The secret to successful home decorating and design may just be in the stars.
If you love modern furnishings and entertaining and your partner would rather curl up in a room made for one-on-one relaxing, Greg Tufaro can come to the rescue. With a degree in psychology from Dartmouth and a lifelong interest in astrology, he’s the man for finding design compromise — and he does it by studying astrological signs.
He even practices what he preaches in his own New York City apartment. "My wife is a Virgo and I’m an Aquarius. Virgo is considered a traditional earth sign guided by emotional intellect. They’ll overthink things to the point of worry, thus they’re called the worrywarts of the zodiac. That same quality oftentimes will reflect itself in a need to be studious of some sort." In Tufaro’s wife Mary’s case, that means she’s a big reader/history buff and would love nothing more than for the couple’s living room to be a library. "I, on the other hand," Tufaro says, "like a forward-thinking Aquarius, love anything technological. I have the newest, latest laptop, HDTV, gaming system — you name it."
Virgos, he says, typically know to make things feel warm and Aquarians have the tendency to make things feel too mechanical and cold. "I think we compromise very well," he says: "If you were to see our living room, you’d see, for Mary, we have a nice traditional oak bookshelf filled to the brim with books, more traditional furnishings made of wood, a country-style (without being roosters and hens) light yellow couch, and for me, a 32-inch HDTV, my desktop computer corner, Xbox 360 and a floating laptop which I can bring in and out of the room."
HGTV.com asked him a few questions about his interest in design and astrology:
How did you get into astrology?
My father actually studied astrology for many years and I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know about astrology. But I have three siblings — two older brothers and a younger sister — and I’m the only one who really studied astrology. Maybe as an Aquarius, I am drawn to more esoteric/eccentric type things. But, by the same token, I like to have a scientific explanation to them. As a Pisces rising, I’ve always known that I can intuitively pick up on people’s feelings relatively quickly. I think having those two qualities in my character made understanding astrology come relatively easily and give me the ability to explain it in a way that isn’t hokey.
Why are astrology and design important to you?
I think astrology has gotten a bad rep from people simply because of a lack of understanding it. People think it’s fatalistic. I disagree. I like to think of it like genetics. Genes guide our lives through probabilities and possibilities. I think the same of the position of the planets. In discussing astrology with people, I don’t say the planets cause people to behave a certain way. Rather, I say that there is a synchronicity between the placement of the planets and the likelihood of events happening and personality types reflecting themselves in a person’s life. It’s all about pattern recognition?planetary position has been plotted over thousands of years and there is a reality to how their placement reflects itself in our lives and in our personalities.
What is the connection between a person's sign and how his/her environment should look/feel?
I think a person’s astrological chart/sign reflects their entire personality and we, in turn, reflect our personalities in our home. Is it size, color, and arrangement? Absolutely. Some people have quicker and/or cluttered ways of thinking or emoting (oftentimes with some planetary association in Sagittarius and/or Gemini), and as we found on the show, it can reflect itself in a cluttered environment. Ego-dominated signs like Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio tend to dominate their environments unless a person is self-aware to contain that tendency. Bolder personality types like Leo and Aries could go with bolder color choices while mutable signs like Pisces and Virgo would tend to want more ethereal colors.
How did you get interested in design?
To a certain extent, I’ve always been surrounded by creative people. Aside from being an astrologer, my father works in the fashion industry. I’m a pianist, trombonist, composer/lyricist and classically trained singer. My sister-in-law is an architect. Aside from all of that, I’d say my wife has been my biggest influence. She has impeccable taste and, as it happens, works with Martha Stewart, so she’s always had an interest in matters of the home.
How do an astrologer and designer work together?
Designer Nicole Facciuto and I will sit down and I’ll lay out a personality profile of each member of the couple we’re visiting. Nine times out of 10, there is one person who has dominated the space (and that dominant tendency is reflected astrologically) and somebody else who has barely managed to influence the design. That 1 out of 10 time when that’s not the case, we typically have a couple that, astrologically speaking, can’t make their minds up on how to design a room at all.
That’s where we come in. I believe that my Pisces rising quality allows me to easily feel/step into other people’s shoes and understand inherently where they’re coming from. Anyway, Nicole and I will go back and forth as to how we can balance things out for the couple and reflect their personalities into the room.
Do you have any tips?
Good design is really all about balance and understanding astrology helps with that. Everybody needs the opportunity to express him or herself. Each astrological sign is associated with an element — earth, water, fire and air, which affects the design:
Fire signs need something flashy, cool and fun. They like being the central focus Cusually the one who dominates the room. Design tip: for balance: tone it down a bit.
Earth signs/rising signs need design to be more concrete solid furniture, usually traditional design mentalities. A typical Taurus/Capricorn/Virgo living room is that room in the house that is beautiful to look at, but that most people wouldn't enter. To mix it up: If you're an earth sign, think outside the box.
Air signs are thought-driven, which is why they have more modern sensibilities. They are about socializing, so their designs should reflect welcoming conversation into a room. To balance an air sign: think a little more traditionally.
Water signs usually are the warmest of all because they like to soak in other people's presence and take care of them. They typically have the most relaxing settings. Design tip: it's nice to reflect other people in a room and make everybody else comfortable, but water signs need to be careful not to drown themselves in other people's feelings and stuff.