Photo by William Waldron for Elle Decor
Sheila Bridges is a designer whom I admire greatly. She's incredibly smart, (ivy league educated in fact), incredibly talented, a savvy business woman and has achieved a great deal of success in her career as an interior designer. Her many accomplishments include having her work featured in virtually every shelter and mainstream publication you can think of from House Beautiful and O at Home to the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, being named America's Best Interior Designer by Time Magazine and CNN, hosting a successful TV show on the Fine Living Network titled Sheila Bridges: Designer Living, authoring a wonderful decorating book titled Furnishing Forward: a Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, designing her own lines of home textiles and outdoor furniture and racking up a high profile client list which includes former president Bill Clinton. Clearly there's lots to admire.
Another thing I love about Sheila is that she's a proud Harlem native. A Harlem resident myself, I love the fact that on her show, which taped its final season a couple of years ago, she always highlighted various places of interest in Harlem and it was cool to see places featured that were right in my own backyard. I also loved to watch her segments that were filmed in the homes of fellow Harlem dwellers. It was very inspiring to see during a time when the neighborhood was (and still is) rapidly changing. When I first saw Sheila's own Harlem apartment in the May 2005 issue of Elle Decor I developed a newfound adoration for her personal style. Her place is quite enviable. An interesting tidbit is that just before Sheila purchased the apartment it was used as the set for the Spike Lee directed movie Jungle Fever. It was the apartment where the character Gator (Samuel L. Jackson) was shot by his father (Ossie Davis) at the end of the film. If you ever saw the movie you'll remember that the interiors of that apartment were dark, dated and rather depressing. After moving in Sheila transformed her home into a refined yet lived in looking space painted in mostly soft muted shades of blue and green, flooded with light and filled with antiques, fine art and many personal touches. It also features incredible views. Below are several photos which really give you a sense of the space. Harlem chic indeed!
A pair of foo dogs from the former Chelsea flea market next to a vase from Aero and a copy of Harlem Lost and Found, a great book which examines the architectural history of one of New York's most historic neighborhoods. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch for New York Social Diary.
I love this photo. The bust (a flea market find), the amazing portrait, the X stool, the antique marble topped buffet, the vintage decanters, glassware and china all work perfectly together to create this beautiful vignette. Photo via sheilabridges.com.
Sheila's living room. Light, airy and colored in soothing hues. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
Another view of the living room. The antique grandfather clock is an interesting addition and works well in the traditional room. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
The dining area is absolutely beautiful. I really love the green color used in this room. Photo by William Waldron for Elle Decor.
You can see portraits of African American women, like the one above, in rooms throughout the apartment. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
A decoupage plate from John Derian Co. Photo by William Waldron.
A unique and kitchy doorstopper. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
Custom pillows embroidered with Sheila's initials sit atop an antique side chair. The wainscoting that you see is an original feature of the apartment. The building was constructed in 1901. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
The walls in Sheila's master bedroom were hand painted in the damask pattern that you can see above. Her beautiful bed linens are by Frette. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
Another view of the bedroom. I really love the portrait...and the bookcase...and everything else in the photo! Photo by William Waldron.
Sheila's entry is painted in Benjamin Moore's Orange Blossom. The gorgeous velvet tufted pouf creates a nice focal point for the room. Photo by William Waldron.
Sheila's guest room/office is filled with shades of orange and features many ethnic influences. Photo by William Waldron.
Another view of the guest room/office. The walls were hand painted in contrasting stripes. Photo by William Waldron.
Family photos sit atop a dresser in Sheila's bedroom. I believe strongly in incorporating family photos into my interiors. It's key to making a space look lived in but also makes the space feel like home. To me, if a place is void of such personal touches it lacks personality and feels cold and stark. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
A photo of Sheila and her horse along with lots of her jewelry on top of another chest of drawers. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
More family photos and sketches on a wall in Sheila's bedroom. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.
Sheila's study is another great example of how she really personalized her home. She had some of her favorite quotes by such legends as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Dr. Suess hand painted on the walls. All of the decorative painting in her home was done by Pintura Studio. Photo by William Waldron.