How Quarantine Made This Designer Love Color Again


bennet leifer

Designer Bennett Leifer shares the quarantine color journey that made him love his apartment again. 

My dad worked in finance, but he was very artistic. When I was a child, we’d spend weekends at the tiki bar in my grandparents’ basement painting and drawing. In college, I studied art history (as well as business), and I’ve always admired landscapes in particular. There’s this pensive, thoughtful quality to oil paintings that I love staring at—something about those rich, botanical greens.

green art easel

Which brings us to Covid. I had become a bit of a workaholic, rolling out of bed, crawling into sweatpants, going to the computer, and before I knew it, the day was done. I was looking for a hobby, and I thought, ‘Why not try painting?’ I did a ton of research, ordered an easel set with all the bells and whistles, and set out for the park near my apartment. I have to tell you, it was… mortifying. I mean, truly embarrassing. There I was setting up my easel with an instruction manual, dabbing at my painter’s palette without a clue. At first there was this fear of judgement, but pushing through that fear to the other side was really wonderful.

As the weather grew cold, I came inside and realized I needed a dedicated space for my hobby. Rekindling my love of green, I began refreshing my apartment, starting in the living room where I got rid of my enormous dining table (since I won’t be entertaining at scale any time soon), adding a tea table for meals and artwork in its place. Then, I began pulling in threads of green scattered through my home. My favorite decorative screen—a gift from deGournay—used to sit in the foyer where I never saw it. Now, it anchors the space. Similarly, I had a beautiful Tai Ping carpet in my bedroom, where it’s wonderful, sweeping pattern of green and blue was hidden under a mattress. Now, I enjoy it every day. I added plants and reconceived my art collection. I bought new dining chairs with velvet seats.

You know those moments when you just feel chic at home? The other night, I was FaceTiming with a friend, drinking from a green Baccarat glass, and I thought, ‘I feel chic.’ And I think it’s because I’m living in color. Green is amazing: It’s that perfect lagoon water, that perfect emerald jewel, that perfect eye color. There are these few tones of green that just make me smile.

As told to Grace Beuley Hunt