Thursday, July 7, 2022 Jul 7, 2022
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D Home’s Editor Rebecca Sherman Shows Off Her Apartment’s New Look

D Home editor Rebecca Sherman writes about her new blue and white interiors.
By Rebecca Sherman |

 

 

 


“I love symmetry,” says Julio. “You can cut this room down the middle, and it’s balanced.” A bold black mirror, formerly a window, stands behind my beloved pine table. Also shown: brass floor lamps from Restoration Hardware; disco-era chairs upholstered in citrus green silk; bench slipcovered in acid green silk; pair of neoclassic candlesticks from Nick Brock Antiques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My House

D Home editor Rebecca Sherman’s collection of blue and white porcelain inspired a whole new look.

Rebecca Sherman

My apartment sits on a manicured knoll off Turtle Creek, right behind the first—and best known—high-rise built on the Boulevard, 3525. Built in the 1968, the three-story complex was not demolished like most in the area, but renovated five years ago. That was when I first noticed it.

I liked the idea that someone cared enough to preserve its modernist beauty. Painted gray and white with metal railings that etch architecturally through a central courtyard, the building radiates peace and quiet. I must have passed it a hundred times over the years. I have admired it so.

Last December when a For Rent sign appeared, I thought, why not? It was the right time in my life to make changes, and this was the right place for a fresh start. In January I moved in. A Japanese maple in my small courtyard off the bedroom had just turned scarlet. In February it never seemed to stop raining. Between downpours, heavy water droplets hung like strands of diamonds along the metal railings outside. By March, a pair of mallards from the creek had nested in the flowerbed by my front steps, laying two imperfect white eggs.

I brought very little with me. My books,  a small but growing collection of blue and white porcelain, and my most sentimental possession, an antique pine library table from Sweden, which I’ve had for almost 20 years. In the early days, I handwrote copious amounts of mediocre poetry on it, and you can still see some of the words pressed into its soft pine surface. Later, I hammered out some of my best investigative reporting from the table, with papers piled from one end to the other. I always wanted to use it as a dining table, so in my new apartment, it takes center stage.

I brought back some of my first blue and white porcelain from a trip to mainland China, but my favorite piece is a Japanese sake vessel, circa 1850, a gift from editor-in-chief Christine Allison.

My books, my table, and my blue and white porcelain—these were the three immutable elements that interior designer Julio Quinones faced when he began to help me decorate. “I wasn’t sure at first what to do with the blue and white,” he admits. “My challenge was to figure out how to make the collection work.” Part of the solution was to use blue throughout the apartment for a primarily monochromatic look. I painted the walls a rich French blue by Donald Kaufman Color, an excruciating  three month process. Crisp, white plantation shutters that flank the windows and the French doors became like white cuffs and collars on a blue shirt. I often dress monochromatically, so when Julio suggested painting a large, custom-built bookcase in the living room the same color as the walls, I understood why. Things (and people) look sleeker and more sophisticated in a single hue. “It’ll dress it up,” he told me.

One evening, Julio carefully styled all of my blue and white porcelain inside the bookcase, along with some better looking art and design books. Fiction and poetry didn’t make the cut. It looked beautiful, but such perfection made me feel uneasy. A real writer would have real books in her bookshelves. So, I waited until he left to dismantle the whole endeavor, removing the porcelain and cramming in as many books as would fit. My subversive reorganization didn’t faze Julio, who simply gathered up the porcelain the next day and grouped them on a slip-covered Parsons table in the study. He also painted two shelves from Pottery Barn the same blue as the walls and used them to display my smaller porcelain. Lovely. Out of necessity comes invention, to paraphrase Plato.

A teak 1950s-era desk with simple lines helps make the study a tranquil place to work, along with a club chair covered in green velvet. Also shown: drum pendant lamp from Z Gallerie; Buddha lamp from On Consignment; Parsons table covered in Henry Calvin silk, with frog closures and cream leather top by Larru Leathers Inc.

I’ve never worked with a decorator before. I’ve written about a lot of them for this magazine, and maybe that has given me the ability to trust their instincts. Like any creative effort, the less you second-guess an artist the better the outcome. Okay, so I rearranged the bookshelves, but good decorators aren’t interested in passive submission. They want active input, and Julio and I spent many weekends shopping together. He learned what my tastes were, and I attempted to see with his practiced eye. “I’m like the coach,” he said.

My budget was modest. Julio gave me a lot of look for little money by searching consignment shops and antique malls for pieces with good lines and personality. “My eye tends to key on clean, neoclassic styles, like Louis XVI and Regency,” he said of the more delicate and smaller furniture he selected for my 1,200-square-foot space. “The apartment is not big, so I wanted to create two seating areas that flowed off the dining area. You can do that with the right scale of furniture,” he said. “It’s great for entertaining, and it makes everything cozy and intimate.” In the bedroom, two small Regency-style collectors’ cabinets with four narrow drawers and brass pulls serve as nightstands. 

Even though we bought a lot of antiques and traditional furniture, my apartment still feels contemporary. Julio accomplished this by keeping things tailored, and by popping in bright color. He installed a white linen curtain in the living room between the open kitchen, with an exaggerated Greek key design in a light blue. I slide the curtain open to talk to guests while cooking, then close it to hide the mess of the kitchen while dining. Hiding the kitchen, along with removing the ceiling fans and replacing them with pretty chandeliers, helps make my apartment look polished. For the dining room, Julio created drama with a large mirror, which was originally an old, white window that we found at an antique mall in Fort Worth. “If we’d left it white and peeling, it would have looked too shabby chic,” he said. “We made it modern by giving it a dramatic color, like black.” We also painted other chairs black throughout the apartment to help anchor all the blue.

The raffia headboard from On Consignment was one of the first things I found when we started shopping. “The raffia has a beach house air, yet it’s sophisticated enough for a city apartment,” he said. The late Ming dynasty Hatcher Cargo Collection wine cups from East & Orient were a gift from David Feld. Also shown: amber Murano glass lamps, Regency-style collectors’ bedside tables, starburst mirror from Nick Brock Antiques.

What makes me happiest about my apartment is its serenity. Keeping the walls one color and the hardwood floors bare is the decorative foundation. But I think it’s really something else. Rather late in the design process there was a moment of truth, where we could have gone in another direction, and it would have changed the mood of the apartment. It had to do with a single coral-colored leather club chair in the study, around which we’d based the apartment’s secondary color scheme. My best friend (and the magazine’s creative director), David Feld, said we needed a pop of green to offset the blue as Julio was laying out bolts of coral hued fabrics for me to choose. Julio looked up and saw an acid-green moss that filled an orchid pot and was inspired. The next morning he brought over a dozen bolts of green fabrics in a variety of hues. Those colors just felt more like me. No wonder: Open my closet and you’ll find numerous green dresses, and I’ve got a drawer full of green scarves.

We slip-covered a bench for the old pine table in an apple green taffeta and the dining room chairs in citrus green. A light green Saladino-inspired settee got a dusky green throw of wool gabardine, trimmed in new leaf green. For the bedroom, Julio had a green bedskirt and teal and green pillows made. My powder-blue linen reading chair, a last minute suprise from Julio, looks fresh with a pale green chenille throw. The coral chair in the study was re-covered in acid green velvet. When I saw a green Pucci print silk pillow at Horchow Finale, I knew exactly where it belonged. My house.

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