One of the myths of working with an interior designer is that every element of every room has to be custom, high end, unique, one of a kind; in other words, expensive. While you can, of course, go all out with everything from the wallpaper to the accessories, it’s certainly not a requirement for a well decorated home. Instead, consider buying some pieces that are a splurge because you love them, they’re dramatic, or they’re very high quality. Then, balance the budget with more economical pieces.
The photo below is from a master bedroom I designed for a Show House. The chest of drawers is an exceptional Michael Allison Hepplewhite mahogany piece, circa 1800. Allison was one of the foremost cabinetmakers in New York City during the Federal period. The craftsmanship is impeccable, the mahogany veneers the finest, and oval pictorial inlays very distinctive. On loan from The Artemis Gallery, it perfectly complements the artwork. The painting above is Female Bather with Swan by Frederick Milton Grant. It is a rich, verdant work of art with luminous color. But, are the pearls real? Is the bronze? You’d expect them to be based on the exquisiteness of the dresser and art, but they’re affordable accessories!
This next example is from my design for the Junior League Show House in 2009. The large, impressive classical mirror has deeply carved three dimensional gesso and gilt embellishments, which are perfectly set off by the ebonized black painted background of the frame. It was made in Boston circa 1820, and retains its original mirror glass. The print is Cynthia Holding Baby Ros by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, 1899. Pastel on paper, it is signed by Sherwood, a member of a prominent New York family that included Lydia Field Emmet and Ellen Emmet Rand. She specialized in pastels and often used her family members as subjects. These two splurges elevate the more economical pieces in the vignette.
In looking at the next photo, can you tell the “high” pieces from the “low?” This is from a client’s home in the Washington, DC area. You’ll have to guess, because I’m not at liberty to squeal!
In decorating your own home, where would you splurge?