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The house is a small English cottage on the water. "The family was only going to keep the house for a short time frame. We filled it with inexpensive, non-committal forms of color, like pillows from West Elm." At the same time, "the clients knew intellectually that they wanted to use a lot of color, but always shied away from it." A big part of Tara's job here was helping them make that leap.
"The metal chairs are outdoor chairs; I tied them to the rest of the room via muslin upholstery and the metal coffee table." Tara calls the wooden frog "sweet and whimsical." She found it at Brimfield and knew it was perfect for this home.
This is the same clients' home in Tribeca, a previous collaboration with Tara. "I fought to bring in a bit of color through silver, gold, flesh and a very pale blue," Tara says, but that was as far into color as they wanted to go.
"The brown sofa faces a plasma screen television and is ultrasuede; it's great for the clients' two small children because it doesn't show stains." She was able to add prints and colors through a plethora of vibrant throw pillows. The ottoman is seagrass, adding texture and relating the space to its beautiful surroundings.
Tara's husband Sam is an artist, and the painting in this room is one of his. "As an interior designer, I have a natural attraction to pairs of things," she says. Sam "encourages me to juxtapose colors and pieces and to break free from some of my natural inclinations."
And though she's a fan of resources like 1stdibs , Tara says there's nothing like learning from furniture dealers. "They are such a wonderful resource, especially in New York... Being around a piece of furniture and learning from these experts can never be replaced by looking at a two-dimensional drawing."
Having so many of these great resources around her can be dangerous, though. "I fall in love with objects and make everything work around them," she says. "Right now I have five storage spaces!"
The client already owned these fabulous chairs. "I respond to sculptural pieces of furniture," Tara says. "Each piece needs to be beautiful on its own." That being said, she knows that every piece must be functional. Thus "if a client is not sitting in every chair, it's not working, and that could be a $100,000 loss."
The Parsons desk and the crab pillow are from West Elm. "I love West Elm. I'm going to sound like a commercial for them, but they are so great for singles, people who are just starting out, people with young kids who want inexpensive pillow covers that they can throw in the wash. It's style on a budget."
The ceramic zebra stool was found shopping in a Stamford warehouse full of antiques. It reflects the client's sophisticated fashion sense.
Tara advises holding off on curtains, as they can be space hogs and are often expensive. "Start with the functional. Shades are clean and modern. You can always add curtains later if you decide you want them."