The 2018 Hampton Designer Showhouse, a popular annual event for charity, showcases the work of prominent interior designers, including New York-based Mikel Welch. We loved the bed and bath designs that he put together for the showhouse (which featured EILEEN FISHER Home designs found exclusively at Garnet Hill) and wanted to learn more about his inspiration and signature style.
Here’s a peek at a conversation that we had recently.
Does your work have a signature look? What are some iconic elements that put your mark on the rooms that you design?
I tend to design rooms so they have a balanced mixture of primitive and modern elements. I am a huge fan of objects that look like they have a story to tell. The more weathering and patina, the better! Some iconic elements that I put in my rooms are intricately hand-carved wood items. I am always amazed at the skill set that woodworkers possessed prior to advance machine technology. In all of my designs, you will always find a headboard, console, or object that has been carved with immaculate detail. I am a huge fan of neutral tone of white, cream, beige, grey and black. When using such muted tones, it is important to incorporate lots of texture into a space. To balance things off, I always try to incorporate several layers of interesting textiles to my designs.
How was your design aesthetic incorporated into the bedroom that you created for the show house?
For the showhouse, I used several primitive pieces such as the 19th Century Ayurvedic massage bed that I converted into a console table. This piece originated in India and is still used in several rural parts of the country. In the 19th Century, massage would have been reserved for the wealthy or royalty. I can only imagine the influential people who laid across the daybed that is now in my showhouse room. Another iconic piece was the hand-carved 18th Century temple figure statue. This is a sacred sculpture that was removed from the ruins of a Chinese temple. I couldn’t pass this piece up when I saw the amount of detail that went into the carvings and the level a skill it took to create this masterpiece.
How did Garnet Hill textiles and accessories fit into your vision for the space? What pieces did you select and why were they chosen?
You will never catch me designing a room that is devoid of texture. This year, I designed a bedroom for the Hampton Designer Showhouse, so an amazing bed had to be the focus! I decided to create a faux four poster bed using fabric that was suspended from the ceiling. The bed looked great but needed a few more layers to complete the look. I wanted to create a room that felt like a Hamptons retreat for someone looking to escape the hectic pace of living in New York City. When I think of relaxing, I imagine crawling into bed under layers of lush fabrics that whisk me away to another destination. Staying true to myself, I had to incorporate a rich layering of texture. I used the EILEEN FISHER Organic Linen Woven Duvet Collection and the Solid Washed Linen Collection. I chose this bedding because it exuded a casual elegance that felt cozy to the touch.
What are your favorite parts of this room and why do you they resonate with you?
My favorite part of the room is the bed! I am so looking forward for the showhouse to come to a close because I will be putting this piece in my home. The bed is so dramatic with the 14ft long linen drapery panels that surround the bed. It is the perfect piece as we begin to approach the fall season. I am looking forward to many lazy Saturday mornings where I can just relax in the comfort of my own home in a beautiful bed with a nice cup of coffee. Another favorite is the set of three 18th Century hand painted screen artwork. I typically gravitate towards neutral tones, but the rich tones in these pieces totally lured me in.
The grey palette is so fresh for this space; please tell us more about how you approached color in this room.
I am a huge fan of muted tones. I think neutral shades on walls are the way to go when decorating because you will never get bored with your color palette. You can always add bold artwork to liven a subtle wall color. When designing any space, I believe that the furniture and artwork should do all of the talking. So, for the showhouse I wanted to create a moody and sophisticated environment. I decided to go with Moles Breath by Farrow & Ball. This was a huge risk because typically designers choose tones of white or cream for showhouses so the room will appeal to the masses. But, I wanted to create a space that had a feeling of tranquil relaxation. Grey is the perfect color for relaxation because it is neutral and calming at the same time.
We love how inviting and restful this space feels. What are your top tips for creating a serene bedroom and bathroom?
Stick to neutral wall colors that naturally promote warmth and relaxation. The perfect restful color is the combination of grey and beige.
Layer your space with tons of texture. You can liven up a solid white room if you have a nice selection of natural textured textiles. Some of my favorites are cable knit wools, woven wools, jute and linen.
In the word of Coco Chanel, “Before you walk out the door everyday take one thing off.” I believe this theory holds true in interior design as well. When trying to create a restful space, you don’t want a space that feels like sensory overload. Try to choose larger statement pieces of furniture instead of several small items. This will help minimize the visual clutter in your space.
The bench you have in the room is such a statement piece, do you mind sharing the backstory to it?
So the bench has to be the best story in the room. I was getting a massage a few months ago and my masseur began to engage in casual conversation. Typically I don’t like to talk during my massages but I decided to oblige him. He began to tell me how he was exhausted from making furniture all weekend. Naturally I ask if I could see the piece that he had been working on. It ended up being the Mermaid Bench that I used at the foot of the bed.