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James Huniford knows a thing or two about contrast. The famed New York interior designer effortlessly blends styles, moods, and price points, crafting spaces that are not only beautiful but also livable. Whether it’s a swanky Manhattan apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows or a sleepy seaside vacation home, Huniford’s unique vision creates easy-on-the-eyes vignettes that expand the realm of a space’s possibility.

In his new book, Huniford at Home (out this week), the designer digs into his process, with advice on how to create aesthetically driven, functional spaces using his tool kit of color, proportion, and more. In one chapter, he dives into problem-solving. “I’m always inspired by challenges in my design process, so when it comes to unique spaces, I don’t find them as an obstacle but rather an opportunity to use the space in creative and unusual ways,” Huniford exclusively tells Domino. “If a room is not a typical square or rectangular, I try a different furniture layout. A small niche can be a perfect spot for an interesting object, art piece, or just a nice plant to add more greenery to the room.” 

In an excerpt from his new book, Huniford gives us a sneak peek into five more of his rule-breaking tips for your home and beyond. 

Break It Up

Photography by Gieves Anderson

“In this apartment along the High Line in [New York City’s] Chelsea, a floor-length space is divided by a poured concrete fireplace, inspired by an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture, with a living area on one side and family/dining areas and kitchen on the other. Because it floats with space on either side, the fireplace provides separation but does not interrupt the light and flow.”

Match Scales

Photography by Gieves Anderson

“In a space with glazed walls and panoramic views, a long bench and console table in pale neutrals manage the scale and create a restful atmosphere that allows for the absence of typical softening elements such as window treatments or an area rug. In the spare space, nubby fabrics add texture.”

Divide and Conquer

Photography by Matthew Williams

“In vast loft spaces such as this one on Crosby Street [in NYC], it can be a challenge to make the space feel intimate. Creating two separate seating areas (there is another to the left) helps manage scale, as does the round rug, which softens the boxiness of the large room. Keeping everything low also facilitates coziness.”

Round It Out

Photography by Matthew Williams

“Oddly shaped rooms can be hard to make feel cozy. By using a round rug and rounded furnishings in a range of soothing grays, this seating area becomes a welcoming refuge. A custom cork cabinet is tucked into the narrowest point of the room, blunting the point of the triangular space.”

Be Flexible

Photography by Gieves Anderson

“Even though they live in a large apartment, the owners of this Manhattan aerie did not want to experience every moment on a huge scale. The dining table, which my firm designed, opens up to seat 14, but it spends most of its time in this configuration, more suited to family dinners.”

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