I'm so excited today to bring you all the second installment in the Vignette series here at coco+kelley! Created as a way to give you a snapshot look into the lives of some of our favorite creative minds, today's designer couple is one that is a personal favorite as Robert and Cortney Novogratz of Sixx Design have always been such great supporters of coco+kelley. Enjoy!

sixx opening quote _ cocokelley
You are self-taught designers - how did you figure out it was your calling?

We both were kind of creative and really liked producing things - like I used to produce big parties. Producing a house is sort of like producing a movie where you’re putting all that talent together to come up with a tangible product.

We were lucky. We started at the bottom of the real estate market and we made mistakes but they were little mistakes. Design and development are very hands on. You get better as you go along. Like Ralph Lauren has been a tastemaker for 30 years and he began as a tie salesman.

Is that how it is with parenting?

Parents read lots of books, but we shoot from the hip more and common sense prevails. We don’t think so much about things. A lot of parents think too much. We are from big families with great parents and learned a lot from them. But we learn as we go.
Do you think being self-taught has helped you because you aren’t hemmed in by preconceived ideas of what should and shouldn’t be done?

Yes. It definitely did. There are more talented and trained people but we’ve established our own look. We tell young designers this all the time, if you’re original and have a certain look you have a better chance of standing out.

You obviously have first hand experience designing with kids or lots of traffic in mind, and it seems like you don’t stress about it. People want a great looking place but to not to worry about the possible kid - or guest - induced destruction. How do you steer them?

We tell them to leave it open. We obviously don’t have a lot of stuff in there and that’s key. We were just designing an art room for a school in New Jersey and they had years of stuff stored in there and we had to clear it out and get rid of the junk.

Like we have no coffee table - we keep the space open. We have cool art but not oil paintings in the kids room that they could take a sharpie to - rather it’s a photograph framed behind glass or something. With kids the furniture we use is 90 percent Ikea but mixed in with cool art and little touches to make it a little different. We aren’t matchy matchy and we don’t buy lots of stuff. We keep the kids stuff to sports related things, or a DJ [booth], or for little ones just blocks - more functional stuff.
You guys move a lot proving that “home” is not necessarily a building but a way of living. What advice do you give people who nervous about that - that change is good and inspiring?

A lot of people pigeonhole themselves to get married at X, move to X place at X. For us change is good and exciting. If you want to have a nice lifestyle you need to make sacrifices. Without risk there’s no reward. To live the lifestyle you want on your terms is great but you give some things up.

With kids, the parents provide a happy house and if the parents are happy they give the kids that support system. Our kids stay in the same schools but when we move and get new restaurants, new friends, we adapt.

What are ways to add fun to a space?

You add color. A lot of people don’t have color in their space and it feels sad, drab, or old. You can get it with art. Art makes people happy and we tend to pick fun, whimsical pieces and people smile when they see it.
sixx art quote _ cocokelley
You work in urban areas with a lot of gritty buildings and buildings that were non-residential before, so just turning them into houses alone gives them an ingrained coolness. What would you do with a house that’s very traditional or one that’s cookie cutter in a more suburban area?

With a great traditional building you try to keep the bones intact but bring in your own style. We have a saying ‘Don’t make your home look like your grandmother’s’. The old houses are great but you need to add a sense of personal style and of your age. You can have a classic look but have it be more youthful.

With a cookie cutter house you really have to make it your own. Paint the door a different color - a poppy orange or yellow. Certain touches with paint can make it your own.

Are you planning another book?

We are doing another book. It’s gonna look really different and have lots of new projects. We love the first one but this one is gonna be more "how do you get this look?" Almost like secrets of the trade. The other one didn’t have a lot of sources but now that everyone has a website we can give sources.
What is one piece of furniture people underuse?

The dining table. Whether it’s in the kitchen or a dining room, people should eat at them more often. It’s nice to have dinner with your family. Maybe not seven nights a week, but two or three times is nice.

If you had to spend $25, $250, and $2500 to make a big bang in a room, what would be they be?

For $25 something like a picture of Mick Jagger - I just bought one - framed can look cool in a room. Ebay has lots of stuff.

For $250 I would buy a cool light fixture from Kartell or Tom Dixon.

For $2500 I would buy a “poppy” rug from the rug company.

Finish this sentence: no room is complete without…

Something personal.
sixx 6
What current trend do you most despise in decorating?

Everything grey, monotone, and neutral colors.

Do you have a few favorite pieces, paint colors, etc that you continuously use in your designs, and why?

We use a Cappellini couch a lot that has washable slipcovers. With ours, every six months we can get the slip covers dry cleaned and then buy a new one every two years and that way you get a totally new couch. We buy all of our rugs at the Rug Company. We use California Closets for all of our projects and Boffi kitchens.

When starting a new project, where do you turn to first for inspiration?

Urban cities - big cities.
sixx 'original' quote _ cocokelley
What was your favorite room/house/building when you were growing up?

Cortney will say the kitchen. My brother and I slept in the basement and I’ll say that. We had our own fortress down there.

What was the last piece you purchased for your home?

I bought some Damien Hirst limited edition skateboards for my 9 year old which were his first pieces of art.

If you had to hire someone else to design your home who would it be?

Kelly Wearstler, who is very different, which is why I like her taste.

How often do you rearrange your own furniture/redecorate your space?

We don’t (laughs) we just buy a new house.

What’s the most surprising reward you’ve had from your career in design?

Having dinner with Michael Bloomberg a month ago.

If you could design a space for anyone who would it be and what particular space?

Obama. The White House.

If you could host a party anywhere where would it be, and what would it look like?

A masquerade party for sure. In Paris somewhere.

What design books do you love?

Rooms for Children: Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play, The Selby Is In Your Place, Domino: The Book of Decorating, our book Downtown Chic.

*interview and article by coco+kelley contributor Annie Lou Berman