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Refining Riveting Spaces


INTERIOR DESIGNER BLAIR GORDON HAS, BY HIS OWN ADMISSION,
NOT ALWAYS BEEN ON THE CUTTING EDGE.

This self-defined “Life Stylist” came to “cool” (and to Texas) in a round-about kind of way. Born in North Carolina and raised by a single mom, Blair says frankly, “My mom and brother and I ate beans and Wonderbread and shared a bedroom for a large part of my adolescence.” Needless to say, much has changed for this now uber-cosmopolitan Southern boy.

The family’s move to Georgia turned out to be fortuitous. The red-haired, freckle-faced, 18-year-old was lunching with his mom at The Pleasant Peasant in Atlanta when they noticed a woman staring intently at Blair. She eventually came to their table, introduced herself and announced that she owned a modeling agency in New York City. The woman’s name? Eileen Ford. Her agency? That’s right… the world renowned Ford Modeling Agency.

Though both Blair and his mom indicated that they thought she should meet his tall, dark and handsome younger brother, Eileen Ford had set her sights on Blair’s unusual good looks, and she was determined to woo him from the University of Georgia, where he was set to enter as a freshman, to the Big Apple, where her attention to him would eventually catapult Blair to his true destiny: fashion and design.

Blair says, “I stayed with Eileen in her New York flat for three or four days. That Monday, I had an appointment with the eye doctor (where I got contact lenses) and with the dentist (where I had my front teeth bonded to close a gap). On Tuesday, I got my haircut and they taught me how to ‘stand’ and ‘walk,’ and on Wednesday I made $1,500 modeling for Henry Grethel.” Blair continues laughingly, “I had never even seen that much money before, so without hesitation, I decided to move to the city and pursue a career in modeling.”

That jump start was just the beginning. Blair did print modeling for five years and was then sent to Europe to “become a man.” He explains with a smirk, “This simply means that I learned how to pose without smiling and how to exude more sex appeal.”

Though he never returned to his original plan of a formal education, the lessons Blair learned in the industry began to pay off quickly. When he left the modeling industry, his focus became design. After paying dues at lesser known companies, Blair landed a job with Ralph Lauren that eventually led to his becoming vice president of creative services. After that gig, he landed the coveted spot of creative director for J. Crew, which fully established Blair as a “name” in the highly competitive industry of high fashion and design.

Blair shares, “At J. Crew, I oversaw all the aspects of the brand. My team of 90 produced 26 catalogs a year, oversaw all retail window concepts, visual merchandising, advertising and PR, but to be honest, I always missed Ralph Lauren and soon became bored with the lack of excellence of the other brands.”

A year later, Blair branched out on his own by starting a real estate development company and an interior design company. He says, “I bought a small house in Sag Harbor, New York, painted, did some small enhancements, and furnished it as though it was my fantasy home and I had lived there for years. It was perfect, and I sold it six months later for almost double my money.” With that success as motivation, Blair then bought three more homes and again, spiffed them up and sold them for profit. Within five years, he had purchased 19 homes spanning the Eastern United States, from Key West to the Hamptons to New York City.

Now in Houston, Blair has refined his business to helping his clients “style” their lives inside their homes and work places. He confides that when he first began his interior design business, he discovered that most of his clients did not know how to really enjoy living their lives inside of their spaces. His first approach then, is to determine exactly who each client is: what they are like, how they live and what they enjoy.

The process begins with an interview and walk-through where Blair asks questions about each space in the home or office, such as what they will do in each room in the morning or in the evening. He shares, “When a person comes home, the home should reflect the people who live within it, whether the person reads, paints or cooks—the home should reflect that.” Blair also admits that he is amazed when people say to him, “Oh, this is our formal dining room. We never go in here.” He wants his clients to live in every room comfortably and that every room should somehow match the life and style of the homeowners. Blair continues, “The conversations I have with my clients birth amazing spaces and most of them are so satisfied with how I match their living and work spaces with their personalities that some of them even ask me to car shop for them!”

Blair’s own home is no exception to his “lifestyle” approach to design. A quick look around reveals Blair’s flair for fabulous monochromatic color schemes and he divulges that amongst the collectible pieces of furniture, much of the furniture in this home is from his own unique design line. When I asked about his choice of single color, he confided, “Monochromatic design affords lots of flexibility and furniture choices. It also keeps you from getting bored with a color. For example, if you paint your walls purple, you better love purple for a long time.”

“With a monochromatic color scheme,” he continues, “each individual item in the room becomes important, as opposed to the color or fabric. You begin to notice shape, line, form, over color. Plus a single color theme is soothing—not so busy—as your home should be.” Blair suggests that adding layers of fabric and texture will add warmth and depth, even if they are the same hues. The result is amazingly appealing and aesthetically easy.

The furniture and art in the home is equally alluring. On one wall hangs a picture of a young Paul Newman photographed by Dennis Hopper and an equally stunning photograph of David Beckham taken by Tom Hom. Also present are original Sylvia Schuster charcoal and ink sketches and botanicals by Ellsworth Kelly. A photograph of the back of Blair’s head is stunning in its simplicity, and the fact that most of the art on the walls is black and white should not be surprising given his predilection for monochrome.

In addition to the interesting art, Blair has acquired some great furniture. Exciting notables such as an original 1960 Arne Jacobsen egg chair in black leather and an English arts and crafts zig zag desk are situated comfortably with Ralph Lauren wing chairs and pieces from Blair’s own unique furniture line. Details such as a rare 1960s George Nelson drink table or the mid-century Italian desk lamp add authenticity and charm.

Items from his furniture line, Blair Gordon Original Design, are distinctive in their modern/mid-century quality. Of the style, Blair says, “I’ve managed to blend something borrowed with something new, so that the modern styles are softened a bit and they mix easily with other styles and eras. I’ve found that when you do too much modern, it can go ‘Judy Jetson’ cold in a moment. Most people want warmth in their homes, even if they enjoy a modern look and feel.” Blair’s furniture line achieves this blend beautifully. He elaborates, “Take the bed in the master bedroom: its shape is not new—it has a mid-century leg—but I channeled it like the back seat of a car and added wood, which would’ve never been added in a true mid-century piece.”

As if the interior design and the furniture design were not enough for this “life stylist,” more is in the works. Blair is getting ready to launch a multi-functional bag collection—“the same bag, but different materials, hardware, colors and textures—all reflective of the way people live their lives.” The prototype is incredible and the size is perfect for carrying all your must-haves.

Refining riveting spaces with fabulous furniture and accessories is just the tip of the iceberg for Blair Gordon’s inspirations. He’s got all sorts of tricks up his sleeve. Wonder what is next for this city slick wonder boy? No doubt something wonderful!

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Top – Blair describes the living space as “where I spend all of my time.” He confides, “It feels like a tree house to me with all of the windows—always sun-drenched, and the exposed rafters really open up the space. “ The sofa is a Blair Gordon Design, and the aesthetic is finished with a vintage Arne Jacobson egg chair, mid-century Italian club chairs, a root wood coffee table, a 1940s french bibliotheque and an amazing arts and crafts zigzag desk. Original celebrity photography and art work and a George Nelson drink table perfect the seamless space.

1-The kitchen in this home is warmed by the natural light and beautiful wood cabinetry. The simplicity of the black backsplash tile and cutting board island countertop add elegant detail and functionality to this space.

2-Functional furniture, framed art and a knack for organization make this home office a great place to work and create.

3 & 4-The workspaces in Blair’s office include samples of current designs he is working on underscoring his predilection for monochromatic color schemes with accessories splashed with color and texture.

5 & 6-The master bedroom showcases a Blair Gordon design original bed. The low profile, upholstered bed is accented with walnut inlay and inspired by mid-century design. The vertical and horizontal windows, the exposed beams and the wood floor add charm and character to this perfectly put-together space.

7-This dining area serves eight. When dinner parties are on the agenda, Blair says they just pull up random chairs and stools around the table, which is another Blair Gordon design. “Even in a formal setting,” he says, “I like to mix the chairs. I think it gives the room more personality.” This mix includes Danish chairs, an African stool and a pair of Ralph Lauren wing backs.

8-Curly, the resident pooch rescued from Key West in 2004, makes an appearance in the guest bedroom where company can rest comfortably in another Blair Gordon Design bed paired with a couple of mid-century bedside tables from the ’60s.

9-Blair’s favorite fabrics are found stacked in a vintage rope-wrapped wall-mounted shelf. He confesses, “I try to keep them organized but it is a constant struggle when I am constantly grabbing and pulling them from the bottom.”


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