Q&A With Don Ricardo Massenburg
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Don Ricardo Massenburg: Creative arts have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was music, dance, painting, or drama, I have always been involved in creative art activities. Although I did not initially pursue interior design as a career, I knew that my job as a teacher was not going to fulfill my yearning for the arts, so I poured my passion into the styling of my first apartment. I entered photos of that apartment into an online interior design contest hosted by Apartment Therapy. That contest and the feedback I received (I styled that place on a teacher’s salary, so the feedback wasn’t all positive) pushed me to pursue interior design as a hobby and then career.
I began to take interior design courses and worked alongside an upholsterer who taught me the ins and outs of sewing. I loved upholstery and started to make and sell cushion covers and fabric headboards. The success of the headboards was exciting. When I delivered and installed a headboard, I would style the space with pillows and other accessories, and then posted the photos on social media and buy/sell/trade sites. From there, the demand shifted from customers only wanting a headboard or upholstery work, to them inquiring about full room design.
C: How would you describe your style?
DRM: Classic. Modern. Luxurious. I love high-end furniture pieces with an unexpected and bold pop of color! I typically like to start with a monochromatic foundation and then layer the space with texture and color using accessories. Modern glam is very popular right now, so I market those heavily but I pride myself on style versatility. I have experience working for clients with diverse style desires and I have had success with traditional, farmhouse, midcentury, eclectic, and tons of other styles.
C: Favorite room in the house?
DRM: I am good in the bedroom! Hahahaha… I love bedroom projects because this space is where comfort and coziness are at the forefront. I like to layer bedding and pile on the texture with fabrics and pillows. Clients are typically open to darker more bold tones in their bedroom, which allows me to create a moody and romantic retreat for them. I truly believe home should be the ultimate destination, so I strive to create a sense of intimacy and coziness to make the client feel like they retreat to a luxurious hotel each night.
C: Design rule you don't subscribe to?
DRM: All of them! I break the rules of design all the time, but I believe that you must know the rules before you can start breaking them. I tell new and aspiring designers to take courses and learn the basics. Once you know the rules of design, then start to create your own waves.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
DRM: I recently completed a bright colorful bedroom for a 7-year-old. I was able to have fun with large-scale patterned wallpaper and primary colors. I used a super cool swivel chair and filled a jar lamp with gumballs. Kid’s décor just allows me to have fun and their reactions to their new spaces are priceless.
C: Favorite pattern?
DRM: I am a textile guy. I enjoy working with upholstery, drapery, pillows, anything fabric. Houndstooth is my favorite pattern to use for fabric. It’s a classic pattern that always adds a touch of luxury to a space.
C: What is “good design” to you?
DRM: Good design never gets old or dated. It is timeless. I advise my clients to select color palettes or furniture pieces that will stand the test of time, rather than going with trends. Good style and taste are always in style.
C: Pack your bag! You're moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
DRM: Does anyone watch Empire? Talk about luxe, over the top set design and style. Each space has amazing trim work and detail. I enjoy seeing the dark lush drapery and oversized furnishings in the spaces. There’s an executive chair in Lucious Lyon’s office that has to be about 8 feet tall.
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
DRM: Don’t forget the practical stuff. If you want your guests to leave their shoes at the front door, have an organized place to store them. Plan for coat and purse storage. Make sure you have enough seating for the expected number of guests. Are extra supplies handy in the powder room?
C: Best advice for DIYers?
DRM: I actually used to write a DIY column for an online décor magazine. There seems to be a YouTube tutorial for everything and a lot of them are really helpful. Just be realistic about what you can actually execute. Look at several different tutorials and pull details from each one before you start. The reviews, comments, and questions are super important. That’s where you’ll find the one missing step that everyone else realized was not there when they attempted the project.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
DRM: I find it best to use a contractor or company that someone you know has used before. You want a detailed review of the experience and level of service. Don’t always go with the lowest price.
C: What is one design trend are you most excited about this season?
DRM: Neutrals have been the go-to for some time now. Gray this and gray that, farmhouse this and farmhouse that. I’m excited that bold color is in now and the design world is all about it! Bold, rich jewel tones such as amethyst, sapphire, emerald, and ruby are showing up in more showrooms and designs and I’m here for it!
C: How do you take your coffee?
DRM: Hold the coffee and give me a copper mug. I want a Moscow Mule!