Recently on Instagram, de Gournay posted the following bedroom designed by Todd Richesin. It took my breath away, and I immediately wanted to see more of his incredible work. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Todd’s design philosophy exudes a chic glamour that always feels comfortable and inviting. He believes rooms should be collected, not decorated. Classically inspired decor, pretty palettes, and comfortable spaces are trademarks of his style.
Todd has been recognized by Traditional Home as one of the “Next Wave of 20 Great Designers” and by House Beautiful as one of its “Designers to Watch.” I am delighted to feature a Q&A with Todd today! We will also take a look at his portfolio and a sneak peek of additional projects via his Instagram account…
Q: Please tell me about your design philosophy. How do you go about creating a collected room?
A: You answered it with the question! The best collected rooms really reflect collections. I think my work looks more collected than a lot of designers because that comes naturally to me. I love the mix in design. Modern with traditional; old with new; European with American design; chintz with velvet…..the list goes on. I encourage my clients to buy the BEST they can. That is NEVER a mistake. The best pieces hold their own…..forever. Good bones are the basis. I love to collect things for clients when they don’t have an interest to do it for themselves……but the best projects come when it is a collaborative effort between my expertise at editing and curating, and a client who has a quality collection they love. A collection can be anything…….poster art, antique paintings, mid-century furniture, porcelain, antique boxes, rugs. It’s just great to have the interest and personality that element can add to a project to tie it all together with the client’s true interest.
Q: Were you born in the South, and how does this influence your decorating style?
A: I was born in Sweetwater, Tennessee. My dad was born in the same city, and my mom only a few miles away. They were brought up with an interest in their homes, and that interest was conveyed to me. I think being a real southerner gives me an insight to interior design that can be found nowhere else! Southerners are gracious, charming, welcoming……and that is everything I want to convey in the work that I do. Comfort is foremost in my work. I really don’t understand using pieces in your home that are completely un-functional or uncomfortable. That just doesn’t compute to me…..especially today when people are wanting smaller spaces. Southerners are all about comfort, and I try to convey that in my work…..both physically in the way a room works and how the upholstery sits, and emotionally in the way a room feels.
Q: Where do you find your greatest source of inspiration?
A: My clients are usually the greatest source of inspiration. I love to understand what they want; what their interests are; how they live; what their budget is, and then figure out how to help them achieve and surpass their goals. A client without an idea is really not a good client. I don’t want to create another “Todd Richesin Interior.” I own one of those myself and live in it! I want to create a “Todd Richesin Interior specifically for Mr. and Mrs. X.” Outside of that, I would have to say that the best way you learn about new things and get new ideas is by travel. Travel really opens your eyes to the world, and to how many different ways there are to do exactly the same thing.
Q: Please tell me about your store, Bobby Todd Antiques.
A: Bobby Todd is the brainchild of my husband and business partner, Bobby Brown and myself. Thus the name….Bobby Todd. Seventeen years ago, we lived in a 200 year old warehouse in downtown Knoxville. Exposed brick walls, soaring ceilings, original heart pine floors. The “new” part of the condo was very modern, and we filled it with our signature mix of antique furniture, period artwork, and beautifully upholstered furniture. As we entertained, the most common comment was “you have to bottle this look and sell it!” Bobby Todd was created as a result of those comments from our friends and clients. The original concept stays true today. The shop is filled with quality antique pieces that represent an excellent value, and we still mix new with old, European with American designs, primitive with formal and elegant. The mix is amazing, and creates a really welcoming and friendly shopping experience. We have added some clothing and jewelry to the mix, as well as some gift items, but the original concept is still the main focus. 5 years ago, we branched out again and created the same concept at my design studio with our second store, UPSTAIRS.
Q: Trends come and go, but your designs are truly timeless. Is it important to you to create a look that will withstand the test of time? How do you achieve this?
A: It is important to me to create an interior that will withstand the test of time. It is also very difficult today to find a client who actually understands and appreciates the wisdom of doing that! So much of what is on the market today I would classify as temporary at best! And with social media and the immediate availability of everything (I bought a pair of shoes online Monday and they were delivered to me today from a boutique in Venice, Italy), it is hard to convince someone that the process takes time to get it right! But when the stars align and you find that person, the result is amazing. Most clients are “ready” for a change in their interior after 10 years…..BUT, most clients will “live with” their interior for at least 15 to 18 years! So it is really important to consider things that are going to look outdated. It is even more important because of the longevity of a custom design, that the quality be there to sustain those years of use. I still get compliments on rooms and houses we did 10 and 15 years ago…..and still have clients who want to create similar looks. The most interesting story came last year. A new client came to me and wanted to use a home she had seen me do 15 years ago. While we were creating that space for her, the client who inspired her was busy creating a completely new look for the house that inspired her! It was fun to see that happen.
Q: Do you have any favorites when it comes to fabrics, furniture, etc.? What are a few of your staples?
A: Some of my favorites and go-tos are:
- Cowtan and Tout for fabrics. They encompass a beautiful range of fabrics that can be from modern to traditional. They also understand texture, which is crucial to the work I do. You have to mix textures to create an inviting interior.
- Ralph Lauren for fabrics and wallpaper. Ralph represents quintessential American design, and no one understands the mix that I love to create better than the folks at Ralph Lauren.
- DeGournay for hand painted wallpapers. A little of this can go a LONG way! You have to have something really special in every interior, and DeGournay is a great place to get a jump start on that.
- Renewed on my radar is Brunschwig & Fils. They went through a period when their products felt tired, but they have recently shaken the dust off of some of their archives and brought back some classics in a fresh palette of colors, and have really revitalized the look of the product. The old Brunschwig is back!
Q: Any advice you would like to share?
A: My advice to anyone doing a design job is “trust thy decorator.” And if you can’t do it…..then walk away and find someone you do trust. You have to have the trust of your client or your project will never fully come to life. Another bit of advice is to follow your own heart with what you want your home to look like. Don’t listen to your friends and neighbors! They don’t live there! Don’t do it because you “think” it is stylish or that it will impress a group of people. Those people are going to see it once, be unimpressed, and not care. Do your home for you! You are the one who lives there, and you are the one who needs to love it. That is why each of my projects has so much personality……they were all created specifically with the client in mind.