House ProudAuthor:Abigail Stone
Design icon Jeff Andrews reimagines a Spanish Revival house for himself and his husband that celebrates their personal definition of glamour
We are connoisseurs of the work that interior designers and architects conjure up for their clients; this magazine bears witness to that. But how do they manage the decor when it comes to their own spaces? And how does it compare to the work that they do for their clients?
In the case of interior designer Jeff Andrews and the home he renovated for himself and his husband, Emmy-award winning casting director Ken Miller, the answer is a space that demonstrates the daring mix of bold materials and patterns that have driven his success. Yet here, captured within the boundaries of the modest 2,800-square-foot two-level Spanish Revival-style house, and funneled through the lens of his low-key, measured demeanor, it has been tamed and subdued to a subtle simmer. “I care more about this being a home than a showcase,” Andrews says. The overall effect, while restrained, is no less impactful.
“When I design things for other people, I interject my opinion and my aesthetic and my knowledge but I don’t interject my personality,” explains Andrews. “Whereas in creating a home for Ken and I, I had the opportunity to go to a deeper level to make it feel calm but with a certain level of drama that feels comfortable to me.”
That quality, which Andrews defines as “personal glamour,” is immediately apparent. Note the home’s staircase. The skylight Andrews installed overhead creates a dramatic sculpture from its elegant spiral. “We fell in love with the house when we saw that staircase,” Andrews reveals. Light spills down its meticulously restored tile and into the entryway, setting the stage for a buoyant welcome.
That exuberant salutation is modulated by the home’s pervasive sense of serenity, orchestrated by a carefully controlled palette that dissolves the technicolor chaos of everyday life into a manageable and calming concerto—of grays and taupes, creams and blacks, rusts and browns—that gracefully undulate through the home’s well-proportioned rooms. “I reduced the color palette for the first time,” Andrews confesses. “I painted pretty much all the walls white.”
Working within this carefully controlled environment, Andrews has managed the seemingly impossible: He’s created a sense of tranquility that doesn’t rely on minimalism or blank surfaces but on an impeccable composition of materiality, using the characteristics of the objects and surfaces within—dark and light, smooth and textured, organic and geometric, oversize and small—to imbue the home with a pleasing harmony that reads as zen.
That’s apparent in the dining room, a chiaroscuro of black, white and gray that complements the room’s photographs by Olivier Valsecchi and was designed so that the focus was on the guests and the food. Underfoot, the undulating outline of a hide rug softens the hard lines of the rectangular table; the blurred lines of its pattern are countered by the table’s char finish. Above, the yearning fluidity of Lindsey Adelman’s Branching Bubbles chandelier is answered by the dynamic, radiating lines of the ceiling’s bas relief.
Often ignored, ceiling moldings, deftly manipulated by Andrews’ practiced eye, play an integral part in these spaces. “I didn’t want to detract from the architecture; I wanted to enhance what was already here,” says Andrews, who notes that, even prior to the renovation, every room had a different ceiling treatment. In the living room, the bold geometry of the moldings offset the serenity of the room’s muted shades and its comfortable, upholstered furniture, pieces from Andrews’ line for A. Rudin. The artwork and the custom limestone fireplace confirms the link between all of the room’s elements.
To encourage the flow of the first floor, Andrews removed a wall; the boundary between the two spaces is now shouldered by a small marble bar and a couple of steps. The former maid’s room is now a cozy den whose earthy color scheme, plucked from the marble’s vigorous veining, ties together the artwork, the small sofa and the running bond pattern of this area’s rug. Andrews’ beloved collection of pottery, in the same tones, is tucked into a niche. “I wanted to be able to display and use things that I’ve had forever and incorporate new things that I’ve always wanted from certain artists and artisans,” Andrews divulges. “That’s something that I haven’t really had the space to do until now.” Grouped together for the first time, the faint variations in their glazes create a pleasing tableaux.
Like that pottery collection, slowly acquired over many years, part of this home’s tranquility lies in the sense that every item is well-chosen and carefully placed. “Houses are for living—they’re for beauty too—I think that it all has to work hand in hand,” says Andrews.
That was especially true for the kitchen. “It was a disaster,” Andrews remembers. Not anymore. “It’s so conducive to cooking and gathering,” he enthuses. Here again, equilibrium ensures that the room feels welcoming, as much a focal point for entertaining as it is for preparing meals. The energetic pattern of the soapstone counters is steadied by the murmur of the white oak cabinetry’s custom stain. Raising the ceiling and pushing the house out by a few feet ensured that the room’s bold gestures—its vintage pendants, the enthusiasm of the stone’s pattern, the capacious island, the Wolf professional stove—felt proportionate. Large steel-framed doors embrace the backyard, where a change in the orientation of the pool turned an awkward lot into an inviting one.
Upstairs, the primary bathroom offers a shock of dark teal, one of the home’s few instances of color veering outside the home’s palette. “I considered stone but I love old glazed tiles,” Andrews says. Their use is a subtle nod to the home’s Spanish vernacular, viewed through a modern lens, a quality that is at the heart of this thoughtful renovation.
“Everything that you love and use that has meaning to you and your life is what adds up to the sense of personal glamour,” says Andrews. “It’s what imparts that feeling of serenity that I connect with home.” Strongly agree.