I was introduced to SHEILA BRIDGES in a 1996 profile in Martha Stewart Living magazine. What truly drew me to the article were the images of a young, chic woman living in a stylish apartment in Harlem.
I wanted to know more, so I researched back issues of shelter magazines at the local library, but there was hardly anything written on her at the time. However, a few years later, Sheila was everywhere!
She worked with former President Bill Clinton designing the Harlem offices for his foundation, she had written her first book on decorating Furnishing Forward and was hosting her own interior design show on the Fine Living network.
For example, the blue Ming dogs, found at a New York flea market, provide an interesting contrast to a book on the history of Harlem.
Sheila’s living room is awash in calming shades of blue, but again it’s the unexpected details like the Swedish Gustavian clock in the corner, the convex mirror over the fireplace, and the fireplace detail that, for me, truly captivate the eye. I also appreciate the combination of the Swedish country furniture alongside a Moroccan side table and the black and white photograph by Kelly Grider.
I love books, so my eye immediately focused on her antique T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings coffee table to see what books Sheila felt were worthy of placement. Again, notice the use of a larger convex mirror over her antique desk and the pops of red color on her desk and on the chair pillow, which according to Feng Shui principles, is just enough red to create energy in a room.
This dining room is choreographed to the nth degree, but totally livable and inspiring. What I admire most about the room is Sheila’s use of a casual roman shade on the window in a simple striped fabric. Her dining room table is actually two antique demilune tables pushed together from Kenny Ball Antiques. With all of the additional seating scattered around the room, you can be certain that Sheila enjoys cooking at home and entertaining family and friends.
Another signature of Sheila’s is her incredible display of African American portraits scattered throughout her apartment. This portrait placed over a faux marble cabinet is striking and provokes thought. I’ve often wondered if the portraits were actual family members or found objects during her weekend antiquing jaunts in upstate New York.
Sheila turns it up a notch with her stunning choice of color in the foyer. Don’t you just love the boldness of this decision?! The tangerine walls match brilliantly with the fabric on her antique borne d’hotel, which I am sure is no accident. The intention here was clearly to saturate the entrance with color and make a statement. Any guests entering Sheila’s foyer realizes instantly that this is a home full of life and energy.
Photos: Elle Decor/NYSD
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