When interior designer Ken Gemes realized he had outgrown his long-time Bronxville, New York office, he turned to an industrial neighborhood in nearby Mount Vernon to provide the flexibility he was seeking. Partnering with a local cabinetmaker, Gemes transformed the warehouse into a vibrant office with space for a conference room, reception area and even woodworking shop. And all was done in Gemes’ signature style of comfortable luxury.83
Gemes certainly had his work cut out for him when it came to the sitting area, which was, in his words, “a vanilla box with no architectural interest.” He chose a Philip Jeffries wallpaper in a relaxing mix of soft greens and blues and hung a Condé Nast framed photograph of a vintage swimmer to brighten the space. Small-scale furniture was used to create a comfy but pleasing seating area. “I love having clients sit in the furniture and experience first-hand how comfy it is,” he says. “With the mix between what's featured in our showroom space, as well as additional pieces in the warehouse, clients leave with a good idea of what they'll be getting.”
While he naturally gravitates toward grass cloth for wallcoverings, Gemes was grabbed by the architectural detail in this whimsical Cole and Son wallpaper, which he used to keep the vestibule and hallway from looking too serious. With a series of geometric and costal prints, he shows how easily art can mix with patterned wallpaper. A white lacquer Chinese Chippendale mirror, grass cloth wrapped console, Greek Key hide rug and Italian three-door cabinet round out the space.
In his office, Gemes created a crisp, timeless look. He used Benjamin Moore’s White Dove on the walls and Vintage Pewter for the trim and kept all other elements in the space black and white, including his mahogany desk, which was refinished in black lacquer. While the individual space isn’t large, an antique mirror was hung vertically to take your eye up to the high ceilings. The white rug with black border from Pappelina was used to lighten the space and is woven from non-toxic Swedish plastic, making it very easy to clean.
Gemes knew that the narrow conference room needed something unique to catch attention. “When Soicher Marin said Condé Nast’s ‘Man Under Water’ image could be converted to Wall Couture and custom sized for our space, I was ecstatic,” he says. “The effect was exactly what I wanted—bold and unexpected.” The clean look is finished with a British Colonial-inspired dining table that serves as the conference table and mid-century chairs that are small and stackable for easy storage. A flat screen TV allows Gemes and his team to highlight projects and furniture finds for clients.