Welcome to Why This Works, a new Curbed column in which decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.
Here now, a guest room with an adjoining library in a country house in Woodstock, N.Y., that was designed by boutique interior design firm Tilton Fenwick, which was just nominated as one of Trad Home's 20 "New Traditionalists" to watch. According to principals and founders Suysel dePedro Cunningham (who spent four years at Markham Roberts) and Anne Maxwell Foster (who had stints at Brockschmidt & Coleman and Ashley Whittaker Design), the space badly need an update, never mind one on a tight budget. So they mixed catalog pieces with splurges to create a warm and cozy space that’s used all year round.
1. “We are known for our use of wallpaper. It’s the best way to warm up a room and adds immediate interest to the walls,” Cunningham and Foster say. In this case, the designers took their signature peacock logo and had Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper create custom wallpaper out of it. The result was a subtle but quirky statement. “These days, anything can be customized without breaking the bank. Don’t be scared of DIY design and having someone else carry it out for you. Using a paper you can’t find anywhere else really makes a room.”
2. A massive spindle bed (“a classic style from a catalog source”) grounds the room with its size and dark wood. “Opposite the bed is a seating area, so it’s a fairly large room that needs bigger pieces to balance the scale. A bed like this with these lovely posters gives the room some definition.”
3. Lamps are always a great way to sneak in color. These red-glazed Christopher Spitzmiller lamps not only introduce a bold hue, but, since they are oversized, they anchor the bed. “Regular sized lamps would look too dinky,” say the designers. “Go big when pairing lamps with a larger piece like the bed.”
4. Since cozy was the goal, a sheepskin pellet was layered over an inexpensive abaca rug. “We love sheepskin at the side of a bed in winter for extra-cozy warmth underfoot. The abaca is great year round, but when it gets colder, this extra layer adds texture and a whole new level of depth to the room.”
5. Instead of choosing custom window treatments, Cunningham and Foster used simple and affordable matchstick blinds. They act as a neutral, letting the rest of the room shine while creating a finished look. “Simple blinds have a minimal, relaxed look that doesn’t look too formal and are perfect for a country house.” Also: “We put blackouts behind them so guests can sleep in."