Collegiate Design Inspiration Sure to Earn an A+

Send your room to the head of the class by displaying a well-curated collection of art and artifacts against a muted backdrop. Mix in some warm metals and moody patterns and you’ve got a composition sure to impress.

By: Amanda Lecky

Photo By: John Miller, Hedrick Blessing Photography

Photo By: Jessica Klewicki Glynn

Photo By: Tim Williams,

Photo By: 2006 Stephen Allen Photography

Photo By: Alison Hammond

Photo By: Tom Crane

Photo By: Bonnie Sen Photography

Photo By: Jacob Hand

Photo By: Donna Dotan Photography


Rich in Character

To give a small bedroom an outsize personality, designer Lisa Burdus created a dramatic backdrop with a coat of navy blue paint behind the bed. An eclectic group of artworks—bound by a single natural theme—surrounds an antique mirror (an old decorator's trick that bounces light around a small room, making it look larger). More objects and keepsakes add interest on the bedside tables. And, finally, the bed itself, though only a single, lives large, thanks to its upholstered headboard, layered patterns, and rich textures.

Reading Room

Large, open spaces can be wonderful, but they're not always easy to manage: too often, they feel empty and cold, without any sense of definition. But not this multipurpose family room, which is reminiscent of the reading rooms of grand European estates. Designer Stephanie Wohlner says, "by adding the bookcases, a tall storage unit, ceiling beams, and three seating areas, we were able to change the dynamics of the entire room, adding layers of warmth and a sense of cohesiveness."

Personal Space

Of the process of outfitting this powder room in her own home, designer Alison Jennison says, “I was truly free to do whatever I liked. One detail from this space that I love is that we painted the whole thing one color—the walls, trim, wainscoting, and doors are all in the same color and finish. I love how that lets the floor pattern have its moment.” Edwardian-style fixtures and a photograph of an open book infuse the space with an antiquarian edge.

Going Clubbing

To give a bachelor's industrial downtown-New York City loft the " rich elements of a membership club," designer Brad Kreftman set an appealing mix of furnishings, vintage finds, and custom-designed pieces against a backdrop of exposed brick and pipe. "The result is an eclectic, inviting space," he says. " The study easily converts from a sitting room to an extra bedroom with a couch that folds out into a bed and a closet space in the corner for hanging clothes."

Calm and Collected

In a bedroom at a family fishing camp on Florida's Grand Island, designers Abigail Rizor and Hattie Wolfe took care to infuse the space with local character, without resorting to cliche. "The marlin is a fish the family actually caught," say the designers. Balancing the giant specimen are two 1950s butterfly chairs covered in hides, a pair of French chrome side lamps, and a custom daybed covered in practical indoor-outdoor fabric from Sunbrella. A platform bed or rustic teak and an old Indonesian wheel transformed into sculpture complete the look. "The family has quite a collection of interesting objects, which always makes for a great space when pulled together," they say.

Naturalist Beauty

Refurbishing a lakeside cabin in rural Ireland was an opportunity for designer Egon Walesch to link the indoor spaces with the home's lovely setting. "The brief for the bathroom was to provide a tranquil space for soaking in the bath and admiring the views of the lake and the surrounding woodland," he says. "We combined a mixture of old and new items to create a distinctive look: the vanity is a repurposed vintage washstand with a new basin; the cast iron roll-top tub rests on bespoke wooden sleeper supports; handmade encaustic tiles cover the floor; and a vintage map hangs above the bath." Finally, neutral pale gray tones with occasional splashes of blue keep the space calm and simple.

Grown-Up Guest Room

Transforming a grown child’s room into a guest room is always tricky, emotionally and from a decorating perspective. On one hand, you want the space to make visitors feel warmly welcomed; on the other, you want the room to continue to feel like “home” when your fledgling comes back to the nest now and again. In this lovely bedroom, designer Barbara Eberlein created just this delicate balance through the careful use of color, pattern, texture, and a collection of vintage accents. Her advice: “For a college-bound son’s former room, use colors and textures you find in his closet: tan saddle leather with decorative stitching; crisp pinstripe cotton; cozy camel knitted wood and masculine, geometric patterns and colors found in oriental rugs.” Keep beddings basic, and add some tailored touches, like the vintage luggage displayed at the foot of the bed.

Studied Effect

"We used a mixture of vintage family accessories paired with new modern furniture to create a tailored but cozy space," say the designers of Residents Understood about this charming study. "A room like this should be casual and always inviting. And don't forget the comfortable corner chair in an indestructible fabric ready for years of enthusiastic lounging."

Tailored Elegance

To pull together her eclectic decorating tastes into one sleek master bedroom, designer Jess Goodwin of Jess Ann Interiors custom-designed her own bed—and made it herself. “I wanted a high headboard, and to finish the look I added wood wings on the sides—which ended up becoming one of the biggest design elements of the room,” she says. A quiet color palette of creams, whites, and grays keeps the room “open and airy but also very modern and crisp,” she says—and helps to accentuate the photography collection displayed above the bed.

Traveler's Rest

"Home to a young professional, a native of Hawaii who recently moved to NY, this bachelor pad mixes new Euro-modern, bohemian chic, and mid-century pieces to create a space that highlights the owner’s vast interests and style," says co-principal Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD. "This loft-like living room marries the hip, young vibe of its owner with its West Village location, thanks to its mix of custom and vintage pieces, art and photography collections, and the Vipp bookshelves that line one wall."

Private Library

“We wanted to create an intimate space where two to four people could have a private conversation,” says designer Rodolfo Castro of the library he designed for the owners of a modern house. “The homeowners had a collection of African baskets, which we used as decorative elements in the room, as well as various other artifacts collected in there travels across the world. Vintage leather chairs are always a great way to add masculinity to a room. The skull lamp from Blackman Cruz adds a little whimsy to the space. One interesting thing about this room is that the wall behind the chairs conceals a Murphy bed: The painting can be removed and re-hung behind the bed when it is in use. An ADA-compliant bathroom adjoins the space in case anyone with mobility issues ever visits for the night.”