Now here’s a better sense of the space on the inside, photographed by our good friend Addie Juell. There’s also another, more narrative layer that inspired the design, giving it life! As the founder and president of her own fashion public relations firm with offices in Paris, Milan and New York, our inhabitant has fashioned a space for herself and her family just as she lives—boldly, joyously and with fearless panache!
For this woman, modern-thinking with traditional values, decorating is a live-out-loud expression of who she is, where’s she been and what she loves. The mirror over the limestone fireplace is French with bands of gold and copper leaf behind smoky glass secured by rosettes. Shopping with her husband at Les Puces in Paris, she loved its size, its shape and especially its top, a trompe l’loeil mirrored ribbon, like a jeweled crown for the favorite room in her house. After all, it’s here where she spends much of her time, filling it with an eclectic assortment of art and antiques she adores. And now that her children have grown, they’re finally where they should have been all along, out and always within arm’s reach. When she’s away, sometimes for weeks at a time, it’s this room she returns to first, setting her wares on a favorite Chiavari chair from the 50s.
She stumbled upon it coming home from work one day at her favorite antiques store around the corner from her apartment, the one she visits time and again to browse happily alone, losing herself in the memories of time spent traveling Italy on her honeymoon. This chair reminded her of a pair flanking the fireplace at her villa hotel in Rome. She loved the lustrous brass, the graceful lines and the regal medallion on the back. Of course, she’d recover it in her trademark pink, a vibrant pop of color next to her spattered walls, like stars in an endless sky. Their whimsical pattern surrounds her blanketlike, warming her soul.
Just back from Paris, previewing couture collections for the Spring, she kicks off her shoes, settling in her chair, faux black bamboo reminiscent of another woman whose vision and drive she adores. To her contractor (and to her husband too), the faux bois floors were a bold move. “Are you sure?” they asked, reviewing the plans. And she was.
Tonight, she and her husband are hosting friends for drinks, but before then, an indulgence, something she’s missed terribly in her travels. Two hours to herself to read and catch up on magazines. What’s their future, others might doubt, but she’ll always buy them, combing their pages for inspiration on how to live more beautifully everyday. Suddenly, though, she hears something next door and looks up. On the opposite side of the room, a regal bust of Apollo, looking back.
Just the neighbor’s kids, she thinks, remembering fondly when her boys were that age. Soon, they’ll be off to college, making decisions for themselves. Is she worried? She’s a mother; of course she is. But letting go is something she has to do. They’re grown adults now with everything they need to become something great. And with that, she plunges her hand in a dish full of gumballs, a sweet reminder not to take it all so seriously.
This piece is one of her favorites, a 1920s Blanc de Chine porcelain potpourri she found years ago. She was actually quite young when she found it—the boys were barely five—scouring the flea markets of Paris with a collector’s eye but of little means. Over time, success may have brought her wealth, though she still much prefers the flea markets for indulging her love of figural art and objects. The French basket with Greek Key detailing is one of her favorite finds, filling it with fresh peonies from the flower market as often as she can. But if there’s one collection she adores the most, it’s her blue and white Delftware, gathered over time, from places near and far.
The colors she adores, displaying her pieces with pride. It’s a curated collection of plates, vases and jars with Chinoiserie motifs of flowers and birds, dating back to the mid 1850s. Each of them she loves in different ways, often carrying them by hand through customs and in cabs back to her apartment in New York. From her chair, she looks across to the the shelves and down to the Italian brass flowers from the 60s in a champagne bucket beside the bar.
The hotel silver tray was a wedding gift from her favorite uncle. Growing up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, she’d spend summer weekends with him in Maine, shopping at tag sales and flea markets every chance they’d get. He loved anything silver and polished it often. This tray they’d found together in Seal Harbor, with a heft and luster she loved. Seeing it again now for the first time in weeks, she remembers with certainty that it was he who always encouraged her to look with new eyes at the world, imagining the potential in everything, including herself. “Be brave,” he’d say, “And the rest will follow.”
Bravely then, she fills her house—and her life—with an eclectic mix of patterns and personalities. Do they go together? Do they…match? Without a doubt, yes. And why? Because she loves them. And that’s enough.
Twenty minutes now until her guests arrive, close friends from the building whose children grew up with her own. Soon, she’ll be decanting her favorite wine, a chilled Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp, citrus flavor she’s missed now for weeks. Her husband will be back, the candles lit once again, and together they’ll toast to her return finally home.
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