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.
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