January 24, 2009

Jeffrey Bilhuber urges you to wear it tight

"Please don't believe that slipcovers must be loose-fitting," Jeffrey Bilhuber writes in his first book, Jeffrey Bilhuber's Design Basics. "Tailor those babies like a fine suit. Nothing will depress you more than a room full of loose, drooping, baggy slipcovers. It has the allure of a pajama party in a nursing home."

He's a doll, he really is.

Design Basics is a charming blend of chummy snark and useful advice. Bilhuber offers tips on using color and pattern, choosing materials, measuring a room for an area rug, and dressing your mantle. He also lists his tenets for creating interesting rooms ("a polished dining room table demands painted chairs") and his favorite Benjamin Moore paint colors.

How helpful!

Top: Grant Beige, Alexandria Beige, Rainforest Dew, Java
Middle: Edgecomb Gray, Black Bean Soup, Grant Beige, Yellow Haze
Bottom: Moonlight, Gentleman's Gray, Harbor Fog, Mellow Yellow

Design Basics is full of luxe rooms brimming with neutrals and earth tones. My favorite photo is below. Bilhuber upholstered a sofa in lush linen velvet and paired it with a tortoise shell table and a satin-covered gilded chair. The dark blue floor is linoleum. Isn't it yummy?

Defining Luxury
, Bilhuber's newest book, is a clean departure from these subdued interiors. Color and pattern dominate! Chintz! Checks! Fake cheetahs prowling the carpet!

Bilhuber loves his antlers, too. Why not surround your flatscreen with them?

(Psst: Thom Filicia, who worked at Bilhuber's firm in the '90s, copied this look, below, in his fisherman's cottage in Upstate New York.)

Photo credit: Jonny Valiant, Domino, Aug. 08.

A stuffed peacock in the living room never hurts, either.

While my definitions of luxury don't include taxidermy and chintz, I have to say the placement here is clever. A peacock must preen, after all.

And Defining Luxury does feature some lovely, tamer interiors I find inspirational.

I was surprised by how much I liked this room (below) -- I kept flipping back to it. There's something wonderfully cheerful and inviting about the pastel candy stripes, the pinks and greens, and the overstuffed upholstery.

Below, a neutral living room with touches of red and gold. The gorgeous ikat pillow pulls it all together.

Isn't this parlor beautiful? (Apologies for the poor scan.) I love the mix of pattern and scale. Antiques brush elbows with modern art, and the ceiling is painted a glossy chartreuse. (What's that newspaper sculpture doing by the fireplace, though?)

Hello, orange! Bilhuber pulls it off.

In this dark green living room, the artwork's sinuous lines echo the pattern on the antique Russian commode. Notice the repetition among the chairs, decorative accents, and roses.

This last photo isn't from Defining Luxury, but I had to include it. Gorgeous, right? Warren Platner table with modern klismos chairs. (Photo from House and Garden, Oct. 2005.)

Quieres mas? Read this interview between Jeffrey and New York Social Diarists Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge.