Q&A: Grant K. Gibson

Name: Grant K. Gibson 
Resides in: San Francisco
Occupation: Interior designer, Grant K. Gibson Interior Design
Best known for: Layered interiors with a modern, punched-up take on the traditional. Currently he's working on a vineyard in Napa and a private residence in Rye, New York.

1. Antique or modern?
I actually like to mix both. Filling a space with items from the past and balancing with the new makes it feel fresh and unique. If you fill it with only antiques it can feel dated. But all modern can feel cold—like no one actually lives there.

2. City or country?
I’m starting work on a horse ranch project righ now, and as much as I really love being outside of the city for a day, there is nothing like the buzz and action of being in a big city.

3. Which colors do you use most?
I am drawn to neutrals. Some of my current favorites are inky blue-grays and lavenders. I love to balance with pops of color, and black accents ground an interior.

4. Favorite materials or textures?
Linens. I also work with a lot of great outdoor fabrics that are really durable for indoor use. (Think kids and pets!)

5. What is your favorite interior design-related word?
Eclectic. I value a diverse range of styles and sources.

6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
My childhood home—like my home now—was filled with treasures from trips around the world. I tend to pick up art (on a trip to Maine last year), rugs (from Morocco) or textiles (to make into pillows). It's a wonderful way to personalize a space.


7. Does a room need a view?
No. My first apartment in NYC faced a brick wall. I managed to make the space the focus and I don't think anyone missed looking outside.

8. Favorite designer or architect?
Gil Schafer's architecture is breathtaking. He works on projects that incorporate his knowledge of history and scale and bring it into present day.

9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
I receive stacks of lifestyle magazines in the mail every day, including Elle Decor, The New York Times, and Food & Wine, and I read them all. I find inspiration in so many places and am constantly tearing out pages to save.

10. What qualities do you most admire in a room?
I think that a space needs to feel inviting—it should invite you to take a seat. Bad lighting kills a room for me, so I like to layer lights from multiple sources. We tend to focus on what we see, but to me [a room's success] is also about the smell. I am constantly burning Diptyque Figuier and Astier Mantes la Jolie candles .

11. What is a forbidden word in your house?
'Couch.' Call it a sofa or a sectional or a love seat. Anything but a couch.

12. Design rule you love to break?
"A room has only one specific purpose." I like to take a space and reinvent it. For a client in NYC, we converted their large foyer into a dining room. It was such valuable [real estate] in the apartment that was just being used as a passageway.

13. What is your favorite room in the house?
I love designing a powder room because it's a jewel box of a space and you can take a little bit of a risk by doing something unexpected with color or wallpaper as a surprise for guests.

14. What is your most treasured possession?
A friend of the family gave me a fragment of an 18th-century Chinoiserie panel which I recently had restored and framed. It's dark green with hand-painted peonies and birds; the detail is extraordinary.

15. What do you wish you could do without?
My iPhone. It is a great and necessary tool, but it's difficult for me to set it down. I have to put it in a drawer at night to break free for a bit.

16. How does West Coast design differ from East Coast design?
West Coast style is slightly more laid-back. I like to mix a bit of East Coast into the West without making it too formal. I think that the weather on the West has a huge relationship to the design aesthetic.

17. What is your favorite thing about the West Coast—design-related or
otherwise?
No snow in the winter and no humid summers. I am a California boy, so when I moved to New York I barely survived winter and summer.


18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
Does Truman Capote count as a historical figure?

19. On what movie set would you like to live?
Something's Gotta Give. Nancy Meyers just creates the most inviting spaces. I can't tell you how many times I have asked a client to describe an interior they like and they start with, “It had Diane Keaton, and it took place in the Hamptons...”

20. To which city would you move for the design?
I love Paris and keep visiting over and over again. I had my dining room table crated and shipped from my last trip—I always find unique pieces there.

21. If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?
I’m hoping to remain in my current bodily incarnation as long as possible.
Melissa Goldstein is a Lonny and StyleBistro contributing writer whose work has also appeared in ELLE, Wall Street Journal, GQ, The Observer, Spin, and Lucky Magazine.
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