ccomplished author and designer Katie Ridder shares a few insights from one of her design projects — and one of our favorite rooms. Ridder’s robust portfolio is a study in how to breathe life back into antiques with contemporary techniques, including bold curtains and upholstery. She treats each piece as a celebratory exposition of classic design reframed for a new audience.
Can you tell us the inspiration behind this room?
I wanted this room to be dark from the get-go, with a quality that I often strive for in rooms used mostly at night: luminosity. I did this by adding silver leaf on the ceiling and incorporating a vintage fixture of carved glass beads.
What was the starting point for the design?
I started with the curtains and the chairs. I had the orange silk curtains from a previous house and wanted something graphic but simple, so I added iridescent trim.
What are the details on the chairs? Are they custom? The upholstery makes the room feel very modern. How did the design for the chairs come about?
Yes, these are custom with Penn & Fletcher embroidery on the backs. I designed these chairs that combine gray mohair on the fronts with yellow silk on the backs with appliquéd evil eyes of red Thai silk. I wanted dark fronts since my children were young at the time.
What about the rug?
It is a sisal rug from Beauvais. Both the grass cloth and the rug really soften any hard surfaces in this dining room.
We would love to hear about the art in the room. Were the paintings already in place or added as part of the design?
The sunflower painting on the far right wall is by Cornelia Foss. It was a wedding present from the artist. The other painting over the fireplace, we bought at auction.
What are your tips for decorating with so-called “brown furniture”?
Use it! It adds patina and character.
"I prefer antiques to reproductions, and this is a gorgeous antique dining table."
"I like that these chairs are clean and modern. I would take these two and adapt them with new upholstery."
"Lamps like these are perfect for a living or dining room. They are versatile and would look fantastic with a pair of custom shades."
"Khotan rugs are a favorite of mine—we had one in our Bronxville house. I love the animal motifs in this one."
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