Women with savoir faire and verve, women who inform and inspire, women who know how to get what they want out of a room. These type of women pack the pages of Margaret Russell’s Designing Women, a gorgeous coffee-table style book that takes a fresh look at 16 contemporary trendsetters.
The exclusive 16-member group of designers includes well-known interior decorators Muriel Brandolini, Mariette Himes Gomez, Tricia Guild, Victoria Hagan, Holly Hunt, Charlotte Moss, and Catherine Memmi.
The highly individual styles of these innovators have strongly influenced the direction of design, explains Russell, whose inspirational book enables the icons of interior decoration to lead by example. “The striking portraits of their personal surroundings reveal how they bring their professional philosophies home.”
In fact, the book showcases the designers’ own homes, which allows Russell to outline a variety of design approaches to particular rooms, taking into account such elements as scale, fabrics and furnishings, and color and texture.
Of course, the book is also a great marketing tool for the designers — and Russell herself — since it offers a resource list with contact information for the designers, as well as their favorite sources.
Since 2010, Margaret Russell has been the editor in chief of Architectural Digest and archdigest.com. She spearheaded a highly regarded redesign of the magazine, the relaunch of the website, and the launch of AD’s tablet editions.
Prior to joining Architectural Digest, Russell served as VP/editor in chief of Elle Decor, a publication that she helped found in 1989. During her tenure, Russell also created elledecor.com and produced the best-selling Elle Decor book series.
“I am committed to promoting art, design, and culture through charitable work, both in the New York area and nationally,” says Russell, who is a presidential appointee to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She’s also a member of the Advisory Council of the Philip Johnson Glass House, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She lectures frequently on architecture and interior design and has been featured on numerous television shows, including Bravo’s “Top Design.” She is the author of several books; among them are “So Chic” and “Style and Substance.”
A graduate of Brown University, Russell lives in Manhattan.
Scroll down to glimpse our favorite three rooms from “Designing Women.”
Holly Hunt lives in Chicago, but it’s her home-away-from home in Paris that inspires her. She owns a romantic, two-bedroom pied-à-terre near the Place de la Madeleine, where, she says, “I find myself doing things here I would never do anywhere else. I sleep later, eat later, and walk five times as much to neighborhood croissant shops and flower markets. There’s something about the rhythm of being in Paris, and there’s no city more beautiful, period.”
For those who want to bring the Parisian experience to their home, Hunt recommends these design details:
- The French collect things, keep them, and then re-sell them; it’s a flea-market mentality. There is an abundance of decorative-arts objects because they don’t toss them out.
- The joy of having a second house is being able to make it look different from the place you live most of the time. Try something new.
- My favorite luxury is going to sleep on really good sheets. Now that my children are grown, I don’t feel guilty buying Pratesi linens and having them sent out to be washed and pressed; there’s nothing better.
- The furnishings in a house should be indigenous to that space.
- Nothing is superior to white linen fabric when you want something simple.
- Refinished antiques look all dressed up and ready to go to a party. It’s better if they look aged and used.
Tricia Guild’s claim to fame is color. It’s the key element in her London home, which she considers a “design lab.”
Through her trademark “confident color use” she has made stylish decor accessible to all (title image courtesy of Designers Guild). Creative director and founder of Designers Guild, Guild began her career selling Indian-inspired fabrics on the Kings Road, now the home of one of her many flagship stores. She has won many industry accolades, been awarded an OBE, and has written many successful books on color and design. Her latest book is Colour Deconstructed.
To harness her design details, Guild suggests:
- Mix textures in a room. “I love the interior play of rich velvets, embroidered wools and cottons, and sturdy mohair.”
- Dress windows in fabric, but try using gauzy sheers and transparent silks combined with more substantial fabrics instead of heavy, lined curtains
- Go for white ceilings and neutral-toned floors of painted white wood or stone tile; or cover them in natural material such as sea-grass matting.
- Slipcover your upholstery for a refreshing seasonal change.
- Choose a color palette that inspires you. Gather fabric and paint swatches and photos of favorite interiors, divide them into color groups, and experiment with those that please you most.
- Don’t be too timid with color; just maintain a good balance between whites and neutrals and more intense hues.
- Refine your tastes and know what you can and can’t live with. “I find shades of blue very restful and could never sleep in a yellow room.”
Charlotte Moss spent 10 years as a Wall Street marketing executive before capitulating to her real love, interior design. As the owner of an eponymous shop that sold antiques, she built a roster of high-profile clients and then went on to design collections of furniture and accessories, and write best-selling books, before becoming an adviser to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
When it comes to her design details, Moss says:
- When working on a design project, build a notebook of floor plans and swatches for each room. Keep a record of measurements and add snapshots of furniture and accessories.
- Let your interiors evolve with you — they should reflect the changes in your life. Don’t be afraid to experiment, to move things around from room to room. Paint the walls or slipcover a chair; decoration shouldn’t be static. Take risks.
- Don’t overwhelm your bookshelves with objects. A picture or vase tucked here and there might add interest, but the books should come first.
- When setting a table, mix china patterns the way you mix antiques and add unexpected small accessories to decorate the table.
- Always have something with a bit of history in a room.
Are you ready to design like a leading style-maker? Click here to buy the book.