Brian del Toro grew up on Long Island in a home that was full of antiques and memories. His mother had an interest in design, but in a way that brought order and nostalgia to a space. Furniture was placed to encourage conversation and objects were meant to be touched and admired. Many of the objects that belonged to del Toro’s mother and his grandmother now decorate his apartment in New York City.
The idea that items are to be cherished and kept for many generations can be seen in del Toro’s traditional style of interior design which uses old photographs, art, mirrors, furniture, and warm lighting to give a space a timeless, yet personal feel.
A Student of Art
Del Toro graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art. His love of fine art has taken him to Italy, England, China, as well as places throughout the U.S. where he has been able to study the many different styles of art and design. Art has taught del Toro valuable lessons in color and texture.
When planning a design for a room, he looks at how objects will interact with each other or provide contrast. He also learned about size and scale and making a single object a focal point that can set the tone for the entire room. That object can provide the color palette, the atmosphere, accentuating furniture and wall hangings, and everything needed for the completed look and feel.
Show House Success
Del Toro had the honor of being chosen for this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Manhattan where an antique screen that he had bought at an auction was used to set the theme for the entire room he had been assigned.
“I pulled all the colors in the screen out into the room. The taupe of the background I used in the silk curtains, and had a special fabric printed up for the walls, which was done by a company called Quadrille. The rest of the colors in the room are soft greens. All the different shades of green that are in the screen I pulled out into the linens on the bed, the lamps beside the bed, into the chair seats and benches, and the antique rug at the foot of the bed.”
This is the second time that del Toro has been chosen to decorate a room for the Manhattan Kips Bay Decorator Show House. In an interview with House Tipster Industry, del Toro explained how he wanted the bedroom to have a very feminine feel. “I did this room which is a soft, feminine, more modern take on a feminine bedroom.” Del Toro finds great success in working with a limited number of colors which is determined by a single object such as the antique garden screen. In addition to the earthy greens, Del Toro accented the room with different shades of pink from the screen that are seen in a velvet covered bench, floral pillow cases, and live flowers “to accentuate the feminine quality and make the palette a nice, soft, enveloping room.” Although the room has a very modern feel, del Toro’s placement of antique items such as the screen, furniture, and rug evoke a sense of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
Del Toro started his own interior design firm in 2010 after working with some of the top interior designers in the field. His design work has been featured in many well known home and interior design publications and he has participated in the Hampton Designer Showhouse in addition to the Kips Bay Show House. Although most of his clients are in the New York City area, he has completed projects in Arizona, Cape Cod, Palm Beach, and London. One of del Toro’s more interesting projects was for a safari company in Tanzania. He supplied CAD renderings of luxurious tents to help the company run environmentally safe safari tours in Africa.
Most of del Toro’s projects involve redesigning or accentuating existing spaces rather than new renovations. “I work on residential projects for mostly repeat clients who I’ve had long-standing relationships with,” said Del Toro. He handles all of the design work from start to finish. Clients often hire his firm to redesign a space or accommodate lifestyle changes such as a new addition to a household, or just a change in interests or hobbies. Because del Toro is able to use existing objects in a new way, the feeling of nostalgia is never lost.
The biggest problem for del Toro, is often making a client understand his vision before it has all come together. Explaining how objects will be placed and colors and lighting used only goes so far. His end goal is for the space to be a reflection of the client’s wishes, but it is often easier to just do it than explain it. With Show Houses, no explanation is necessary. The final project is unveiled and people only see the end result. They aren’t concerned about what it took to get there.
Del Toro’s traditional design style has brought him great praise which he contributes to growing up in a large and comfortable house on Long Island. Cherished objects, furniture, and art should be displayed and accentuated, not hidden.
His ability to work with classic furniture and primary colors in a way that makes a room feel new, yet comforting is what makes his existing clients keep coming back and new clients eager to see the finished results. Although he did not set out to become an interior designer, del Toro’s love and understanding of art and fine furnishing has gained him an impressive reputation in the design world.
Check out below the full video coverage from our special interview with Brian at Kips Bay Show House 2018: