The Art of It All

Some say that art is the soul of decorating, and designer Sandra Morgan has a gallery’s worth in her arsenal. With decades of experience and close connections with many artists, Sandra recently moved uptown and opened a new studio above Simon Pearce and Greenwich Land Trust that also houses a gallery called Art Privé.

“I think it’s very important and enriching to have original art as part of the setting for your life. It gives life and energy to a room in a way that furniture, rugs and lamps alone can’t,” says Sandra, who features established and emerging artists with most works priced under $10,000. Her space also houses the firm’s offices and a design workshop filled with beautiful fabrics and wallcovering samples. “There’s always a surprise whenever a new painting comes in that can inspire a color palette for a room or even a whole house.”

Working closely with Sandra is senior designer Laird Morgan Tolan, her daughter who has a background in fashion. The mother-and-daughter team collaborate on projects and also work with clients individually. Recent projects include a classic colonial in Larchmont for a young family, a new Greenwich waterfront home for empty nesters, a refresh of a Manhattan townhouse, and a historic home and guest house on Nantucket.

Sandra also opened an office in 2018 in Vero Beach, Florida, where she’s helped some of her Greenwich-area clients with their winter homes while also meeting new clients from other parts of the country. “It’s very relaxed down there in the way that we decorate homes. The color palette is more reflective of nature and the flora and fauna, lots of blues and greens.” 135 East Putnam Avenue, second floor, 203-629-8121;

Decor Ideas

When we asked Sandra to share a few decorating tips, she explained that lighting, color, scale and integration are elements that top her list for a beautiful, comfortable room

Start with the right balance of recessed lights, wall sconces, and tabletop lamps to create options for the mood you want, depending on time of day or night. Remember to highlight artwork with adequate lighting to make the most of your investment. Sleek, minimal picture lights and wall washers do the trick. Circa Lighting is one of our favorite sources for a range of styles and pricing.

Color is the biggest game changer. Paint and wallpaper are transformative. Designs by Thibaut are a “go-to” for us for style and value, especially their printed sisals. Decide which colors make you happy, inspire you or soothe you. Installing a striking painting can trigger the color palette of an entire house and will give character to a room. We are happy to give in-home art consultations.

Scale is tricky for most, when decorating a large room with high ceilings or a small one with no focal point. Sectionals are the answer for generous, casual seating and are enjoying a comeback. The positive effect of an oversized painting or mirror in a small room will surprise you.

Whatever your style, try to weave in something antique to give a timeless quality to a modern room. Check out 1stdibs or Sotheby’s Home for special finds. Put a personal stamp on your home by blending modern and traditional for a “motra” look.

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