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Editorial Director, Decorating Kevin Sharkey
Martha Stewart Living's Editorial Director of Decorating and blogger, Kevin Sharkey, reveals his favorite ideas and rooms that helped to shape his updated traditional space.
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Reflections bring a room to life -- in this case, Martha's home in Maine. On this 19th-century American table, delicate finishes that capture light -- a gilded mirror, mercury glass vases, 18th-century candlesticks, lampshades trimmed with glimmering passementerie -- energize the rugged textures of the house. "More is more on a spartan table," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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In the library of Susan Lyne's Manhattan apartment, inexpensive wood molding was added to the walls to give the room an old-world atmosphere. The golden color palette and the asymmetrical arrangement of art, which includes works on paper by Gaston Lachaise, keep the room fresh and contemporary. The club chairs are covered in a practical printed cotton that resembles damask.Tour the Rest of the Home
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Updated Coffee Tables
A pair of square-shaped end tables forms the center of this furniture plan. Their black and gold accents repeat in the table lamp, armchair, and area rug.
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At one end of her multiuse Brown Room, open shelves present a study in man-made diversity: Martha's antique glassware. Mainly American, the pieces are intermingled with a few European examples. Some of the compotes, tumblers, vases, jars, and other pieces date to the 18th century. Their crystalline sparkle sets off the begonias' velvety foliage, while faux bois doors and richly veined marble tabletops join in the play of pattern on pattern.Tour the Rest of the Home
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Martha's master bedroom in her East Hampton, New York, home has a simple, yet luxe look.
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This living area, like so many rooms in the apartment, contains formal furnishings updated for a modern family. The antique console table was freshened with a new marble top; the sofa was re-covered in a Fortuny fabric; and bookshelves were installed on opposite walls. The high-end pieces are mixed with practical choices, including matchstick blinds, a sisal carpet, and plain linen curtains hung from unobtrusive curved rods. They echo the pale color palette and keep the mood casual.Tour the Rest of the Home
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Susan Lyne's guest bedroom, which overlooks Central Park, is covered in a charming butterfly-and-bird-patterned wallpaper. "It's flamboyant," Lyne says. "In here it's all birds and sky." The coverlet matches the pale-blue ceiling, and the bed skirt was copied from a decorative template published in the September 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living. "We kept the room unified with black-painted furniture," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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This look, which requires multiple rods, has a theatrical effect. Mix fabrics of various weights, colors, and textures. The linen outer panels are finished with goblet pleats, named for their distinctive shape. They are pulled back up high to reveal more of the interior layers, made of printed cotton and organza.
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Martha unearthed the pink Venetian mirror at a consignment store. The pink glazed tiles were made in the 1920s at Pewabic Pottery, one of Detroit's renowned potters. "Who would think to pair a Venetian mirror with a wicker table other than Martha? It's abundant luxury at its best," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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Playing up the utilitarian modernity of the Parsons table by binding it in leather with simulated tooled borders makes a dignified statement worthy of a library or study.
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"Martha's entryway and dining area in East Hampton demonstrates the power of strong pieces, such as the mirror and the chandelier," says Kevin.
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Floral Chintz Seat Covers
Dressy yet casual, the straight-skirted slipcovers on a set of dining-room chairs recall the era -- in the 17th and 18th centuries -- when chintz was equally chic for clothing and furnishings. The floral chintz was carefully cut so the motif would be centered on the chair seats. Pairing this fabric with a solid means you'll use less of it, and you don't have to worry about matching the pattern at the seams. The seat covers' pink sides, like the unlined draperies in the background, demonstrate that chintz can be beautifully monochrome. Piped edges and button-tab linings in the floral fabric below subtly echo the patterned seat. "Have fun with fabric," says Kevin.
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At Martha's Bedford, New York, home, a tall pair of schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla), or umbrella trees, flourishes in the Green Room. Palmettes, flowers, and fruits embellish a Swedish neoclassical wall clock. The marble-and-wood pedestal table underneath it, a gift from Martha's daughter, Alexis, supports a cluster of gesneriads, African violet cousins that prefer indirect illumination. "This is eccentric to the max," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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New Take on Chintz
There's a centuries-long history of "chintz rooms," with fabric-clad walls and furniture. A covered, padded panel of Homasote board behind a bed gives a similar dramatic effect -- much more economically. Use one pattern at the largest scale that feels comfortable; a tiny print can seem timid or fussy. In a bedroom, a 1930s French hand-screened print also covers pillow shams and a bed puff. A solid chintz outlines and backs the puff.
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Martha uses antique cast-iron stands in the Bird Room to carry, from left, variegated ivy, Hedera helix cv; maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum; and rainbow moss, Selaginella uncinata. Bartok the cat sits below "Canary (2)," part of a set of gravures by contemporary artist Carsten Holler. "Plants can be a great decorating tool," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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Fabric as Art
The notion that chintz is by nature suited only to swags, tiebacks, and ruffles does it a disservice. Used in a more clean, modern way, as on these Roman shades, chintz can be easy to work with, economical, and thoroughly contemporary.
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The sophisticated black furniture in Martha's East Hampton home prevents the mounted fish from looking too kitschy.
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Bedding adorned with subtle monograms was common in the 19th century. These orange initials update that tradition with a burst of bold color that contrasts with the room's dark furnishings. You can applique or embroider linens yourself or have the work done at a fine-linen shop.
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Paphiopedilum orchids grace Martha's bedside table, next to a lampshade that she designed for a Chinese crackleware base. Etched mirrored sconces catch light overhead. On the 18th-century mahogany four-poster, a subtly patterned Japanese linen covers the pin-tucked duvet and also lines the canopy. The bed's boldly scalloped gabardine pelmet and skirt contrast with the intricate embroidery on antique linens. "This room has great whimsy of color and shape," says Kevin.Tour the Rest of the Home
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