Sparks - the Blog of Interior Designer Schuyler Samperton

Category Archives: inspiration


I was out walking Tricky in my neighborhood the other day, when I noticed this handwritten note scribbled on a construction site document.

Clearly a desperate plea, the author was begging the developer to create something beautiful.  Full of gorgeous small-scale apartment buildings from the 1920s and 30s, my neighborhood has a lovely charm that is slowly being overtaken by unattractive, architecturally-soulless, multi-unit monsters.

In his book, Creating a New Old House, Russell Venturi outlines the specific path to architectural authenticity for a number architectural styles, from California Spanish Colonial Revival to Cape Cod Cottage.  He explains (and insists!) that the details matter – the thickness of a column, the proportions of a window, the slope of a roof.  All of it has a significant impact, so with that purity of intent in mind, I wanted to capture some of the special buildings and details, that make my neighborhood so great.  With a little luck, perhaps the new architects and contractors will take a walk around the block, pause for a moment to appreciate the past, and actually create something “nice.”

A few of my favorite places, old and new…

Citrus trees scattered in front yards

Tudor was big on my block in the 1920s

These numbers tie in perfectly with the Hamilton Arms vibe

New Spanish Colonial done right

Feathered Friends

Feathers have always been a favorite of mine.  I love everything about them – the colors, the textures, the iridescence and their abundant natural magic.

A classic scarf pattern from Hermes – framed?

A coque feather necklace – art in my hallway…

Earrings from Ralph Lauren, in one of my favorite color combinations.

Decadent wallpaper by Karen Beauchamp that uses Swarovski crystal elements!

My lovely cream and white dream catcher by Electric Love from Spartan in Austin.

Trippy fabric from Pallavik.

One single, louche raspberry plume on the chest in my bedroom.

Russian to the movies: the beauty of Anna Karenina

Fall Can’t Get Here Soon Enough…

Last weekend while waiting for an unfortunately mediocre movie to start, I was COMPLETELY and TOTALLY KNOCKED OUT by the trailer for Joe Wright’s amazing new version of Anna Karenina.  Starring the stunning Keira Knightley, the gorgeous Aaron Johnson and Jude Law (he’s not bad either), the film is an overwhelmingly beautiful combination of colors and textures.

From Anna’s breathtaking costumes of silk, feathers, lace and fur, to the magnificent interiors complete with intricate inlaid marble floors, damask covered walls and glistening crystal chandeliers, the entire production is almost too glorious for my “more is more” personal aesthetic.

While most of us can’t completely replicate the splendor of 19th Century Russia, here are a few things that can help get us halfway there.  You’re on your own with the diamonds and pearls…

{Anna Karenina inspiration: 1. Antique Bronze & Crystal Chandelier; 2. Russian bracelet, circa 1880; 3. Nicholas I of Russia: The Railway Tsar portrait; 4. Russian Metal; 5.Black Lace; 6. Claremont Damas Chinois fabric; 7. Michael S Smith Cosmati Alhambra Tile; 8. Gold, enamel and diamond portrait miniature pin; 9. 19th Century Russian Swan Couch; 10. Russian Ivory filigree mounted octagonal box.}

Inspired By Mom

I give full credit to my mother Nonie (above) for any sense of taste I may have.

When I was moving my parents into a new place a few months ago, I found this amazing photograph of her taken in the backyard of the house I grew up in.  That awesome hat was by acclaimed designer Mr. John, whose avant garde creations informed much more than her sartorial style.

Mom/Momma (said in southern accent)/Mama (said in French accent)/Mothra (just weird nickname for no reason) has taught me some invaluable style-related lessons, and here are a few of her favorite things…

- Black and white stripes for anything from lampshades to rugs

- Purple anemones for a splash of color

- Palladian windows for their gorgeous lines, and abundance of light

- Menswear fabrics for upholstery

- And of course, always wear a hat.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

{Images: Marianne Faithfull via The Vogue Vibes; Palladian windows via Giovanni Giaconi Illustrator; black & white stripes via the quilt bug; Eames chair upholstered with menswear fabric via Small But Mighty.}