the GUEST room: GIL SCHAFER
We welcome talented architect and great friend Gil Schafer into the GUEST ROOM this holiday! Gil is an award-winning architect and leading expert on contemporary classical architecture whose work we love and admire. A member of the Yale School of Architecture Dean’s Council, a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Gil also served as president and then chairman of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art for over a decade. We have become great friends through design groups like the ICAA and LDC, and we’ve shared many wonderful memories together, a favorite of which was when he took me antiquing through the English countryside… the most amazing experience! Gil’s work was recently captured in a beautiful new book with Rizzoli titled A Place to Call Home and we were thrilled to have Ainsworth-Noah host a party in his honor at our home during DISCOVER ADAC this September. We are so thankful to Gil for sharing some of his inspirations, travels, and stories with us…
What inspires you?
Because I am a designer of houses, I am always inspired by visiting a great house. Sometimes it’s a place with enormous elegance; sometimes it’s a place with quirky charm; sometimes it’s a house with a great garden, or just one spectacular room. There’s almost no formula for what will make it inspiring, other than that when I go there, I can learn from it and bring something from it into my own work.
The other day, for example, I finally visited Henry Sleeper’s amazing house “Beauport” in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and was blown away. It was just room after show-stopping room of imaginative decoration and arrangement of beautiful objects brought together by a common theme of color or material. It was amazing that so much brilliance could be found in one house and consistently from room to room. The arrangements of decorative objects were inspiring, the color palettes were dazzling, and the rhythm and variety of character from room to room was a lesson in and of itself. All in all, a fantastic discovery.
Tell us about YOUR favorite guest room
Well, I have a few — probably too many to mention. But if I had to pick just two, the first is on the third floor guest room in a great old house of a cousin’s, on the coast in Prout’s Neck, Maine. It’s in a kind of octagonal tower that has windows on all sides with French doors opening onto a Juliet balcony overlooking the water. The walls and ceiling are covered in a jaunty green and white wallpaper, the painted wood floors covered in straw mats, and all of the furniture painted in a crisp white. When you open those French doors at night, you see the moonlight glinting off the water, hear the waves crashing on the rocks far below, and you get a glimpse of what inspired Winslow Homer to paint in that very spot.
Another, is any one of the guest rooms in Bunny Williams and John Rosselli’s magical house in the Dominican Republic, La Colina. Over the years, I’ve stayed in each one of them, but my favorite is probably the only guest room that is located on the upper floor of the house. It has plaster walls of a warm peach yellow color and a fabulous bamboo four-poster bed. There are great closets in a dressing alcove, a wonderful bathroom filled with antique furniture and objects and plenty of natural light, and a bedroom filled with beautiful things to delight the eye and great books to delight the mind on a lazy afternoon. Bunny and John’s hospitality is legendary, and whenever you stay in one of their guest rooms, it’s easy to see why.
Tell us about your most recent favorite find…
Wonderful pottery from Japan, by atelier tete, found in a little design shop in Wiscasset, Maine. Beautiful glazes and textures and the perfect-sized and shaped bowls for ice cream — among other things.
What is one thing about you that would surprise people?
That I love trashy television. Give me an episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette at the end of a long day, and I couldn’t be happier.
What is your definition of TIMELESS STYLE?
A true classic — an interior that isn’t trendy or of-the-moment, but rather has an elegance that feels as fresh and inspiring today as when it was first installed. Think of Givenchy’s interiors at either his Le Jonchet Manor or Le Clos in the South of France, or Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris. Both could have been created yesterday, but were instead from decades ago.