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Come Have a Good Look at 2013's Best Designer Dwellings

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This year shelter magazines tilled their terrain with many many a designer home—and why wouldn't they? Parading the over-the-top digs of aesthetes whose entire lives drip with the glamour and point of view that made them gazillionaires is fascinating. More to the point, as much as any human's habitat reflects his or her personal style, designers use their home to cloy the senses with their signature ballsiness—be it Ralph Lauren's red, white, and blue tartan, Jonathan Adler's pillows embroidered with with 1960s bouffant hairdos, or Orla Kiely's groovy, '70s inspired prints. These highlights (and so much more) below.

Photos by Roger Davies/Architectural Digest

Waldo Fernandez in Beverly Hills. Fernandez, a prolific Cuban-born interior designer, not only boasts Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston, Sean Connery, and the Pitt-Jolie clan as clients, but also a SoCal a midcentury spread lacquered to a high shine and laced with contemporary art. After replacing the pool and adding a second-story bedroom suite, Fernandez called upon what Arch Digest calls his "perfectionist disposition" for the interiors, bringing in wenge-wood flooring, large doors "finished in exactly 17 coats of deep brown–black lacquer," and a collection of carefully curated art and furniture. "I'm obsessed with keeping the house fresh," he told AD. [link]

Photos by William Waldron/Architectural Digest

Jamie Drake in NYC. After spending years waiting for his two-bedroom unit in NYC's Annabelle Selldorf-designed 200 Eleventh Avenue condo building to be finished—"it taunts me," he said about the work-in-process in '09—Drake, a big-name famed for his use of high-octane color, finally settled into his 3,000-square-foot apartment last year. Unsurprisingly, he took little time to swath it in the go-to garb—punches of bright hues, assertive art—that's ensnared clients like Madonna and (outgoing) New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The home is also stuffed with pieces Drake designed, including the living room's marble-and-granite table and his bed and headboard. [link]


Howard Slatkin in NYC. In October, interior designer Howard Slatkin, who's made a living off a layered more-is-more approach to florals, chintz, gilding, tassels, and chair skirts, released a monster tome all about a single 6,000-square-foot New York City apartment: his. Frustrated by the penchant of shelter magazines to breeze over the private, and possibly the most interesting, areas of a home—the pantries, the linen closets, the crowded, computer-topped desks—Slatkin opened up every cranny of his pad: the elevator vestibule, the back hall, the laundry area, and, duh, the "flower room" and "candle room." For any other apartment, an editorial dive this deep would be silly, but for an apartment overflowing with ivory objets, curtains made of "17th-century Portuguese polychrome embroidered bedcovers," French Chantilly plates, and—oh my—mahogany doors "embellished with Japanese lacquer panels inset in gild-wood frames, which are bordered with patinated mirrors," 240 pages is really the only way to go. [link]

Photos by William Abranowicz/Elle Decor

Todd Alexander Romano in NYC. June's Elle Decor offered a peek into Romano's hedonistic and sumptuously layered one-bedroom apartment, a testament to his adoration for beautiful things and, in his own words, his "highly schizophrenic" taste. ED said Romano's work "defies tidy definition," a point that's amply evidenced by his sensual jangle of Op Art, melty lacquered walls, tangerine Louis XV chairs, and animal print velvet. His rooms are densely populated—there are 15 pieces of furniture in the 350-square-foot living room alone—but Romano worked with architects Richard Bories and James Shearron to bring in "strong vertical lines and extra-tall doors" to make the place seem roomier than its 1,000 square feet. [link]

Iris Apfel in NYC. In September, Daily Candy spotlighted a slew of rich detail shots gleaned from the home of design maverick Iris Apfel, yes, the bespectacled (self-proclaimed) "geriatric starlet" whose penchant for layering baubles and mixing design tropes landed her—in 2005, at 84-years-old—an exhibition at the Met aptly titled Rara Avis (Rare Bird). Her three-bedroom Manhattan apartment is what you may expect from an interiors devotee who founded her career on her aptitude for "scavenging junkyards and flea markets [for] the kinds of furniture and fabrics that were hard to come by in wartime," as Architectural Digest once wrote. Inside: parrot candlesticks, piles of tasseled pillows, a bronze dog on its hind legs holding mail, 18th-century Sicilian chairs—plus the world in feathers, florals, and antiquities ("I don't care whether pieces are expensive or junk"). [link]

Photos by David Allee/New York Design Hunting

Reem Acra in NYC. Acra, a Lebanon-born fashion designer, launched a career based on extravagant gowns—floaty, frothy red carpet pieces built for the likes of Olivia WIlde, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Swift—so it's no surprise her apartment is overwhelmed with "lavishly embroidered" 200-year-old textiles and built-in gold-leafed cabinetry. Much of it is her own design, including the golden crescent dishes in the dining room, the embroidered lampshade in the foyer, and the oversized wallpaper motif (inspired by embroidery on an Acra jacket) in the living area. [link]

Roger de Cabrol in NYC. Interior designer de Cabrol is known for his rich eclecticism, relying on travel-worn fabrics and other global finds to give even his most traditional spaces depth. It's clear he reserved the most potent finds for his own home, a loft in NYC's East Village. In an homage to his first gig as an assistant to famed surrealist Salvador Dalí, he draped the arched closets in red taffeta for "a distinctly theatrical feel," roped necklaces around doorknobs, and plunked a pair of giant upholstered stilettos in the living room. [link]

Photo by Oberto Gili/Elle Decor

Lisa Perry in Palm Beach, Fla. The latest fashion chief to capture the hearts and camera lenses of shelter magazines is fashion designer Lisa Perry, whose stark Palm Beach pad recently got the Elle Decor treatment. Perry, a long-time lover of white space and a deliberate, color-within-the-lines approach to palettes—indeed she admits the obsession began with Wonder Bread packaging—first needed to give her house, a 6,000-square-foot beachfront abode by Florida architecture poohbah Robert Gottfried, an architectural overhaul. "The inside was so fancy. The walls were silk brocade," Perry told ED. "I told our architect, Christine Harper, to take everything down and make it into a white box. When I saw the house all white, I was finally able to breathe." [link]

Photos by Chris Tubbs/Dwell

Orla Kiely in London. Considering corporate buyers at Target, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie alike have fallen for the 1970s-Scandinavian oeuvre of the textiles designer, it's hardly surprising that the home of the Irish-born, London-based Queen of Print is a pitch-perfect homage to her style, one defined by groovy renditions of natural patterns (teardrops, vines, flowers, and more) in a way that's punchy and subdued, spare and warm. "I know what I like and what works for me," she told Dwell, which toured Kiely's four-story, 3,000-square-foot London pad. "Sometimes you have people who say, 'I don't want to live in my work,' but, in the end, I love what I do and how it looks." Though that's not to say that her house has been stripped of all its own Victorian charms; indeed, Kiely's pared-down appeal has only made every fireplace mantel, ceiling rose, and bay window stand out. [link]

Jonathan Adler in NYC. "It's sort of like apartment-slash-laboratory-slash-installation space," the designer told Lonny this September, adding, "We only have stuff that really speaks to us—whether it's a baroque mirror or a vintage Chinese cabinet mixed with mod fabric." (Presumably the non-vintage non-Chinese cabinet without the mod fabric doesn't dare utter a word.) [link]

Photos by Björn Wallander/Architectural Digest

Ralph Lauren in New York and Colorado. 2013 marked three decades since fashion megastar Ralph Lauren launched his home collection—yes, 30 years since he first translated his signature rugged formality (indeed, the twin tastes for the craggy Old West and cut-glass England he whetted for summer-home owners and polo players the world over) from wide neckties and tartan button-ups into Oxford cloth bedding and navy velvet curtains. To celebrate the special birthday, Architectural Digest took a look inside Lauren's many living spaces, including his rich, museum-like office, his stuffier New York residence, and his perfectly worn (and Oprah-approved!) Colorado ranch. [link]

Thom Browne in NYC. AD's profile on Browne's Manhattan apartment opens with the fashion designer saying "Nothing is worse than a home that is too perfect and done," which is only a funny thing to say when your apartment, well, looks like this. Browne's place, "on a tree-lined block in Greenwich Village," is as clear and quiet as a still from a movie set. Indeed, one of the designer's friends once said the place "is so spare, you could hose it down." Browne's response: "I like it as clean and uncluttered as possible." And, well, considering each surface has a deliberate set of objects perfectly centered and stacked, it seems he's been incredibly successful. His living room (above) is fastidiously cultivated with collections of vintage clocks and Champagne coupes, and dotted with a couple handfuls of Mad Men-style glass ashtrays. And that's just one room. [link]

Timothy Corrigan in Loire Valley, France. The interior designer might owe the character of his French château, profiled in September's Architectural Digest, to Les Architectes des Bâtiments de France, the famously particular institutional watchdogs of France's architectural heritage. Corrigan bought the 18th-century Loire Valley estate, dubbed Château du Grand-Lucé, from the French government in 2004, and has since given its neglected, starchy recesses some much-needed TLC, despite the fact that every shade of paint he wanted to use had to have its historical accuracy approved by committee. Corrigan did have free rein when it came to furnishings, though. In a sitting room once frequented by French aristocrats, the designer brought in Hermes throw pillows, Jansen side tables, and a few other modern pieces to offset the antiques that broadcast the estate's historical pedigree. [link]

· All The Printed Page posts [Curbed National]
· All Designer Digs posts [Curbed National]
· Year in Curbed 2013 [Curbed National]