For 15 years, Annie Elliott Design has created elegant homes that feature her hallmark mix of antiques, art, and modern furnishings.
Whether you’re embarking on a home renovation, or wanting help designing your new home, Annie Elliott works with architects, kitchen designers, and contractors to create beautiful, welcoming spaces tailored to your lifestyle.
We had a chance to sit down with Annie to learn more about her unique approach to interior design.
1. How has your musical and fine art training influenced your approach to interior design?
Studying art history was excellent training for interior design. My big takeaway from graduate school was learning how to look at art. You take your time. You stare. You think about scale, balance and proportion – those are the elements you consider naturally when you’re analyzing art. How do shapes relate to each other, what’s the rhythm of objects across a canvas, how do colors work together – or against each other – to communicate a message or create a mood? How does a piece of art interact with the viewer? Today, I answer versions of those questions every time I design a room.
2. You’re known for creating elegant homes featuring a mix of antiques, art, and modern furnishings. What’s the secret to having it all come together?
The secret to combining different styles (and colors, and patterns) is to commit to the mix. You can’t have a room that’s predominantly one style and then throw in a token contrasting object. If you have a room full of antiques and you want to add a small contemporary drinks table, fantastic! But then let’s add another modern piece or two to ensure that the room as a whole looks intentional.
3. Tell us about your Bossy Color Blog.
I love to write, and early in my career, the blog helped me sort through ideas and establish positions. For example, there was an early post called, “Mirror over the fireplace: yay or nay?” (I’ll let you find the post to see where I stood on that!)
For a while I would answer reader questions via the blog, which was fun but became too time-consuming. This year, I did a series about the lead-up to the ASPIRE House (a show house we participated in). Now I try to write about design subjects that readers will find helpful … or at least amusing. There were some punchy posts when the pandemic started! I get so many positive comments about the blog, and it’s gratifying to know that people enjoy it.
4. What’s your favorite phase of a project?
I love the design development phase, when my colleague Amy and I are up to our elbows in fabric and wallpaper swatches. Knowing that each choice could send the design in a different direction is exciting!
5. We love your imaginative and bold use of pattern especially on wall-coverings. Can you share your inspiration for some of your favorite rooms?
I’m inspired by designers whose work I love – especially Sister Parish and Dorothy Draper. I try to analyze why they did what they did in a particular room. Why did they do a shapely valance on that window? (Because the window is huge and it needed interest.) Why did they pair those two patterns? (Because one is extremely formal and the other tones it down.) That kind of thing.
6. What element in a room do you usually start with? (artwork, lighting, rug, sofa, etc.)?
If the client has something significant that we need to incorporate – a large painting, a bold rug – then we start there. If we have free rein with the design, we’ll start with the rug, or we’ll start with wallpaper if that’s what the room calls for. (And let me tell you: it often does!)
7. What mistakes do you most often help clients avoid?
Letting the tail wag the dog. Sometimes a client has an item they insist we work with, even if it isn’t consistent with the design direction we agreed upon. For example, a client had invested in multi-layered, traditional drapes many years ago. We were helping her transition to a more modern style, but she wanted to keep the window treatments because they were so expensive. Those drapes would have been the driver of the entire design, and we wouldn’t have been able to deliver a truly spectacular, modern room if we had to incorporate them. We ultimately convinced her that the drapes had served her well, but it was time for a fresh start.
8. What is one of the best ways to add luxe to a room?
Sparkle and shine! Our style isn’t “luxe” per se, but we believe that most rooms benefit from something metallic, whether it’s a mercury glass lamp or a mirrored cabinet.
9. What is one of your favorite projects and why?
My favorite project tends to be the one I’m currently working on! In all honesty, my clients are such a huge factor in determining how satisfied I am with a project. You hear stories – and watch TV shows – about designers with nightmare clients, and that absolutely has not been our experience. Our clients are fantastic. We love getting to know each family member – including and especially the four-legged ones – and creating a home that everyone loves. If the project involves wallpaper and artwork, so much the better!
10. What are the most often requested features when a client is remodeling?
I’ve only done one of these, but I think it’s genius: a small package room off the front hall. Whether you’re receiving a package or waiting to send one, you can put it in that room, close the door, and the foyer stays nice and neat. No more tripping over Zappos boxes!