Josh Hildreth Interiors: Coming Back Home

When editors decide the cover image for a magazine or newspaper section, they go through dozens of options, placing type on images, figuring out which combination will most engage and delight—and draw readers inside.

I’m not on the staff of The Washington Post, but as a former magazine editor, I can presume they go through a similar process to choose the cover of the weekly Local Living section, which used a vignette from Josh Hildreth and Victor Sanz’s library last week as its cover for Jura Koncius’ feature on the DC Design House.

post-front

For an autumnal show house, the rich colors of the 18th-century tapestry and velvet sofa provide a sumptuous entry into the story. What’s interesting, though, is that for a house that displays the work of 21 professional designers—many of them show-house veterans—the cover went to Josh’s room, his first show-house effort. The design is an announcement, of sorts, that he’s branching out from the core commercial-design business he founded 11 years ago, DMG Interiors, and will focus more on residential work.  (Victor is a project architect with DMG.)

While he remains a principal with DMG, Josh’s new endeavor, Josh Hildreth Interiors, represents a passion he’s had along. [FULL DISCLOSURE: I was hired to edit Josh’s biography for the new website, but this is not a sponsored blog post; it’s my own words and opinions.]

I’ve spent a lot of time with Josh in the past month, getting to know him and how he came around from designing offices and health-care facilities to living rooms and libraries. It all started when he was a boy in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and he got to know a lady in his neighborhood who was a decorator. He asked her all sorts of questions about design and decorating, and she ended up giving him years of back issues of Architectural Digest. He started reading about Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin, Frances Elkins, Elsie de Wolfe, Michael Taylor—all the 20th-century giants of American design. That sensibility stayed with him, and he tells me that he’s finally at a place in his career where he can express it with his own fresh approach.

You can see it in his Library & Whiskey bar at the DC Design House, which at first glance seems utterly traditional.

All design-house photography by Angie Seckinger

All design-house photography by Angie Seckinger

Yet. Note the modern art over the fireplace, the stylized flair of the blue-leather arm chairs by Quintus, and the minimalist profile of the slipper chairs in the foreground, which Josh designed as his own take on a Billy Baldwin classic. They have a higher seat and wider back than the traditional slipper chair, which you can see here:

library-tapestry

The jute rug and modern photography (above right and below) also give a room full of antiques a certain lightness of being.

library-photograph-close

Josh has a self-proclaimed obsession with English textiles, antiques, and chinoiserie, but as is the case with so many couples, his husband, Rick Robinson (who curated the art for the library), has a much more modern approach to design.

Their first house together in Richmond illustrates the evolution of his thinking—aided by Albert Hadley’s signature blending of eras: “I think the influences that ran through my head the most at this time was Colefax and Fowler and Albert Hadley,” he wrote to me in an e-mail. “Albert gave me the courage to learn to live with and love Rick’s trove of African Art, contemporary art and furniture. Love changes us in so many ways, and has made me a better designer!” I just love that sentiment.

Here’s a look at the Richmond house that paved the way to where Josh is now.

The decidedly contemporary foyer…

foyer

All Richmond photography by Kip Dawson

… leads to a traditional stair hall, brightened by a 70s-fabulous chrome-and-brass console by Paul Evans.

stairhall

 

A dining room full of antiques and crystal from one perspective…

dining1

… gets an artistic wake-up call on the other end.

dining

 

Time and style march forward through the living room to the upstairs sitting room—can you believe this is the same house?

living

 

living-modern

 

There’s a juxtaposition of old and new at every turn. At first, it was more necessary than desired. Josh had all things vintage and traditional, while Rick moved in with modern everything. They didn’t have the budget to start over, he says, so they just combined. But now that’s an approach Josh has come to embrace.

Here’s more evidence. The guest bedrooms indulge Josh’s passion for antiques and classic textile design…

guestroom

 

twinbeds

 

…while the kitchen speaks to Rick’s aesthetic:

kitchen1

 

kitchen

 

I’ve been to Josh and Rick’s home here in DC, not too far away from the DC Design House, in fact, and I won’t be at all surprised to see their current abode in a future magazine spread. Josh’s knack for combining proper antiques with edgy modern art is more evolved than what you see in the Richmond home, and his use of fabrics and custom furnishings is even more abundant. He is definitely one to watch.

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Comments

  1. Babi Siruno says:

    It was so wonderful to view your design works and to know what an excellent designer you have
    become. All these years, I always wondered what happened to that adorable young man who would
    come up to me at IHM school in Minnetonka and was always enthusiastic to ask questions about
    interior design that I eventually gave him some back issues of Architectural Digest to browse into.
    When I read your interview, it was so awesome for you to remember that lady in your neighborhood in Minnetonka.I am so very proud of you. Wishing you all the best.
    Babi Siruno

  2. I am thrilled to hear that Josh grew up in Minnetonka – my home town as well!
    I love his room and am excited to have a fellow MN native making strides in the design world.