Antiques dealer, furniture and fabric designer, retailer, author, decorator… Even with a long and varied résumé, Rose Tarlow’s interior design philosophy is succinct: “Fresh, clean, contemporary furniture and art mixed with wonderful old pieces and a very definite edge of eccentricity.” Rose Tarlow’s design career started small, with the opening of her shop, Rose Tarlow Antiques, in 1975. Today her Los Angeles based company, Rose Tarlow – Melrose House, is renowned for its reproduction or, in many cases, adaptation of antiques, as well as its more modern designs.
“Warm, relaxed, inviting: that’s what I want my rooms to be,” Tarlow says. “I hate pretentious rooms. You should feel at home in your own house. It’s your place, after all. If my rooms were food, they’d be something comforting like macaroni-and-cheese with a crusty top. Or toast.”
As with all of her endeavors, Tarlow takes on interior design projects, which include work for David Geffen and Eli Broad, with much forethought. She is driven not only by her sharp eye but also by her sense that homes are deeply personal.
Rooms “may be perfectly designed, yet if they fail to reflect the personalities of the people who live in them, the very essence of intimacy is missing, and this absence is disturbingly visible.” Tarlow writes in her 2001 book, The Private House.
“Taste is a matter of opinion, and is seeking constantly to define itself.” Rose Tarlow says.
• I love woven things, like an old rush chair in a fancy room; it pulls things down to just the right level. Which is why I am obsessed with American Indian baskets.
• If you go by Edith Wharton, the better the house, the less the need for curtains. I’m insane about Venetian blinds and sheers: They are contemporary and add freshness to a room.
• Overstuffed furniture is not for me. A good sofa has to be tailored, well proportioned, and large.
• All rooms need mirrors, but I am not crazy about new ones or copies. I like simple frames—Queen Anne, Flemish, William and Mary—but then again, in my bedroom I have a Régence mirror I adore.
• I prefer midcentury and contemporary lighting to fancy lamps, especially in a room with antiques. I love Cedric Hartman lamps because they’re modern and you can fit them in anywhere.