“People always ask us how do we begin every project – and I am going to give you an idea that will make this really easy – always, always begin with the living room carpet. If you think about it, the living room carpet is the largest object in the home and that is going to set up the logic and the palette for the rest of your home…” Elissa Cullman in an AD video interview. Ellisa, always on the AD100 list is the go-to designer for Oprah Winfrey and Candice Bergen, to name just two from her celebrity client list.
1. In a video interview with AD, Ellisa Cullman explained how she started the design of her own Manhattan apartment by first selecting a rug for the living room: “… For my apartment I found this wonderful Bijar carpet- that’s a Persian carpet from the 19th century – and it set up the palette for my home. Look at the carpet, it is so fascinating – the border is very Persian in feeling but the center implies that it must have been made for a European commission – because look at the bouquets of flowers and the arabesques. I think it was probably made for a French commission. Anyway, the dominant color in the carpet is red and I have used this red – it’s kind of terracotta a rosy terracotta, for the color of my walls. This also helps me make the room less formal- and the way we did this is by using Venetian stucco. Venetian stucco is a technique that goes back hundreds of years. How did we make the room less formal? We made the upholstery really comfortable. The other thing we did was we made sure that we did a furniture arrangement that allowed for conversation. This is critically important in design. The other thing we did is we made sure that at every place you sit there is a table nearby – a table to put your drink down on or grab a hors d’oeuvre off of”.
1A. Elissa Cullman in the dining room of her Manhattan apartment.
2. At first glance this living room looks modern, only a closer examination reveals the numerous traditional elements in it. Starting with the gray contemporary rug whose geometric pattern goes back centuries to ancient tile patterns. The sofa, mirror, sconces and wall art all echo traditional themes, but feel contemporary becuase they have been colored in tones of gray, white and black. Depth and layering of patterns is enhanced by viewing the reflections in the mirror and through the glass and chrome tables. A bright pink makes the living room pop with energy- a favorite device of Elissa.
3. The design direction of this regal living room begins with the magnifient Polonaise rug pattern derived from an antique and custom colored in yellow, blue, taupe and white. Polonaise rugs go back to early 1600’s Isfahan where they were handmade of pure silk and embroidered with silver and gold threads. The richness and elegance of the very best rugs reflects the taste of wealthy Persian court nobles as well as the fashion of 17th century Baroque Europe, where Polonaise rugs were greatly treasured. Ellie Cullman’s Polonaise rug is reminiscent of a great rug that was once in the palace of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. This living room has been made to pop with brilliant yellows and rich golds used in the upholstery and drapery fabrics. The regal blue is used sparingly and this makes it a special surprise. The silver framed mirror, gold chandelier, fine oil painting and the reflection of the arched portico in the large mirror speak of classic granduer.
4. A contemporary decorator rug defines the dining room and together with the vibrantly colored modern paintings give the traditional furniture a modern ambience. Elissa explained her design approach to the Huffington Post: “Years ago, we were very influenced by a historical palette which was derived from Chinese porcelain, antique textiles, carpets and the like. Our goal was for an overall color balance, a mulit-colored palette without one color dominating, a harmonious envelope. Today, however, our favorite word is “pop.” While the palette of our rooms is still well balanced, we love to bring in a shot of unexpected bright color. Strong color energizes our traditional rooms and liberates our palette to include non-historical colors like shocking pink and lavender”.
5. The best rug with a traditional all over pattern has been custom colored in soft golds and creams and sets the color direction for the upholstery and the walls allowing the drama of the Central Park west view to be enjoyed fully. The blues in the oil painting provide the pop.