ECLECTIC BLENDING Vivian Reiss’ home
COMBINE TRAVEL AND HISTORY TO CREATE UNIQUE SPACES.
is a reflection of her life as an artist, and this is true for her décor. So what was the inspiration for her parlor, which features bright textiles and eclectic furniture? “I love to travel,” Vivian says. “When I was on a trip in Bali, I came across this beautiful Indonesian style bed, and I brought it back home with me.” This bed, which was used for relaxing and playing games, was soon beloved by her entire family and became the focal point of her parlor room. “From there, I found gorgeous textiles that I wanted to bring into the space. I began collecting pieces in my travels and continued adding to this collection.”
For this particular room, Vivian also included a pair of twin beds from the 1960s she found at a garage sale, which she transformed into chairs she could drape in fabric to match the Bali bed. “I had them shortened until I felt they would compliment the space,” she says. Colorful hanging lanterns and stained glass windows tie all the pieces together, creating an oasis lounge in her home. “There are aspects of the Victorian ethos that incorporated Moorish details and Orientalia, as well as other cultures,” says Vivian. “I wanted to embrace that part of the Victorian style and bring in a blending of eclectic pieces that were culturally significant to me and my travels.”
REPURPOSING AND REVITALIZING
Vivian maintained a good balance of new and old by taking some of the original pieces of the home and revitalizing them, such as the staircase in the hallway. “Most of the woodwork in the house was grained and had a fake look,” Vivian says. “The doors suffered a lot of damage from removing the steel and needed a lot of refinishing, therefore I didn’t feel the need to keep everything so accurate to its historic roots.”
Vivian took a lot of the wood within the home and refreshed it using paint colors she mixed herself. “I didn’t want anything to be ‘typical,’” she says. She also added gold stripes on the banister of the staircase, emphasizing the wainscoting with gold and beige, and used unique flooring throughout the home. “The original flooring was made with oak strips that were on their last legs when I bought the house,” Vivian says. To play off the natural floor color, Vivian added several types of wood to create intricate patterns, unique to each room. “I remember going to a lumber mill and noticing a pile of wood where you couldn’t see the grain because it hadn’t been milled. I thought that it was spectacular and bought it all to incorporate into the flooring.” This spur-of-the-moment purchase led to one-of-a-kind patterns, some containing thousands of intricate wood pieces, which flow throughout her home.
Vivian maintained a good balance of new and old by taking some of the home’s original pieces and revitalizing them, such as the staircase in the hallway.
Vivian moved through the house one room at a time, feeling out each space and using her attention to detail to determine what each room needed.
HEART OF THE HOME
Though every room of Vivian’s home has its own commanding presence, one room that stands out is the kitchen. With a blend of Spanishinspired tiles and beautifully carved woodwork, the space is a tribute to Victorian style. “I wanted the cabinets to have charisma, so I collaborated with my carpenter who also works as a sculptor,” Vivian explains. “We built floor-to-ceiling cabinetry all on site. I would draw the design I was envisioning and he would begin building.” This artistic process allowed Vivian to witness her visions come to life and shape them as they were created, adding more curves here and a few details there. The dovetailed cabinets bloom with functionality and organic beauty. “I love entertaining and serving in this kitchen,” says Vivian. “I look out into my garden, and the whole space is very open and inviting. They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and I think that is the case for my home as well.”
ONE OF A KIND
Vivian has taken her derelict, historic building and transformed it into a unique home where each room speaks to you with its own distinctive voice. Vivian doesn’t love one room over any other, which is understandable for a place she transformed with such care. “Restoration seems a lot like childbirth, where I can forget the pain and difficulties of the process and focus on the care and detail that I poured into it,” she says. “This house is my baby. The challenge of designing is incredibly rewarding, and the act of creating is really where the joy comes from for me.” As she moves on to a new project, restoring an 1850s home in New York, she explains that everything she does stems from her work as an artist. “Being bold and making brave choices results in such great things.”
Right. This is the home’s original mantel and tile, which Vivian decorated with copper balls. She had them polished and lacquered, and added décor items she gathered on her travels, such as a Balinese Buddha, a piece from an Indian sofa and lights from...