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Design Connoisseurs Pilar Guzmán and Chris Mitchell Share Their Playbook for Creating Timeless Interiors

Like a recipe book for designing your home, husband-and-wife duo Pilar Guzmán and Chris Mitchell’s first book together, Patina Modern: A Guide to Designing Warm Timeless Interiors, is a how-to book on creating timeless interiors. The couple—Guzmán, an accomplished magazine editor, and Mitchell, both grew up with an interest in design. While they aren’t professional designers—they only work on personal home projects—they discovered a gap in the marketplace when it came to design. 

“We find that most design books, as well as Instagram, are really good at showcasing spaces, but they don’t really teach—sort of like a cookbook with gorgeous photos of food, but no recipes,” Guzmán tells Robb Report. “Our approach was to feature some of our own projects, with beautiful photography, but also with the behind-the-scenes process. In other chapters, we break down our formula for collecting, for choosing materials and palette, and for putting it all together.”

A living room.

When designing for their own homes, they found that their contrasting design sensibilities played off each other well. Mitchell says that modern pieces, with their harder edges and cleaner lines, marry so well to burnished, timeworn antiques. After so many people asked for advice on home design, they deduced their process down into nine actionable steps that are described and depicted within the book.

“Our manifesto came from the problems that we came up against time and again in our own projects,” Guzmán says. “The pain points of renovating and designing are pretty universal— everyone wants the holy grail: for their home to be beautiful, but also comfortable. We find that solving for lighting, palette and arranging furniture—these basics are more than half the battle.”

Patina Modern Book Launch

A warm kitchen. Patina Modern

Warm materials like white oak, brass or bridle leather become better with age because they take on a burnished, mellow quality, she explains. The book details six home renovation projects, including two Hamptons cottages and a Brooklyn brownstone, that features a simple formula of mixing modern design with timeworn materials that become richer and more burnished with patina as they age, thus creating a lived-in feel that details the memories and time spent in spaces.

Patina Modern Book Launch

A bedroom. Patina Modern

“That’s the beauty of patina: the imperfections are what’s perfect,” Guzmán says. “That idea became the basis for our palette and our approach to decorating, as well as collecting from other eras and countries.”

Mitchells adds that each project is so specific to the building you start with. The couple personally only works on homes from the 19th century or older “because the quirks, limitations and challenges of the existing structure is what spurs our creativity.”

The book is available now.

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