July saw the reopening of the Crosby Street Hotel in New York. Kit Kemp’s London and New York properties are high on our list of favorite hotels. At Crosby Street, step into the light and airy lobby, home to Kit Kemp’s art collection, including works by Callum Innes and Jaume Plensa. Firmdale Properties has two iconic properties in New York, besides Crosby Street their Midtown property is The Whitby Hotel. I frequently recommend and stay at Crosby Street Hotel set back off the Soho cobblestone streets and I always recommend it to my client families…teens can wander and shop, plus endless dining nearby. Firmdale Hotel Group is owned by Kit and Tim Kemp, their roster of properties includes eight stylish hotels in London. An interior designer, Kit Kemp creates all the interiors for their properties.
Besides marvelous dining spaces and friendly beyond helpful staff, I adore the whimsy of the eclectic design in all of the Firmdale properties. Attention grabbing design tempting you to linger. Kit Kemp mixes patterns and colors like a genius sorcerer and I feel is impossible to duplicate! Turkish rugs, Jim Thompson fabrics, Mexican Otomi embroidery – the rooms and public spaces are a riot of color and texture that beautifully blend into a cohesive look. Charm is a touchstone Firmdale characteristic and they have it down to a science, a charming idiosyncratic science.You should know, the hotels all have the trademarked steel Crittall windows, enormous floor to ceiling windows unlike any other hotel windows, allowing brilliant light to flood the room. The rooms are similar in style to their other properties in the sense that Kit Kemp is a master of pattern mixing with a myriad of colors, yet it looks sensational and unique.
Design Themes. From the latest Kit Kemp newsletter, where she provides background on her inspiration.
DON’T be afraid to make a statement. Found fabrics come in many forms, depending on origin, technique or era. Often, found textiles feature delicate and pretty designs, but sometimes you might be lucky enough to find a punchy and powerful design, like this traditional Mexican Otomi embroidery.
DO use the fabric as your starting point. When you have a fabric you love and want to bring it to life in a scheme, it’s always a good idea to pick colors from the textile itself. Think of the fabric as the blueprint for the rest of the space and grow the identity from there. Carefully building on the colors will help to create a cohesive and balanced room.
DON’T shy away from mixing and matching. The joy and beauty of using found or vintage fabrics is that they can have imperfections that make them feel more unique. Play into the imperfect by using a combination of similar fabrics. Kilim rugs are one of my favorite fabrics to collect. One afternoon, whilst browsing our design library, I realized I had a small collection of hot pink and orange pieces. I had just enough to cover my dining chairs at home, so they went straight off to the upholsterer. It doesn’t matter that they are all slightly different, the mix and match creates intrigue.
DO pay homage to your fabric. Play into the origins of your antique textiles to create a scheme that tells a story. This beautiful antique needlepoint on the ottoman is wonderfully traditional and tells a tale of age-old craft techniques. In another celebration of traditional techniques, we used this Bogolan mud cloth textile from Mali on the little chair in Crosby Street Hotel‘s lobby. Paired with the Ardmore sofa from South Africa, it brings together different references as a small celebration of the African continent.
DON’T overlook the potential for wear and tear. Using antique textiles often means the fabric might be fragile. There could be embroidery, embellishment, or the textile itself may have lost its luster over time.
If it is a more delicate fabric, we recommend using it in a location that will get less wear and tear. My trick is to always use more intricate fabrics on accent chairs in spaces where people are only passing through.
In the lobby at Crosby Street Hotel we have two antique Suzani textiles on our wing chairs. They are real statement pieces and although they get occasional use, they are safe from the weathering of a drawing room chair. More Kit Kemp design advice.
I love a story behind hotel properties and every one of the Firmdale properties express multiple stories. I feel I am in a very exotic location in each hotel. Kit Kemp’s design sense involves an explosion of patterns, colors and textures. She is an expert at making remote acquisitions work in her varied interiors, and she possesses an enviable flair for interspersing collectibles, like an 18th-century Swedish cupboard or an antique Suzani into her projects. From one of her books, and I have all of them: pieces that tell a unique story—maybe of a person or a time in history, of a particular handcrafted technique, or even just something with a combination of color or pattern.
My first impulse in a Firmdale property, is to kick off my shoes and plop into one of the plush chairs or hop atop the extremely comfy sleep inducing Beautyrest bed, layered in colorful multiple patterns, sensory overload perhaps, but eclectic design with immense style. The rooms envelope you, blissful fun, distinctive style combined with luxury and excellent amenities, a gallery in a sense. The bathrooms are quite large; and most have massive stand-alone silver soaking tubs and oversize double sinks. Small well-lit walk in closets eliminate your travel detritus and contain a well-stocked mini bar.
Traditionally, Firmdale properties are designed in the style of a stately English country home, I realize those are opposite terms; the sitting rooms and libraries for guests are designed in the style of ‘to the manner born’, however, the décor is cozy and comfy and very inviting. Imagine a private guest space i.e. the drawing room with an honor bar, merely write down on the pad that you were the one who quaffed the Perrier chilling in the ice-bucket…Brits who appreciate common courtesy and expect honor.
Many years ago, my stay at the Crosby Street Hotel included hosting my local friends in between their son’s high school graduation events. The grand ‘library’ of the Crosby Street was the picture-perfect place to flock, staff replacing bottles of bubbly, passing scrumptious snacks, peeking in often to see if we needed care, I’ve never felt more at home.
Full service, including suggestions for what to do, where to go in the neighborhood! Crosby Street Hotel.
Welcome back Crosby Street Hotel, when we are allowed to travel again, New York fall weather will beckon me back.