Stacey Bewkes pens the blog Quintessence. For those who don’t yet have it bookmarked, Quintessence is a go-to for well-written posts on everything from de Gournay to designer showhouses, color theory to chic travel tips. It’s no wonder she has such a great taste, she spent 17 years in New York as an art director before relocating to Connecticut. In addition to Quintessence, she is the co-style editor of the non-profit Women’s Voices for Change. Bewkes loves classic modern design, has a great sense of style and an intuitive understanding of design. Click through for her favorite finds and a Q&A.
How has your background in art history influenced the way you view design?
Art history trains your eye how to see and differentiate. There are centuries old rules of proportion, scale, color and balance based on the human experience that almost all great design references. But nothing exists within a void. If there’s one thing you learn, it’s that art is a product of its time and environment. So it’s about having a sense of which designers successfully tweak and reinterpret the rules to create something new.
Tell us about your personal style.
I would describe my personal style as modern classic. I tend toward tailored with a twist – clean lines, beautiful materials, great craftsmanship. I subscribe to many of the same rules in fashion as in my home. As Miles Redd said recently, “Buy the best and you only cry once.” I buy a few good pieces that I have for years and then fill in with fun accessories. But my wardrobe is more forward than my home. Since I share my house with my husband, whose taste tends to be a bit more traditional, four children and a 100 pound lab, there has to be a certain sense of practicality in the mix. Now that some of the kids are not home as much any more, I’m hoping to do a little updating.
You just returned from High Point. What sort of trends did you notice while there?
While I’m not a huge proponent of trends, there are always certain consistencies that drive the market. Even if you are not consciously aware of it, repetition of themes, materials or colors across collections create desire. Lela Rose addressed this topic in her keynote about how textiles drive the fashion market. When designers are shopping for fabrics, a dominant color can drive many collections. I saw quite a bit of blue in many of the lines, the continued dominance of brass and gold tones and also a resurgence of luxurious neutrals.
1. Hand Painted Large Scarf Pareo, $180; 2. Gorgeous Diamond Faceted Sapphire Gemstone Earrings, $4,438; 3. A Traveller in Venice, $75; 4. Colorato Collection Stella Platter, $64; 5. Garden, Cracow, $800; Bedside Alarm, $60; Antiqued 9 Panel Mirror, $3,135; Customizable Palladio Placemat & Napkin, $412; Seasonal Pack of Ice Cream Sandwiches 8 Pack, $40; Hand-made Photophore in Farrow and Ball “Shaded White”, $475
You started blogging relatively recently, but have quickly picked up a huge following. For all those aspiring bloggers out there: how did you get started? How do you build up a following? We’d love any tips.
Like many other bloggers, I started Quintessence as a creative outlet, as a way of sharing information and inspiration I tended to accumulate. I gradually became a part of the community by visiting and commenting on other blogs, attending functions and through social media. I don’t think you can force these things – you develop relationships and trust and if you do your job well, people want to come back for more. I work hard on creating well-researched original content. I approach each piece like an article, trying to walk the line between personal taste and professional presentation. My basic tenet is if I like something, chances are there are others who will too.
When it comes to the home, where can you afford to save? When do you insist on splurging?
I splurge on the pieces I hope to have for a long time like sofas, upholstered chairs and important case goods. That being said, I found my living room coffee table at a local consignment shop and my sister, who has a great eye, found my side table at a thrift store and just repainted it black. If you buy what you love you’ll always find a place for it. I am perennially shopping for that perfect quotient of style and quality at whatever the price.
Finally, what’s on your to-do list for the fall?
I always have the best intentions but never seem to accomplish everything on my list. Narrowing it down, I would say redoing my powder room and organizing my office. I already have the wallpaper for the powder room, it’s just a matter of finding the time to get it organized. And my office is starting to look like the Collyer brothers live there, so that’s a priority.