Interior Design - Deconstructing the Details

Architectural Digest recently showcased the renovation of the home of Natalie Massenet, who until recently was the chairman of Net-a-Porter.  She launched her online fashion retail company in 2000, which went on to become phenomenally successful by changing the way many women shop, myself included.  Net-a-Porter made the process of shopping from my laptop such a seamless experience that I'm rarely in brick and mortar stores anymore.  I've certainly found their accommodating customer service and free ship & return very persuasive.

So, Massenet's renovation was carried out by interior designer Michael S Smith, whose interior design style is mixing old world classicism with contemporary settings.  He's probably most well known for his somewhat controversial overhaul of the White House Oval Office and residence for President Obama and his family.  

The renovation carried out in Massenet's house is closer to my interior design aesthetic and I thought it might be interesting to deconstruct the details so you can potentially apply an idea or two  to your own home.  Her home although large, is not overly imposing with both the library and dining area graciously laid out on the ground floor to easily accommodate free-flowing entertaining.   Apparently, the library was inspired by the the paneled Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel, Paris with crimson leather cushioned dining chairs, metallic accents and a large gilt-bronze mirror above the fireplace.  As Smith expressed, "think of it as gold buttons on a Chanel jacket!"

Textures abound throughout the house, with finishes applied to every surface; such as the ornate paneled ceiling in the foyer and silver leaf applied to the library ceiling.  Accents of various shades of red, russet and burgundy add a dynamic punch to an otherwise quite neutral color scheme.  I'm happy to see antique brown wood tables and chairs featured, which some of us own, but have been out of favor in recent years.  The key to successfully using brown wood pieces is to mix them with other finishes and materials like black lacquer, stone or sisal for a more eclectic look.  In the master bedroom the walls are covered with a wallpaper from Zuber & Cie, an old-world French wallpaper & fabric company that claims to be the last factory in the world still producing woodblock printed wallpaper.  

The rather dramatic mural of a hunting scene works in this context as it's in just two colors, which are repeated in the furniture, bedding and carried onto the double doors that open to reveal an ornate Louis XlV commode.  Artwork consisting mainly of black & white photography, hang individually or grouped casually leaning against the more formal mantel in the foyer makes an interesting juxtaposition with the antique and vintage furniture.  

Photos from Architectural Digest