Thom Filicia is one of the most well-known interior designers working today. First launched into Americans' living rooms in 2003 as the smiley design guru on Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Filicia has ever since straddled the worlds of high and low design. His private clients include Jennifer Lopez and the W Hotels chain, but the egalitarian Filicia also spruces up the homes of misguided everymen and women on his Style Network show Dress My Nest, now in its fourth season. This spring he launches a new home collection with Vanguard, complete with furniture, floor coverings, lighting, textiles and more.
Jamie Coffey, creative director of Richmond's Williams & Sherrill Interiors, was so impressed by the collection that he decided to carry every piece. He calls it "warm modern" and is particularly taken with the collection's chameleon-like versatility. "It enables you to bring that one modern piece into your home to elevate things. You can take that coffee table and put it in front of a very traditional sofa and it works."
In between shooting episodes of his new Style Network show Tacky House, premiering this spring, and travel to his new fixer-upper in upstate New York, which will be the subject of his second book, we managed to catch Filicia in transit and ask him a few questions.
The pieces in your new line are all very different from one another. What was your inspiration?
The line was inspired by iconic furniture pieces that have proven themselves for many years, but with a fresh and timely take for the way we live today. I wanted to create a versatile aesthetic that reflects a fresh yet timeless approach to design, and balances elements in unique and beautiful ways: refined details mixed with raw edges, industrial played against organic, and materials, textures and palettes interwoven in unexpected ways. … I'm always trying to give people the confidence to reflect their own personalities through design. I think all of the pieces allow someone to do that, and that's another important theme that I believe unites the collection.
Was there any element within the collection that you designed as a reaction/correction to what you see in design?
My Strathmore console is a reaction to beautiful consoles that lack functionality. Often you see these fabulous consoles with captivating bases, but they have no storage or other functional elements. The Strathmore has a really beautiful design and interesting base, but also is functional in a way that doesn't take away from the aesthetic.
What's something worth splurging on if you have the money?
Artwork is a great splurge because it's so personal and adds such a dynamic layer to any room. You're a very likable guy and you seem so well-suited to bring design to everyday people through your work on television.
How did you first get involved in TV?
I got stuck in the elevator of my office building with my dog Paco one day for an hour with a few other people. One person particularly was freaking out, so I did my best to make light of the situation, distract them, tell some jokes, etc. Turns out one of the other passengers was a talent manager. We exchanged numbers and the next day she called and asked me if I wanted to audition for a TV show. The rest is history!
I understand you're remodeling a house in upstate New York. What are some elements you're bringing to the project?
It's actually the subject of my new book, which is going to be my guide for renovating, decorating, gardening and entertaining with style. Its part memoir, part renovation manual and part entertaining guide and follows me as I renovate and decorate this 90-year-old-cottage on a lake. The design is going to be classic but timely and very appropriate for the architecture of the home, its location and, of course, me.
What is a design must for your own homes?
A design must for my own home is a beautifully designed sofa that is fabulously comfortable.
What would you like to see less of in design?
Too often, people make the mistake of designing a room that matches rather than one that coordinates. Rather than a matchy-matchy look that is over-decorated, a stylish room should include a variety of pieces that are casually connected through distinctive pairings and unexpected contrasts. The overall look of a room becomes much more original and authentic when things are mixed up, but retain subtle repetitions of colors, shapes and themes.