Nora Schneider: Deepening the Design Process
For Nora Schneider, interior design brings the opportunity to know someone’s story. Many clients expect to begin the process with color samples or magazine clippings, but Schneider takes a different approach.
“I always start by asking them to share something they already own, something they love,” she says. “It might be a rug or an heirloom or something they collected in Hong Kong or Tanzania or Amsterdam. We get to go deeper when we talk about it.”
For a couple who loves art and travel, Schneider recently designed bookshelves inspired by their favorite pieces and places. In collaboration with publisher Juniper Books, Schneider created custom spines that line up to display three-dimensional murals. The spines of Spanish books reveal the Guggenheim in Bilboa, while New York novels come together to create the cityscape.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Schneider has long-term relationships with many of her clients. They call her back when they move, buy a second property, or expand into a new addition.
“I often go back 10 years later,” she says, “and it doesn’t look dated. I still love it and they still love it. That’s almost always my goal.”
That timelessness comes from a holistic approach to houses. Schneider uses as few materials as possible, so that everything works together. She prefers natural woods, metal and stone alongside high-quality fabrics. Patterns are subtle, from tone-on-tone textiles to neutral animal prints.
Her color palettes are likewise highly curated. After living with a white living room for twenty years, she recently painted the walls black and brought in saturated colors, a dramatic shift from airy morning light to night-sky dark. Nature is a constant source of inspiration.
“I just returned from a hiking trip in Utah’s Red Rock Country,” she recalls, “and I saw beautiful terracottas with pink undertones. Mother Nature always does it best. She gets it right every time.”
The natural world also inspires shapes, from organic stone sculptures to curved furnishings, which help soften the austerity of clean-lined modern designs. Details such as artwork draw the eye around a room and up to the walls. “It’s OK to treat your home like an art gallery,” Schneider says. “Not everything has to match.”
Current fascinations include Asian and African antiques paired with crystals, stones and shells. In a recent project for the River North Design District Gallery, Schneider draped Moroccan rugs on top of a modern table to create a sculptural vignette. African stools surround it, invoking a dichotomy between clean-lined modernism and handmade history.
“It’s about the patina,” she says. “People might worry that antiques are too fragile or precious to put in their home, but if something has lasted 100 years or more, it’s probably going to outlast all of your other things.”
Nothing is time-stamped, and everything exists in harmony. “That is certainly my hope,” she says. “To have a complete yet comfortable space, where everything feels as if it’s intended to be together.”
To learn more, visit Nora Schneider Interiors.
All images courtesy of Nora Schneider Interiors.