To know Tori is to love her, and to love her is to collapse into laughter every time you’re around her. A great sense of humor, plus great taste. What more could you want?
Tori is the Senior Design & Market Editor at Traditional Home magazine and a longtime collaborator – she was one of the first people I tapped as a design producer for The Nate Berkus Show, and she’s all sorts of internet-famous, around some well-heeled internet corners, for her work as the Decoration Editor at Domino magazine.
Now she spread her classic, fun, and elevated style not just at work, but on her addictive Instagram account, where you’re as likely to find vintage VOGUE covers and Pierre Chareau sofas as you are to spot her adorable twin daughters, Franny and Lucy.
We don’t agree on everything – just see her (hilarious) first answer to make that clear – but it’s safe to say we both appreciate a well-styled space and a well-timed joke. Both of which you’ll find in spades in this interview…
When it comes to decorating “rules”: Is there such a thing and if so, is there one you constantly break?
I absolutely believe in decorating rules. Just like there are rules for grammar, algebra, language, music, architecture, and civilized society, so are there rules for decorating. That’s not to say they can’t be broken and bent from time to time, but there are some fundamentals that need to be implemented in order for there to be, well, order!
In fact, I believe this whole notion of throwing caution to the wind is complete hogwash. I’ve been on so many panels where someone will say “Just do what you love and it will all come together!” and I couldn’t disagree more – I think things fall apart when that sentiment is taken too literally.
For instance, when I was a young, novice editor, I believed that mantra and had a tufted sofa upholstered in a beautiful linen chintz because “I just loved it!”. Lo and behold, that beautiful linen chintz was not upholstery weight and my $8,000 custom sofa was in shambles a mere six years later. All from not following decorating rules.
With that said, there is ONE rule that I usually break, and I encourage others to flex their anarchist decorating muscles and hop on my resistance movement: I almost always decorate a room with a completely oversized mirror. In addition to being practical, mirrors are great for bouncing light around a dark room, opening up a small space, and using in lieu of pricey art.
Tori-adored interior at left by Veere Grenney via Veranda
What is the most unexpected thing in your home?
This is a great question. I live in a rental and my landlord, bless his heart (said as Southern women intend – with complete and total snarkiness), has “interesting” taste.
In the bathroom, which I have officially dubbed the “Our Lady of Guadalupe” bath suite, there are large, intermittently-installed tiles depicting some sort of female saint; she’s really sort of a cross between The Virgin Mary, a woodland fairy, and the Venus de Milo. The tiles are probably a foot and a half tall, and there are four of them placed around the bathroom walls. It’s very odd to take a shower and have this woman staring at you. This is definitely the most unexpected thing in my home, but God has granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the humor to be able to live with those things.
What does your dream house look like and where would it be?
My dream home already exists! I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, but my mom would take my older sister and I into the city quite often. There is a particularly beautiful stretch of Fifth Avenue in Shadyside called “Millionaires Row.” There is a mansion, the Moreland-Hoffstot mansion, that I’ve admired since I was a very young child. I’ve included an image of the house because a write-up just wouldn’t do it justice. It is the perfect house in my estimation – I love the oversized windows in the front (can you image the natural light?!?), and I’m especially fond of how the front of the home looks like one gigantic patio. I’ve always imagined summer parties there with guests spilling out of the house and onto the veranda; it’s so magical to me. I also like that it’s in my hometown, which I miss desperately.
What’s your signature touch in your home or your personal style?
I have a few signature moves I always try to include. First, I feel like every room needs a stripe. They’re so American. Any kind of stripe, even a stripe printed or woven on a more formal fabric like a silk jacquard, will instantly make a room feel more playful and casual. It gives a room a sporty edge and tames rooms that are way too serious and overwrought. I also always like to include a piece of brown furniture in every room. And by “brown furniture” I do not mean furniture that is made with an MDF veneer called “espresso” – I mean something made of REAL WOOD. Personally, I gravitate toward Biedermeier chests (so multi-purpose and functional – can be storage for table linens and double as a bar on top!) or a mahogany Chippendale-style dining tables (there were some really beautiful Queen Anne and Chippendale reproductions made in the early part of the 20th century that can be picked up for next to nothing these days). Real wood furniture gives rooms provenance and authority; it gives rooms a sense of “hey, an actual adult lives here!”
As for my personal style – confidence is key. Confidence is feeling comfortable in one’s skin but having an open mind to others ideas, opinions, values, and thoughts. Confidence comes from a place of equality and not “more than” or “less than.” Confidence is crucial to finding one’s style – you can’t be stylish without confidence.
What color/pattern/texture/style are you currently obsessed with?
Funny you should ask, my “obsessions” change monthly, it seems! I just painted my bedroom Farrow & Ball’s “Pink Ground” and now I’m having a ball fantasizing about everything I’m going to change. I’d love to reupholster my headboard in this heavenly Braquenié fabric available at Pierre Frey. The dusty reds, purples, browns, and creams complement the pink color perfectly!
Pictured above: The March 2017 cover of Traditional Home; another of Tori’s favorite rooms, this one by Furlow Gatewood and photographed by Max Kim-Bee for Veranda