The very first interiors Michael Cox fell in love with were those he spied on the silver screen. “It was really the sets of old movies that sparked my interest,” the veteran interior designer and principal at Foley & Cox Home says of his earliest influences, citing the dark and gloomy drama of Sunset Boulevard and the gracious, elegant living depicted in The Philadelphia Story as integral to fully understanding the characters who inhabited those respective spaces.
After two decades in an industry marked by constant evolution, Cox remains certain of one thing: Well-crafted interiors bring the individuals who reside there to life. “We’re in the relationship business,” says Cox, whose initial approach hinges upon careful listening—in order to interpret a client’s dreams and aspirations—which has served as a springboard for collaboration since 2002 when he and Mary Foley (who retired from the business in 2017) launched Foley & Cox Interiors in New York City. Over the years, multiple project-specific buying trips took the pair to cities across Europe. At almost every turn, Cox came upon fabulous flea-market finds which—while not necessarily what he was looking for at the moment—could not be left behind. Suffice it to say, the Hudson store was born of practicality.
“Five years in, we had half a warehouse full of treasures,” says Cox, who decided a storefront was the best way to share his collection with a broader audience. Last year, Foley & Cox Home celebrated 15 years in Hudson—“an incredible community of art galleries and dealers” where Cox is proud to have established deep roots while “influencing the expansion and elevation of Warren Street,” citing his good fortune at finding a solid space in the 300-block—a desolate stretch in 2007, considering the concentration of premiere showrooms and galleries up in the 500- and 600-blocks—that suits his growing business well.
“One thing grew out of the other,” says Cox of the unexpected path his interior design firm forged from Manhattan due north to Columbia County. In the former, he’s committed to creating bespoke interiors from a wide palette of possibilities that become the most personal place of all for his clients: home. In the latter, Cox and his team offer folks a shopping destination that reflects their overall aesthetic with inventory including newly produced pieces from skilled artisans he’s worked with over the years alongside collectible vintage and antique items—all carefully curated and design driven.
Whether looking to freshen up your own interior or find a last-minute hostess gift for a long weekend upstate, Foley & Cox Home is well worth the trip. Cox depicts just a sliver of what one might find while perusing the extensive inventory beginning with a one-of-a-kind antique desk, procured in Italy and embellished by Fornasetti in Milan with a custom key pattern over its top—evidence of both the designer’s characteristic style and an exciting new collaboration. Then, there’s the whole stack of vintage letters, “handwritten in beautiful calligraphy” upon patinaed paper that Cox stumbled upon in Paris and had framed as artwork—“almost like wallpaper—which has sparked a lot of conversation,” he says. There are charming ceramic lamps, direct from Brussels—boasting a beautiful, stony palette in an unusually diminutive size—and squirrels.
“I have this thing for collecting [them],” says Cox of a quirky theme that ends up in various places—at present in a rather life-like, hand-painted pitcher (complete with a brown bushy tail turned handle) from a line of Vista Alegre dinnerware made in Portugal. Suffice it to say, Cox now speaks the language of home. Literally. His first book, Language of Home: The Interiors of Foley & Cox, presents 24 projects that reflect the breadth and depth of the Foley & Cox portfolio. “It’s a very significant milestone,” says Cox of his firm’s first 20 years, the genesis of this newest project—“a visual celebration of the time, energy and effort dedicated to creating these beautiful spaces for our clients,” says Cox while underscoring the myriad collaborative partnerships with all the vendors and architects, artisans and contractors the design team has worked with over the years. The book, published by Monacelli, is due out this month.
Cox says he would be remiss if he didn’t mention another of his original influences, namely the “eclectic, eccentric, and constantly evolving interiors of Auntie Mame—a wholly unconventional and progressive woman whose environs (as evidenced by Number 3 Beekman Place, circa 1928) could be distilled to the far-flung places she visited around the world.”
“Decorating and interiors were part of her global travels and an indication of her [myriad] influences from different places and cultures,” says Cox, striking a chord that resonates incredibly well.
Foley & Cox Home, 317 Warren Street, Hudson