Known for his inventive and inspiring use of color—and we dare you not to feel a dose of joy when admiring his spaces—Nick Olsen is a designer who continues to push boundaries. To shop a selection of pieces inspired by Nick’s gorgeous gathering space below, click here.

Photography by Reid Rolls, Courtesy of the Designer

How do you start your design process?

I actually find a blank slate a little terrifying, so I need a starting point, like a beautiful antique carpet or patterned fabric. Those are the best for building a palette.

What kinds of color choices do you make for these spaces? Do you have a go-to palette?

It all depends on the room and the client. I personally love bold color, but everyone has a different tolerance for that, and color perception varies widely. Once a client pointed to a magazine and referred to “that bold pink,” and to me it looked like a faded ballet slipper.

Photography by Reid Rolls, Courtesy of the Designer

This is a place for family and friends of all ages to gather—how do you find a balance in making sure there is a comfortable seat for everyone?

It’s all about variety and scale. An older person shouldn’t be expected to get in and out of a crazy-low Edwardian chair, though I love the look. Mix in club chairs, sofas, and settees at different heights. I decorated my friend’s apartment and his living room has a Big Bird-yellow satin tufted swivel chair. It honestly scares some guests away, but a fabulous ladyfriend of ours immediately plops down on it at every party!

What makes this room a special gathering space? What makes it work?

This room works because of its informality—mismatched throw pillows, casual fabrics—mixed with bold colors and patterns. It invites you to sit down, put your feet up, and take it all in with a drink in hand… but the solid ivory walls and deep green floors keep you from experiencing sensory overload.

Excerpted from issue 7 of Magazinish, the print companion to To shop our collection of pieces from this story, click here.


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September 9, 2022

Dennis Sarlo is the executive editor of Chairish and a lover of all things design-related. Prior to joining the team, he served as the executive editor of Dering Hall and was the first site director of Architectural Digest. He was also part of the founding team of travel startup Jetsetter. He lives in New York.