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10 Questions with Patrick J. Hamilton

10 Questions with Patrick J. Hamilton

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! First in this mini-series is interior designer and four-time participant Patrick J. Hamilton. In addition to his signature “Invest, Save & Splurge” approach, Patrick is also an avid design blogger, humorist, activist, writer, stylist and fine art consultant living and working in Manhattan. He is a specialist in small-space solutions unique to Manhattan living, but comfortable working on projects both large and small, contemporary to traditional.

According to Patrick, this year’s vignette will be “Part glam, part fairy tale… luxurious fabrics and finishes. Inspired in large part by a custom print of a crowned figure. I’m calling the whole thing ‘Wicked Queen’! ALL meanings intended!”

Read below for Patrick’s 10 responses and stay tuned for our next featured participant:

Housing Works: What did the home you grew up in look like?
Patrick James Hamilton: I only knew one house growing up in Miami: a sort of Florida-style Ranch, a solid house that weathered more than its share of hurricanes, including Andrew.

It had a SPECTACULAR back yard, with gigantic live oak, mango and avocado trees. The house had great details (like a wood tray ceiling in the dining room, hardwood floors, stucco walls, and a happy yellow kitchen, where those mangoes turned into pies, rolled out on a table my mother grew up with).

Style-wise, the interiors went through some changes, some at my urging or through my DIY attempts. The big overhauls I remember were when we got an Ethan Allen trestle table and dining set. It’s when I first learned that changing furniture (we had an undersized dinette before that) can cause some “scale shock” even if the larger pieces are ultimately the right choice. I also remember going to a stained glass studio as a family to pick out a fixture for over that table.

Then there was the summer I discovered texture paint and made a faux parsons base for my bed. I think dad called it my “Egyptian sarcophagus”! I was kind of obsessed with Egypt. He was not entirely amused!

HW: Tell us about your first job ever.
PJH: I’m not sure which came first, but I was the “sample boy” at the Jerry Pair showroom in the Miami Design District, and also did visual merchandising for Burdine’s department store… proving that I was perhaps always destined for some sort of design career.

HW: When did you know you wanted to work in the design industry?
PJH: Always. I was pretty much “the guy who could draw” in my high school. And I was lucky to go to the Rhode Island School of Design after that. The way I’d devour any and all interior design magazines and home furnishings catalogs was probably another good indicator. I still do! Long live print!

HW: Can you describe your very first New York apartment?
PJH: I’ve only been in two, and my first was pretty great. An alcove studio converted into a one-bedroom. Corner apartment, and I could see the top of the Pierre across the park. It had a great layout, and a spa tub (where I pretty much spent my first New York snow day!) I was renting, but had totally planned about how I’d renovate it.

HW: What is the most surprising thing you learned about New York (or yourself) when you moved here?
PJH: I never realized what an industry and presence Broadway is.

HW: How do you take your coffee? Or tea?
PJH: I soooo want to be able to quote Ellen Degeneres here… “I like my coffee like I like my men: I don’t drink coffee.” But, um, not all of that is true for me! But I digress: I’m totally a Diet Coke guy.

HW: Where would you most likely meet your best friend for dinner?
PJH: If they cook, their house. If it’s a special occasion, Robert, atop the Museum of Art and Design.

HW: What is your favorite item in your home?
PJH: Two pieces of art: an Herb Ritts and a Bruce Weber photograph. I’m also pretty fond of my Aida CD, signed by the three original leads, and the framed ticket to the Tony Awards. I went the first year I moved here. It was at Radio City, and to be in that space where everyone was in formal attire was like time travel. Amazing.

HW: What’s your best tip for designing on a budget?
PJH: Don’t ever rule out any source. There are great things to be found anywhere. And color is a great tool to make a room look more expensive than it is, if you use really luxurious colors (rich taupes, dove and stone grays, sea glass) and limited palettes, with special attention to texture. And, although it seems counterintuitive to maintaining a budget, buy the very best you can possibly afford.

And of course, Housing Works Thrift Shops!

HW: What inspires you to give back?
PJH: It’s less inspiration, and more obligation. I’ve been lucky, with a mom and sister that have always loved and supported me as a gay man. I’ve been lucky with health, with a lack of discrimination… and the fact that these things, so simple but so important, are not the same for everyone, has not at all escaped me.
And although I say “obligation,” there’s nothing begrudging about it. I feel more connected to the world when I’m making an effort to pitch in for a greater good. I lost good friends, and the world lost an entire chapter of culture, art and ideas, to AIDS. This is, in a very, very small way, my way of honoring them. It seems like it’s a duty.

Design on a Dime VIP Open House level tickets grant you access to Patrick (and 60+ of the world’s other top interior designers), a vignette preview before the crowd, and an opportunity to ask him your own 10 questions. For more design inspiration: follow his Ask Patrick blog.

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