Townhouse Living in Rittenhouse
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This configuration was especially pleasing to the lady of the house. “She told me that she loves to sit by the fire in the winter, have tea and read a book,” says Mizell. “The room had to work just for her, in that scenario, but it also needed to work for the couple when they entertain 14 people without needing to rearrange big pieces of furniture.” A pair of ottomans nesting under console tables (custom-designed by Mizell, as were the sofas) can move to the table if extra seating is needed. If a party is catered, an oak console table just behind the sofa slides over and becomes a bar or a serving station.
In the absence of a bright palette in the living room, Mizell found a worthy substitute in texture. “We made sure that every single piece in that room is textually interesting,” she says. Indeed, this seemingly placid, neutral space is a hotbed of luxurious materials: silk taffeta curtains, silk damask upholstery on the ottomans, silk velvet on the chairs, cotton velvet covering the sofa, linen on the walls. Even something as deceptively simple as a lampshade could be tweaked and modified for stylish impact. “We didn’t need an overhead light in the room—there is already lamp light, sconce lights and recessed lights,” says Mizell. “The shade is a more decorative element than a functional one. It has a slight curve and gives off beautiful ambient light that everyone looks good in. I wanted the room to feel elegant but not traditional. I wanted it to feel club-like and sexy.”
It was important that the rest of the home not be an extension of the neutral living room, says Mizell. “I didn’t want it all to feel one-dimensional. I wanted each room to feel special, a destination.” There did, however, need to be cohesion. In the warm, clubby library, a vintage chrome Knoll “Bruno” chair is a nod to the living room’s modernism. Brass and oilrubbed bronze lamps in the library mimic sconces of the same materials flanking the leather-wrapped mirror over the living room fireplace. Mizell also had the benefit of working with some of the family’s furnishings for the library—a set of chestnut leather club chairs, marble urns, a coffee table from Africa and an art nouveau carpet in harvest tones which handily supplied the room’s color scheme (a teal sofa pillow, for example, picks up its notes of sky blue).
Separating the living room and library is a center hall that Mizell painted a dark shade of green known as Charleston Green. “The clients were very skeptical about the color at first,” she says, “but now it is one of their favorite parts of the home—they love the contrast and the way it flows into the lighter rooms.” Toward the end of the nine-month decorating project, Mizell even witnessed the couple growing more daring with color. “I pushed their envelope pretty far, considering where we started and where we ended up. The last room we did was the master bedroom. Most people like to play it safe with subdued bedrooms, but this couple turned out to be the opposite.” Their inspiration? “A pair of Emperor pillows with Japanese male and female figures on them,” says Mizell, “in red and bright yellow. ” Ashli Mizell Interior Design, 124 S. 19th St.; ashlimizell.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL PERSICO (MIZELL); JASON VARNEY (INTERIORS)