How to “Undecorate”
Last Friday evening, I had the pleasure of curling up on a couch with the absolutely gorgeous (and ridiculously down-to-earth) Christiane Lemieux, founder of DwellStudio, the home line that’s loved by celebs (Gwen Stefani) and regular people (ahem, me) alike. We weren’t exactly in her living room, though. We were in Dane Décor’s spacious Old City showroom, and we were sitting on a streamlined couch from her new furniture line. Next to us was a Mad Men-appropriate side table that spins, lazy-Susan-like, and on top of that was Lemiuex’s new book, Undecorate. And I thought I was busy.
“I’m sure I’ve got dog hair on me,” she said, brushing herself off. “I bring every single piece of upholstery home with me to test it. If the dog hair is visible, I won’t use it.” (See? Even fabulous designers deal with pesky dog hair!)
She walked me through her pieces—a low-slung Jensen chair, a Hans lounge chair upholstered in buttery camel leather, nesting coffee tables wrapped in faux shagreen, a gold-leafed media cabinet, a stately French oak armoire with a geometric wood overlay atop the inset glass doors. The pieces are beautifully crafted, with decidedly mid-century modern lines made contemporary with DwellStudio’s beloved graphic patterns; you can pick and choose your upholstery.
“Clean lines support the bold fabrics,” Lemieux explained. “You can go safe with plain gray, beige or chocolate, or you can do a ‘decorator apartment’ and mix textile pattern, scale and color.
This mix of pattern—interpreted successfully in the fashion world by the likes of Dries van Noten and Etro—is something we should all get used to, Lemieux says. “This [furniture] line is true to our philosophy: Mix everything. [In this collection], nothing looks bad with anything else.” And it’s true. A low-slung Larkin sofa upholstered in a large floral pattern looked divine next to the wingback-esque Cooper chair in a muted aquamarine ikat print. This means you can achieve that layered, flea-market-mixed-with-high-end-mixed-with-Parisian-antique look without spending lots of time (or money).
“The old suite way of buying things isn’t really relevant anymore. It’s all about the old, curated look, hipper and looser,” she says. “It’s the anti-set. And I don’t see it ever going back.” Hallelujah.
Lemiuex’s home is featured in Undecorate, and features predominately white walls as a backdrop to her amazing accessories. It’s beautiful, but has completely changed since: “I’m feeling moody,” she said. “It’s not white anymore; I’m feeling a lot of black. My kitchen is now black.” Aside from moodiness, another trend this season is color. And lots of it. “Historically, in recessions, people want color and personality in their homes,” she says. So her DwellStudio collection, with its vibrant prints and bold colors, is timely, and deliciously on-trend.
Still, you’d never know Lemiuex was in a “moody” phase. Her tinkling laugh and charming self-deprecation belies the fact that she knows a thing or two (okay, enough to fill a gorgeous book) about design. There’s a bit of modern, a hefty dose of pattern and color, and a luxe vintage touch. It inspired me to start looking at patterns differently, to mix up my woods and my textiles. Glam velvet next to lowly cotton, rustic walnut next to shiny lacquer. It’s much more fun to decorate that way. To go outside the lines, and to never, ever take the easy route and buy a matching bedroom set.