Record players now often come with wireless connectivity. Printers can take an image from your phone and print it out as a physical instant photo. We live in an era that’s marked not just by advancing technology, but also by the integration of the new with the old, choosing what we want to keep from the past and pairing it with the future. In a way, that collision of old and new also helps define “patina modern,” the interior design concept championed by Chris Mitchell and Pilar Guzman. The married couple’s aesthetic can be found in the balance between those two words: slim, trim modern design, combined with the gloss and glow that furniture acquires over its lifetime. Think oak mid-century tables or a well-worn leather couch.
“It’s an unlikely pairing of two words, but makes perfect sense to us,” Guzman says.
The duo wrote the guide to this style, “Patina Modern: A Guide to Designing Warm, Timeless Interiors” both as a lookbook that showcases some of their redesign work, and as a guide for amateur designers who would like to infuse their spaces with that same spirit. Their tips throughout the pages, though, often go beyond how to add their own aesthetic, instead giving the steps a newcomer can take in thinking through their own home interior rework of any sort.
Looking to change up your living space? Here are a few places to begin.
Start With You
In the Marie Kondo school of decluttering, objects are seen not just for their practicality, but also for whether they “spark joy” in their owner. This interrogation of one’s own feelings is important in patina modern, as well: there are so many objects or pieces of furniture that we feel we “should” have, without considering whether we actually use them.
“People think, ‘I’m supposed to have a big dining room table,’” says Guzman. “[But] when was the last time you had a dinner party and didn’t eat at the smaller table in your kitchen?”
Don’t watch much television? You don’t have to buy an entertainment center or make a TV central to a living room. Will you actually use a reading nook, or do you think you should have one to show that you read?
No, you don’t need to buy a new house to launch into a redesign. But the easiest way to keep a home layout fresh is by moving items around, whether it’s fixtures or artwork.
“We are big believers in moving your furniture around a lot,” says Mitchell. “We’ve done it because our needs have changed, our kids have grown, we’ve used rooms in different ways, and we do it because we just get bored with the way the room is. You can move your furniture around and it’s a new room, you know?”
The color scheme of patina modern interior design is muted, leaning towards bright, but natural hues. There are plenty of ways to add color to a room, of course, but the less permanent those colors are, the easier it is to change palettes later if trends change.
“You want to go buy that crazy floral jacket and wear it for a season, that’s great,” Mitchell says. “And if next season you realize you don’t like it at all, it’s very easy to take the jacket off and put it in the closet. It’s a lot harder to chip out your tile.”
Instead, think of the ways that wall art, upholstery, or plants add to a room’s color spectrum. Even what you wear can add a dash of brightness when inviting company over.
Design For All the Senses
For their collaboration with the Malibu Beach Inn, Mitchell and Guzman have prepared both a music playlist and, with the help of the Inn’s lead bartender, a cocktail. That may sound a bit off the topic of interior design, but Guzman sees a throughline: “Really think about how you actually live, not just how it looks.”
“We’re very intentional about wanting to design a lifestyle, not just design a room,” Mitchell adds.
Chris Mitchell & Pilar Guźman