Garrett Carter’s Best Design Advice

The New York-based interior designer Garrett Carter is known for his sophisticated take on designing stylish and comfortable spaces. Blending contemporary aesthetics with classical touches, his richly detailed interiors are compelling and yet calming. He sat down with us to discuss his current work, his inspirations, and his best design advice.

Describe your education background and current work: Currently I’m enrolled at New York School of Interior Design pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts. Prior to moving to New York City for my academics, I worked for several distinguished design firms in my hometown of Houston, TX. First starting at my mother’s business, Fixtures & Fittings, I learned all the particulars of plumbing, architectural fixtures, door hardware, and how essential the smaller details are to defining, as well as characterizing, a space. That then brought me to interning at a very well respected, high-end interior design firm in Houston, where I learned all about the finest qualities of design. Taking from what I learned at home, today I apply that knowledge to projects in and outside of school.

When did you begin to form an appreciation of interiors, and what was it that drew you into the world of design? I grew up in a household where interior design played a great role in how we lived our daily lives. My mother had a great appreciation for interiors, décor and fine furniture, which exposed me to design at a very young age. I then started reading nearly every coffee table book in our home (in particular, John Saladino’s Style by Saladino) and from there immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life. I started a sketchbook that lived on my bedside table where a few nights out of the week I would sketch a room or piece of furniture that I imagined. When the time came to decide where to attend college, I knew I had to pursue my love for interior design and move to New York.

Describe your personal aesthetic, and how it has developed over time: The context of where a space is located is crucial to the overall design. Is it in the city or out in the countryside? It is by the lake or along the coast? The situation of the home or building must relate and communicate to the concept of the interior space. This largely determines what direction the project will be steered in. Creating a dialogue and harmony between contemporary aesthetics and classical references is an idea that plays an imperative role throughout my designs. I am drawn to muted tones, natural materials, lustrous finishes and an overall calming color palette. Art is also a great influence in my designs because I think it’s an incredible way to see the world we live in today. No matter what the specific project, my intention is always to create eclectic rooms and interiors that are stylish and comfortable, answer the needs of their occupants, and remain relevant.

Where do you feel your particular expertise lies, and why? I believe having a space that feels stylish, but at the same time comfortable, is essential in today’s world. My perspective as a designer is to create interiors that evoke this aesthetic.

Are there any current or upcoming projects that you find particularly interesting? I have a project that I’m working on in Houston, TX that recently just started. The home is being built from the ground up which is an exciting process to see and work with. Inspired by one of Nancy Meyer’s films, The Holiday, the home is going to have a fine blend of modern designs, contemporary art, and thoughtfully placed antiques throughout the space.

Another project I have going on is a vacation home that sits in the mountains of Colorado. The purpose of this second home is to escape and enjoy the beautiful landscape that surrounds the property. It is being entirely renovated to construe modernity in an architectural sense and the idea is to keep this notion and apply it throughout the interior.

Where do you find inspiration? Fashion and films are huge inspirations for my designs. I start by putting together a mood board that relates to whichever project I am working on at the time. I gather images from magazines, things I’ve seen in movies, and other random things that catch my eye along the way. Eventually, each inspiration board starts to develop a story of its own.

GARRETT CARTER’S 10 BEST DESIGN TIPS:

1. Buy objects that are intimate and important to you. You know when you find one.

2. Muted tones and a subtle color palette keep the living space relaxing and comfortable.

3. The simplicity of off-white, cream or even a shade of grey marmorino plastered walls will bring warmth and texture into a space. They are always my go-to and they let the things in your home stand out on their own.

4. Infusing contemporary aesthetics (like an Oscar Niemeyer chair) with classical references is always visually interesting and timeless.

5. My whole idea is to keep things as simple and clean looking as possible. If you keep this thought in your head, you will become a better editor. It’s crucial to creating refined interiors.

6. Layering is a way to add character and luxury in a space. Throw a Curulis bench under a console and don’t be afraid to hang a piece of art on a bookshelf or layer a rug on top of another.

7. High gloss lacquered cabinets; built-in shelves or bedside tables are a simple and easy way to add luxury to any space.

8. I love the usage of steel casement windows and doors with thin mullions throughout a home. They fill a space with natural light and add a feeling of relief to any interior.

9. Pay attention to the smaller, but significant details throughout an interior. Plumbing and hardware are the jewelry in a home.

10. When you’re out, always have a camera, because you never know what you might see that may inspire your next design. Snap a picture and add it to your mood board.

To learn more about Garrett Carter, visit Garrett Carter Designs.

Images courtesy of Garrett Carter Designs.

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