Rule breaker: At home with Artful Lodger’s Caroline Minsky

Minsky says her favorite room in her home is the living room “because no one is ever in there. Occasionally the sofa cushions become a fort or a tunnel, but for the most part it is a quiet and inviting retreat.” Photo: Brianna LaRocco Minsky says her favorite room in her home is the living room “because no one is ever in there. Occasionally the sofa cushions become a fort or a tunnel, but for the most part it is a quiet and inviting retreat.” Photo: Brianna LaRocco

Caroline Minsky opened The Artful Lodger with her husband, Christopher, in 2003, in a 1,100-square-foot space on Seminole Trail. Thirteen years later, the business has grown in size and scope, covering nearly 6,000 square feet of retail space downtown. We asked her to tell us what she thinks can transform a room and how a well-designed space can speak volumes about its inhabitants.

Antique or modern? I grew up with French Provincial antiques in South Louisiana but I lean towards 20th century art and antiques.

City or country? I love a good city setting. My husband says I am easy to find: Just look for the coffee shop.

Which colors do you gravitate toward? I gravitate towards blues. That goes for my taste in music, too.

Which materials or textures do you frequently use in your own home? I have a fondness for brass, tortoise, Lucite, linen and leather.

What is your favorite interior design-related word? Tableau.

Does your home look like the one you grew up in? It could not be more different. I grew up in a very distinct Southern-style home by architect A. Hays Town, and now I live in a 1963 one-story ranch.

What’s one thing that can really transform a room? I have always felt that new upholstered furniture or a rug can give a room new life and the first thing to bring a room down is a misshapen, over-scaled, dumpy sofa.

Décor-wise, what should a homeowner never scrimp on? I think beautiful upholstery and a fine rug should not be a minor consideration. The rug lays the groundwork for the whole room—the upholstered pieces as well as the art.

Design rule you like to break? It is not a rule, but as a furniture retailer I hear customers often say things like, “I really love that sofa but it will be two inches taller than my windowsill.” I personally do not allow windows, windowsills, air vents or even doors to stop me from creating an inviting space.

What is your favorite room in the house? The best room in the house is the room that, upon entering, you instantly feel that you are experiencing that person or that space on a more intimate level. A musician’s instrument room, an artist’s studio, a potting shed full of a lifetime of pots, a chef’s kitchen. My favorite part of Biltmore [in Asheville, North Carolina] is the servants’ quarters, the rooms where vases were stored and packages were received.

What do you wish you could do without? Electrical cords. I see a beautiful cordless future for lamps and home appliances.

What are you afraid to DIY? It is not so much fear as dread. I would rather gold leaf the Statue of Liberty than paint a room myself.

Have you ever had a change of heart about an object or a style? Not entirely. I do think that the idea of rustic is still very much evolving. I prefer a refined rustic finish to primitive rustic and, if I could choose, I think a mix of materials adds contrast, sophistication and interest to the idea of rustic.

If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be? I like Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West.

On what movie set would you like to live? I could live on the set of the movie Adore and in the family house on the series “Transparent.”

If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be? I would be a bar. Or a fabulous secretary used as a bar.

What is your first design memory? I cried when my mother decided to sell our blue Chinese rug. I loved it. A lot, apparently.

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