Steven Gambrel's projects are usually in the million-plus range. But his A-list design tips can apply just as easily to smaller
budgets and square footage. Here's what we learned.
1. use mirrors to open up a room
Framed antiqued mercury glass above the mantel reads as a statement piece while working with the clear mirror set in the fireplace to give the illusion of depth. From certain angles, as when seated on the sofa, it nearly doubles the sense of space.
2 create molding with paint
This room was stripped of its architecture. Adding a border at the perimeter in a darker palette than the walls offers the appearance of shadow or millwork. BTW: Juxtaposing a shade of paint with one either a tone lighter or darker is also a foolproof way to ensure two colors will go together.
3 let the utilitarian function as art
A custom dark frame around a large-scale bulletin board instantly makes an assorted display look neater and more polished. And the magnetized board offers the freedom to rearrange at whim for a fresh exhibition.
4 opt for unusual fixtures
An oversize light pendant like this is yet another way to lend architecture to a room. Gambrel uses this chandelier even in major Hamptons projects.
5 hang curtains high
The curtain rods abut the ceiling and the fabric hits the floor, making windows seem elongated. (Gambrel used the same trick in the bedroom).
6 find a focal point
The cast-stone faux fireplace gives the room an anchor. It's attached securely to the surface of the wall but is only semipermanent—and therefore transferable if and when Elizabeth moves.
7 embrace transportable wall-to-wall carpet
Covering the blond-wood floors with chocolate-brown sisal carpet defines the edges of the room against the wall color, yielding clean lines. Stain resistant, the rug was cut to the room's exact specifications and is easily removed.
8 choose pieces that do double duty
Gambrel placed the lime-lacquered Parsons desk perpendicular to the wall so Elizabeth could employ it as a desk, as well as entertain (there's room for two chairs).
9 make storage stylish
In a confined space, two metal cylinders with travertine tops function better than one big elongated coffee table. Readily pushed out of the way, they can be set upon (and sat upon), and they open up for stashing.