Monday, June 30, 2014

Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, President, and Interior Designer

My family and I spent last week in Virginia, and one of our stops was Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. Monticello and its surroundings are absolutely beautiful.
Jefferson was not only a founding father of our country, author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third President, but he was also the architect and founder of the University of Virginia, a philosopher, scientist, inventor, and spoke five languages. I am amazed at all his accomplishments, and that he still found the time to oversee the design of his home down to the smallest detail.  
My daughters and I found it interesting that he chose a pink silk fabric and tassels for his bedding. We learned pink was popular with men in Jefferson’s day because it denoted wealth. Many wealthy men wore pink and used the color in their bedrooms. Goes to show you color trends have been around for centuries.
Another design choice Jefferson made was to use alcove beds. He saw them when he was in France and incorporated them into the bedrooms at Monticello. Jefferson felt like putting a bed in the center of the room used up valuable floor space. I have to agree with him! There are times when putting the bed in the “usual” place takes up so much room that there is little space left for anything else.

For one of my design projects in Florida, I placed twin beds against perpendicular walls to create the look of a sectional. It allowed space for a TV on open shelving, and the room now functions as a den as well as a bedroom.
Jefferson’s entrance hall displayed Indian artifacts, natural history specimens such as antlers and bones, maps, paintings, and busts of men he admired. When visitors walked into the entrance hall, they would immediately see Jefferson’s passions and interests.

Jefferson showcased what was important to him in his home, and I think that is a wonderful example to follow. Display what you love…incorporate it into your home’s design. It could be maps of your favorite places, photos of your family, seashells from trips to the beach, or any type of collection you may have. These are the things that give life to your home’s design and make it special.
I have clients who are avid bird-watchers. We were designing their dining room and looked for a wallcovering that had birds in it. We couldn’t find one we loved, so I found a wallcovering that had all the right colors, vines, and butterflies. We then brought in an artist who painted my client’s favorite birds onto the wallcovering. It was a subtle but fun way to bring their personality and interests into the design of the room, and their home was featured in Atlanta Magazine Home.

I’ll bet you never thought of Thomas Jefferson as an interior designer, but he was quite the Renaissance man. The next time you are working on the design of your home, don’t go to Pinterest for inspiration.  Ask yourself, “What would Jefferson do?”

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