DESIGNER SECRETS: How Design Firm Hagins & Mortimer Mix Old and New
Hagins & Mortimer's bedroom for the 2015 Hampton Designer Show House is an artful mix of pedigreed antiques, DIY projects and contemporary furniture. Inspired by designer Elizabeth Hagins' sister-in-law, who Elizabeth says "has a wonderful taste level and sophistication," the room is grounded by a gorgeous bed by Karl Springer (Elizabeth's own) and accessorized by bedside lamps by John Dickinson. But Elizabeth also has included some bargain finds that she transformed with her crafty eye.
Here is what Elizabeth has to say about adding antiques and vintage furniture to your rooms:
"I can't imagine creating a space without incorporating vintage or antique furniture, lighting, or accessories. To say that the "past is prologue" is only half right. For me as an interior designer, the past adds character, style, and substance ("soul" also comes to mind!). And I'm not necessarily talking about fine 18th century antiques, or even important mid-century offerings. I've picked up pieces at second hand furniture stores or estate sales, and with some imagination have transformed them into key elements that enhance a room.....It's one of my favorite things to do as a designer, and I've been lucky enough to have clients who have trusted me to turn an ugly duckling into a graceful swan."
Transforming Vintage Pieces with Creative DIY
So yes Virginia, you can bring vintage pieces with some creative DIY up to the level of an elegant show house room. Elizabeth painted a pair of Chinoiserie lamps white to blend in with her serene palette.
The real makeover showstopper, however, is Elizabeth's treatment of a settee, likely dating from the 1940s, that she found in a local auction. Attracted by its classic Sheraton style, she focused on its shape, looking past its outdated upholstery. She had her upholsterer recover the settee in a tweed with a silver thread running through it by James Hare (found at Duralee). The killer was her decision to paint the wood elements a platinum color, giving the settee a more contemporary look--a bit Art Deco in feel.
Sourcing Antique and Vintage Items
With so many places to look these days, Elizabeth claims that "furniture shopping (is) one of the hardest parts of design". When the budget allows, Elizabeth loves to shop the storefronts on east 60th street in NYC. She also finds 1st dibs "the best overall resource", but scours Ebay as well. And she reminds us not to overlook auctions, having found great things at Christies, small local auctions and on the online auction site liveauctioneers.com.
Where to Start When Designing a Room
When faced with an empty room, Elizabeth's launching pad for the design is the furniture layout. She claims that as she works out the floor plan other ideas begin to flood in. Fabrics also are a big source of inspiration.
Describing her room as "Jean Harlow meets Jackie Kennedy," its clear that this designer has achieved her goal of creating "rooms that are comfortable, innovative yet timeless, and always in good taste." The Hampton Designer Show House is open through Labor Day if you are in the area and want to see Hagins & Mortimer's beautiful room first hand.