Possessing global inspiration, material brilliance, and a love of the natural world, New York–based interior designer Shawn Henderson is an expert at creating spaces with heart, soul, and style. Luxury and livability blend effortlessly in his work, and his affinity to nature—a reflection of his upbringing in upstate New York—makes him a master at creating looks that are elegantly organic. Here, he talked to us about everything from his muses and passions to the color combo he’s currently loving. (Image above by Steve Freihon)
Describe your childhood. How did your parents influence your career choice?
I’m the youngest of six kids. So, by the time I came along, my parents were totally exhausted and let me do whatever I wanted! I do remember my dad trying to talk me into being an architect, though. I brought home a set of drawings from a construction document class, and my father gained a whole new respect for the profession.
Did you have an “aha” moment that made you realize you were destined for a career in design?
Not one single moment. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.
Who are your favorite designers?
Paul Dupré-Lafon, John Pawson, and B Five Studio.
Are you drawn to a particular color palette and fabrics? Do you have a favorite scheme?
My palettes vary from project to project, but all color schemes are chic and surprising. At the moment, I’m drawn to brown infused with red and purple.
How important are color trends versus choosing your own ideas?
What we do is so customized for our clients that I try my best to stay away from trends in general. It’s important that my spaces look unique and curated.
What’s the line between artfully mismatched and incoherent-looking?
This is a delicate balance to achieve. It boils down to having the eye to balance scale, proportion, color and texture all at the same time.
How has traveling the world broadened your outlook on design?
It’s made me more aware of certain color palettes as well as strengthening my knowledge of the history of design. It’s made me a more confident designer because I’m ultimately able to tell a better story about my designs.
What are alternative ways to feature artwork besides just hanging it on a wall?
I love to use art shelves and easels. They give you the freedom to change around your artwork as often as you wish.
How do you accessorize a room? What decorative objects are you drawn to?
I like to layer a mixture of objects that further communicate the color palette of the room. I think it is fun to have a combination of elements that are vintage and rustic combined with newer, more modern objects.
What is the biggest style sin you see people commit when you walk into a home?
Usually the scale of the furniture is way too big for the space.
What is your go-to product for any room? What materials do you use consistently?
I love the Hinson crystal rod floor lamp. Rich, colorful leather and textured linen, cotton, and velvet.
How would you describe your personal style? Detail your representative outfit. Is that reflective in your work?
My personal style is classic but in an updated way. My interiors tend to follow that principle. Although I tend to dress in muted tones, I like my interiors to have more color, extra layers. My representative outfit would be gray wool trousers, brown loafers or brogues, navy check shirt with button-down collar and an unstructured gray or navy blazer.
Besides design, what are your other passions?
Garden/landscape design, cooking, entertaining, and my dogs.
What are three tips to throwing a well-planned party?
Plan a simple menu; serve your guests their first drink, but set up a bar so they can help themselves after; take time to chat with your guests before sitting down for your meal.
What small design touches make a party more personable?
Personalized cocktail napkins, pretty guest towels in the bathroom, and nice-quality cocktail and wine glasses.
To learn more about Shawn, click here www.shawnhenderson.com.