I’m so excited about this second installment of “MDS Interviews” i could pinch myself. who wouldn’t be thrilled to interview Jeffrey Bilhuber? The great American Decorator!

Even though i have just gotten to know Jeffrey over the last few months i feel like i’ve known him forever. i think the relationship started about 12 years ago when i was introduced to him via Architectural Digest and the home he decorated for Bob Pittman. I distinctly remember thinking this is “beautiful!” from that moment on i have been an ardent admirer and student of Jeffrey’s designs!

i could go on and on about jeffrey’s work and what it has meant to me- the color, the details, the bold mix, the eclectic arrangements, the refinement, the beauty! see the word “beautiful” keeps coming up! his books, the way home: reflections on American beauty, as well as, Jeffrey Bilhuber: Defining Luxury: the qualities of life at home, and lastly, Jeffrey bilhuber’s Design Basics: Expert Solutions for Designing the House of Your Dreams are thumbed through by me so often the pages are literally falling out!

before we spoke i was expecting to hear more about all these elements in his design that i love, however, what resonated most in our conversation was the driving force behind his work- his passion for his clients, their needs, their expectations, their homes! the idea of great value and longevity, the importance of clear communication and the business of creativity all seemed more important than color, print and pattern!

i have to say what i have loved most about getting to know Jeffrey is that i’ve learned something- how refreshing that someone so creatively talented is also so grounded, focused and passionate! and might i also add, he is passionate about what’s most important- his clients and their homes! the details that really matter!

something else i’ve learned is that the great American decorator might also be tempted to become a cult leader, however, first you might find him decorating a few airport terminals!

“mds interviews” Jeffrey Bilhuber- Enjoy!

All photographs from the book the way home and house beautiful by William Abranowicz.


MDS- How would you define your style?

JB- My style deeply reflects the needs of the people we work with. This is a very personal relationship. Whether traditional, classic or modern, it is my ability to create a project with great value and longevity that speaks volumes about my creativity. It is the hallmark of being a good business person in any business, not specific to interior design.

Jenny and Trey Laird’s Manhattan townhouse


MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?

JB- I lived in six different states before I was 15, no one spot longer than three years. My father was an engineer and we traveled around with Mobil Oil for whom he worked. Each place– whether it was Long Island, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania or Norway– provided an opportunity to create personality and security. Comfort followed ‘personality’ and ‘place’.

Growing up nomadically reinforced the enormous value and power that a sense of place can hold.

Carrie and Russell Wallack’s Connecticut cottage


MDS-  If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

JB-  I’m very proud to be a good communicator and a sound leader, so I’d be a journalist or an educator. I might be tempted to become a cult leader, but living in a jungle or a silo is not high on my bucket list.

Manhattan brownstone


MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?

JB- Clients bring their inspirations to me to move their ideas and their dreams forward. Historic inspiration is always influential but clients are the driving force. We can’t create a project without a client. Preferably one that is articulate, decisive, and trusting.



MDS- What is your favorite room in your home?

JB- My living room. I always find the most pleasure in designing them, the biggest opportunity to paint a picture of enlightenment, sophistication and education. The living room in my Locust Valley (New York) home is where I historically retreat. It’s brilliant, eye-popping green and packed with furniture. We lovingly refer to it as the “chair museum.”

Jeffrey’s Locust Valley retreat – House Beautiful


MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?

JB- Depends on which week you are talking about. This week it’s cigar boxes. I find them so alluring with their mingled fragrances of the balsa wood and tobacco, the embossing on the paper labels, the graphics– of pyramids, Pocahontas, palm trees.

Mid-19th century French cigar box- 1stdibs


MDS- Fill in the blank: “I could never own too many ________________.”

JB- Houses or rooms. I would be fine with 50 or 60 houses and gardens. Or more! If I could have 700 rooms, I’d be delirious. Especially if I could afford to keep them active, vital, and thriving. Bring them on!

Westchester, New York



MDS- If you could decorate anyone’s house – who would it be and why?

JB- In all my years I have never been in an attractive airport terminal, so that’s the logical answer. They are pitiful, dehumanizing, and demoralizing. I am not alone in this thought.

The bigger question is– where am I needed the most?

Pennsylvania farmhouse


MDS- What do you want to be known for?

JB- Value. The value we bring to the process, of helping our clients make enlightened decisions.

Bungalow in East Hampton




MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?

JB- Very little. In fact, nothing to do with the tangible. Someone with a point of view is rather chic. Someone focused, articulate, with personality, integrity, and honesty is enormously stylish. Oh, and glamor? To be true to oneself is powerfully glamorous.

All photographs, otherwise noted, provided by Rizzoli from Jeffrey Bilhuber’s book- The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty.



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