Charleston, South Carolina-based interior designer Amelia Handegan begins the introduction of her beautiful book, simply titled Rooms and published by Rizzoli, with this anecdote that provides ample insight into her talents: “One of my clients would frequently question my reasons for choosing a specific color palette or certain furnishings or textiles for his home. Eventually, he stopped asking. ‘Get back to me after you put on your swami hat,’ he started staying, ‘because I know you can’t explain it.’”
The Tranquil Sophistication of Amelia Handegan
Handegan admits to always having been more of a visually connected person as opposed to a verbal one, not a surprise given that when powerful interior design succeeds, it does so through the intuited visual senses.
Given the sumptuous feel to the rooms featured in the book, each one a study in tranquil sophistication, we were curious to know how she thought about luxury so we posed the question. Her answer was as insightful as her design prowess: “I think luxury is always about something you don’t need so in this vein it is a little extravagant. There are lots of things that fit this description—I love a great bed, for instance: good pillows and sheets. Not fussy just high quality linens.” Can you imagine how thrilled we were to have her say something so apropos to our existence here at Pandora de Balthazár?
“Art is a luxury and a necessity to me,” she added. “I love the important works and the most naïve work.” Paintings and sculpture create a commanding presence in her interiors, which she describes in this quote in her introduction: “I gravitate toward understatement in the interiors that I design. I love quiet rooms—where the windows are dressed only if needed, color is distributed in careful and even doses, and the furniture is edited.”
We were also curious about her inspiration and we were thrilled she took the time to give us such a thoughtful answer: “Inspiration comes from being visual and having a vivid imagination. An empty room with great architecture inspired me to begin with color—to see and understand the light coming through the windows influences decisions immediately even if they often box you in as the work moves forward.”
There is an entire chapter of the book devoted to Mountain Cabins, which she has titled Rustic Simplicity. It attests to her feeling that architecture and location tend to lead each project. “This doesn’t always mean the interiors follow the style of the room,” she says. “The North Carolina cabins call for a clean look but a rustic one, though I don’t overdo with checks and plaids or woven rugs as some designers might; I counterbalance with Asian furniture, an Italian painting, covering chairs in white slipcovers, painting the doors a glossy orange—all of these things make the textures of the small log houses stand out. Nothing is demanding to be viewed and these havens don’t feel as though they have a forced theme.”
Classic Beauty Rules in Amelia Handegan Rooms
The classically inspired surprises she seems to naturally create in her interiors makes this book a delight to thumb through. How does she explain the restrained beauty she achieves? “If a room has fine proportions and light, its interior furnishings won’t have to work so hard to make that room beautiful,” she notes. “Such places need only a few wonderful pieces—a sofa to sink into, interesting antiques, or personal collections or art and accessories that feel authentic to its owners.”
Authenticity is an important word to us at Pandora de Balthazár and we would like to thank Amelia for taking the time to speak with us about this wonderful book, which was realized with the assistance of lifestyle journalist Ingrid Abramovitch and photographer Pieter Estersohn. She has inspired us by speaking of her inspiration and by explaining her luxurious take on design. We hope you feel inspired, as well!
The Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle Diary and this post, Room by Amelia Handegan, © Pandora de Balthazár, all rights reserved. Products mentioned in this and all posts can be purchased through our atelier and an array of our products are available here on Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle.
Room image details:
First: This living room is nestled into an apartment near Charleston Harbor, the building’s Neoclassical Revival structure serving as a jumping off point for her designs.
Second: This bedroom within the same property holds an American poster bed fitted with an antique Fortuny panel behind the headboard and a Dauphne hand-blocked fabric canopy. The bed’s small pillow is made from an antique Indian bolster cover.
Third: The gray wall in the breakfast area creates an eye-popping backdrop for the artwork. The Jamaican trolley and antique table came out of the kitchen of Amelia’s former home in Charleston.