Cary Jones is an enlivened interior designer based in New York. So far, she’s had an eclectic career working across industries from catering to film production but is now making waves in the field of interior design. Cary has a spirited approach to interiors and believes in creating thoughtful yet characterful spaces by layering unusual textiles, vintage and custom-designed furniture and a happy dose of colour into every project.
Cary welcomes you to take a look into her own Greenwich village home, which is an eclectic treasure trove of artistic finds and curious vintage accessories. It’s hard not to detect Cary’s rambunctious wit and playfulness as you look through this photo collection of her home. It was great fun to hear about the ongoing process of making it home and all about life in the Big Apple. Read on and maybe you’ll feel inspired to finally hang up those pieces you’ve found on your travels too!
Hi Cary, how would you describe your home to someone who has never seen it?
Honestly, my description is always the same…”It’s a lot.” And I don’t mean that in a negative way, because my home does make me happy. But there is a lot going on! And people generally ask me to explain at which point I say you should just come over.
What are the main inspirations behind your decor?
I would say half of my apartment is about necessity/organization and the other half is about fun. I work from home, so I have a lot of files, samples etc so I needed a place to store them. That meant the sofa side tables had to go because I needed another bookcase. I once had a desk but realised that I work more at the counter height dining table, so the desk was sold. And then pieces have come along bit by bit. So I don’t know that I have any real inspiration, it’s just what I seem to be feeling at the time. I honestly can’t remember why I decided to paint my bedroom black but once I did, I thought the room needed a red headboard… so I got on Etsy and started looking for things I could paint. Actually, I’ve painted a lot of my pieces so that might be the driving force! I love being crafty and so I make up projects. I bought my living room chairs from Craigslist and then spray painted them on my roof. I also found the bench in my living room on Etsy, then had it painted and recovered in a gorgeous Christian Lacroix fabric. The two dressers in my bedroom were all Ikea pieces for which I bought new legs and hardware and then repainted in my kitchen…that made for an asphyxiating few days…!
What would be your advice for someone who has just moved into a new place and doesn’t know where to begin?
As a designer, this is a conversation I have with every client. Living in New York, most of us aren’t blessed with a lot of excess square footage, so I think it’s really important to figure out how someone/a family lives and go from there. Meaning, if people love to entertain, what does that look like? Is it an eight person dinner or will you have cocktails in the living room? If TV viewing is what a family wants to do in the living room, then we need cosy and less formal furniture. And also be realistic, for example, are people going to be putting their feet up on the coffee table? If so, don’t do a glass top. I think paying attention to how you live is really important. After that, figure out the floor plan and tape out the pieces they are considering to make sure it all fits and the flow feels right. And if someone is really lost, then they should hire me! Hah!
Where do you live and what do you love about it?
I live in New York City in Greenwich Village. It’s a really charming area with a lot of buzzing energy. I live in a building that was built in 1900, so it definitely has a lot of character. And by character, I mean leaning staircases, interesting temperature control issues, etc. But also great windows and original fireplaces (non-working) and I absolutely love it. I’m on the penthouse level…which in reality means the top floor of a five story walk-up (hah!) so I get a lot of great light and that’s a hard thing to come by in the city. The owners of my building have a restaurant on the first floor. It’s an old school Italian restaurant that has a very loyal following to the point where you will generally see the same faces at the bar every night…a bit like Cheers. Although I will outgrow my space, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
How long have you lived in your current home?
Almost 8 years.
Do you have a favourite piece of furniture or artwork?
I really do love it all, but the bookcase sculpture by Mike Stilkey is probably my favourite. It’s the first ‘expensive’ piece of art I ever purchased. I went to a gallery opening…had some wine (or maybe a lot of wine) and bought it. I don’t regret it for a second, but it was a big purchase for me at the time. There’s a reason they serve wine at those things…it works! I should probably start bringing wine with me to client meetings…
Get to know Cary with these quick facts…
My style icon is Steven Gambrel.
A recent find for my home are two African Bronze Cats from Benin. I found them at the flea market…they weigh a ton.
An indulgence I’d never forego is chocolate, for sure.
The last music I bought… I’m terrible with music, I listen to audiobooks.
If I had to limit my shopping to one city, I’d choose Nairobi… I was there last June and fell in love with the fashion.
The sight that inspires me is a mountain view…not a specific one.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is any piece of art/clothing or jewellery that I’ve found on a trip. But looking at my walls now, I love my Whirling Dervish from Istanbul. I also bought a dress from Eric Raisina in Siem Reap that is ridiculously amazing and unique.
An object I’d never part with is my allergy medication. Sad, but true.
The artist whose work I’d collect if I could would be by Kari Serrao. I love her encaustic, anthropomorphic portraits. I will buy one…I just want a HUGE one and I can admit that I don’t have a space for that right now.
My favourite room would be in the Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville, NY. Pretty much every room in it! It’s a mansion that was once owned by the Colgate family and has since been turned into an inn. It’s an old Arts and Crafts style building that has basically been hosed down in William Morris prints, Kilim rugs and fireplaces galore…a truly magical spot in the wintertime.
The last meal that truly impressed me is any meal by my sister. She cooks Michelin Star worthy food and I can eat it in her living room wearing sweat pants.
I’ve had a few careers in my life… co-owner of a catering company, film producer and now designer…this one is my favourite, so I intend to do it for a while!
My personal style signifier is as much colour as possible.
The best gift I’ve given recently is a cat sling I gave to my mother for Christmas so that she could wear her little kitten, Scotty, around the house. It was hilarious…unfortunately, Scotty didn’t find it quite as funny.
And the best one I’ve received is… hmmm.
The books on my bedside table are a stack of decorative ones and I’m currently reading The Tusk that did the Damage by Tania James.
The best way to spend a Saturday is cycling upstate to an adorable B&B in an even more adorable small town in the Catskills.
Follow Cary’s projects on Instagram @caryjonesdesign
Cary has a fabulous talent for breathing new life into old items… which is a great way to put your stamp on your belongings! You might feel inspired by this collection of already upcycled vintage finds, or perhaps you’d like to have a potter through our collection of wall art and film posters. Enjoy!
Title image: Tagger Yancey IV, Instagram @ty_iv