Mark D. Sikes: Mastering Blue and White
We’ve long admired the work of interior designer Mark D. Sikes. Besides producing beautiful, timeless interiors, the prolific creative is an esteemed author and furniture designer, who recently launched his own fashion line of preppy, women’s sportswear. Mark is widely known for his masterful use of blue and white, and his love of the pairing is evident in all he designs—be it a dress or dining room. We spoke with Mark and asked him to share his secrets for making the combination feel so fresh, time and time again.
“A piece of blue and white instantly adds color, pattern and style to a room,” says Mark. “When people think ‘blue and white’ they think of stark white and cobalt. But I like to play with my blues by adding in tones of robin’s egg, mint, turquoise, lilac, etc. That’s what gives the palette dimension and the rooms their excitement.”
“It’s all about the mix,” explains Mark. “It’s hard to define, but when I’m scheming, I usually start with one hero fabric. It’s usually a large scale print, and then I start the layering in solids, small prints (I call them ‘ditzy prints’), geometrics, etc. I like mixing textures too—cotton, linen, embroidering, silk. I always try to add in something vintage or worldly. Truly, this is my favorite part of the design process. I’m in love with fabric.”
Along with blue and white, the California designer frequently works fine chinoiserie wallpaper into his designs— sometimes bringing in a framed panel, sometimes papering an entire room. Mark explains:
At a very young age I remember going with my mother to her friend’s house. Her large entryway was in hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper. I had never seen anything quite so beautiful. I would never forget it, and from that moment on, I started looking for it in books and magazine. I was studying at a very young age, but didn’t know it. As soon as I got the opportunity to decorate my own home, I used it, and now I use it for my clients. It’s the best way to create a color palette for a home.
In the Park Avenue apartment above, Mark layered shades of red in with blue and white. The result is a chic, stylish room that manages to sidestep the common pitfalls of red, white and blue.
“I’m inspired by the reds of Valentino, Diana Vreeland and Marella Agnelli,” says Mark. “I like to use robin’s egg with red. The combination feels elegant and sophisticated, ensuring you’ll stay clear of the kitschy ‘red, white and blue’ theme.”
“I love the juxtaposition of blue and white with modern elements,” says Mark. “The colors play nicely with the restraint and cleanliness of modern things. I think sprinkling blue and white throughout a house creates a flow and tells a story.”
In his own walled Hollywood garden (above, and hero shot) the designer’s favorite hues add glamour and refinement while blending beautifully with plantings.
“When I think of the colors of nature I think about the blue sky and the green trees. Blue and green is my favorite color combination,” says Mark. “Every garden deserves a blue and white garden stool or a blue and white urn. It somehow always works.”
“I’m always inspired by beauty and informed by function,” says Mark. “I think bedrooms and bathrooms have to be both. The beauty comes from the fabrics, colors and furnishings, and function is dictated by comfort, adjacencies and necessities.”
As in many of Mark’s interiors, the blend of fabrics and finishes lends this bedroom (above) a storied, well-traveled quality. As Mark explains, he often turns to the past when searching for design inspiration.
“Right now it’s Pauline de Rothschild’s Paris bedroom, Michael Taylor’s white spaces infused with wicker, the stripes of Charlottenhof, the chocolate brown spaces of Billy Baldwin, and the chintz’s of Sister Parish… Mind you, this is inspiring several different projects. I didn’t want you to think I’d mix them into one, but now that I think about it maybe I should.”
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