You know when you walk into a space and it just makes you feel good? Or, on the other hand, you walk into a room, get a bad vibe, and just instantly and inexplicably want to leave? It’s not you. It’s the space. Designer and author, Athena Calderone, shares tips on making sure that your house (or office or apartment or any space really,) falls into the former and not the latter. “Use your own visionary eye to create a more alluring space,” says Calderone. And yes, we all have one. To tap into our most designy selves, we asked Calderone and Molly’s own interior designer Dan Scotti, for ideas on making any space feel warm, welcoming, and like a place you want to be.
Having all your furniture and objects perfectly placed and organized might ideal, but aesthetically, it’s a mess. Make your space feel rich and layered by creating multiple levels. “A low sofa, a two-tiered triangular coffee table, a closely stacked pillar, sculptural standing lamp—all those dimensions and levels allows your eyes to bounce amongst the room appreciating all the different design elements,” says Calderone.
Play around with masculine and feminine. “What once was my masculine old European styled bathroom was transformed when I added a feminine identity to it with the beautiful pink marble backsplash,” says Calderone. “Contrasting daintiness with the harsh black elements, like window frames and vanity mirrors, made it more gender-neutral and captivating.”
“Put it this way: You’re not going to buy a beautiful Tom Ford suit if it’s not your size and you look ridiculous in it. The same goes for your furniture,” says Scotti. Walk into a room and evaluate the space you’re working with. Don’t try to make something work that isn’t. “For example, the living room. Ask yourself: ‘Will the couch overpower the room?’ ‘Is the coffee table too big—or too small—for the space?’ ‘What piece do I want to be the focal point of the room?'” A captivating space means pieces and elements that are proportional to the scale.
“Forget overhead lighting. Bring in several really cool sculptural mid-century lamps to replace that overdone pendant you’ve been eyeing,” says Scotti. Sculptural lamps add such a cool and unexpected element to your space, and these types of lamps also bridge the gap between different design styles. “I would rather have multiple light sources with lower light wattage scattered throughout, than a brightly lit pendant,” says Scotti. “There is something about the shade on the mid-century lamps that dimly light the room and creates a more inviting and sexier space.”
Using vintage items as vignettes can be the most intriguing aspect of your home. Vintage can be art when it’s used correctly. It will add texture and become a conversation piece because of its history. “I found this intricately designed Lucite stone ice bucket from Italy in the 1970s,” says Scotti. “I loved it so much I placed it on my bar cart—it’s way more appealing than simply adding a mass-produced bowl. My ice bucket is unique and personal. And tells a story “.
Deemed “the modern girl’s Martha Stewart” by the New York Times, Athena Calderone is a multidisciplinary creative whose work spans design and entertainment. She has written two books – Cook Beautiful (Abrams 2017) and Live Beautiful (Abrams 2020) – which expand on her culinary and design content that she regularly publishes on Eyeswoon, and she additionally hosts an Apple top 100 podcast, More Than One Thing, which focuses on multi-hyphenate talents whose creative interests have led them on a nonlinear career path. Whether she is layering flavors in the kitchen, setting a bountiful table, or designing an entire room, Athena is renowned for her graceful yet juxtaposed pairings, and top international brands regularly invite Athena to lend her design eye and culinary talents to creative direction projects
Dan Scotti is the founder of Dan Scotti Design, an East Hampton based firm that specializes in ultra-luxury residential development, interior design, and custom furnishings. Dan creatively drives and manages all phases of the firm’s projects, including concept design, architectural plans, permitting, construction, and interior design. He has been Molly’s go-to for all things design when it comes to her home in Los Angeles and currently her under-construction home in the Hamptons.