While I have always preferred to conjure my designs from various elements that inspire me, every now and again on my travels, I encounter a structure or room that is so extraordinary that I find myself looking for ways to create an homage.
When I was asked to do a room at the Hamptons Showhouse, I knew immediately that I wanted to create a space that would feature the incredible trellis work that forms the wisteria laden roofs of the Mecox gardens in Southhampton. I had visited it many years ago while on a house and garden tour of the Hamptons, and while in Southhampton to select my space, I drove to revisit the gardens. While it was winter and the wisteria was sadly out of bloom, it allowed me to see and appreciate the structure even more.
I swathed our garden room in Mecox inspired trellis – walls and ceiling – and it formed the basis of an understated yet subtly fantastical space. Many visitors knew that it evoked a ghost of a memory for them, but could not place it.
When we were living in London, my boys and I were fairly regular visitors to the British Museum. My boys were not as avid attendees as I might have liked, but they made their fair share of trips for school or when we had visitors from across the pond. One gallery in particular captured their attention, and enraptured me: The Enlightenment Gallery. If you haven't had a chance to visit this 260-year-old exhibit, it houses a vast collection of curiosities displayed as they would have been in the 18th Century. Its grandeur and historical legacy created the most immersive and memorable experience. Of course, the boys were much taken with stuffed animals and shrunken human heads, while my head swiveled madly, taking in the books, artifacts, and beautiful architecture and lighting. Needless to say, there is something for everyone and all ages.
When we decided to build our home here in Dallas, I wanted our entry to reflect the notion of learning, curating, and exploring since all of my children, my husband and myself have been blessed with never-ending curiosity. And so this space became our own cabinet of curiosities furnished with antique prints and objects reflecting nature, history, and even the weather. The boys added to shell collections and other ephemera as they found them. It was a space that was never finished by design, as was the original gallery.
When you have been tasked with designing a grand salon for a French Country styled manor home, natural thoughts do not go to Russia! However, this family wanted their salon to be an elegant space for entertaining and their love of black, white, and red lent itself to a Neoclassical design. Failing to find an “aha!” moment in reviewing my own memories of French buildings, I vaguely remembered seeing a beautiful parquet floor that I wanted to use as an inspiration for a custom made rug by Stark. A fairly exhaustive search led me to the Moika Palace in St. Petersburg that I had visited with my family. This is the one palace that my children were also intrigued by, as it was the site of a gruesome murder. While my own photos of that day are of exhausted children and a somewhat grumpy hubby, I was able to find a good photo of the floor that I had admired so much.
And here’s a shot of some of my family that day…
This beautiful floor became the basis for the rug design, and consequently the “hero” piece in the salon, with all other elements flowing from that pattern and color palette.
And not a grumpy husband or sticky child in sight!