S(t)ill the Best?

Do you remember your first tear sheet? I know, I know, it’s not quite up there with some other firsts, BUT…


Way back when… I ripped out this American decorator’s guest house, oh alright, like 17 years ago (I did the maths). I used to pore over it, the ceiling, the floor, the pared back … yet still inviting CHIC of it all.   It was etched in my mind, the interior, not the decorator unfortunately (note: I am very bad on names and birthdays).

Anyway, life rolls on, and then Stephen Sill’s book arrives this weekend…lo and behold, there it is, yes…evolved, but still essentially the same.  Sill’s exquisite scheme stands the test of time. He himself says:  The most common decorating mistake is overdecorating. There’s nothing more vulgar in an interior.

stephen sills guest house


So what did he do here ? I wanted to make a cozy, comfortable place, but nothing sweet or sentimental.

The hand-painted canvas ceiling was inspired by  none other than Pauline de Rothschild’s patterned tiled floor at Château Mouton Rothschild.

The floors? Canadian marble blocks painted white.

The walls?  two shades of tinted plaster.

I wanted to make a sort of nebulous, modern background and put beautiful objects in here, because I love objects. I think objects are the things in decoration that make a room.

and what objects…

The Robert Morris felt sculpture (to the rear above) was  introduced to create visual clarity.

The Spanish lantern, made from an old sugar container and the belts of soldiers from the Spanish-American War, is from Art Basel.

The 18th-century Italian round-back chairs are from Sotheby’s over 20 years ago ,

They now sit beside a contemporary straw chair, made by a young Korean artist.

A pair of English twig tables, initially too expensive on Pimlico Road, turned up at an English furniture sale in New York.

The 19th-century French wine-tasting table that Christian Dior once enjoyed was found in Paris.


Sills placed 18th-century English grotto furniture alongside Louis XVI chairs with Bergamo slipcovers. A gilt Régence sofa found in Belgium and a pair of 18th-century gilt Roman chairs complete the seating area, with its Chinese Qianlong Period blue floor vases.

stephen-sillsColumns from the Hearst Castle,  a Louis XVI bed purchased in 1980; antique linens are combined with a footstool from a Parisian flea market and a Jean-Michel Frank lamp on top of a Régence side table from Christies.

Why the list, well  as Sill’s makes clear, it’s the objects which inspire him.

It’s funny with objects. If you’re really passionate, and you really understand your sensibility, and you’re patient, they will come to you. That’s what I love about the magic of objects. You never really own anything in this world, but you can be lucky enough to possess something for a time, and enjoy it, and then it goes on to another person to enjoy.

All this got me thinking, and so I ask you too….what do you really want to own, enjoy and pass on…



take a seat and think about it, possibly if your very, very lucky chez Sills at the ‘chicest house in America‘.

All photos from Town and Country magazine or Stephen Sills, Decorates.

The chicest house in America‘… is according to Karl Lagerfeld.

Me, I am back to the tear sheets.

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