Partners, by design

The website for SGH Designs Inc. says it right up front — “Partners in Life and Design” — and that’s abundantly clear to anyone who spends time with Stephen and Gail Huberman.

The husband-and-wife interior designers — whose Pound Ridge home offers a dazzling glimpse into their artfully eclectic and daringly sophisticated style — have that palpable affection and easy banter of a longtime couple.

After 40 years together, 35 of those married, they have perfected the work-life balance — in their own way.

“Way back in the beginning, we would have knock-down, drag-out fights,” Gail says. “Now we don’t have those. We bicker.”

Adds Stephen with a smile, “That’s a nice, British sort of word for it.”

Whatever it is, it’s clearly working for the Hubermans, who met on a project in the 1970s.

“We started working together … it turned into a marriage,” Stephen says on a recent afternoon as the couple tours WAG through their home of the past 20 years, one they completely revamped in a style all their own.

Since the start, it’s been about collaboration, Stephen and Gail each bringing their own strengths and specialties to the union that has led them to craft an impressive portfolio of design work in the tristate area, as well as a custom-hardware line, Mrs. H’s Handles, now launching its latest collection.

Stephen, a graduate of the New York School of Interior Design, also has experience in theater and stage design, while Gail, a graduate of Adelphi University, offers expertise in the art field.

Together, the Hubermans are known for projects that weave centuries of influences and textures, styles and materials into finished projects, from single rooms to entire estates, that still manage to be distinctively modern and one of a kind.

They provide all services, coordinating everything from construction to renovations to those finishing details.

Their work has been featured in more than a dozen showhouses and, while the focus is residential, they have worked on commercial spaces.

No matter the project — a new one is for a large-scale residence that will host several generations of one family — the goal is to create livable, timeless surroundings.

“I like when we get a certain amount of latitude from a client,” Stephen says.

And that allows him and Gail to integrate their sourcing from around the world.

“I love things that have a story,” Stephen says.

A walk through the Hubermans’ home showcases pieces unearthed through an antiques dealer in Westport, another tracing its roots to Buenos Aires and still another spotted in a Paris flea market.

All, it must be said, fit together and reflect the couple’s sophisticated-yet-playful approach, echoed by everything from the countless examples of Surrealist artwork to the custom monkey-themed mural that anchors the kitchen.

No matter the provenance, the presentation remains key. Stephen points to a grand framed work — on closer inspection a collection of limited-edition wine labels.

“Clients have always said, ‘I could buy a $5 poster and if I give it to you, it looks like a work of art,’” he says of their penchant for securing top-notch framing.

Everything, it seems, can find a place — even if one has to be created.

“A lot of the things we do, not just for ourselves but for clients, is custom,” Stephen says.

Examples here include obelisk-shaped metal displays cut down to make a striking étagère set, while quirky tiles find a new home inset within a custom-crafted wooden table.

And, Gail reminds, “not everything takes a lot of money.”

It’s more ingenuity — such as the unique textured wall coverings in their formal dining room that were sparked by corrugated paper.

Thinking outside the proverbial box is what the Hubermans seem to do best.

“Once in a while we get, ‘You want to do what?’” Gail says, but more often, they convince clients that a bit of daring can lead to a big payoff.

And that’s just what they are doing with their latest avenue, the new pieces of hardware on display this afternoon in their home office. The bath and cabinet handles, which incorporate wire mesh and laser cutting, are at once industrial and elegant.

“These are our babies on the desk,” Gail says of the pieces that take their resin collection in a whole new direction.

In total, the Hubermans now offer some 70 pieces, all hand-finished.

“We started it many years ago and we had to put it on the back burner because the factory was sold,” Stephen says. But with everything now in place, he assures that the new line, is ready “for the world.”

In all their work, it seems the Hubermans bring a little something extra to the design table.

It’s just like the way a fanciful spiral staircase leads to a totally renovated basement level, now housing what Gail calls a “monster closet,” laundry room and more.

“We don’t fool around,” Gail says with a smile.

And that translates to what the Hubermans bring to their clients.

As Gail says, “We try to give them a little bit more, not what everyone else has.”

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