photographs by James Merrell, text by Cynthia Kling
When hair-care pro John Frieda asked decorator Simonaire
to redo his 1940s lake cottage, she stripped it bare, then accentuated what she found. The result is a light-filled retreat that’s as comfortable as it is sophisticated.
1 avoid a total “look”
To make sure your home doesn’t resemble a flea-market stall or a pristine showroom, Simonaire suggests a balancing act: Invest in one or two timeless pieces—such as the Frank Stella print and the black leather chair pictured above—then integrate rougher, less expensive elements like the Moroccan chest and a reupholstered secondhand slipper chair to evoke individuality.
what we learned
2pay attention to light and locale
The best way to pick colors for your home is to look outside. Notice the light, the landscape, the color of the trees. Inspired by the “amazing white-gray sky” at this lake house, she chose a Farrow & Ball shade, “Blackened,” to match and used it to paint all the walls and floors.
3 create asymmetry
The key to keeping a room lively, Simonaire believes, is being
able to switch things up: Symmetrically arranged rooms can
become stagnant. Here, placing all the dark pieces on one side
of the room instills an intriguing unevenness. Even the
armchairs are arranged off-center, rather than facing the sofa.
“A cluttered room makes a cluttered brain,” Simonaire says. She suggests featuring a few objects each season as one beautiful still life and storing the rest. The brown pottery, above, looks warm during the winter; come spring, it will be replaced by white bowls filled with lilies. A perfectly weathered desk is a still life all its own.
5take note of
Before you start to decorate, look at what’s
already there. This house had been through
a tacky ’50s renovation, so part of the job
involved unearthing its original features.
Simonaire ripped out the dropped ceiling and
put up wainscoting to underscore the spacious
cathedral line. Beneath layers of linoleum,
she discovered a great old pine floor. A
monochrome paint palette highlights
the room’s architecture.
8-piece marta barware set
6stay in character
“The best homes reflect the personality and intelligence
of their owners,” Simonaire says. This inviting bedroom
reinforces the sense of comfortable simplicity that Frieda
wanted for his lake cottage. The bed is casually dressed
in supersoft linens from the Frette Hotel Collection, and
the furnishings are spare: A Noguchi lamp and a plain
side table do the trick.
7consider materials in new ways
“I was always such a matte person, but I love
shine right now,” Simonaire says. High-gloss
paint on walls and cabinets—rather than just the
trim—seems especially fresh in a kitchen or
bathroom. Better yet, it’s easier to clean than
matte, and multiple layers will last a long time. A
linoleum floor in black is an unexpected use of an
oft-maligned material. In fact, she considered
it for the entire house until discovering the
8-piece marta barware set
8enjoy outdoor space
for as long as possible
To get the most out of the site, Simonaire put a dining
table on the screened-in porch. She made this “room”
welcoming by decorating with good indoor furniture—
not insubstantial porch stuff. The teak table and
indigo-linen-covered chairs are handy for playing
backgammon, reading and listening to the wind
blow until mid-December. At night, the room
twinkles with lanterns and candles.