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The Last Word with Cynthia Rowley

The sport fashion and furniture designer has a vision for your home.

Cynthia, you’ve broadened your design business from fashion to lifestyle. How would you describe the Cynthia Rowley customer? She’s fun and full of life. She loves to be adventurous and try new things.


The home collection you’ve designed for Hooker Furniture has three distinct “personas”—Curious, Sporty and Pretty. Do these reflect different aspects of your own personality? That’s definitely what I aspire to! I try to incorporate these attributes into all aspects of design—from fashion to accessories to home décor.


Do items from the three personas mix well in a room? They definitely are meant to be mixed in a room, the way you do with your wardrobe. This is what makes a room exciting, unexpected and individual.


All of the pieces you’ve designed are vehicles for transforming a home environment. What kinds of spaces do you hope people will create in their homes? Sometimes it’s hard to be daring with décor because it’s difficult to imagine what things will look like together in a room. But my philosophy is: If you buy things you really love, they’ll all work together. What’s better than coming home at the end of the day to a space you really love?


Complete this sentence: The most important element in a room is…        …personal style and an overarching vision for what the room should look like. Without going overboard, a little bit of a theme or a color story can keep things cohesive.

Come summer, designer and surfer Cynthia Rowley can be found on the beaches of Montauk, New York. Not surprisingly, her interior designs have an adventurous quality. In the spirited home office, a shaggy-seated Swanson side chair cozies up to a Fleur de Glee writing
desk, which is finished in Rowley’s signature floral print.

Should rooms be fun? Yes, 150 percent! I like pieces that are fun, beautiful and functional.


What’s your pet peeve in home décor? Beige.


Before you got your start in fashion design, you aspired to be a painter. Clearly you see the world with a painterly eye. Does your training as a painter inform the process of designing? It’s all the same to me. The creative process transcends the context.


With your love of surfing and swimming, it’s clear that water exerts a pull in your life. Does the water influence your designs? Being in the water is where I find my happy place. Having this as a part of my life definitely inspires me.

The living room shows a sporty Varick chaise and love seat flanked by a Horizon Line accent table.

From what else do you draw inspiration as a designer? Anything and everything. Travel and some death-defying adventures always get me going. Check out my latest excursion on our social media @CynthiaRowley


What are your favorite travel destinations? I don’t usually like to go places twice, unless it’s my beloved Montauk, so the list is always growing. To name a few, Bhutan, Iceland, anywhere in Africa, Cuba, Tobago, Costa Rica, Peru….


Where haven’t you traveled yet that you’re itching to see? I’m trying to tick off all the seven wonders of the world. There are seven natural, seven ancient and seven modern—oh, and Stevie Wonder ;). It may take me a while, but I’m determined.

In a pretty bedroom setting, a gilt and velvet-upholstered king bed takes center stage.

  • How to: Create Deeply Personal Spaces - The most delightful rooms to live in are deeply personal—beautiful, relaxing, filled with cherished objects and not overly “decorated.” While there are no hard-and-fast rules for creating deeply personal spaces, these eight guideposts will steer you on your way.
  • Brooklyn Revolution - When a couple got the chance to renovate an apartment on storied Montague Street, downsizing felt like an upgrade.
  • High and Mighty - Towering above Lincoln Center, this Deco-inspired pied-à-terre is all about the views.
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