Photography by Scott Johnson, Hawks Photography
Phil Long, an iconic designer, is a master at decorating homes and producing events locally and internationally. This year, for Valentine’s Day, he has a celebration planned for some of his closest friends – ages 21 to 81.
The setting is his new bi-level loft in Tulsa’s historic Mayo Hotel, where he moved recently after downsizing from a longtime residence near Philbrook Museum of Art. After waiting for a loft for several years, he is ecstatic to call the Mayo his new home.
“For this party, my personal atmosphere will be 50 shades of pink,” says Long, making a pun on the racy yet popular Fifty Shades of Grey book and movie series. “Like so many others, I have slung tones – shades – of gray and neutrals from coast to coast. Red is overdone, especially on the day we celebrate love for one another.”
Long blames “tired elves” for splashing too much red too early for Christmas decorations.
“I chose pink as my color theme for this event, just to tempt the attendees to be daring,” he says. “It’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Pink lights create a soft, inviting statement.”
Long believes “Valentine’s Day celebrations are now in vogue. The evening doesn’t have to be romantic, just have flair. I’m having a diverse group of friends drop in for the evening, and that’s an effortless way to celebrate this occasion. This only requires a modicum of style and creativity.”
The evening is destined to be memorable. He’s calling this year’s party “Dom and Desserts,” and among the fare planned for his guests are exquisite chocolates from Glacier Confection and Dom Perignon Champagne from Ranch Acres.
At the end of the evening on Valentine’s Day, Long says his guests will carry the party to either the Mayo’s penthouse bar or the rooftop terrace, which boasts “a fantastic view of downtown Tulsa, especially at sunset.”
Guests find a sophisticated atmosphere in Long’s new home. He has decorated the apartment in traditional shades of taupe, beige and hues of white. The studio loft includes a steel staircase, a wire railing surrounding the upper level and LED lighting, all contemporary contrasts to traditional, classic design. He prefers to accent his neutral palette with black.
His kitchen has dark wood cabinets and natural granite on the countertops. His flooring is the terrazzo from the original Mayo construction. The architectural palladium windows are custom covered in blackout shades, which are motorized and removable.
He calls the decor “a proper mix of contemporary and mid-century furnishings accented by classic Nancy Corzine 19th-century style armchairs, upholstered in a linen damask fabric. I inherited the chairs from friends when they downsized years ago.”
Long says he chose a “mid-century modern” style of decor coordinated by many statewide designers. All interior designs need a “soul,” so some of his furnishings were designed by Charles Eames. One wall accommodates more than 100 pairs of designer shoes. His desk was custom made by Mark Hawley and it includes a piece of old, rusted iron from the hotel’s boiler room.
“A home should be current, comfortable and chic,” Long says. “Not everything in a home has to be dramatic. But a home should reflect one’s personality. In this phase of my life, decorating is all about learning how to simplify.”
The art he has collected during his design career is visually compelling. He’s especially fond of his two Picasso originals and one signed Andy Warhol silk screen. There’s an iconic photograph collection from noted designer Ralph Lauren, housed in polished chrome frames. A favorite is an original 1930s steel floor lamp from the MGM film studio, which Long found at an antique shop in Aspen, Colorado. This feature once lit movies such as Gone with the Wind.
Scott Frazier, represented by the M.A. Doran Gallery, has been one of Long’s favorite artists. Among the art is a still life of an egg on a pedestal with a white hand holding a graphic postcard. Guests enjoy the comic nature of the piece, which reflects Long’s belief that “one always has to keep his sense of humor and collect something to talk about.” On his bucket list are an abstract painting by Jeanie Gooden and a portrait from Otto Decker.
Long’s design style has been greatly influenced by his opportunity to travel this country and abroad, and to attend Broadway Theater in New York and the West End in London to experience the design and lifestyles of other cultures. His latest design project has taken him back and forth to Bermuda, where he has furnished a client’s home with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.