Design Melodies

Bedford Hills artist Katherine Petitti Kornel on her dearest objects.

Kornel with her Maltese poodles, Benji and Riley


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After years of working in advertising in the fragrance and cosmetic industry, Katherine Petitti Kornel transitioned from the palette of makeup to one of paint on canvas. “My friend, artist Peter Max, says color is the visual spectrum of sound,” Kornel says. “My colors are my chords and melodies and my completed visual work, whether fine art or interior design, my finished song. It must evoke a feeling or emotion—then I know it is complete.” The marathon runner (she finished the New York race just behind the Chilean miner); mom (she and her husband, Edward, a noted neurosurgeon, have four children between them); pet lover (the family has four dogs and one cat); and philanthropist (she raises funds for cancer research and Green Chimneys, among others) shares a few of her favorite home décor items.

Stormy Weather
Kornel’s painting The Tempest was inspired by a vacation in Bora Bora. “There were rainbows everywhere—a quick storm and then the rainbows filled the sky,” she recalls. To see more of Kornel’s work, visit

True Blue Friend
This cobalt-blue-and-gold serving dish is part of a tea set given to her from a friend who had died of breast cancer. “My friend inherited the set from a man who had lost his family during the Holocaust; it had been in his family for generations.”

Sparks Fly
This Parisian fireplace screen that graces the master bedroom came from Horchow, the catalog company. “I like to mix and match antiques with new items,” she says.

You Get Three Wishes
The pewter teapot, another family heirloom, was a favorite of Kornel while growing up in Michigan. “I was sure it had a genie inside.”

Très Chic
Instead of showing off pastries, this French patisserie display rack holds fresh fruit and vegetables. “It was so pitted and black, I couldn’t believe it was copper, but the shop owner assured me it was and offered it to me at half-price, if I was willing to clean it up. I spent three hours scrubbing it with vinegar and lemon and it came to life!”

Tools of the Trade
Forged in 1885, this heirloom carving knife set with antler handles, still carves the family turkey every Thanksgiving.

The Old Grind
Kornel’s forebears fought in the civil war (she is also a descendant of statesman John Marshall) and she received this antique coffee grinder of that era from her paternal grandmother. “It still works.”

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A Place for Everything
Kornel scored this find at a closeout sale from a shop in Yellow Monkey Village in Cross River. Its provenance is uncertain, but the hand-carved chest has drawers on each side (filled with office supplies) and opens from the top to store oversize holiday serving dishes.

A Glass Act
“I love the imperfections,” Kornel says of this horse-head sculpture by Pino Signoretto she and her husband picked up in Murano, Italy. “The artist explained it was to evoke the fragility of life. Something so perfect, yet so fragile that one must take good care of it. That makes sense for many areas of life and  it touched us deeply.”


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