Billy Porter is known for his avant-garde fashion and statement-making red carpet looks, so it’s no surprise that his sense of home design is similarly fabulous. And when Airbnb was looking for someone to choose the recipients of the Unique Airbnb Fund—a program the company is launching to find and finance unconventional, creative spaces—the Pose star was a shoo-in.
The Emmy Award winner will work with Kristie Wolfe (an Airbnb Superhost whose Idaho potato–shaped property is one of the company’s more unusual accommodations) and a design firm. Together the panel will judge the submissions and choose 10 lucky winners to receive $100,000 to build the Airbnb of their dreams.
Architectural Digest was able to chat with Porter ahead of the contest launch on March 10 to learn what he looks for in an Airbnb, how his shows inspired the decor of his own home, and what he considers some of his top design tips. (Hint: He loves bold furniture.)
Architectural Digest: First, what will you be looking for as you decide the winners of the Airbnb contest?
Billy Porter: We will be looking for creativity, of course, and the story behind [the space]. What’s driving the dream of the space? What has inspired them? Is it a childhood memory, or a dream, or a favorite movie? What does it stand for? Then, does it look incredible? Is it eco-conscious? And then, is there a social component to it—are they going to give discounts to people who work for nonprofits, for example?
AD: That's a lot of criteria!
BP: Yes! But that’s a lot of money. That's $1 million.
AD: What do you look for when you stay in an Airbnb?
BP: Location is really important to me. Design is really important to me. I also like seamlessness. I like that everything is taken care of when I get there and it’s very clear how things work. I stayed at an Airbnb in Puerto Vallarta this past year, and it was excellent. It overlooked the ocean, and it was amazing.
AD: What’s your style like in your own home?
BP: I like midcentury modern, but I also want to feel like I can live in it. It’s not just a museum. I like cozy—my home is very livable. I don’t want it to be too precious. I'm really a fan of jewel tones, so there’s a lot of that.
AD: Do you have a favorite room in your house?
BP: Yes, I have a second bedroom in my home. I was living here for the first four years by myself, and then I got married and my husband moved in. He turned our guest room/office into a hangout/media room. Now, that’s my favorite room because I'd never spent any time in that room before.
AD: Have your shows or songs inspired your decor at all?
BP: Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America was a really significant turning point for me in my life back in 1994. I commissioned an artist to paint artwork from both plays—it’s a two-part play. They hang in my living room, and that’s sort of where the artwork started on my walls. I wanted it to mean something.
AD: Do you have any other favorite decor items or pieces of furniture?
BP: I love my sofa from Restoration Hardware [RH]. It’s very, very comfortable. I also love my mattress—all very adult things.
AD: Do you have any home design tips?
BP: I start with a focal point, like my artwork in the living room. When I had an office, I found a trunk that opened to become a desk. That was a bold choice. Be bold! Don’t be afraid of big ideas. You can always pull back. And for me, color. I like color. I like muted color, but I like color nonetheless. Also, keep things streamlined—don’t overclutter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is to make sure that your furniture is the right size for the space.
AD: I have to ask: What is your closet like?
BP: My closet is in transition because, over the last couple of years, I’ve moved away from being what I call geek chic. When I was doing Kinky Boots, I moved more into the avant-garde space. So, I’m kind of sort of transitioning, letting go of the old and bringing in the new.
AD: Speaking of Kinky Boots, where do you keep your Tony?
BP: On my wall in my living room on a very special shelf where I also keep my Grammy and my Emmy.
AD: I’ve heard about stars keeping them in a closet or bathroom.
BP: Not me! I’ve worked too hard for it.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest