“Well-rounded” seems like a bit of an understatement when it comes to Anthony Dunning. He’s a classically trained opera singer, successful realtor and home stager, consignment shop owner, artist—and did we mention he’s a sought-after interior designer, too? “My arts background really taught me how to set a scene, but also how we relate to space in terms of an environment,” says the Ohio-born, New York-based founder of Traders Haven Design. “Running a store, I learned the importance of the relationships that you build and the integrity that you have. And the real estate experience helped me see design from the sales side—at the end of the day, interior design is about selling your ideas!”
Dunning prides himself on creating truly one-of-a-kind spaces for each of his clients, pulling from his personal toolkit to curate the perfect mix of vintage pieces and artwork (some of them his own creations), employing tried-and-true staging tricks (always hang your curtains as close to the ceiling as possible, he advises), and finishing it all off with a dose of theatrical flair (Broadway still beckons, after all!). “I’m less concerned about giving the client my ‘look’ and more interested in using my personal philosophy and principles to design something new,” he says. “When I cut the ribbon for the final reveal, I want them to say, ‘I’m home!’”
How did you get into interior design?
When I was a realtor I began staging homes for sale, which led to opening to furniture consignment shops, and from there I began working on clients’ interiors.
What project are you the proudest of and why?
My Central Park West apartment, which was featured in House Beautiful! I have been living and working in NYC for years, and for the first time, I feel like a true New Yorker. I was able to surrender myself to the architecture of the place and allow myself to design regardless of what I considered to be my aesthetic. For that reason, the apartment truly took on a life of its own.
What sets your work apart?
My work is based on curiosity, memory and an organic approach to each client or entity’s lifestyle and needs.
What or who was your first design crush? Your current design crush?
My first design crush was Woodson and Rummerfield—I still dig everything they do! Some of my current crushes are Jean-Louis Denoit, Darryl Carter, Corey Damien Jenkins, Alexa Hampton, Ken Fulk, Timothy Corrigan, and Axel Vervoordt.
For under $100—or even for free!—what decorating trick that has the most impact?
Simply hanging your curtains close to the ceiling, and painting your ceiling and trim the same color as the walls.
What’s overrated in decorating?
What’s your favorite…
Room: The former living room of Violy McCausland and Frederico Sève in New York, overlooking the Natural History Museum. I think it is the best living room in Manhattan, and maybe even the world. I love the vast amounts of art on display.
Paint color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore—it looks good with everything!
Artist or piece: Cy Twombly and Mark Rothko. Their work really speaks to me as a creative.
Local shopping destination: Organic Modernism in New York. They have them most amazing pieces that are showstoppers when you need a little drama!
Item to pick up when traveling: Knobs and hardware—fun and easy to transport in a suitcase!
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