In this iteration of our column, we consider rooms that are playfully patterned and those that are knockout neutrals. Is the appeal of one over the other a matter of taste…or does it speak more to character? After all, the proto-modernist Adolf Loos famously decried the use of ornament as a crime. Are those who indulge in pattern-rich rooms debauched? Or are those who refrain from prints simply ascetic? The ancient Romans advised against probing this conundrum (De gustibus non est disputandum), so let’s be French and say “Vive la difference!” Shop the look you prefer from 1stdibs dealers — we won’t tell if you like both (so do we)!


LIVING ROOM

Pattern

Muriel Brandolini, New York

The queen of high bohemian chic believes in throwing out the rule book when it comes to decorating. She boldly combines clashing patterns and colors to the point of pushing the bounds of good taste, creating in the process highly individual and utterly desirable spaces. Case in point: the living room of her Upper East Side town house, which she’s reimagined three times during her residency. Photo by Pieter Estersohn, courtesy of Rizzoli

Neutral

 

Frank de Biasi, New York and Los Angeles

For a Fifth Avenue penthouse, this master of chic composed a living room of sublime and spartan elegance through an adroit assemblage of beige furnishings and finishes, from its Venetian plastered mantelpiece and linen curtains to its Jean-Michel Frank armchairs and Jacques Adnet parchment table. Photo by Eric Bowman


ENTRY HALL

Pattern

 

Markham Roberts, New York

An unabashed love of pattern is one of the trademarks of this gifted designer. His contrapuntal use of decorative motifs helps make his interiors engaging and rich. In this Sutton Place entry, an Alex Katz painting of the owner as a young girl harmonizes in surprisingly delightful ways with the vibrant Arts and Crafts–style wallpaper and the elaborate oriental rug. Photo by Nelson Hancock, courtesy of Vendome Press

Neutral

 

Penny Drue Baird, New York

When it comes to decorative approaches, this cosmopolitan designer confesses to being a bit promiscuous — doing, as she puts it, ”whatever a client wants,” be the look white Zen Malibu or Bavarian ski lodge. For the entry of a modern Park Avenue apartment, she chose to be pretty Zen, letting the furnishings, art and a decorative paint finish on the walls enliven this otherwise serene and subtle space. Photo by Durston Saylor


DINING ROOM

Pattern

 

Rodman Primack, Miami

Acclaimed designer, art world insider and current executive director of Design Miami, Primack demonstrates his decorative mojo by giving a contemporary Japonisme–twist to a traditional dining room through an eclectic array of unusual patterns. In addition to deploying antique porcelain pagodas and blue-and-white Tony de los Reyes paintings, he adorned the ceiling with an antique crystal chandelier and a relief of porcelain cherry blossoms by David Wiseman and grounded the charming concoction with a brown-and-beige geometric flatweave rug that blurs the divide between African Kuba cloth and David Hicks mod. Photo by Grey Crawford

Neutral

 

Thomas Hamel, Los Angeles and Sydney

A continent-hopping American-born designer, who early in his career worked at Parish-Hadley, Thomas Hamel knows how to craft an interior of spare sophistication, as evidenced in this dining room for a house in Melbourne, Australia. The richness of the round fruitwood table and green-painted chair frames, along with the light-capturing textural canvas by Aboriginal artist Willy Tjungurrayi lend depth and interest to an otherwise almost bare room. Photo by Matt Lowden


BEDROOM

Pattern

 

Kelly Wearstler, Los Angeles

Call her a chroma-queen, but few contemporary designers can match Wearstler’s brilliant use of bold color and pattern. For this guest suite in her former Beverly Hills home — the subject of her first book, Domicilium Decoratus — she boldly deployed a mad mix of exotically patterned textiles and vividly clashing hues to conjure a singularly magical nocturnal retreat. Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler, Inc.

Neutral

 

Nicole Hollis, San Francisco

For the master bedroom of an airy house situated on a lava field in Kona, Hawaii, Hollis minimized the furnishings and limited the palette to neutrals to echo the surrounding landscape. The effect is as bold and earthy as it is tranquil. Photo courtesy of Nicole Hollis

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