As Told To Jennifer Sergent.
I had been working for a few years [in the late 1980s] when I met my husband, and we bought a Beaux Arts house in [D.C. neighborhood] Kalorama. We had no furniture—because I was determined that I was only going to have things that I loved, which take time to find.
We had redesigned the staircase that leads from the entry hall to the piano nobile—the more important second floor—to open it up and make it more contemporary. But all of a sudden, you could now see the wall behind the now-open stair. Given that the stairs themselves were almost sculptural, there needed to be something under them that had remarkable shape. Mostly I thought about art as solving the problem—modern sculpture, maybe, or abstract art. I thought about putting furniture there, but I hadn’t seen anything that was strong enough, although I needed to stay open as to what that brilliant piece would be.
That’s when I saw this recamier at [antiques shop] Florian Papp in New York—1810, English Regency with a painted frame that’s dark brown, almost black. It came already upholstered in a Schumacher fabric—a narrow red and cream stripe, perfect for the period that it was. It was everything that I had hoped for; it instantly changed the feeling of the space. It became the welcoming moment for many years for anyone who came into that house. In my current row house off Dupont Circle, it’s upstairs, waiting for me to figure out how to use it—I go up from time to time to pet it!
Follow Mary’s lead and add a sculptural recamier to your own home with any of these HighBoy picks. Which style do you love most?