COTE DE TEXAS: Remember That Cute Dorm Room?

Remember That Cute Dorm Room?

Remember this story from 2009, almost nine years ago?  Inside this old dorm building, Hoyt-Bowne Hall at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, were scores of terribly “decorated” dorm rooms, that is except for one. 

New York Magazine wrote a story about a tiny dorm room in this door where a 21 year old senior lived in a Ralph Lauren heaven.   Majoring in French & Art History, he had once been voted “preppiest in the class” and looking at him, it’s not hard to imagine him winning that award.

While other students were wearing thongs or Uggs, he was wearing Stubbs & Wootton shoes that he paired with pastel colored slacks instead of jeans.

(Click on shoe)

His name was Maximilian Sinsteden and though he had yet to graduate, he was already working for Charlotte Moss!!  When he moved into his dorm – he first emptied it of all its standard furniture and then painted the walls a deep green.  Next, he began to layer in Oriental rugs and his own antiques.  At the ceiling, he hung an antique brass chandelier and Boss Charlotte Moss provided the curtains and bolsters for the bed.   All this for a dorm room! 

Max had grown up in Connecticut and spent summers in Ireland and Germany.   His father, a physician, is an expert on Georgian Irish silver and it was from him that he was bit by the antiques and decorative bug.

Layers of antique rugs cover the ugly dorm floor.  Bedding by Ralph Lauren and Max’s grandmother.

Max honed his aesthetic on his own family, decorating his house at 12.  Besides Charlotte Moss, he had also worked for David Easton starting when he was just 15.    He had already started his own firm – with his first project designing a yacht’s interior.    He told the magazine that after the semester was over he was going to intern in London at the Victoria  and Albert Museum and then he was off to Rome.

He also said that he had redone his room three times since these photos were taken.

Ralph Lauren’s Tapestry Green was painted on the gallery styled walls.  What a perfect placement of prints and paintings.   I love the license plate! 


Max bought a vintage chest to hold his very organized clothes.  His ties neatly hang on the wall.

In the corner was a well stocked bar, which I remember got LOTS of comments on blogs.  He was, though, of age.   The desk, covered by a plaid – created a skirted table – love!!!

Since Maximilian Sinsteden was already famous in college, further success was sure to come his way.  And so, every once in awhile over the past 9 years – mostly when someone showed off their child’s decorated dorm room (me for instance HERE!) – I would think of that young man.

Whatever happened to Max, I wondered?  Is he a decorator today or did he decide to pursue another field?

In the end, I might have been the only person in the world who didn’t know what eventually happened to Max – except I did and didn’t realize it.

While looking at old photos for my last “Inspiration” blog story, I came upon the old photos from Max’s dorm room.

I thought…"Where is that young man today?”  After nearly a decade, I couldn’t remember his name, so I googled the story and his name left me stunned.

Is THAT him??!?!?


These past years, there has been a lot of published work from O&S – an interior design firm with two unpronounceable names – Olasky & Sinsteden – yes, THAT Max.  Formed in 2009 – the same year that Max’s magazine article came out, Catherine Olasky and Max were both living in London.  Catherine, 9 years older than Max, had worked for Bunny Williams and then moved to London to work for Colefax &  Fowler.

The two had projects at the Victoria and Albert Museum at the same time and became close friends.   O & S was born of that friendship and mutual respect.  Both principals had almost the same exact aesthetic – classical decor. 

O & S’s web site says they have done projects in London, Dublin, Nantucket, NYC, Connecticut,  Boston, and Houston!!!  Catherine actually lives here in Houston, while Max lives in NYC.  Somehow they make it all work despite living in two different parts of the country.

I’ve been drooling over their fabulous interiors for years, never realizing Max was that same precocious decorator from the famous college dorm room!  I love it!!!

In 2015, House Beautiful showed how the grown up Max lived in a one room apartment that is eerily like his former dorm room – although bigger and more luxe.

Walking into the 525 sq. ft. apartment, Max has created a enfilade out of one room – with the use of a curtain that divides the space into two areas.    The foyer is painted a rich green, similar to his dorm room – except here, it was glossy. Instead of using Ralph Lauren’s green paint, Max used Fine Paints of Europe's Cave Creek.

Here, Max has opened the curtain for the photographer so you can  see the bedroom behind it.   On the walls is Benjamin Moore’s “Rich Cream” which was chosen to match the linen on the sofa.  The lamps are by Christopher Spitzmiller.  The area rug in the living area gives the room a dressy vibe. 

About the sofas – Max says buy one great sofa 7’ long, and it will last your entire lifetime.  BUT, he couldn’t fit in one sofa that size – so he opted for two loveseats.  One day, he says, they will flank a fireplace and across from it will be that 7’ long fabulous sofa!!

No coffee table?  Here’s a great idea – two stacks of books with an extra long one on top!

Max’s books are neatly stacked across from the two sofas.

Unlined silk checked fabric in the living area is used for curtains.   Well – don’t ever do this!   Your curtains will rip and tear and disintegrate without a lining AND even WITH a lining!  You have to be very careful when using silk curtains that the sun won’t fall on the fabric unless you plan to replace them in about 5 years. 

Next to the kitchen is a small table that seats four.   The painting is by Cecil Beaton and once belonged to Brooke Astor. 

Notice the thin ties that hold the cushion on the seat’s back.

The bedroom area is cozy and charming AND very nicely furnished with wallcovering in Arabel Fabric’s Charisma.  Save money?  Just order shams from Leontine  Linens – not the entire set of sheets. Notice that the curtain dividing the room has two different fabrics.


Across from the bed is a skirted table which looks suspiciously like the one in his dorm room.  On top is the bar, in his bedroom – again! 

Another view shows the red chest, which is a bright accent and picks up the curtain fabric, hand me downs from Charlotte Moss.  Notice how the wall fabric is piped in a thin black trim.

Anyone who would have a dorm room decorated just so would of course be a neatnik!  Wow!!  I need to send Mr. Slippersocksman over there to get some badly needed organization lessons.  I do wonder if that chest is the same one from his dorm room?

Knowing NYC studios, I have a feeling he did a little updating here.  Love the painted ceiling and subway walls with marble vanity.

This is how Max Sinsteden decorates.  Now, how does the other half of O & S, Catherine Olasky, decorate?


Catherine Olasky lives with her family here in Houston, Texas. 

She grew up in Dallas so I assume that is how she and her husband ended up in Houston – having both lived in London.

After the Olaskys renovated their house, House Beautiful chose it for last year’s Christmas edition cover feature.   I wish we had more photos of the house but I did find BEFORE images so we can see the beautiful transformation Olasky achieved.

Today Olasky’s house with a hedge out front and new lanterns.  The brick was painted white and the door, dark gray.

A larger AFTER view from Google.  The landscaping was redone with new box and trees that flank the house.

BEFORE:  The beds were surrounded by brick, now painted white.  The house looks updated with its new coat of white paint.

BEFORE:  The entry overlooks the main room. 

AFTER:   Here is how Olasky decorated her foyer – with a console filled with books and an antique chair in a checked fabric.  I wish the photo was wider!!  Photographers don’t take interior pictures to show the entire room, of course.   They take beautiful photos that just happen to be in a house.   But, for nosey interior designers – we want to see everything! 

A view without the Christmas decor.

If you didn’t read the House Beautiful article, do.   Olasky is very interesting when talking about mixing a Texas Christmas with an English Christmas, having lived there for so long she became fond of their yuletide customs.

BEFORE:   The contemporary house was built in 1972 by Lucian Hood and has been sold a few times.  Here, with terrazzo floors and orange walls.  The front facade has no windows except the foyer – to keep the house cool from the hot morning sun.

BEFORE:  Better looking, the house’s walls were painted white by the previous owners.    Pretty decor.

AFTER:  Olasky decorated her house in a mix of classic decor with a young sensibility.   A large seagrass covers the floor.  White paint on the walls while the ceiling was fauxed.

The shelves are now painted a French blue with brass lamps above them.

I ADORE the skirted chair in a Jasper fabric!!  “Love the shape and fabric.”  Olasky said she always asks herself if she loves the shape and fabric on furniture before she brings it home.  She has an aversion to clutter – but it looks like her partner Max loves it.

  And another view of the mantel and painted shelves.  I would love to see this room without the Christmas decorations. 

Sometimes you get what you wish for!   Another view without the Christmas decor – not sure if this was earlier or later, but I love the painting.

A close up of the ottoman with fringe.   I love this view of the ottoman.   Apparently these photos were taken in the summer – must be strange to decorate for Christmas and then just take it all down the next day.

IDEA:   The collage above the sofa was created by Olasky with pages from a Lulu de Kwiatkowsky book.  What a great idea!!!  The only cost is the frame and the book and the Decoupage. 

Such an English room – reminds me of Kate and William’s.

BEFORE:  Past the foyer and living room is the atrium that the living, dining, and master bedroom overlook.  To the right here, is the dining room – with one window to the outside.

BEFORE:  The dining room with two built-in hutches.


AFTER:  This looks so pretty!  I wish it were larger, again!  Olasky moved the two hutches to flank the window, which was a great idea.  Notice she papered the back of the hutch – which is a tiny detail that makes a big difference.  Luxe details are the trademark of O & S.   The plates are green which are a nice blend for the curtain fabric – Lee Jofa’s Nympheus, Olasky’s favorite fabric.  Wonki Ware Pottery from South Africa.

Bloomingdales carries some Wonki Ware HERE.

And, notice that Olasky painted the walls in a khaki and white stripe which helps make the room a bit smaller and cozier. The Jonathan Adler chandelier adds a contemporary touch.

The Adler chandelier in a smaller version HERE.

BEFORE:  The paneled library.

AFTER:  The wood was painted a trendy lavender which adds a youthful touch to what could have been an overly mature room.

Notice the chair – usually the wood would be stained brown,  instead it is painted black, another more modern touch.

AFTER:  The guest room.  Vintage  sleigh bed were upholstered in  Colefax and Fowler blue & white.   The pillows are in my favorite fabric!  Christopher Farr’s Carnival – love it! 

BEFORE:  The master bedroom


AFTER:  The master bedroom.   A 9’ tall bed.  The glider is from Olasky’s grandmother.  The curtains are so pretty in a blush pink and lined in a blue green tape – more details. 


Another photo from the master bedroom – the love seat and pillows in Chelsea Edition fabrics.  LOVE!!!  White rattan table is a fun and another youthful piece.  Notice the table has a scalloped edge matched by the scalloped edges of the quilt and bedcover.

A small photo of the side wicker table.

The master bedroom – from another photoshoot.  I love the color – a blushy peach. 

The daughter’s bedroom is just the cutest ever!  This shows Olasky’s aesthetic.  She likes classic with a hint of folly.   The wallpaper is fabulous – I love it!! 

Notice the trim – it’s painted two colors from Benjamin Moore:  Blackbean Soup and Cadwell Green.  The wallpaper is by Waterhouse Wallhangings here, which gives the room its vintage feel.

Just TOO cute!!!  The crib is from Oeuf HERE.  It does look like Olasky painted the crib the same color as the trim in the playroom.  Just adorable.

What I’ve shown is the design team on their own – Max with his apartment and Olasky with her own house.

But – O & S is a team and their work is done together, so what DOES it look like when the two complete a project with both at the helm?

Olasky said that Max and her are in sync 98% of the time, but that missing 2% accounts for Max’s ultratraditional style and her whimsical aesthetic.

For instance, take a look at their Kips Bay Showhouse Room that was a smash hit that year.

Their Kips Bay guest room was so beautiful in wallcovering by Warner Textile Archive Collection.   The French chair in chintz is my favorite touch, of course.

The room is a mix of the two – their 98% synchronicity with Olasky’s whimsy in the art work above the bed, and..

And there it is!  The ultratraditional touch by Max…the phone!  I love it.  He has one just like it in his apartment.  He probably borrowed his phone for Kips Bay.   I must be like Max – I’ve been dying to get one just like this but I don’t even have a land line anymore. 

I happen to like this style.  It’s a bit more old fashioned. 

(Click on the photo.)

There are so many good projects by O & S that it’s hard to chose one, but I picked the one that appealed to me the most – I hope you agree.

The house is located on the Channel Island of Guernsey.  Huh?

Look here:

There, in the channel between England and France is the tiny island of  Guernsey.


The island of Guernsey is most known today for two things, one being an international tax haven and two, home of the writer Victor Hugo.  Researching Guernsey, Hugo’s house, Hauteville, was a most pleasant surprise.

  Hugo lived here with his family, and his nearby mistress, for fifteen years while in exile from Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. 

It was at this house, overlooking Saint Peter Port, that Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables, Toilers of the Sea, The Man Who Laughs, and many more.  He was a collector of antiques and porcelains and was an accomplished interior designer.  He designed the house’s interior and filled it with treasures he collected.    In 1927,  his grandchildren donated the house to the City of Paris who run it as a museum.  The house is currently closed for refurbishing.

Hugo with his grandchildren and his Mistress, the actress Juliette Drouet.   1866.  His mistress moved to Guernsey with the family including Hugo’s wife – but she lived at another house.

Notice the front door with the transom.

From the inside – that front door with the transom.   Sets of plates line the walls and the ceiling, out of sight.  He owned many more sets that are on display in other parts of the house. 

The dining room is filled with tapestries.  Notice the banquette at the left.  At the right is the fireplace with cabinetry surround.

In the kitchen – the walls are tiled.  Notice the tiles are in the shape of an H above the fireplace.

The Red Salon.  This room is different than many of the others which are more darker, more Victorian in feel.  One thing is for sure – not an inch of surface in this house was left untouched by Hugo.

Of course I love this room!   After all the excesses of the house, this greenhouse room is amazing.

Victor Hugo loved Guernsey – he wrote about the cliffs being harsh while inland was gentle.  He described the assorted Channel Islands as "fragments of France which fell into the sea and were gathered up by England."

It is exactly this dual culture on Guernsey – English and French – that inspired Olasky and Sinsteden on their project on Guernsey.  O & S were still living in London when they were hired to renovate a farmhouse, a project that Olasky considers their first important work.

The house had been lived in for sixty years and was filled with things the owner had collected and inherited.  An older man, he had traveled between England, Ireland and the states, shopping all the while.   Even with all his travel, the owner still spent part of each year on the island.   His house was built in the 16th century and had been updated through time.  

Since O & S were still based in London, it was convenient for them to assess the owner’s large collection of furniture and art and choose what was meant to stay and what would be restored.     O & S employed what was on hand, updating fabrics, reupholstering and refinishing.    Over 100 pieces of art alone were reframed and hung in the house.   Amazing!   Though the house was large, every part was used – nothing was saved for “company only.”

The story about the house on Guernsey was in the WSJ and photos were taken by Read McKendree.  Please be SURE to visit McKendree’s web site and look at his beautiful photographs, which are also for sale, framed.   Displaying photography in place of painted art is a very popular choice today.  

The island shot on a cloudy, atmospheric day.   The house is 10 minutes away from the port town.

The name of the estate.  I tried to translate this but Google never heard of Fainel.

A hint of things to come…aren’t those lanterns gorgeous?!!   The front door, seen here, leads to the foyer.

A close up of the wall hung lantern.

The 16th century farmhouse, freshly painted.

In the WSJ article, Max says that the older 16th century section of the house is at the left while the section on the right was built in the 17th century.  O & S worked on the facade, painting the skirt a beige color.  Before, the house was all pink save the window frames.   Whites were painted whiter.    


Door bell!


Too charming – the side porch with reclaimed antique French pavers.  Notice the original glass in the door rebuilt by O & S.

The foyer opens to an inner door with curtains made with Palmyre by Le Manach.  The curtains protect the lower hall against strong winter winds.  O & S’s trademark is antique wood furniture – the bar sits atop a George II mahogany console from 1750-60.

A close up of the bar on the marble top console.  I would love to see the art work behind it – it looks so pretty!!!

While completely refurbishing the farmhouse, O & S chose new frames for more than 100 pieces of art owned by the client.  They also chose new linens and personalized stationary.   In a nod to their trademark attention to detail, O & S had mahogany hangers custom made for the closets!!!  Nice.

My own hangers are a sad combination of the dry cleaners and department store giveaways.

Further down the lower hall are the white painted stairs.   The hanging tapestry is called “Garlanded Goat.”

More of the Le Manach fabric at the lower hall window.  The corner chair is Rose Tarlow’s.   I love this chair.  It must really rain a lot on Guernsey – lots of umbrellas here...

…and here.  Notice the cute arched door off the lower hall.

The Double Drawing Room.   First O & S addressed the niches, which lacked molding or paneling.  They were painted three shades of white: a cream on the molding, a lighter cream on the panels, and a thin line of white that separates the two creams.  This formula was used on the molding throughout the house.   O & S used the owner’s rug, but replaced the curtains with a Lee Jofa hand blocked linen.   Of course, to make the ceiling appear taller, the rod was placed at the crown molding.    I love the wallpaper – a stripe in cool aqua by Farrow & Ball.  The niches add so much to the room, especially with the brass lights.

Finally, notice how the prints are framed by molding which enhances the vignette.

A view of the other half of the Drawing Room shows beautifully curved bookcases from Colefax & Fowler.  Lee Jofa’s Wakehurst hand-blocked linen in Straw.

To give the house a consistent design scheme, the same three shades of white were used on all the molding.  Brass was used throughout to honor the owner’s love of sailing and the closeness of the house to the sea.  Additionally, O & S have added a grounding black accent to almost all the rooms.   Most,  but not all, mantels are black and O & S sourced all the black cast iron radiators in the house which add their own decorative element.  Finally, only muted colors were chosen for fabrics and paints, bright colors would have looked too modern and not consistent with the light on the island.

The dining room is a luscious shade of dusty rose – it is actually a silk/wool fabric by Rogers/Goffigon.  Wow.  How gorgeous.  The chairs are copies of a 1940s style and the table is also new.  The mirror is the owner’s from the 1900s.  

I also love the light fixture in black which picks up the black in the mantel.  Max said that it’s crucial to have overhead lighting even when the ceiling is so low.  It adds to the ambiance when there is light at different levels.  

You can see the rug here which looks so pretty!   LOVE the matching consoles and the art work.   AND finally – notice the mirror, it is reminiscent of the lanterns with their chinoiserie elements.  Love this room!!

Details.  Nothing is too small for the “soup to nuts” firm.  Silk striped fabric – ruffled edge.  The drapery rods are custom ordered.  Notice the drapery rings.  If you can afford such custom detail, it makes such a difference, but unfortunately, few can afford such detail.  Oh, to have such gorgeous rods and rings!!

You can closely see the fabric on the wall, here.

The owner’s childhood boat, refurbished by O & S.   Here, you can clearly see the three color trim paint formula used on the door.  Also, notice the hardware!

In the kitchen, which was completely renovated, the floors are reclaimed antique French terra cotta tiles with oak cabochons – found in Normandy, France.    This floor is also seen in the parlor, next door.   The kitchen is one of the brightest rooms in the house, painted white-white, the one room that went against the rest of the three white/cream formula.

The hood’s oversized screw heads bring to mind sailing, as do the nautical style latches on the upper cabinets – a nod to the owner’s love of sailing.  All the appliances were painted this same color of blue.

High end appliances including a grill and rotisserie.  Notice the brass plated plugs.

The breakfast area with marble topped drop-down table.  Love the light fixture.

The patio outside the kitchen.  Notice the umbrella, it looks as if it was made of metal, as was the scalloped awning!   Again, the awning has that same chinoiserie element as the exterior lanterns have.

Between the kitchen and the dining room is this parlor.  The tile and wood cabochon floor is carried into here from the kitchen.   On the walls are art work depicting sailing and the sea.  The upper walls are patterned while the molding is painted a mossy green.  LOVE the sconces that ring the walls!!  This type of placement of the sconces is found throughout the house. 

The sofa is from Soane Britain, covered in a Pierre Frey fabric.  Love the collection of pillows and striped coverlet.

Notice how expertly the prints/paintings were hung!   It shows how talented O & S are to hang so perfectly over 100 pieces of art, after first reframing them.

Correctly hanging art is a real talent.  Even high priced designers don’t always get it right.  Gallery walls are especially tricky, but O & S make it look easy!

Right across from the sofa in the parlor is this fabulous, repeat, fabulous fireplace.  The tiles are Portuguese from Solar Antique Tile, NYC.   Love the rug which we can plainly see here, along with the Albatross chair from Soane Britain.  Through the door is the dining room.

A view out the window of the parlor.  Notice the trim on the curtains.  Details at every turn by O & S.  Love the nautical looking lantern.

The powder room in the lower hall.  The paper is Lorimer by Watts of Westminster.   The vanity is 19th century oak with a marble top.  The sink with a chain attached stopper.  The best.

Oh…that toilet!  So classic.  So O & S!

A classic towel heater.   O & S “branded” the house with custom designed monograms on towels and linens and with custom designed stationary, amongst other things.  

Soup to Nuts – nothing is left for the owner to do himself.  It’s the ultimate in Interior Design.

What a cozy room to shield oneself from frigid winds!  That fire! 

Love the George IV period convex mirror and red tortoiseshell obelisks on the mantel.  The poplar wood is actually faux painted to look like knotty pine.

Rose Cummings Genges covers the sofa.


The check curtains in the library are Cowtan and Tout with a braid trim.  As in other rooms, sconces ring the walls.  Max says this choice is better in lower ceilinged rooms as opposed to the more trendy brass lights at the top of the shelves.

In the upper hall, the same fabric found in the lower hall hangs at the window.  The round table has gilt trim – beautiful.

The master bedroom has F. Schumacher fabric on its walls, creating a warm cocoon. 

The blue and white coverlet is the perfect touch and adds to the sailing motif found through the house.

Notice the tiny thin blue trim on the Suzanne Tucker curtains that mimic the trim on the custom made sheets.  The blue splatterware jar was made into the bedside lamp. 

Along the wall in the master bedroom are antique hall chairs and a beautiful old chest. 

Note the door which shows up the three color trim formula used throughout.

The fireplace is Victorian Welsh bought at Chesney’s in London.  Notice the painted panels on it – so unique.

My favorite is the sconce used for a reading lamp.  Love!!! 

In the elegant master closet, O & S designed the Irish oak cerused cabinetry around the owner’s chest. 

Seating in the master closet.  And pencils and paper on hand, just in case.  Soup to Nuts.

The designers created a bath to show both cultures of the island, French and English.  The bath and its faucet are French while the heated towel bar and paint are English. 

About the paint on the vanity and woodwork – Olasky said this is the “dirgiest” white they will ever use, because of the age of the house. 

In another view of the master bath, the Bertoia chair adds a modern touch.  Paper:  Benwick by Watts of Westminster.   Custom towels with navy trim picks up the same color in the wallpaper and in the master bedroom.

The owner’s nieces stay in this guest room when they visit.  Bennison fabric on the wall is similar but different from the bed curtains by Bennison.  Black night tables add weight to the room which would be too light and airy looking and float away without the grounding weight. 

Bennison fabric is also used as the canopy liner.  Plaid on the headboard.  Custom designed linens.

So cute!

For drawers, O & S order custom designed paper liners – with trim, no less.    But, in this particular chest, fabric was used instead.   Love this!!

I’m suffering from lack of custom detailing in my life.

Close up  of the curtain trim in the guest room.

This is the only view we have of this bedroom – in lavender, with trim on the curtains, of course.  Wish there were more photos.

And, just one photo from another upstairs room.  I wonder if it is a sitting room or a bedroom?

This guest bathroom has a hanging Drummond sink with gorgeous tiles.  That soap rack!   And I’m loving the asymmetrical one sconce.  The house has a few of these and it’s a very interesting look. 

In the shower room of the guest bath, another Drummond sink, with its chain stopper and marble top.

What a collection of art, books, and furniture this homeowner has.  I would love to visit and stay awhile!!

Soup To Nuts.  Here are a few examples of how O & S complete a job with custom detailing.   Here, in the Guernsey guest bedroom closet - it is lined with custom marbleized bookbinding paper from Compton Marbling.   I’m sure all closets and chests were treated this way.  Custom mahogany hangers were also placed in the closets.

An example of custom linens ordered for another client. Monograms are designed for clients and are used on linens and towels and stationery.  It’s a sophisticated “branding” – a very classic attention to detailing rarely seen and certainly rarely done by most interior designers.   It takes a special attention to detail and an immense dedication to work to oversee all these tiny details.

I remember Charlotte Moss talking about the way she handled her clients – in the same exact way.  She would even go so far as setting the tables with the client’s different china sets – photographing it all so that the client could reproduce the different looks. 

Custom wood pulls for shades.

Soup to Nuts!!

Words of Wisdom:

Olasky: And also, it's important to make sure you are going out to see things, not just choosing things that look good on a dealer's website or on 1stdibs. All of these resources are great when you're in a bind and you do need a corner cabinet that's four foot six inches tall—something that's very obscure—and they can be great leads. But you can't succumb to doing all of your sourcing online or through anything other than just pounding the pavement. You're never going to quite grasp the patina on a piece of wood or the paint finish of something or all of the things that you really feel when you see a piece in person.

And, this next statement is so interesting, talking about being classic decorators as opposed to the more modern look that is so popular today:

Olasky: I want to feel like we've held out. Obviously we have to change with the industry to survive and things like that, but I want to feel like we're still doing things in a very...
Sinsteden: True way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story that started with a google search of a young man who decorated his dorm room and who grew up to be a designer whom I greatly admire!! 

O & S web site HERE.


And a bit of a follow up.  In the recent story about Kathryn Ireland‘s new house, there were no photographs of the family room off the kitchen.   Recently, these two photos were shown on Instagram that complete the visual story:

The view from the kitchen into the Kathryn Ireland’s family room.  A large sectional, slipcovered in linen with a host of pastel colored pillows. 

The view from the family room to the kitchen. 

If they show more photos of the house that we haven’t seen, I’ll post those too!!

And for now, good day!


  1. I absolutely remember that dorm room in NY magazine--was it 9 years ago already?!?!? This is an excellent update, and proof that M. Sinsteden's taste has stood the test of time. I have to admit I like his style a bit more than Catherine Olasky's but it might be that I just don't like her house, with those overly big rooms that seem to resist being welcoming, though she made a valiant effort.
    The little details--the black (?) trim with the striped walls--wonderful. And it's amazing how such a little detail makes such a big impact.
    As for le Fainel, it's a surname, common in Brittany and is thought to be the diminutive of "fouine"--which is a weasel but which also is a kind of trident for fishing. How that turned into a surname is lost in the mists of time.
    As much as I love antiques and Victor Hugo (don't forget "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"!!), his house makes me tired just looking at it. I'm glad we're over that Victorian more-is-not-enough style.

    1. I don't think he wrote Hunchback while in that house. He was a whore, pardon my French. Whoa. He bedded everyone and everything in sight until the day he died, even after two strokes.
      Thanks for the input of the name. I tried to find the owner's name but my stalking was not too good. lol.

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  2. Good morning Joni!
    Once again you amaze me with your detailed research into the most interesting of subjects. Thank your post today. I always feel I learn something from reading and enjoying your blog.
    Have a beautiful day here in Houston!
    Judith Presgrove

  3. Loved your post today!! Beautiful, traditional decorating, which never goes out of style!

  4. This IS IT...the doesn't get much's very...wonderful. franki

  5. Just perfect. But I'm about "pinked" out. Ann

  6. Wow! I so enjoyed this. I'm dying over that leopard carpet. ♥♥

    1. what was surprising was that the leopard carpet was original to the house. unless they just replaced the same carpet.

  7. One of my favorite books, (I have a lot) is The Guernsey Potato Peel Literary Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I immediately thought of it as I was reading the blog today, which I thoroughly enjoyed on this gorgeous April morning.

    1. I thought of this too. You must read it, Joni. It's about the German occupation of the island in World War II. The movie is about to come out. Read the book first!

      This house on Guernsey is just perfect. And while every detail is thought of, it doesn't look overdone, but very comfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed gazing at these photos, and your commentary is always interesting.

    2. P. S. The full title is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The movie opens in the UK this month and has five members of the cast of Downton Abbey in it. Netflix bought the rights to stream it, but I don't know when it will be available.

    3. omg!!!!!!!!!!!1 thanks!!!!!!!!! We need to do a favorite book/movie/streaming. Right now I'm watching Howards End which I love, though the interiors aren't as fabulous as I wished.

  8. Joni, you never disappoint! Fabulous post about beautiful, classic decor.

  9. What is the weird "art" over the twin beds in, was it, the kip's Bay house?
    Looks like my table's placemats draped over an old piece of wood. Do I need new glasses?

    1. I gave the name of t he artist. It's really a piece of folly in a classic room.

  10. So much to admire and learn from - "only muted colors were chosen for fabrics and paints, bright colors would have looked too modern and not consistent with the light on the island" - this observation is particularly useful, most people hear "color" and think "COLORRRRRR!!!" and go bonkers without much consideration for context, lighting, or livability.

    This is a great study in traditional design, but also traditional homemaking - lovely stationery and a house monogram cost very little, but are huge style and hospitality markers. Good for O&S making those part of their brand.


    1. I can see that you are definitely a fan.

    2. lol. Anon, you aren't? Don't answer that, por favor.

    3. It was my little tease, but it was too subtle I guess.

  12. WOW! Absolutely blown AWAY by this post! I can't see everything....have to go back again and again and revisit picture after picture. They are so incredibly talented! Thank you, Joni!

  13. Joni,
    I love, love, love this story. First of all, I love the style, which seems in short supply these days. The attention to detail is beyond impressive. Oh to be able to afford to do that! What a wonderful follow-up to the young man with an amazing dorm room. Thanks so much for the introduction to this amazing team.

  14. A great post and so interesting.....the dorm room was one of a kind!

  15. Thank you for another extensively researched and inspiration filled post!

  16. this is a fabulous post....and I am pleased to see the yellow check on the windows. After breaking my wrist this past fall, I gave up on sewing custom slip covers, as usual, for my living room couch and instead bought an IKEA skaftarp yellow checked couch. I made down inserts to go inside the cushions and I am in LOVE with this the way the check freshens the room. So even though it was a budget solution, it is so nice to see a decorator with the same idea in the yellow checked, albeit in this case, the curtains. Decorating layouts are often a source of inspiration...and if one looks carefully they can often find similar looks in mundane places.

  17. My heart sings at this style ... I love the dorm room all the way through ... thanks for posting, you made my day Joni!!!

  18. My heart hurts that Olasky painted the wood paneling in that one room in her house--it was so lovely as it was. I think I am more of a fan of Sinsteden's style than hers--but together, they make a great team. I love the soup to nuts approach they took to the home you featured--all the little details, it gives the feeling of a home that is well-loved and cared for. I'm going to try to incorporate some of these touches into my own humble abode. Thank you for these wonderful posts!

    1. Please know that painting that wood was the right thing to do. It was not really high quality wood. It is so lovely that it is painted beautifully.
      Americans, particularly, revere wood that is inferior wood ; just because it is "wood". This was not lovely old was much more beautiful beautifully painted in a lovely, strie special paint finish. That, I hope, will unbreak your heart. Not all "natural finish" wood is lovely.
      Wood paneling for the last 50 years or so in America.....should be painted, actually. It is dreadful. Mostly. Sorry: but true.

      Panelling from England or France in the last 50 years may be the quality to preserve and strip and stain. It is rare.

      Most paneling in the US for the last 50 years should be painted. Honestly.

    2. And that wood in Guernsey was much more beautiful painted with that lovely finish......than it was that that dumb brown color of inferior wood. sorry!

  19. What a fantastic post! So much great stuff! I loved what Max did with the 525 sq. ft he had to work with in his New York apartment- so comfortable and attractive. I especially liked the way he suspended the artwork over the loveseat dividing the living space from the bed making what have been a rather mundane view of the curtains so lovely and really opened the space. Also loved the tile in Hugo's kitchen- so interesting to learn more about him and the house and also in love with the exterior of the pink house, especially the side porch. So much to love in this post and always learn from your great research and attention to detail.

  20. Joni, I went to the link provided to see your post on your daughters dorm room which I loved, and at the end in the comment section is a large pornography link! Thought you might like to know!

  21. ...fabulous...fabulous...fabulous...blessings...laney

  22. Just gorgeous. I love their style and the C&F/V&A training is clear. Definitely future stars.

  23. Fresh. Whose work inspired him, I wonder?

  24. Great post on O&S. I love how Max groups his prints and paintings; so stunning. I also enjoyed the updates from Kathryn Ireland's home. Do you know if the large image on the wall is work by Joshua Jensen-Nagle? It's fabulous.

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    1. Your eye of newt stew is ready, psycho, so scurry back to your nest.
      And you're not "from USA," obviously. Now get a real job: you're irritating me quite badly.

    2. I got a shout out from Penelope!

    3. You deserved it. Brilliant comment......I wish we could be spared from these weirdos. But your comment made me grateful for the weirdo comment....Your comment was so funny! Bravo!
      I have out loud now three times....when I have reread your comment....thank you! Quite hilarious! I just read it again.....four out loud! (I cannot write lol except in parentheses)!!!

    4. laughed somehow did not publish. 3 rd sentence....."laughed out loud"

  27. The most awesome post ever...... but then most all of yours are. Thank you so much.


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    1. Put your phong back in it's chung cu!
      You should be ashamed of yourself!

    2. It is fun seeing that I made you laugh, Penelope Bianchi. My best old friends always thought that I was funny, but they all live 1200 miles away now, and I am so lonely. Now I've hurt my back on top of my depression and sadness and it really makes things so much worse. You made me feel good that I could make someone laugh.

  29. What a fantastic post! Honestly, they just get better and better! What a fantastic team those two are! Yikes!!! So much to learn from your posts!

  30. Now I know why some blogs want me to prove i am not a robot a bot asking me to prove I am not a bot. If that is necessary Joni well I think we can do that for you to save the comment section.

    1. It didn't work.

    2. I would have missed some very funny responses if you were screening. Let's not screen!!!

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