Neither of us claims to have any real interior design skills. We know what we love, and have lovely homes, but we truly admire those that can “put together” a room. When we spent the afternoon with Sam Allen, founder of Sam Allen Interiors, at his Weston family home, we learned so many great tips. Both of us were inspired and went home to rearrange coffee tables and pile books together in coordinating colors!
Enjoy our Q+A with Sam while we wander around his mother’s home. Sam and his mom, interior decorator Leslie Allen, share different styles, but as Sam told us, “We have the same appreciation for beautiful things in life.” Leslie’s 1930s English cottage home in Weston has the touch and flair of not one, but two accomplished interior designers. Sam brought as around, room by room, pointing out all kinds of gorgeous details and vignettes. We followed along, snapping pics and jotting down pointers to try when we got home!
What has been your most memorable decorating job so far, and why?
My mother always says that a project can only ever be as good as the client. You have to have a good relationship based on trust and mutual aesthetic goals. I had a wonderful client from 2012 to 2014 for whom I designed a home on Compo Beach in Westport, as well as their 200-acre farm on Martha’s Vineyard. They gave me full rein, budget was no issue, and they were just lovely people all around. The style was a classic take on New England coastal elegance featuring clean lines and classic neutrals. It was a dream.
Every room needs oxygen otherwise it becomes stale and sterile. Add flowers like these beautiful ranunculus.
Do you have a favorite design era?
Billy Baldwin and the 1950s. Like I said, any project can only be as good as the client, and his clients were Jackie O. and the Mellons. Enough said.
Ferns, topiaries, and terrariums are a great way to bring plant life into the home.
Where do you find your biggest inspiration for what you do?
It sounds cliche, but travel. Travel, travel, travel. Not just changing the culture or landscape around you, but having the opportunity to experience life through someone else’s eyes. It shifts your mindset. Especially if you’re lucky enough to have like-minded travel companions — then it doesn’t even matter where you go; the experience becomes what you make it.
Vintage luggage – don’t hide away, display!
Any exciting projects you are currently working on that you can share?
I’m working on a large commercial project that’s allowing me to push myself in design and execution. It’s a modern space, and I’m exploring both what that means to me and how it can impact the people who will work in the space. It’s a big responsibility, and I want to get it absolutely right.
Do judge your books by their cover! Mix it up – genres and colors. Pile and place a vase, candle, or crystal on top.
Fave decor color of the moment…
You know I’m really thinking beyond specific colors at the moment. I find elements like texture and saturation so much more interesting than a “pop of color.” I prefer a “pop of curiosity” via art and artifacts, and a clean, tonal color scheme.
Mix up vintage and new.
What do you do when not working? Hobbies? Something that would surprise our readers?
It may not be the sexiest answer, but I really love spending time with my family. I’m very close to my mom, who’s also a designer, and we spend a lot of time together shopping, antiquing, and traveling. My dad owns an all natural farm stand, and I’m with him almost every day, catching up and eating delicious sumo oranges and Japanese pears. My grandparents, whom I adore, live in Boca, and I go down to visit them often. My sister recently moved to Williamsburg, and I spent last weekend hanging out with her, shopping and trying new little boutique restaurants. We’re all really close-knit.
Lucky the cat approves of Pratesi linens.
Dream design job/client?
Someone who allows me creative control and trusts my vision. That’s my definition of what a “good” client is. Someone with whom I have a rapport, someone with a fun personality, a good sense of humor, and who is genuine. Which for me means Khloe Kardashian!
Use your mom’s china and silver! Hang silver platters on the wall as art.
Martha Stewart. Her work ethic, drive, and confidence is legendary. She showed so much courage in difficult times, and she’s never lost her innate optimism. Her ability to keep cool while running a multi-million dollar corporation and seeing to every detail is awe-inspiring.
Turn handbag or shoe dust covers into pillow cases.
Can you usually judge a person’s decor style by the way they dress or are some just way off the mark?
Yes and no. Most of the time someone’s personal style (or, honestly, lack thereof) carries across from their clothing to their decor. But you can be surprised! Sometimes someone can present modestly, but their priority is their home. Those can be the most interesting clients — the ones who like what I do, and just want me to execute it in their home for them. When that happens, it can be magic.
Glass cloches are pretty, and Sumo oranges are delicious.
We even followed Sam into his walk-in wardrobe and admired his collection of shoes and shirts, all perfectly color coordinated.
Thanks for spending the afternoon with us, Sam! We have no doubt we’ll be watching you on your own show soon!
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Pics: Lora / Words: Bev