[Unless credited otherwise, photos are by Francesco Lagnese from Tom Scheerer Decorates ©Vendome Press 2013. Posted with written permission from the publisher. Click to enlarge.]
He can be very reserved, using only the loopiness of a Thonet-style chair as a softer decorative gesture in an otherwise clean, pared-down room. "It has joyous buoyancy," Mimi Read quotes Tom Scheerer discussing his affinity for late-19th-century bentwood, "I never get tired of it. Bentwood is a lyric note you can pull out of your pocket when you need it, and it contrasts beautifully with all the hard edges that seem to be everywhere."
But Scheerer can also channel the not-so-restrained mix-master Renzo Mongiardino.
When I first saw this entry with stenciled silk grasscloth walls, I thought of the patterned-swathed walls Mongiardino did for Lee Radziwell in the 1960s. Indeed, according to the new tome on his work, Scheerer was inspired here by the late Italian designer.
|[Archive images of Radziwell houses. Bottom two circa 1971 details are from Horst Interiors.]|
Of course, Scheerer's lighter hand is evident even in a layered room. He had RISD grad Brian Leaver stencil the crisply stylized Mughal flowers. More Indian pattern was added with scarves transformed into pleated shades, and the chair was covered with a custom repro of old Anglo-esque crewelwork.
With Scheerer's touch, a bedroom with candlewick-covered twin beds and a bit of scroll-y granny-chic Victorian-style wicker becomes breezy, youthful and fun.
|[Be sure to peek under the dust jacket for the quintessentially Scheerer caning.]|
And in Harbour Island, more Nouveau loops coexist with more bordered Indian prints, all infused with healthy doses of clear white to keep the look modern. To repeat the analogy in the previous post, Scheerer's rooms are like classic understated East Coast American sportswear accessorized with a riotous Indian cotton paisley bag and woven huaraches.
Non-obsessed people can probably appreciate the vignette above as an inviting, chic corner in a living room distinguished by an especially pretty paisley print and something really interesting happening at the window. Design junkies might wonder if Scheerer was inspired by Doris Duke's Shangri La.
[Marble screen and frame commissioned by Doris Duke while honeymooning in India in 1935. Photo by David Franzen, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation.]
The enveloping upholstered banquettes and pierced wooden jalis are examples drawn from Duke's modernist Honolulu house. Also, this Scheerer project in Florida happens to have a table bought at auction from Duke's estate (not pictured in this post).
Again, though, whether he's subtly referencing Duke or a page from Billy Baldwin's playbook, Scheerer keeps everything dressed down. One of the benefits of compiling his body of work in a single, stunningly illustrated book is the chance to see how frequently he uses unfussy natural materials.
In keeping with Scheerer's personal style, the book is unpretentious, straightforward, contains a smattering of his pet peeves and exhibits just a touch of dry humor. The reader learns about his background (which so clearly informs his aesthetic) and then is skillfully led by Read through a broad range of projects from Maine to Paris, with frequent stops down in the islands too.
It's certainly not about explicit tips, but ironically I think the new book could be more useful than some conventional decorating how-tos, at least to the studious observer. Why? Because Scheerer favors iconic furniture forms typically available at different price points, he is not opposed to Ikea or West Elm, and he combines colors like an artist. You've heard the adage that one must first learn the rules in order to break them? To me, that's Scheerer.
It's interesting. Other designers' names may initially spring to mind when you think of the past decade's most buzzed about talents but scroll through Pinterest or get lost in the blogosphere and you'll likely find Scheerer's interiors a constant presence, respected by other pros with widely varied aesthetics of their own.
Tom Scheerer Decorates is scheduled to hit book stores September 10. Not shown in this post, because I referenced it here, but prominently featured in the book is Scheerer's supremely undecorated Bahamian salt box house.