THE DOSSIER: NAMES: Jeffrey Alan Marks and Ross Cassidy. TRADE: Interior designers and stars of Bravo's Million Dollar Decorators. VIBE: European traditional meets modern meets Hamptons. ABODE: A three-story beach house, Santa Monica, CA.
THE CHALLENGE: When we visit the sprawling home of designer couple Jeffrey Alan Marks and Ross Cassidy of , we're there to play analyst, using the Million Dollar Decorators stars as a case study for merging two distinct aesthetics into one cohesive look. We head straight for the bedroom after Marks briefs us on the space's importance: "It's an emotional thing, it's a refuge," he says. We zero-in on the couple's night tables as a decoder for their dueling styles.
THE PRE-GAME SHOW: We quickly get the lay of the land: Marks' happy place is European traditional with a heavy dose of British eclecticism (he studied at London's Inchbald School of Design). It manifests itself in the room's upholstered walls, skinned in a muted cotton block print by Les Indiennes, and the window seat's army of pillows. South African native Cassidy leans toward unfussy modernity punctuated with bold statements--the oversized train station clock face on the wall, for example, which has been wired as a giant nightlight for a Moulin Rouge effect. But its their side tables that really drive the dueling instinct-- and their surprising compatability--home.
TEAM MARKS: "Jeffrey likes to stack books for color, not content," Ross Cassidy tells us of his fiancé. Clocking Marks' indignation, Cassidy teases: "Okay, you just happen to be reading four perfectly sea foam green and celadon books." A lacquered black French antique number picked up at auction in London stands elegantly on Marks' side, flanked by a green velvet chair from and a custom suede ottoman pulled flush to the bed. "All of the furniture on Jeffrey's side is curvy and soft and pretty," observes Cassidy, adding that the same does not apply to his future husband's prized crystal accents. "I often get into bed and get poked with a giant quartz that found its way under my pillow," he reveals.
TEAM CASSIDY: Cassidy's complementary table is a custom driftwood pedestal finished with a white gold leafed plank top: "It reminded me of the bush," he says of its organic base. His stack of art and fashion tomes is crowned with a vintage Belgian vase filled with magnolia blossoms, while a custom horse hair-upholstered chair is positioned nearby: "My side is a little more angry, a little rustic, and harder to the touch," he says.
TEAM SPIRIT: So what unites these two disparate styles? The two meet in the middle on several fronts: they both adore single varietal floral arrangements ("We steal them from our neighbor," they confess. "We call them recession flowers.") Theatrical call-outs are a popular favorite too, see: the aforementioned clock and the vintage Abercrombie & Fitch rowboat mounted on the ceiling, sourced from . "Our level of less is probably other people's level of more," Cassidy concedes. "We think it's pretty understated, most people think it's over the top." The important thing, they emphasize, and the idea that inspired Marks' new book, (due out this September), is to "live with what you love." And who knows, you might just end up unexpectedly loving what your significant other loves too: "I think these are your socks--I like them," Marks tells Cassidy out of the blue, having suddenly realized that the hot pink pair peeking out from his pant-legs is not his own. "See? We do steal each other's ideas," Cassidy laughs.
TEAM MOTTO: "You can't be too much of one thing," says Marks. "I think that's the lesson."
||Pillow Fabric, White Linen
|Black Nightstand, French Antique
||Striped Rug, Custom
||Pillow Fabric, Stripe
|Green Velvet Chair
||Pillow Fabric, Lilac Linen
||Suede Ottoman, Driftwood Pedestal, Horsehair Upholstered Chair, Ivory Pedestal, All Custom Designed
Photographs: Andrew Arthur