photographs by Laura resen produced by DAra caponigro text by brooke williams
Simply hung curtains emblazoned with giant iguanas bring a touch of the wild to Galli’s bedroom.
Fawn Galli has a talent for transforming her clients’ deepest desires into storyscapes of fabric, furniture and paint. As she went about revamping her Brooklyn brownstone, the interpretive process yielded a magical-realist theme: an enchanted forest with a bit of glam and a clear decorative thread.
Some decorators have a signature style—others, like Galli, have a highly personal and singular approach. She sets out to really understand her clientele by asking about their dreams and favorite memories; her goal is to orchestrate a collaborative, imaginative vision. So when she decided to create a wonderland for her family of three, she looked to the most vivid moments in her own past: her California hippie-commune childhood and her nights as a party girl/decorator-in-waiting in Paris and New York. (She trained under renowned designer Peter Marino and classical architect Robert A.M. Stern.) The result is a vibrant fairy tale, where a life-size fiberglass deer shares the shade of a banana tree with a Chesterfield sofa, and chartreuse curtains spring forth from gleaming silver walls. In an amateur’s hands, such whimsical, no-holds-barred pairings might seem melodramatic, but Galli’s disciplined eye and inherent feel for color and scale foster a unified structure that keeps the fantasy grounded.
“Every surface is a playground.”
Galli sees storytelling opportunities everywhere— when artfully covered, even the tiniest pillow can usher in a sense of history. In the living room, she engendered a sexy disco-esque tableau with silvery Florence Broadhurst wallpaper and a pair of chrome-framed Milo Baughman knockoffs, upholstered in hot-pink custom fabric by Robert Crowder. Confined to only the inside of the moldings, the paper both highlights the room’s architectural details and draws reflected light to its darker areas; the geometric play invites extra frisson. An oversize mushroom lamp nods to Galli’s countercultural roots.
“Balance begets freedom.”
Galli proves the fashion-world adage that good bones mean you can wear practically anything with aplomb. In the dining room, a straightforward floor plan—matching armchairs in front of the windows, a round table at center and modular bookcases flanking the fireplace—allows her to let loose with a from-the-ceiling shock of chartreuse draperies. A sisal rug and walnut bookshelves (designed by Galli’s friend and frequent collaborator Kelly Greeson) help bring the room down to earth, and an acrylic chandelier bestows a touch of pixie dust; its soft glow is perfect for intimate dinner parties.
“Make your rooms feel exotic.”
For the bedrooms, Galli took her magical mystery tour on the road, mixing patterned fabric and colorful furniture from distant locales. (“I want my son to know and feel the world, but I’m not interested in just sticking up some giant map,” she declares.) Gaspar’s room is a kaleidoscopic feast, with lemon-yellow walls and a fuchsia Indian rug. (Galli does not subscribe to the blue-is-for-boys mantra.) A mélange of creatures extends the home’s woodland theme: A Technicolor orange fawn replaces the traditional rocking horse; a flock of painted wooden owls embellishes the mantelpiece; animals and birds dance across framed textiles from Ecuador. In the master bedroom, Galli converted what had been tiny windows into doors that lead into the garden; a formerly gloomy cave is now a sunny haven. A spectrum of greens and browns—and a tree-house-y woven bed floating at center—enhance the forest-like atmosphere.