Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Paul and Sophie Yanacopoulos-Gross have roots in Switzerland, the country famous for staying neutral in and out of wartime. The designers embrace neutral colors, elevating the earthy hues to the highest level of purity and function.
Sophie was born and raised in Geneva, Paul in England. Her Greek dad took her yearly to the islands off of Greece. “Those white-washed buildings fed me, as did the Swedish style from my mother’s side,” she says. “I developed an absolute passion for simplicity.”
After meeting, they decided to unite their lives and loves, opening a furniture store in Geneva. (Between them, the two speak English, French, Swedish, German, Italian and Portuguese.) They later relocated to a barn they renovated in the countryside, where they raised two children, Theodore and Athena. “We felt the country was all very nice, but very small and very unstimulating after 10 years,” shares Sophie. “Where does one go to reinvent oneself at 50 with two teenagers?”
To Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, that’s where. HomeStories is on the parlor floor of an historical brownstone about a stone’s throw from the Promenade.
“New York was obviously the place for us,” states Sophie. “We needed chaos, cosmopolitanism, inspiration and enthusiasm.”
The busy city has welcomed their calm. During a midday phone conversation with Sophie, shoppers popped in, including a lady picking up a
set of plates. HomeStories is known for exclusive brands such as Gervasoni (Italian upholstered beds, sofas and chairs), Nicolle (French industrial chairs), Ay Illuminate (Dutch lighting) and Private 0204 (Danish carpets).
Paul and Sophie also favor neutral clothing, too. “We have the same palette,” explains Sophie. “So if you looked in our closet, you could hardly tell what belongs to Sophie and what to Paul.” Though she has flirted with a pink scarf and a bit of yellow, she’s not wearing them. “I need to be in earthy colors. My thoughts are flying, so I need to stay grounded.”
“With all of the technology surrounding us, we need to remember that we are human,” she comments. HomeStories seeks out a true and
natural look and touch, carrying linen, cotton, wool, basketry from Colombia and Spain, and “not a thread of synthetic fiber,” notes Sophie.
Minimalism can be devoid of emotion and color; it can be cold and flat. “Our expression is simple but still emotional, due to the materials,” she tells. “It’s warm, not cold. It’s cozy.” For example, a hemp rug is expressive due to its pattern. “I don’t need that carpet to have stripes on it. I want to show the beauty of that carpet just as it is.”
Best news ever for those of us who want to remain neutral, short of a trip to Brooklyn Heights? The Instagram feed at HomeStoriesNYC and the online shop that opened recently at homestories.com. However, before you throw out all the fuchsias and blues in your closet, halt! Who knows, you may want a couple for the future.
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