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10 Questions with Nicole Gibbons

10 Questions with Nicole Gibbons

In honor of Design on a Dime’s 10 Year Anniversary we asked 3 of our most outstanding supporters the same 10 questions … and received very different answers!

Fans of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) may recognize Nicole Gibbons as a designer helping deserving families re-imagine their living spaces on Home Made Simple. We know Nicole as the fashion-forward interior designer, tastemaker, blogger and on-air personality and two-time participant in Design on a Dime. True to Nicole’s fashion roots, her Chic in Pink vignette for this year’s event is inspired in part by French style icon Ines de la Fressange and will feature $25k worth of generously donated furniture from Ethan Allen amid bold pink Valspar paint.

Read below for Nicole’s responses to our 10 questions and stay tuned for our final participant, ELLE DECOR Editor-in-Chief and Design on a Dime Co-Chair Michael Boodro:

Housing Works: What did the home you grew up in look like?
Nicole Gibbons: The house is a late 60s contemporary and it had a circular driveway with an island in the center that was planted with Japanese maple trees and shrubbery with rocks all around, a big stone pagoda and a little bench for sitting. In front of the house is a huge weeping cherry blossom tree with hedges all around. It had lots of curb appeal. The inside was total 80s contemporary. My mom is a decorator so it was impeccably done with tons of custom furniture and just about every single room including all the baths and powder rooms had wallpaper. The family room was bathed in gray with the sofa and even the walls fully upholstered in a gray wool flannel and the floors were covered in the same shade of gray carpet. The living room had a sectional upholstered in a white moire fabric with matching round pillows and no one was allowed to sit on it so basically that room never got used. On the windows were swags and balloon shades. My bedroom was pink and sea green and had a pink, purple and green bargello printed wallpaper, white wicker furniture and a white canopy bed. It was a pretty big house with 6 bedrooms that all had walk-in closets plus a huge foyer, kitchen, dining room, living room, family room and a library/office. There was also a huge, wood paneled basement with three areas: one that served as my mom’s workroom, a gym area full of equipment that my dad never used and a seating area with a brown velvet sectional and a big screen TV which is where my sister and I played Nintendo. We also had a huge backyard that was about a third of an acre with a wooden playhouse and swing set that had a giant swinging tire. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to play in our yard. Looking back on it, our house was pretty fabulous!

HW: Tell us about your first job ever?
NG: Besides babysitting, my first real job with an actual paycheck was working for a store at the local mall called Dolce Vita that sold clothes for party girls. I was 15.

HW: When did you know you wanted to work in the design industry?
NG: Growing up I never in a million years would have thought I’d ever want to work in design. I wanted to be a doctor then I worked in fashion after college while I attempted to figure out my life and around 2008 when I started my blog is when I really thought seriously about pursuing design as a career.

HW: Can you describe your very first New York apartment?
NG: I moved here at 21 fresh out of college making pennies and lived with a roommate in Harlem and the apartment is actually a block away from where I live now. Because I shared the space my bedroom was the only room I really personalized. I brought a silver twisted metal bed frame from my college apartment and my case goods were from this store I don’t think exists anymore called Straight from the Crate. I had a bookcase from Ikea that was styled to perfection with books and objects and my walls were painted a soft blue. 11 years and three apartments later my bedroom walls are still blue!

HW: What is the most surprising thing you learned about New York (or yourself) when you moved here?
NG: I learned how to hustle and multitask! New York is undoubtedly the most competitive place to be so career wise, you just develop an insane work ethic and an ability to juggle priorities and move quickly to get things done and advance through life. When I go back home my family always tells me I’m impatient so I always have to remind myself check myself and slow down a bit.

HW: How do you take your coffee? Or tea?
NG: Both! I prefer my coffee with soy milk and love Darjeeling tea with agave!

HW: Where would you most likely meet your best friend for dinner?
NG: Maison Harlem and it would be for brunch because I’d take brunch over any other meal on any given day!

HW: What is your favorite item in your home?
NG: A tie between any of the objects I inherited from my grandmother before she passed away and whatever is the latest thing I purchased which happens to be a fabulous Dior malachite box I got on eBay! If it isn’t something deeply personal, my affections for possessions are quite fleeting.

HW: What’s your best tip for designing on a budget?
NG: It’s cliche but paint – it truly is the easiest most inexpensive way to transform a space. After you paint, add some fresh flowers to give your space color and life. Invest in some inexpensive soft goods like throw blankets and pillows and pick up a new (to you) vintage item from your home from Housing Works of course! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to achieve high style at home!

HW: What inspires you to give back?
NG: For me it’s really all about paying it forward. People have helped me in various ways throughout the course of my life and I just want to help others in any way I can and I feel that acts of selfless giving are a moral obligation. So whether I’m giving my time, money or talent to help others who are less fortunate, giving back keeps me inspired and gives me a quiet sense of happiness and satisfaction…so everyone wins!

Design on a Dime VIP Open House level tickets grant you access to Nicole (and 60+ of the world’s other top interior designers), a vignette preview before the crowd, and an opportunity to ask her your own 10 questions. Tickets are selling out, buy yours today! For more style inspiration, follow her So Haute blog.

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