On the bookshelf

Advice from Thomas O’Brien, an interior design legend

Updated: 2013-10-20T02:15:08Z

By Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian

The Kansas City Star

“Aero: Beginning to Now” by Thomas O’Brien (Abrams Publishing, $50)

If I ever win a mega-million lottery or inherit untold amounts of money from a long-lost relative, interior designer Thomas O’Brien might be one of the first people to call.

His latest book, “Aero: Beginning to Now,” hit bookshelves recently. It celebrates 20 years of Aero, his design studio and store in lower Manhattan. O’Brien has collected and sold antiques through the Aero store. But he doesn’t stop there. He re-creates them in the Aero studio by playing with their weight and scale.

After paging through his book, I realized that his design aesthetic is what I’ve been striving to create in my own home with a mix of non-frilly flea-market finds and modern furnishings. In Aero, O’Brien recalls his sources of inspiration when he was starting out, including lower Manhattan’s industrial and artistic loft culture. He takes readers on a photographic journey of his first homes, favorite Soho lofts and Aero, as it has evolved over the years.

O’Brien calls his trademark look “warm modern,” which sums things up perfectly. His designs are crisp and clean, a keen balance between industrial and mid-century modern with whiffs of art deco and aeronautics mixed in. He rarely strays too far from ivory and brown hues, opting for soft leathers, muted silks and linens, burnished metals and richly stained woods.

“In With The Old: Classic Decor from A to Z,” by Jennifer Boles (Potter Style, $34.95)

Boles is the creator of The Peak of Chic, a home design blog that focuses on classic trends and style icons from the early 20th century to the present. “In With The Old,” which arrives on bookshelves Tuesday, is her compilation of 100 “decorating essentials” that mostly originated between the 1930s and 1960s and were favorites of design legends like Dorothy Draper, Bunny Mellon and Sister Parish.

Entries range from fireplace andirons and ballroom chairs to zebra prints and vérré eglomise, the technique of gilding the underside of glass in gold or silver. Each one includes facts, anecdotes and advice from the legendary designers.

To reach Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian, House + Home editor, call 816-234-4780 or send email to cgregorian@kcstar.com.

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