How do you create a room that will stand the test of time? You make it understated, quietly elegant, and especially comfortable, says Jane Ellsworth. I have admired Jane’s refined, classic elegance for years and I am delighted to feature an interview and highlights from her exquisite portfolio today. Jane established her eponymous design firm, Jane Ellsworth Interiors in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1990, and she has gained recognition for her classically inspired, traditional interiors. After receiving her BFA from Parsons School of Design, Jane earned positions at two notable firms that continue to influence the American landscape; Donghia Associates in New York City and Bruce Gregga, Inc. in Chicago. She also happens to be the sister-in-law of Stacey Bewkes, founder of the acclaimed design blog Quintessence. Exquisite taste runs throughout this family! Unless otherwise noted, photography is by Jane Beiles.
Jane’s dining room features my dream wallcoverings… Scenes of North America, by Zuber
Q: How to you go about creating an elegant home that stands the test of time?
A: First, you must take into account the architecture of the home. Once you respect the architecture, the decoration should work in tandem. An understated, quietly elegant, and especially comfortable room will always stand the test of time.
A Buccelatti sterling tea service and William Yeoward hurricanes grace an 18th century English serpentine sideboard. The Hart mirror is from 1850.
Q: What influenced you to become an interior designer?
A: It was more like “whom” influenced me. Here is a long winded answer to your question. As a young girl, I would visit my grandmother who had a wonderful 1920’s brick Georgian with superb bones. My memories will always be of her walking around the house balancing fabric and wallpaper swatches with her decorator! Such Fun! They had the most engaging conversations (eavesdropping was allowed), and the ideas were flowing. Before I knew it, I was simply drawn into the romance of decorating. I simply could not wait to see the finished results which were stunning! She is the only one I can remember, who had a “summer and winter” look back then. The carpets were rolled up in the summer, and out came the white linen slipcovers with sisal rugs. It always felt cool and inviting. The living room fashioned dark green lacquered walls with tons of blue and white porcelains. This prompted my love of porcelains, especially anything blue and white from that day forward!
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
A: Fortunately, I had the opportunity to travel overseas extensively at an early age. This enabled me to fall in love with different cultures and walk away with a more fine tuned aesthetic. My passion for history and art history increased my vocabulary of preferred shapes and colors. An enjoyable pastime with my husband is antiquing in and around Connecticut, as well as in our travels.
Gould hummingbird prints, a John Boone lamp with french knotted Abat Jour shade, and Herend trays accent a mid 19th century English Pembroke table.
Q: What are your go-fabrics, paint color, wallcoverings, linens etc.?
A: Wow! Those are complicated questions! So many fabulous choices, and so much depends on the palette and design direction of a project. For fabrics, I am partial to the prints of Bennison, and over the past couple of years, I have fallen in LOVE with the Blithfield linen prints. Both fabric companies have created timeless patterns and colorways conducive to a classic interior. My favorite textured fabrics and solids are from Holland & Sherry and Rogers & Goffigon. I simply love working with natural fibers.
Beautiful 16th century Delft garniture and an American 19th century oil painting.
Paint colors are so subjective, and even an emotional decision. Depending on your thoughts on color, and your overall visual goals, you want to make sure there is a flow from room to room. A monochromatic scheme allows you much more flexibility and the opportunity to highlight furnishings or an art collection. My ” go to” paint companies are Farrow & Ball and Donald Kaufman. Both color collections allow you the flexibility for rich colors depending on the hue.
Wallcoverings are an effective way to bring color, and pattern to your walls as an alternative to paint. Recently, I paperbacked an overall Bennison pattern, “Pomegranate” in blue and white for a formal powder room. The effect was impressive without being over done.
Bennison Pomegranate (image via Jane Ellsworth)
I LOVE linens both for tabletop and bedding! Once the colors have been established for the bedrooms, dining, breakfast room etc., I like to work with Leron and E. Braun. For the everyday linens you need for guest rooms and secondary bedrooms, you cannot go wrong with some of the specialty linen shops around our area.
A small scaled Chippendale Lady’s Secretary holds a lovely collection of Rose Famille porcelain.
Q: What are your favorite interior design books?
A: In no special order…
The pages are divinely faded and edges are worn after many hours of pouring over every detail.
Q: What are the five classic design elements you feel every home should have?
A: 1. Structure a room, and then lighten it up
2. Scale and Color Integrity
3. Visual Richness and textured value
4. Sense of Romance and Grace
5. Select an object either furniture or accessory that can become a piece of sculpture
Q: Do you have any favorite collections or antique treasures?
A: My love of porcelains started early, so I have a extensive collection of Delft, and Canton, a homage to my passion for blue and white! Our home in Nantucket houses a large collection of folk art and vintage decoys.
Q: When you are not busy designing, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
A: That’s an easy question! I’ve been playing the piano most of my life, so whenever I have a break in my day, you will find me trying to carve out precious time to practice! My other passion is golf. As a single digit golfer, I try and escape and hit the links whenever possible. Growing up this was a family pastime, and now I can enjoy this will my husband and children.
Needlepoint pillows from Jane’s Nantucket home. “I love to needlepoint whether I am watching TV, and it’s the best for traveling,” she said. Image via Jane Ellsworth.
Since founding Jane Ellsworth Interiors over 20 years ago, Jane has designed an extensive number of versatile projects from coast to coast including the most refined urban residences, country estates, seaside cottages, and innovative corporate interiors. Jane’s highly individualized approach provides each client with a customized interior designed to complement their active lifestyles. I truly an enamored with her elegant, classic style. These are timeless rooms designed to last a lifetime!
To learn more, please visit Jane Ellsworth Interiors. Jane’s Pinterest boards are also a go-to source for inspiration, and you will want to follow her on Instagram for daily glimpses into her beautiful world. Thank you, Jane, for sharing with us today!
Fantastic post! Beautiful never goes out of style.