Tamara Stephenson Interior Design; root cellar designs, LLC

Tamara Stephenson Interior Design; root cellar designs, LLC
reach out to our team for an interior design consultation or to see our collection of wallpaper and fabric sold to the designer trade, rootcellardesigns@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 1

September is a look into how animals influence our interior design

I have heard that genetic traits or personality types skip a generation in families, and I have found this to be very true in mine. I grew up with a mother who had a special understanding of animals. Don't get me wrong, I like animals too and how could I have avoided it when my mother would often pull off the highway to help a stray dog or cat, sometimes bring them home and nuture them back to health, and later secure them a safe home to live in. I must admit with a bit of guilt, that although I loved my horse and animals growing up, I was a tad more concerned about keeping a lint brush nearby to assure my clothing stay hair free-after all, I am a Virgo. However, this family trait of loving animals has stuck to me like glue and permeated itself into the genetic makeup of my lineage because now I live with two children who have the same passion for animals. My daughter has been obsessed with horses from a very small age, and even before she could say the word "horse" she would point to these lovely creatures grazing in the field during our weekend excursions out of the city. After some time, we started bringing carrots for our country rides and often stopped to pet and feed the animals. It was never a question about whether she would ride a horse, it was all about when I would allow it to happen, and that is how it has gone on from there. This love for animals does not stop at horses. One morning when she was about seven, she found a creature in our pool, scooped it up and saved it from drowning, called 411 and found a phone number for an animal rescue center. Magically, and within less than an hour a woman appeared in our yard to take this small creature with her. My husband and I stood back scratching our heads as our daughter and this woman bonded over this little brown mouse. Such a concerted effort was spent on a creature that many simply catch in a trap. The woman was from the local animal rescue center, and sure enough she followed up with a phone call to let us know the prognosis of the mouse.

My 10 year old son is so fascinated with animals that he has become a virtual encycopledia of facts about any given species from a ring-tailed lemur from Madagascar, to a particular bald eagle found in the Everglades in Florida, to Manta Rays that dwell in the ocean. He loves to draw animals and now has decided to start writing stories about them as well. Wherever we travel as a family, he becomes fixated with the indigineous animals of that particular region. In Hawaii, the highlight of our trip was his swim with the sea turtles by the reef, and this prompted his interest in getting a salt-water aquarium. His room resembles a science laboratory for a future marine biologist with his 120 gallon marine aquarium, various collections of fossils and many types of seashells, gems and animals artifacts strewn around his room.

They are everywhere-these people that cherish animals-and we are all very thankful to have them here on earth. When someone is so concerned for animals it often takes on a life of its own, because they feel the animals' pain and worry about the care of these creatures in a way that the rest of us just don't seem to understand, yet we watch with admiration.

girls who love horses at a Hampton Classic mother/daughter luncheon August 2006
Madeline Briggs at pony finals, Lexington, Kentucky 2008; Clarence House fabric on pillow Gabby Stephenson at Hampton Classic 2005 riding pony Pretty Boy Floyd; Gabby in Ocala, Fl 2009 jumping Oaks; Bailey Briggs on pony Windfall's Desiree & Gabrielle Bausano at Sagaponack Horse Show summer show 2006 one big horse at the Hampton Classic 2007; puppies at Wellington horse show 2007 Gabby Stephenson and Olivia Mulvey walking the course at Kentucky Pony Finals 2008; Gabby on Kiss Me Kait Wellington, Fl 2007; a blue ribbon just hanging; a riding clinic at Laura Bowery's barn in summer 2009 girls walking to the show ring at Littlewood, Wellington, Florida 2006
This subject has not only influenced my personal life, but as an interior designer, it also affects how I decorate homes. I have observed that as a collective society our love and fascination with animals truly influences how we live in our homes, either subtly, or in some cases right in your face, but either way it settles in and tells the story of how these creatures take hold of our hearts. If you take a good look at the fabrics, wallpapers, porcelains, rugs, and antique furniture in most homes in the past and present the prevalence of animals are in the finite details. Just take a look at antique wooden furniture, for example, and you will see that many of the chair legs and accoutrements of desks and tables from various antique periods are carved in the likeness of animal feet, legs, tusks, antlers and other references to animals. I have noted that during the Colonial, Regency and Victorian eras, animals played an important role in design for sometimes different reasons. During Colonial times animals played a key role in man's survival, and as a result, there are often references to birds,dogs and farm animals. During the Victorian times people seemed fixated on exotic animals or anything considered luxurious, as can be seen from the stuffed pheasant under glass, fox hunting depictions, and sculptures of oysters and crustacean designed upon Majolica pottery that were very popular during this opulent time.
Some of my clients come to me with opinionated approaches to which animals they want adorning their fabrics, wallpapers and other details. I have a client that absolutely abhors monkeys, however, she loves birds, but only terns. We went on a search for a toile fabric that featured only terns, and finally, at Scalamandre fabrics we nabbed the perfect one. Another client refused to use any "faux" animal looking stripes or spotted fabrics because she saw that as simply giving a nod of acceptance to the killing of animals, and she had become an avid animal rights activist, so we were very careful to only use appropriate animal motifs that showed the love for animals, but not the killing of them. Phew! It can get a little exhausting at times, but I am always happy when a client is particular because in the end, it does make my life easier - decisive clients make for happy clients when it comes to interior design!
I have decided to focus primarily on horses and equestrian elements in interior design for this month's blog since horses are one of the most common and important themes in design. I certainly have plenty of material to work with, so enjoy!

This spread illustrates how both stylish and warm it can be when adding equestrian touches to a home. In August, Elle Decor magazine featured the fashion industry design team Badgley and Mischka's recently reburbished Lexington, Kentucky home and farm.
In my opinion, this is a lovely study in beautiful design: a balance of black, white and natural wooden elements in the backdrop of this elegant, historically rich area of the country. The use of equestrian themes, stylized accessories, all in a restrained manner, make you yearn to sit in their beautiful home while sippng a Mint Julep and watching the horses out the window. Bravo!

this regency-style black dresser with animal feet legs captures the elegance of the house and property. I love the glass knob pulls. The monogrammed, slip-covered chair, and the whole look set against the crisp white walls gives plenty of room, free of clutter, for your eye to take in and appreciate the details. The look is fresh!

I want this doorstop! Since this old world look can sometimes come off looking a tad fussy, keeping the color scheme simple and natural, while strategically placing the art in groups helps to create a pleasing look, and it comes off seeming elegant and subtle, not messy.
The way in which a bed is made can really make a difference, and the lack of bedskirt below allows you to take in the beautiful wooden floors. The tucked in wool blanket helps to finish the crisp look.

This farmhouse style bed with wool blanket set next to the spool turned-leg table keeps in synchronicity with the local, southern charm of Kentucky. Notice no window treatments. The antique trunks work great as a side table.
Equestrian details can be found in both fashion and interior design and once you start looking, the elements seem to creep up everywhere. What's not to like? The beautiful horses, tack, chaps, tall boots, and beautifully crafted leather saddles are all finely constructed with special attention to detail, and this fastidiousness dovetails nicely with the interior design world.

2009 in
So let me bring you over the the Hampton Classic Horseshow where thousands of people come out each August to spectate at this one-week event in a field in Bridgehampton, New York. Locals watch every summer as this pretty field transforms into a worldclass horseshow. It's great fun to watch the horses, see the riders win ribbons, and generally honor these animals, the sport and the contestants.

Alexis Ashe riding in the local junior hunter division on opening day, and later taking champion; Madeline Briggs in pony hunters -first time without braids; Morgan Ward and Andrea Schiavoni getting ready

Wyle Rechler entering the ring with trainer Kristina Muse looking on
Oceans Edge mothers and daughters lunching together to watch the qualifying rounds on Friday; Hannah Benhamo and Olivia Greenwood line up for the hack ribbon Gabby Stephenson approaching a jump on her horse Oaks from Oceans Edge Farm in the first round of the Marshall & Sterling Childrens Hunter class Bailey Briggs riding VesPucci from Wild Ocean Farm in Bridgehampton in the Marshall & Sterling Childrens Classic Katherine Strauss pony hunters; Hannah and Andrea taking a leisurely walk; volunteers for JustWorld International on Friday

Aly Jakoff training
Gabrielle Bausano on horse Thiago, competing in a 3'6" equitation class; riders taking a leisurely trail ride before the event; Isabelle Turits in the ring on horse, Bagual; Olivia Mulvey being presented the blue ribbon in pony hunters.
a walk through
the tent on Grand Prix Sunday
to see the spectacular tables, flowers, riders and spectators
enjoying the main event

ASPCA table all done up in orange; striking flowers; the Toppings family watching the main event, ringside

Mike Strauss and family enjoy a lunch at trainer Frank Madden's table on Sunday; Ringmaster Alan Heeley with Olivia and Gabby.

Alexis Ashe's parents enjoying the day; hot pink fabulous table; Stephanie and Andrea Schiavoni with Hannah Benhamo at friday's Oceans Edge luncheon.

bright orange Hermes jump; First Lady of New York, Governor Patersons' wife, Michelle Paige Paterson , and Debbie Bancroft in lovely hats; Hermes table done up nicely; Hampton Classic security keeping us safe- Miles and Bob.

Why use equestrian themes
in interior design?
For many equestrians, their love for horses not only influences their homes, but many times it becomes the driving force in their lives. I have come to know many passionate equestrians over the past decade that my daugher has become an avid horseback rider, and I appreciate all of their dedication to these animals and the sport. What I have observed with the three trainers that we have worked with is that they most often put the horse first in priority-over the competition and at times, even the rider, because utimately everything plays second fiddle to the safety and care for the animal. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication from the trainer, grooms, rider and parents to pack up all the necessary belongings and go on the road to compete in a horseshow. These riders compete in a multitude of weather elements, from brutal sun to driving rain. We jokingly call it the "hurry up and wait" sport as we spend much of the day shuttling the horse, tack and rider from one ring to another and wait for each rider's turn in the ring. After hours of training, lots of travel and a short time in the ring, the rider either accomplishes his or her goal, or learns something about themselves, their horse and their partnership through their mistakes to make for a better performance next time. It truly is dedication at its best form.
I am impressed with these young people as they learn the sport, and support their barn mates, learn to win and lose with dignity, and ultimately, to establish a working partnership with this large, committed animal. Once this day long adventure is over, you pack it up, head home and plan the next show, and in between are the hours of work at the barn, and the grooming and care of the horse.
It is a beautiful experience to watch a horse jump fences or canter in full regalia, so if you have not been to a local equestrian event, go to watch the grace of these animals when they are in their best frame. They are strong animals that if cared for properly love to jump. Let's not even forget to mention all the horses that have carried us on their backs over history's time, pulled carts, plowed the fields, and helped on farms. No insult to dogs here, but I wonder if horses are actually "man's best friend" when you start to see their committment to us.
The dedication of many horse-loving people is evident, as is the attention to detail that this sport requires. These two factors lend themselves well to influencing how we decorate our home. If you have been in the home of an equestrian the tack is often spilling out of the mudroom, helmets hanging on hooks, and boots lined up for the next day's ride.

Olivia Greenwood, Gabby Stephenson, Katherine Strauss all enjoying a day without riding McLain Ward makes history at The Hampton Classic on Grand Prix Sunday

McLain Ward Makes History Winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix at The Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, NY on August 30, 2009. He made history by winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier for a record fourth time on his two-time Olympic team gold medal horse, Sapphire, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock.
to check out that illustrates the idea
Equestrian Style
by Vicky Moon

See below for exerpts from Moon's website that describe this delightful book - http://www.vickymoon.com/ EQUESTRIAN STYLE looks at the equine world through the lens of home decor and design. Design aficionados and horse lovers will be delighted to read this elegant coffee table book. More than just attending polo matches, horse shows, and riding events, being part of the equestrian world means embracing the gear, the garb, and the lifestyle. From the enormous empire of lifestyle-inspired products to the uber-coveted alligator paddock boots to the trend of incorporating signature snaffle bits, saddles, and other horse motifs into home decor, our love of all things equine appears everywhere—from our closets to our dining rooms. Moon traveled to many distant locations and captures the equestrian lifestyle from the International Polo Club in Wellington to Florida and California and on to Cowdray Park in Southern England. Her book offers an unprecedented peek into several dozen stunning residences, which includes horse lovers not just from the world of polo but also steeplechasing, racing, show jumping and more.
See below one of many pictures from Moon's book that show the equestrian lifestyle and how it influences interior design

Artist Allan Ryan
in his studio
Allan's articulate depiction of a Hanoverian A lovely Heron in flight Allan's collection of horses
I had the privilege of visiting the talented animal portraitist Allan Ryan in his home and studio in Bridgehampton, New York. Allan has dedicated a good portion of his life to studying, drawing and painting animals and wildlife. He told me stories of his childhood recalling how he enjoyed riding horses, foxhunting and being around the farm. His love for animals has stayed with him his entire life as can be seen in his studio where he creates original works, and later digitizes the paintings. Please check out his website at http://www.allanryan.net/. His understanding for animals can be seen in the detail with which he captures these creatures. Some of his works are oil paintings done on wood while others are watercolors. You can purchase Allan's works as originals or buy digitized prints of his work online through his website. The colors are clear, his pencil technique is fastidious, and he has a large repertoire of animals to choose from. Allan relishes the time he spends with his grandchildren as they gather around his table in the studio to work together. Together with his wife Alice, also a prolific artist who in her adjacent studio paints delectable botanicals, florals and still life paintings, they live with the beauty of their gardens and surrounded by the amazing artwork that they both create.

Allan's grandson Tack working in the studio; an eclectic collection of Allan's work
Allan's boots from his riding days sits among his paintings; a grand photograph of Alan and his family on a riding excursion - Allan on the far right a bronze and wooden horse keeps watch over Allan's work; a large hippopatumus character that Allan painted; Allan riding as a young boy; a trout painting hangs in his library a bahamian lobster; a collection of his work hanging in his studio; a zebra; Allan's paint collection

I am dedicating September's blog to my friend Wendy Schmid because she is the epitomy of an animal lover. Wendy, her husband Larry, their children, seven dogs, a cat, chickens and many horses all live in their home at Applewild farm in Bridgehampton, New York. The Schmids built their home in 1993. As I walked through her farm and property today, her love for animals permeates her home. Wendy started riding at a young age and spent most of her life as a competitive hunter rider - check out the cool picture of her competing at the Hampton Classic Sidesaddle Division in the 1980s. Wendy has hung up her competitive boots but still rides and loves horses on her beautiful farm. If I was an animal in need, I would only hope to find my way to Wendy's farm, as she has been a savior for many animals in her life. Her home pays homage to her love for animals, and we photographed many of the details that illustrate this.

such a great collection of books and many pertaining to the care of animals; a collection of family riding photographs; Wendy's collection of nests; one of her many dogs finding a shady spot under the hedge; Wendy competing in 1995; horse painting by talented local artist, Allan Ryan hanging in Wendy's home; Larry's handmade fishing lures that he carves, paints and hangs in his studio, ready for use.

eggs collected at the coop; details of animals in every nook and cranny; a happy horse in his home; a collection of fine bits and bridles hanging in the tack room; an antique boot cleaner with iron white horses flanking that once belonged to Wendy's grandmother

Wendy competing in a sidesaddle competition at the Hampton Classic in the 1980s. A picture of Wendy's dairy cow from many years ago when she sold milk in the east end of long island. A Buddha taking center stage in her livingroom, where Wendy sometimes does her yoga. Congratulations Wendy for following your passion in life!

Please stop back in
when I will look at architecture
in the past and present,
highlighting important contributions
from the many talented architects in our country


The Consummate Hostess said...

Beautiful post!

Shandell's said...

What a fabulous read. Thank you for including some of my Horsey things.

Lisa said...

I have kindly asked the MR. to make me another cup of coffee as I am going to be here for a while.
I feel as if I just bought the most gloriuos magazine perfectly suited to my desires. You know the kind that you peek at all the pictures first & then you go back and respectfully read every word...
Thank you for "jump" starting my September in style!
xo Lisa

Tamara Matthews-Stephenson said...

Thanks The Consummate Hostess, Lisa Porterco and Shandell's for all your comments - it was fun to compile this subject matter. best, tamara

Elise said...

Hello, I just had to leave you a note because I've so enjoyed reading your posts today. You have the most gorgeously beautiful site - best wishes & thank you ..

Anonymous said...


Shani said...

I have to echo Lisa's sentiments. What a fabulous blog! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful pictures and words.