Interior Designer Sheila Bridges Says Beauty and Functionality Should Always Go Hand-in-Hand
The lauded creative and designer of the iconic Harlem Toile de Jouy wallpaper shares a few of her favorite things with us.
Despite her perch in the highest echelon of American interior design, Sheila Bridges is truly grounded. "I believe in beauty, of course, but never at the expense of comfort and functionality," says the Harlem-based designer, who is renowned for her modern-classicist aesthetic. A native of Philadelphia, Bridges studied sociology at Brown University, but fell hard for decorative arts during a year abroad in Rome.
She launched her own firm before turning 30 (one client of note: former president Bill Clinton) and went on to author books, host a television design show, and create an iconic wallpaper—Harlem Toile de Jouy—that's in the permanent collection of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She is also one of the founding members of the Black Artists + Designers Guild, a trade group dedicated to promoting Black creatives. So yes, @harlemtoilegirl (as she's known on Instagram) is a force, but she's never lost her love for landing bargains, repurposing materials, and MacGyver-ing solutions.
Simply put, she's as fluent in HVAC systems and sump pumps as she is in Gustavian furniture. "I'm not running around town in heels," she says. "I'm hoofing it, carrying my own tool bag." She's curated a myriad of day-to-day essentials, from wear-with-everything shirt dresses and Harlem Toile de Jouy-covered Converse sneakers, to a lip color that never fails, to help her get it done. Her signature interior details, like a pillow that works across virtually all décor styles, have an air of efficient beauty, as well. All in all, Bridges' favorite things never hold her back—they only push her forward.
Poems with Resonance
"Many of his poems speak to Harlem, where I live, and the culture of the neighborhood I love."
Shop Now: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Vintage Classics, $15.89, amazon.com.
Pillow for Balance
"I'd use this pillow to balance out a room with a lot of color."
Shop Now: Hammertown Zaire Linen Cushion in Tobacco, $170, hammertown.com.
"I bought a place in Reykjavík in 2015. The city has so much charm, and is just 15 minutes from sublime natural beauty."
Simple Bed Linens
Blue or Green?
"It can look blue or green, depending on the trim or what is in the room. I also love their Vardo and Oval Room Blue shades."
Shop Now: Farrow & Ball Green Blue No. 84, price dependent on quantity, farrow-ball.com.
"I always have this flaky finishing salt on hand in the kitchen. It's geothermally produced from Arctic seawater."
Shop Now: Nordur Sea Salt, $17, store.177milkstreet.com.
A Little Bit of Nature
Harlem Toile Kicks
"I created Harlem Toile de Jouy in 2006. I love seeing my design on such an iconic shoe!"
Shop Now: Converse Harlem Toile Sneakers, $100, unionlosangeles.com.