Is What You Have Who You Are? Quirky Design Features That Reveal A Secret Self
In his autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, actor Rob Lowe talks about a unique installation at Cary Grant’s Malibu home, when he goes there to hang out with his then-girlfriend, Grant’s stepdaughter. Lowe reckons it was the single best design feature he ever saw, “…put in a home—a restaurant style milk dispenser. I wanted to stick my entire face under it.” Now can you picture Cary Grant, the official poster boy for cosmopolitan swagger, standing in his kitchen with a tall glass of milk? Wine, maybe, Champagne, definitely, but milk? That quirky design feature just revealed that beneath his stylish veneer was a man of simple needs who had a thirst for well, milk.
Not much has changed since Rob Lowe’s earlier days. Little quirks in people’s homes speak volumes about their personality. Forget the run-of-the-mill luxury features; personal add-ons are increasingly becoming intrinsic to the homeowner’s’ self-expression. Homes have graduated from being just comfortable living spaces to museums that mirror our personalities. In his book, Snoop, Professor Sam Gosling calls it behavioral residue, “There is a subconscious way in which we affect our space.”
So what is the behavioral residue when someone has a gnome world in his apartment? At first, singer Michael Fredo’s West Village studio seems rather non-descript and standard, with a kitchen, bed and bathroom, strewn with an excess of his uncle Tommy Hilfiger’s designer merchandise. Everything’s rather humdrum, until, you open the closet to a real gnome world. Floor to ceiling covered in vegetation, cliffs, a beach, these hand-sculpted creatures are doing rather un-gnomely stuff like sipping a pina colada by the ocean or playing the piano. Music plays in the background to complete the trippy experience. Says Fredo, “Ever since I was a kid I’ve been creating secret worlds, some in closets, attics, basements, under flood boards and behind tiles in my mother’s house that she never knew about. One day, I’d like to buy a big townhouse in New York and build a life-size version in it.”
If Fredo’s gnomes feel like a cuppa Joe, they could take the C-train to coffee connoisseur Chad Gallant’s CPW apartment. Most coffee lovers would just settle for a high-end tabletop coffee machine or an antique Italian press at best.
Chad however wanted his commitment to coffee to run a tad deeper—like, 3 feet in a wall, deeper. He had an espresso machine built into his kitchen wall. Chad thinks a lot can happen over coffee and it starts with questions over how the machine got there.
It’s obvious that food is very central to Top Chef judge, Padma Lakshmi’s being. Writer of several cookbooks, New York Times columnist and a food show host, she says, “It’s something that nurtures me, physically and emotionally.” Naturally, the kitchen is central to her home, a place where she spends a lot of time with her daughter.
So, to get her daughter involved in cooking, Padma installed a kiddie kitchenette within the large kitchen of her Soho apartment. “My daughter loves to experiment, so she has her own spice drawers, along with kid-friendly equipment. We cook a lot together and often catch up on the day in the kitchen. With my busy schedule, it’s the perfect bonding time and helps us connect over our common passion-food.”
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