Thomas Jayne, author, historian, preservationist, decorator and friend, has written a remarkable new book, AMERICAN DECORATION, A SENSE OF PLACE published by The Monacelli Press. Thomas’ interest in architecture and decoration started with his family’s legacy of houses that ranged from the Plymouth colony to a Vermont tavern, an Italianate Villa in Iowa and a California Craftsman style bungalow amongst others. Even the re-decoration of his boyhood room by painting the walls White House red. His family’s migration across a broad swath of the country and his own sense of history have informed Thomas’s’ body of work.

Thomas Jayne is a traditionalist and academic whose unique educational experiences in the world of decorative arts, at Winterthur and Attingham and from a mentor named Albert Hadley, have given him great insight in adapting and shaping European influences into American interiors. And yet, in spite of his immersion into historic places and traditional spaces, his interiors are not “old fashioned”  He skillfully accomplishes this bridge, evident in AMERICAN DECORATION, by thoroughly researching a project long before he determines its ultimate direction. Regional design and architectural influences along with the needs and lifestyles of the family  set the tone for the interiors. His goal is not to create “period” rooms but to inspire new design through a modern lens. His Parish-Hadley association taught him that architecture is the foundation for good design and organizing rooms around a focal point with an emphasis around comfort gives spaces their timeless sense of place.

An advocate for quality and artisnal craftsmanship, it is an understatement to say that Thomas believes both are essential ingredients for good decoration. He would rather fill a house slowly rather than compromise on ubiquitous and poorly constructed upholstered furniture. Well proportioned bespoke items can make a room memorable. Natural materials, handwoven fabrics and trims, and hand-printed wallpaper are signature elements of Thomas Jayne’s rooms.

And, a room would not be complete in American Decoration without color. Thomas seeks a balance of colors and artful composition in his rooms taking into consideration the location and the intensity of the light. He wants to avoid colorless spaces and those with wildly contrasting colors. A house in Maine has different requirements from one in Florida.

As you read AMERICAN DECORATION and carefully study the composition of the rooms, you will see where the past provides the reference points that serve as springboards (Thomas’ own words) to new and appealing interiors. Classic rooms only work when the right inspiration is incorporated into the very fabric of the architecture giving the rooms texture and balance.

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