Marrying Comfort and Elegance
Aerin Lauder’s first book, Beauty at Home, is filled with memories of her grandmother, Estée. It reveals her style approach in her Manhattan residence, Hamptons home and Madison Avenue office. Here are some excerpts showcasing her décor aesthetic that may help you add comfort and elegance in your own home.
If I’m going to do something traditional, there usually will be something contemporary right next to it. I like the energy that comes from that contrast. I have a great respect for tradition, but I’m always tempted to tweak it, to give it a little edge.
I don’t believe in matching art to the furniture. I never pull a color from a painting and then find a fabric in that same color. To me, art is a thing apart. It has its own reality.
Try to think in multipurpose terms when you’re planning a room. If you like to play games with your kids or cards with your friends, add a small table and four chairs. We put a cabinet that doubles as a bar in our living room. People can walk over and serve themselves. It animates the room.
I don’t like carpets. I had a serious carpet in the living room — once. With two muddy boys and two even muddier dogs bounding in after a wet morning in the park, the carpet had to go. I’m back to sisal. Sisal acts as a neutral backdrop that will work with any décor, giving even the most luxurious room a kind of ease. There’s a warmth to it and a nice texture that feels great on bare feet. And as it gets worn, it gets even better.
I like bringing different textures into a room, such as rock crystal, tortoiseshell and crushed velvet pillows unexpectedly paired with a more masculine sofa covered in wool.
My dining table is round, because in my opinion a round table seems more inviting. Everybody is equal — there’s no “head” of the table, and conversation is more casual.
When I’m dressing a table, I like to stay with one or two colors, in flowers and everything else. Gold — on the vases, bowls, plates and hand-blown Murano glasses — acts like a neutral. A zebra-patterned linen tablecloth adds an exotic touch. Marble acorns are a little favor for each guest.
I’m more likely to spend money on a chandelier that I’ll keep forever than on an evening dress that I’ll wear only a few times. I think it’s a better investment. I get to look at it every day.
I love skirted tables. I use them everywhere. They can work in the center of a room, in a corner or next to a sofa. Putting a piece of glass on top protects the fabric and keeps it looking pristine.
Color is a powerful thing. It affects us viscerally. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it, though. If you don’t like a paint color, you can always change it. The important thing is to give it a try. If you don’t, you’ll never know.
Beauty at Home by Aerin Lauder (Potter Style, 2013)