I like to play Cupid when it comes to bedrooms. Like that mischievous little cherub sharpening his arrow, I often find myself deliberating exactly when and where to take aim. Because as much as we need and expect a sense of calm and sanctuary to round out the day, this is also the room we look to for special magic. And sparks can’t fly without a little friction.
That saying “opposites attract?” Like yin and yang, they also balance us. So when I hear “soothing, soft, and serene”….that trio of adjectives topping the list of what clients tell me they want in a bedroom, I like to think what else about a room will make them take pause. Before going all soft on the subject, I recommend some hard thinking. Soft, billowy linens under a blackened iron canopy? The respite of cloud gray walls and night-sky, silk velvet upholstery behind a single, long bolster pillow in glossy lipstick red?
Modern-day living is demanding, yes, but it can also be desensitizing. For bedrooms I’m always on the hunt for a truly special mix of hues, textures and sheens that rest as well as reengage the senses. Time references are important to calibrate as well. Nothing clashing, and no juxtaposition too forced. But, in bedrooms as in romance, intrigue builds with tension. Not the stress-you-out kind, but a more natural marriage of opposites that illuminates the beauty in both.
Often, I’m looking for that same ebb and flow from the same piece of furniture. How can a bed feel warm and cocooning, while simultaneously modern, sexy and strong? That was the goal behind sleek lines and snug curves on our Yvette bed, bottom right, which looks dapper in deep blues and so very lovely in pale lavender.
My own bed is a canopy of satin embroidered filigree, rising from a frame upholstered in a faux-zebra striped hide. Part Renaissance with just a sliver of come-hither, I love it set in solid cotton sheeting and shams layering pale pinks and powder blue. The mix is worldly enough to make us dream of far-flung times and places, while still exuding the peace of mind that comes from wrapping oneself in something soft, relaxed and familiar. And when those opposites beautifully meld into one? That’s when I know Cupid and I have hit our mark!
REFLECT ON THIS. Arranging a table for the pleasure of my guests is always a shuffle of variables—finding that just-right level of lighting, choosing centerpieces uncommon enough to interest eyes without diverting conversation, and mixing seating types as I’d mix guests, aiming for a common thread amid surprising juxtapositions. Placing a single upholstered setttee in a long line of silvered chiavari ballroom chairs is, for me, the equivalent of a guest list with engagingly diverse interests. Perfecting a mise en scéne deserves redoubling for max rewards. Propping an oversize mirror outdoors captures the night’s ambience and enhances it times two. When guests see the sparkle of activity flashing in a mirror, they relax into the moment. Everything looks better upon reflection.
A rolled-arm chair with a portion of its back scooped out combines two of my favorite opposites—striking gravitas and sultry curves. Like an off-the-shoulder gown, its unexpected asymmetry flirts with formality. Sit up or lean in? This modernized riff on a Georgian corner chair begs to question. So why confine it to a corner? I love these chairs alone, or bookended for a tete-a-tete moment.
What specifically about these textiles is inspiring your new creations?
I’ve never been big on pattern for its own sake…but I do love the big graphic bang of these earthy weaves, tapestries, brocades and embroideries. They feel ancient and modern all at the same time.
Q: What kind of things are you sketching now?
A: Zigs, zags, swirling roundels and calligraphic marks! I’m playing with everything from vintage kuba cloths and Egyptian hieroglyphs to a modern comb and spiral earrings by Alexander Calder.
Q: The artist who invented the mobile? What does his jewelry have in common with swatches gathered from every port on the Nile?
A: I don’t know if Calder looked looked to the Nile or not, but the common thread for me is a more relaxed geometry. My existing textile collections are crisp and clean. This time around I’m looking for a layer of imperfection—soft brushstrokes, irregular contours and lines that bleed over catch-your-eye graphics. Materials—linens, jutes, silks and wools—are organic, some crushed and others with just a bit of sheen. Got to have some shimmer!
This bed’s slim, sleek take on tradition is part rigor and part romance. Asking “how thin can we go?” quite literally, raised our expectations. Every inch we pared off its frame grew the canopy’s illusion of height twofold. Finished in ebony with just a hint of gold proves the forever allure of that dreamy combo—tall, dark and handsome!
I suppose the most important element of any bedroom is surprise. After all, the right mix of yin and yang is never constant. It’s a beautiful flow between what restores and what brings us to take that bold next step. In the home above, that entailed pulling down doors to reframe its entrance with a sense of splendor and mystery. The solution always lies in opening myself to the energy of the clients, and to the architecture itself. Cupid never shot from the hip, but his arrows left us suddenly, unexpectedly, lovestruck nonetheless.