By Mary Graham and Nicole Salvesen
We are often asked for advice on how to freshen up a room for spring or make it feel more cosy for winter. Of course there are always things you can do to ring in each season but it wouldn’t be true to our principals as designers to recommend regularly refurbishing your house. As in the fashion world, following trends too closely is not sustainable.
Instead, we try to create rooms that work for all seasons. Whether your aesthetic errs on the side of minimalism or maximalism (we hope the latter), a carefully curated space will feel stylish and comfortable year-round.
Here, we share some tips to help you think timeless, not trend-led, using the drawing room in this classic six-bedroom apartment on New York’s 5th Avenue. What better place to watch the seasons change than with a view of Central Park?
Let there be (lots of) light
Lighting is key in any room but especially important in a large space such as this, where the right illumination will help to make it feel intimate and welcoming throughout the year. Consider using lighting on different levels: table and floor lamps to cast the light sideways, wall lights to give a general glow around the room and ceiling lighting for when you need more intensity. It’s about balance rather than impact.
We are not fans of using too many spot lights, and will avoid using them if possible, but if you need to soften the light they provide, these Littleton diffusers by And Objects are a clever addition.
Lean into layers
Layering patterns and textures will help this room to feel warm in the winter months — when you will want to be cosy and light a fire — and fresh when your potted bulbs start to sprout in the warm spring light. This could mean using a light cotton fabric on a lampshade or cushion, a heavier-weight linen for a curtain and perhaps a weave for upholstering a sofa.
Layering helps to ensure a home feels authentic instead of overly designed, and it doesn’t necessarily mean using a lot of colour — we often work on gloriously pared-back schemes when the room requires it. Look to some of the larger fabric houses, such as Schumacher, which stocks this wonderful Josef Frank print from 1947, for a range of textures and patterns.
We’re unlikely to pad around in bare feet in the winter, but in the summer months, we like to throw off our slippers and feel the texture of the floor beneath our feet.
We tend to use wooden flooring in the more public spaces of a home, such as this drawing room, as it offers an enduring aesthetic and feels warm all year round. A rug can then add interest — both for the eyes and your feet. We love the timeless nature of a flat weave and if you choose the right material — bamboo for example, or fabric made from recycled materials, such as this Antibes rug by Jennifer Manners, which is made from recycled plastic bottles — you get both style and sustainability. A durable material such as this is also great for a drawing room, as you don't need to feel too anxious about your guests spilling a glass of wine.
Frame your view
Window treatments can really make a room. We would definitely recommend curtains in a room like this to help it feel elevated but you wouldn’t want to detract from the view of the park. A great option would be to use a plain fabric for the curtains and add a wonderful trim, such as this tassel fringe by George Spencer. A trim can also be a really good way to bring together all the colours you’ve used in the room.
Design for all the senses
Sound — music in particular — plays a vital role in interiors and with a room such as this, we would consider from the start where the source for music should be. So that there’s no risk of the technology becoming outdated before the project is even complete, that means bringing the professionals in right from the beginning. But if you’re not looking to completely revamp your home entertainment system, we would suggest starting with a wireless Sonos One. It’s easy to use and the discreet design means it will work visually in any room.
Photography: Astrid Templier; Brown Harris Stevens