If you want to go the antiquated romantic look this Fall, dress up your oranges and browns with vintage pieces. Donald Kirkby is an interior decorator, antiquarian and editorial stylist. For a desk nook that could inspire a great novel— or a period film with ladies in waiting who carry sniffing salts— Donald offers a few pointers.
RH: How did you choose the setting for your desk?
Donald: I chose the location as it is close to the window, perfect for daydreaming and looking outside to the garden. At some point you will drift off and you might as well drift off to the nice garden. You should also consider what pieces you have and where they will fit.
RH: Where did you find the desk?
Donald: It was a flea market find from Seattle. I tend to go for things in “found” condition. I prefer the original finishes.
RH: The colors have a buttery, Old-World tone to them. Did you have this color in mind when you created this desk nook?
Donald: The whole room has a sunlit look. The desk and the things on it are varying hues of the same color. The paint is Princeton Gold by Benjamin Moore. It was inspired from the film A Beautiful Mind. The dorm rooms in Princeton were of this scheme, which appealed to me.
RH: How did you choose the frame for the bulletin board?
Donald: You have to begin with a great frame. I chose a solid old pine frame with its original paint peeling from it. It needs to be simple yet have its own character. I also love the colors, which are original. An ornate style would not work with all the things inside it.
RH: Do you mind sharing with us the technique of how you made this?
Donald: I used a thin piece of plywood that I covered with linen. I then stapled the fabric to the back and inserted the bulletin board into the back of the frame.
RH: How did you select the elements composing the bulletin board?
Donald: I began with the art first. I like portraits, which are the main focal points, and everything else just ended up there. It can be layered. And you will find that this is a place to put things that you don’t want to forget—so it’s both a form of style and function. You add pieces of your personality, such as feathers and a mini frame which reflect my personality. What else do you do with a tiny frame with nothing in it?
RH: Why did you choose the items displayed on the coveted, space-challenged desk top?
Donald: Most of them are kept to the perimeter in order to maintain a working surface. Otherwise there should be light things, such as the trays. This is really my phone desk or a place to work on my laptop. I try to avoid any hints of modern living. My eye is drawn to old things.
RH: Any other design tips to share with readers?
Donald: Keep trying until it works. Look at magazines and films and don’t just sort of gaze—actually see something.
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Photography by Jaimee Itagaki
Styled by Donald Kirkby