Eddie Ross, East Coast Editor of Better Homes & Gardens, has just released his first book, Modern Mix: Curating Personal Style with Chic & Accessible Finds (Gibbs Smith)—written with coauthor Jaithan Kochar. A former design, decorating, and food editor for House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, and Food Network, Ross is a multitalented expert on personal style. On October 8 he’ll be signing books at Steve McKenzie’s, the Westside home store owned by his close friends Steve and Jill McKenzie. In preparation for his visit to Atlanta on Thursday, we asked him a few questions:
Q: What do you think makes your book unique?
A: Modern Mix is the book I’ve always wanted to find but never could. Ever since I started digging for treasure, I’ve been looking for a beautiful style guide to help me find what I love, then give it chic style at home. Styling rooms and parties for magazines, I’ve learned that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a high-end look if you know what to look for and where to find it. Educate your eyes and the world will come into focus.
Q: Your academic training was at the Culinary Institute of America. How did you get into design?
A: I was in culinary school in upstate New York learning one definition of the word taste—and learning the other by catering parties on weekends in tony Connecticut suburbs. Taste, I discovered, is everywhere in a home. It starts with the hardware on the front door. It hangs from windows in a dining room, enlivens walls with pattern, and adds texture underfoot. It finds its way onto the table, from the flowers down to the napkins. Anyone can have taste, I thought, but good taste? That was expensive. Then I discovered flea markets, and the world opened up.
Q: How did you get addicted to secondhand finds?
A: By the time I finished culinary school, I had amassed enough vintage serveware from flea markets to throw a buffet dinner for a hundred. Suddenly, good taste didn’t seem so out of reach. If I knew what to look for—the objects, materials, and marks that surrounded me at all of those parties—I could go to a thrift shop or stop at a yard sale for the very same things at prices I could afford. There are places to fit everyone’s budget, but you’re going to have to work harder, dig deeper, to score a deal.
Q: Designers often say that Millenials don’t appreciate antiques. Do you think that’s true?
A: Not at all! I think Millenials love the idea of using family heirlooms or fine antiques in their homes, but they don’t always know how to give them fresh life.
Q: What is the trick to making antique objects fit into modern lifestyles?
A: Combine colors, patterns, periods, and styles to infuse your finds with a playful spirit that feels like you.
Come meet Ross and Kochar at Steve McKenzie’s, 999 Brady Avenue, October 8, 5-8 p.m.