellie Cullman and Tracy Pruzan on May 1st. A preview of the presentation to come, Ellie enlightened us with thoughts on her inspirations, her firm’s design philosophy, and a bit of the unexpected.

Merida:   How would you define your style?

Ellie Cullman: The goal of our most recent work is to redefine the traditional interior. Our designs have been edited, clarified, and strengthened with new materials and palettes to achieve a “modern traditional” aesthetic. With this fresh approach, the point of view is contemporary while still respecting the 30-year history of our company. We use antiques of all periods and origins alongside modern artworks, custom made furniture, and exceptional textiles to create dynamic interiors that are complex and layered-always comfortable and never overly formal.

We don’t have a signature style – we embrace our clients’ preferences and each project’s demands. This works because we are passionate about absolutely everything – from traditional to modern furniture, from folk to contemporary art, from European to Asian decorative objects and on and on.

We are design chameleons, as our recent book: “The Detailed Interior, Decorating Up Close with Cullman & Kravis” demonstrates.

M:  What inspired you to go in to interior design?

EC: I became passionate about antiques, especially Americana, spending every weekend going to country fairs in search of hooked rugs and quilts, gameboards and weathervanes. I ended up curating two shows for the Museum of American Folk Art – and this was where I learned how to analyze what is “good, better, best” – another important milestone in my education.

Then thirty years ago, my late partner, Hedi Kravis and I decided to write a screenplay about her divorce from Henry Kravis, a name you may recognize. We submitted our opus to our dear friend, Stanley Jaffe, who had just won an Oscar for Kramer vs Kramer. He gave it a serious read and told us there was only one good thing he could say about our opus – it was beautifully typed! He said we had absolutely no talent at screen writing. And, without missing a beat, suggested that we should become decorators! He had just fired his third decorator and wanted to hire us to finish his apartment.

The rest is history!

M:  You have been so successful both at interior design and building a fantastic interior design company—what are the key factors that have been instrumental in your success?

EC: There are a few major factors that I attribute towards building our company. The first is understanding how important it is to listen to the client’s needs, rather than adhering to our own personal aesthetics. We always listen to our clients, and try to make decorating a fun experience for them, which is why I believe we have formed such wonderful relationships with our clients.  Additionally, we are fiscally responsible. There is no way to run a successful business without the proper bookkeeping. Our paperwork is insanely detailed, and we always adhere to agreed upon budgets, and project time frames. Lastly, our office is collegial—we work in teams with everyone supporting each other, which creates a wonderful atmosphere for our employees to work in, and resonates in our projects.

M:  Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

EC: Inspiration is everywhere: the russet red in a Rothko painting, an embroidery motif from a costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, the patterned flooring at San Marco Square in Venice. Everything your eyes see is a catalyst for a color, motif, or pattern which can be incorporated into an interior.

Ellie and her longtime colleague Tracey Pruzan will be presenting at 6:15pm in our showroom, #714 at the Boston Design Center.

View the invitation and join us>