It’s not often that you find a designer that can create a space that provides an instant homey, lived-in feel with an ostentatious color palette and rich furnishings. Designer Mario Buatta calls his styling ” the undecorated look.” Rather than selecting items that stand on their own he places a mix of antique and modern furnishings against a back drop of color that is created through very eccentric collections of gilded mirrors, brocade and lush fabrications, with a touch of old England charm, so you view the room in its entirety, much like a painting hung in a museum.
Whether you are a fan of the grandiose Victorian styling or not, there is no denying the unique collage of furniture combinations and accessories work in each room. A man who loves floral, “chintz” that is …who knew.
Mr. Buatta, explains that, “A house should grow in the same way that an artist’s painting grows. A few dabs today, a few more tomorrow and the rest when the spirit moves you. When the painting is completed (as no room ever should be), it never reflects the artist’s original conception. A room should come together through this process, as the people living in it grow, and where their needs and paths take them, in order to achieve the ultimate timeless undecorated look.”
He continues, “We went to Paris with the professors from Parsons School, they took us through the great museums of Paris, and our professor told us that if we did not understand these paintings we would never be a good interior designer. It was then that I saw paintings en masse by Edouard Vuillard, Matisse and the like and I was just crazy about the use of color by these great painters. The pattern and the texture of their paintings and how they put it all together simply intrigued me.”
His tips for starting a room design is to create a floor plan with the seating areas first, then adding larger furnishings, such as tables, chests and end tables. He then selects many fabrics and places these around the room in order to see what fabric will work well, then repeats it on the other side of the room for balance. He will usually get inspiration from a larger print and then build a color palette and introduce new patterns that will build off of the main fabric. This is where his true gift lies. Like iconic designer Sister Parish, he has a way of making a garish room look beautiful.
Born in New York, Mario Buatta, also known as the “Prince of Chintz” is considered to be one of America’s leading decorators of our time. He attended Parsons School of Design in Europe. After an apprenticeship in the decorating department of B. Altman & Co., he became associated with several decorating firms including Elisabeth Draper, Inc. and then formed his own decorating company.
His list of clients include: Mariah Carey, Henry Ford II, Malcolm Forbes, Barbara Walters, Nelson Doubleday, Mr. and Mrs. S.I. Newhouse, Charlotte Ford and Billy Joel. His commercial design contracts include the executive offices of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York, and the decoration and design of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum Galleries at Wilmington, Delaware which houses their line of reproductions. He has completed the redecoration of Blair House, the official White House Guest House in Washington, D.C. (HGTV)