elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Mitchell Gold & Tim Scofield, Bob Williams & Stephen Heavner

WHEN Mitchell Gold (born 1951) arrived in Manhattan in 1974, he “was young, fresh out of college and closeted,” he recalled. He took a job selling pillows at Bloomingdale’s, and remembered going out with women and usually finding that “the waiter was more interesting, or her brother.”

He eventually began dating men and fell in love with Bob Williams. In 1989, they created the furniture company in Taylorsville, N.C., now known as Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, whose logo looks like something two lovers would carve in a tree. After 14 years together, Gold and Williams decided to go their separate romantic ways, although they remain devoted friends and business partners. Williams met and eventually settled down with Stephen Heavner, who works for MG+BW, and Gold moved forward as a solo act, but not for long.

The company makes couches and armchairs that are hip in an everyman way. Its Web site reads like a friendly blog, with the two founders writing about the importance of giving back to their communities, staying curious and avoiding mean people. (Picture: Mitchell Gold, standing, with husband Tim in their Washington loft. The chair is the Kingston, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ modern version of the classic English wing chair in pearlescent cream leather. Washington Post photo by John McDonnell))

In time, Mr. Gold and Mr. Williams became so well known that their portrait began appearing on the walls of Pottery Barn, which sells their furniture. It was at a store in Chevy Chase, Md., that Tim Scofield first saw Mr. Gold’s photo. Mr. Scofield (born 1977) was working there while studying for a degree in American history at the University of Maryland.

He recalled how he used to stare at the picture and admire Mr. Gold’s cool half-smile and the faded blue jeans that made him look more like a teenager than an executive. (Mr. Gold calls himself the chair-man.)

The couple enjoy a quiet moment at their reception, Stephen Mally for The New York Times

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

Tim Scofield, left, and Mitchell Gold, center, with Judge Robert B. Hanson standing between them, and guests, Stephen Mally for The New York Times

Mitchell Gold and Tim Scofield's Washington DC apartment: Windows overlooking Washington’s Meridian Hill Park fill the Gold loft with light. In the dining area, a charcoal gray shag rug and sage green curtains help define the space in the open plan layout, Washington Post photo by John McDonnell

Tim Gold assembled a vintage sound system using a 1970s receiver and turntable and early 1980s cassette deck, a look and sound that go perfectly with the lounge vibe in the living room of his Washington home, Washington Post photo by John McDonnell

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams like to test-drive their company’s wares in their midtown Manhattan apartment, Photograph by William Waldron

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams's New York apartment: In the living room, a quartet of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Major chairs echoes the clean lines of a Noguchi floor lamp, Photograph by William Waldron

The white leather and chrome Dean armchair is a new introduction from MG+BW. A NASA photograph of Saturn’s rings hangs on a wall painted in Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal HC-166, Photograph by William Waldron

An MG+BW Josie sectional upholstered in multiple fabrics sits in the southeast corner of the long living room, which adjoins the open kitchen. The artwork is by Karen Cappotto, Photograph by William Waldron

An MG+BW Josie sectional upholstered in multiple fabrics sits in the southeast corner of the long living room, which adjoins the open kitchen. The artwork is by Karen Cappotto, Photograph by William Waldron

The painting above the bed in the Golds’ room is a $39 flea-market find. The bed linens are by Matouk; walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray HC-146, Photograph by William Waldron

Bob Williams with his dog, Stella-Lou-Bella, in his North Carolina home: It's your typical home renovation story--besotted homeowners; a charming yet seriously outdated home long admired from afar; the obligatory snowball effect; and a "quick update" that became a three-and-a-half-year overhaul. While the renovation process was par for the course, the results were anything but predictable. The 1947 Georgian Colonial in Hickory, North Carolina, painstakingly refurbished by Bob Williams and Stephen Heavner, is now a colorful yet calming home abundant with conversation pieces and collections. "For 20 years, I admired this house sitting up on the hill," says Bob, cofounder of furniture manufacturer Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. "I was just so impressed by it. We were looking for something more grown-up and sophisticated, and this house had all of that." Photographs by Colleen Duffley

Vintage pieces mix with contemporary furnishings from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in the living room. Drapery fabric is from Duralee, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

Once a closet, the wet bar in the media room is now handy when settling in to watch a movie, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

The painting above the sofa in the den was rescued from the side of the road. "Art really is in the eye of the beholder," laughs Bob, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

A dining table, chairs, and a bench, all from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, create an intimate setting under the Galaxy chandelier, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

Stephen Heavner is at the oversized island, which was designed to emulate a tall farmhouse table with mahogany turned legs and a custom beadboard base. Red pendant lights are from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

Abundant white cabinets and a stunning marble tub surround are set off by walls painted Benjamin Moore "Palladian Blue." The black chest and the chandelier are from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Photographs by Colleen Duffley

After college, Mr. Scofield spent years working in a tiny basement office at the National Postal Museum, a part of the Smithsonian in Washington, where he meticulously cataloged items in its stamp and postal history collections for the museum’s Web site. In the fall of 2006, while he was in Manhattan for an auction of rare stamps, a friend invited him out for cocktails with a group that included Mr. Gold, who was dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans. (In his wardrobe, blue jeans are as ubiquitous as yellow cabs on Fifth Avenue.)

Mr. Scofield was awestruck. “I was too shy to look into his eyes,” he recalled.

By then, Mr. Gold had broken up with Mr. Williams and expected to be single for the rest of his life. “I’d had one big love and I didn’t think I could find another,” he said.

But in Mr. Scofield, he sensed a possibility. He liked his “winsome” quality, and the fact that he seemed knowledgeable about everything from paper-making techniques to the latest legislation on gay marriage. “He was as adorable as can be, but he also had depth,” Mr. Gold said. “It was nice for me to just sit and listen and not have to be the one selling and talking.”

Mr. Gold even laughed at Mr. Scofield’s jokes, which are notoriously dry to the point of undetectable. “He’ll be talking normally and somewhere in the sentence there’s a joke,” said Alison Kilgore, Mr. Scofield’s older sister.

One of their early dates began in North Carolina and ended in the Hamptons. On another, Mr. Gold took Mr. Scofield to his parents’ house in Florida, not just for a few hours but for a few days. “I would have been unglued if someone did that to me,” Mr. Gold admitted now. “But he just goes with the flow.”

Mr. Scofield had just taken a job at an auction house in Dallas, but soon quit. “Basically, he packed his bag and came to stay,” said Mr. Gold, who lives in North Carolina and Manhattan but travels frequently for business.

It was an easy transition for both. “I spent 10 years at the Smithsonian buried within the vault of the collection, barely seeing the light of day,” Mr. Scofield said. “Traveling with Mitchell was such a contrast, and very exciting.”

Some people would never date a smoker; Mr. Gold said he could never date a clumsy conversationalist. He soon discovered that Mr. Scofield can make conversation with anyone at a party, out of almost nothing, like a chef making a great meal out of leftovers.

Although their first year together was a whirlwind, Mr. Scofield took it slowly emotionally. “Early on, Tim said to me: ‘Mitchell, I don’t fall for someone quickly. I meet someone and my love builds up,’ ” Mr. Gold recalled. “I thought that was really smart, rather than make everything quick, quick, quick.”

Mr. Gold added: “It’s not the things Tim does that I like, it’s the things he doesn’t do. He doesn’t get into a lot of drama. He doesn’t get angry. Life is just too complicated for that.”

Mr. Scofield calls himself the “old soul” in their relationship. He is the one who prefers to spend an evening reading historical literature and going to sleep early, whereas Mr. Gold “has so much energy and life,” he said. “He might spend the day in meetings with bankers, but when he comes home, he’s like a 17-year-old.”

While Mr. Gold takes him to business meetings and parties, Mr. Scofield makes a point of taking Mr. Gold to historical sites wherever they are. “I took Mitchell to a first-century catacomb in Italy and you could just see the look on his face, like, ‘Why am I here?’ ” Mr. Scofield said. “But he doesn’t complain. He just smiles.”

On June 19, 2010, they were married at the Des Moines Art Center in a wedding that was in some ways a celebration of Iowa, one of five states that permit same-sex marriages. As 92 guests, including Mr. Williams, watched, the couple said their vows before Judge Robert B. Hanson of Iowa’s Fifth Judicial District, whose 2007 ruling helped open the door to same-sex marriages in that state.

Afterward, guests wandered through an exhibition of Iowa artists, then gathered in an outdoor lounge created for the evening with white furniture supplied by Mr. Gold’s company. It featured a disco ball and the New York D.J. Lady Bunny. The grooms wore matching dark suits, and Mr. Gold was wearing his trademark half-smile.

“The world could be ending, and you wouldn’t know it with Mitchell,” Mr. Scofield said. “He’s always so calm. You want a partner like that, someone who makes you feel everything is going to be all right.”

From now on, they will be known as Mr. Gold and Mr. Gold, or the Golds.

“I’m changing my name,” Mr. Scofield said. “My grandfather’s name was Goldberg. It’s almost like going back to my roots, in a way. I think it’s very interesting that women are becoming more liberated and keeping their names, whereas gay men are becoming more traditional and changing their names.”

Today the Golds, Williams, and Heavner are fast friends, if not family. “It’s not unusual for us to share Christmas dinner,” says Williams—or even for all four of them to be in residence at the Orion, the apartment in NYC they shared, simultaneously. (Gold is even on the condo board.) “Every time I come to the apartment,” Williams muses, “I wind up staring out the windows. One of the places I can see is the YMCA, just a few blocks away, where I stayed when I first got to New York, in 1982. And I think, I never would have guessed 30 years ago that I could ever be way up here, looking out. It’s just so fantastic!”-- Jennifer Seter Wagner contributed reporting from Des Moines. A version of this article appeared in print on July 4, 2010, on page ST9 of the New York Times edition.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/fashion/weddings/04VOWS.html?_r=1&

Further Readings:

Let's Get Comfortable by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams
Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: Meredith Books (March 6, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0696234300
ISBN-13: 978-0696234309
Amazon: Let's Get Comfortable

Expert advice on creating style and comfort in your home

You've seen their relaxed, comfortable furniture in Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams stores, Pottery Barn, and Bloomingdales, and admired their accessories while watching Sex & the City or Friends. Now you can learn from Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams themselves how to create gorgeous, yet completely comfortable style in your own home. Inspiring color photos, floor plans and step-by-step instructions show you how to decorate and design your home, plus arrange furniture and color schemes to make any room an oasis of comfort and personal style.

More Designers at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art

More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance

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Tags: days of love tb, lgbt designers

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