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How to Combine Classical and Contemporary Interior Design: An Interview with Laura Malloy of Malloy Interiors

By Laura Malloy

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Malloy Interiors Inc. is a commercial interior design firm with over 20 years of experience in corporate, multi-housing, hospitality, and senior living design. Six years ago we established our current firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to serve Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire with highly personalized service. Everyone at Malloy Interiors is a "problem solver." We not only work across all market segments, but also match our individual talents and skills with the different needs of our clients. Our customized service is our biggest asset and we work within many different design parameters and budgets. Most of our business is now referral and with current clients who are expanding and updating their spaces.

Can you briefly explain what classical interior design is? Contemporary design?

Classical interior design is based upon order, balance and perfect harmony. It's based upon ancient Greek and Roman design and does not include any modern influences. Classically designed rooms often contain a large focal point such as a large fireplace, grand table, or impressive staircase. Once the focal point is established, all the other items are placed in order to enhance the focus of the room. If a classically designed room were to be sliced down the middle, one side of the room would perfectly reflect the other side. Mother Nature usually inspires the colors used in a classic interiors. Deep blues, browns, yellow, green and earth tones such as terracotta are usually found within classical spaces, with black being used to outline important items with a room.

Contemporary interior design is current and new and the look is definitely modern with interesting clean, angular lines anchoring the space. Rooms are uncluttered so that each item can be viewed within its own space. Items made from wood, glass, chrome and metal work really well, staying clear of over embellishment or heavily ornate objects. Contemporary design is not "fussy," and can sometimes be severe. Typically, the look is more A-symmetrical as opposed to the formal balance of classical but it's still important to keep balance in a room when combining color and finishes so that the design harmonizes. Despite contemporary design being 'new and current' there is also the love of what is popular and the respect for classic furniture pieces such as the timeless Barcelona chair.

What are some of the first things you ask your clients who want to fuse classical and contemporary styles in their home?

When fusing classical and contemporary design in someone's home, we start by finding out if there are select pieces of furniture or art that the client has purchased or inherited that should be highlighted. Once that is determined we'd find the right location and marry that with the scale and proportion of the space. To bring a contemporary look to a classically designed home we use a similar approach. If the client has a Chesterfield bureau, for example, we'll find a gutsy contemporary piece of art to hang above it. If they have a large piece of furniture that is classical, we'll look for a sculptural piece of furniture in chrome or a high gloss finish that serves as an appropriate companion piece.

How can people add a contemporary look and feel to a home that is classically decorated?

Another technique is to sprinkle in unique, unexpected design elements. In a home with heavy molding / wainscoting, we might add a ripple fold drapery that goes from floor to ceiling that is stacked off to one side, which is something you would not find in a classically designed home. It helps move the space away from the reliance on balance and symmetry. There are so many more examples that we could give and every setting is different, with clients who want to find the right look for their personal tastes and goals.

What tips do you have to help people successfully achieve this look in their home?

To sum up, the idea is to mix materials. High contrasts make the space interesting and one of a kind. Combining texture with glass or steel is important as well as mixing lighter colors with deep, saturated hues.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

The best way for people to contact Malloy Interiors:

Address: 105 Bartlett Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Phone: 603-570-2020



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About The Author

Laura began her career as a professional metal sculptor, which allowed her to hone her...

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