Brett Helsham Is the Rising Star Designer You Need to Know About
Who: New York–based Brett Helsham’s globetrotting childhood—the decorator has lived in Hong Kong, South Korea, Belgium, and Italy—provided her with an informal, worldly design education. “Being exposed to so many places gave me a foundation for understanding different styles of decor,” she says.
What: Inviting rooms that champion strong, sleek materials with a feminine edge. “I like a sofa you can cannonball into and a coffee table you can dance on,” says Helsham. To lend interest, she often devises atypical floor plans or incorporates accessories in unconventional ways. “Sometimes you need to do something opposite to how you think it should be done—to turn it on its head.”
When: Upon graduating from New York University in 2005 with degrees in communication and Italian, Helsham began working in fashion public relations, but found herself “drawn more to textiles than fashion.” In 2009, after “bribing my friends to let me design their apartments so I could build a portfolio,” Helsham enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design, working for Wettling Architects while completing the master’s program. She struck out on her own in 2014.
Where: Helsham is wrapping up a 6,000-square-foot Upper West Side townhouse, where she has paired monkey-print Fornasetti wallpaper with floral Osborne & Little draperies in the living room and kitted out a bright-green office with pink furniture. “But I always keep bedrooms serene,” she points out, describing the master suite’s bone-inlay bed frame and white velvet curtains.
Why: “Everyone has a different aesthetic. It’s my job to help clients realize their individual style.”
A version of this article appeared in the April 2017 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Rising Star: Brett Helsham.