March 25, 2012

Decorating Talk with Interior Designer, Style Writer Rita Konig

If you follow this blog, you know how much I miss Domino magazine. I recently had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with the magazine's former editor-at-large, Rita Konig. She's an interior designer (one of my favorites) and also serves as the European Editor for The Wall Street Journal's WSJ. Magazine, and a columnist for the paper's "Off Duty" section. It was such a joy speaking with her, so I hope you love the interview. 
Rita Konig. Photo: Michael Lustig

Decor Musings: How do you suggest one should approach decorating?

Rita Konig: First start thinking about how you are going to live in the space. Be honest. In a sitting room, for example, do you entertain a lot? Are you mostly going to be watching TV? Will you be having suppers there? That’s where I start.

DM: Sometimes people think decorating means having to buy all new things, rather than using some of what you already own. What’s your take on this idea of decorating?

RK: A home is a collection of things that you gather as you go through life. So your home should reflect those things, rather than every time you move, you feel the need to throw everything out and start again. I think that’s a rather hollow way of decorating.

I think about the things in my home that I’ve bought in junk shops or picked up on trips, or the photographs or notes that friends have given to me. For me, that’s what makes up one’s home. It’s hard to decorate for people when they don’t have these things because it looks forced.

DM: On that note, how do you make sure to avoid the clutter in your home since we do tend accumulate a lot over the years?

RK: One has to be quite brutal about getting rid of things they don’t need anymore. Sometimes with furniture, you need to let some pieces go to make room for new and better things. It can be good to let things go.

DM: What’s your take on incorporating flea market finds into your decor?

RK: Flea markets are one of the cornerstones of my life. I am always in markets. I have purchased many of my things at antique shops. I have a couple of West Elm items, but I do not want my house decorated with a bunch of things from West Elm or Williams-Sonoma. In junk shops or little antique shops, you can find things that have so much charm because they are not repeatable and are well made.

Remember this photo of Rita's apartment from Domino? Photo: James Merrell

DM: What are some of your other favorite places to shop for home pieces in New York?

RK: I’ve gotten a few things from the 26th street flea market. I love John Derian’s shop and Ruby Beets in Sag Harbor, Long Island. I also like Liza Sherman on Bedford Street, and Mecox Gardens.

DM: Can you share a few decorating tips for people on a budget?

RK: I would say upholstery. I purchased a couch in Atlanta for $1,900 and reupholstered it two years later. Also visit auction houses because they have interior sales. Pictures also make such a difference in your home. I have never had a big budget for art, so in my old apartment I stuck old polaroids on the wall. It was fun.

When you have a budget, it’s easy to buy things for the price, rather than buy good things. But if you buy good things, they will always be with you. If you buy the bad couch, for instance, you will always want to replace it as soon as you can.

DM: What’s one of your favorite magazines to read?

RK: I love The World of Interiors magazine because it’s not just about immaculately decorated houses by an interior designer. They feature houses that are interesting and quirky. They are visual treats. That’s what I want to see when I look at houses. An immaculately upholstered couch in a house on the Upper East Side (of Manhattan), doesn’t make me feel very excited. Unless you are looking at an interior decorator’s own house, it doesn’t have the same spirit.

DM: What was your experience like working at Domino?

RK: I loved working there. The whole team was so fantastic. People always ask me if they will bring it back and the answer is simple. The team is gone. It’s very hard to reproduce a group of people like that who had so much taste, so much joy, youth and spirit. It was a really good team. In four years, for a magazine to make such an impact on people was amazing.
[***Note, it was recently announced that a newsstand-only special edition of Domino will be released on April 17.]

DM: Did Domino enhance your decorating skills?

RK: I definitely learned from Domino. The homes that were featured all had this lightness and youthfulness. Even when I look at the way my pictures are hung in my home now, it’s not a collection with a theme. It’s a combination of things, and so I picked things up from Domino and all the stylists who worked there.


And be sure to check out Rita's blog, too.


Igor Josifovic said... Reply to comment

Loved this interview. Very interesting to hear Rita's approach to interior decorating. Cheers from Germany!!

Decor Musings said... Reply to comment

@Igor JosifovicThanks so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed this. - Monique