For more than two decades, interior designer Sheila Bridges, creative beacon of Bill Clinton, Tom Clancy and Sean (Diddy) Combs, the hip-hop mogul currently known as Love, Shared her time between Harlem and the Hudson Valley. Most of those years, Mrs. Bridges, 57, withdrew in an old farm in the city of Germantown, Columbia County, where she raised horses, sheep, goats and chickens. But in 2019, she moved into a house of 1,600 square feet near Hudson, NY, which was built for it from scratch. (. Since 2015, she has also maintained a small residence in Reykjavik, Iceland) Speaking of his ownership weekend, she spoke design to please the ultimate client: herself. (This interview was modified for length and clarity.)
Why did you name your new Hudson Valley home Hay House?
It was kind of a joke. So many people have these very fancy names for their homes. It’s the opposite of a farm, but I have bales of hay, which I brought here. And the house looks like a barn.
Was it a control to limit the size to 1 600 square feet?
It was a challenge, but the goal was to reduce my life to a certain level. I am a person. Over the property, the more there is in terms of maintenance headaches. I try to get away from it a bit older.
Do you have at least left room for a workspace?
I have not designed the house thinking I’d be here 24 hours / 24 and 7/7, but fortunately, the attic is an open space. During the pandemic, I turned into studio work. I brought California Closets and I built storage for our wallpaper, our tissues and our umbrellas, and have set up offices. This worked very well. It does not encroach on the rest of my living space. One of the challenges we all faced is how to separate these spaces when you’re sitting at a laptop 12 hours a day.
I couldn’t help but notice that the ground floor wall treatments are, for you, quite simple.
With architecture and design, it made sense to have white walls. I guess you have noticed the amount of art that I have on the walls; all colors and textures come from art, sculpture, carpets, upholstery. The rooms are very colorful. So basically, when you come into my house, it looks like a white box, but as soon as you open a door, you are struck by the color and pattern in a way that I think most people associate with my work.
Which came first: the rising ceiling or the decision to make mobile a focal point?
Sorry, it can’t be both.
I always had cell phones in my room, even children. I knew I wanted to have in this mobile home and have ceilings of 17 feet or whatever gave me the opportunity to do so. This is the first house I’ve designed for myself that was built from scratch. I wanted to surround myself with the things I like and that make sense to me. It is a home to many works of art that I have collected or have been sent by my parents and I have acquired over the years.
Many people have trouble knowing what to do with legacy objects. Do you have tips to incorporate family treasures in his house?
I think whether inherited or not, if it’s something you like, you should do it space. I’m sitting here looking at a lamp in my living room that was in the living room of my parents’ home in Philadelphia for 50 years and it works. That’s the beauty of mixing periods. I like to mix the old and new, vintage and modern, and it is easier to embrace the things that have belonged to your family if you are not so rigid at the idea of having one style furniture in your home.
The beams of your living room and the upper floor the ceiling remind me that you are not someone who is afraid to paint wood.
It depends on the architecture and what you want the space looks like. In my apartment in town, the woodwork is painted in Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue, but it works because of the type of classic architecture. The woodwork is mahogany, but they were not in good condition. I had no money to restore it, so I decided to paint it, which really helped hide many of these defects. This space is brand new, so the white paint seems to work very well. There is no specific rule.
Seven years ago, you designed a sequel to your Harlem Toile de Jouy wallpaper called Hudson Valley Canvas which gently poked fun at the townspeople who flocked to the area. You showD a “American Gothic” gay farm couple, a station wagon driver looking for foie gras, and Rip Van Winkle waking up on a crowded Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which spans the river between Hudson and Catskill. Unaware for a moment that this work is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum, would you design the same designs today?
These scenes are as visual tropes. They became a little shots. We’ve all seen them play. Canvas is a fun way to the document. I should add that the covered structure on the deck behind Rip Van Winkle was recently demolished. Someone recently commented that one of the major parts of the documentation of these things in the wallpaper is to preserve what is gone.
Although you no longer own a farm, you still have almost an acre to cultivate. What are you doing there ?
My property gets a lot of water, so there is a rain garden. I also have raised beds, and last year I grew tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and all kinds of herbs. Nothing super complicated. It is closed because I’ve always had dogs and I want the deer away. I just looked out the window this morning and saw a deer nibbling hedges of my neighbors across the street. My neighbors spend the winter in Florida and I’m sure they will come back home with shrubs and newly formed trees.
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