Design Direction: It's possible to make opposite styles work, the Beekman Boys say
Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell have taken on everything from goat-raising to sauce-making.
Now, the pair known as the Beekman Boys for the historic farmhouse they inhabit are delving into interior design with “Beekman 1802 Style: The Attraction of Opposites” (Rodale Books, $40). Pittsburghers can celebrate the new book at a meet-and-greet, book-signing and brunch Feb. 6 at the Fairmont, Downtown.
Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell are the stars of “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” on the Cooking Channel and have been featured on “The Martha Stewart Show” — Ridge, a physician, was formerly vice president of healthy living for Martha Stewart Omnimedia — and in the New York Times, Vogue and Vanity Fair. Fans know them from their cookbooks and food line. Last year, they launched a furniture and bedding collection with Bloomingdales and Bed Bath & Beyond. Their latest book offers their take on bringing tastes together, whether you're combining households, moving or simply updating your look. It also gives readers an inside look at the Beekman farmhouse in Sharon Springs, N.Y.
This is the couple's first time in Pittsburgh, and they invite locals to share some ideas on their Facebook page for what they simply must do while in town: facebook.com/FabulousBeekmanBoys.
Question: This is your first design book. Describe your personal approach to interior design.
Brent: The book is conceptualized around the idea that in relationships, opposites attract each other. So, we took that same idea and applied it to rooms. So often, people don't have the resources to hire an interior designer or to go to the store and buy everything from one setup.
The vast majority of decorating is bought in bits and pieces — someone gives you something or you find something at a yard sale, or you get married or get a roommate and you combine households. People are often overwhelmed by the challenge of that, but you can still create amazing rooms using the things that come into your life in natural ways.
Josh: The process of decorating a home is not something that has a beginning and an end. A lot of people feel like they're trying to get to a finished product, but it's a process that may never be done. That was really our experience at Beekman Farm.
Q: When making opposites work, what are the most important things to keep in mind?
Brent: Everybody has a particular aesthetic they like or a style they gravitate toward and collect. A lot of people become style hoarders, but when you have all these pieces that might be beautiful in their own ways, when you put them all together, each individual item becomes less special.
It helps to step out of the room and say, “What is the exact opposite of everything else I have in this room?” If it's very Victorian, maybe bring in a modern light fixture. If you're a minimalist, maybe bring in one great ornate piece. Do an inventory of everything you have, and look at it with a fresh perspective. Start with an empty room, move in the functional pieces, then decorate around them.
Josh: Remember you are decorating for you. We all get trapped in what's the latest style, but in reality, if it's something you love, it belongs in the room.
Q: Is there ever a point when you should just accept opposites aren't working together? How do you keep things from looking forced?
Brent: You can always make it work by being creative. If you have a piece that doesn't seem to work — maybe the color is wrong — you can easily change it. Maybe the height is wrong. These are things you can change if you just get creative when thinking of how to do it.
Josh: If you really don't feel good about two things, put one away. You can always bring it back out later or use it in a new way.
Q: What are some of your favorite examples of making opposites work in your own home?
Brent: We live in a farmhouse filled with lots of period detail. Over the fireplace, we took a 1960s plaster gilded mirror and took it to a local auto dealership and asked them to spray paint it with as many layers of orange lacquer paint they could. It's the antithesis of what you'd think would be in that room and the one thing everyone remembers.
Q: What's next for the Beekman Boys?
Brent: The second edition of our magazine, Beekman 1802 Almanac, comes out in May. We also have our Farm Pantry line of products available at Target nationwide. Twenty-five percent of profits go to small farms.
Rachel Weaver is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.