In this past year, many of us retreated into our homes, reimagining both their purpose and their possibilities. The home is now much more than a place to gather with friends and family after a long week at the office; it is the office. And a classroom. And the gym. And the art studio. And the coffee shop. We spoke with interior designer, Maryline Damour of Damour Drake, for professional interior design tips on how you can revamp your space to function the way you need it to, while still looking the way you want it to.
Good interior design, she said, reflects the best of yourself back at you. Commit to yourself and what you love, and you’ll find the right style.
One of her professional interior design tips is to “live in a surrounding that really reflects who you are, not just aesthetically, but also in terms of your mood,” she said. “Are you the person that is energized and go-go-go? Your space should reflect that!”
We talked to her about three multipurpose rooms that could inspire updates in your own home.
With schools and workplaces shifting online, the home had to become both. That is why Damour and her senior designer, Mel Jones Jr., crafted this blended home office and classroom for their Kingston Design Showhouse in Hudson Valley, New York. With its bright colors, intricate details, and overall sophisticated design, this room pleases children and adults alike.
She adamantly pushed back on the suggestion that children and adults need to be separated. “Whether you are an adult or child, the room serves the same purpose: work,” said Damour.
Beyond the functional details, she wanted to create a space rooted in what the world was dealing with at the time. In addition to the disruptions of COVID-19, 2020 was also defined by historical social movements.
Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Damour adds beautiful colors and textures that reflect her Caribbean background to every room she designs. However, the unique green wallpaper in this room tells a different story.
Created by famous African American designer, Sheila Bridges, this “Harlem Toile” wallpaper was chosen in an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement. The wallpaper features African American children and adults playing Double Dutch, dancing, and picnicking — blending the traditional toile style with contemporary experiences.
To complement the intentional wall, Damour chose a bright blue paint for the ceiling and colorful splashes of Haitian artwork throughout the room. One of her best professional interior design tips is to remain confident in your style. “If you are confident in your aesthetic, show that confidence by repeating it over and over. That’s what makes it impactful. And that’s what makes it look intentional.”
Moody Blue Office
Set in a Victorian building that hosts the Damour Drake team’s professional office, this railroad apartment showcases a deep blue shade of paint on the walls, a traditional rug on the floor, modern open shelving and personal trinkets from Damour’s life.
Architecturally, the room is windowless and fairly dark. Instead of attempting to slather some white paint on it to make it lighter and brighter, Damour worked with what she had. By giving in to the room’s inherent moodiness, the adjacent room appears even brighter and more airy while giving this room its own juxtaposed character and charm.
Not sure where to start in a room? Another one of her classic professional interior design tips is to “do what the room is telling you to do,” she said.
This home office also proves it takes more than a big desk and a swivel chair to design a truly functional, inspiring workspace. Instead of forcing the aesthetic of the traditional, this room should reflect your personal style just as much as the rest of your home.
“One of the mistakes people make is when thinking about a home office, they don’t design it like the rest of the spaces,” Damour said.
Beautiful artwork dons the walls of Damour’s office, but that is simple. By using her own pieces, she could showcase her design abilities and personal aesthetic. As an homage to her roots and celebration of her culture, a paper mache zebra from Haiti is mounted above a hanging collection of her colorful rulers. “That was a moment where I was able to do a little bit of an installation of my own,” Damour said.
One of her professional interior design tips is to play around with different textures, patterns, and colors in the same space to create something wholly unique. The use of bold color and modern, boxy pieces, like the clean lines of the shelves, help a whimsical antique or something as simple as a ruler stand out even more.
Many of us have struggled to relax and recharge in homes that have become crowded with so many other purposes. Damour offered this Hudson Valley Mediation and Yoga room as an example of creating an intentional, but still multifunctional, space to retreat.
The clients offered this room on the bottom floor of their townhouse, asking Damour to create “something very calm and meditative.”
She was adamant about not bringing in Asian or Indian references that are stereotypical of a yoga room. Instead, she focused on the calm and peacefulness she wanted the room to emulate.
She drew inspiration from a Japanese psychotherapy practice that sends people into the woods to lower their blood pressure and heart rate, reducing their stress level by interacting with nature. To capture that same feeling in this room, Damour worked with an artist who created a huge installation piece of greenery to convey a canopy of leaves.
“It was interesting to watch people come in. They stopped talking, and that’s the point, you know,” Damour said. “When you’re surrounded and just taken by nature. You’re just kind of being.”
Senior Designer Mel Jones, Jr., who doubles as a furniture maker, created the room’s unique, low sofa. Paint-splattered meditation pillows line the floor, adding a pop of color that still blends with the room’s predominant natural tones.
As an added feature, Damour’s team converted a small closet into a single person sauna.