Bella Mancini is a NYC-based interior designer who was once named one of the city's 100 to watch by New York magazine. So we're watching. Herein, Mancini discusses a recently completed project in New Canaan, Conn.
Q: Bella, you were and raised in California and you moved to Brooklyn some 15 years ago. How do you think that informs your design aesthetic?
A: I was raised in the very beautiful seaside town of Del Mar, Calif. Much of the time I wasn't in school was spent on the beach and in the ocean. Because of that I tend to gravitate to color palettes found in nature—colors found in sunsets, palm trees, surf, and sand.
Q: Could you ever move back to California?
A: Oh dear. I fantasize about the lifestyle all the time, but I nearly had a panic attack when we moved to Brooklyn after 13 years in Manhattan, so it would probably be a bad idea. Besides, after all these years my heart is still a flutter every time I am in a plane over the city—I love coming home.
Q: Speaking of the East Coast, how'd you end up working with these clients in Connecticut?
A: They called me after interviewing several big named firms. The wife and I clicked immediately, and I think they liked that I am so hands-on—they knew I would give them a ton of individualized attention, which I did.
Q: Interesting palette here—lots of neutrals with some pretty obvious pops of color. What's behind that?
A: We wanted a nice flow between the rooms, but also wanted to be sure each room had its own voice. I often build rooms like I do a wardrobe: I buy foundation pieces in classic colors and shapes and accessorize with more fun, daring items in color, pattern, and texture.
Q: Name some favorite pieces in the home.
A: The Portalis Buffet in the dining room from Holly Hunt, the Modern Penthouse sectional in the family room from Ralph Lauren, and the Carini Lang rugs.
Q: How would you describe the homeowners and the sort of lives they lead?
A: They are an incredibly nice, close family, with two very busy kids. They are always on the go and love to entertain. I have to say, the wife is someone I admire very much—she is smart, athletic, the perfect the mom, and a fabulous entertainer.
Q: What's the worst design gaffe you've made in your career so far?
A: Very early on in my solo career I didn't measure an elevator and a large cabinet had to be humped through a window at an outrageous cost. It was completely my fault so I had to pay for it—the client wasn't happy and it cost me a small fortune. But hey, you never make the same mistake twice.
Q: Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?
A: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The hard part is figuring out which parts of life it is smart to try to perfect and the ones not worth the effort. Most of the time we have it all backwards.
Q: Finally, Bella, if you could have any one designer, living or dead, "guest decorate" one of your projects—a collab, no doubt—who would it be?
A: My first and only interior design boss and mentor, Ellen Hamilton. She's so genius in her use of color and pattern—she's not afraid to mix things together that I'd never have the guts to do.
· Bella Mancini Design [official site]