Marks & Frantz in The Wall Street Journal – Mad Maximalism Rules!

Bored with white minimalist interiors? This weekend in The Wall Street Journal, there is an article about Mad Maximalism and Over-the-Top-Notch Decor, featuring a Marks & Frantz designed Family Room. As many of our readers already know, we have a crazy obsession with pattern and color! Sure, we have done neutral rooms for many clients;  but rich, lush color combinations and layered rooms make us breathless! The challenge of creating complex interiors that delight the senses at every glance, while appearing effortless, is not an easy task. For this family room, our client said “more is more, bring it on!”

Family Game Room

“This richly rowdy family room, designed by Marks & Frantz, exemplifies the emerging aesthetic that is making minimalist spaces seem tired and barren” – WSJ. Photo by Marco Ricca

Maximalism, here’s how to pull it off! 

This family room is a classic example of a true maximalist interior! Martina Mondador Sartogo, editor of Cabana Magazine, lists 10 key elements that help to bring maximalism to the mainstream. Below are a few more images of the room to illustrate this aesthetic. Here are some of our favorite rules, a “cheat sheet” for the controlled chaos that is maximalism:

Pass on Pastels – you may want to throw in a neutral for a visual rest, but think big

Embellish the walls – paint, wallpaper, love it all

Look down (and up,) ceilings and floors are super important

Seek out the unique

Provoke with pattern, mix scale and pattern type for full effect

Be patient, ruminate and cultivate

mad maximalism rules

Marks & Frantz Family Game Room

Goodbye to bland and boring…

In a world where Restoration Hardware is democratizing design, maximalism is a feast for the eyes. It calls for individuality and personality. It reflects the mind of a collector, the wanderlust of a traveler and the heart of a dreamer. In a time of uncertainty, maximalism is a breath of fresh air.

Family Game Room

Custom biscuit-tufted sofa designed by Marks & Frantz for EF-LM Atelier collection. Sofa fabric is Dedar’s new Splendido velvet. Wall paper is Miami from Cole & Sons

Comfort is key

Another key attribute to a maximalist interior is the desire to walk in and stay a while. The room must be comfortable and inviting. It should evoke the desire to curl up in a corner with a book and sip bourbon with your besties. It should harken back to a time before cell phones, encourage family time and play time.

Family Game Room

Cozy corner banquette designed by Marks & Frantz and constructed by Marks and Tavano is the perfect complement to the shagreen John Lyle game table: backgammon on one side, flips over for chess! The painting on the left is Shawn Delaney and on the right is Eugene Brodsky, both at Sears Peyton Gallery, NYC


Custom Game Room

Custom window treatments by Marks & Tavano, drapery fabric from Dedar. Custom shuffleboard table designed specifically for this room; Venture Shuffleboards


Family Game Room

Custom backgammon table from Alexandra Llewellyn and a silver and gold vintage palm tree from Newel brightens up a corner.


Luxury Game Room

Pair of crystal starburst chandeliers from Matthews Studio and a vintage heriz from JD Oriental anchor the room, design by Marks & Frantz

We are so honored to be in the company of other maximalist “experts” Kati Curtis Design, Alexa Hampton and Michelle Nussbaumer. Thank you again Wall Street Journal and @WSJlife! 

breakfast nook

Breakfast nook by Kati Curtis Design is a perfect example of mixing scale to create visual harmony. 


Alexa Hampton’s very own maximalist bedroom “My version of maximalist is to have a lot of the same color, which allowed me to mix disparate elements but have a veneer of similitude.”



Michelle Nussbaumer’s Dallas library is another great example of how to layer patterns and play with scale.

Some of our favorite partners in pulling off our luxurious interiors and in creating this spectacular family room:

Edward Ferrell – Lewis Mittman for all custom upholstery designed by Marks & Frantz, and to purchase the sofa and swivel chairs shown above. All fabrics in the rooms are from Dedar. Antiques were procured from our most beloved secret sources: JD Oriental Rugs, High Style Deco, , Area ID and Newel Gallery.

Many of our secret sources for custom games are as follows:

Alexandra Llewelyn for the portable backgammon table with inlaid stones and exotic hardwoods.

John Lyle for exquisite game table made from shagreen and ivory. for chess and checkers

Custom-sized shuffleboard table from Venture Shuffleboard, because everyone should own one! 

Contact Us

Have an upcoming design project that you’ve been thinking of and don’t know where to start? 

Click here to arrange a no-cost consultation. We’re looking forward to the conversation.

Lydia Marks & Lisa Frantz








Pink and Green, and other delightfully crazy color combos

Mixing, matching and combining  pink and green color combos is a delicate art form and we relish the challenge! When you put two colors together in a home, the first question to ask: do they marry well? Blend like old friends? Or clash like arch enemies? Combining unusual color combos feel intuitive and emotional, but there is actually a science behind it. All colors are made up of different proportions of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. The color wheel exists to calculate the relationships between these colors. Some colors on opposite sides of the wheel are meant to balance each other, like pink and chartreuse. Other colors that are adjacent on the wheel can feel edgy and create a push and pull, like blue and yellow. Please join us for winter Fridays as we chase away the cold weather blues with crazy color inspiration!


Pink and green are classic examples of colors that are on the opposite side of the color spectrum. Complimentary hues of pinks and greens can work in stylish harmony. These color combos can scare many who may see visions of Lilly Pulitzer and other ghosts of preppy past! If Palm Beach preppy is not the look that you are going for, don’t fear, it’s all about getting the dose and saturation right! 

pink and green color combos

Nantucket living room

Color combos of pink and green for the younger set! 

Interior Designers who do crazy color combos so well….


Fabric companies who do crazy color combos so well….

Tips for making color combos of pink and green work:

  • Add in some black and white, they will act as unifiers
  • Play with saturation: the palest pink acts as a neutral against a bold and vibrant green, like kelly.
  • Try accents in the color range. If you are using carnation and grass green, try accents in either fuschia or mint. Don’t overdo it, just one small accent will give you an edge.

Everything Old is New Again

Yesterday, I installed a chair for a dear client.  It was a chair that had sentimental value to him and he wanted it recovered in a fabric that had some meaning as well.  This client is a huge fan of Art Deco and has a lot of art deco patterns and furniture pieces in his home.

The fabric that fit the bill was Schumacher’s gorgeous reproduction of Less Gazelles au Bois in black. Originally designed by Pierre Pozier in 1927, this iconic print of the leaping gazelles ended up decorating the ballroom of the new Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1931, when it moved to Park Avenue. Quite an honor for a brave new design! Very surprisingly, I could not find a great image of the fabric in the ballroom – so here is a picture of Marlene Dietrich at the April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf!

art deco Marlene Dietrich April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf

After we installed the chair into my client’s home, I started thinking more about this time in NYC, this fabric and the exquisite pattern/metallic colors. The hotel itself was heralded by President Hoover “The opening of the new Waldorf Astoria is an event in the advancement of hotels, even in New York City. It carries great tradition in national hospitality…marks the measure of nation’s growth in power, in comfort and in artistry…an exhibition of courage and confidence to the whole nation…”  The suites were named after their most interesting guests: The Cole Porter Suite, The Royal Suite named for the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, The MacArthur Suite and the Churchill Suite.

There is so much amazing history there – probably deserves it’s own blog post at some point.  But, for now, we can feast our eyes on some of the great new ways this pattern is being used in 2015! Lisa Perry’s gown at Barney’s

art deco inspired fashion design


Dempsey and Carroll’s stationary is so beautiful.  I would love this for my birthday… tomorrow… hint hint hint…. schumacher-gazelle art deco inspired stationary


Hotel Design: The patterns of Loews Chicago Hotel

I am often inspired by hotel design. Usually, it is the boutique hotels that take chances in their styles, colors, and originality. For obvious reasons, the smaller boutique hotels are able to do it and therefore can easily reflect the vibe of the place you are visiting. The larger hotels often seem to reflect only their own corporate branding. That’s why I was so surprised by the hotel design at the Loews Chicago Hotel.

hotel design

The elevator at the Lowes Chicago Hotel. Featuring a poem by Carl Sandburg.

hotel design

Patterned carpets with “urban” motifs.

hotel design

Printed wall coverings – glass towers refracting light.

hotel design

Hotel Design

Their brand new glass high-rise building in the Streeterville neighborhood was designed by Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz, developed by the DRW Trading Group of Chicago, and the interior design is by Simeone Deary Design Group. The hotel design is brave and bold and gives the guests of the hotel a strong sense of place. There are elements that reference the architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Louis Sullivan. There are patterns and textures that call to mind Chicago’s industry, railroads and even their literary past. The elevators are inscribed with Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago”. I love this idea – why not read some local poetry instead of staring off into the middle distance?

hotel design

Yes! Patterns on the ceiling!

hotel design

And in the metal work.

hotel design

Patterns on the mantel in the lobby.

hotel design

Neutral furniture on patterned carpet.

hotel design

Carpet with an “urban” motif.

hotel design

More metal patterns on the ceiling.

hotel design

And awesome metal patterns on the walls.



Mark Shaw

Mark Shaw is best known for his photographs of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy, which he shot originally for LIFE magazine and later as the Kennedys’ “unofficial” family photographer. He developed a strong friendship with JFK and Jackie and regularly visited the White House during their time there. But Mark Shaw was first and foremost a Fashion and Advertising photographer whose freelance assignments for LIFE magazine had him photographing some of the most notable celebrities of the 1950′s. 

This collection of Mark Shaw’s fashion images, taken at the House of Dior between 1952 and 1962, is the first book showcasing Mark Shaw’s extensive fashion photography for LIFE and other magazines throughout the 1950s. It is available at Liz O’Brien Gallery in NYC and we are snapping them up like crazy for our clients. Not only is the fashion amazing, but the interiors are pretty fabulous as well! We plan to use the first image in a beautiful powder room in Old Greenwich in a home that Marks & Frantz renovated and decorated from head to toe in 2013.

Dior Theatre de France 1960

Dior Theatre de France 1960


Photographed in 1953 at the French country estate, Corbeville, Jane Sprague models a ball gown by Fath.

Photographed in 1953 at the French country estate, Corbeville, Jane Sprague models a ball gown by Fath.

Sophie Malgat wears Dior in Dior's Passy Home, 1953. Sophie Malgat in Gray Chiffon Dior in Dior’s Paris Home

Sophie Malgat wears Dior in Dior’s Passy Home, 1953. Sophie Malgat in Gray Chiffon Dior in Dior’s Paris Home

Ghislaine Lounges in Elsa Schiaparelli's Home

Ghislaine Lounges in Elsa Schiaparelli’s Home


A velvet dinner dress by Chanel photographed in the vine hung Paris courtyard, Cour de Rohan, in 1955

A velvet dinner dress by Chanel photographed in the vine hung Paris courtyard, Cour de Rohan, in 1955






Design*Sponge Interview

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge.  We talked about set decoration, interior design , and of course, wallpaper!

The radio station, Heritage Radio, where we did the interview was really great – in the back of the super popular Brooklyn restaurant Roberta’s Pizza.  Check out Heritage Radio’s great programming here.   I hope you enjoy the interview!!

Art & Science

There is a bridge between science and art and it is Ernst Haeckel.  Haeckel sketched and painted watercolors of various organisms such as sea anemones, jellyfish, and cnidaria.  If you are like me and know your favorite periods of furniture better than your marine life, here is the definition of cnidaria!  And here are some of his amazing works.

He selected the subjects for his work based on organization, from the scale patterns of boxfishes to the spirals of ammonites to the perfect symmetries of jellies and microorganisms.  I particularly like this one – the tentacles reminded him of his late wife’s long flowing hair!

And a few more.  Enjoy.

Ask us on eHow

eHow asked Marks & Frantz “How to Choose a Living Room Paint Color”! Click on the eHow article to read on!


James Lecce

Last year, we helped a client curate a starter art collection for their new home. During the process we were able to bring in some favorite artists and discover some exciting new ones. With the help of Valerie McKenzie at McKenzie Fine Art and a few bookmarked editorial spreads by one of my favorite designers, Jamie Drake, I was led to James Lecce.
The technique he uses to create this fluidity gives his work a great feeling of movement and liquidness. The swirling shapes and macro view make you think that each painting is a snapshot of an infinitely larger and ever moving entity. There is no beginning and no end.

James Lecce paintings gave me a much needed mental boost for this Monday morning!





and another Jamie Drake interior




Jamie Drake's study for Californication features a Lecce, I think Drake may be his biggest fan!


An installation of last year's James Lecce show at McKenzie Fine Art










Friday Favorites….Flame Stitch

Definition: a needlepoint stitch that produces a pattern resembling flames, originating in the 18th century in a series of chairs found in the Bargello Palace in Florence. Older than the hills, this pattern has been repeated for centuries in fashion, upholstery, rugs, pillows… you name it! It never seems to go out of style, just reinvented and re-interpreted by design luminaries such as Missoni and Jonathan Adler. The pattern is made fresh and timely by mixing in quirky and unexpected color combinations, something Missoni has been doing in their fashion house for decades. Design houses, such as Schumacher, Holland & Sherry and Romo are doing amazing things with flame stitch, take a look below and expect to see more as our recent projects are revealed.

Samples of Missoni patterns that span decades


Upholstery Fabric from Vervain


Fabulous rug that Holland & Sherry is doing in several colorways


Schumacher wallpaper

a Mary McDonald-designed interior


Jonathan Adler pillow - the Bargello!


Romo wallpaper






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