This is a post about an affair I had with a house. My client Elissa and I cheated on her house with another house, a David Adler designed home down the street. She and her husband placed a bid on this home, all the while we were decorating her current home..
Elissa called me out of the blue around the time I was pondering the idea of exchanging my swatch books for more time on the tennis court and possibly taking a stab at gardening. Yet, secretly I wanted to be everything from a Vegan Shaman to a City Council woman who fosters dogs. I was lost in my creative and yet schizophrenic spirit that had me thinking I could do anything and .. nothing.
Elissa called and candidly explained how she was in remission from cancer and sent me a photo of herself with a swollen face on a beige sofa, next to a blanket of white snow in the background. Help! was the subject in the email. During her illness her mother hopped on a plane from Connecticut to dive in with decorating. Elissa had a young son and an empty house. Stepping into high gear her mom ordered from catalogs, sourced fabrics and raced around in the hopes that her daughter’s family had something to sit on.
Elissa’s mom, prefers barns to design centers so this was a labor of love for her daughter. ( Yes, tears welling up now) She sounds like my kind of gal, a lover of animals and rarely shops or buys anything, unless it is for someone else. If you had a sneak peek into Elissa’s closet-Cream and black rule so I assumed color would be out. Her home was somewhat decorated with muted tones and while I thought they were pretty, she wanted to out them like her memories of sitting in bed for days on end.
How could I not take this job? Cancer survivor funny girl with a super cool house? Check.
Upon arrival Elissa and I raced from room to room talking more about factory farming and big Pharma more than paint colors. She insisted she needed me and I accepted. Although I would have lived in this house naked in the cold for a year just to be close to this architecture.)
After the weekend we made our final design decision for the house ,”Lets make this feel like a preppy 80’s house that Mark Hampton may have designed.” This way, it could feel dated in a chic way and we never have to decorate again.
I was also to design her apartment in the city which we agreed would be more “French and urban” because we both think we are half French. Lake Forest was to receive a color injection. And we went a little bonkers..
Our design juices flowed because we knew that Adler was lurking, flirting with us in the background. Nothing was mulled over endlessly, we were quick on decisions, we reused and reinvented everything. We pulled from the basement. We spent wisely. Palm Beach thrift stores, sisals and chic catalog pieces were easy choices. Art and photography were new investments . Family photos received new white frames with grasscloth mats. Auction pieces trickled in.
So here we are at Happy Town . After you experience what Elissa did, we focused on how things made her feel more than how it looked to anyone else.
Confidence is sexy like that. We picked what we loved, no matter provenance or pedigree and it worked in our eyes.
The mirrors are a purchase from Wisteria catalog from her mother. J’adore!
The dining room comes next. Stay tuned.