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Debbie Travis house to home: The best of both worlds

This week, Debbie introduces us to the design and decorating work of Cullman and Kravis
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2017-09-24 House and Home
Seen in From Classic to Contemporary: Decorating with Cullman and Kravis, this southern living room joins traditional furnishings with modern art.

When it's time to make plans for decorating, whether it's a small room or an entire home, begin by dreaming about what motivates you. There is a world of inspiration available today. Internet access, magazines and specialty books show every style from traditional to trendy. Traveling offers insight into what delights you, makes you comfortable, and even what to avoid. Yes, options are limitless, but how you live your life should help to steer you in the right direction. What makes you smile.

For me, it's old houses, ancient buildings. I am drawn to the history that survives and want to become part of it. But this doesn't mean that I don't also clamber after bold new designs. New and old can be great friends, as you will discover in From Classic to Contemporary: Decorating with Cullman & Kravis, written by Ellie Cullman and Tracey Pruzan, and published by The Monacelli Press. In this book, homes vibrate with luscious furnishings, brilliant contemporary art, and design know-how that makes each room special and personal.  "We believe in the alchemy that happens when old meets new and when new meets old," observes Ellie Cullman, founder and principal of the venerable design firm Cullman & Kravis. 

This is a gorgeous reference book for those who love interior design. As life moves ahead with all its modern conveniences, our world is becoming streamlined. Design tastes today include a sleek, linear aesthetic. We are decluttering our interiors. ìWe want curtains without heavy valences, furniture without skirts and fringes, art displayed without heavy frames," Cullman notes. 

In the chapter titled Southern Hospitality, a magnificent home demonstrates how a sense of place steers the architect and designer.13-foot ceilings ensure an airy atmosphere, with high windows that let the light flow from room to room. Cullman explains that the minimal palette of whites and refreshing sherbet tones helps maintain a good balance between the more formal architectural elements, the gardens, and the sculptural furniture and modern art. In the living room shown here the period furniture pieces were chosen for their straight-line quality, which meshes with the homeownersí collection of modern art. The Tabriz rug is infused with pale shades rather than the usual saturated colours to complement the pastel palette, and link up traditional with modern.

The captivating homes each provide unique design ideas. The walls in the entry hall of a posh pied-a-terre in Manhattan are Venetian stucco decorated with swirling lines of gold. The ceiling is painted in high gloss peacock blue drawing the eye up and into the next room, where similar shades of blue show up in curtains and cushions. The master bedroom in a family home in Miami demonstrates how to decorate over a king size bed. While Cullman and Kravis usually look for a large piece of horizontal art or a group of smaller pieces that can hang in a grid, they discovered a large sculpture made up of many smaller pieces that hang in glorious shapes and colours over the headboard. A sophisticated beachfront vacation home utilizes slim lines of bronze bands as crown mouldings and as an inlay on the entryway walls. 

As I lingered over the stunning roomscapes, 13 projects in all, I noticed that blue appears in almost every scene. I asked Cullman about this, and she recalled that "blue is the most universally preferred colour in the spectrum. Blue in all its incarnations, from pale ice to vivid sapphire, resonates with so many people in a variety of locations and with a variety of styles.î Thatís one more decorating tip to keep in mind.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter, and visit Debbie's new website



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