Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 11/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Jeffrey Thrasher tends to work in an easy, modern vein. "That's what my south Florida clients usually request," says the principal of Thrasher Design Company. But sometimes the Kentucky native's instincts tug him in the opposite direction. "I have sort of a double life," he explains. "I grew up surrounded by antiques—I've been collecting since before I learned to drive."
Thrasher's own 2,000-square-foot one-bedroom in Miami Beach gave him license to mix vintage and antique favorites in a loftlike setting. In the living area, for example, Middle Eastern and Asian objects and American 19th-century furniture offer a rejoinder to a 1957 acrylic chair, a George Nakashima walnut bench, and a contemporary cork lounge chair by Kevin Walz. The collection is diverse, but pieces share a spirit of purity and quality, says Thrasher—be that the hand-carved detailing on the bedroom's mid-1800's beech-wood chairs or the shower's textured wall of variegated beach pebbles, curated by Thrasher himself.
In lesser hands, the decor might read as the visual equivalent of a boisterous cocktail party, with multiple conversations jostling for attention. "It all works together if you continually pare down and edit," says Thrasher. ("And it helps to have a storage facility," he adds as an aside.)
He often purchases in twos, so offbeat items have company. In the living area, two splay-legged wooden stools from Ethiopia squat beside double Barcelona chairs in caramel leather. Nearby, a pair of embroidered-leather hassocks from Morocco and a duo of wheeled Karl Springer telephone tables cozy up to a deep window seat. The Xorel-covered cushions, actually handmade twin-size mattresses, can serve as guest quarters.
Thrasher's disciplined approach to two- and three-dimensional composition holds chaos at bay as well. "There's no patterning here to speak of, besides some inlaid furniture and the artwork," he says, gesturing to a cartoonish Kenny Scharf oil on canvas hanging in the living area and a batallion of David Seidner's soft-focus Cibachromes propped along the tinted-concrete floor nearby. "Everything is low-key, which contributes to the restfulness and keeps the space grounded."
Many pieces were purchased on Thrasher's world travels: an undulating Syrian chest surfaced in mother-of-pearl and ivory, an Indian marble cocktail table inlaid with semiprecious stones. Other acquisitions are from his ancestral backyard, found at estate sales and antiques shops in bluegrass country. By the kitchen, an 1840's Shaker-style cherry-wood cabinet houses dishware. His desk, piled with reference books on American antiques and collectibles, is actually a 19th-century cherry-wood farm table.
Thrasher sleeps on a spool-turned walnut four-poster from the 1860's. Architecturally, however, his combined bedroom-bathroom reflects today's pragmatism. "To get as much space as possible," he explains, "I made two rooms one." He can practically roll out of bed and into his stainless-steel soaking tub—almost Shaker in its form and functionalism. Adjacent, an Austrian 1880's silver-framed mirror hangs above a cantilevered glass countertop with an integrated sink.
Plumbing fixtures are pretty much all that stays put in the apartment, which Thrasher frequently rearranges. "It's important to let design projects mature," he says. "The space comes together piece by piece, moment by moment. I'm in no hurry."