Welcome back 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 them work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.
The point of a decorator show house, of course, is to give participants the chance to show their stuff, and Manhattan-based designer Eddie Lee did just that in a suite in last year’s Hampton Designer Showhouse. The room demonstrates Lee’s talent for turning an uninteresting space into a sophisticated, yet not too serious, living room off a guest room where antiques and modern pieces coexist. (By the way, the Bridgehampton house just sold for $5.3M after lingering on the market for seven months.) Anyway, please find Lee's tips below.
1. By covering the ceiling in a sea foam-colored sea grass that mirrors the shag rug, Lee provides symmetry in an unexpected way. “I bookended the white vinyl walls, which gives this space an unconventional touch of balance,” he says. With 10.5-foot ceilings, a ceiling treatment also draws the eye up.
2. “A lot of people think 'Hamptons' and think lots of cushions and Shabby Chic,” says Lee, “but this is a beach house, and I wanted the least fuss possible. A tufted sofa is perfect—it requires no fluffing and looks exactly the same once you get off of it.” In addition, clean lines add a touch of formality, while a white painted platform tones down the heaviness of the sofas: “I wanted them to look as they were floating over the room.”
3.The room’s Venini chandelier is massive: “When in doubt, go big. If a client thinks a lighting fixture may be too big, that’s when I know it’ll work," Lee says. "Always err on the larger side. Chandeliers that are too small always look out of place, and ceiling fixtures give interest to rooms that aren’t architecturally interesting.”
4. The 1970s coffee table with a glass top and an acrylic base grounds the room without weighing it down. “I like to place vertical elements diagonal of each other—in this case, a tall orchid with candlesticks—and horizontal elements on the opposite diagonal,” he says. “A stack of books is just too easy, so I like to mix it up.” Here, he found a piece of agate that ties in with the room’s color scheme.
5. Lee used Lucite curtain rods as a juxtaposition to the many antique white and gilt pieces (including the window treatment hardware) dotting the room: “They give the room a playful touch and keep it from being too stuffy."
· Eddie Lee Incorporated [official site]
· All Why This Works columns [Curbed National]
· 2011's Hampton Designer Showcase House Sells For $3.5M [Curbed Hamptons]