Designer Sandy Muraca sees the big picture at home


Photo: Andrea Hubbell Photo: Andrea Hubbell

For interior designer Sandy Muraca, updating her foyer last winter so that it reflected her love of vintage art and antiques was vital. “While it’s not a space or room that you would sit and have coffee with a friend, it is a space where you come home, a space where you greet family and friends, and a space where you say goodbye. A foyer is a transition area and introduces the home,” Muraca says. Now, the foyer adequately sets the tone for the rest of her Charlottesville house, shared with her husband, three kids, two cats and six-month-old puppy.

Muraca runs an active Etsy shop where she sells vintage art and accessories, and the wall in her foyer pays homage to this activity. “I wanted to pull in more antiques and vintage pieces and group them together, in an artistic manner. It’s a bit of an art gallery.” The result has been a fun salon grouping of art and objects, anchored by a long, dark wood console table that “acts as scaffolding for the antique and vintage pieces above and below it.”

Favorite pieces include a mirror hung to the left (Muraca cleverly resisted the urge to center it, making the artful grouping even more interesting) that was found in Ruckersville Antiquer’s Mall. “It has an old farmhouse feel, but its lines are more modern. I just love it.” She also loves the actual art itself, from the antlers and skull, to the vintage prints of fencers. There’s no overall theme, but the way it’s been casually arranged really makes everything work together.

It’s almost as if Muraca’s foyer lets visitors know right off the bat her genuine passion for décor. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Muraca always lived in the church manse growing up. “This meant it wasn’t our house to alter. It must be why I have such a strong need to alter things!” It’s only fitting that Muraca’s blog be a place where she’s able to express the current things inspiring her. “I wanted to be a part of the conversation. I can always find something to say and having a blog allows me to say it.”

“I have a lot of design heroes. But, I’d have to say my top of the list pick is Bunny Williams. She’s actually from Charlottesville! I had the great honor to meet Bunny Williams at High Point Market a year ago. Due to a funny chain of events, I was actually seated at a table with Bunny and her marketing team. I couldn’t eat my lunch, I was so beyond thrilled. I really did get to meet my hero. Not an opportunity that comes up too often.

“There’s nothing comfortable about a room that doesn’t work—no matter how beautiful the fabrics are or how lush a rug is. That’s why form follows function. Once the function is established, everything else, from the colors and textures, to the scale of the furniture—slides into place.

“For myself, I have been leaning heavily toward pale colors, with the contrasts in textures and tones. I know the pale gray colors have been trendy for several years. But, for me, it has a soothing, calming effect. I’ve read that often designers and decorators embrace whites and less pattern, because we work with so much of it. It becomes a place for the eye to rest. For my first floor, I painted everything in Benjamin Moore Titanium. It’s the perfect backdrop for highlighting art and texture.

“While I don’t line everything up in right angles, axis lines are very important. Axis lines are the lines of the room that run from the floor up the wall. Often, if one window is centered on a wall, the axis line can be followed right up through the center of the window. Or, on the other hand, a door not centered on a wall can alter a room’s axis line. If something is off in a room, it probably has to do with the axis lines. That’s why design begins in black and white, laying out the function of the room. It can correct a lot of challenging axis lines.

“I always come back to the room as a whole. It’s hard to visualize a room as a whole, but it’s what makes a room successful. It’s never about one thing: the antique cabinet, the rug, the wall color. It’s about the relationship between these objects, colors, and textures, that makes you walk into a room and want to be in the room.”

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