Recently, the cover of The New York Times style magazine “T” made me a bit queasy. There was a squishy armchair and matching marshmallow-like ottoman in lavender velour, sitting atop a white shag rug next to a severe Neoclassical commode with a veined marble top.
By Margot Clark-Junkins
Recently, the cover of The New York Times style magazine “T” made me a bit queasy. There was a squishy armchair and matching marshmallow-like ottoman in lavender velour, sitting atop a white shag rug next to a severe Neoclassical commode with a veined marble top. A purple Art Deco glass vase and an ornately carved and gilded Baroque mirror composed the backdrop. The curtains were chrome green and the hyper-modern lamp was Memphis Group. The title beneath this riotous scene joked, “The Revival of Everything.” The room depicted, incidentally, belonged to Gerald and Betty Ford.
Here we are in 2015 and American style has run the gamut. We have seen it all. There have been some wonderful innovations — Art Deco, for example, and Mid-Century Modern. Some periods have been less than stellar; we harbor painful memories of stripped pine furniture, chintz, and something dubious called shabby chic. I am told we are facing the revival of the 1970s head-on right now. “After years of hotel-room beige and gray, the reappearance of risk in interior design…is heartening,” The NY Times says, perhaps a little too brightly. And the early 80s are breathing down our necks.
While arbiters of taste in the design world are running as fast as they can to keep up with the revivals, what are we to do with our own homes? Martyn Lawrence Bullard, with his eclecticism and Hollywood glam, isn’t dropping by anytime soon. And I’m sorry, I do need a break now and then from Target, Ikea, and Home Goods.
Here in Rye, Bets Miller of Nest Inspired Home on Purchase Street is prepared to offer us some expert advice. Just back from High Point (kind of like furniture- nirvana, in North Carolina), she can report that red lacquer will be the go-to surface this fall. But I am getting ahead of myself…spring is here and it’s still all about cobalt and turquoise.
Brass surfaces are hot now, too. Miller pointed me in the direction of a sensational brass-y bar cart with glass tiers (Connaught). Accent pieces are another important way to punch up your room (when you aren’t punching throw pillows). Miller carries items from Aerin Lauder’s accessories line and says they are selling like crazy (Aerin is Estée’s granddaughter, but you already knew that).
Nest has some really gorgeous “smalls” like chunky white frames, faux-shagreen (sharkskin) trays, yummy throw pillows, and oh, the coffee table books…spread them liberally around your house (all make great gifts). There are several attractive works of art (ask for those by Nash Hyon and Xanda), which are modest in scale and therefore perfect for that difficult spot on your wall.
One of the largest tables in the room is divine, a kind of picnic-table-gone-posh: it has an x-shaped base of thick Lucite with a pine top. Warm but cool, yeah? It could safely seat six and you just know that no one else has it (X-Table). Miller says that furniture is frequently purchased straight off the floor (read: no waiting). “We have staged and sold an entire room in a day,” she adds with pride.
The Open House, on Purdy Avenue, is just as enticing. I was drawn to a pair of hefty brass gazelle-head bookends and a gold-painted “Akute” statue; either would look good on a mantelpiece. The chrome tray with mirrored base screams ocean-liner luxe, and I suddenly had a powerful desire to purchase the beige linen love seat with single bench-cushion. A pair of nesting tables in putty-colored lacquer featured fretwork legs reminiscent of a garden trellis.
At Lola, around the corner on Purchase Street, I discovered “metal lace” vases made in Israel; they are both elegant and unusual, which make them extremely useful accent pieces. Large knot-shaped napkin rings of a silver-colored metal would add chic and shimmer to your dining table. A boxed set of four coasters made from polished quartz (blue, black, brown and white), each wrapped in a band of sterling silver would add color and shine to your side table.
Renee Drummond’s consignment clothing shop, Rhythm in Rye, also on Purchase Street, has a few hidden gems for the home. A translucent pate de verre (cast-glass) dish with an art nouveau-looking nude sat quietly waiting to be discovered. Not to be overshadowed by the showy costume jewelry, a gorgeous Baccarat bowl gleamed proudly. Both were in perfect condition.
The prognosis is yes, you can decorate your home without making it look like the Ford’s bedroom in 1981. You can modernize and minimize without giving up all your antiques. You can take risks without forsaking beige completely. Be judicious and above all, be brave.