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During a time when so much in life has been upended, it is nice to know that there are still some places we can go to escape to for some much needed inspiration and enjoyment. Visiting the iconic design blog Quintessence is just such a place. We love to tag along as founder Stacey Bewkes takes us into some of the most beautifully designed homes both locally and worldwide.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence
With an appreciation and an eye for an impressively broad range of styles, she always has something new and compelling to share. In the age of information overload, it feels like a truly luxurious experience to kick up our (currently slipper-ed feet) and visit a single site where every post is well-informed, well-edited and well-worth delving into. We had the chance to check in with the blogger who is beloved by both industry insiders and casual design lovers alike.
From the blog: the Manhattan home of interior design icon Bunny Williams
When Quintessence launched during the early days of blogging, the design world was inundated with content creators, most of whom who are no longer a part of the conversation. It is exceedingly rare for a site to stand the test of time and only become more relevant. After having worked for 17 years as an art director, Stacey Bewkes approached the medium with a well educated and strong point of view but she also brought with her a genuine desire for a place to share her lifelong love of design.
From the Blog: a detail from the Montclair design studio of Michael Aiduss
“I had a gap of over 10 years after leaving my job in NYC where I was home with my four children before I started the blog. It was after I was “recruited” to make a video for my youngest’s school, that I realized I needed to find a creative outlet. I studied art history and had always been interested in architecture and interiors. My many years as an art director was all about visual storytelling so it wasn’t an unreasonable concept.”
“As a relentless research and information junkie, I’m afraid my beleaguered husband had become the recipient of my enthusiastic gushing over some fabric, wallpaper or design, so I decided while on vacation one summer, to start Quintessence, to find a broader, hopefully more interested audience. It was after about the first 6 months or so, when I was invited on a trip to the London Design Festival that I realized people in the design industry were appreciating my content. I think it was around then that I finally decided to put my name on the blog – it had been anonymous until then.”
From the archives: Stacey Bewkes is captured behind the scenes by Susanna Salk while visiting the Sir John Soane Museum in London
While much of the rise of her site came naturally, the road was not without some bumps along the way. “It was a miracle I got the site up at all. I knew no one, had no idea what I was doing. It was the relatively early days of design blogs. So I had to teach myself a little code to get it to look like I wanted etc. And then as things progressed, I needed to find people to help me with back end glitches. It’s an ongoing process.”
From the blog: The Antwerp home of Belgian designer Gert Voorjans
With the site now far from being in early days, focus can rest firmly on the content that Stacey loves to share with readers. A favorite type of post is one in which she can weave a larger story and “connect the dots” through her experience working on the blog, whether its trends for an upcoming year, tracing the history and future of a trend, sharing her point of view through her photography or her video series (with Susanna Salk).
In addition to this wide array of material, readers of the site visit for pure design inspiration, which often manifests as rooms that beautifully blend styles and eras by incorporating antiques to maximum effect.
From the blog: A detail from the 19th Century Hudson Valley home of photographers Susan and Will Brinson
“I do believe in buying what you love rather than keeping with a particular style or era. The mix of your own eye is what makes it interesting and personal. In general, I think going big is better than small. Be sure to check any condition reports if buying online and don’t be afraid to mix styles or eras. I think it’s also important to think outside the box. If it’s a vintage piece without pedigree and you love the shape, lines and details but not the material or finish – consider painting it. Small dressers have long been repurposed as bathroom vanities. Maybe there’s a high table you love that would work better in front of a sofa – consider cutting the legs. And also think about different or unexpected ways of using smalls – vintage silver, ceramic or porcelain pieces can hold everything from toothbrush or Q-tips in a bathroom to brushes.”
Puppy Love: In another chic behinds the scene image captured by Bewkes while on location shooting Salk’s At Home with Dogs and Their Designers, designer Alex Papachristidis‘ Yorkie gets some love from partner Scott Nelson
Thankfully, for lovers of design, the future of Quintessence is bright. Readers can look forward to a whole new set of “At Home With” episodes (the video version of the popular blog posts) on both the website as well as the associated YouTube channel which is co-created with design author Susanna Salk. The pair is also currently working on their third book together set to be published in the Spring of 2022.
3 Questions with Stacy Bewkes
TLV: If you were to describe your style in three words what would they be?
SB: Eclectic, comfortable and personal
TLV: What are you currently reading or watching?
SB: I’m trying to catch up on many of the new design books coming out now. I recently finished The Alienist and Ozark series on TV.
TLV: Where do you turn to for inspiration when feeling blocked?
SB: I don’t really ever feel blocked. It’s more like a challenge to keep up. Inspiration is truly everywhere!!
All photos courtesy of Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence including lead image of Nicolo Castellini Baldissera’s home in Tangier
Click here to shop Stacey’s curated collection
Text by Liana Hayles Newton