When looking through photos of beautiful high-end rooms, it can be tempting to think, “If I had that kind of money, of course I could create a gorgeous living room (dining room, bedroom) like that.” But a gazillion-dollar budget doesn’t guarantee a great-looking room. And you don’t need a fortune to design a room that’s inviting and delightful and comfortable to be in.
New York City interior designers Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller’s work for celebrity clients such as Vogue’s Anna Wintour and actress Jessica Chastain has landed them on Architectural Digest’s exclusive AD100 list. But in the foreword to the designers’ recent book Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors, Wintour writes: “These are homes whose high style comes from a very human-scaled sense of warmth and joy.”
The designers have organized their book into six looks, such as tailored, country, modern and traditional, and discuss the concepts they use in creating each style. We’ve highlighted some of their work and design ideas here. See if there are useful concepts you can pull out for your next project.
Photos from Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors
To achieve a sense of timelessness in a room, Carrier and Co. Interiors selectively mixes references from the past, the present and the future. The designers’ recipe:
- Antiques as a key component
- A piece or two from the mid-20th century to lighten up the room and help bring it into the present
- A carefully chosen contemporary classic — something surprising but not trendy — to add a sense of being up-to-the-minute
In this upstairs landing in Vogue editor Wintour’s country home, an oversize painting by Hugo Guinness hangs above a diminutive Swedish painted chest of drawers. The play on scale accentuates the contemporary nature of the artwork and brings the old house up to date.
Photo above by Jesse Carrier
“For us, decorating is always about the mix,” the authors write. “A room’s style — a home’s style — derives from the pairings, the compositions, the accents and details. Unexpected choices in scale, material or placement, a daring use of bold color or finish, may arrest the eye and stop time.”
Color and artisanal quality unify the forms, textures and materials of this Hamptons, New York, sitting room. The watercolor-like patterned wallpaper helps tie together the antique armchair upholstered in a hand-woven Chapas Textiles fabric and the hand-woven Guatemalan wool rug. The polished midcentury brass drum table and torchiere offer contrast.
Photo by Pieter Estersohn
Tailored rooms can be clean and pared-down like modern rooms, the authors write. What makes them different is that they’re refined in such a way that they feel “a little more sensual, a little more lush, a little more plush. Their geometry speaks clearly, but it does so with a softer, gentler, though still precise edge.”
Tailored rooms may be traditional as well. The balance of elements determines whether a room leans toward traditional or modern. Above, splashes of lemon yellow and marigold orange add sunny warmth to an elegant living room’s neutral palette. The white walls have a polished-plaster finish.
Photo by Robert Brantley
In this Florida entry hall, pairs of antique Oushak rugs and potted fig trees relax the feeling of grandeur. The contemporary plaster sand-dollar-inspired light fixtures by Marc Bankowsky and giant clamshell on the Dunbar chest at right connect the room to its locale.
Photo by Robert Brantley
The walls of this den are wrapped in linen, and grosgrain ribbon trimmed with nailheads covers the seams. Custom-fabricated curtain hardware with simple returns, rather than finials, downplays the formality of the curtains.
Photo by Robert Brantley
Country decor celebrates “the beauty of uncomplicated times and straightforward pleasures. People imagine rubber boots, apple picking in quilted jackets, horses and hayrides, or the beach equivalent of all that,” the designers write. “They want their rooms to cater to that vision, to express that ideal, yet in an authentic way. As a result, the decor may feel caught in a moment or a memory, which is the source of the nostalgia. This can seem to slow down time, which is what the fantasy of country living is about for many.”
Carrier and Co. lists elements typically found in high-end country decor: slipcovered pieces, kilim-covered items, twig furniture, sisal rugs and wrought iron railings and curtain hardware. Locally salvaged industrial and agricultural items may be included.
The farmhouse bedroom above features classic country details: linen, a metal bed, painted wood furniture, a botanical print. Unexpected color pairings and a contemporary hand-blocked throw pillow add a fresh twist.
Photo by Francesco Lagnese
In the sitting room of Wintour’s country house, rag-glazed paneled walls and a framed United States map create a rustic yet refined background for a George Smith rolled-arm sofa covered in a Bennison Fabrics print.
Photo by Jesse Carrier
Modern decor means different things to different people. For Carrier and Co., a modern room includes:
- Strong silhouettes
- Precise geometry
- Clean lines
- Crisp edges
- Boldness and graphic clarity
- Soft moments, sensuous curves and deluxe details, as foils to the streamlined aesthetic
- A piece that’s clearly of today
The dining area above features a reclaimed-wood dining table. The dark fireplace wall behind it makes a striking backdrop for the artwork and the antique Italian gilded sunburst mirror. The floating fireplace provides warmth and focus.
Photo by Zach DeSart
Organic, rustic and refined elements combine in this vignette of a gilded driftwood lamp, a hand-carved sideboard and a quartz crystal-framed mirror.
Photo by Eric Piasecki
A Nod to Tradition
Antiques are an integral part of traditional interiors for these designers, who write:
- Antiques are evocative.
- They add atmosphere, age and patina to a room.
- They endow a room with a feeling of the familiar — the emotional and visual comfort of forms and materials that are tried, true and trusted.
This traditional eat-in kitchen features comfortable dining chairs and an adjacent seating area. An oval-shaped English hunt board (traditionally used for serving breakfast after a hunt) takes center stage but allows for ease of passage. A playful artisan-made zinc chandelier from the 1920s hangs over the table.
Photo by Peter Margonelli
Carrier and Co. lacquered the walls of this room in powder blue to match the cotton velvet on the sofa and bring color and shine to the windowless space. A traditional American hooked cotton rug in a contemporary abstract pattern offers contrasting texture. More texture comes from the worn painted finishes on the blanket chest and the faux-bamboo bench, as well as the thick woven tweed on the Dunbar winged slipper chairs.
Photo by Pieter Estersohn
“We find bohemian glamour to be very dynamic and exciting. For us, it means using design and decoration in a particularly creative way: that is, expressively, to tell the client’s story,” the designers write.
“In such rooms, each choice comes with additional layers of meaning. Beyond pleasing aesthetics and functional practicalities, the elements of the room must capture a personality and an approach to life — and to do so clearly and forcefully, but without shouting.”
Rooms that epitomize bohemian glamour are:
- Full of pattern-on-pattern
- Wonderfully colorful, with vivid, arresting and unusual accents
- Occasionally overflowing with a rich, sometimes eccentric riot of visual information
- Not necessarily maximalist, per se, and not just about “more is more”
“Our role in such projects is to establish calm amid visual cacophony, to relieve the visual density yet still reveal the personality, because when there is too much to take in, the eye has nowhere to pause or relax,” the designers write.
This home office in a loft had a wall that was double height. The designers turned the wall into a faux library with a Tracy Kendall trompe l’oeil bookshelf wallpaper. The room’s colorful palette was pulled from the colors in the wallpaper’s books.
Article by Anne Colby from www.houzz.com