Gil Walsh thinks coastal New England and Southern Florida have some of the U.S.’s most luxurious homes.
Interior designer and “master colorist” Gil Walsh, author of “Gil Walsh Interiors: A Case for Color,” has homes—and Gil Walsh Interiors locations—in West Palm Beach, New York City and Martha’s Vineyard.
In New York, she helps clients update their primary homes, and in the other places, the majority of clients are working with her on designing their vacation homes.
As her 2016 book title suggests, Ms. Walsh has an admiration for color. She’s led over $200 million in interior design work over 40 years and worked with golf legend Arnold Palmer and his wife on their home. She also refurbished the interiors for Frank Lloyd Wright’s midcentury modern masterpiece Fallingwater, in rural Pennsylvania.
We caught up with Ms. Walsh to talk about the effect of climate change, her love of old homes and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Gil Walsh: My dream property is anything with water. Ocean views are fantastic. I don’t have to be on the water, but I like to have views of the water.
It’s also wonderful to have a large kitchen, dining room, family room and entertaining space. A lot revolves around cooking.
My real passion, besides gardening, is collecting art. Having great walls to display art is wonderful, too.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
GW: Luxury is having time to spend with family and friends. Having a wonderful home with large space is a way to do that, which adds to the luxury.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
GW: It’s coastal New England and South Florida. You get ocean views and resort-style living. With that comes amenities. You have relaxation and time to enjoy your surroundings—both interior and exterior.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
GW: In Martha’s Vineyard and Florida it’s the availability and accessibility of outdoor space. I was a gardener, so I love gardening, and I love being outside. I love being with my Havanese puppies out there. It’s a luxury to go outside.
I love my interiors, too, but if you asked me my favorite spot, it’s sitting on my porches and enjoying just being outside.
When I’m in New York City, though, I want to go to restaurants and be outside. But the view from my living room is fantastic. It’s not a park view, but it’s a city view with lots of light. It’s enchanting to sit there and take in the skyline at night.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
GW: Being an interior designer, you tend to collect. I love my collection of art and antiques. My style is traditional and transitional. I have beautiful fabrics and antiques, beautiful lamps—most of which were vases or art pieces that I turned into lamps.
As an interior designer, you are shopping all the time.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
GW: The most valuable, luxurious thing in my home is the bathtub. It’s a sculptural Kohler piece. It’s a beautiful shape.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
GW: Most of my clients won’t have wine cellars or movie theaters. What they like are beautiful appliances. Kitchens are important. Bathrooms that are spa-like and offer relaxation are important. A great bathtub is a nice touch.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
GW: You need to buy what you love.
If we’re talking luxury, you want to buy near the water. Buying on the water is a concern now with rising water levels, but you still want a view. You also want privacy and lovely grounds.
Of course, it depends if you’re buying a first home or second home. For a vacation home, people want to get away, be in the middle of nowhere, have large windows and see the outside from inside. You want peacefulness and privacy. When you’re buying a home that’s your main home, you want to think more about things like conveniences—commuting time, the distance from the airport, etcetera.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
GW: Climate change. It’s a real, real concern. I was just talking to someone and we said, “where does one own now?” There are fires in the west and flooding elsewhere.“
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
GW: Both have their plusses. With new developments, for 10 years, you don’t have to worry about anything falling apart.
But there are a lot of design opportunities that older homes can offer. There’s a lot of charm and character. What I don’t like about them is that they can become very expensive to work on and fix up. It’s more fun to work on an older property, though. It’s more challenging—you can do a lot architecturally and a lot with color.
[Source; Mansion Global]