Pairing heirlooms with “modern flare”
When local graphic designer Stephanie Fishwick conceptualized how to decorate the living room of the charming cottage-style home she shares with her husband James, her initial thought was minimal, modern, and spare. But considering that she’s inherited beautiful antique furniture, she decided that incorporating all of their meaningful items made the space cozy and livable. “When it came down to practical living, the reality of what I actually owned, combined with realizing that it felt more cozy to have a layered look, meant going the more eclectic route,” said Fishwick.
Fishwick’s living room is anchored by a large white bookshelf, doubling as a room divider, that’s been artfully filled with books, music, figurines, photographs and other unique items the couple has collected. “I think we’ve both influenced each other,” Stephanie said. “I’ve chosen the color palette that I want, and decided where to place things. And he’s helped me come to appreciate things, like Oriental rugs and dark wood furniture, that feel more masculine.”
So there are both traditional and contemporary elements in this room: A modern gray rug with a triangle pattern rests below an antique round cherry coffee table. A vintage leather chair with nail head detailing is paired with a zebra print pillow and flanks an oversized modern cone lamp. “I definitely did not want an Ikea house!” said Stephanie. “That would be the death of our space. So I wanted it to feel weighted, sturdy and cozy.”
Stephanie’s favorite aspect of the room is the artwork. Each piece that hangs on the wall or leans on the mantel has meaning. There’s a framed anatomy drawing that the couple found in Paris, an oversized abstract painting she did last year, and a plethora of stunning watercolors, nude sketches and landscape paintings done by her grandmother. “I inherited my Grandmommy’s portfolio and she was a really accomplished painter and illustrator. So I’m blessed to have all her stuff, which I treasure.”
And don’t forget about the music. This audiophile couple with a massive vinyl collection oriented the room around the stereo. “Of course, the biggest thing that influenced how we arranged the room was based on finding the perfect place for the music to sound the best.”—Cate West Zahl
“Whenever I was placing things around the room, I didn’t want it to be too matchy matchy—which is the same way I approach my graphic design work. You want things to have classical rules and traditions, but at the same time incorporate modern flare.
“We both inherited a lot of beautiful antiques, and let’s face it: You can’t really help what you inherit! Some of the pieces are quite exquisite and something that we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford. That said, they aren’t what I would have necessarily chosen on my accord.
“There’s an orderly, artful display to the records and the books. We have a lot of books and music and it was hard to find a way to make it into something interesting that doesn’t involve just buying an Ikea shelf and throwing it all in there. There is some order to the chaos. I wanted the books to be horizontal and vertical, so that they felt like they were another aspect of the overall décor.
“The composition of a room is really important. One of the rules in typography is that there has to be a nice amount of space. Things have to be able to breathe and have air around them. The positioning of where the art is placed on the wall has to have enough margin around it, if you will. And I also don’t like things to be too even; there’s an ordered mess that I like.”