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








Powder Rooms and the art of creating a gorgeous one!

Let’s face it, just having a half bath to call a powder room is a pure luxury for many of us! Pretty much every guest that visits your home will make at least one trip to the powder room. Why not make it completely gorgeous? The secret to make a large impact in this petite space is to decorate it as you would any other room in your home. Here are a few tips to achieve an elevated level of glam and the world’s best looking powder rooms.

Powder Rooms – go big or go home! 

Don’t be scared off by large scale patterns in the tiny powder room. Rather than feeling overwhelming, a large pattern can energize a small space.  The Osborne & Little koi carp wallpaper brings movement and life to this little powder room tucked under a staircase in a Greenwich, CT colonial.

Sexy Legs and all

No need for practicality in the powder room! No toiletries and junk to hide in here so the sink vanity can become a statement piece. Lucite, glass and metal legs add that dose of sparkle, be sure to use nice looking shut off valves and an under mount or drop in sink that looks pretty both top and bottom! This would also be the perfect place to use a brass or nickel sink – big wow factor and you don’t need to work about the durability as you would in a more oft used bathroom.


powder room

Beautiful classic tile and a custom vanity from Urban Archaelogy are harmonious with O&L’s Gerwent Koi wallcovering

Color Splurge

Is there a color that you absolutely adore? Powder rooms are the perfect place to explore and be bold. And don’t forget the “fifth wall,” also know as the ceiling! One more excuse to amp up the wow factor!

Powder room

Powder rooms don’t always have to dress up!

Many of our clients have powder rooms tucked off mudrooms, playrooms, basement bonus areas….they don’t always need to be so formal. Sometimes you just need to have a little fun! 

This powder room does double duty as a changing room off the pool

This whimsical half bath is the perfect complement to the play room adjacent to it. If you look closely, those are tiny pigs in the wallpaper!


Details Details Details: Here is a laundry list of must dos! 

Powder rooms are the place to splurge strategically! Go upscale on the linens, it makes a lasting impression on guests and you don’t need very many! This is the perfect place for a monogram. Julia B. makes beautiful mini guest towels – great for hostess gifts. For those who can’t handle the linen laundering or for a big group, try disposable good quality hand towels, they look like linen and even come with a single monogram for the cult of personality.


Disposable hand towels with custom monogram on Etsy

Julia B insect guest towels make great hostess gifts

  • Spend a bit more on tissue box covers, wastebaskets and beautiful jewel-like soap holders. We are big fans of Pigeon & Poodle for luxury powder room accessories.
  • Use scented candles and diffusers, make the powder room a special place, an oasis.

Andria tissue box from Pigeon & Poodle

Handa Wastebasket by Pigeon & Poodle




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!!

Brooklyn Toile

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about toile de jouy wallpaper and how the modern versions of these patterns tend to be ironic and subversive.  A few days ago the New York Times ran a story in their Currents column in the Home and Garden section about a brand new toile designed by Flavor Paper.  The pattern is called Brooklyn Toile and it features images such as spray painted subway cars and the Notorious B.I.G.  Check out Flavor Paper’s website to see the three different Brooklyn patterns as well as all their other great designs.

courtesy of the New York Times

Vintage Wallpaper Design Resources

As readers of our blog already know, we love wallpaper. There is definitely a wallpaper moment happening in the design world right now. I am just finishing a great project decorating the sets of a Roland Emmerich TV pilot and got to have a bit of fun with the colors and patterns. I was looking for something chic and original for the main characters apartment and nothing new seemed quite right – so I looked back for inspiration. Vintage wallpaper designs with gorgeous patterns, interesting color combinations, geometrics and damasks were just what I needed.

vintage wallpaper patterns

Vintage Wallpaper at Secondhand Rose

One of the sources I love for vintage papers is Secondhand Rose, a NYC business that has been in operation for 45 years. Below are some of the papers that they have in stock now.

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

Vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

Vintage Wallpaper at Gracie

Gracie, a family run business in New York City since 1898, has a stock of rare and vintage papers as well.  They are incredibly beautiful.  They also produce new hand painted wallpaper murals and carry antiques and custom lacquer furniture. I was curious how Gracie began their wallpaper business and found the following info on their website.

“During the 1930’s, a friend of Mr. Gracie’s, a textile trader, returned from a visit to China with a roll of exquisite hand painted wallpapers that he had discovered in Beijing. Mr. Gracie was immediately enthusiastic, and felt that he had a market for this product. A relationship was established with the studio that produced the wallpaper and continued until the Chinese revolution in 1949, when the studio was relocated to Taiwan under new management. Decades later, the studio was returned to Mainland China, Gracie’s studio in the orient have been managed by the same Chinese family for fifty years. Hand painted wallpapers are Gracie’s signature product line.”

vintage wallpaper from Gracie

vintage wallpaper from Gracie

I have just received 2 panels of custom Gracie paper that I am having framed for a client. Stay tuned for pictures of this amazing artwork we are creating! We based our design on the panel above but reworked it with our own colors and scale.

Now I want to design a nursery with the cute elephant and inchworm pattern from Secondhand Rose and a powder room with one of the rich chinoiserie papers. The paper is all limited quantities so when it’s gone it’s gone!

vintage wallpaper

Backstage on Broadway: On a Clear Day

Kerry O’Malley, one of the leads in the Broadway revival of On a Clear Day, invited the the Marks & Frantz team to decorate her dressing room backstage at the St. James Theater.

Kerry O'Mally and Harry Connick, Jr. on opening night

We wanted to make her space comfortable yet glamorous.   In a space this small, the design must be well conceived and the color palette for the furniture, fabrics and wall color must be very tightly coordinated.  There is not a lot of room to make big statements.   Another important element of the design that we had to address was the necessity of making our decoration “temporary”.  We really wanted to introduce great color and pattern onto the largest wall of the dressing room.  Enter Tempaper Designs and Edie, their bronze toned wallpaper.


Tempaper Designs makes temporary and repositionable wallpaper.  Their printing process incorporates the traditional technique of gravure or intaglio copper plate engraving with state of the art materials to bring a classic look and feel to the finished product. Among my favorite patterns that they produce are elegant Art Nouveau patterns, cute herringbones in great color ways and a really sweet line for children. Here are a few more of their designs.  Check out their website to see more.



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