A Brooklyn Townhouse by Nicole Gibbons

Check out this sophisticated yet accessible family home

The gracious proportions and ornate details of this 1876 townhouse provide a classic frame for Nicole Gibbons's refined decor. 
The gracious proportions and ornate details of this 1876 townhouse provide a classic frame for Nicole Gibbons's refined decor. 
Designer Nicole Gibbons.
Designer Nicole Gibbons.

Once you’ve launched an internationally popular interiors blog and costarred on a hit TV show on Oprah Winfrey’s network, what’s your next move? To many young design talents, that might be quite enough. But Nicole Gibbons has her eye on so much more. Born and raised in Southfield, Michigan, with a decorator mother, Gibbons admits that interior design wasn’t always her primary passion. After getting her degree in communications from Northwestern University, she moved to New York City to work in fashion PR. Her blog, So Haute, began in 2008 as a creative outlet but—much to Gibbons’s surprise—quickly became a favorite in the digital home-decor space. “I realized it was more than a hobby,” Gibbons says. “It was a world I wanted to be part of.” She began taking design courses and left her PR job in early 2013. “I talked to every designer I knew for mentoring and advice. I took on any small project I could to learn the industry inside and out.”

Rounded surfaces such as this DwellStudio cocktail table are elegant yet kid-friendly.
Rounded surfaces such as this DwellStudio cocktail table are elegant yet kid-friendly.
The owners' heirloom chair was recovered in a boldly geometric David Hicks fabric.
The owners' heirloom chair was recovered in a boldly geometric David Hicks fabric.
A Brooklyn Townhouse by Nicole Gibbons

Now, with a recurring role on OWN’s Home Made Simple and frequent appearances as a decorating expert on morning talk shows, Gibbons has reached a new maturity as a designer. Her most recent project exemplifies this evolution: a four-story brownstone in Brooklyn, New York’s Park Slope, for a family with two young children. The 19th-century structure required a gut renovation and interiors with an understated yet elegant approach. Ornate flourishes, durable furnishings, and high-impact doses of geometric patterns create a remarkably cohesive look. 

“With any project, I love to mix old and new,” Gibbons says. “In this case, since the architecture was original to 1876, I created contrast with clean furniture styles that nod to historical context.” In the living room, she added brass nailheads to an angular sofa and designed a mirror of antiqued glass in a minimal steel frame to hang above an ornate fireplace. An heirloom armchair was recovered in a bold David Hicks fabric to give it modern edge. And upstairs in the master bedroom, the soft blue-and-white palette subtly highlights the home’s architectural details.

Pattern bursts forth in a powder room covered in Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son wallpaper.
Pattern bursts forth in a powder room covered in Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son wallpaper.
A tufted headboard with nailhead trim in the master bedroom provides comfort and structure.
A tufted headboard with nailhead trim in the master bedroom provides comfort and structure.

Each element, from the round-top DwellStudio cocktail table to the upholstered Bernhardt headboard, is perfectly calibrated to achieve a mood of well-designed comfort. “This is the first complete residential project of mine that’s been published since I went into the business full time,” says Gibbons. “I’m at a place where I have confidence in my work, which isn’t something I would have said a few short years ago. That says a lot about my growth.”

A Brooklyn Townhouse by Nicole Gibbons
Lessons from This Home Tour

Serene and inviting, yet still era-appropriate: see how Nicole Gibbons brought contemporary freshness to a 19th-century residence

  • SET THE SCENE

    Painting the original crown molding, ceiling medallion, and the millwork in the master bedroom classic white creates cohesion while underscoring the home’s historical frame.

  • LAYER IN TEXTURE

    Visually disruptive surfaces, including the grass cloth in the entry and the Vivienne Westwood wallpaper in the powder room, inject energy throughout.

  • ADD FOCAL POINTS

    Light fixtures—such as the Art Deco–style sunburst chandelier by Arteriors—command attention, as do the oversize mirrors displayed above the home’s fireplaces.

  • DON'T FORGET FUN

    Gibbons calls the playroom her favorite part of the whole design. “It was actually the space with the smallest budget, but the clients were open to being more adventurous with color and pattern,” she says.

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