Frank Gehry said, “Constraints are very positive. They make you think harder.” When I met Michelle Nussbaumer for the very first time, she concurred. “Parameters help the creative process,” said the Dallas-based interior designer who is used to shopping all over the world for her clients. She and I were sitting on the sofa in the Palm Springs-inspired sitting room that she had conceived at the Bassett Mirror Company showroom in High Point.
Nussbaumer was one of three designing tastemakers who created room installations that showed what luxe on a budget could look like. She, Sara Ruffin Costello, and George Nunno specified mirrors, lamps, wall décor, and accent furniture from Bassett Mirror Company, shopped The Mine, a Lowes Company, for all other furniture and accessories, and selected sumptuous fabric and wallpaper from Carleton V.
The result was three distinct rooms – a Palm Springs-inspired sitting room, a female collector’s artifact-filled retreat, and a 70’s-inspired Chinoiserie sunroom. Sebastian Varney, who owns Carleton V, was interested to see how different designers would interpret his company's textiles; he donated about 100 yards to the project. Spencer Morten III, Bassett Mirror's CEO, enjoyed having top designers create high-end affordable looks using some of BMC's most fashion-forward product. For The Mine, this was a creative and collaborative way to have a High Point presence at Spring Market.
Nussbaumer, who designed the room (above) in three hours, does not ordinarily shop online, save for 1st Dibs and maybe if she knows a brand really really well. She was, however, pleasantly surprised by what she was able to achieve. Going for an old world collected feeling, Nussbaumer imagined a client who resided in Palm Springs, had a penchant for Hollywood glamour, and had a modern attitude.
She started by framing the room in Jasper Peony wall paper, slipcovering chairs and fabricating drapes out of Silk Road, and dressing The Mine's South Cone Home 95" sofa with pillows in Kimono and her own leopard print fabric by Design Legacy. A silvery Safavieh rug provided a bright lift in contrast to the room's dark walls and wood Hanover Cocktail Table from BMC. Matching Rene Hall chests add texture to the space. While much of the art came from BMC, the painting hanging on the Mine's Benzara Screen is an antique. “Every room needs a piece of provenance,” says Nussbaumer.
The inspiration for Sara Ruffin Costello’s collector's study (above) came after a visit to the John Soane Museum in London where curiosities abound. She wanted to create the lady’s version, depicting a quiet retreat where anthropology, botany, and style co-mingled. When the time came to start specifying product from the Mine, Costello bee-lined for the section on the site where Eddie Ross’s blogs live. She trusts Ross's aesthetic judgment, and wanted to get to the coolest product quickly. Her Mine choices included the Elements Haley Daybed, Jofran turned-leg Collins chair, and Currey & Co.'s Falconwood Chandelier.
From BMC, Costello chose an eclectic mix that felt nostalgic and natural. Selects included Sampson rope accent tables, Raylan Metal Hall Chest, as well as Pink Floral and Beautiful Rose wall art. To soften the space and make it more feminine, Costello draped the daybed in Carleton V's Tuileries linen and lined it in Hudson Sheer in Slate Blue.
George Nunno owns FLAIR NYC, a Soho retail store that offers interior design services and sells its own FLAIR-branded product. Several times a year, Nunno also merchandises BMC showrooms and has a hand in concepting the wall art category. With a background in fashion (J. Crew and Coach), this aesthete veers toward the dramatic and approaches design cinematically, creating rich angles and moments from which the space can be viewed and photographed.
In his Chinoiserie Sunroom, Asian-inspired textiles (notably Carleton V's Puff in black), South Sea rattan seating, and a pair of Taylor Burke's Chippendale-esque side chairs set a familiar Eastern tone, while BMC's brass Fouquet cocktail table, vibrant Benson table lamps, and a selection of contemporary art offer a contemporary counterbalance.
The really good room scene photos were provided by The Mine. The other shots are just plain mine. Sources: Carleton V is exclusively sourced through to the trade showrooms, Bassett Mirror has a robust designer program with most product able to ship in a few days. The Mine also has a trade program which can be accessed here or through Lowes.