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You Need This... I Promise

Calling Home (Featured in Frederic Magazine Issue #13)

This month, I am so proud to be included in Frederic Magazine. My friend Tori Mellott produced the shoot and her enthusiasm for interiors is infectious. I learned so much from her, even in just the short two days we spent together. I am honored to be included in her upcoming book, Southern Interiors: A Celebration of Personal Style, which comes out in November. Tori has made a career out of noticing that makes a room great. Not so differently, I have made a career out of noticing what makes a wardrobe great. I have spent a long time in fashion (and I do mean long — my first boss, Polly Mellen, just turned 100!) and I was the beneficiary of so much knowledge that helped me figure it out. In fact, I would say that is the real reason I do what I do. Getting dressed can be a drag or a delight… but we have to do it every day. We make clothes that are meant to last, and my hope is that they can also make getting dressed something that you look forward to. Some very basic pieces (I have returned to these in detail recently with some Back to Basics posts here, here, and here) and a few pieces you need to liven things up. Great homes, like great wardrobes, have both.

The team at Frederic very kindly let me write my own piece and I am sharing it here. I talk about all the moves that Sid and I have done together and the mistakes we have made together… but also the thread of our shared taste running through each of our homes over the years. We all learn by looking first and then trying it ourselves. It is a lot like getting dressed. You invest in things you know you'll have forever (my two fat pink couches, now over twenty years old) and sometimes you score something on the cheap, finding it all the more thrilling knowing its value (our Platner coffee table found at a Knoll warehouse sale). And then there is always room for some sentimental, not-so-valuable things that you love just because (the random dented bud vase I found at an estate sale). I am sure you can find your own parallels in your home and your closet. I hope you will buy the magazine because there is so much more amazing stuff in there to pore over. Every issue of Frederic is a treasure trove, but this one is extra special to me. You need it, I promise.

Issue 13 on a well-loved couch

My husband, Sid, and I have lived in many homes—too many, to be honest—some by choice, some by circumstance. Our current house in Atlanta, though, feels like the culmination of all of them. This is the house of my childhood imagination, even as I could have never imagined exactly what that would look like.

Growing up, my family moved every two years or so, going from one midwestern ranch-style house to the next. The best was a tri-level, when I was in sixth grade, that looked like something out of The Brady Bunch. That year, we took the requisite family trip to Washington, D.C, and I found myself standing in the rotunda of the National Gallery of Art. It was pretty unbelievable. The smallness I felt in that soaring space, surrounded by the Ionic columns and the quiet of the massive gallery that fed into it… I wanted to live there. Nobody had told me that a room could make you feel like that.

And that is how I feel in our home today: like I live in a museum. High ceilings, bare floors, grand architectural details. The millwork arch in the front hall mimics the same passageway from that rotunda. There is a fantastic pediment above the fireplace, and beautiful carved waves going up the stairway. Corinthian columns flank the front door, with scrolls and pineapples above, and a pair of eagles. It may be a fraction of the scale, but the feeling is the same for me. I want to live here.

Sid and I are clothing designers, not architects or decorators, and have made plenty of mistakes in the places we’ve lived in over the years. But somehow, in this house, all our experiments with style have come together. Our collected furnishings and objects seem to have flown into the rooms and settled in. It is as if they were meant to be here all along. Even the mistakes.

There are the big, fat pink George Sherlock couches in the living room that were purchased over the telephone in 2001 after I saw them in the Styles section of the New York Times in the home of someone cool (Bryan Ferry?) I didn’t have a great sense of the scale when I purchased two of them! They’ve been squeezed into three other living rooms, but here they can finally breathe. The sunshine has turned the solid pink into a kind of Rorschach test of faded splotches. The drum set in the corner is a bit of wasted space—another sitting area would be more practical—but it was a sentimental Christmas gift to Sid, who had grown up playing the drums but never owned a set himself.

Our dining table was purchased in a hurry: I loved the legs, but never liked the paneled top that screamed “reproduction.” It’s now covered with a regulation blue ping-pong topper… and looks better that way. We use it more, too. The Calder-esque mobile above it, from Volta Paris, was a must-have since I have deemed myself a museum dweller (although it’s more MoMA gift shop than gallery piece).

And like in many museums, the modern looks amazing mixed in among the old. Sid’s and my first big acquisition together was a Warren Platner coffee table purchased when we were in our early 20s from a Knoll warehouse sale in Long Island City. We had no idea what it was, but man, it looked cool. Our oldest daughter would learn to walk around it, leaving fingerprints on the glass top in our first apartment as a family of three on lower Fifth Avenue. Like the couches, it has lived in a dozen rooms since then, but has never looked happier than it does here.

People who love houses speak of living in them as a guest: The house is permanent, but you are not. This one is mine for now, and each room tells a story, not only through the structure, but the kooky, funny things inside of it.

We bought this house in 2022 when we were still wrapping our heads around the sort of place that would work for our non-traditional, multigenerational living arrangement. We have five grown daughters, and we will share our home with two of them forever as they have a recently diagnosed progressive motor neuron disease. It is a new phase of life for all of us, and a bit of a creative puzzle. There is a garden-level floor for them that allows us to live together but separately, with a wonderfully light-filled stairwell connecting the two parts of the house—or maybe, rather, the two wings of our little museum. A museum is filled with beautiful art and objects: the evidence of lives lived, and of things created. You could say the same about this house. Though we don’t close on Mondays.

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