Trends of the Trade: Design firm owner Barbara Ostrom

Design firm owner Barbara Ostrom sheds some light onto the world of interior design.

By Jennifer Seligman


 Although “anyone that’s good is always busy,” says Ostrom. “It’s the ones that aren’t busy that you have to worry about.”

Say goodbye to chrome and black leather, Asian motifs, and kitchens gleaming with floor-to-ceiling granite and stainless steel. In lieu of stark, bold simplicity comes a new form of home décor: an eclectic blend between old and new, mixing antique period pieces with elements of contemporary design.

Multiple looks are often combined in a single space, mixing “high” formal furnishing with “low” casual design. This look can be achieved by carefully combining A-list art, luxurious textiles, and lacquered antiques with unconventional color combinations, contemporary art, and hard-edged, sleek accents. With the new green trend that is hopefully here to stay, antique furniture is one of the most eco-friendly (and beautiful) ways to decorate, limiting harmful emissions that are released during production and addressing the already overflowing landfill issue.

Many design firms are beginning to get requests from clients to mix contemporary and traditional design elements within a single home, or even a single room, and Barbara Ostrom Associates is one such company that has embraced this trend, offering their impressive array of longstanding clients a way to mix elegance with contemporary modernity. Barbara Ostrom’s firm’s range of creative endeavors usually encompasses home and summer home interiors, although Ostrom has recently added megayacht interiors to their ever-growing repertoire. Ostrom continually designs interiors for clients in New York, London, St. Barths, and Newport Beach, making her way onto every speed dial of society’s elite. Unhampered by clients’ budgets, Ostrom is able to design some of the most show-stopping home and yacht interiors worldwide.

With a clear push in the industry towards mixing antiquity with contemporary design, Ostrom often finds herself refurbishing old homes by stripping away layers to reveal classic elements, or introducing period pieces to more modernly structured estates. “I’ve had a lot of favorites,” recalls Ostrom, referring to the countless interiors she has designed. “One example is an apartment in New York City that we designed, a five floor walk-up with no elevator. Lead paint had been used in the building so the landlord stripped everything down and opened up the ceiling. With all of the rafters, it looked like the inside of a 16th century French château. It had 14- or 15-foot ceilings, and after exposing the beams, we made it very eclectic and mixed antiques with contemporary furniture.

“Another house in New Jersey we designed started as a little ranch, but we got an architect and remodeled the whole thing and it became so unique and so special. Libraries were made out of cherry wood and we added wainscoting, a billiard room, an immensely high ceiling, and a large fireplace.”

Ostrom currently resides in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey and also owns a house in Southampton. Both homes stay true to this new design trend: “We built our house as a very eclectic space with stone floors, and a lot of the rooms are built in the shape of hexagons. The home is contemporary but traditional. The barn is very country, with country antiques and a mix of fabrics.”

Ostrom is pleased to work with any budget and welcomes all personal styles, from conservative and traditional to stylish and contemporary, although trendsetters and style visionaries are the greatest beneficiaries of Ostrom’s services. When her clients are open to new industry trends, the sky’s the limit to what Ostrom can do with any given space. You will not be disappointed with Barbara Ostrom Associates, that is, if you can manage to book an appointment. Although “anyone that’s good is always busy,” says Ostrom. “It’s the ones that aren’t busy that you have to worry about.”