Designer writes the book on making library space her own
Most of us can only recall the store or website where our furniture was purchased. Interior designer Fern Santini can reference the era, the designer and most likely the background behind each of her décor choices. Any room in her 3,500 square foot Pemberton Heights home is spotlight worthy, but when pressed for the place that defines her most, her library was the front-runner.
“I love this room because it’s filled with all of my books,” said Santini. “It’s inspiring being surrounded by the things I love.”
Santini can be found nearly every night pour- ing over myriad design books and magazines in her library while sipping her seventh cup of coffee of the day. Visitors first notice signature pieces such as a five-legged desk on casters, six iron chairs covered with a soft green cotton velvet, a whimsical Buddha sculpture sitting atop an antique blanket chest upholstery and a
Continued from D retro light fixture hanging from the ceiling. But the skilled Santini, whose resumé most recently includes the interiors of the brand-new Four Seasons Residences, can expertly rattle off all the details behind the décor situated within the 15-foot-by-10.5-foot space.
The desk is actually a Biedermeier game table from the 1830s, the six gilded iron chairs are by Jean Moreau, circa 1940, a reflection of Santini’s love of ’30s and ’40s French antiques, the sculpture is by late, locally famed artist Tre Arenz, and the 1950s Sputnik light fixture was decorated with red Christmas tree light bulbs before Santini gave it a makeover.
“The story behind each piece doesn’t make the value of a room, but it does add interest.”
The library space was originally intended to be a small bedroom, but Santini had her sights set on making this room into her personal library ever since purchasing her home with her husband in 2000. “I had to have someplace to put all those books!”
She added built-in matching bookcases on the exterior wall and replaced the single entryway with double doors facing the living room. “The doors are always open. I love viewing the library and living room together.”
Looking around her library, it’s easy to see why Santini uses words such as “accumulated” and “dramatic” to describe her personal style.
The mix of modern and retro lighting, period pieces like the duo of formal, hand-screened linen chairs and a figurative painting, a gift from a client, speaks clearly to her eclectic aesthetic. “I collect things from the oddest places. I don’t ever want it to look too predictable or too matchy.”
The standout characteristic of the library is the sense of drama within the space, executed expertly by the choice of lighting, which is as low-lit in the bright of day as it is in the dark of night, and the walls and ceilings painted in a deep green that is enhanced with semi-gloss enamel. “I love a dark room with low light and atmosphere. It’s a good way to create glamour in a small space.” Fern Santini’s library reflects her eccentric design tastes, reveling in a sense of drama with a mix of old and new.
Santini’s trick of the trade when it comes to creating a dramatic room lies within the ceiling-to-floor drapery on the street-side window. Her tip is to take the drape as high as it can go. “It’s amazing what 2 to 3 extra feet can do for a room.”
Known for working with a client from the ground up, sometimes dedicating three years to a single project, Santini relishes the freedom to let her personal space evolve as new musthave pieces with stories to tell come her way. “I have re-decorated this room three times over. It’s my little laboratory.”
Designer Fern Santini spends each evening in her library, which she has carefully created with her tastes in mind. It is here that she pores over design books and magazines.