Designer Dorye Brown Helps Us Soak In Style

It’s time to step away from trends and into a cozy, layered look.

​Dorye Brown has plenty of design tricks up her sleeve. After working for Holly Hunt for five years and on projects for her own clients for nearly a decade, she had a definite vision when it came time to renovate her own master bathroom. 

Brown wanted to break from the trend of “everything white, crispy, and a little sterile. I was over that, and I wanted to bring in elements of freshness,” she says. “I love all historical styles of furniture and accessories—from Old World to Contemporary—and I wanted to achieve the perfect combination,” she says, adding that creating the right blend of traditional and modern meant being selective with every piece. The small-scale bathroom in her family’s center-hall Colonial in Purchase also needed to be functional, of course, but she wasn’t daunted by the challenge of working in a tight space. “We came from the city, so we’re used to being on top of each other, like the game of Twister,” she says with a laugh. 

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Playing up the coziness of the room, Brown chose a chocolate-brown Zoffany damask wallpaper, which gives the space a masculine feel. She notes that, contrary to popular belief, wallpaper can work beautifully in the bathroom in spite of the moisture, as long as you have a good installer who uses the correct adhesive. In order to fit a soaking tub in the bathroom, Brown positioned it at an angle. She had her contractor bump up part of the room’s ceiling (borrowing space from the attic) to allow for a chandelier to be hung over the tub and to create the impression that the room is more spacious. 

For the shower, Brown brought in porcelain tile, sourced from Rye Ridge Tile, that resembles limestone and used different sizes—squares on the floor and ceiling and brick bullnose for the walls. “Sometimes that’s all you need,” says Brown, “layering the look of the same tile.” The elements of lighting in the bathroom draw from different periods: There’s a Victorian chandelier, an antique reproduction light over the vanity, and contemporary sconces from Donghia. The bathroom also gets plenty of light from its three windows, each dressed with café shutters. A contemporary beveled mirror from Holly Hunt reflects that light and enlarges the space visually. 

Texture was key to the space, as well, with depth and interest coming from a rope bench by artist Christian Astuguevieille for Holly Hunt, rustic doors custom-built for the bathroom, and an antique Asian bucket. Why stick with one metal finish, when a mix is more interesting? The hardware for the sink, tub, and shower are polished nickel and brushed nickel, while the drawer pulls are cast in pewter. Radiant heating in the floor adds to the luxury and comfort of the bathroom. 

Though Brown admits that at times it was difficult designing for herself, her husband and their two boys—“Oh, my God, I micromanaged myself 50,000 times,” she says—“but when I see something, I know it. It’s a gut reaction. It just feels right.” 

Photo By John Gruen

Crystal Chandelier 
To the Trade
Holly Hunt Showroom
979 3rd Ave #605
New York, NY
(212) 755-6555

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ZCDW02014 Crivelli Amethyst, To the Trade
Zoffany New York
979 3rd Ave. #409, New York, NY
(212) 319-7220

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Holly Hunt Showroom
979 3rd Ave. #605
New York, NY
(212) 755-6555

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