Join design editor Ariane Moore for Hunker Down as she gets to know the creators and designers she's followed for ages.
When you stroll down the quaint (sometimes cobblestone) streets of the West Village — one of New York's most charming neighborhoods — it's hard not to fall head over heels in love with the picturesque surroundings. From the 19th-century colonial brownstones flaunting traditional red brick exteriors to the lush towering trees offering a shady refuge, you almost feel like you've walked onto the set of just about any rom-com ever. So it's easy to understand why Robert and Cortney, the oh-so-stylish husband and wife design team known as The Novogratz, would want to call this idyllic scene home.
So much so, that they decided to rent a 1920s carriage house (referred to as the Bedford House) just a few blocks away from their actual home (a 200-year-old brownstone dubbed the Pink House) while it undergoes a complete renovation. Cortney and Robert share the Bedford House — a four-bedroom/three-bathroom townhouse — with three of their seven children and their sweet dog Winter, but you'd never guess that this pad was meant to be temporary. The hip and sophisticated, yet warm and inviting interior is a credit to Cortney and Robert's years of experience ranging from design projects, home decor product lines, and, most recently, their first brick and mortar retail store, House of Novogratz, located in sunny Venice, CA.
But as busy as she is being a wife, mother, and businesswoman, to my absolute delight, Cortney was kind enough to hunker down with me for a few moments to chat about her stunning home and playfully chic design sensibility.
Hunker: How many times have you and your family renovated and moved into a new home? What has that experience been like?
Cortney Novogratz: I have honestly lost count. We moved back and forth twice between 22 Thompson and 24 Thompson St. in Soho. I have moved out over summers to rent our places to A-list celebs as well as stayed in rentals during renovations. Robert and I bought our first townhouse while planning our wedding and we knew then that real estate was our passion and our career path, and we have never stopped since that first house.
Hunker: Once the renovation is complete, will the Pink House be a totally different look and feel than the Bedford House? If so, can you share a little about it?
CN: The Bedford home is lovely and contains several pieces of art, furniture, and accessories (from our collections), we even covered our dining room here with temporary wallpaper we designed for Tempaper "Zebras in Love." But, the majority of our art collection and much of our furniture is in storage, so yes [the Pink House on] Waverly will be much more about celebrating who we are. With each rental, I create a home, and we feel very comfortable here, but it is never the exact same experience as building something from the ground up.
Hunker: How would you describe the style of the Bedford House?
CN: Old school charm, warm, but not precious with an easy, open front door lifestyle from the street to a small backyard for our dog Winter and intimate friends. We have a spare bedroom for our older kids and each younger boy has their own room as well ... On any given week one of our older kids crashes here, too. Breaker, who has an apartment in the East Village, may stop by for a shower! Or my daughters [come] home from college. Needless to say, there are always a lot of family members coming and going at all times! We all share the two bathrooms, which allows us to keep our sense of humor, but we feel blessed no matter what home we find ourselves in.
Hunker: As soon as you walk into this classic brownstone, you see a large-scale pop art painting of Lil Wayne hanging on the wall, and I love the juxtaposition of traditional architectural details with contemporary home decor. How do you balance and celebrate both elements?
CN: We love to mix old and new, affordable pieces and expensive ones, vintage and modern. Anything we love finds a place. Some of the landlord's items got to stay and if it was an eyesore, I immediately put it in the basement. Our Lil Wayne [piece] made it, but most of our art is in storage. The special thing about missing our favorite belongings is [that] it makes move-in day like Christmas. The kids got to decide on some things they felt they really wanted and needed, then we packed the rest up until our new home [is] complete.
Hunker: Do you have any design-related pet peeves or faux pas that drive you crazy?
CN: Not really, but it can be disappointing when someone's home looks just like a showroom. They bought the store like they bought the outfit on a mannequin.
Hunker: Is there an item in your home that looks expensive, but was really a bargain find or a DIY project? If so, what?
CN: Our son Five painted a masterpiece that folks think is our most expensive piece of art and in some ways, it is. And it will never be for sale, it's priceless.
Hunker: If you could only do three things to transform or breathe new life into a room in your home, what would they be?
CN: Treat yourself to a new rug — it anchors the room. Try a new paint color, but maybe only [on] one wall. Add a new mirror, ideally vintage.
Hunker: As a busy mom of seven, wife, and successful businesswoman, what do you like to do to relax and unwind?
CN: Watch a movie with my family, preferably one my son is acting in, and have a glass of wine.
Hunker: What book is on your nightstand and/or coffee table right now? What show are you binge-watching right now?
CN: I'm reading Stomping Ground: Growing Up on the Streets of Greenwich Village by Dom Perruccio. My son Five gave it to me after he finished it. I've watched too much TV over the past year, so I am taking a break.
Hunker: You and your husband Robert have a knack for making interiors feel playful yet grown up, and colorful yet not overbearing. What's the secret to getting the same look in our own homes?
CN: Start with a sense of humor and don't be afraid of color. Use a mix of old and new, something vintage for the soul, and something new for a fresh look. Make your home work for your lifestyle. At the end of the day, the feeling in your home matters most, so smile and keep the doors open to all the ones you love.
Hunker: Besides the amazing products that we all know and love by The Novogratz, what other shops/brands do you love shopping when you're looking for furniture and decor?
CN: Robert and I love flea markets where you find that one-of-a-kind [piece]. We also love certain Soho showrooms, too. We love to shop overseas when we can travel. We hit tag sales, garage and estate sales, you name it, we are always on the hunt.
Hunker: As this is Earth Month, how do you implement sustainability in your own home?
CN: I reuse everything, but I can always do better.
Ariane Moore is an Editor at Hunker. After earning her B.S. in Interior Architecture and Design, she enjoyed working on a variety of projects ranging from residential to hospitality at award winning design firms in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She also served as Design Editor at Natural Child World magazine.