- Add warmth to a space. One of the best ways to infuse a room with richness and warmth is with wood furnishings and accessories. Especially when it is a beautifully hand carved unexpected wood chair from my “private collection of Dialogica furniture”.
- The most important element in home decor is natural light. It is an essential part of my design projects, and there are many ways to bring it inside. During renovations, I try to incorporate a bank of full-height French doors. They look smart and open up a small or large space. Traditional French doors work well with almost any architectural style. They add that extra bit of drama. SOCIÉTÉ CHESNEL FRÈRES is my preferred source. You can also think about putting in skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows, or a bank of windows overlooking a garden.
- Create a good electrical plan. To incorporate all your lighting and gadget needs, it’s best to do your analysis with an interior designer or a lighting designer. Check the plan twice to ensure nothing is overlooked—no nooks or corners left in the dark. There’s nothing worse than poking new holes in the ceiling after the workmen have gone! I like discreet lighting, so I use recessed fixtures—the smaller, the better. Light switches should be placed in several convenient locations, and always use dimmer switches. Wall lights are a wonderful way to create mood lighting. Choose good-quality wall fixtures with as much care as you would a ceiling fixture. Antique and antique-reproduction hanging fixtures, chandeliers, lanterns, and wall lights can work well in a modern or classic interior (as height and space allow).
- Hardware should be of the best quality and unfussy. The key is always simplicity. Go with something you can be happy with 20 years down the road, and never use anything that’s trendy. For doors, I like hardware of forged iron, gold gilt, or lacquered brass, and egg-shaped knobs or plain, tapered levers. For pulls, consider a plain polished nickel knob. Hardware should be innocuous and part of the background. It shouldn’t stop your eye from admiring beautiful doors or cabinets—it should complement them. The best can be found at Marche Aux Puces St-Ouen De Clignancourt, and Period Furniture Hardware.
- Choose flooring with great care. It sounds trite, but the floor is the foundation on which to build a room design. I prefer unfinished wood floors and avoid trendy exotic woods. Six-inch-wide, quarter-sawn white oak planks are my preference. This cut of wood has nice movement and works in almost any scheme. I also like, and live with, recycled pine floors. I love old wooden floors with interesting dings and dents. Scars add warmth and a sense of history. Beautiful antique wood flooring can always be found at EXQUISITE SURFACES. Existing antique floors or newly laid old plank floors should never be machine-sanded. They deserve to be hand-scraped, wax-sealed, or left bare (my preference).
- Make interior stairs and railings interesting. Too often, new ones are boring. They function, but that’s about all. They lack grace and interest, and are often not in scale with the space. Nothing is more gracious or inviting than a pretty foyer with a handsome staircase, setting the tone for what’s to follow. Instead of going angular and awkward-looking with a design, be bold. Build yourself a curvaceous staircase—one that elicits oohs and aahs—coupled with a beautifully hand-wrought, classic, or contemporary iron railing. It will change your life. Gorgeous antique railings can be found through RESTORATION RESOURCES.