July 17, 2022“Lingerie effects do not combine well with architecture,” novelist/decorator Edith Wharton and architect Ogden Codman Jr. wrote in their classic manual The Decoration of Houses. Designer Sharon Rembaum seems to agree. For a recent new-build project in Westchester, New York, she dressed the windows simply to enhance the architecture and blur the boundary between the interior and the landscape outside.
Her respect for architecture is apparent in her entire body of work, which is characterized by restrained, neutral palettes and an elegant minimalism that allow details to shine. It was cultivated during her years living in London, where she was born and raised. “At my core, I consider myself an English designer, and I’m proud of that,” she says. “I grew up surrounded by tradition and beautiful buildings.”
Despite her immersion in this inspiring environment, Rembaum didn’t initially pursue design as a career. Instead, she became a broadcast journalist, with a résumé that includes stints as a newscaster for the Israel Broadcasting Authority and several National Public Radio affiliates. Seeking to pursue her love of design and a more flexible career path, she changed course 11 years ago, taking classes in the UCLA Extension Architecture & Interior Design program. During this time, she interned for designer Madeline Stuart. From Stuart, Rembaum “learned the importance of color, proportionality and texture. Our styles are similar,” she explains, adding, “Living in Los Angeles was a huge influence on my work — the indoor-outdoor continuum and the wabi-sabi vibe.”
These influences helped Rembaum hone her individual style, one that is minimal and calm yet a bit eclectic, mixing midtone woods, texture rather than prints, lots of warm grays and even, on the walls of a cozy Westchester study, black. “I love being eclectic. I think it makes spaces more interesting,” she says. “But there is nothing like a space that feels calm.”
In addition to London and Los Angeles, Rembaum has lived in Jerusalem and Boston, and her peripatetic life will soon take her down the Hudson River, from Westchester to Manhattan. With her international background, she brings to her projects a global perspective — not to mention art and furniture from far-flung locales. She also brings a sense of tradition that befits her heritage. “I don’t consider myself über-modern,” she says.
Rembaum spoke with Introspective about her love of Art Deco and the aesthetic appeal of some of her preferred TV shows.
Who is your favorite furniture designer?
What would your dream project be?
Designing a house for an important art collector, because it would be a terrific challenge.
What museums do you love visiting?
The Victoria and Albert, in London; the Musée Rodin, in Paris; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York.
Who are your favorite artists?
Among contemporary artists, Whitney McVeigh, Mattea Perrotta, Mimi Jung, Aude Herlédan and many others. These four happen to be women, and I live with some of their pieces.
What are your favorite furniture styles?
Art Deco, particularly Brazilian Art Deco, and mid-century, notably Scandinavian, for its mix of wood and metal. Art Deco is streamlined and looks good in both modern and traditional homes.
What do you think is overlooked in interior design?
Doors and ceilings are often overlooked. For a recent project, I covered closet doors in suede and changed the hardware. Doors can also be covered in leather and wallpaper. Same with ceilings.
What are your other design influences?
Television, especially Big Little Lies, Downton Abbey and Mad Men, for capturing specific eras so well. And the architecture in Anatomy of a Scandal, set in London, was stunning. There is so much to draw from history.