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Vital Decorating Lessons From a 21-Year-Old Designer

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How does a 21-year-old design a five-bedroom Connecticut Colonial? Well if that 21-year-old is designer and regional wunderkind (he's been in the biz since he was 12) Sam Allen, he brings in a kelly green china bureau, orange Christopher Spitzmiller lamps, a "custom Lucite waterfall coffee table," and an Astel crystal beaded chandelier. He brings in a palette of taupes, grays, and ice blues. He brings in 1940s French oil paintings and hand-loomed Turkish wool. Or, at least, that's what he brought into his latest project, a home in Westport, Conn., that was recently featured in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

Allen's backstory reads like a decorator's fairytale: the son of a designer, Sam spent his childhood tagging along on his mom's interiors photoshoots around the Northeast. His first "job," he writes on the official site for Sam Allen Interiors, was when he was 12. He found a mentor in Westport-based designer Sarah Kaplan, who brought him along to her annual traipse through Europe to shop the Paris flea markets. His first independent commission came five years later. His first New York Times story, wherein he's called a "Bravo reality show waiting to happen," hit stands when he was 19.

So when a Westport family approached him about decorating their newly built Colonial, Allen had the experience necessary to produce what he tells CTC&G is a "timeless, yet transitional vibe."

In the living room (above), for example, Allen brought in Ikat throw pillows and sofas in a kid-friendly linen. "The sofas are tight-backed so you don't have to be consistently fluffing them," he tells CTC&G. "The fabrics are easy to get stains out of. The texture and detail on the rug is very forgiving."

Elsewhere Allen's insistence that "you need the juxtaposition of old and new to pull together a very sophisticated environment," is obvious. In the study, there are grass-cloth walls and 1940s French leather club chairs. The master bedroom has "speak-for-themselves lamps they will have forever" while the guest bedroom boasts an "antelope-pattern rug" and a bench covered in cashmere. The dining room (above) got crystal-footed hurricane vases and wainscoted walls painted in pearlescent graphite. "The use of textures is very understated but impactful," he tells the magazine. "It adds more dimension to a space."

For the rest of the photos, head over to CTC&G.

· Sam Allen Designs a Sophisticated Westport Home for a Family of Six [Connecticut Cottages & Gardens]
· All The Printed Page posts [Curbed National]