As New York designers Christie Ward and Staver Gray debut their new rugs on Chairish, we’re taking a peek into their recent project. Upstate retreat, Auberge’s Wildflower Farms, mixes eras and materials to create a sense of place. Get the look with Ward + Gray’s Chairish picks.


As New Yorkers, your work feels deeply rooted in the natural world. How did that come about, and are you inspired by a sense of place (either in the city or upstate)?

CW: Every one of our projects tells a different story to the next because we want to ensure it has a strong sense of place. We look to local artisans, surroundings, or history to help us inform the design. When we were looking for inspiration for Wildflower Farms, we took a photo of the changing foliage in October on the site, well before any cabins were constructed, and that informed the color scheme for the entire project. We were so struck by the acid greens, deep mustards, and burgundies in the leaves. Having that connection to the nature around the property helps the design to make sense and feel as if it’s always been there.

SG: Research is always our entry point to design—we read about the history of the area and travel to the project site to understand the mood of the space. It’s important to us for design to make sense within the context of the project and the architecture. We’ve been fortunate to work in some incredibly inspiring places.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

You’ve said you have a mutual love of antiques and French design. Could you tell us how you share a design sensibility, and what each of you is most inspired by?

CW: We are both in love with objects! I think we both find beauty in unusual and unique pieces, and we always try to bring a playful touch into our work. We both love to travel and share what we’ve seen along the way.

SG: Beyond furniture, our shared design sensibility focuses on the feeling our spaces evoke. We’re constantly thinking about how the space feels throughout the day, in different lights and energy levels. Incorporating antiques is a crucial element to achieve this feeling of a warm, lived-in space.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

Wildflower Farms has a real sense of connection to nature and indoor/outdoor living. What was your concept for the project, and how did you bring it to life through the materials and furnishings you chose?

CW: Wildflower Farms is situated under the Shawangunk Mountains in Upstate NY. We spent a lot of time in the area when designing the hotel and studied the surroundings. We would visit local antique shops to get a sense of someone’s home in the area—what woods they would use, what fabrics. We also studied the surroundings. Natural oaks and reclaimed woods felt right with the surrounding natural environment.

SG: Throughout the project we would take photos of the surrounding property and pin these to our boards in the studio—it was important to us that the palette in the interiors reflected the landscape. We shied away from anything too loud or synthetic so that guests can feel the connection to the natural environment during their stay.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

Tell us about your approach to vintage and antique finds. How does that come into play when it comes to layering patterns, colors and styles? How do you like to incorporate vintage/antiques?

CW: When we are designing a hotel, we tend to bring in as much vintage as we can to make the space feel residential and as if it were someone’s own home. We find that vintage helps bring realness to the space. The worn, aged finishes found in antiques make the space feel lived in, and we think that is really what makes people feel comfortable and makes a space approachable. 

SG: We love to mix periods when sourcing antiques—we’ll place a Gustavian corner cabinet in a room with a Gio Ponti mirror and modern art. We believe a layered, collected feel gives spaces personality.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

You have a fantastic line of rugs (available on Chairish). Your pieces are beautifully crafted and layered with historical nuances. Tell us how this came about and what inspired you?

CW: We seek inspiration from a number of places, but nature was the true inspiration for our first rug collection. The use of natural materials in some of our rugs—the jute, hemp, and wool—bring in an organic feel that we felt was right for this collection. One example is the Dune Rug. This rug was inspired by drawing lines and circles in the sand while you’re at the beach. We used a raised, 100% wool as the lines and a natural jute and hemp for the background. This materiality reminds of sand and the design of the rug is really meant to transport you to a warm summer’s day.

SG: The rugs tell a story of items and places that have inspired us, through travel and our love of antiques. We are equally invested in how the rugs are made and their motifs. The construction of Winter and Autumn Rugs for example were inspired by a vintage embroidered textiles—we mimic this craft by using a natural braided sisal as the field of the rug and a hand-knotted wool as the overlay. The design was inspired by Swedish herbarium sheets we found antiquing.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

What do you find most compelling about Chairish?  

CW: There is just about everything you need on Chairish. I go on Chairish for hours to search for everything from lighting and furniture to fabrics and accessories. I find it has the best variety of things and it never disappoints.

SG: We use Chairish for inspiration as well as sourcing. The assortment of pieces featured on Chairish is so diverse, I oftentimes come across a piece I didn’t know I was looking for.

What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?

CW: 1) This 1940’s dining table by Paolo Buffa, so playful and perfect. 2) Orange is my favorite color—I think it instantly makes you happy—especially when paired with rattan on this chair. 3) This corner treillage cabinet would instantly make a room.

SG: 1) The patina on these Italian painted columns from the 20s is incredible. 2) I want to use these for bedside tables at my house in Connecticut. 3) I imagine these in a sculptural, ivory plastered fireplace.

Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree

How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage? 

CW: We lean towards vintage/ antique furniture in most of our projects to complete a space. It is what helps a room come to life and feel lived in and collected. Each vintage piece tells a story and creates depth in a space. We also love that vintage items have stood the test of time and were made with a higher quality than some of what is on the market today, which is another reason why we are drawn to using as much vintage as possible in each of our projects.

SG: Agree. Fast fashion pieces don’t really have a place in our work—we really value craftsmanship and the patina that you find in artisanal or antique pieces. It’s worth investing in.

Christie Ward and Staver Gray | Photo: John Daniel Powers

Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room? CW: Collections of objects. SG: A bold stripe.

Favorite paint color? CW: Light Blue by Farrow & Ball. I used it on my kitchen cabinets and it makes me so happy every time I see it. SG: Black Blue from the Farrow & Ball archives.

Favorite piece of decor in your home? CW: The bed I made with custom fabric and fringe. SG: A pair of sculptures I shipped back from our honeymoon (and yes, I made my husband go antiquing on our honeymoon).

Favorite style icon? CW: Brigitte Bardot in Contempt. SG: Iris Apfel.

Design destination every creative should visit at least once? CW: I get so inspired in Venice. SG: Agree—the architecture in any of the major European cities never ceases to amaze me.

Favorite small museum? CW: Fundació Miró Mallorca. SG: Any house museum—Villa Kerylos is on my bucket list.

Favorite Instagram accounts to follow? CW: Barracuda Interiors, Yolo, Conde Nast, Elle Decor & AD. SG: Agree, plus Frederic, Cabana, House & Garden UK

Favorite restaurant? CW: Will forever miss Casa in the West Village. The most perfect Brazilian restaurant. Second favorite would have to be I Sodi, especially on a cold winters day. SG: The bar seats at Nautilus on Nantucket.

Favorite vacation destination? CW: Anywhere within walking distance to the Mediterranean. I become a fish in the summer. SG: Harbour Island.

Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling? CW: Sao Lourenco do Barrocal in Alentejo, Portugal. It’s the perfect hotel for me. SG: UXUA in Trancoso Brazil is magical.

Lead Image: Wildflower Farms | Interior Design: Ward + Gray | Photography: Read McKendree.

March 12, 2024

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