As cooler weather approaches, our thoughts have turned to gracious interiors replete with inviting furnishings, sumptuous textiles, and, of course, alluring fireplaces. Thanks to their comforting warmth and attractive glow, fireplaces have long served as a centerpiece for gatherings among families and friends. The living rooms illustrated in this Designer Focus feature a masterful mix of fine art and antiques that work in tandem with a variety of fireplaces—from elaborately carved mantels to more modestly adorned hearths—to create spaces that are beautifully refined and incredibly livable.


Eberlein Design Consultants Ltd. PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Crane

Eberlein Design Consultants Ltd.


The Philadelphia region abounds with exemplary architecture of centuries past. One of the most exuberant and prolific practitioners was architect Horace Trumbauer (1868–1938), a largely self-taught Philadelphia native whose social register clients included the Montgomery family for whom “Ardrossan,” shown here, was built in 1912. Trumbauer was an early proponent of the new practice of collaborating with notable interior designers from London and Paris who were well-versed in creating renowned collections of antiques for their clients. The visual delights realized at Ardrossan show the masterful integration of these disciplines. During a nine-year span that began in the 1990s, the grand rooms of this 38,000 square-foot Georgian masterpiece were restored to their original state to celebrate the pinnacle of Gilded Age aesthetics. Still occupied by the same family, this iconic building is a pure study in elegant early twentieth-century design and social history. The living room is beautifully detailed in English oak paneling with Corinthian pilasters flanking opposing fireplaces executed in green and white marble. Elaborately carved swags and garlands ornament the mantels, with the one shown here framing the portrait of the late Ellen Hope Montgomery Scott, former resident of Ardrossan and the inspiration for The Philadelphia Story.


Furnishings were drawn from the family’s extensive collection of antiques, Oriental rugs, and art and were supplemented by commissioned furniture. The Chippendale-style furniture has been restored and recovered, the original drapery valances reproduced, and the sedate carpet woven on special wide looms for this grandly scaled room.


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Tucker & Marks. PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Millman

Tucker & Marks Inc.


The focal point in the great room of this stunning 1920s interior is a massive eighteenth-century stone mantel that designer Suzanne Tucker found years earlier at a Paris flea market. To keep it from drawing too much attention because of its scale and ornament, however, Tucker set up three sumptuous seating areas—each defined by an antique rug—to balance the room. The placement of seating encourages guests to notice other points of visual interest, such as the dramatic view and the rare antiques, including a seventeenth-century Italian ivory-inlaid table (at right), a Kangxi-period chocolate-lacquered Coromandel screen (at left), and an eighteenth-century Italian inlaid cabinet (to the left of the fireplace).

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Tom Stringer Design Partners. PHOTO CREDIT: Werner Straube

Tom Stringer Design Partners


The beautifully appointed living room in this Beacon Hill townhouse features a number of beloved pieces that the inhabitants brought with them after relocating to Boston from Los Angeles. The mix of antiques and fine art lend a timeless air to the space, which is befitting of the home’s historic location. Notable pieces include the commanding Classical mirror, an antique chest and rug, and significant artworks by Jamie Wyeth. The fireplace, with its elegant, classic design, complements the sophisticated Boston aesthetic and provides a central accent around which the artwork is placed and the family gathers to relax.

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Cullman & Kravis. PHOTO CREDIT: Durston Saylor

Cullman & Kravis


The exceedingly refined and inviting living room in this gracious Park Avenue residence was designed around the antique late-nineteenth-century Bidjar carpet. According to designer Ellie Cullman, “We always begin with the carpet—the largest item in any room—and as such, this was the focus.” Among the space’s many highlights are walls that have been Venetian stuccoed in a crimson color with a gold overwash, and a pair of late-eighteenth-century English console tables. The Neoclassical elements of the late-eighteenth-century antique English mantel, create a striking aesthetic statement, complementing the architecture by Rosario Candela, the dean of prewar residential design. Artwork of note includes the Max Weber painting above the mantel and the Wilhelm de Kooning gouache above the lacquered commode.


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This article was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Antiques & Fine Art magazine, a digitized version of which is available on Antiques & Fine Art and AFAmag are affiliated with