Thursday, December 19, 2013

Brian J McCarthy's Luminous Interiors

Brian J. McCarthy brings Hollywood glamour
to an Entrance Hall with a pair of Serge Roche
plasterworks flanking the doors to a
chic lacquered library.
In this season of so many particularly fine, newly published design books, one that really stands out is LUMINOUS INTERIORS by Brian J. McCarthy.  Brian, who was recently named to Architectural Digest's AD100, and I are friends from our days as co-workers at Parish-Hadley.  He launched his own firm Brian J. McCarthy, Inc. in 1992 and this, his first book, features his interior design for nine spectacular residences.
A detail of a photo of a Powder Room
Brian J. McCarthy is a decorator and designer in the true sense, a big step above the standard in the field who is essentially a salesperson/expediter, and only orders factory-made furniture from catalogues and sells fabric from swatch books.  For example, Brian didn't just paper the walls of the Powder Room of a 1930s Regency Revival house but had them Venetian plastered and stenciled in gold and inlaid with mother-of-pearl and abalone.  The desk was commissioned especially for the space and the chair is from the 1930s.  The Bagues chandelier dates from the 1940s.

The book consists of Brian's interesting story of each project accompanied by lavish color photos, many full page, none of which are done justice here.  It is one knock-out image after another.  Although difficult to pick a favorite room, one of the most memorable is glimpsed in the first photo of this posting.  The turquoise lacquer paneling with gilt bronze banding was fabricated in the U.S. and then sent to Paris for finishing.
An Empire Style Library for a new Long Island house
Brian had the mahogany Library boiserie for a new 30,000 square foot chateau on Long Island Sound made in Paris by Feau & Cie and finished by Atelier Meriguet-Carrere.  The painted ceiling, better viewed in other images, was also produced by the famous Meriguet workshop.
A Long Island Dining Room
The Dining Room of the same Long Island mansion also features paneling from Feau & Cie.  The Wedgwood-blue and ivory scheme is accented with panels of mirrored glass painted with neo-classical motifs.
A Master Bedroom from
The Master Bedroom of the previously mentioned Regency Revival house features a Serge Roche-inspired, mirrored canopy bed.  The curtain fabric is better seen in other photos in the book; based on a design by Balenciaga, the motifs are appliqued and embroidered on voile over taffeta.
Brian's Master Bathroom in the country.
The Master Bathroom in the Ulster County, New York, weekend home that Brian shares with his partner Danny Sager follows the casual theme of the rest of the house.  But it also reflects his great appreciation for art and craftsmanship.  The chandelier crafted from plumbing parts was made by Thomas Blake.
Brian J. McCarthy
photographed by Fritz von der Schulenberg.
Brian J. McCarthy will be making a much-anticipated appearance on Saturday, January 18, 2014, to speak at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art at 10:30 am.  Sponsored by Decorative Arts Trust, Brian will present a talk, "A Grand Tour of Design: Collecting for a Personal Home," giving advice on how to scout for objects while traveling and to collect pieces with great impact for one's own home.  A book sale and signing will follow.  The event is free to the public with regular museum admission and no reservations are required.


  1. A tantalising post, making one go out to buy the book to better see the images you have posted!

    I do like the side table in the bedroom photo - it's Oriental in style, with a cloud motif. I've seen it a few times recently, and I wondered if you knew its origin/source?

    1. C., there is another one or two in the book, if I am remembering correctly. They must be ceramic reproductions of antique Chinese garden stools, no? I like them, too.

    2. I was at the DCOTA showroom of John Rosselli (husband of Bunny Williams) and saw that they sell the ceramic garden stool - or a near match.

  2. I have known Brian's partner Danny Sager for many years and have come to know and like Brian through him. What an incredibly talented man Brian is, and a super nice one, to boot! We look forward to having lunch with them at Darlington House over the Christmas holiday. I am sure your ears will be burning! Reggie


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