Top Interior Designers Share Their Secrets, Vision


(Wednesday, June 11, 2008 9:26 AM EDT)

Usually interior designers have to cater to a client's vision for a room, offering advice, but deferring to the customer's tastes and style.

But if given freedom to create their own perfect room using local vendors, what would interior designers choose to do? Designers Phyllis Nee and Nancy West share their thoughts:

For Phyllis Nee, the perfect room - in this instance, a living room - would have walls in a soft yellow; hardwood floors with medium walnut toning and wide, random planks; and floor-to-ceiling windows that open to a patio with a lovely park-like view.

(The window's draperies would be a subtle silk taffeta, so as not to overwhelm the vista.)

The room would be filled with “warm antiques, like you'd find at Hastings Antiques, or Room with a View, that are user-friendly and not stiff,” she said. And for an eclectic twist, she'd throw in a glass cocktail table.

The sofa would be upholstered in a leaf-green chenille fabric from Room with a View, with a trim because “the use of braids and trims sets apart the men from the boys!” Nee said.

Club chairs with down cushions would be upholstered to match the sofa, and accent chairs painted in a light green would play off the colors of the main furniture pieces.

Nee would then add throw pillows in light blues and peaches in a silk brocade that would add a “splash of something frivolous.”

A light-colored Oriental rug from Aliloo Oriental Rug Corporation in the main seating area would pull all the colors of the room together.

Nee's room accessories would be larger pieces, like a copper tanker, “to really draw your attention,” as well as lighter-hued plein air paintings framed by Waller Picture Framing.

Live plants are a must for Nee's living room, as are fresh-cut flowers that she'd get at the Corner Garden.

Overall, Nee's perfect room would reflect an eclectic, traditional style and be “warm and inviting.”

“I would use this living room for entertaining friends and family,” she said. “I don't want people to notice anything besides a homey feeling, that they're comfortable and want to spend time there.”

To set the scene for Nancy West's perfect Hunt Country room, imagine a comfortable and functional “sun-drenched office/library with ample built-in shelving for books,” complete with a fireplace with a rustic, waxed pine mantle.

“Pleasantly informal,” and with “nothing stiff, too precious or too cluttered,” West said, the room would be full of “light, color and texture, grounded by a few, well-placed antiques and art.”

To create a cohesive color scheme, the carpet or area rug might be the first thing she'd choose for the room, West said, and Aliloo Oriental Rug Corporation would be the place to go.

“For this room, I would hope to find a rugged Kilim or Bessarabian, both of which have color, texture and geometry, combining traditional and modern,” she said. “Depending on the field of the rug, [I] would choose a saturated mango or coral for any walls not utilized for shelving.”

And to grace those walls, West would head to the Sporting Gallery Inc. and purchase works by Valerie Hinz, Michael Lynes and Stuart Dunkel.

Two major pieces of furniture in the room would be from JML Antiques: a hot-waxed, hand-rubbed former French monastery table to use as a desk/work surface, and an 18th-century, Louis XV, two-drawer, French oak dresser.

And for seating, West has lots of ideas.

“I might choose a slightly contemporary, curved sofa from the White Bench, or a transitional piece from the Shaggy Ram or Peyton's Place, paired with tapestry-covered George III arm chairs from the Antique Emporium,” she said. “For the sofa, a neutral-toned, nubby upholstery fabric from Haute would be appropriate. Needlepoint pillows from Scandina and Three Crowns gracing the sofa would work well.”

To finish the room off, West would have French library steps, a brass fireplace fender and a tapestry bench from Antique Emporium, as well as wood candlestick lamps from Creme de la Creme that would placed on a painted round table from White Bench.

Though this may be West's perfect room for the moment, she realizes that “perfection is subjective,” she said.

“What is perfect for one individual may not be at all appealing to another,” she said. “Those who know me have often heard me quip that ‘perfection is the end of fantasy.' I'm still searching.”

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