by Saxon Henry Miami Beach-based realtor Gary Hennes has a genius for eclecticism that makes any interior space he occupies standout. His home on the beach is a light-filled space full of treasures that he has collected over the years with an eye to quality and a knack for snagging pieces for a steal. “I love beautiful objects,” he says. “I’ve always loved form.” At his own admission, Hennes gets it honest, as his mother made an art of making an eclectic home “read” like a highly sophisticated environment where grown-ups lived and kids learned the discipline of nesting in style. “For mom, everything was about presentation, even when she cooked,” he explains. This penchant for packaging had its foibles. “More than once, I came home from school and the whole house was rearranged!” he quips. The lessons in eclecticism began when his mother inherited cherished family heirlooms, which the late mid-century-style home they occupied didn’t welcome easily. A young Hennes watched as she made everything relate seamlessly. “I don’t think your eye plays tricks on you when you see environments that work and those that don’t work,” he says. “You have to trust your sense of style and let it guide you.” The stylish environment he has created in his own home is all the more surprising given his ability to ferret out items with pedigree at a fraction of the weighty cost many collectors plunk down for vintage furniture. “I definitely like what most people would call ‘the find,’” he explains, “but creating successful interiors is as much about editing as it is about what is contained in each space.”
Recently, Hennes turned his attention to his office by incorporating a walled-off double-height volume adjacent to the original one-story space and adding architecturally interesting detailing. Then he brought vintage finds into the spaces to lend the rooms cosmopolitan warmth. For those who think any renovation is highly costly, he accomplished the update on a reasonable budget. Hennes sees the office as an extension of his residence, and he notes that since he spends more time at work than at home, he saw the importance of making the intimately-scaled space as personable as possible. “This was an opportunity for me to be expressive,” he says. “I’m a good observer and I enjoy using the ideas I’ve gleaned in my own spaces.” His advice for someone wanting to collect: “Have fun with the hunt. The satisfaction is in finding things that speak to you.” Don’t be afraid to experiment, either, he says. “I sometimes see interiors I’ve created a couple of years after the fact and I think, ‘OMG’!” This is normal, he believes, as perspectives shift over time and a sense of style is an ever-evolving process. Patience is also a crowning virtue when searching for good-looking furnishings. “For the evolving person, collecting and nesting are ongoing pursuits,” he explains. “These activities are never finished until the day you die.” Lastly, use your instincts when you see a piece of furniture, an accessory or a piece of art that speaks to you. “I’ve brought things home that I had no idea where they would fit,” he remarks. “It’s why I have a garage, which is where things go until I know exactly where they go!” When it comes to favorite designers, he prefers to emulate people who have lived design rather than those who have studied it. “I live in a glass house so everything is seen from the outside,” he says. “As soon as I pull my car into the driveway, my home and everything in it welcomes me. That, to me, is the sign of a well designed, highly personal space.”
One classic Hennes anecdote is a good one to take away in terms of thinking through purchases before you put the money on the table, even if the price is a steal. “When the owners were selling off the contents of the Revere Hotel because Gianni Versace was demolishing it to make room for his pool,” he explains. “I bought the sectional sofa that had been in the lobby. It was white vinyl and filled with soot. I don’t know how many bottles of Windex I went through trying to get it clean!” Had he taken the time to “kick the tires,” so to speak, that sectional might have been someone else’s prize. “That was one hell of an uncomfortable sofa!” In the world according to Hennes, this is all in a life’s work. “I live to learn,” he says. “If you love where you’re living, changing your spaces an infinite number of times isn’t unsettling, it’s incredibly satisfying. As a matter of fact, talking about this is making me want to go home and rearrange my furniture tonight!” See other images of Hennes’ office here.