How the Dame Owners Decorated Their New Restaurant, Lord’s
Four months into sourcing décor for her new restaurant, Lord’s, Patricia Howard became fixated by a certain fixture: toilet paper holders.
“There are infinite options,” she said.
Ms. Howard, 31, paid special attention to designing the restaurant’s two bathrooms because when patrons leave the loud dining room, they should “escape to this pretty place,” she said. The smaller bathroom is wallpapered in House of Hackney’s Hollyhocks print, an explosive floral pattern that’s part cottagecore, part acid trip. The bigger bathroom (it’s still small) features House of Hackney’s Blackthorn wallpaper, which has a darker floral motif inspired by an 1892 print of the same name.
To complement the gothic Blackthorn wallpaper, Ms. Howard considered buying a Victorian-era toilet paper holder, which can cost as much as $250 on eBay. Wanting to spend less — these were toilet paper holders, after all — she took her search to the website Overstock, where she found a $37 brass replica holder stamped with the words “The Crown Toilet Fixture,” and beneath them, “Patent N: 15254.”
“It looks like something you’d find in an English castle bathroom,” Ms. Howard said, adding, “I’m a perfectionist on a budget.”
For Lord’s, which she opened this month on LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village with her co-owner and fiancé, the chef Ed Szymanski, the budget for interior design was roughly $400,000, much of which went to contractors and labor. Though double their interior-design budget for Dame, the 25-seat fish-and-chips shop they opened last year in Greenwich Village, they had about four times as much space to decorate at Lord’s, which can seat 60.
With lots of offal, including meltingly tender tripe and a potpie made with pig’s trotters, the nose-to-tail menu at Lord’s could be described as a fancier and meatier sibling to Dame’s menu. The two restaurants also have distinct visual identities but share a common element in that both are British establishments that don’t lean into that theme.
“We didn’t want flags or anything overtly British,” Ms. Howard said. “We didn’t want this to feel like walking into your grandmother’s sitting room. There are no teapots. In fact, I spent a lot of time getting rid of teapots because we took the space over from a tea parlor.”
At Dame, Ms. Howard and Mr. Szymanski, 29, who grew up in London, went with clean and minimal interiors — rattan and light wood furniture, a deep blue accent wall, some white tile work — to keep the shoe-box-size space airy. Its look was shaped by Anna Polonsky, who runs the hospitality consulting firm Polonsky & Friends, and her husband, Fernando Aciar, the founder of Fefo Studio, which sells ceramics and other décor.
Ms. Howard and Mr. Szymanski wanted Lord’s to look “a bit more elegant,” she said. “I was torn between an English countryside home and something like the Polo Bar.” But Ms. Polonsky and Mr. Aciar were not available for the project, so Ms. Howard got to work herself.
Her first purchase was an item that patrons would encounter before they even walked in the door: the awning. After she and Mr. Szymanski used the website Canva to design the Lord’s logo — its name in a handwritten font against a deep green background — she stopped by a sign company in Chinatown and found out it was closing. But the company agreed to make the restaurant’s green awning, and even to trim it in a gold fringe that Ms. Howard had bought after seeing vintage Campari umbrellas on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant Gem, on the Lower East Side.
Gold accents can be found inside, too. On one dining-room wall, there are two ornate gold Amelie mirrors that Ms. Howard bought for $800 each from Arhaus. And the bigger bathroom features a $132 gold faucet from Homary that, to Ms. Howard, looked an awful lot like a $1,000 brass fixture from Rejuvenation. It’s the same faucet installed at Dame, where it “gets a lot of compliments,” Ms. Howard said.
“I was watching a lot of ‘Bridgerton’ and ‘Gilded Age’ for design inspiration,” she added. “I wanted more, but I didn’t want it to turn into Trump Tower.”
To balance out the gold, the owners wanted some walls to evoke worn plaster, a look they didn’t have a century or two to achieve naturally, or the $40,000 to pay an artist and design firm to recreate. Instead, they hired a painter to apply Portola Paints’ Patagonia, a cream-colored Roman clay, or plaster finish, that starts at $26 a quart. Other interior walls were painted with Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green, a deep emerald color that starts at $53 a gallon.
Diners who get a seat at Lord’s — whose sister restaurant can get so crowded that even Jennifer Lawrence has been turned away (“Oops,” Ms. Howard said) — may notice that some of its tabletops are cut from a minty green marble or a soft gray quartzite called Fantasy Macauba. Both were bought from Colonna Marble in the Bronx, which Ms. Howard said is known for fabricating restaurant furniture but less known for selling excess materials from past projects, like the marble and quartzite she bought.
Other tabletops were made with black walnut by Joe Ogrodnek, the former chef of Battersby in Brooklyn, who answered Ms. Howard’s call for carpenters on Instagram. Mr. Ogrodnek also created wood bases for the tables at Lord’s, as well as its curvy wooden banquettes and the three arched wood shelving units behind the bar, whose shape was inspired by the bar at the upscale French restaurant Le Coucou.
Ms. Howard originally wanted chandeliers that recalled the custom lighting created for Le Coucou by the interior design firm Roman and Williams before settling on the prefabricated Hayes chandelier from West Elm, which starts at $500.
Most of the restaurant’s tableware is a mishmash of secondhand china, cutlery and glasses that Ms. Howard and Mr. Szymanski found at flea markets in Paris, London, Sicily, Rome and the Catskills. Using mismatched antiques was as much a financial decision as a way to achieve the look of a lived-in English cottage that the owners sought for the restaurant. “These are cheaper than Crate & Barrel, and much more beautiful and unique,” Ms. Howard said. She supplemented the old items with some new ones, including $30 plates and $22 bowls from Hot Pottery, a ceramics brand in London.
Shopping for the antique pieces was somewhere between vintage fantasy and total nightmare, she said. In Paris, they spent hours going through stacks of vintage china in a dealer’s storage unit, only to receive boxes of broken plates when their haul arrived stateside. (About two-thirds survived.)
An even more expensive mistake came when an antique host stand Ms. Howard had bought for $700 on eBay arrived. It was comically small: “If the host leaned on it, it would have rolled over,” she said. Weeks before Lord’s opened, she found a replacement: a $672 cherry wood bar table from a website called The Classy Home. “It’s so difficult to find a host stand that looks nice, they’re all TGI Fridays style,” Ms. Howard said.
On a recent Wednesday evening, after dimming the restaurant’s lights, Ms. Howard stood at the host stand adjusting the volume of a disco playlist curated by Mr. Szymanski. Guests were pouring through the door, and the mood wasn’t going to set itself.