6 Bold Design Ideas That Are Totally Worth the Risk

While some interior designers like to play it safe with more pared-down spaces, others prefer to embrace their experimental side with a few unexpected design choices. No one type of decorator isn’t better than the other, but today, we’re paying a special tribute to the ones who, admittedly, have had some fun in clients’ homes. Rather than force an unwelcome sensory overload with too many patterns, colors, and shapes, though, these experts took a more nuanced approach to their custom curations: They incorporated one single piece that is, to say the least, daring.

From a Versace headboard made entirely of colorful surfboards to a classic armchair drenched in shearling, these pieces make it clear just how much some decorators like to flex their creative muscles. Ahead, we chatted with six interior designers famous for their unexpected and clever use of material, palette, and, of course, furniture.

A Versace Surfboard Bed

Pictured above.

Subtly has never been New York City-based Sasha Bikoff’s cup of tea. Instead, she makes every single selection—from the fabric on the window treatments to the paint color on the ceiling—with the intention of leaving a big and lasting impression. “I’ve always thought there are some designers who double as therapists, teachers, or simply stylists, but I am a storyteller,” Bikoff explains. “I live for the drama, the theatrics, and the narrative that creates something completely new.” Case in point: The designer’s own East Hampton guest bedroom, where she masterfully incorporated a headboard she designed in collaboration with Versace, a label Bikoff dons often. “It was inspired by Gianni Versace’s life in Miami. The bed was actually featured at Art Basel one year,” Bikoff admits.

Because she considers the bed the pièce de résistance, Bikoff kept the rest of the room a bit more neutral, with what she describes as “golden hour grasscloth” on the walls to make her guests feel like they’re on the beach. As for the chair, which pairs perfectly with the bed, Bikoff opted for vintage Maitland-Smith reupholstered in beach blankets she bought in Uruguay.

A Rocky Table

a dining room with a large table and chairs

Andre Herrero

When design firms work collaboratively with their clients, magic happens, and this Los Angeles dining room is proof. Here, the homeowners found the Preston Sharp for Blackman Cruz table, and Adam Charlap Hyman and Andre Herrero, the founders of their namesake firm, designed the room around it. The design duo surrounded the interesting table with Greta Magnusson Grossman chairs covered in a Maharam mohair velvet to contrast the ruggedness of the table with some glamour. “We began to think of the room as the ‘mountain room’,’ in a home where each room had some sort of geographic element to it,” Charlap Hyman explains.

Floating Silk Lights

financial district nyc interior design devin hines

Joshua McHugh

When it comes to making furniture selections for a project, some designers ditch the strategy and go with their gut while others prioritize a highly organized system. Devin Hines, who runs his full-service firm on both coasts, does both. His creative inclinations are as much an integral part of his process as a step-by-step strategy. “When we happen to find incredible pieces that we would love to work into projects, they are collected and cataloged into folders,” he explains. “But the process almost always begins with architectural plans and designing the intentions for both the space and the individual objects. We then source pieces to fit that vision. Cue the folders.” These cloud-like silk lights from Aqua Gallery were patiently waiting in one of Hines’ many folders, just waiting to be plucked and called into action.

When Hines’ firm signed on to outfit a townhouse in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, the designer knew that the Stand By Mobile light would fit perfectly in a moody and glamorous media room. “The ceilings in the apartment are very high, so we knew we needed the right light fixture to bring both intimacy and a magical ambiance to the speakeasy-like media room,” Hines notes. “The ethereal quality and scale of the mobile light were perfect.” Each piece of the fixture features hand-made silk discs that are suspended from an adjustable brushed steel arm that gives the illusion of a floating cloud.

Jimi Hendrix Doors

a large decorated window

Douglas Friedman

The San Francisco-based creative director and principal designer is known for breathing a puff of luxury into her spaces, whether they’re simple refreshes or full-blown renovations. That said, Nicole Hollis’ style is often in the more minimalist camp than a maximalist one. She’s hardly afraid of colors, which is abundantly evident in this San Francisco foyer, but bright shades are rarely a factor with which she leads. In fact, in most of her projects, color doesn’t seem to be a driving force behind her inspiration. Here, though, she took a chance. “These purple doors are very bold for me, but I love a challenge,” she admits.

Though bright purple doors hardly ever need a reason, Hollis chose that specific color because of the clients’ love for Jimi Hendrix. The iconic rockstar’s “Purple Haze” was a big inspiration for the look and feel of the home’s entry. Of course, the door couldn’t have all the attention, though. Hollis installed a custom Venini rainbow Triedi pendant.

A 100-Year-Old Bed

a bedroom with a bed and a couch

Thomas Loof

While so many designers manage to incorporate an antique or two within a more contemporary space, it’s usually small-scale: a Louis XIV-style lamp here, a Baroque end table there, but making a massive antique the focal point in a bright and airy room is something we don’t see every day. For New York-based Ellen Hamilton, though, spotlighting a 100-year-old bed frame in a Vero Beach, Florida space made the most sense to her. “We wanted something that was strong enough to evoke another place and time, and antiques have that escapist potential,” she says.

Not to mention, the clients are originally from Palermo, Italy, so finding a piece that evoked that kind of Old World charm without feeling forced was key. When she happened upon this 1920s painted bed in a New Orleans antiques shop, which was hand-made in the clients’ ancestral city, she snagged it. “I love the way an Italian home of age can feature furniture that ranges from the 1700s to the 2000s. This was our inspiration here: The idea that this could be a family piece and just kind of landed here.”

A Hairy Chair

a room with a bed and a vase with flowers

Rebecca McAlpin

Though Philadelphia local Michelle Gage has an affinity for designing funky interiors in historic, centuries-old homes, every now and then, she outfits a new build with highly contemporary pieces. In this cozy nook of a Philadelphia bedroom, Gage skewed Scandinavian. “The client requested a fluffy chair, so this purchase required no convincing whatsoever,” Gage says. “It was just about finding the right ‘faux hair,’ which can be tricky.” And it was. Gage had to call in nearly 10 fabrics before she found the right one. “This cozy chair is perfect for a bedroom corner. It adds glam, texture, and warmth all in one sultry piece of furniture,” she says. “The sleek Kravet frame is contrasted against the fluffiness of the fabric, which is what makes it so special. Can’t you just picture yourself curled up here with a good book?”

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