Downtown Chic is a handsome coffee table book celebrating the work of Cortney and Robert Novogratz. Over the past fifteen years this husband-and-wife design team has bought and renovated houses for themselves and their seven children in Manhattan, upstate New York, Massachusetts, and Brazil. Their interiors have a chic, bohemian sensibility that mixes antique and thrift store furniture with ultra-sleek contemporary pieces.
The book has information that’s useful for anyone remodeling their own home, like “Tips for Buying a Wreck” and a “Contractor Checklist.” Some of the Novogratzs’ ideas, like buying a building in SoHo, or shipping home a zinc-topped bar from a flea market in Paris, might be out of reach for most of us. But the designers’ attitude is liberating. Their interiors feel loosely assembled, as if the objects inside a room weren’t put in place by designers but accumulated naturally by its inhabitants. They make unconventional choices that seem just right, like painting a room bright orange, covering a wall with framed comic books, or leaving warped wooden floor boards in place.
As Cortney writes in the introduction, “A home isn’t just where you live, or at least it doesn’t have to be. A home is who you are.” In both how to live and how to decorate, this book inspires us to make a bold move.