Zoe Feldman's 5 Design Must-Haves

We chatted with the local designer about the decor elements she turns to time and time again.

By: Kathleen Bridges

If local designer Zoe Feldman's aesthetic is "continuously evolving," as she says, we can't wait to see what's next.

We've long been fans of Feldman's seemingly effortless style--thoughtful juxtapositions, pops of rich color, nothing matchy-matchy--that is as evident in her work as it is when you meet the Florida native in person. Though she says she thought she'd one day be a broadcast journalist, a post-college change of heart installed her first at the Parsons design school and then at Mark Hampton, a premiere design firm in Manhattan. She has been designing homes in Washington for more than ten years, and opened her own firm, Zoe Feldman Design, in 2003.

"I'm a 'modern traditionalist,'" she says. "I take whatever period is influencing the space and bring it up to modern standards--reupholstering an antique chair in a new fabric, accessorizing with contemporary art in an otherwise traditional room."

Whether she's heading up a floor-to-ceiling rowhouse reno or tackling a single-family redesign, Feldman keeps a few tools in her pocket that translate from project to project. Though she says she tries not to have too much of a signature "look," here are the five things she keeps at the ready.


1) Farrow & Ball paints

Photograph by Ricci Shryock.

"These are our go-to paints. We adore the finishes and, above all else, the well-edited palette. Each hue is thought out and versatile, meaning colors play off of the surroundings, picking up the complementary colors in the room."

2) Patterned carpets
Photograph courtesy of Zoe Feldman.

"Patterned carpets give immediate interest to any space without overwhelming it. Unlike a busy wallpaper or fabric, patterned carpets give a room some "pop" while still providing the opportunity to easily layer the space with art, accessories, and furniture."

3) Midcentury-modern pieces

Photograph courtesy of Zoe Feldman.

"I believe every room gets a jolt of chicness the minute a midcentury-modern piece is added to it. Midcentury modern plays well with almost any period--a turn-of-the-century table surrounded by Saarinen chairs effortlessly modernizes the look."

4) Books, books, books

Photograph by Thomas Alridge.

"Books are the most amazing and affordable accessory--they're so versatile. We use them in bookcases or on tables to add color. They're also great to add height to a piece of furniture or accessorize a long console or coffee table."

5) Standout art

Photograph by Ricci Shryock.

"I believe no space is complete until the art is hung. Sometimes we purchase art for our clients, in which case we lean toward more contemporary works, but we also love to dig through their existing art to see how what they have can be used differently. Small adjustments like clustering art that isn't necessarily a series or reframing pieces will add new life and new dimension to a space."