FINDING THE WAY HOME

by Marisa Marcantonio

Photos courtesy of Rizzoli
Never one to shy away from unusual color combinations, New York-based interior designer Jeffery Bilhuber turns a corner in his newest book. In The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty from Rizzoli, Jeffrey Bilhuber's design work is explored through revealing 12 residential projects that each capture a distinctly American sense of place with personal and cozy touches. From city townhouses to summer island retreats, the aspects of comfort, how to live with bold color and what makes a home are revealed through dreamy, often dark and brooding photographs. Interior design books usually feature homes are shot in a crisp, neat way, but this book is a departure from that-- photographed by William Abranowicz with shots styled in a casual, almost Dutch still life way, with pillows strewn about, leaves blowing in from open doors, tables still set with just eaten meals, and beds left unmade. The moody dark, undone/real life feeling breaks away from Bilhuber's earlier books, and this time clients are part of the environment completing the tableaux. There are many design takeaways here, and how and where to use color is just the beginning. This book tells a different kind of design story.

Bilhuber pairs the most wonderful colors together- there is a confidence in this sort of combination. A Nantucket living room with solid sorbet-colored upholstery is balanced by the patterned window panels, oyster shell encrusted console and blue - hued landscape hanging above it. The sisal carpet keeps the tone casual and island appropriate.

A mass of greenery in a hallway has a romantic quality to it, the pale blue wall supports the shades of green like the sky. Using plants in this way adds beauty and life.

Advertising world darling Trey Laird and Jenny Laird's New York townhouse living room combines pops of color with a vivid yellow ceramic vase and and electric blue upholstery.

A skirted round table in burgundy velvet anchors the room, where interesting and varied chairs are scattered with a casual flair.

A floor stenciled in an Early American star and octagonal pattern on wide floorboards is fitting for a Pennsylvania home. An orange upholstered sofa gives a jolt to the soft traditional scheme.

A Nantucket family room painted a crisp white from floor to ceiling. A ming coffee table, pea green wing chair upholstered in a burnt orange and scattered brightly colored needlepoint pillows make the space come alive. This room conjures up a picture of the perfect rainy day hang out spot.

The dining area has pale blue upholstered banquette, aged wood table surrounded by mismatched wicker and rattan chairs. A large painting of an aerial view of Nantucket island captures the sense of place.

TALKING TRADE SECRETS WITH CARRIER AND COMPANY

by Marisa Marcantonio


Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company are the husband and wife designer duo to watch. I wrote about them exactly a year ago, when they were tapped by Traditional Home as one of the Top 20 Young Designers. They participated in the most recent Hampton's Designer Showhouse, which I shared last week. Since 2005, they have honed their artful mix of great antiques, layering color and texture in impactful arrangements. Jesse worked at Jeffrey Bilhuber and Mara worked for Sills Huniford. Both firms design with a fundamentally classic aesthetic-- deftly using color, scale and pattern. While there, they developed their eye for buying antiques at both ends of the price spectrum. They have earned respect for their Neo- traditional, classic design, that is both livable and fresh. With clients like style savvy Anna Wintour, fashion bible Vogue, media honcho Bob Pittman, film bigwig Jane Rosenthal, and fashion designer Jason Wu, they have made their mark.
I talked with Jesse recently, and he shared his design ethos with me.


Photo by Peter Margonelli
In a New York apartment, the space is well utilized with etageres framing a sofa. Sculptural uplights and a framed painting bring color and unique forms into the mix.

Photo by Peter Margonelli
Natural light makes the chartreuse sofa pillows pop.

By using an old cabinet to hide a tv, the room can be used as both a hangout and a nice spot to entertain.

Textured old wood sets the tone in the great room of this converted barn home. A twig rocker and chandelier made of wine barrel staves keeps the interiors authentic for the setting.

A barn conversion with rough- hewn wood and amazingly high ceilings.

Wide horizontal wall panels and a bed made up in crewel fabrics define cozy barn chic.

Exposed beams in the ceiling and relaxed roman shades channel a countryside B and B.

A giant farm sink, waincot ceiling and old light fixtures in the rustic bathroom.

Who did you work for and where did you study to learn the trade?
Mara and I met at FIT, as interior design students.
She worked for Sills Huniford, then Sara Bengur before we launched Carrier and Company in 2005. I worked for Thomas O’Brien, then Jeffrey Bilhuber before 2005.

When did you know this was your calling in life?
After my first year in college as a Fine Arts major (prior to FIT), when I suddenly realized that I would STARVE as an artist, and needed some other creative outlet that could also pay the rent! (the verdict is not yet in on that theory!)

Do you have a design mentor?
No, not currently, though, I think its fair to say that while we were employed, our employers were certainly mentors. In both business and design, Thomas and Jeffrey were very important role models for me.

Do you have a signature look and how would you define it?
I think we have a signature “style”, which is appropriate, tailored, sophisticated and thoughtful. We are extremely considerate of our client’s goals and how best to incorporate them into the architecture or space given. The result, or “look”, is never the same, as our goal is always to reflect our client’s individual tastes and sensibilities.

What other designer do you most admire living or not?
Do we have to pick one? There are SO MANY….Frances Elkins, Jacques Grange, Alberto Pinto….

What books do you own old and new that you constantly refer to?
….SO MANY….Frances Elkins, Jacques Grange, Alberto Pinto….

What is your favorite project?

Photo Courtesy of Vogue
…what could be better than working with Rachel Weisz to create her fantasy apartment in the historic Osborne building for Vogue??? Absolute indulgence!

Do you have a singular favorite fabric pattern or print?
I always love a Robert Kime print, or John Robshaw, and love this fabric from Groundworks:

Groundworks Thomas O'Brien Contemporary Moriyama in Multi Print

Where do you visit or shop to get inspired?
Visit the Wrightsman Galleries @ the Met or stroll any historic block in New York, shop @ Sentimento Antiques, Evergreen Antiques

What are your trade secrets?
Tepper Galleries

THE RELEVANCE OF DESIGN BOOKS AND A NEW ONE: ROOMS TO INSPIRE IN THE COUNTRY

by Marisa Marcantonio

The other day Potterton Books sponsored an interior designer gathering at Kips Bay. The round table discussion included design books, their reason for being and purpose today. All the designers agreed books are better than ever, they read refer to them daily and their libraries are overflowing with new one's they cannot resist buying.

Photo by Tim Street-Porter


Annie Kelly, whose new book Rooms to Inspire in the Country, is shown below, moderated a lively talk between Jamie Drake, Anne Pyne of McMillen, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Bunny Williams and Juan Montoya.
The first question was about Bunny's runaway success book, Affair with a House. In its 10th printing (a big number for design books), the book has the winning formula which she thinks is due to its personal nature. Relatable recipes, real life entertaining relaxed living resonate with the reader, as it is a window into the way Bunny and her husband John Rosselli really live. She shared that the house was a long undertaking, and decorating and renovating happened in stages--- not in a year or two like client's projects. Musing on the power of books she ended with this: "my last penny I would spend on buying a rare design book--it is our education". No doubt there is much to glean from historic texts and images.
Anne Pyne of McMillan is working with Acanthus Press on a book about the history of the legendary firm. Her approach is much more academic, with footnotes and a lot of archival research. She is clear she wants the book to be an historically accurately account of the work and times of the firm. For a visual, she brought a stack of books that are her reading essentials. She recommends Frank Alva Parsons (founder of Parsons) Interior Design and Decoration: Its Principals and Practice from 1931, The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard from 1958, Cecil Beaton's The Glass of Fashion from 1921 and The History of English Furniture by Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards.
Juan Montoya wants his books to inspire, not just teach. He feels that books as oppose to magazines stay true to a designer's vision, since they have the say so and final approval on how their rooms are photographed, styled and written about.
Jeffrey Bilhuber recently came out with his fourth book, Defining Luxury. It's large format with brightly hued interiors is fresh and magazine- like, with its use of vignettes and close up shots. He shared that he feels books are a barometer of change and evolution that document societal changes. He uses design books daily as references for upcoming schemes and to share history and ideas with the clients. When discussing magazine editorial versus doing a book, he likes the fact that "you can control the process and edit through your eyes--you know what's there" but that "the camera will never capture what the eye sees." Being there in person is the next best thing.
Jamie Drake has Bloomberg as a client and has worked with Madonna. His book covers the first 28 years of his firm. His comment about magazine photography was, "you see see so much but you really see so little", referring to the closeness of many of the shots, styling by editors and omissions of what tells the interior's story. In a book you can show a whole room, and break it down into moments, which is a great platform for complete interiors.
What is next for this group? Bunny is working on A Scrapbook for Living about the essence of rooms and what makes them special, while Jeffrey is exploring how he gets from concept to completion of an interior and what inspires him.



Photos Courtesy of Rizzoli
A green painted bedroom fireplace with blue and white apothecary jars lining the mantel

In her follow up on Rizzoli's Rooms to Inspire, this new book delves into the homes of tastemakers and colorful characters who enjoy the country for relaxing, entertaining and renovating. A variety of design perspectives from new modern ruralism to over the top decadence are seen through the lens of Annie's photographer husband, Tim Street- Porter. The duo once again brings together a collection of covetable homes from around the country. I think people will start to use bright paint hues creatively after a good read of this tome!


Decorator Henry Davis Sleeper's nautical dining room in the seaside town of Beauport, Massachusetts has teal paint accents and a great collection on antique green china.


Molly Duffy and Hugh Burns Southampton LI beachside escape mixes Chinese Chippendale and light hearted lanterns with pastel lilac walls.

Steven Gambrel's Sag Harbor, LI sailors cottages from 1790 are filled with nautical details. Here, a melon hued bedroom has framed artwork of a boat that was made from antique wallpaper. What a clever use of color and material, especially if the rest of the wallpaper was damaged or not usable.


Steven Gambrel has a casual living room with crisp white bead board siding and reclaimed wood beams.


The breakfast room has pastel walls with French rush chairs surrounding an 18th century Belgian table

Ally and Jock Spivy's Victorian dining room in Kinderhook, NY. A 19th Century antique sideboard in rich burled wood pops against the bright pink wall.

Charming! In his garden Tim Street-Porter created a garden folly after John Fowler's original in England.

Tony Duquette's Malibu ranch guesthouse with layered fabrics and textures in coral gold and green.