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An Afternoon with Hollister and Porter Hovey ...
5/16/2013
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An Afternoon with Hollister and Porter Hovey


Tucked away in a loft building in… >

An Afternoon with Hollister and Porter Hovey

Tucked away in a loft building in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you’ll find the home of Hollister and Porter Hovey, authors of the book Heirloom Modern. One chilly spring afternoon, they invited us into their apartment to explore their vast collection of heirlooms, and to chat about everything from their inspiring magpie ways to what it’s like working alongside one’s sister.

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A: How did you first become interested in collecting heirlooms?

P: It was family-influenced for us. Our mom was always a shopper, so it started with her and we’ve expanded on her interests and made them our own.

H: Our parents were collectors, but not the type who would buy 80 pieces of the same thing, like baseball cards. I am a little more obsessive-I have 30 pith helmets. And we’ve always loved the stories behind objects and the family folklore that comes with them.

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A: What is your most treasured possession?

P: The painting of the hunter—it’s nice because it reminds me of all the times we spent going to the antique store with our mom. She was really hesitant about the purchase and had to think about it for a day before going back to the store and buying it. It was a huge deal, because where was she going to put a life-size portrait of a hunter in our house? But she loved it and she made it work, and over time he sort of became a member of our family.

A: What are your five most treasured items?

P: The hunter, the Hermes scarf, the mirror, the Scottish prints, and the desk-all items from our childhood home. I also really love our chandelier—it was one of our first purchases for our apartment we live in now.

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A: What is your biggest inspiration?

P: Definitely our family, the stories they tell and how they always surprise us. Our grandma is pretty tight-lipped, but out of nowhere she’ll tell you a story from when she was 16. She was at her boyfriend Bill Holden’s house, slurping a Coke, when his parents walked in, and she was so embarrassed! I love stories like that.

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A: What era has influenced you the most:

H: The time from World War I to World War II. Even when I was a little kid, I thought movies with ’20s and ’30s fashion were so much better than when I was growing up in the ’80s. I yearned for a time when men were elegant and women wore flapper dresses.
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A: What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

P: Istanbul—it’s the perfect combination of East-meets-West and completely unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before. We hunted for days before we found the antiques market, which made it all the more special when we found it. The art scene is really interesting, too. All of the artists featured in the modern art museum were Turkish, which was really refreshing.

H: London is the place where we’ve found the best antiques. We adore it, but it’s also not as adventuresome finding things there. We just go down to Portobello Road and love everything. The last time we were there we had bought heaps of things in under 45 minutes.image

A: What’s it like working together?

P: We know each other so well that we’re always on the same page in terms of aesthetics. We never fight and we never have to ask questions. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
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A: Tell us about the book Heirloom Modern.

H: Initially we wanted to make an advice book that would help people understand the things they love and how that should impact their home design. But eventually we realized we wanted it to be different from other interiors books, and instead decided to focus on our family and friends and the stories behind their homes and the objects they love.

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A: Do you have any advice for people decorating their space?

P: Buy what you love. It will all come together because it represents who you are.

H: Think about the most fun vacation you took when you were a little kid. Think about the prettiest movie you’ve ever seen. First impressions are very important, and the things that resonated with you when you were five will still resonate when you are fifty.

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