Expert Advice: Making a New Build Look Lived-In with Hendricks Churchill

RM: Any solutions for avoiding the big-box new-build lighting that often comes with new builds?

HH: We try not to rely too much on recessed lighting. It’s great to have it as additional means to light up a room, but we always prefer to build out the room with layers of light rather than trying to solve it all with overhead lighting. Here we used sconces, table lamps, and central ceiling lights to make the rooms feel cozy without compromising lighting for the tasks and mood of the room.

painting the trim can make a big difference. 19
Above: Painting the trim can make a big difference.

RM: For renters, or those who can’t change their space in major ways, what are some simple tricks to add historic charm?

HH: Accentuate an interior architectural detail with a trim color in contrast to the wall color. This trick is especially great if you’re renting and have white walls. You can change the whole mood of the room, and the contrast color serves as its own decorative layer, which can make a sparsely furnished room feel more cozy and settled.

Above: Layer, layer, layer.

RM: Lightening round: Five things you have in your arsenal for adding instant character?

HH: 1. Antiques rugs for sure! Bring in a rug made before 1920 (when they were still largely made by hand and with natural dyes) and that one element brings character, color and pattern into the room without overwhelming it.

2. Textiles for bringing in layers of pattern, either through window treatments or throw pillows. In this apartment, we brought in an antique hand-woven Kashmiri paisley shawl for a layer of color and texture on the coffee table. It also doubles as a throw blanket on movie night.

3. Books. Don’t feel like you need to color-code your books! Arrange them by subject so you can find them and step back to enjoy the collage. If you’re concerned about it getting too busy and messy, don’t add objects to the same shelf. Either do just books or just objects on a shelf. That’s a good trade secret to fall back on.