ECLEC­TIC BLEND­ING Vi­vian Reiss’ home

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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.”


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.


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.”


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...

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