Have you ever walked into a shop whose curated design made you think, “Gosh, I wonder what their home looks like…”? Is the owner’s home as attractively collected and designed? In other words, do these shop owners really practice what they preach? A well-versed shopper — professionally and personally — I often ask myself this question. Over the years I have visited the homes of many antiques dealers, merchants, and vendors… individuals whose shops I have frequented and loved. Though many of these homes hold wonderful collections, the overall schematic is often lackluster. How can this be? How can someone have such an “exquisite eye” in their professional life, yet simultaneously have a lackluster approach to their personal space?
Eclectic assemblages in shops and private spaces take the expected and mix it with a little sex appeal, drama, and glamour. A visit to the seventh floor of Bergdorf Goodman, Creel and Grow, or Linda Horn’s Upper East Gallery is a study in the unexpected. The common denominator in each is the use of a discerning eye, one that transforms a table setting or a room vignette into a presentation that tells a story. Each of these venues is also equally transformative to your wallet. To find a shop whose proprietors have a discerning eye, a style that instantly appeals, and offers variations in price points is unique: The best of the best without necessarily breaking the bank. John Krenek and Jamie Niblock are just those proprietors.
They are a dynamic team who travel, shop, play, and live a life that is reflected in the aesthetic of their business SPRUCE Design + Decor. Stepping inside SPRUCE transports the customer to the haunts of the Paris Flea Market, the hipness of South Beach and the coolness of the discos of Ibiza. John, the former International Visual Director of Ferragamo, and Jamie, a director of Robert Marc, are perennial shoppers: “We love to shop and we love to share our discoveries with shoppers and clients alike.”
A bit of a skeptical interiors junkie, I am curious about people’s homes and how they live. Would Krenek’s and Niblock’s mercantile panache be similarly conveyed in their private life? Or would their creativity, like many others’, be limited to their professional lives? Obviously, a couple whose style is a marriage of 20th- and 21st-century design residing in a 1723 stone house is an intriguing concept. “Stone house” typically conveys thoughts of low ceilings, minimal light, and interior colors which harken to a different era. The romanticism of exposed stone, rough hewn beams, and wide-blanked floors is often lost by period rooms and period furnishings.
Rest assured, Krenek and Niblock —the perfect taste masters — manifest the best of SPRUCE Decor + Design in their home. Their interior is indeed their canvas. Similar to the brush strokes of Kandinsky, the couple have used bold strokes defined by furnishings, accessories, and art to define the space. Each room is a canvas of 18th-century craftsmanship artfully tweaked in a manner as visually appealing as it is comfortable. Krenek states, “Our home, similar to SPRUCE, defines who we are and what we represent.” The kitchen utilizes hues of grey to accent exposed stonewalls. Oversized hanging lanterns, garnered at the Paris Flea Market, add an air of refinement to the space. The surprising height of the entrance hall’s ceiling is emphasized by oversized French Chateaux lanterns. Rather than distracting, the juxtaposition of the contemporary with the oversized accentuates the home’s vernacular. Literally no stone in this home is left without a parallel in each room’s design. True to the aesthetic of SPRUCE, the living room pairs the exquisite with the sublime. “Jamie and I have a synergy that prevails in our lives,” says Krenek. A synergy, he says, that “defines us as individuals and designers. If we were blindfolded, our spaces would be arranged exactly the same.” Flow and elegance, with a touch of drama, define their home. Comfort and tranquility are the design mantras.
The Hudson Valley of late has been repeatedly identified as the “new Hamptons” or the “new Brooklyn.” Perhaps SPRUCE Decor + Design could be labeled the “new Bergdorf’s Seventh Floor North.” Imagine the appeal of high design presented in Rhinebeck, New York, presented without the expensive constraints of the New York retail rental market? Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone… We will keep this one our exquisite little secret.