Expert Design Advice: Jennifer Condon

Interior from David Oliver’s book Print & Paper

A few weeks ago Lizzie Bailey help me brainstorm ideas for my den. This week Jennifer Condon a NYC-based stylist and interior decorator shares her tips. I worked with Jennifer at House & Garden and domino. She blows me away every time with her list of resources—she’s an amazing market editor. Below her suggestions and links to amazing textile designers and products. Enjoy!

I love this room and the amazing moulding that you have preserved. With such gorgeous details, I would definitely support your idea of painting the mouldings and trim dark with lighter walls. David Oliver’s Paint Library has gorgeous shades of green—I love the bluish Quench the Gloom and Sobek shades for the trim with a soft yellowish shade like Fennel done at 50% for the walls. The image above is from Oliver’s book Print & Paper featuring gray-green trim with yellow wall. A color combination like this should add warmth when there’s little light in the summer as well as seem bright and cozy reflecting the sun in the winter.

Fennel is shown at 100% (below). It would be a lot lighter at 50%.

I don’t think you need curtains if you don’t want them for privacy or light control. I agree they could look awkward with that strong crown moulding, and frankly think the room will seem cozy enough without them. If you want to incorporate your love for florals and stripes throughout the room, why not put bookcases on the two interior walls (the ones without the fireplace and windows) and line those with the fabric?

Second Floor Den Looking Out At Windows

Sanding In Den

Beautiful English garden florals applied against the shelving walls would be super chic and unexpected. I love this image of classic English chintz (from an article by Thomas Jayne on Interior Design’s website). When done well, these bold florals make a room so engaging with their movement and colors. John Colefax, Rose Cummings, and Dorothy Draper are some of my favorite designers for strong sophisticated chintz patterns. I also love Isaac Mizrahi’s recent Mega Chintz for S Harris. I think mixing up the scale in an area like this would be fantastic. I’d also reserve a few yards of your favorite(s) to make throw pillows for the sofa or chairs.

I would recommend building and installing your own shelves and cabinets with that handy man of yours, then hanging your favorites patterns throughout the sections. (I just saw this done beautifully somewhere and now can’t find the image!) Mixing smaller lots allows you to use more patterns (great if you can’t narrow down favorites as well as being more cost effective if you can buy large samples and scraps.) If you don’t want to DIY, I recommend the Billy bookcase from IKEA for the classic design, unbeatable price, and color options. I would also recommend choosing a model with lockable doors on the bottom for keeping more valuable books and decorative objects away from little hands to pick up and throw.

If you envision the space as a run-around for kids, I would definitely have a large rug on the floor. Woven cotton or acrylic rugs are great for crawlers, walkers, and all sorts of inevitable bangs. The washable ones are great for little feet, hosing down spills, and dragging around. Dash & Albert has the best striped and plaid options for the money. I also love adding a little bohemian flair into a traditional space and would recommend the acrylic Tibetan inspired Lhasa from Fab Habitat. The graphic lines of these patterns will also help balance the softness of the florals.

In a room like this you want to feel like you can curl up and get cozy. I would try and find a balance between traditional reading chairs and low, modern pieces with clean lines. This keeps the space balanced, as well as providing easy to use, easy to transition pieces. Low, comfy pieces are easiest for lounging and playing, while a proper arm chairs give you a place to sit and read or drink wine in front of the fire.

For the former, I love EVERYTHING that Caravane does for a space like this—her pieces are beautiful, luxurious and relaxing without being bulky or seeming too casual. The Canape lit Babu is great for its small proportions and the fact that it is also a pull-out sofa for extra guests. I also love the super sexy Pancha Divan How much fun would it be to gather on this (alone or with children) with a stack of books or magazines in front of the fire or on a lazy summer day? Covered in a beautiful pale nubby linen, or soft floral stripe like Avignon from Rose Tarlow, it would look fantastic piled with cozy tartan throws in the winter and crisp linen pillows in the summer. Anta makes the best cushions and throws for this. Below a few cozy wool cushions for winter and crisp linen ones for summer.

For armchairs, I love the Standard Arm and Dahl chairs by George Smith. If you’d rather not spend 4 (or 5!) figures on your chairs, the Colefax arm chair from Ballard Designs is a nice substitute. I would recommend a soft small scale floral or stripe for the chairs. Cecil Beaton did a number of prints that would work great, such as Ashcombe stripe White on linen, Beaton rose Mink, or Pelham Check White. Then adding throw pillows of your bolder florals to tie it all together. I also love the non-floral needlepoints from Chelsea Textiles and the cushion covers from Aleta as additional options.

Accent pieces are the perfect way to incorporate something from a disparate culture. Since you are using predominantly English and American fabrics and furniture, I would throw in something Asian, African or Scandinavian. I love this coffee table with the pieces from Caravane. Or if you would prefer to have an open space with small side tables, I recommend this lattice option. Both are beautiful Moroccan design without being too loud.

Chelsea Textiles also does fabulous small tables and accent pieces. I love their new line of mid-century inspired pieces. The clean shapes, soft colors, and elegance would look great with your colors and architecture. I would top it off with this woven lamp from Mainly Baskets which complements both the modern lightness of the furniture and organic strength of the fabrics.

This has been so much fun! Thanks for distracting me from less fun projects. Did I give you enough specifics? There are so many details left to discuss! Let me know if you need any help actualizing this. I love a paint roller and a glue gun.

Thanks Jennifer that was A-mazing! Jennifer can be reached for design consultations at

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Expert Design Advice: Lizzie Bailey

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