For over a decade, Benjamin Dhong has been transforming homes in San Francisco (and further afield) into bespoke, memorable spaces. We're delighted to have revitalized fabulous finds with Ben. Read on for a peek at our most recent revitalization collaboration and insights into this effervescent designer's take on interior design.
Your projects feature a lot of antiques and vintage. What's your secret to working them into a room with a different design style?
I seek out objects which bring personality or drama to a room – something unexpected. I look for an unusual marriage of objects...where one brings out the best in the other.
You are a true master of mixing more expensive pieces with catalogue-company finds – where would you advise clients to save and where to invest?
Saving and splurging can occur anywhere. For example, in fashion mixing simple jeans with fabulous shoes and hand bag. The magic occurs in the proper pairing of high/low pieces.
Tell us a bit about this vintage table you recently revitalized? Where did you find it?
It was sort of love at first site...I mean, look at those sexy legs! In it's original condition it was a bit plain Jane but it clearly had big potential. We sourced it from Chairish.
What was your inspiration behind the redesign of this vintage coffee table?
I really wanted to play up the great bones and make it more of an art piece. Juxtaposing the strong mid century lines of the piece with a more ethereal, gestural pattern was my goal.
Tell us how you revitalized the piece.
Revitaliste took my design vision and executed on it. They lacquered the frame in a high gloss white to brighten and modernize it. Then they wrapped the top in "Nuvolette" wallpaper from Fornasetti and sealed it with a super durable high gloss clear coat so it could be as functional as it is beautiful. And to play up the legs, they fabricated these little jewel-like brass sabots (feet) made. Who doesn't love sexy shoes!?
Your “professional” design career began when you started interning for Martha Angus. What did you do as an intern? What enthralled you and what surprised you?
Everything!! I sorted fabrics, moved marble samples, filed and re-filed tear sheets...oh that was tedious (but I did get to look at a lot of amazing furniture!). I was surprised to discover that I had an innate sense for interior design and a great eye for architecture...who woulda thunk?!
Before this career transition to design, how did you indulge your personal design interests?
Prior to pursuing design as a full time career, all of my interior design experience was tangential...just sort of something I knew that I liked. I was influenced by my travels, reading art history books, absorbing great classic movies (I now realize I design cinematically). And my mom would drag me to lots of Catholic churches all around town...when I got bored, I would redesign the spaces or critique the priests vestments! LOL
How does your background in business inform your interior design business?
It's indispensable! Creativity is only half the business; equally important is knowing how to run the business. And as I tell my clients...I speak "husband". All my spreadsheet and organization skills have been hugely beneficial in the design business – showing we understand budgets AND design helps instill a deeper level of trust with the client and ultimately allows us to take our work with them further!
What advice do you have for people who are looking to switch to a design career?
Don’t go to school for design. Get your foot in the door with a design firm and work, work, work! In one month of hands-on design work you'll gain so much more than you'd learn in any school year....plus you'd get paid!
We LOVE project “English Gentleman” and “Cloud Walk” - both are so luxurious but executed in completely different styles and materials. What are your favorite fabrics to layer and why?
I love using linen as a base foundation fabric. Its woven texture tells a story of history – the hand of the artisan. It's not flashy, but it has soul. And because it's so humble, it's also a great foil for more luxurious fabrics like silk or velvet. I find that tension between humble and flashy to be exhilarating!
What are three neutral paint colors you love?
Revere pewter. Grants beige. Bleeker beige.
What about three favorite “color” colors (we know you don’t like 'Crayola colors’!)
LOL Orange! The color of the orangeries at Versaille. It's full of energy but still stylish!
Yellow – it says HAPPY! It's great with blue for a young family kitchen.
Lavender. I used to dislike this color, but I've found how to use it properly. It's very chic, a little moody and you need to pair it with grey to keep it from being to sweet!
Ready to test your hand at design? Revitaliste collaborates with you to ensure you adore your reimagined vintage or heirloom piece. Get in touch for a design consultation here.