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Casual Luxury Living with Designer Joshua Ingraham

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Monday Nov 21, 2011

This article is from the March 2012 issue of EDGE Digital Magazine.

Every year in New York, more than fifty of the world's top interior designers create dazzling rooms with donated designer merchandise for Housing Works' "Design on a Dime" benefit. Designers include high-profile talents such as Nate Berkus and Andy Cohen, as well as Charlotte Moss, Robert Verdi, and recent winners of "Top Design."

One of New York's most popular benefit events, "Design on a Dime" is also an opportunity for a new generation of designers to turn it out while waiting for their television contract. For the past three years, one of "Design on a Dime's" brightest design stars has been Tulsa-born interior designer Joshua Ingraham who has created rooms for the Housing Works benefit that have been as big and bold as Ingraham's personality.

"Apartment Therapy" placed Ingraham's "Design on a Dime" room from 2009 on its Top Ten list. Ingraham was offered the room five days before the show's opening and he spent the bulk of that time running around the city gathering pieces.

"This room is one of my all-time favs," says Ingraham. "I covered the floor in angora rugs and I had a fantastic console table made out of white plaster, with legs in the shape of deer legs, complete with hooves." On the walls were photographs from that year's Pride festivities at the Eagle and as Ingraham says, "The space was sexy and edgy while still being chic."

As a teenager back in Oklahoma, Ingraham painted his bedroom a brilliant blue, an homage to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s bedroom in the film "Cruel Intentions." Ingraham and his mother had just moved into a new home and, as Ingraham recalls, "I painted all the walls, ceiling, doors - and even my laundry hamper the same deep, dark blue, with baby blue trim - and then topped it all off with a metallic silver to outline the architectural details." Ingraham grins. "I was sixteen."

While a student of architecture and design at Tulsa University, Ingraham discovered that "walls are meant to be broken down," a lesson that he put into practice in his recent holiday redesign of Tiffany & Co.’s fourth-floor men’s home collection.

Today, Ingraham defines his style as "casual luxury," a phrase that takes on resonance when the boyish designer explains, "It’s fancy, but never stuffy [and] it feels luxurious and rich, but it’s still attainable." For Ingraham, "casual luxury" might mean mixing Biedermeier with West Elm, so long as the result is "timeless, sexy, and comfortable."

During an era when more and more people seem to conduct business meetings in public spaces and when a home office is the coffee shop on the corner, it’s interesting to hear from a design professional what it is that people want from their homes today.

"Style and comfort, at the same time," declares Ingraham emphatically. "People want a fabulous home to entertain and impress their friends, while still being able to relax and be comfortable."

Ingraham contends that how we decorate our homes is as important as what we wear. "When you look your best, people notice - and you can feel it," states Ingraham. "And the same holds true for your home: your home is a reflection of you and your personality."

According to Ingraham (and perhaps not surprisingly), the most common design mistake that people make is not hiring a designer. There’s also the matter of scale. "A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to balance," Ingraham warns. "Make sure you look at your space as a whole to make sure [everything] is in proper proportion."

So what does Ingraham recommend as a starting point for a refreshing of one’s home? "I start all my designs with an inspiration piece," Ingraham confides. "For this year’s ’Design on a Dime,’ it was the fabulous hand-screened wallpaper by Mark Fox."

The American graffiti artist Fox, whose work has been shown at the Whitney as well as the Museum of Modern Art, was commissioned by Studio PrintWorks to launch a special edition wallpaper. "We used my room this year as the wallpaper’s debut," says Ingraham, proudly.

Whether working on a 200-year-old Tudor mansion in the outskirts of Buffalo, New York, or a 200-square-foot office in Manhattan, Ingraham believes that how we live in our spaces determines how well we live life.

"You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy luxurious things," Ingraham declares. "I want my designs to reach out to everyone."

Additional Info: Joshua Ingraham Design, Inc.


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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