As it turns out, even people known for creating great beauty need help decorating their own living spaces. And when they do, they turn to Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller.
The husband and wife duo behind New York City's Carrier and Company—who count the likes of Jason Wu and Annie Leibovitz as clients—are known for creating gorgeously nuanced interiors with an impeccable, high-low mix of contemporary and antique furnishings that feel classic yet wholly unique. "Our interiors are always reflective of our clients' style and personality," says Carrier. "Though there's a silver thread that runs through our projects, in that they are based in tradition but tailored to feel relevant and modern." With the recent debut of their lush new coffee table tome, Positively Chic ($40; amazon.com), we sat down with the pair to tease out pointers on how to get their charmingly elegant aesthetic in your own home.
1. Corral clutter.
"We train clients to cluster their stuff," says Miller. "A bunch of do-dads scattered on a side table just amounts to visual clutter. But when you create a stack of books or group a mishmash of accessories on a beautiful tray, it suddenly feels deliberately sophisticated and artful."
2. Go natural.
Earthy accents like rush baskets and jute rugs play heavily in Carrier and Company's portfolio. "They're a way to bring nature into a space, and are tasteful without making a huge statement," says Carrier. "It's all about a balance between hard-edged, polished, and soft finishes."
3. Aim for intimacy.
To encourage a cozy feeling, use table lamps and reading lights to create intimate pools of light (they're big fans of metal shaded reading lamps, which don't take up a lot of space but add a homey nook). A throw blanket folded over the back of a sofa or folded into thirds and draped over the arm of a chair also goes a long way into giving a room "the vibe of life," says Miller.
4. Find strength in numbers.
When it comes to floral arrangements, Carrier and Miller stick to one type of flower in one color en masse. "Really intricate arrangements feel fussy," says Carrier. If you load up on a single variety, you can make a simple-but-bold statement that's a lot easier and more affordable to pull together than an elaborate bouquet.
5. Train your eye
Carrier and Miller recommend snapping a photo of your space and studying it to help you visualize what it needs to round it out. "It's easier to scrutinize a photograph to figure out where you need to add height or interest," says Miller. When in doubt, turn to magazine spreads, books, and Pinterest for styling inspiration. Pay attention to how your favorite rooms are arranged, color palettes, the mix of textures, and so on. Use these resources to make your own decorating master class.
6. Know where to dig.
Carrier and Miller comb far and wide to find unique goods. Pressed to reveal a few of their favorite lesser-known resources, they tipped us off to downtown Manhattan textile showroom, Studio 4, which has an online shop that's rife with bedding and decorative accessories in eye-catching prints; Artemisiainc.com which specializes in "beautiful throw pillows in iconic textiles like Brunschwig & Fils' leopard motif that give a high-end look for an affordable price," says Miller); and fellow designer Sara Bengur's web store, which delivers on graphic Turkish linens in rich jewel tones.
7. Invest wisely.
Spend on public entertaining spaces like living rooms and dining rooms. Artwork, custom upholstery, antiques—these one-of-a-kind pieces will make a room shine, so budget accordingly. That said, the pair embraces big box stores for timeless items that blend seamlessly into any space. Their current favorites? This lucite coffee table from Wisteria; a lavishly patterned hand-knotted rug from West Elm; Room and Board's elegantly proportioned metal bookcases, which can be clustered together for a library-like effect; and the classic roll armed sofa from Pottery Barn. (Miller notes that it's better to stick to a classic aesthetic when buying larger pieces like seating, which you can easily update with fresh throw pillows as your tastes evolve.)