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COVER talks interiors with Courtnay Tartt Elias

December 20, 2021

Known for her fearless use of colour and inventive flair, the Principal and Creative Director of Houston-based Creative Tonic wowed visitors to Kips Bay Dallas with her bold Moulin Rouge Media Lounge. Here Courtnay Tartt Elias talks rugs and rooms with Rachel Meek

Can you sum up your approach to interior design? I’m pretty happy-go-lucky, spur-of-the-moment and fun. I bring that attitude to work. My favourite thing is working with clients, that’s where I get my energy from. I like challenging them to use pattern in their homes. Your home should be your haven, but it should also be fun. People love to travel and stay in boutique hotels, and I say, why not turn your own bedroom into the best boutique hotel you’ve ever stayed in? Not everything has to be expensive. Let’s pull things out, live with the beautiful things that you have, incorporate them into your everyday life.

Entrance, private residence, Texas. Contemporary Oushak rug, Turkish Carpets USA

Please describe your Kips Bay Dallas room (See Kips Bay Dallas: the rug edit). When I was assigned the media room, I immediately knew we were going to do the Moulin Rouge Media Lounge, inspired by the very first movie I ever saw in a home theatre: a riveting experience. The room had no windows, so I decided to turn it up a notch and really go for it, presenting an explosion of pattern and colour using some of my favourite fabrics that I’ve not had the chance to work with before. I love Paris, I’ve lived there and am obsessed with the Belle Époque era. The bar was inspired by the Parisian metro station entrances designed by Hector Guimard, which were a big focus for me when I was studying Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s London. The basement room felt like a genie bottle, so the couch was inspired by the set of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’—a famous 1960s American TV show. Moulin Rouge is all about love, so I used love hearts on the bookshelves and, to avoid becoming too cheesy, I introduced cherries as a reinterpretation of love hearts. That’s where the rug design came from. Kips Bay sponsor New Moon had the rug woven and delivered from Nepal in just six weeks. It could not have been more perfect. A giant cherry rug is not for everybody, but the colour is so beautifully articulated, it really shows off New Moon’s capabilities. I am truly in awe of their workmanship and professionalism. I had not worked with them before and I cannot wait for my next project with them.

Dining room, private residence, Texas. Contemporary Oushak rug, Turkish Carpets USA

What rug companies do you work with? Stark Carpet, Retorra, Madison Lily Rugs, The Rug Company. Since COVID, I’ve been doing more custom rugs. I’m educating my clients on the importance of having art on the floor as well as the walls. I love the colouration of Ushak rugs—new for a pop of colour, old for depth.

Main room, private residence, Texas. Tibetan wool rug, Madison Lily Rugs

What can rugs bring to a room? Warmth and texture. There are so many great textures. I love to layer rugs. A rug is jewellery for the floor, like drapery is for the windows. A room is not complete without window treatments and rugs. Start with the rug and work your way up. At least design the shape and size of the rug before doing the furniture plan. Those two elements go completely hand in hand.

Main room, private residence, Texas. Muir Woods rug, Stark Carpet

Are there any trends/traits that you see springing up in your clients’ desires for their interiors? Colour. I’ve been doing my own colour thing for fifteen years and it’s really being talked about a lot right now. Maximalism is big, but the Belle Époque era—talk about Maximalism in interiors! I do think that people are getting more comfortable with more is more and surrounding themselves with things. As oppose to minimalistic, stark, cold places, people want their homes to be comfortable, warm and friendly. All the homes I’m designing right now are for families that are jumping on sofas, there’s dogs, wine, cooking, eating in every room. Performance fabrics and rugs are important. I’m designing real rooms with beautiful furnishings and furniture that are actually used and used hard!

Master bedroom, private residence, Texas. Tibetan wool rug, Madison Lily Rugs

www.creativetonicdesign.com

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