Fans of BRAVO’s show Million Dollar Decorators will be familiar with cast member Jeffrey Alan Marks and rooms from at least two of the homes included in his new 224-page book The Meaning of Home (Rizzoli, $45). There’s a hot pink bedroom for supermodel Amber Valetta whose husband had his difficulties with the color. Then there’s the high-cottage vacation home in Nantucket which Marks flew across the country to pull together for a client quickly and on a strict budget. Handsome and affable, Marks navigated all the choppy decorating waters throughout each episode and turned in the strongest work among all the designers in the cast. Or, let me put it more diplomatically (since Mary McDonald can be fierce) — his interiors appealed most to me.
Mr. Marks [right] is not a predictable designer nor does he impose a signature look. I would describe him as interpretive in the sense that he translates the needs and tastes of his clients to shape the look of their homes. Or, as he puts it rather sweetly in the introduction to the book: “I strive to create rooms that are beautiful, of course – but far more important to me is that I create spaces that show the personal and unique meaning of home for each person, couple, and family that I work with.” Applause, please!
So, while Mr. Marks may like to reuse his “signature” hand-painted De Gournay fish motif wallpaper, homes in this book all look very different, thus showcasing his tremendous range and subtle taste. One of the most interesting is a poured concrete house, with floor-to-ceiling windows, on eight acres in the California wine country. “…the heavy architectural masses and stark gray walls made an aggressive statement that was more like a design confrontation,” Marks explains. The bedroom [top] lacked a wall for the bed so Marks created an upholstered screen as a stand in. A brown velvet chair swivels, to take advantage of the view. Bedside tables are kept low and small and rough-hewn wood benches anchor the foot of the bed. Custom bed linens (by Holland & Sherry) hew to the soft grays, browns and blues used throughout the house.
The master bath marries at 18th century stone sink with a sleek Boffi wall-mounted faucet and and a 1960s Italian mirror. The elemental look of the stone and shelving offers a kind of rustic minimalism I think of as wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic that celebrates imperfection and simplicity.
Incredible natural light would be a prerequisite for a kitchen with a massive concrete beam overhead and a black wall above the range. A steel plate in the center of the island supports a thick, cantilevered wood ledge that reminds me of a piece of modern sculpture repurposed as a breakfast table. Yum on both counts.
(Source: © Jeffrey Alan Marks: The Meaning of Home by Jeffrey Alan Marks, Rizzoli New York, 2013. Images © Douglas Friedman, used with permission.)
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