Instagram is a wonderful way to connect with other like minded individuals, which is exactly how I “met” interior designer Allison Caccoma. A native New Yorker, Caccoma started her professional career in finance on Wall Street before earning a degree from the New York School of Interior Design and training under the tutelage of legendary designer Bunny Williams. Caccoma’s work has been featured in publications such as House Beautiful, The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, At Home Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors, SF Chronicle/Habitat, The Boston Globe, and Design New England. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she has become one of the Bay Area’s most sought-after designers. Allison and I share a passion for timeless design, history, antiques, and needlepoint. I am delighted to welcome her to The Glam Pad today for a Q&A!
Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
A: I describe my designs as timeless and elegant, yet comfortable and inviting. I am truly a traditionalist at heart. I love (and collect) anything and everything old and like to layer fresh, rich colors and patterns to make a space feel current. It is all about the eclectic mix and using intriguing objects and shapes to give a space its character and charm. I want people to come into a room, feel that it is special but not be able to articulate exactly why!
Q: What was it like working for the legendary Bunny Williams, and how did it influence your career?
A: There are really no words to express how grateful I am for my years spent with Bunny. I had been working in Finance on Wall Street when I serendipitously discovered my passion for interior design. I was immensely fortunate to have had an internship with Bunny as my first job in decorating. From the moment I walked in her door, I realized the significance of my opportunity. Bunny encouraged us to get out into the world (Manhattan at the very least) and shop for unique items. They could be textiles or antiques, but it was the hunt that made them special. The more one-of- a-kind pieces in a room, the more the room becomes an experience. We also needed to ‘know the rules before we could break them’. This pertains to the scale and proportion of architecture as much as it does to the scale and proportion of decorating. Isn’t that so true? The lessons I learned from Bunny – and continue to learn – are invaluable to say the least. I now take great joy in passing those lessons on to the next generation of designers.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Almost everywhere! Shopping, traveling, museums, fashion, art and books are all my favorite inspiration sources.
Q: How do you create interiors that stand the test of time?
A: Again, it’s all about the mix. I don’t believe in decorating in one style or period and I certainly don’t pay attention to trends. I focus on the history of design that is also relevant today. If it has already stood the test of time, it most likely always will.
Q: Where do you find your antiques, and how do you incorporate them within your interiors?
A: I find almost all of my vintage and antique pieces at my sources in New York and Connecticut. 1st Dibs is a great online source as well. Now that I have my shop, Decoration, my search has certainly been elevated. I’m starting to scour the country’s antique shows and markets as well as Marche Aux Puces in Paris. It’s a must!
I use antiques wherever I possibly can in my interiors. The value of an antique is something so many people don’t consider. Vintage pieces are often the same price as ordering something new but there is no comparison when it comes to the chic sense of soul an old piece provides. Not to mention, antiques in a room are truly one-of- a-kind. Exactly how I like to decorate!
Q: Do you have any favorite staples when it comes to paint colors, fabrics, wallpapers etc.?
A: Yes, for sure! Farrow and Ball paint and wallpapers are a staple in my library as are Robert Kime, Bennison and Claremont Furnishing’s fabrics. Every project starts with these. De Gournay and Gracie hand painted wallpapers are irresistible, as well as tapping my talented decorative painters for Venetian plaster or murals. All of these evoke the feeling of being old or made by hand – a very important element in my design.
Q: Tell me about your new San Francisco boutique.
A: Originally, we purchased the 117-year-old building on Sacramento Street to be my design studio, but the tree-lined, street-front space (with beautiful old windows) was so delightful, it begged to be something more. And so a shop was born! I have a very specific concept for it, though, which sets it apart from your typical “antique store.” It is to be more like a vignette of a home than a retail store. There is a dining area and a living room, and each are used as such! I’ve styled the boutique shop with furniture and accessories as I would in a client’s house. I was able to achieve this easily as I carry the lines of three of my most cherished sources from New York – Bunny Williams Home, John Rosselli and Christopher Spitzmiller. All three bring the level of design to a fabulously sophisticated level. I also blend in vintage and antique pieces from my own travels.
My goal is to have a shop filled with items that you cannot purchase online, as bespoke and unique as possible, just how I like to work. The name “Decoration” was inspired by John Rosselli’s ‘Antiques and Decoration’ shop. I just love the old-school word ‘decorate,’ as that’s what I do. I also use the space to entertain as I would at home. In fact, I had a trunk show cocktail party for Julia B. Handmade Linens last year. I turned off the track lights, used only the Christopher Spitzmiller lamps and had lots of candles and flowers. It was quite magical and my vision of how I’d use the shop was achieved!
Q: What are your favorite interior design books?
A: I have a book obsession as evidenced by the sheer number of them in my home! The books I most frequently refer to with clients are those written by Bunny Williams, Brian McCarthy, Miles Redd, Jeffrey Bilhuber and Gil Schafer as they are my contemporaries. I also study books – Alberto Pinto and Renzo Mongiardino are two compelling favorites. My library is one of my most precious collections. I believe it’s important to forever be a student of design and study its history!
Q: When you aren’t busy decorating, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
A: I don’t seem to have much free time at all! What I love most about my ‘job’ is that it’s not a job to me, it’s my lifestyle which means I am forever shopping, going to museums, and entertaining when I’m not at the office. Aside from that though… I am an avid runner and enjoy spending time in the beautiful California outdoors. I love to cook when time allows and I am also somewhat addicted to needlepoint. It’s the ultimate relaxation for me!
Thank you, Allison, for joining us today! These are truly rooms that will stand the test of time. For additional information, please visit allisoncaccoma.com and Allison’s shop Decoration. For daily inspiration, please follow @allisoncaccoma on Instagram.