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10 Questions with ELLE DECOR Editor-in-Chief Michael Boodro

10 Questions with ELLE DECOR Editor-in-Chief Michael Boodro

Interior design devotees know Michael Boodro as ELLE DECOR’s editor-in-chief; the style arbiter behind their ultimate source of decorating inspiration. Housing Works knows Boodro as a generous friend, one of our first and longest serving Thrift Shop board members, and Co-Chair of this year’s Design on a Dime Benefit. A true Housing Works advocate, Boodro has furthered our mission by creating meaningful and lasting designer and brand partnerships, empowering the organization to serve even more New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. In his role as Co-Chair for this year’s benefit Boodro, ever the tastemaker, brought on Miami designer Samuel Amoia to curate ELLE DECOR’s vignette as well as new-to-the-event participants Michael Tavano for Roche Bobois, HALLOCK DESIGN GROUP, Megan Winters and Barclay Butera.

Read below for Boodro’s responses to our final installment of 10 Questions:

Housing Works: What did the home you grew up in look like?
Michael Boodro: My father was in the Air Force, so we lived in many different cities and countries when I was young—from suburban houses to two families, an old stone house in a small village outside Paris. But my mother always had a flair for design and was interested in having a stylish home, even on a limited budget. I still remember her excitement when we got our first wall-to-wall carpeting—avocado green. It was the ‘60s, after all.

HW: Tell us about your first job ever?
MB: In high school, I got a job at a small and dusty branch of the Boston Public Library that specialized in business books and periodicals. That’s when I started reading about the fashion and retail industries. Then I got a job at the now defunct Boston department store, Filene’s. I was a stockboy in the home and gift department—guess you can’t escape your fate.

HW: When did you know you wanted to work in the design industry?
MB: In college I planned to become an architect. I thought that way I could be creative, but still earn a living. But after taking several courses, I realized that I didn’t think in three dimensions and would never be more than a mediocre architect. So I decided better to become a writer, and write about art and design.

HW: Can you describe your very first New York apartment?
MB: I shared a loft in SoHo with six friends my first summer after college, and then a two-bedroom with a roommate. But my first apartment on my own was a small studio, a third-floor walkup on 29th Street in Chelsea. It came with a terrace nearly as large as the apartment, which I initially thought I would never use. I ended up cultivating an extensive garden there, with roses, lilacs, beech trees, wisteria, and all kinds of annuals. I entertained out there a lot. I lived in that apartment far too long, considering its size. I used to describe myself as a prisoner of roses.

HW: What is the most surprising thing you learned about New York (oryourself) when you moved here?
MB: New York is a tough town, but it also has an incredibly tender side, as well. People can be incredibly caring, and that ranges from strangers you encounter on the street to people you work with, to your friends. I think this city, perhaps because it is so overwhelming, inspires particularly deep and supportive friendships. At least that has been my experience.

HW: How do you take your coffee? Or tea?
MB: Black in both cases, but far more coffee than tea.

HW: Where would you most likely meet your best friend for dinner?
MB: For a burger, Walker’s in Tribeca, down the street from our apartment. For a fancier meal, in celebration of something, Tamarind Tribeca, Odeon, or Balthazar. I usually don’t go far from my neighborhood, I’m afraid.

HW: What is your favorite item in your home?
MB: That’s a tough one. Probably the beautifully made Shaker sewing box I inherited from a friend. Or perhaps the very restrained Biedermeier chest I bought from Niall Smith, when he was still located on Bleecker St. It was the first antique I ever bought.

HW: What’s your best tip for designing on a budget?
MB: The easiest and most important tip actually costs nothing: edit. Put stuff away, give stuff away, clear surfaces. That immediately makes your space seem larger and more coherent. Make sure that everything visible either does something or means something. And don’t be afraid to rotate items, put some away and bringing them out months later. That way you will see the objects you love again as if for the first time, and appreciate them all over again.The second, cliché, answer is paint. Painting a wall if not a whole room is the most economical way to add drama and impact. Even a pale shade will create a whole new atmosphere in a room. Plus repainting gives you the benefit of starting with a clean slate.

HW: What inspires you to give back?
MB: I can’t imagine not wanting to. Life isn’t fair, tragedy can and will hit all of us in one way or another, and we are all in this together. I only wish I had more time to give and more funds to disperse.

Design on a Dime VIP Open House level tickets grant you access to Boodro and his fellow Co-Chairs: Sabrina Soto, George Oliphant and Kevin Harter. Meet 60 of the world’s top interior designers, preview the vignettes before the rest of the crowd, and an opportunity to ask Boodro your own 10 questions. Tickets are selling fast, buy yours now! For even more style inspiration, go to

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