At Home with Cynthia Urbanik
Interior designer Cynthia Urbanik shows off her personality and style in her Cotswold cottage
How would you describe your design style?
There’s no real name for my design style because it’s such a mixture of different styles and it’s just so inherently me. I have a fifties modern console with my Saarinen table and then a framed Wilco concert poster. Most people wouldn’t put those things together, but for me, I’ve always gravitated toward a quiet and clean design style that’s not really beating you over the head saying, “Look at me!”
How often do you redecorate?
I never redecorate. I’m not the type of person that redecorates my house every two years or changes my décor based on the seasons. It’s constantly evolving, but it’s never a total redo. I tend to gravitate toward furniture that’s really well built and timeless in design. I’m not drawn toward a particular style. It’s a balanced mix of things that I love, so I can’t imagine scrapping it all and starting over.
Tell us about your favorite piece.
My dining room table is the Saarinen tulip table from Knoll and it’s definitely the most important piece to me in the house. It was designed almost sixty-five years ago and it still feels really modern and I know it will never go out of style. It’s more like a piece of art. I opted to use clear resin dining chairs, because I think the face of the table is so beautiful and organic and I didn’t want to obstruct that. It’s one of the first things I see when I walk in the front door every day and it makes me really happy.
What’s your philosophy on color?
Whether it’s for me or my clients, I always say the same thing. You need to choose colors that make you happy and not based on a trend. It needs to be who you really are. I gravitate toward warm, mousy grays. My house is very tonal and textural. All of the walls are a monochromatic mix of different grays. It’s such a small house, and that tends to keep the flow very open.
What’s your approach when designing for yourself, and how is it different from designing for a client?
Whether I’m designing for my client or myself, I have a few basic goals that I really follow, and the main one is balance. In order to make a room come alive, I like having a variety of different styles or textures or things that really contrast with each other, and it doesn’t necessarily need to match. But the other thing that’s really important is that I don’t want it to look like it was designed. I don’t want it to look like a designer came in and waved her wand and everything came together. Even though I see a bit of myself in all of my work, it’s really not about me and what I want.
One of your goals with clients is to create interiors that inspire them. What about your interior space inspires you?
It’s not one particular item or piece of art that inspires me in this house. It’s the feeling of the whole space. Everything feels very balanced and peaceful and it makes me happy to wake up here every day. I definitely love the art and the photography and the pieces that I’ve found along the way, but it’s more about the holistic feeling that I get from being here.