Mix Masters: Eric Cohler

Interior Designer Eric Cohler skillfully blends classic with modern.
Interior Designer Eric Cohler Skillfully Blends Classic with Modern

For the second installment in our four-part series of curating a space at Stamford’s Avery & Dash Collections, we double-tapped interior designer and art historian Eric Cohler. With a masters degree in historic preservation from Columbia University plus certifications from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and Oxford’s New College (he is also an adjunct professor in the architectural studies program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges), Cohler’s space was destined to be deep in artwork. He selected items from the showroom’s 23,000 square feet of period furnishings and decorative accessories. Here, the designer divulges what’s behind this sophisticated space.

How do you describe the overall aesthetic of this vignette? It’s classic with a veneer of modernity.

How did you come up with this idea? The objects dictated everything. I merely “provided” paint colors and the chimney breast placement. In other words, I planned the structure and then infilled with art and furniture.

What was first piece you chose? Avery & Dash is like Aladdin’s cave. I walked around in a daze for hours taking in everything. There were only several givens and all else was chosen without thinking twice as I’m fairly didactic. Here’s what I had to have: the Louis Philippe bookcases; English period mantelpiece; Parzinger floating cabinet; pair of Robsjohn-Gibbings chaise; the peacock.

Please tell me a little about the mix of artwork. I always combine contemporary and old masters with a smattering of photography. For this vignette, I began with the 19th-century landscape and fanned my way out from there. This painting is hanging in juxtaposition to modern masters and a pair of traditional Adam–style sconces. Josef Albers and Richard Serra are among my favorite artists, so you’ll see several here.

What was the thinking behind the beautiful flooring? By installing a herringbone floor in a natural finish [Lenox Hill from Carlisle’s Manhattan Herringbone Collection], I was able to open up the room and give it an added illusion of width.

How did the color palette come together? I worked with a new collection from Benjamin Moore called Century. The depth and saturation of these colors is stunning with an almost chalky texture. It all began with the delft blue—I fell in love. The richness of this color allows the walls to recede with the result being a much larger looking room than its actual size.

What’s your top tip for successful mixing of eras and styles? My recipe for a successful mixing of periods is to start with one central grounding piece and treat the rest of a room like spokes on a wheel. Editing is imperative, so don’t be afraid to do so. It also helps to be fearless. Break a few rules and throw convention out the window.

Why add the peacock? The peacock is there to infuse the room with a sense of humor; and it doesn’t hurt that his feathers are the perfect color too. And I usually add one mascot to each project I do. In this case, I’ve named the bird Henry.

Who can you envision living in this space? Me!

A version of this article appeared in the March 2018 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Deeper Dive.