Maurice Harris, in a Block Shop Textiles robe, lounges on top of a custom quilt by Family Bettina. The wallpaper on the wall and lamps is Garden Wall by Lake August and the painting is by Jonathan Lyndon Chase. Maurice Harris is a multitasker. While talking to us he is also having his internet upgraded and is making sure his absolute star of a dog, Leroy, stays out of trouble, all while remaining fully engaged and hilarious. “I do this weird thing where I think I can do multiple things at once,” he says, laughing, “so I have a lot going on right now.” This vibrant juggling act is reflected in his multifaceted career; he runs Bloom & Plume, a floral studio with an impressive client list; he’s also the founder of a coffee shop of the same name that doubles as a community space; and he is steadily becoming a regular fixture on television. While he approaches almost everything with an all-in mentality, finding equilibrium is important to Maurice. You can see it in his flowers, in the way he shares his thoughts, and in the design of his home. “I’m constantly trying to think about a balancing act of light and dark,” he shares. “I think that’s where one’s true authenticity lies, in the modality of both of those energies intersecting.” Maurice considers his home a reflection of his authentic self, that quest for balance, and his double Cancer nature: It is a rental (one he has lived in for 16 years), but he treats it as a permanent space. He makes his living in flowers, but the way his duplex is laid out it doesn’t get much light, so he is a professional florist without any plants. “Three of the walls in my living room are this beautiful, weird mossy green; the ceiling is, like, three shades brighter,” Maurice (seen here with scene stealer Leroy) says of the transition from his living room to the dining room. “And then the wall that transitions into the dining room is like a shade in between the yellow and the green—because it’s a small space it couldn’t be abrupt; I wanted it to all flow.”
When Michelle Ogundehin set out to find a new home in her beloved Brighton, England, she brought her well-trained eye to the job. For 13 years she was the editor in chief of Elle Decoration UK, and these days she’s the judge of popular BBC and Netflix series Interior Design Masters, so she knew what she was looking for. Day in, day out, she canvassed the city streets looking for the one. It turned out to be right under her nose. “It’s a house I must have walked by a dozen times. And one day I just saw it—and there was a ‘For Sale’ sign,” she recalls of the cottage-like Georgian, built in 1821 with a walled garden tucked behind an old-fashioned black gate. “I put a little note through the door that said, ‘I think I love your house. Will you sell it to me, please?’ and attached a copy of the magazine. They called me back, I walked in, and I just knew.” In the cozy dining area, a Saarinen Tulip table by Knoll is surrounded by vintage Ercol chairs, restained to match the floors. Michelle doused the kitchen in soothing gray tones, creating texture play by mixing lacquered cabinetry with matte walls and ceilings. Units from IKEA are paired with a wraparound Corian countertop. Michelle pays close attention to those good feelings, always careful to choose things—whether it’s a set of flatware, the color of a cushion, or the house itself—that make her heart sing. But that skill, she insists, is not reserved for editors, interior designers, and the sartorially inclined. As she argues in her new book, published last fall, Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, armed with a few useful tools, just about anyone can cultivate a space that really works for them physically and psychologically. As Michelle likes to say, “Your home can be your superpower.” It’s a rather timely subject, as we endure a raging global pandemic that has forced so many of us indoors. But long before mandatory quarantines and stay-at-home orders became everyday parlance, Michelle was thinking hard about domestic environments and the way they connect to our well-being. “We have accepted the twin pillars of wellness as exercise and nutrition, and I just felt like, Yeah, but we’re forgetting about environment,” she says. “What surrounds you absolutely affects what you feel like and how you think and your ability to be your best self.” In the book she lays out the basics. The gist? “Everyone can be their own designer and, actually, you already know everything you need to know.” “Like in any cooking, you need that pop of heat,” says Michelle, noting the bold mustard sofa in her study. She used this vibrant hue in dashes throughout the house, such as on the ceiling in the kitchen. “People often ask me, ‘Oh, where do you buy your objects?’” explains Michelle. “They want to buy a whole set to make a shelf-scape, and you can’t do it like that. You just have to live your life and you might see something that resonates with you.” For displaying those odds and ends, she follows her simple rule of “Clear, curate, and contain before you add color.” When we spoke on the phone in early November, England had just announced a second lockdown, and Michelle was preparing for hunker down, part two. While she carefully strategized a few updates to the place—a door on her office; some new plantings in the garden—she was hardly dispirited at the thought of more time at home. After all, she practices what she preaches. “Every single thing in the house has been chosen according to my happy inside principles,” Michelle says, laying out her core strategy: “Choose well, choose once, choose sustainably, choose that which will last, choose that which makes you happy, that which makes you smile, that which lifts your soul. Because it makes a difference.” “In my editorship I was always looking for homes that had what I would call a singularity of intention,” explains Michelle. “They did that thing, whatever it was, from the front to the back of the house. It wasn’t whether I liked their style, it was, Have they done it consistently? Because that’s what gives you an overall sense of who the person is and a sense of flow.” Here, in her living room, a Robin Day Forum sofa upholstered in a pale pink Dedar velvet and covered in colorful cushions gazes at a lineup of artworks and objects.
When Jenson Titus and Nick Scheppard, the two halves of the cheekily named VeryGayPaint, moved to Los Angeles two years ago, painting murals was not part of their plan. “We don't have an art background; we weren't planning to start a business,” the two are quick to tell us over Zoom. Instead, they pursued comedy while floating day jobs to pay the bills. But when the pandemic hit, that was all put on pause. “We were just sitting around a bunch in our apartment,” Nick says. “I saw something on Pinterest and was like, I bet I could paint that!” And thus, the very first VeryGayPaint mural was born. “We posted photos and friends were like, Oh, my God, that's really cool!” Nick continues. “Our next four projects were friends, and then it became friends of theirs, and then it became strangers, and then businesses. We're just sort of chasing the boulder down the hill at this point.” The duo's murals are designed to play with the space, not pull focus. Courtesy of VeryGayPaint Jenson and Nick wasted no time in refining their painting technique and establishing their trademark clean aesthetic. “The reference points we have for this type of mural are mostly from the ’60s and ’70s,” Jenson explains. Murals are painted in quiet, muted tones—soft avocado, rich ochre, or light cornflower blue—but each project is unique, and is designed in collaboration with the client. VeryGayPaint murals aren’t meant to be the loud centerpiece of a room—they’re meant to complement the existing design, and elevate other key pieces in a space. “We've just, over time, developed this sensibility,” Jenson says. “Nick has just gotten really good at making color palettes. It's an intrinsic gift for him.” But it’s not always a simple process for Nick. “People will be like, I love purple!” he says, “and I have to be like, How do I find a way that purple looks...not bad to me?” More than their murals, Jenson and Nick credit a part of their success to their Instagram schtick—an alt-comedy sensibility centered around their own queerness. “Every shape is gay. All of them (not rectangles),” declares the caption of a bright geometric outdoor mural. “Murals are the opposite of dirt bikes. We will not explain,” reads another. The lesson is to find what makes you unique and lean into it. “Someone could come along and paint murals.” Nick says, “but it's not gonna blow us out of the water, because we are the only people that can juggle all three balls that we're sort of juggling.” What’s next for VeryGayPaint? Only time will tell. Perhaps the rumors of a reality show based around the duo are true. Perhaps we’ll be blessed with even bigger murals. One thing is sure: Whatever it is, it will most certainly be Very Gay.
To reflect the Soviet influence in a contemporary way, Alexandra put silver handles on the kitchen cabinets. She also chose lace curtains, as well as chrome-finished vintage furniture. “My favorite room is the main living area since it combines different zones in a relatively limited space, making it cozy,” Alexandra says. The dining nook is furnished with the Mezcla table by Jaime Hayon, which is surrounded by three Marcel Breuer chairs. Above them hangs the P376 pendant by Kastholm & Fabricius. At the kitchen counter are Pavilion stools by Anderssen & Voll. “I decided to use one color, light gray, for both the walls and the ceilings,” Alexandra adds. “The idea was to make the space even and smooth, and to put more emphasis on the design elements, the furniture, and the decor.” Blending Scandinavian and constructivist references, the designer has created a unique identity for this timeless apartment. “It is a unique space that bridges the times from past to modern,” she concludes. ⚒ Do It Yourself Pick one main neutral color to create a cohesive look. In this apartment, the founder of Workshop Studio chose light gray as the main theme, adding colorful accents with a few pieces of furniture such as the orange bed. Add some curves to bring in warmth. Alexandra Potapova designed a circular door frame between the living area and the bedroom to soften the lines of the apartment. You could create the same effect in a simpler way using a round rug or seat, such as the Roly Poly armchair. Freshen the space with plants. When living in an urban environment, introducing flowers and plants in your home is a way of bringing a little bit of nature inside for a more lively and energetic feel. A circular door frame softly separates the living area from the main bedroom. 🛍 Shop It Out All products featured on Architectural Digest are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Bellevue floor lamp by Arne Jacobsen from &Tradition, $1,030, finnishdesignshop.com Tufted Wall Deco Rug from Ferm Living, $359, fermliving.us Roly Poly Armchair in Flesh by Faye Toogood for Driade, $658, 1stdibs.com Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer, $2,893, knoll.com
Portrait of Jonathan Wray seated on a Gaetano Pesce sofa circa 1990 and Julien Sebban. The curtains and carpet are by Uchronia. How does a young “it” architect on the Parisian scene weather a year of ups and downs? By getting creative, of course. Julien Sebban, age 27, is the founder of the creative collective Uchronia, where he has his fingers in everything from art to fashion to architecture and whatever might fall in between. Naturally, his home is not only a reflection of his interests but of a new and evolving approach to what it means to work. Located on the first floor of a classic Haussmannian building in Montmartre, Julien’s 1,011-square-foot apartment is anything but traditional. After returning to Paris from London about a year ago, Julien and his partner, Jonathan Wray, also a creative director, decided to completely rethink the classic Parisian floor plan. What was originally a traditional three-bedroom became one big room with six windows facing a beautiful garden. The idea was to keep the majority of the apartment as the “public” areas, with the living room, office, library, showroom, dining room, and kitchen on one side and the private quarters on the other. “We now have just one big room of 70 square meters, which is unusual for Paris,” Julien explains. “We removed everything and separated the public areas from the private ones. We did a lot of work when we moved in, but kept the kitchen and bathroom in their original places.” “This is our comfort zone, the showroom and the casual room. It’s a place to read and have a drink,” says Julien. “It’s colorful, funky, and playful, and at night it becomes a light show with all sorts of colored and shaped lights.” The sofa is by Gaetano Pesce and the lithography on the right is by artist Guy Yanai. The carpet, curtain, and coffee tables are by Uchronia, Wave. On the mantel is a vintage radio; the lamp to the right is IKEA Stranne. The entire space is full of Uchronia designs and productions. “My office is here and my showroom,” Julien continues. “All the pieces we develop, like furniture and lighting, are here and also a selection of curated items we offer, like purchases from the flea market.” And though the space is eclectic, there is one recurring visual inspiration: waves. Julien admits with a giggle, “I am obsessed with waves. This flat is an ode to the wave. The entire flat!” Julien developed the concept for Uchronia while studying for his architecture degree at the Architectural Association in London. Uchronia means “a space without time,” and the creation of the studio involved personal studies on how sleep affects his life. Since completing his degree he designed Créatures, a 100% vegetarian restaurant with an urban garden on the roof of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. He is now getting ready to open another restaurant, this time in the Musée National d’Art Moderne, where he will also update the museum bookshop. When asked about his dream projects, Julien pauses, and then almost whispers, “I want to do more public projects. I want to give access to a larger public and I want to design spaces which have an impact.” Big ambitions for a young architect, but at the rate he’s going, all is within reach. The spot where the research and sourcing takes place is full of prototypes and lights for their various projects and clients. The chairs are by Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij. “Our meeting and dining room where we host clients and friends for informal meetings is the centerpiece of the flat,” says Julien. The table is by Dirk Vander Kooij and the assorted chairs by Vander Kooij, Jean Royère, vintage, and a Frank Lloyd Wright Barrel armchair for Cassina. The curtain is Uchronia “Wave Falling Sun.” ⚒ Do It Yourself Don’t be shy. Mix and match different dining room chairs around the table. It makes the setting lively, fun, and a topic of conversation. Mix it up. Take a cue from Julien and make up a carpet of different carpet samples—it’s an unusual way to treat the traditional floor covering. As most designers say, the room starts from the ground up! Experiment. Try personalizing your bookcase. Julien painted his library bookcase to “uplift” it a bit. He suggests spray paint or gluing cork or plastic mirror on the shelves. Stick it up. To add pops of color and design interest, put graphic works directly on the wall (not necessarily framed), as in Julien’s bedroom. The sofa by Gaetano Pesce is circa 1990, the globe stand by Dirk Vander Kooij. The carpet, curtains, and coffee tables are all Uchronia designs, and the armchair is a prototype for a Japanese restaurant in Paris designed by Uchronia called Onii-San. The bedroom faces a garden. On the walls are prints by Uchronia, a Jean Royère chair, an orange lamp in Murano glass, and a small table by Dirk Vander Kooij. 🛍 Shop It Out All products featured on Architectural Digest are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Garage shelves, $128, Amazon Barrel Chair, $3,347, Cassina IKEA Stranne Lamp, Etsy “I found this piece at a garage sale in the Perche region of France. It was a unique piece made as a student work by an unknown designer,” Julien says of the green cabinet. “This piece really sums up the spirit of Uchronia.” Other pieces in this area are a green armchair designed by Uchronia for the Paris museum project, vintage ceramics, Santa and Cole red lamp by André Ricard, carpet by Pedro da Costa Felgueiras, and Tahiti lamp by Ettore Sottsass. Vallauris ashtray, white ceramic prototype, and small table by Uchronia.