Meet Designer Ninze Chen-Benchev
Meet Ninze Chen-Benchev, Summer’s go-to interior designer and outfitter of our network of homes, and owner of Long Weekend, an incredibly-curated storefront boasting one-of-a-kind vintage furniture and home decor in the Catskills.
One of the driving forces behind Summer’s signature aesthetic, Ninze has furnished every home within the Summer network thus far to be beyond the wildest dreams of any homeowner and short-term renter.
How did you first get connected with the Summer team?
I first heard of Summer launch by word-of-mouth, actually! My friend, Rachael, who runs digital agency Human NYC and the Roscoe Motel, passed along my contact to founders Paul and Woods. They reached out to me shortly thereafter with the opportunity to design the first-ever Summer home in Lanesville, NY.
"My favorite part about the properties that the Summer team chooses to add to their network is that they’re situated in areas with beautiful natural surroundings– whether it be a the woods, beach or desert."
What is the overall aesthetic you aim for with furnishing homes within the Summer network?
With every Summer home that I design, the overall feel of serenity and having the home feel like a sanctuary is of utmost importance. Second homes are meant to be an escape from reality, somewhere you can temporarily forget your worries and leave your cares behind. My favorite part about the properties that the Summer team chooses to add to their network is that they’re situated in areas with beautiful natural surroundings– whether it be the woods, beach, or desert.
I look for furniture with clean lines, soft curves, and generally work with a somewhat grounded palette– one that incorporates the colors of nature. I am definitely not afraid to add in fun elements, pops of color and texture where it feels appropriate, such as a wraparound mural-wallpaper in a loft bedroom, that would otherwise have been a super-boring room if it was just painted white.
I love mixing new and vintage. It adds soul and gives the home a cozier, more livable vibe. It's about striking a balance of practical and aspirational; you want some of those beautiful designer pieces that encourage inspiration, but they also need to hold up for short-term rentals.
"I look for furniture with clean lines, soft curves, and generally work with a somewhat grounded palette– one that incorporates the colors of nature."
Tell us about your amazing store, Long Weekend! How long has it been around & where do you source your pieces?
I sell a lot of vintage primarily, and collect designer vintage mostly from 60s-70s Brazil, Italy and Scandinavia. I also have an eclectic mix of some primitive pieces, like antique benches and stools. I love the juxtaposition of clean modern lines with antique wood textures. The store's been around in Livingston Manor since 2019, and I source my vintage pieces from everywhere in the U.S. and Europe. Most recently, I brought back home textiles and handwoven rugs from Morocco.
What is your favorite room/area in a home to design/furnish?
I love furnishing the living room. I think it's probably because I'm obsessed with chairs– lounge chairs in particular–, and living rooms are comprised of seating configurations. I think it's also the room I put the most effort into making look the best.
"It's about striking a balance of practical and aspirational; you want some of those beautiful designer pieces that encourage inspiration, but they also need to hold up for short-term rentals."
Top 3 must-haves in every short term rental home?
1. Games/entertainment (I love well-designed ones from Hay, these Vintage Bookshelf edition game sets from WS Game Company and everything from The Wild Unknown)
2. Good, warm lighting - people often forget about this but I really can't stand a beautiful room being lit by a cold, white bulb, it's just wrong!
3. Again… a good lounge chair.
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