Masters of layering colors and patterns, the duo behind Tilton Fenwick, Suysel dePedro Cunningham and Anne Maxwell Foster, are geniuses at making traditional style look cool and current. Here, the pair shares five decorating tricks to give your home fresh, timeless style.

By Betsy Cribb
April 21, 2017
Photo: Molly Culver
Photo: Molly Culver

“For us, good design is about creating livable spaces that stand the test of time,” says Suysel dePedro Cunningham, who, with Anne Maxwell Foster, forms New York-based boutique design firm Tilton Fenwick. “We love color and pattern, but we want to root our work in something that’s traditional, rather than something that’s super of-the-moment or trendy.” Here, the decorating dynamos spill their secrets for crafting a beach house that feels personal, current, and always classic.

1. It’s all about the mix.

Photo: Trevor Tondro

"You don't want to walk into a room that's only antiques or custom pieces or catalog furniture," says Cunningham. "We literally have spreadsheets for each of our projects to make sure that there’s a mix of those in every room. A mix is what makes a house feel really timeless."

2. Go with your gut.

Photo: Trevor Tondro

"We always tell our clients that it’s important to choose things that they love,” says Foster. “If you gravitate towards a certain fabric or wallpaper or piece of furniture, let that be your inspiration. It'll make your space so much more personal and interesting."

3. Prints rooted in history have more staying power.

Photo: Trevor Tondro

“Be wary of patterns that are too trendy or something that’s going to be oh-so-2017,” says Foster. “Instead, go with classics that are rooted in history. A traditional pattern in a fresh, bold color way will feel current, but because it’s got those classic roots, it won’t ever go out of style.”

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4. Don’t skimp on bedding.

Photo: Molly Culver

“Bedding is one of those things that people often want to put on the backburner during the design process, especially when the budget gets tight,” notes Cunningham. “But it’s worth ponying up for high quality linens, and our clients always thank us in the end!” Tilton Fenwick’s bedding rec? New Orleans-based Leontine Linens. “You don’t have to iron their bedding. You just wash it, put it on the bed, and it looks amazing!”

5. Say yes to power walls!

Photo: Max Kim-Bee

"'Power walls' could be our hashtag," says Foster with a laugh. "In a house on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, we used pecky cypress throughout the house, even in the kitchen. We loved using it because the wood came from the area (the builder introduced us to it!), and it added really beautiful, natural texture to the walls, which is so nice in a beach house."