Peacock Pavilions: and learning from Elle Decor's Anita Sarsidi

It was so interesting to watch Elle Decor Design Director (and Stylist Extraordinaire) Anita Sarsidi in action at Peacock Pavilions last week.  After so many years at Elle Decor, it's no surprise that she can see each picture in her head and knows exactly what she wants. I was impressed on many levels.  Here are some things I noted:

* No props.  Anita doesn't show up at homes with boxes and bags of props.  She believes that if a home needs extra props, that means it's not done.  In fact, she came to Peacock Pavilions with nothing at all.  {I have to say, I always wondered about the notion of propping someone's house for a feature.  It sort of seems like cheating -- pretending that those things  are the homeowners when they really aren't at all.}

*Layers that tell a story. I was worried that I had too much stuff at Peacock Pavilions.  All those years of collecting curiousities on my travels, from Benin to Afghanistan, and so forth.  Perhaps it was too jumbled.  Perhaps there was too much.  I needn't have worried.  In fact Anita said the problem is often that there isn't enough, that it's "too clean" -- that it looks like a decorator swept in and took half the stuff away.  A house that is too controlled is, well, too controlled.

*Not too perfect, not too symetrical, not too ordered.  Anita often pulled a chair slightly askew, or reordered objects so that they weren't, well, in order.   People don't live with everything perfectly in place, she said.  And of course, she's right.  When something in a group is a little askew, somehow you suddenly really see it and your eyes don't glaze over.

*A home that looks like you and no one else:  Anita puruses hundreds of submissions to Elle Decor.  What she said that she looks for are homes that are personal, have a point of view, and an individual sense of style.  She doesn't want homes that look too influenced by stacks of tear sheets or files of saved images.  Rather, she seeks places that have unique personalities. A house should look like its homeowner {ie with a fingerprint that is unlike any other in the universe}.  

*"Fancy" isn't necessarily the name of the game:  Very few people have an unlimited budget to spend on furnishings  or the cash to hire an interior designer.  But style -- not dollars -- is the point.  Anita's ears perked up at the sound of a beautiful fishing shack  or a gorgeous Malian hut.  {Modest can be just as memorable and poetic.} 

Many thanks to Anita and her great support team (including Julia Duquette)! 

Anita Sarisidi Elle Decor & Maryam Montague (2)