Maxwell's Window for Apartment Therapy: The Writer's Romantic Supper

Bloomingdale's Big Window Challenge 2010

The Writer's Romantic Supper!

Barely back from my holiday, the new year is rushing ahead with its first big event for Apartment Therapy — we're competing against Eddie Ross (representing Elle Decor) and Eileen Joyce (representing Bloomingdale's) in this year's Big Window Challenge. Starting next Wednesday, all three of our window designs will be on view for two weeks in the main windows at Bloomingdale's and the whole world will get to vote which they like best. I've never stuck my head out this much, so I'm hoping I don't lose.

I am, however, particularly proud of my window, which I've been working on for the past few months. Today I'm going to give you a sneak peak. Tomorrow I'll show you Eddie's and then Friday, Eileen's.

The Plans

The room design is a writer's library inspired by my friend Amor, in which a romantic dinner has been set for a female guest. The room is dark and manly, piled high with books, and features items that may have come from far off travels. The side walls are painted faux bookcases. The decor inspiration keys off of the big leather Ralph Lauren chair, and the wallpaper and funky, steampunk style from Michele Varian's shop on Crosby.

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The Bloomingdale's Pieces

The process started back in October with my selecting pieces from the Bloomingdale's furniture collection. A modernist at heart, I found myself being pulled — by what I saw on the floor — in a more traditional direction, and particularly liked the Ralph Lauren furniture that I saw.

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This big leather "writer's chair" was my starting point. I loved how big and cozy it was, and the plan for the room fell around it.

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This sofa came second. With a rich, velvety russet fabric, it was a bit more contemporary, but very "manly", so in keeping with my idea of building a writer's library.

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I love Juliska glassware, so for the suprise dinner setting on the coffee table, I chose this whole setup that you see here. There are many pieces, so I figured it was easier just to reproduce the whole thing. It also injects a little whimsy in the room.

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The chandelier was a find and I spotted it just as I was leaving the store. It's a Thomas O'Brien and I've always liked it. They say there's no trouble hanging it right over the middle of the room.

The Michele Varian Pieces

Michele's store on Crosby has always been a favorite, and as I searched for a bridge between my contemporary tendencies and a darker, more romantic traditional setting, her store was perfect inspiration. From there I pulled this amazing wallpaper, along with a number of accessories to help complete the look. The wallpaper is by Neisha Crosland and it is called Birdtree.

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The Faux Bookcases

I needed help with the faux bookcase walls, so I called in Mark Chamberlain, who is planning on painting them in the windows this weekend! I told him what I wanted and he immediately said, "Studiolo", referring to the famous room at the MET. He's putting together a plan to recreate a the Studiolo effect with paint on both of the side walls.

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Everything is getting delivered to Bloomingdales tomorrow and the installation starts on Monday. Voting starts on Wednesday, and then the truth will come out. Tomorrow, I'll show you what Eddie Ross has planned.

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.