Habitually Chic®'s Logo  

Thad Hayes: The Tailored Interior

by habituallychic

03 . 12 . 09

I love living in New York because I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting and inspiring people. Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with interior designer Thad Hayes to discuss his work, his life and his new book Thad Hayes: The Tailored Interior.

When I was reading the book before the meeting, I kept thinking that the designs of Thad Hayes have a quiet elegance about them so I asked him how he defined his work and he mentioned a few words that resonate, “appropriate,” “relevant,” and “thoughtful.” All of his projects begin with the client and he is a careful listener and is very thoughtful in his approach. Each of his projects are also appropriate to their environment. For him, the hunt for antiques, furnishings and accessories that create a layered look is what makes each of his designs unique to their environment and owner.

The man of the hour, interior designer Thad Hayes in his studio

I loved that Thad Hayes had filed his book without thought between Fallingwater, Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator and the design books by David Hicks. They are all in good company!

Thad Hayes was born and raised in Louisiana and his artistic talent was luckily fostered by his parents. It was car trips to visit historic plantation houses and his own home growing up that influenced his future when his mother hired an interior decorator and he realized that interior design could be a career. But what’s funny is that he ended up with a degree in landscape architecture and didn’t even have a job when he moved to New York in 1979. At that time, New York was a pretty gritty place with high unemployment similar to today but Thad Hayes had an optimistic spirit and a bit of luck on his side when his upstairs neighbor, painter and designer Stephen Shadley, introduced him to Robert Bray who invited him to work for Bray and Schaible. After three years with the firm, Thad Hayes felt ready to go out on his own and the rest, as they say, is history!
Thad Hayes has been a bit under the radar and part of the reason for this he said is that he doesn’t go out to all the parties and social events. He has a young son whom he likes to spent time with at the end of the day and again, it’s this thoughtful nature that makes him the designer that he is today. His office has never had more than eight people so it keeps the projects manageable and allows him to give each one his attention and it shows.

Of course, I had to ask Thad Hayes if he had a favorite project and he said that he had two. The first, which can be seen in the photo above and the next four is located in Pam Beach and he loves it for it’s historical value. If most anyone else had bought the home, they probably would have either razed it and built a McMansion or completely gutted it but luckily it was purchased by the Lauders who wanted to restore it. In the bathroom above, they kept the original pink sink and appreciated the quirky and whimsical nature of the house. If you can’t have fun in Palm Beach, where can you?!

There are fun wallpapers and printed fabrics in most of the rooms which reflect the tropical climate.

In the dining room, Hayes had Gracie repaint the original 1930’s wallpaper.

It’s funny that in contrast to this colorful house, his other favorite project in the book is Dune House a more simple and modern home also by the beach but it just serves as another example of his thoughtful nature. Some houses can be bold and others need to be more quiet, just like people.
Another reason that each project is unique is that the team shops separately for each project and rarely uses the same fabrics or furniture again.

I had to ask Thad Hayes if he had any advice for young designer like myself who are going out on their own and he suggested keeping the client base varied in age and occupation. Older clients slow down their decorating and as we’ve just seen first hand in New York, perhaps it’s not a good idea to have only clients who work in finance. Practical and solid advice that I’m sure not many people would have thought of on their own.
I could look through Thad Hayes: The Tailored Interior for hours. The details are subtle and deserved to be studied and not just glanced over. It’s also interesting to note how much work goes into putting a book together. This one was started over two and a half years ago and it took two years just to photograph the 21 projects included. I think that’s worth remembering the next time you wonder why a design book is so expensive!

I owe a big thank you to Thad Hayes for taking time out of his busy day to talk with me. It was really very inspiring and fun to be able to hear the stories behind the projects and the making of the book. I also want to thank Jessica Napp of Rizzoli for her assistance. There are a lot of design books on the market these days but I have no doubt that Thad Hayes deserves his place of honor among Fallingwater, Billy Haines and David Hicks!
Photos by Scott Frances and Colleen Duffley

Comments Closed

  1. Averill March 12, 2009 | 10:31 pm

    Love Thad Hayes! Didn’t know he had a book out…I’ll have to pick it up.

  2. bill March 13, 2009 | 12:40 am

    This validates my pink bathroom sink!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I’m totally not getting rid of my 50’s pink bathroom – we LOVE Palm Beach too – I must buy this book!

  3. Scott Fazzini March 13, 2009 | 1:58 am

    GREAT job at selecting the photography for this post! You’re the BEST!

  4. Inspiration March 13, 2009 | 3:06 am

    The mirror above the fireplace is FANTASTIC. Lovely interiors. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Suzy March 13, 2009 | 4:56 am

    I love his work, so thanks for giving us a little sneak peek. I think this will be another one to add to my growing wish list!

  6. tartanscot March 13, 2009 | 5:26 am

    wow . . . totally going to go out tomorrow and get Thad’s new book. thanks for posting !

  7. kris March 13, 2009 | 1:27 pm

    Loved learning more about Thad Hayes and seeing the gorgeous pictures. I’m definitely going to check out his book.

  8. Hill Country House Girl March 13, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    Great post – what a talent! One more book on my “want list”…….thanks!

  9. Susan's Snippets March 13, 2009 | 3:11 pm

    HC –

    As usual I enjoyed the spaces that were created with a simplistic eye…those that do not overwhelm your senses thus allowing you to focus on the art and work-so-hard-for design features.

    Keep posting the beauty – it helps my mind stay creative.

    im elated

  10. Jessica Condatore March 13, 2009 | 3:26 pm

    Love Thad, I read every single word of this and starred it in my reader to savor again later – thanks for an excellent post Heather, as always.

  11. The Preppy Pauper March 13, 2009 | 4:24 pm

    Love Thad Hayes work. His exquisite taste is obvious, but what I love about his interiors is they are so carefully edited. Just enough detail to keep it interesting, not too much to be distracting.

  12. Nancy Gibson March 13, 2009 | 4:42 pm

    The reason books like his cost so much is because of the price of the photography–and hiring a printer who can reproduce the images in the appropriate quality. The names of the photographers Scott Frances and Colleen Duffley should be noted, as these are fabulous pictures. In addition, the fact that he liked it that the Lauders didn’t gut the Palm Beach house is key. He has respect for the past and sensitivity to the original architects and designers. I’m sure it is challenging to create a fabulous, modern interior using a framework from the past. I especially love his sophisticated use of mauve. I find it a hard color to use successfully. Hooray for the Lauders and his other clients. And for you for sharing him with us!

  13. Rhonda March 15, 2009 | 8:34 pm

    OMG I love that pink bathroom!
    the sink is to die for!