Livia Cetti made her first wedding bouquet—for a family friend—when she was just seven. “I had hippie parents,” she says. “My father was an artist/contractor and my mother was the crazy mom who whipped up tofu from scratch and kept a full-size loom in her bedroom.” Livia grew up in the mountains of Santa Barbara with chickens and cows in the yard and acres of cactus gardens. She went on to study art at the San Francisco Art Institute, but worked for florists all along the way—which led to her becoming an editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Livia now has her own studio known as The Green Vase and is celebrated for her botanical stylings—when Tiffany wants to fill its Fifth Avenue windows with cyclamen, she’s the one they turn to, and when exotica, such as flowering cherry branches are needed in November for a Burt’s Bees ad campaign, she concocts exact lookalikes out of other fresh plant parts. Livia is equally known for her paper creations: She’s the author of two how-to books on the subject, including the new The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations. And though she long ago left California for NYC, she’s even created a facsimile of her bohemian childhood home, backyard chickens included, in a hidden corner of the Bronx. Come see.
Photography by Kate Mathis.
“It was a mishmash of ugly: Every surface upstairs and down was either wallpapered or linoleumed,” says Livia. Danny opened up the compact downstairs by creating twin arched passageways between living room and dining room/kitchen.
John Derian was the first to sell Livia’s paper flowers, and for the opening of Astier de Villatte’s Paris shop last spring, she was flown out to create a giant Victorian-inspired paper arrangement. The terracotta head is Nigerian and dates to the 15th century; it was a holiday present from their neighbor friend Bruce Frank, owner of Bruce Frank Primitive Art.
Livia is an avid collector of vintage exotica, and she especially loves embroidered textiles—her sofa is draped in a dropcloth, a backdrop for her round-the-world collection of pillows. Her best source? “My mother is an antiques dealer [her shop is the Green Vase Antiques], and she’s always texting me photos and sending me her finds. If I get tired of something, it gets shipped to her shop; we have a constant give and take going.”
The counter is a placeholder—it’s two Ikea Hällestad boards ($109 each) with metallic edging—until the time is right to replace it with marble or Caesarstone. The sink is also from Ikea and the vintage pendant light was an eBay score.
Tour the quarters of a few more creatives at home:
- Embrace the Bright: A Textile Shop Owner at Home in Brooklyn
- Setting Sail: Susan Hoff’s Live/Work Space in San Francisco
- Tough Love: A Creative Couple’s Brutalist House in Mexico City
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 9, 2016.