Q&A with designer Barbara Gisel
Barbara Gisel of the eponymous BGD ltd. has been in the business since 1975. She’s done residential and commercial projects, from sprawling homes in Florida to Las Vegas casinos, her work is eclectic, as is her aesthetic.
When one of her residential clients came to her with their newly-bought historical home in Nantucket, the couple wasn’t sure exactly what to do, but the place had to be refurbished. “It was almost boat-oriented when we started,” Barbara said. “A lot of dark paneling, all the ceiling beams were very low.”
Gisel talked us through the project, and how she created a home that evokes its oceanside setting with something more than blue-and-white stripes and beach-town bric-a-brac.
What were your instructions going into the project?
They wanted something less formal than their other houses, more beachy, pale colors – but they also have children, so all the rugs have patterns and they’re more textural.
How did you begin to lay it out?
When we saw your rugs we thought, ‘ah, this is a good place to start.” So we started with the rugs in the foyer and just built upon them throughout the house.
And after the rug what followed?
Then we went on to the fabrics and furniture, also lighting fixtures are always something we do fairly early on. Then we do art at the end.
What is it that gives this home that ‘edge,’ where I can look at these photos and feel like I’m not seeing a typical beach house?
Well I would say the elements that give it that are everything in there. The style of furniture is very mixed, it looks like it was gathered one piece at a time. The edge might be a light fixture that’s not so classical, it might be a little more contemporary. It’s a little bit of the unexpected – you definitely don’t want something that’s always expected.
Talk a little bit about orienting the house to its natural setting without falling into clichés.
It’s very much about bringing the outside inside, and you do it through color and texture. We left all the windows very open, so with that you have to be careful with the fabrics that you use. Lighter colors are better and you get them sun treated so they don’t get destroyed. We faced the chairs toward the windows as opposed to putting things in front of windows.
With respect to your work in general, do you have any rules you follow about rug placement?
It’s all very different. You have to be careful, are there dogs? Children? Things like that. It also has a lot to do with architecture. If the architecture is a very strong element, a lot of times you don’t want to have a rug that’s fighting that. We have a house in Canada that’s very textural so I’m keeping everything calm, not a lot of patterns.
How would you broadly describe your aesthetic?
We tend to be very eclectic in our choices. We can do anything that anybody wants, but one of our trademarks is we’re very individualistic in our design, so the client has a lot of say about what they want. If they don’t know, we can do that too. We don’t have a style that we follow. It’s always different.
See more of Barbara’s projects here.
Learn more about our custom rugs and carpet here.