i have featured many fantastic homes, but still today one of my favorites is the carriage house of designer bruce budd. actually i loved it so much it was one of the first homes i featured right after oscar de la renta’s punta cana home- for those of you that follow the blog you know that is stature!
i had one of those moments when you see something and you automatically feel something special. not only was the home beautiful and perfectly appointed it had character, depth, sincerity, restraint and warmth- i felt a connection. i remember looking at it over and over, studying it and wanting to know more about it- i still do!
after reading the story and doing some research i realized that bruce, who had been a finance and economics student like myself, was discovered by bill blass, my style icon, and went on to become bunny mellon’s personal decorator for many years. it’s a charming story, read more here.
the story continues. a few months after i wrote the post i got an email from bruce saying, “hello” and sincerely thanking me. needless to say i was very happy. when you write about people, their homes and their stories, it’s very personal, and you don’t really know how they will feel about it. i felt honored!
at this moment the idea was born to create a designer series to learn more about designers i love. bruce was one of the first designers i reached out to and we have had many exchanges. i have to say that what i felt that moment i first saw his carriage house was and is authentic. honestly he is as warm, sincere, gracious and as charming as his beautiful home!
doing this blog is thrilling and this is why…. doors open, stories are told, major stories in this case, and meaningful relationships are cultivated. i always wanted to know about bruce, see more of his work and learn more about his story, however, i never thought i’d be asking the questions.
this is truly something special. more from bruce budd- the charming story continues! enjoy!
BB- I have always been fascinated by the totality of eighteenth-century design – by the idea of integrating architecture, decoration and landscape. And though I do have a predilection for all things classical, my inspiration, I’ll admit, comes from diverse sources, from past centuries to the present. That said, my rooms are restrained and modern – but not in a chrome-and-glass sort of way. My strength lies in combining beautiful objects and furniture, often from vastly different periods and cultures, in thoughtfully edited settings.
Front hall of Bruce’s New York carriage house, with Old Master drawing displayed on a Regency scagliola column.
In Bruce’s New York bedroom and sitting room, a marble bust of Homer.
View of Bruce’s terrace with French marble bust.
MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?
BB- I’m a New Englander and grew up in a house my father designed with the help of a family friend, an architect from Philadelphia. The interior resembled a barn somewhat, with ceilings nearly twenty feet high and exposed beams that emphasized the vertical scale of the main rooms. The place was chockfull of objects: furniture from my father’s family and paintings from my mother’s; innumerable mementos from our travels; even some ancestral portraits. So, yes, my childhood house definitely influenced my aesthetic. That house and the memories formed there have made me understand – and appreciate – the emotional importance of continuity. Even though I now choose to live in more pared-down, more proscribed surroundings – and the interiors I create for clients are, well, more edited – it’s those small links to the past (the books, the photographs, the presents from our siblings) that bring resonance to a house and make it that much more meaningful.
Ancestral portrait of Underhill Budd.
MDS- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
BB- I’d be a gardener! But I’m afraid I’d spend all my time designing gardens for my friends and neighbors, reading under the trees, or just staring up at the clouds!
Engraving of gardeners
Cabbages in the Potager du Roi, Versailles
View of the Orange Tree Garden, Chiswick
An Idol of Bruce’s – Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
Cloud study by Constable
MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?
BB- Jefferson’s Monticello inspires me still, as does Schinkel’s Charlottenhof. Currently, I am obsessed (like most everyone) with the work of Anish Kapoor. We’re now working on a house with a room fitted with 18th-century boiserie. I’m having the paneling stripped and limed and will place large clipped trees in planter boxes near the many pairs of French doors leading to the gardens. The sole piece of art in the room will be – what else? – a polished disc by Anish Kapoor.
Work by Anish Kapoor
Work by Anish Kapoor
“Jefferson’s Monticello still inspires me,” says Bruce. Here, Jefferson’s Cabinet at Monticello.
Charlottenhof- The World of Interiors
MDS- What is the favorite room in your home?
BB- I recently purchased a weekend getaway – a country house that dates to 1830, sits high above a pond, and is located on a road leading to a charming river ferry that’s been operating since 1769. I’m turning what was once the dining room, part of a late 19th-century addition, into a sitting room. With windows on three sides, it has the most incredible light throughout the day.
From Bruce’s sitting room in the country: a carved and painted corner chair, a gift from Bunny Mellon, who acquired it from the legendary decorator, Syrie Maugham. For decades the chair graced the front hall of the Mellon townhouse in New York.
MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?
BB- I don’t consider myself a collector but do find myself searching for, in addition to 20th-century pieces, neoclassical furniture – Louis XVI and Gustavian, Directoire, Regency. There’s something particularly modern about these styles, and I like mixing them with contemporary finds. I love drawings – Old Masters, for instance. One of my favorites, a 19th-century pencil drawing, is a small Boilly I found in Paris. I buy contemporary works, too – prints and drawings, mostly.
Bruce Budd’s New York carriage house, Louis XVI chairs flank a marble table from Christie’s.
Another view of the sitting room, with Josef Albers on far wall from the collection of John Hobbs, London.
A portrait of Truman Capote by Rene Bouche, dated 1957; it came from the collection of Fred Hughes, Andy Warhol’s friend and long-time associate.
MDS- “I could never own too many ______.”
BB- Shirts- Remember when Jay Gatsby tosses his shirts in the air and Daisy begins to weep because they’re so beautiful? I can totally relate.
Robert Redford and Mia Farrow from the shirt scene in The Great Gatsby (1974)
MDS- If you could decorate anyone’s house – whose would it be and why?
BB- If he were alive today, I’d be delighted to work with…Bill Blass. Bill Blass was the first to champion my design work. He saw my decorator show house room on opening night, telephoned me in the morning (I thought it was a crank call!), and followed up with a note inviting me to see his apartment in New York. I loved that apartment – everything about it: the drawings, the furniture, even the dressing room. I felt totally at home there. “What would you like to drink?” Bill asked when I arrived at One Sutton Place South. “Cranberry juice with a splash of vodka,” I replied. “I only keep cranberry juice in the country!” Bill bellowed. Boom! Bill Blass was as forthright as they come. You have to admire a man like that.
Bill Blass’ apartment in new york
another view of Bill’s New York apartment
MDS- What do you want to be known for?
BB- For being a good friend and partner, son and brother.
Rhode Island Summers. Bruce as a boy with his beloved sister, at right, and childhood friend, Laurie Slocum.
The Old House – the finest example of early English domestic architecture to be found in America. built in 1649 by John Budd, a founder of New Haven, CT and Rye, NY. Growing up, Bruce attended family reunions here.
MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?
BB- Glamour is hanging a singularly beautiful Braque in a room filled with dozens and dozens of old wicker baskets – and nothing more, as Bunny Mellon does in her Virginia garden folly.
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