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Design

This Manhattan Shop is Full of Decorating Gems

May 20, 2020

Kate Rheinstein Brodsky is the mastermind and tastemaker behind KRB, the Manhattan boutique that has become the top source for every designer and editor in the know.

For Kate Rheinstein Brodsky, the apple doesn’t fall far from the design tree. She is, after all, the daughter of Suzanne Rheinstein, the renowned Los Angeles decorator and owner of the now-closed but beloved shop Hollyhock. After a long

Kate Rheinstein Brodsky, the brilliant mind behind KRB.Taylor Jewell

stint in the publishing world, the former Elle Decor editor decided it was time to open an emporium of her own, and in 2014 KRB was born. Brimming with everything from 19th-century architectural engravings and contemporary photographs to hand-blown glass hurricanes and cerused-oak tables, visiting the boutique—on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—is like wandering into an Aladdin’s cave of new and antique decor. You never know what treasure you might stumble upon—and that is the genius of Brodsky. She has an exceptionally keen eye for uncovering talent from near and far, whether it’s charming floral drawings by the legendary editor Marian McEvoy or exquisite (and whimsical!) French ceramics courtesy of La Tuile à Loup and Jean Roger.

As KRB super-fans, we jumped at the chance to ask Brodsky a few questions about the store’s beginnings, how and where she discovers such unique artisans and finds, and what she considers her mom’s best advice.

 

The inside of KRB is filled with a kaleidoscopic assortment of scarlet-hued Louis XVI chairs, hand-blown glasses, and porcelain ginger jars.Lesley Unruh

How do you source this amazing inventory?

Everywhere and anywhere! I travel less than I did before I had three children, but when I do, I always try and take a day to shop. I also stop by auctions and fairs, and occasionally take pieces on consignment from designers. With artists and craftspeople, some approach me, some I happen across. I’ve even found people on Instagram!

What attracts you to each piece?

With furniture, I try to balance fabulous over-the-top carved 18th-century Italian mirrors with handsome, useful pieces like 19th-century English butler’s trolleys. I am also deeply attracted to the handmade. I think people yearn for that in today’s often digital, mass-produced world, and I like the back-and-forth process of commissioning pieces that resonate with our clients.

Who were the first artists you signed on to carry in the shop? The first new pieces I carried at the store were fabulous urns from Christopher Spitzmiller and great looking scalloped lacquer trays by Rita Konig for The Lacquer Company.

A handsome trio of Freddie drinks tables by KRB.

Can you reveal who your very first customer was? Believe it or not, it was Mario Buatta! I had invited a ton of people to KRB’s opening party and he showed up about four hours early. We were still setting up and there was paper on the windows, but who ever said no to Mario? He was very encouraging, wished me luck, and bought a book!

What function do you see KRB filling in the design industry? I like to think that we are both a first stop and a last stop for designers. We have wonderful pieces you can build a room around, but we also excel at the last layer—those finishing touches that make a room gel, like drinks tables, hurricanes, art large and small, pillows and lampshades.

A colorful array of pleated linen lampshades.

Did growing up with a mother who was a decorator impart you with any insider knowledge as to what designers are looking for or what they need? When I choose a piece of furniture or an object for the store, I am always thinking about how someone could use it. As in, “This mirror is a great scale for a powder room,” or, “A pair of these étagères would make a fabulous room divider,” or, “That large contemporary photograph would be an excellent foil to a Hepplewhite sideboard.”

A charming group of ink drawings by former legendary editor Marian McEvoy.

What’s the best decorating advice you’ve ever received? If you buy one great piece of furniture each year, in five years you will have five great pieces! It’s something my mother has always stressed: quality, not quantity. She specifically meant it about buying antiques, but I think it’s great advice for any furniture or accessory pieces in your home.

And now a few rapid-fire questions! 

What are the three tools you can’t live without? My iPhone, a measuring tape, a Moleskine notebook.

Your favorite thing to look at? My three girls.

The most magical place on Earth? My mother’s garden in Los Angeles.

What’s on your nightstand? I just finished reading Codename Helene, which I really enjoyed.

What are your current jams? I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts—”The Daily,” “AD Aesthete”—I always learn something from Mitch Owens. And designer Paloma Contreras just started her podcast, “The Style Files,” and has tons of great guests.

Name a few things you love at home: Ironed sheets from Leontine Linens and lots of new and vintage books.

Best spot to hang in your hometown? The porch of my mother’s house—I promise, everyone will come visit you there.

What’s part of your daily routine that you positively can’t miss? The New York Times‘s Spelling Bee—worthwhile procrastination.