Why Quiet Interiors Rule in a World That Can’t Shut Up

Right now, “people just need to feel good,” says New York designer Joy Moyler, who recently worked on a home in Cape Cod firmly devoted to “no screaming palettes,” as she put it. Blue and white would have been too predictable by the ocean, so she selected a sea of serene greens in tactile fabrics like velvet and linen to reflect surrounding gardens. These days, her clients want “a nurturing environment, like their grandma’s house,” Moyler says. “Sitting at the kitchen table, eating warm, comforting foods and that feeling of apple pie cooling on the kitchen counter by the window screen. They want an eternal feeling of spring and summer.”

Layered, quiet interiors are on the rise. Here, the bedroom of interior designer Leonora Hamill and her husband, Hugh Barker, sports classic antiques and just the right amount of pattern.

Photo: Helen Cathart

What people are longing for now, says Virginia Tupker, is delightful decor that “evokes an emotional response—and the strongest one would be happiness.” Tupker is currently working on a project in Glen Cove, New York, awash in Colefax & Fowler prints here, Swedish rugs there. “For me, if something’s pretty, it just makes me happy,” she says. Designer Beth Diana Smith recently revamped her primary bedroom in Irvington, New Jersey, to be as beautiful as possible, adding picture frame molding, soothing monochromatic greens, tassels, and an art piece by Kabriah Asha with gold-leaf butterflies. “I wanted my bedroom to feel like more of a feminine space,” she says. “I wanted to bring in a lot of shapes. A lot of movement.”

Indeed, shapeliness is key. “For so long we were dominated by very masculine interiors,” Martin says. She points to mainstream retailers where “everything was beige and black and metal and oversized. This is sort of almost a rebellion against that and a take-back of femininity…. I think that comes from a place of nurture.” Think of Stephanie Summerson Hall’s beloved line of colorful stemware, Estelle Colored Glass, which comes in hues from coral peach pink to mint green. Or Caitlin Wilson’s array of timelessly feminine furniture and accessories, including everything from scalloped four-poster beds to striped silk throw pillows with bows adorning each corner. Wilson is such a champion of embracing all things pretty that her first book, arriving next spring, is entitled Return to Pretty: Giving New Life to Traditional Style. No surprise: It’s gobsmackingly gorgeous. Schumacher’s content director Emma Bazilian and art director Stephanie Diaz also have a delicious new book on the topic out this spring: Charm School: The Schumacher Guide to Traditional Decorating for Today.