Suzani patterns embellish every surface of Marian McEvoy's living room

Photo credit: Bob Hiemstra

The front door opens to a welcoming blast of color, with every wall, chair, sofa, pillow, lampshade and curtain in sight enlivened by elements applied via glue gun. Marian isn't the first style-setter to rely on one of these handy tools, but the result here is as uniquely bright and bold as she is. That's due largely to her taste for embroidered suzani textiles, imported from Uzbekistan. She buys the fabric at flea markets and on eBay. Then, with manicure scissors, she carefully cuts out the flowers, leaves, and sunbursts in order to reapply them in her own manner. "To come into this sweet little house with grand-ballroom satin and silk would not have been appropriate," she says.

Suzani flowers highlight the throw pillows and cushions in the living room; red, yellow, and green suzani patterns embellish the curtains. The room also features a noteworthy collection of works on paper by such contemporary artists as Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, and Damien Hirst, along with antique furniture—mostly 19th-century European and American pieces, though not generally of the ultraprecious kind. "Really," Marian says, "you want furniture people can use."
Suzani patterns embellish Marian McEvoy's dining room

Photo credit: Bob Hiemstra

Marian assembles a group for lunch or dinner at least twice a week during the winter to feast at this charming dining table. Marian also attached rectangular mirrors directly above each window, and the play of light lends extra loftiness to the ceiling.
Seashell encrusted headboard and throw pillows from a Moroccan wedding tapestry

Photo credit: Bob Hiemstra

The top floor's master bedroom is accented with black and yellow and glue-gunned to the max, with a profusion of white shells covering the ebonized headboard and filling several old picture frames artfully arranged on the wall. Her trademark has long been seashells, which she used to collect on the beach. Now she buys Indian shells from wholesalers in Florida and California. She made the throw pillows from remnants of a Moroccan wedding tapestry.
French shell-framed mirror in Marian McEvoy's master bedroom

Photo credit: Bob Hiemstra

Besides the suzanis, Marian's raw materials include acorns, thistles, and even weeds. The trick, she advises, is to find leaves that are somewhat dry, but not too brittle, and to make a tight contact with the canvas when gluing. Marian learned the hard way to factor humidity into the process when, a few years ago, two large mirror frames began shedding their decorative shells. She now glues bits of thick, moisture-absorbing drawing paper to heavier items before attaching them to a surface.

This French shell-framed mirror in her master bedroom is one of the few things she did not make herself.


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