There’s nothing worse than a living space that feels more like a showroom than a place for you to kick back and enjoy. That’s precisely why we’re mad for Sara Gilbane’s young, warm, and eminently livable interiors. The New York-based designer –and former Celerie Kemble protégé –has a knack for creating the sort of classic-but-eclectic rooms that boast heaps of color, pattern, comfort and personality. And we are far from her only fans: Gilbane, who has clients up and down the East Coast, has been named as one of House Beautiful’s “Next Wave” interior designers, and Trad Home’s “New Traditional Designers.” Think her portfolio is to die for? Just wait until you see her shoe collection.
Here, Gilbane dishes about her dream closet (hint: it’s high-gloss heaven), workday wardrobe, and why she’d love to raid her old boss’s style-packed shelves.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am somewhere between classic and modern with a twinge of bohemian flair. I have a nine-month-old daughter, so easy-but-chic is essential.How does your eye for interior design influence your fashion choices, and vice versa?
I am a sucker for color and pattern. The more the merrier. For me, interior design and fashion go hand in hand. I have noticed that when I am working on a new client, the colors I use in their apartment tend to make their way into my daily fashion selections. I am always drawn to color and pattern first for a room, and in my fashion choices I usually find myself drooling over a pair of high gloss Louboutins or a wild print on a blouse. I pair a bolder print top with a pair of jeans to keep it classic, and I do the same with interiors. I also like to mix high and low in both fashion and interiors. When I need a workhorse pant I will go to J. Crew, James Perse, Diane von Furstenburg, or Rebecca Taylor. Mixing in a Lanvin flat or a Prada blouse creates a more personalized look, rather than dressing head-to-toe in one brand. I do the same in my interiors: I will make a custom sofa and drapes for a client, and then get the coffee table from Wisteria.
What would you dream closet look like?
I have pulled so many images for my dream closet or dream closets for clients that it is tough to choose. However, if I had to choose, I would go with a wall-to-wall carpet (in a fun graphic print or animal print), I would upholster the walls in some sort of fabulous fabric (a pattern or a faux shagreen would be outstanding) and would have high-gloss cabinetry with plenty of shelves for my shoes and bags. I would also have a jewelry case of some kind made so I could see all my jewelry while getting dressed. The lighting in closets is also key, and nothing beats a custom or vintage light fixture. Slightly antiqued mirror inset in a panel as a full length mirror would finish it off. I also love having a free standing piece (an ottoman or beautiful chair) in the room where you can sit with a glass of wine or have a friend sit. Getting dressed should be a fun and relaxing process. For my husband’s closet, I would upholster the walls in a grey pinstripe and do high-gloss cabinetry in a deep blue or red.
What’s the best way to add a little visual interest to a boring, all-white closet?
Wallpaper or paint the back, and add a Lucite rod.
What is your daily uniform like?
I am either in jeans and a blouse, or a day dress or skirt and top. Both options work for my client meetings and take me easily from day to night. I am a J. Brand girl for jeans, and my blouses tend to come from Lela Rose, Rag & Bone, Phillip Lim, Erdem, Irving & Fine, Zac Posen, Derek Lam, and Chloe. My day dresses are a mix of classic lines in crisp white cotton to which I can add my big chunky necklaces and cuffs (I have a white shirt dress from Derek Lam that I have turned to time and time again this summer), and bold patterns in fun colors (Lela Rose, Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, and Erdem are favorites). I love wearing a horn necklace, Lucite cuff, or bronze bangle to be able to show a client how different materials can add interest to their rooms. I am either in flats or heels and my favorite brands are Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Charlotte Olympia, Yves Saint Laurent, and Prada. In the fall and winter, I love a blazer or riding jacket and Etro, Elizabeth and James, and Ralph Lauren make some of my favorites. [From jackets to jeans, our Signature Hangers are suited for every item in your wardrobe.]
What are the most cherished items in your closet?
A blue silk top from Chloe, a pair of black mesh and silver spiked stud-covered Christian Louboutin heels my husband gave me for my 30th birthday, and my long dresses –each one has such a special memory that goes along with it.
What accessories can’t you live without?
My wedding bands, engagement ring, a diamond cigar band from my husband, Van Cleef & Arpels earrings from my parents, and a gold and lapis Lazuli necklace. [Our Travel Jewelry Case is the perfect place to store cherished baubles.]
Who’s closet would you raid if you could?
My friend Cena Jackson or Celerie Kemble. They both have impeccable taste and a love of color, texture, and accessories. The devil is in the details!