Colorful, Luxe Designs for Your Home

What immediately jumps out at you with New York-based interior designer Steven Gambrel’s job is his dazzling use of colour. Lacquered walls in high main colours and chambers upholstered in jewel-tone textiles are de rigueur in a Steven Gambrel-designed house. And his bold color choices are not out of place. Whether designing an oceanside retreat, historic country manor or city house, he creates richly detailed settings that meld the design of the region with a modern way of life. “The place that a client chooses to reside reflects their personality, and helps notify others of the distinctive way of life,” he writes. “For me personally, to design a background for that lifestyle is a really exciting undertaking.”

Steven Gambrel: Time and Place, his very first publication, showcases the unique way he brightens and enriches living. Read on for tips from your publication on upgrading your house, Gambrel style.


Use patterns to emphasize scale: The luxurious of big rooms is their capacity to absorb pattern and colour. Here, Gambrel combines just the right amount of solid and patterned bits to make a harmonious yet intriguing composition. The white and black patterned curtains draw the eye upward to the dramatic vaulted ceiling.

Hint: The vaulted ceiling was not an original feature of this room. To get the effect he wanted, he opened the lowered ceiling, then painted it with semi-reflective paint and set up the softly glowing mother-of-pearl lanterns.


Update a conventional room with bright paintGambrel pays homage to the historic whaling town heritage of his Sag Harbor house by decorating the guest bedroom with rustic hardwood flooring planks and early American antiques. But the coral walls and contemporary-looking framed art instantly and seamlessly anchor the room to the 21st century.

Tip: Repurpose old paintings. Gambrel cut nautical scenes from a 19th century folding screen to make a framed montage with this wall.


Play with contrasts in colour and texture: In this prewar Greenwich Village apartment, Gambrel went for a sophisticated European look. He achieved this via stark contrasts. The apartment entry shows this off beautifully — warm yellowish curtains stick out against white, black and grey surfaces, and the lacquered hardwood flooring is amplified by the matte paint onto the walls and doors.

Tip: Understated European elegance is evident in the doorway’s colour palette, which was painted in three shades of grey after a storefront seen in Paris. To accentuate the entryway’s architectural elements, he applied thin strips of paint into the wood paneling.


Soften decorative rooms with high gloss and colour: The clubby feeling of this library is tempered with the golden glow created by the reflective surfaces and amber accents. The shiny black walls are the perfect background for a modern art collection while the bright yellow ceiling gives the illusion of a lofty ceiling.


A little playfulness goes a long way: Situated in between two grand public rooms in this New York City apartment, the kitchen is intentionally minimalist. The colorful world lamp adds some levity and contrasts with an industrial background of appliances and cabinetry.


Guide your layout options by picking a sense of the room: This library evokes warmth and relaxation for a counterpoint to the marble-clad entryway preceding it. Gambrel accomplishes this with walls clad in scored beeswax and lined with cerused oak, and soft orange accents.

Hint: Prominent crown molding not only lends the room an architectural gravitas, in addition, it accentuates the height of the ceiling.


Uncover unexpected details: To open a darkened and darkened kitchen, Gambrel eliminated a cupboard and set up windows and built-in seat seating. The turn of the staircase is currently a feature of the room that adds to the kitchen’s comfy ambience.


Steven Gambrel: Time and Place – $50

More inspiration:
Designer Crush: How to Construct Like Thomas O’Brien

Layout Tips From the Countess of California Cool

Interview: The Design Magic of Tobi Fairley

See related