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The only choice for custom woodwork craftsmanship is the Paris-based Féau & Cie Boiserie, says Robert Couturier. The workshop is rooted in 18th- and 19th-century old-world techniques and materials, encompassing stuc pierre walls (imitation French limestone), antique parquet de Versailles wood flooring, and painted, decorative wall treatments in wood. For a recent renovation, Couturier commissioned a Ruhlmann-inspired, cerused-oak-paneled library along with marble flooring in an intricate square-and-circle pattern for the entry hall.
Dan Fink is partial to silver with a provenance and makes his acquisitions through S. J. Shrubsole, a family-owned antiques business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Fink maintains it has the most exquisite antique English, Irish, and American silver. He points to a pair of its George III English silver meat dishes from 1802. “I love them for their perfect oval form, which in its simplicity always feels modern. And for their handsome coat of arms."
Designer Michael Aiduss relies on Cox London and their sculptors and artisans, who create decorative pieces out of bronze, silver, wrought iron, blown glass, and stone. Their Bronze Mask Chandelier, crafted in Aiduss’s favorite metal, works in many settings. “The bronze is forged in a style that is characteristic of European postwar bronzes, adding texture to its sinuous silhouette.”
Decorator Bunny Williams calls on Jon Schneller for Bradmor when she is in need of luxurious upholstery. Custom hardwood frames are produced before webbing, springs, and horsehair stuffing and hand-stitched details are layered, while down pads and muslin are incorporated before fabric and trims are applied. Williams often makes skirts of a sofa drop from the English edge for a more traditional look. “These artisans know the time-lost technique of detailing and applying different styles of skirts. It is like having a couture dress made,” she says. 631-388-5333
Linda Pinto and her firm Design Partners in Paris commission Atelier Mériguet-Carrère to create murals and do decorative painting for her clients. Masters at reproducing 18th-century classical styles, botanicals, and period scenes, the artisans are also adept at imitating wood, stone, and mother-of-pearl, along with faux marble and trompe l’oeil.
For period frames and impeccable restoration work, designer Darryl Carter heads to Bill Adair, founder of Gold Leaf Studios
in Washington, D.C. “There’s an orthodoxy regarding framing art if you’re a purist,” he says. The company has more than 3,000 hand-carved and gilded reproduction frames to choose from.
Frank de Biasi began his career at Christie’s appraising art and antiques, so he recognizes the complexities of purchasing artworks for a global clientele. Simon Ray gallery in London is where he goes for Indian and Islamic items. “I’ve bought several Mughal-period carved sandstone and marble pieces, which add a very Zen atmosphere to projects,” he says.
L.A.–based designer Paul Fortune has a fondness for bath fixtures from Lefroy Brooks, including its Classic wall-mounted bath-shower mixer with white levers in Silver Nickel. “This one was identical to one in the bath of my suite at Claridge’s years ago,” says the British-born decorator. “It’s sort of clunky, but I love the porcelain handles.” Fortune insists on “ELS”—the Extra Long Spout version.
Architect Peter Pennoyer turns to Belgian firm Maison Vervloet for its signature hardware piece, the Cremone Bolt 5 with Olive 158, a door-mounted bolt, which isa traditional solution to terrace doors popular in Europe. Pennoyer says that for the best effect, the shaft should be gunmetal gray and the holders and knob gold, plated with a shiny nut patina.
“Their case goods and upholstery celebrate the principles of classic American cabinetry,” explains D.C. designer Thomas Pheasant of New York makers Roman Thomas. Pheasant likes the firm’s Emilio, Hollister, and Hawthorne cabinets, which are all timeless designs and fully customizable. “Their French polished mahogany finish mixed with parchment is one of my favorite combos.”
New Yorker Alexa Hampton has maintained her family’s legacy well into the 21st century. Her father, Mark, a legendary decorator, was known for his relaxed, traditional decor. For the table, Alexa’s choice of service includes Bordallo Pinheiro plates from Portugal. “They’re more Mannerist in style than the classic Dodie Thayer lettuce pattern, which I also love,” she says.
“I love contemporary interiors, but there’s nothing like an antique Oriental rug to settle a room down and make it feel special,” says Kit Kemp, who oversees interiors for her Firmdale Hotels. Kemp tries to steer clear of central motifs on carpets, as they can make it difficult to place furniture. She loves Tabriz and Bokhara patterns from London’s Gallery Yacou.
According to decorator Brian J. McCarthy, “At the end of the day, paint can make or break a project.” McCarthy’s firm uses custom colors from Donald Kaufman and his wife, Taffy, whose range of 104 hues includes Bittersweet Autumn, Roman Lavender, and Plum. “If a room’s palette and finishes aren’t right, the furniture doesn’t matter.”