Where to Buy Warmth - Alexandra Champalimaud

January 2010

Original content from nytimes.com

Shopping with Alexandra Champalimaud - Where to Buy Warmth

CREATING a feeling of warmth at home is essential this time of year - especially in minimalist interiors, which can sometimes feel cold. And adding a few carefully selected items is often all it takes to warm up even the most sparsely furnished rooms.

That's the philosophy of Alexandra Champalimaud, the New York designer responsible for the Modernist interiors of the new Bavarian Chalets, six vacation residences developed by the Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant in Taos, N.M. Ms. Champalimaud, who also renovated the Algonquin Hotel and several suites at the Carlyle in Manhattan and was named the 2009 designer of the year at the recent Gold Key Awards for hospitality design, suggests using materials like cashmere and fur and objects with color and texture to create an impression of warmth.

She took that approach, she said, when she was designing the chalets, four of which have been completed. The furnishings are "contemporary, but very, very comfortable," she said, with earthy materials like wood and wool and colors like deep eggplant and toasted orange.

She designed her own mountain home in the Taos area the same way. "There's a lot of reclaimed wood and rusty metal - raw, beautiful, textural elements" that add a human touch, she said.

Donning an enormous fur hat with earflaps to protect against winter's bite, Ms. Champalimaud recently went searching for similar items in Manhattan.

Her first stop was the Rug Company in SoHo, where she found a floor covering that she thought would feel soft and warm underfoot: the Africa wool rug ($4,725) by Suzanne Sharp, which she noted had a "fresh and modern" pattern with colorful zigzags on an oatmeal-colored background.

At Espasso, a TriBeCa store that sells Brazilian furniture, she admired the Tora tray, a slab of wood from the trunk of a breu tree, with straw stitches running across a crack. "I like that it's semi-broken and looks like it's been stitched together," she said. "It's the warmth of the wood, but also the spirit."

Across the street, at Art et Maison, she found a real source of heat: flueless fireplaces by EcoSmart Fire. She particularly liked the Lantern, a portable cubelike object made of perforated steel that could be used indoors and outdoors.

For seating, she suggested the Tête-a-Tête, a three-piece sofa from Coup d'Etat, a San Francisco company with a Manhattan showroom. The pieces - two chairs and an ottoman - could be used separately or lined up to form a sofa that could easily seat two people, she said, with the ottoman placed between the two chairs. "You can lie on it or sit on it," she said.

"If you put a throw over that," she added, "you're very comfortable - you can snuggle." 

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Alexandra Champalimaud in conversation with Carlos Couturier at "Check-in to 200 lex"