We recently featured a tour of designer Bob Richter’s NY kitchen — a space that was more museum than kitchen. Bob is back to talk about his biggest design influences and why you can’t have enough stuff in your space.
1.What inspires your designs?
I’m an old movie buff. My other dream job is to be a host on Turner Classic Movies. What I love most are the sets. Old movies are full of inspiration — breakfast room with a lovely mural, a formal wood-paneled dining room, a sophisticated living room with a grand piano and an art deco fireplace with lots of built-ins. Watch The Philadelphia Story sometime. That house is fantastic — my dream home!
2. Who are some of your favorite designers?
Tony Duquette’s motto, “more is more” really resonates with me. I operate under the philosophy that if you love it, you can make it work. Do you want a turquoise couch? Go right ahead and have one. Tony thought outside of the box and showed us that glamor and sophistication didn’t have to be in the form of “cookie cutter design.”
My grandmother, Carrie Lehrman, who passed away a few weeks ago, will always be one of my favorite designers. She loved color and married traditional concepts with unexpected materials. She taught me so much by example. With new window coverings and slipcovers, you really can completely change a room. She did this in her own home at least twice a year.
3. Show us a picture of a room you loved designing and tell us why you love it.
I designed a room for the Housing Works “Design on a Dime” show house. Proceeds from sales at Housing Works benefit people living with HIV/AIDS.
My idea was to design a room that brought the nature inside — something attainable even in a Manhattan apartment. I found prehistoric-looking plants, some ostrich eggs and a vintage chart detailing the anatomy of a cicada. I took vintage chairs and covered them with remnants of old, Persian rugs.
I was particularly proud of the look, but I was most proud of the fact that everything sold benefitted a very worthwhile charity. I’m glad I took lots of pictures. Once people starting buying things, the room was dismantled pretty quickly. When you create, you must also learn to let go.
4. What’s your favorite design style?
I call my personal style “eclectic mélange.” I always thought that might be a nice name for a shop. I love art deco, French country and Arts and Crafts. I think all of them can live together in harmony if you assemble with color as your guide — and go with your gut!
5. What one piece (or accessory) do you always include in your designs?
Every room needs something green. I always include plants — even trees if the natural light allows. I always use antiques or pre-owned items. It’s as green as you can get. I’ve found some of the most amazing things at The Salvation Army.
6. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Paris — I like getaways that give me the opportunity to shop. Paris has the best antiques markets. Just taking in the sights, sounds and food of Paris inspires all of the senses. Every time I go there I get ideas. Many of those ideas have played out in my home and the homes of my clients.