Interior Designer Digs! Inside Athena Calderone's Immaculate BK Pad

Athena Calderone's top home-decorating rule is to maximize the "mix" so that no single room hits just one note. Indeed, this idea emanates from everything the interior designer/culinary experimenter/Eye-Swoon editor-in-chief touches. From conception to photography and execution, every aspect of her website (which is a destination for all things visually flawless) is overseen by Calderone herself. Add to this picture-perfect design aesthetic which extends from her own BK pad to many high-profile clients, and a personal wardrobe that would make any fashion enthusiast, well, swoon, and you've got one maximally busy, maximally inspiring New Yorker. Come tour one of our favorite homes yet, and get ready to be blown away by Calderone's mixed-up style.
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Can you tell us about Eye Swoon and how your blog combines your passions?
"Eye Swoon is a true reflection of myself. I love making things beautiful, whether it's my immediate environment or the food I create. When designing a space, there's always one singular image that inspires a complete room. Or, I'll taste a bit of something that excites me so much its causes me to recreate my own version of that dish. Eye Swoon is my creative outlet and way to share my inspiration. I wanted to share little sparks of inspiration and see how they incite a journey for others. Eye Swoon is the coming together of all the various (and often fragmented) parts of myself — the fashion lover, the design addict, the food obsessed, the bohemian, the mom, and the wife — that are now in union and have a voice."

Reformation blouse, Peter Pilotto skirt, Alexander Wang pumps.
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What is the process, from conception to posting?
"I conceptualize, photograph, and write each piece, so Eye Swoon feels like my baby. It can be exciting, but overwhelming at times. All of the posts are directly related to the things that inspire me — one of the dishes I make regularly for me and my family, or the need to add a pop of color to a neutral room, or a killer resource for reclaimed wood or Moroccan rugs that I've just scored. I get super excited by all these things and simply want to share them. One of the best things about the blog is how much I've learned. I had never even picked up a camera before Eye Swoon. Who knew I loved shooting and styling food so much? I've also collaborated with and met so many wonderfully creative people by doing my snoop posts. I snoop around someone's kitchen and let my curiosity get the best of me, asking about kitchen staples, go-to weeknight recipes, and favorite local spots."
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We love the longhorn in your living room? Where did you find that treasure?
"The brass longhorn was an eBay score! I was at Wes Lang's artist studio and he had a silver metal longhorn. I immediately ran home to seek one out on eBay. This was the first one I saw and instantly bought!"
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Jennifer Fisher bangles, Pamela Love ring, Rolex watch.
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Any future plans for Eye Swoon or upcoming projects you're particularly excited about?
"I am beginning to go into the kitchens of some of my favorite restaurants and cook with their chefs. I will be cooking with Chef Dan Kluger from ABC Kitchen, Chef Jonathan Adler from Franny's, and Ben and Phil from The Fat Radish. Very exciting! I am also really looking forward to a spring flower-arranging post with Flower Girl and a table-setting post with interior prop-stylist Kim Ficaro."
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What is your number one home-decorating rule?
"That you should never follow any rules! I am all about mixing and contrasting elements. I think a room should never strike just one note. I love combining polarizing qualities and using elements that seem like they shouldn’t work, but do. I think it creates a tension that brings intrigue and curiosity to a space. So, a clean environment with eclectic oddities, luxurious textures next to raw ones, old pieces with new ones, that’s what gives a room character and depth."
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When it comes to decorating, are there any rooms in the home that deserve more TLC than others?
"The living room should make a statement. It's where you spend most of your downtime and entertain. The master bedroom should be your sanctuary, so invest in great bedding!"
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Your firm also deals with architecture — what are some of your favorite buildings in NYC?
"My very first apartment building in NYC is now the Ace Hotel. Across the street, on the northeast corner of East 29th Street and Broadway, is the most insane, cast-iron building called the Gisley House. It was built in the late 1800s as a hotel. I would always gaze at it. New York is such a modern, fast-paced city, but I'm enamored by classic architecture with crafted, ornate details and massive windows. This building in particular makes me swoon and represents my entrance to and love of NYC."
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What tips do you have for those of us living in extra-small spaces?
"You can 100% transform a room and create a moody elegance with a statement color. Even a small space deserves a focal point, so hone in on one wall to tell a story and build from there. You can't go wrong with a bold color. I'm currently obsessed with navy walls."
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Vintage denim jacket, NSF shirt, Isabel Marant skirt.
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Where do you shop for home goods and decor?
"I am an explorer, I love shopping at flea markets. My favorite online shops to buy oddities and industrial antiques are Factory 20 and Modern 50. I also love Flair in NYC, Ochre, Canvas, and, of course, eBay and 1stdibs. There's also a store in Venice, California called Obsolete."
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Are there any pieces in your home that have particularly funny or special stories behind them?
"The bed in my master bedroom is from Ikea — it's the Malm bed and I absolutely love the simple clean lines. I painted the bed the same dusty sky blue as the bedroom walls to create a monochromatic, soft look. One of my favorite pieces that just works and probably cost less than $200!"

Athena's Ikea bed is accented by a breathtaking print by Eric Cahan.
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A.L.C. dress, Nicholas Kirkwood pumps.
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What are your go-to spots in your neighborhood?
"Franny's in Brooklyn is my go-to and continually inspires me in the kitchen. I also frequent ABC Kitchen, Battersby, Acme, Vinegar Hill house, and Gran Electrica in Dumbo. Oh, and Indochine…which was my first job in NYC!"
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How does your former life as a model influence your interior design work?
"I suppose being exposed to travel, different cultures, countries, architecture, food, beauty, and surrounded by creative people made its mark on me. I definitely have a strong need to make things beautiful and that stems from what you're surrounded by, what's put in front of you, what you see and absorb, and how you interpret all that yourself."
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Is there any interior design trend you won't try, in your own home or a client's?
"Certain designers can pull off a beautifully layered room with a mix of bold pattern on top of pattern and bright colors. I admire the look, but that's just not me."
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What is your favorite thing about your apartment?
"For certain, the morning light. It streams in through the double-height windows every morning when I wake, and it's truly breathtaking and blinding at times! I am in the process of designing my terrace, so pretty soon that will probably also be a favorite!"
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Isabel Marant dress, Pierre Hardy platforms.
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What do you love about living in Brooklyn as opposed to Manhattan?
"I moved to Dumbo in '98 way before it was trendy to live in Brooklyn. I love the charm of the cobblestone streets, the way the light reflects off the water, the twinkle of the lights from the bridges, and the views of Manhattan from every vantage point. It's magical here! It's really the only home I've known as an adult. What I love most about Brooklyn is the food movement here and the back-to-basics, stripped-down approach to both the food and decor in many restaurants — making things feel unique and crafted with high integrity, yet also feel easy and accessible."
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How does your fashion style intersect with your home style?
"I can often be all over the place in how I dress. Quite schizophrenic actually. One day I might feel more elegant and sophisticated in a long flowy dress or tailored trousers and a blouse, and the next I'll want to look edgier in a short dress or a cropped top and ripped jeans. Pairing a beautiful girly dress with a more structured shoe, a vintage jean jacket, and a bold red lip is not so dissimilar to placing a beaten-up, Georgian sideboard in a mid-century modern home. I am definitely all about extremes in how I dress and how I design a room. Never too much of the same period in decor and never too many items from the same store or designer. I love mixing the raw and the refined; mixing high and low so things don't feel too precious or over thought."
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How would you describe your personal style, and who are some of your favorite designers?
"I would explain my style as Sophisticated Edgy Bohemian. Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Proenza, Acne, Alejandro Ingelmo shoes, Saint Laurent pumps, Topshop, and Zara, too! I also love vintage finds at Melet Mercantile in NYC and Montauk. I shop most often at Zoe in Dumbo, it's just too convenient and they carry all my favorite designers. Plus, I adore all the girls. They know my style and totally steer my husband in all the right directions come birthday and Christmas time. Almost every key piece in my wardrobe has come from Zoe."
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What's one thing you're always restocking in your home?
"Olive oil."
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Veda top, vintage Levi's, Proenza Schouler pumps.
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A second look at those stunning Proenza heels!
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One thing you never leave home without?
"Ruby Woo MAC Matte Lipstick…and my iPhone."
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