Design Notes Archive

Sara Ruffin Costello

Sara Ruffin Costello

When thinking about friendships it seems we all have a mate we’d consider “the stylish one.” Many moons ago, when I worked on the beginnings of an American magazine called Domino, our goal was for its pages to be like that friend: the one with great taste whom you’d look to for decorating tips and clever ideas. My friend, Sara Ruffin Costello, was the magazine’s creative director and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that everyone in the office had a girl crush on her. It seemed everything she touched turned to decorating gold. As many of us do, Sara eventually tired of Manhattan’s fast pace and sought shelter in greener pastures. Not somewhere predictable like the countryside, no… Sara decamped with her photographer husband and their three children to swinging New Orleans, Louisiana, taking her legendary sense of style with her. These days she works as a decorator and contributor to T: The New York Times Style Magazine, which just featured their Garden District house - and my how the bathroom sings!

 

Graced with 14 foot ceilings, the room commands attention whether you enter through paneled French doors or a marble lined pass. In one of her signature moves, Sara created a salon style wall of artwork by throwing together a hodgepodge of paintings, sketches and photographs she's amassed over the years. You barely even notice the towel hooks nestled between them, a reminder that this gallery is indeed housed in the bathroom. To keep your eye drawing up, skirting boards and coving were painted the same creamy hue as the walls and a weathered chandelier keeps things from getting too formal. Sara also employs one of her decorating mantras: every room needs an odd chair. Beyond her tricks of the trade, there’s an unexpected red and white striped shade at privacy height that's countered by a massive ornate mirror hung above the freestanding tub. In keeping with the theme of patinated grandeur, the bath is outfitted with a gorgeous old brass tub filler. And of course, we love the woven rattan hamper (an early addition to Balineum's stock of wares). 

Photograph © Robert Polidori, Gilles de Chabaneix