Cruising through the densely wooded streets of suburban New England, the eye seldom rests on a home that looks truly different from its neighbours. America's highbrow elite has an uncanny way of designing to blend in with the rest of its society colleagues. Although impressive, these doll house-perfect home façades are always designed in the perfect blend of Georgian and colonial, their well-manicured gardens alluding to a charmed existence. But, every once in a while, upon entering the front doors of a New England home, one will find something truly unique. This particular home belonging to a writer in Fairfield, Connecticut is one such gem. It is a cornucopia of colour and whimsical design, befitting its owner, and a tribute to one of America's most vibrant interior designers, Jamie Drake. "The client came to me wanting a twist on tradition that would surprise anyone who entered the front doors, so inviting guests to explore the unexpected," Drake says. "Aware of how colours effect the psyche, the client's motivation was to create an atmosphere where the interiors brought joy and inspiration, happiness and vibrancy." Drake was delighted because if one had to choose the sharpest arrow in his quiver of design tools, it would be his expert use of colour.
Instantly upon entry, one is greeted with a vivacious sea foam green foyer. Although there are elements of classical wall panelling, the walls are broken up with sheets of grass cloth that travel up the stairs and suggest a hint of what's to come. Two art pieces from Karen Margoiles offer a prelude to the colourful art that lines the walls of the entire home. "Both pieces use organic circular pointillism, and are created to work together, but tell two different stories, from two different perspectives," explains Drake. Adjacent to these two pieces, the Giacometti-esque sculpture from the homeowner's private art collection symbolises guidance. The green that dominated the foyer now carries on into the most vibrant space in this home, its living room. The glossy yellow walls were sprayed for clarity and the colour choice was inspired by sunshine, a befitting muse for a room in which guests were to be ‘enlightened and entertained'. Drake loves this room. "Even on the most grey days, step into this room and one's mood is uplifted!" he says.
In the bay window sits an elegant Chloe sofa from Drake's custom-designed collection for Lewis Mittman, in an elegant blue fabric that Drake also designed for Schumacher. Other nature-inspired elements abound in the space. Oversized cherry and walnut decorative elements on the coffee table enhance the light, happy mood, while the Nagori console replicates abstract wood graining. The plush rug is scattered with teal and yellow ‘embroidered' maple leaves. A painting titled Angel is Wild Among Us by Ed Cohen sits above the fireplace. The white frame and mainly white canvas of the painting act as negative space upon which to reflect the yellow glow of the room. Circular shapes, reminiscent of notes on music sheets, can be seen from the adjacent piano, from which playful melodies often emanate during summer soirees with the owner's friends.
The other artwork in the living room, which links it to the dining room, is a curious piece by David Mann. "I think the jellyfish-like discs in the painting refer to life and our cellular experience in the universe," says Drake. In the dining room, a Christian Liaigre table from Holly Hunt is a reinterpretation of a picnic table, embellished with luxury woods and painted accents. "It relates beautifully to the terrace beyond the French doors," says Drake. "There is an incredible light coming in, which illuminates the silvered grass cloth wallpaper, adding a beautiful glowing affect to this room," he adds. A regal amethyst was selected for the wool sateen drapery and rich velvet seat upholstery, while a touch of teal brings back hints of the hue from the adjacent foyer. A portion of the wooden floor was also stained purple to resemble a rug under the dining table. The Parisian scene above the sideboard is another piece from the owner's personal collection, while the series of butterflies from Irene Mamiye lend a fun flutter to the room.
Light floods through the adjacent sunroom, and to intensify its airiness, Drake applied a metallic glaze to the walls. The room is deliberately devoid of any window treatments, and follows a monochromatic colour palette - a vast departure from the other rooms in the house. "It was all about purity in this space, for meditation among the evergreen garden that surrounds the home. I wanted the family to be able to breathe in the exterior when they are in this space," recalls Drake. Upstairs, the most private of sitting rooms is the writer's personal sanctuary. The entire floor was stained in raspberry and the walls are clad in an identical grass cloth, offering a cocoon of soft colours against which to seek inspiration. The ceiling is painted sky blue, offering the perfect complement to the pink tones throughout the room. Upholstered pieces throughout follow a blush palette and the sofa's paisley motif was delicately hand-screened in a linen fabric by T-4. Fittingly for such an ethereal room, the overscaled painting by Barbara Takenaga is titled Angel. A portrait of the owner's mother sits above the fireplace, offering her constant comfort and guidance. This is the most personal space in the home, and one with the most meaning to its owners. Jamie Drake's expert use of colour, and his infallible ability to pair art with furniture meant a world of difference from a grey, predictable Connecticut home for this writer, her husband and her three children. With an effervescent personality and razor sharp talent, Jamie Drake never fails to impress. Perhaps that's why he is so sought after by everyone from politicians to pop stars.