Grant K. Gibson: The Curated Home
Interior designer Grant K. Gibson is known for creating well-edited spaces that manage to feel both personal and unique. We love the way he mixes pieces from disparate eras, to create thoroughly modern rooms. His first book, “The Curated Home, A Fresh Take on Tradition,” goes beyond the standard portfolio of beautiful images—pairing exquisite spaces with generous-feeling insider tips for readers.
“I like design books, and books that offer how-to examples,” explains Grant. “So taking my life experience, my travels, my trials and errors, and sharing them with people who might not work with decorators or designers? That was always in the back of my head.”
According to Grant, his book includes questions similar to those he might pose to new clients.
“First, I’ll ask clients if they have any design ideas or tear sheets from magazines,” says Grant. “Some have Pinterest boards or screen captures from Instagram. If they do, it can be a great springboard. If they don’t, I ask a lot of questions—which I talk about in the book. Questions like, where do you like to travel? Is there a favorite hotel, or a bar or restaurant you like the feel of? People who are calling decorators are people who want help. They might have ideas, but they don’t know where to start. It’s always collaborative, it’s never just, here’s a check and our keys,” he says.
“I think the layering of time periods makes a room feel interesting,” says Grant.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to West Elm, if that’s your budget. I’d just suggest—maybe don’t get everything from the same store. Find other sources that can make your space feel unique and individual to you. Sometimes I have clients with a specific tear sheet and they almost want me to duplicate that exact room. I’ll say, that worked for whoever that was—but how can we pull inspiration from this and not copy,” he explains.
“When I mentioned purchasing from just one store—what’s missing are antiques and vintage,” he says. “Those words can get a bad rap, because people think ‘my parents would have done this.’ But if ancient objects are given some breathing room, you can take them out of the past and rethink them for today. Purchasing these special objects, whether it’s from somewhere like PAGODA RED or a flea market, adds interest because it isn’t like everyone else. It’s unique to you and to your interior.”
“[It’s about] bringing things together that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, similar to the way the clean lines of midcentury modern might work against a landscape painting in a ornate gold frame. It’s about creating balance between the two. If the frame were paired with a chintz chair, that would be going too far down grandmother lane,” Grant says.
On the Importance of Art
Grant offers art consulting, and sometimes commissions custom pieces on his clients’ behalf. “When I work with an artist, I might provide a bag of swatches so they can get an idea of where we are going. It’s about giving people the information that they need. I lean so much on all the people I work with. Even with PAGODA RED, for a project in Napa—I emailed pictures of the bookcases, and the wallpaper. That was a collaboration,” he says in reference to sourcing the antique vessels featured in the image below.
“Art is something that can be forgotten about, and not always budgeted for, and I definitely try to include an art budget. Even if it’s a powder room that needs a small water color—a tiny accent. There are options at every budget. Art layers into a space. It’s one of the finishing touches,” he says.
For Grant, editing is a critical part of the design process.
“Things do need some negative space to be highlighted,” he says.I’m definitely guilty—if I look back at an older apartment of mine, it looked like an 80-year-old grandmother lived there because there was so much stuff.”
“The idea is to only purchase pieces that are really meaningful to you. Don’t just buy things because you can.”
I’m in an interesting career because of the consumerism. I do have issues with the amount of waste and junk, so I care about things being meaningful,” he says.
“You need a little bit of space for your eyes to land. I can go back and forth—I love maximalist—pattern layered with pattern, and then I absolutely love minimal rooms. I jump back and forth between the two, it can make the day very interesting,” he says.
On Smarter Souvenirs
Frequent travelers know that shopping can sometimes be a slippery slope. After all, it’s easy to stock up on tchotchkes that don’t make sense within the context of home. Grant suggests trying to shop with a bit more purpose.
“Fabric can be a great option,” he says. “Having a more focused and edited thought behind a purchase really helps. So as you’re looking you almost have a mission. With fabric, you can use it for lamp shades, pillows, a throw for the foot of the bed, upholstery—it can even be framed.”
Another idea? “Look for things that are actually functional,” says Grant. “I have a wooden salad bowl that I brought back from Africa. I made a salad in it just last night, and I often use it as a fruit bowl. Photography can also be interesting. People take great pictures with their iPhones. Blow one up and frame it for the memory,” he says.
On His Next Chapter
Grant’s first “curated adventure” sold out in 24 hours, and others have since been announced. Next up? A spring sojourn, exploring his own home turf. He’ll lead lucky fellow-travelers on a tour of Northern California’s best eateries, wineries and design hot-spots.
“I was on a trip to India, and thinking about what was next for me in my career. Would I do a furniture line? A fabric line? Open a brick and mortar store? Open an online store? I fell in love with India, and thought it would be fantastic to bring other designers and creative people on a trip, and to share this with them.”
“My love of travel is so huge, and my love of design is so huge. This is combining my two passions in life,” he says.