DESIGNER SECRETS: Five Tips on Living With Art and Antiques Gleaned From Sotheby's Show House
Let's face it. Sometimes when you attend a show house, you might leave wowed by the designers' creativity, but somehow you just can't quite see how the designs could fit in a real home.
That is decidedly not the case with the show house assembled by 13 designers in Sotheby's Manhattan headquarters, ironically in what is not a home at all, but the auction house's 5th floor exhibition space. You would never know that, however, because architectural and interiors firm Trey LaFave has masterfully created a dream 6300 square foot apartment within the exhibition space complete with a foyer, galleries, dining spaces, living spaces, bedrooms, studies, a kitchen and even a garden.
Each room is such a delight that I am ready to move right in.
The participating designers selected from an array of property to incorporate in their rooms offered by Sotheby's with estimates ranging from a few thousand to $250,000. Furniture, objects and art came from the following departments: English and Continental Furniture, 20th Century Design, Contemporary and Impressionist Prints, African and European Sculpture , Carpets, Old Master Paintings, Latin American Paintings, Ceramics and Silver.
How did the designers make all that fine art and antiques feel so habitable? Everyone of them is a master at mixing periods and styles, but there are other clues to their success that anyone can adopt.
Inspired by all of the beautiful rooms in Sotheby's Show House, here are 5 tips on living with art and antiques that you can employ in your own home.
1. Use color as a foil.
Designer Robert Dean Harris, of Harris Dean Interiors, knows his color theory (and so should you--it helps immeasurably when selecting paint colors). He chose the most delicious shade of pink to set off a set of 12 c. 1830 aquatints of Windsor Castle by William Daniell, many of them hand colored by Daniell, in shades that were in complementary colors to the pink paint color. The prints just popped off the wall. And Harris wasn't shy about pairing the prints with a 1995 painting by Cundo Bermudez that had a yellow and orange background, nearby analogous colors to the pink wall color. Harmony reigned.
2. Energize with pattern.
Designer Ashley Darryl was given a set of 12 Italian Neoclassical Style Parcel-Gilt and Cream-Painted chairs to use in her breakfast room. They feel fresh and youthful in large part due to the exciting surroundings created by Ashley. By adding multi-colored stripes to the wall, a checkered floor covering and geometric art, the chairs have a new, delightful lease on life.
3. Remember that when your furniture has a beautiful form (as is often the case with antiques and with contemporary "art" furniture), you should treat it like sculpture.
The Show House library has the most stunning desk by Judy Kensley Mckie, known as the "Lynx" Desk, created in 1999. Designer Juan Carretero knew he had a winner, so he let that desk shine. It is given pride of place as the centerpiece of the room. Most of the other furniture is in cream tones, and, while the remaining objects and art in the space are quite lovely, they don't compete with the obvious star.
4. Symmetry is your friend.
Designer Allison Caccoma was assigned what could have been a "walk-through" space but she made you pause and drink in her lovely gallery with an astute use of symmetry. Notice the number of pairs--sconces, the art, the objects, even the plants! The duality makes everything stronger and more cohesive creating a serene room that makes you want to linger. A wonderful tip on room, object and art arrangement.
5. Start with the rug.
The women of Cullman & Kravis told me that the item they wanted the most for their living room was a c. 1940 Art Deco carpet attributed to Andre Arbus. It's gorgeous. Most of the art and objects in the room have a hit of that red, even if just the tiniest amount. Additionally, the sculpture (the one in the fireplace by Yvonne Domenge is to die for) and even some of the furniture (like the Philip and Kelvin Laverne coffee table in the foreground of the first image) riff on some of the shapes in the rug. Indeed, that rug pulls everything together. Sometimes one special item can be the launching pad for an entire room, gathering all of the furnishings, objects and art in a cohesive way.
Inspired to bring more antiques and art into your own home?
Come back tomorrow where I share some affordable picks from the sale of the furniture, objects and art in Sotheby's Show House to be held on April 20th. You will be surprised at the treasures. While many think that Sotheby's sells only million dollar artwork, that is simply not the case.
Of course, lots are not at Ikea prices--don't be silly. However, just as you might invest in a designer bag, coat or shoes, you can find beautiful investment items to bid on with high estimates no more than $7000 (and some much less) in this sale that could become the design anchors of your home. Remember, you can always submit an absentee bid. See you tomorrow.
Sotheby's has a dedicated online site for the show house with an interactive floor plan. Simply click on the room to see beautiful renderings of it, plus a property list with all of the objects for sale that were included in the room. It's very cool.