Julie Miller’s Gorgeous Cottage

Julie Miller’s dashing Highland Park cottage is much like she is – classic, chic, and a bit wild.

 
HOW GLAMOROUS: The living room in Julie Miller’s house is as glam as its gets with Billy Baldwin-like chocolate walls, a collection of blue opaline, and plenty of animal prints. Miller had her grandmother’s sofa restyled to appear more art deco, and draped it in a beaver blanket to camouflage dog hair. ALSO SHOWN: Irish flame mahogany table, bought at a flea market in Wales; one of several Picasso ceramics; pair of tiger-striped slipper chairs, custom designed by Miller; 1950s candle sconce; and Murano chandelier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Spirited Sophisticate
Julie Miller’s dashing Highland Park cottage is much like she is – classic, chic, and a bit wild.

Martini glasses clink. A burst of laughter explodes from the dining room, where the table is laid with gilt-edged floral French porcelain, chunky cut crystal, and shimmering silver. Something in the kitchen breaks. More laughter.

This could be a scene from an old movie – think All about Eve, not On the Waterfront. It’s just another Sunday night supper at Julie Miller’s house, where friends are called at the last minute, and whoever shows up shows up. The dress, like the attitude here, is strictly casual; usually T-shirts and jeans. But the jeans are Seven and the T- shirts are Prada.

 
DINING: Julie Miller’s dining room is host to many Sunday night dinners where barbecue brisket is served on her best English-bone china. Gold raw silk curtains billow to the floor, creating softness and elegance against the natural sisal rug.

Julie Miller has the pluck and aesthetic to turn her cozy 1950s neo-Regency cottage into a classic, elegant design, without the seriousness that usually accompanies it.

Her house is dizzyingly glamorous, yet comfortable. Like its occupant, the interior has a daring independent spirit.

Strongly influenced by her mother, who loves all things English, and her aunt’s passion for French antiques, Miller’s look is a mix of family pieces and finds from antique shops and fairs around the world, assembled with an Auntie Mame aesthetic, which not surprisingly, is one of her favorite movies. “It’s kind of evolved into 1940s glam,” says Miller, and adds that the décor developed organically, during the 10 years that she’s lived in the house. “I don’t like things too feminine, and I don’t like them too masculine. I don’t like it too antiquated, and I don’t like it too contemporary.”

In less competent hands, this oxymoronic philosophy would result in a decorating disaster, but Miller’s touch has created a dashing sense of decadence. Behind the façade of unstudied chic is a cunning maestro of scale and color.

IN THE LIVING ROOM, a muscular gilt mirror almost grazes the ceiling. Beside it is a diminutive petal pink slipper chair. “Chocolate walls can get flat and dark, so the mirror opens up the room,” she says, admitting that she didn’t consciously envision the dramatic contrast she created with the chair and mirror.

Bold juxtapositions are the norm in Miller’s little bungalow. Her decorating is intense but never nervous. The mahogany lacquered living room walls make her collection of turquoise opaline glass pop. A hot pink sari, dividing the breakfast room and den, deliciously clashes against her collection of green plates bought for $75 at a junk store in Corsicana.  “I loved what Billy Baldwin did,” she says of her use of color. “Hot pink works with green because they’re across from each other on the color wheel. Color selection is basically instinctive. Those saris were thrown up one night for a party, and I just left them up.”

 
LIVING: Julie Miller and her two dogs, Betty Boop and Squirt. Behind her is an antique Burmese buddah.

Miller’s collection of majolica-esque pieces, crocheted edged linens, and countless china tea sets could have easily looked frumpy. Instead, she makes them look fresh. “Mix it up, and don’t be too careful with things,” she says. “Tradition is not necessarily bad. If you’re relaxed, then you can’t help but have your house reflect that as well.”

And for Miller, lushness and the exotic translate into comfort. The zebra-skin rug in her living room, the billowing silk taffeta draperies in her dining room, and the ivory silk damask sofa in her mirrored bedroom niche, all sum up the Miller decorating philosophy. “I wanted to have a little place to sit and read and have a glass of wine and write letters,” she says. Mame Dennis would approve.

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