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Interior Design Advice for the Long Haul


Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, Cooper Hewitt, curator of contemporary design at the Smithsonian Design Museum, points to the 1984 book “Hi-Tech” by Joan Cron and Suzanne Slessin, as an inspiration for her own home – a series of stylish apartments that also accommodate. Children. Subtitled “The Industrial Style and Source Book for the Home,” the early presence of “high-tech” hardware-store elements such as pipe racks, Pirelli rubber flooring and track lighting in downtown lofts, and suggested an attitude toward off-the-shelf which was in stark contrast to the sensual, ornate, domesticated interiors of other books of the period.

“Our first changing table where we kept all the diapers and wipes and stuff was a 1920s tool chest,” Ms Cunningham Cameron said. “It was really beautiful. It was painted this wood green, which was peeling and a little rusty.”

Later in a wide-open loft, her husband, Seth Cameron, executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts, tacked dozens of white milk crates to the wall instead of closets. The book “in general inspires people to fill their homes with more accessible, more artistic objects — try to think creatively, try to develop a design out of it,” he said.

Evan Collins, an architectural designer and co-founder of the Digital Y2K Aesthetic Institute, is already on to the next thing — kind of. “I don’t think it’s coming back, but there’s a book out in 2001 called ‘You Deserve Beautiful Rooms,’ which I don’t know what the style is called — McClatick?” she said. “Bronze silk on the bed, a million pillows, ivy on the wall.”

The lesson is that there’s a design manual for every flavor, and your flavor doesn’t have to change over time. “I co-teach Eastlake with an author I really like, Candace Wheeler,” said Professor Kaufman-Buhler from Purdue. “One of the things he made clear was that every home should have its own character and the family should define that character.”

Mrs. Wheeler, author of the 1903 book “Principles of Home Decoration,” even had an early version of the McMansion, the “builder’s house,” which was built to spec and quantity. “How do you make it your own? How do you fix flaws?” Professor Kaufmann-Buhler asked. This is why people turn to books of advice and this is the advice they continue to deliver. The most beautiful home is the one that works for you.



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