“There’s no accounting for taste.” That old saying is meant as a zinger, a put-down of someone whose discernment seems to be – as another old saying has it – “all in your mouth.” Like defining the difference between style and fashion, determining what makes for good taste in decor can’t be deduced by some hard-and-fast formula. But we can sometimes trace a couple’s penchant for one look or another by poking around their past.
Munich-based designers Jan Hoyer and Thomas Kast – who include John Fowler, Jacques Garcia and Jonathan Reed in their personal pantheon – live in a 1913 Gothic Revival-style home. The space is neither a slavish period homage, nor a radical renunciation. Sensitive to the past, but infused with a liveliness born of catholic tastes, the residence combines a sense of settled comfort with an eye-engaging eclecticism.
Jan studied architectural and design history and trained with the well-known decorator Jimmy Thomson in Edinburgh. “That really influenced my style greatly,” he says. “And the rather thrown together country homes of my university friends in Scotland felt so natural and comfortable.” Thomas is the son of an antiques dealer. He grew up traveling Germany with his father to source inventory and learned how to restore art and antiques early in life. “Our style happened incidentally, because we both moved so much in our lives and as creatives never really had much of a budget,” shares Jan.
And neither of them liked buying new. “That furniture felt soulless, so instead, we collected unloved pieces from clients’ projects or on our trips. What you see is a bohemian home of two creatives who learned how to make do without compromising.”
Many people attempt to live with a wide range of pieces from different eras and of varying provenance. But often, their assembled stuff ends up looking more motley than masterful, a matter of chance rather than design. While Jan and Thomas have the benefit of their educations and experiences to guide them, you don’t need to know the difference between a fauteuil and a bergère to orchestrate rooms that draw from myriad periods and styles. In addition to practicing strict editing, Jan stresses the importance of creating vistas within a room with focal points that carry one through a space and all its layers. Taking advantage of another eye doesn’t hurt either. “I tend to come up with the design ideas and keep changing my mind because I see so many influences and things I would like to re-create,” relates Jan. “But Tom is the one who is the talented craftsman. He will tell me if something does not work out and we will adapt the design.”
Although there is a lot going on in the Hoyer Kast home, a sense of thoughtful composition and reassuring order reign. A single pillow on a simple wood chair in a hallway. A trio of drawings hung over a low side table. A select assemblage of little treasures atop a chest of drawers. “Our aim is to create interiors with many layers that suggest the accumulation of generations,” notes Jan, “with the heavy use of traditional fabrics and materials in combination with antiques, one-offs and vintage finds.” It’s an approach they bring to their client’s homes, as well. “We do not want our projects to slavishly copy interiors of a bygone era. We want to show pieces spanning many periods adapted to modern living.”
Photography by Daniel Schaefer.
For more like this gothic revival-style home, be sure to check out this grand apartment in the heart of France.
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