Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration

Mario Buatta, I’ll marry you!  And you only have to ask once!

You’ll have to watch the first of the two videos at the end of this post for that statement to make sense. :) For years I have had a big, big crush on Mario Buatta. Unfortunately, it’s a case of unrequited love…he has no idea. ~~~SIGH~~~  Not only is Mario Buatta amazingly talented and one of my all time favorite designers, he’s very much the dapper dresser and has a terrific sense of humor.  My kind of man!

A Dapper Mario Buatta

 

I read a great article recently in The Wall Street Journal  by Ralph Gardner, JR called Beyond the Chintz.   Mr. Gardner met Mr. Buatta when they were seated next to each other at a charity event.

Mario Buatta Interview

 

He mentions when he first met Mr. Buatta, he was a bit intimidated since he is such a well known designer, having decorated the homes of Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Barbara Walters, Blair House…the list goes on.  It’s funny how we sometimes prejudge folks before we ever meet them, based on their work or notoriety. In the interview Mr. Gardner said:

“I suppose I was expecting a figure of high stuffiness, a snob of such refined taste and exquisite social antennae that he’d cut me off at the knees as soon as he realized I didn’t have the pedigree, or certainly the budget, to make conversation interesting.

Mr. Buatta quickly disabused me of that notion, and anybody else at the table who might not have known him previously—though I expect everybody else did, the decorator seeming to know people everywhere he goes, from all strata of society and introducing himself when he doesn’t—by producing from his pocket a pair of chattering teeth.  

My recollection is that he might also have donned a wig: not an expensive hairpiece but a piece of matted fur pulled from another pocket and plopped unceremoniously on his head.”

HA!  Is that not hilarious?  Can you imagine this elegant charity event, everyone in beautiful evening attire, dressed to the nines and Mario Buatta pulls out a set of chattering teeth?  LOVE it!

Dapper Mari Buatta

 

I’ve been pining away for years now, wishing Mario Buatta would write a book.  I may have mentioned it once or a hundred times here on zay blog.  I am pining away no more!  At last, Mario Buatta has written a book!  YES!

Mario Buatta

 

The book is set for release in mid-October.  It can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.  I am soooo excited, at last a book filled with rooms designed by one of my very favorite designers, not to mention someone I greatly admire!

Mario Buatta, Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration

 

Here’s the book description from Amazon:

“The eagerly anticipated first monograph to celebrate the fifty-years-and-counting career of decorating legend Mario Buatta. Influenced by the understated elegance of Colefax and Fowler and the doyenne of exuberant American decor, Sister Parish, Buatta reinvented the English Country House style stateside for clients such as Henry Ford II, Barbara Walters, Malcolm Forbes, and Mariah Carey, and for Blair House, the President’s guest quarters.

The designer is acclaimed for his sumptuous rooms that layer fine antiques, confectionary curtains, and sublime colorations, creating an atmosphere of lived-in opulence. This lavishly illustrated survey—filled with images taken for the foremost shelter magazines as well as many unpublished photographs from the designer’s own archive—closely follows Buatta’s highly documented career from his professional start in the 1950s working for department store B. Altman & Co. and Elisabeth Draper, Inc. to his most recent projects, which include some of the country’s finest residences. Buatta shares exclusive insights into his process, his own rules for decorating, and personal stories of his adventures along the way.”

I love that description “sumptuous rooms…layer fine antiques…confectionary curtains.”  Doesn’t that sound delicious?!  I can’t wait to read the insights and his “rules for decorating.”  I’m in awe of his style and his talent and can’t wait to hear how he approaches designing a room!

Just to wet your decorating whistle, I’m sharing a few of my fave Mario Buatta designed spaces.  The photos below with AD in the corner were found online at Architectural Digest.

Though Mario Buatta has long been known as the “Prince of Chintz,” chintz has always been one small part of the his decorating scheme.  He still loves it (so do I) but he uses many types of fabrics.  His style is classic and timeless which is one of the reasons I love it so much.  The room below was one of his earlier rooms when chintz was still very popular in design.  Personally, I would love this room today!

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

 

Another beautiful bedroom designed by Mario Buatta…love the chandelier and those draperies!

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

I wonder if this room was for a male client?  It’s over-the-top gorgeous but I could easily see this being a bedroom for a gentleman with its elegant and somewhat masculine design.

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

I love this!  Look at all the kitty pillows!  I wonder if the owner has 7 cats.

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

I would so love a bed like this one day.  You would have to have some seriously high ceilings, but isn’t it wonderful?!  The bed is an antique and the chintz is by Colefax and Fowler.  They produced the most beautiful chintz patterns!  Beautiful room!  It’s timeless, absolutely timeless!

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

 

Awww, I just realized this picture includes a cute doggie and kitty.

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

A blue and white bedroom Mario created for the 1984 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

Blue and White Bedroom by Mario Buatta

If you like a more subdued look, Mario can do that, too.  This bedroom is in a Manhattan penthouse.  Note the hand-painted green/white wood floor.  Love the striped silk draperies!

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

One of my most favorite things about the way Mario Buatta decorates/designs is the expert way he mixes and layers patterns.  He talks a bit about that in the video at the end of this post.  Whenever I listen to or read an interview with Mario Buatta, I often find myself throughout the interview saying, “YES, YES.”  He totally speaks my language.  He says exactly the things I feel and think about design and decorating.  It just blows me away.  This pic below cracks me up.  Do you see the phone? :)

Mario_Buatta_and_fabrics

 

In the video below when he talks about how he decorates and mixes fabrics in a room, he says he decorates the way a painter paints a canvas, a dab at a time.  He goes on to point out, a painter doesn’t finish a painting all in one day.

I so GET that!  It’s exactly the way I have discovered over the years that I tend to decorate.  I start with something I love, it could be a chair, a beautiful bed or a fabric.  I go ahead and use that in the room the way I envision, then I build from there.  Often I have no idea how a room is going to turn out because it just evolves.  My rooms tend to pretty much decorate themselves.

When I begin I only have a few pieces of the puzzle in my head and in my heart.  I build a room one piece at the time.  Of course, you already know that from watching me put together my home office over the course of a year.  Normally I will not add a chair or a lamp or a piece to a room unless I absolutely LOVE it.  I can’t like it, I have to LOVE it.  That’s why my rooms tend to stay the same for a very long time.  When I decorate a space, in the end I do love it and since I decorate in a fairly classic style, it suits me well for a very long time.  Good thing since my pocketbook can’t afford to redecorate every time the design winds blow in a different direction.

The tulip fabric used in this bedroom is by Scalamandré.  It’s hard to see in this pic but the walls are striéd in a warm shade of apricot.

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

Look at that beautiful Venetian glass mirror.  They are as beautiful in a bedroom as they are in a dining room.  They even look great in baths.  I love the shape of this one!  I have a rectangle Venetian glass mirror in my dining room here: Red Dining Room.

Don’t you just want to curl up on that chaise, pull the soft blanket up and take a nap or read a good book?

Mario Buatta Beautiful Bedrooms

 

It would be impossible to feel sad in a room designed by Mario Buatta.  This room feels like sunshine!  Even a rainy day couldn’t make this room feel gloomy.

Beautiful Yellow Room Decorated by Mario Buatta

 

Another beautiful room designed by Mario Buatta…cozy, masculine, yet with a feminine touch, too.

Mario Buatta Design

 

Love those green walls.  Notice how the room doesn’t look “decorated.” It just looks as if it evolved, like the owners collected pieces gradually over time.  It’s cozy and though elegant, it’s a room you feel you could really live in and enjoy.

Mario Buatta Room with Green Walls

 

The video is very short, not quite 6 minutes.  I love Mario’s sense of humor.  It can be subtle sometimes so you have to pay attention and listen for it.  He’s the master at keeping a straight face while he’s pulling your leg. :)

 

Here’s another fun interview with Mario back in March 2011 and it’s a great one! Thanks to Cecilia for reminding me of this one. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it.  He talks about some of the famous designers he worked for in those early years and the room that inspired him beyond all rooms.  It’s a room that was designed by Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler and it is stunning!  You’ll see it in the interview.

 

To see more of Mario’s beautiful designs, check out my Pinterest Board here: Mario Buatta or click on the picture below.

Mario Buatta Pinterest Board




Comments

  1. Sandi Lee says:

    He’s one of my favorites too. He had an exhibit in blue and white at the Merchandise Mart one year and I just fell in love with him as soon as I saw it. He is classic and timeless!

  2. Stripes are a palate cleanser. A room evolves. I would like to follow him around and collect all his little pearls of wisdom.

    • Me, too! When I watched the video, I was just thinking how much fun he would be to work with/for. Just imagine all you would learn! He has so much innate talent though, a great eye. Not sure that can be taught.

  3. He certainly has wit and spirit! I didn’t like Susanna, however. But that’s just me. On the other hand, in the photos you included, the bedrooms looked so much alike – only the fabrics changed. The concept of a miniature sofa or settee at the foot of the bed, distressed me because of its odd proportions. The symmetry is wrong. Again, JMHO. I loved the fabrics! I want someday to have access to the D & D Building! Thanks for a great post, Susan!

    • Barbara, that’s partly my fault…pulling pictures of the bedrooms I love, which are all really similar. :) I should look for some of his bedrooms that show a different look. The settee does look a little lost, doesn’t it. Maybe it’s a “step” for the family dog or cat. I have a friend who always has to have a bench at the foot of her bed so her dog can get up and down at night. I’m not a big fan of furniture at the foot of a bed because I love seeing the whole bed including the end.

  4. I have the exact pharmacy lamp as in the top photo!

  5. I love Mario Buatta! However, I could not see/find the link to the video on your blog.

  6. Love, love him as well!! He is so talented, charming and see’s design as it should be viewed. Thank you for letting us know about his upcoming book. I can’t wait to see it.

  7. How awesome! Every picture says “lavish, luxurious and pampered.”

    I hate my bedroom. I only sleep there and don’t go back to my bedroom until it’s time to go to sleep.

    • Trish, I read an interview online where Mario said that the bedroom was the “heart of the home” and not the kitchen because we spend so many hours there each night. I need to find that interview for you because it will light a fire under you and get you going on turning your bedroom into a haven. :)

  8. Patty/BC says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to win the lottery and call up Mr. Buatta?! Dream on : )

    • YES! He is the one designer I know of that I could turn my home over to and leave. I’m sure I’d love whatever he did…not sure I could say that about too many designers. The wonderful thing is, we can use his rooms for inspiration and create our own mini/frugal versions. It’s possible, just requires a lot of patience, time and leg work.

    • DITTO! ☺ -Brenda-

  9. He uses stripes when he’s at rykers island!! Haha ! He’s quick!

  10. Peggy Thal says:

    Big Mario Buatta fan here too from many years ago. I love over the top designers with a bit of humor. Ordered the book right away. It looks like one to gush over. Thanks for letting everyone know about his new book. It is a long wait until October ! He is one designer I would like to go on a hunt and shop for pieces he would use in his design. Just looking at the room one can tell is was designed by Mario Buatta . He is a one of a kind decorator. Thanks again Susan.

    • Peggy, you are so right. His rooms really do have a signature look. I hope there’s a Mario Buatta-in-training somewhere to step into his big shoes one day when he retires.

  11. Susan, I love chintz too. I absolutely love theses rooms. You have such a beautifully decorated home, and I can see the in it the influence of Mario Buatta. Hope your little furbaby is doing well.

    • Aww, thanks Debby! I think my bedroom was somewhat influenced by his bedrooms, although it doesn’t begin to compare. I need some of the luscious draperies to complete it.

  12. Margo Kuhn says:

    Susan, I so enjoyed this blog. I love, love, love every room Mario did.

  13. Bingo! What a wonderful video. I’m unfamiliar with him but oh, do I love his decorating style! And yes, I can see his influence in your home….and I mean that as a compliment! I must ask….why hasn’t HGTV or DIY gotten him for a series? (Or perhaps they have and I’ve missed it??) Like a comment earlier, I did not care for the female host, never saw her before, but she appeared to be ‘trying too hard’!!! He is so gracious and unintimidating and she is rather pushy. I subscribe to many blogs, mostly by younger women, and while I can appreciate all the whitewashed, stenciled items, it breaks my heart to see a wonderful antique mantle or desser being painted. Leave the beautiful wood pieces alone, let them stand and be proud! Thanks for sharing this great post.

    • He is too high class for TV! and I didn’t like that host either. I felt she kept interrupting him.

      He said he was a dot kinda guy lol!

  14. Mary from Virginia says:

    He is wonderful! Love his rich looking rooms. Any fabric from Scalamandré is going to make the room!

    Thanks for the information about his book.

  15. Cecilia says:

    Hello Susan,
    someone should tell Mario that the “Queen of Tablescapes” wants to meet (and to marry) the “Prince of Chintz”! :-) I could contact him, shall I? But you must promise me that you’ll invite me to your “royal” wedding! :-)
    Seriously, I can see why you love Mario! I love him, too! And not only because he is a genius, but because he is Italian, too! ;-)
    I love every room he creates and decorates! I couldn’t say which I love most!
    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how he designed and decorated his own home? I so wish we could see it!
    Susan, I found another interesting interview with Mario on:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFtXGQpxZQg
    Here he talks about his work and his parents, especially his mother. He even carries a picture of her with him as a little boy, in his wallet. Isn’t that sweet of him? I think this makes him even more adorable!
    ~Hugs to you~
    Cecilia

    • Cecilia, I love that interview, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched it. I love that to how he carries the picture, too. Did you notice how he pretended for a few seconds like he didn’t speak English well in the interview. He cracks me up!

  16. Oh I love the doggy and kitty room! Is it theirs or are they willing to share?

  17. Maureen says:

    Susan, you’re a woman after my heart! I totally agree with you on Mario! He’s my decorator idol…his rooms are classic and inviting. Every word you wrote I can relate to and I was saying Yes Yes Yes! I suspect his style of decorating will one day surface again. There is only so much simplicity I can take. I see these rooms you have shown and I swoon over them. I can’t wait to get this book! It’s going to be a decorating classic!

  18. Franki says:

    *sigh* franki

  19. Thanks for showing these pics in such a timely way! Yesterday I painted a wall in my living room with a medium yellow and wondered what I had done! I wanted to warm up the room. Now I will move on and see what else I can do to tie it in with my other deco’s..I am considering doing a mural type affect in an corner and also a glaze finish on the rest..(I do decorate in stages also)..since we have the honey bees I think I am inspired to bring their sweetness and warmth in around us.

  20. Hey Susan,

    I’ll fight you for him! :-)

    Susan

  21. Thank you so much for the heads up about Mr Buatta’s book. I have dreaming of such for years. I was fortunate enough to meet him in 2006 when I attended a seminar at Winterther Museum in Delaware, where he was the featured speaker (and the main reason I went). He did not disappoint! He is a very strong personality in addition to decorating the rooms of my dreams. I am a huge Nancy Lancaster fan, too. I must close now so that I can order the book pronto on Amazon. Thanks again – this is one post I will keep referring to for a very long time!
    P.S. How is Max doing?

  22. Pam ~ Crumpety Cottage says:

    Hi Susan, thanks for sharing this. I had never heard of Mr. Buatta before reading your blog. And yes, he certainly designs beautiful rooms. You know me, the English Country look is right up my alley, lol. And I love how the cover of his book is BLUE & WHITE. Haha, so perfect for you.

    I’ll have to watch the videos later. Looking forward to that. Thanks. :)

  23. Oh my what a charming man! I see what you mean… and those bedrooms! (dream on Beth :D)! What a lovely post and thanks so much with sharing this heart throb! :D Hmm, perhaps there is some new decorating ideas coming my way…
    Hugs,
    Beth P

  24. Pam ~ Crumpety Cottage says:

    Susan, thanks for introducing me to this delightful man. :) I just watched the videos and he is so charming and unaffected. I agree about his sense of humor. “I’m very dotty.” Haha. And, when asked when he uses stripes, “At Riker’s Island.” Hee … And then the way he said to the interviewer, “You look like a child of despair.” What a nut! So fun. I love it when successful people stay grounded. What a gem he is. And what a legacy of beautiful living spaces he leaves.

  25. Pam ~ Crumpety Cottage says:

    I just thought of something! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he designed a line of dishes? How beautiful they would be.

  26. O!M!G! I have loved Mario Buatta ever since I discovered this amazing comforter more than 30 years ago. I HAD to have it & then slowly added the drapes, pillows, etc. over the years. There were weeks I lived on Spaghetti O’s because these pieces were definitely out of my budget but not out of my heart. Sadly, I got rid of the entire collection a few years ago & have kicked myself ever since. I am SOOO excited about his book & will be off to order it ASAP. I’ve followed him over the years & have learned so much from him, most importantly, how my favorite rooms are layered & evolve over time. Thank you!!!

    I am so sorry to hear the latest about Max. Sending you (((HUGS))).

    • Alicia, wish I had known about him back then. I just discovered him about 5 years ago when a sweet person named Connie posted about him in a comment at the Rate My Space site. Thanks…afraid Max isn’t doing too well right now.

      • I’ve been an admirer of the “prince of chintz” since the early 80’s. Both he and Laura Ashley inspired me and helped develop my tastes as I started out a newlywed decorating our first home. So glad to see he’s well and still active!

  27. Pam ~ Crumpety Cottage says:

    Awww, Susan, sorry to hear about little Mr. Max. :( *hugs*

  28. Elaine in Laguna says:

    Susan,
    I swoon! I love, love, loved this post! I love Mario, his style, the fabrics and appreciate the heads up about the upcoming book! Thank you for the videos embedded in your post! What a great sense of humor he has! Thanks again and I’m thinking of you and Max.

    • Elaine, so glad you liked this post. I love his sense of humor, too. He really seems to have his values in the right place, too…values family. I love that.

  29. OMG! I love every picture – just divine! This is how I love to decorate – or try an approximate on my budget!

    • Elle, me too. I think we can all have a little Mario Buatta in our home. The rooms may not be quite as elaborate but with a bit of fringe here or some extra layers of fabric there, we can make our rooms feel just as sumptuous. :)

  30. Carol T a.k.a. 1HotGran says:

    Hi Susan, I almost didn’t read through this post, simply because I had no idea who Mario Buatta was then I gave it a second thought which was… Susan always has such great posts and fabulous taste, I am going to check this out to see what is so great about this guy…. Now – I would marry him too!!! Of course I have seen his work, just never took the time to investigate any further because I could never afford a decorator; the second video is where I fell in love, in the beginning of the video it felt like he was cracking up inside his head because the interviewer either didn’t get his ‘Italia’ joke or just didn’t know how to respond and the look on Mario’s face was priceless. I vow never to doubt another post of yours, I will faithfully read every single one even if I think I may not be all that interested because I think you know better then I do….LOL! Am looking forward to getting a hold of his book too!! Keep being you, you are beautiful, hugs and kisses to Max, he is as always in my prayers, as are you.

    • Thanks Carol! You are too cute! I’ll promise I’ll try to never steer you wrong. :) Isn’t he wonderful! One of a kind! Did you notice the cuff links and the wallet kept inside the breast pocket. ~~~sigh~~~ Are there still men like that in this world and if so, where? :)
      I don’t think folks who interview him realize what a character he is and his jokes go right over their heads. I thought that was so funny, too…about naming the school Italia instead of Atelier. :) The interviewer didn’t seem to get the joke at all. Thanks, Carol! XO

  31. Susan, what a lovely post about Mr. Buatta. I confess to skimming through it though because of concerns about Max when that picture link to the update post in your scrolling header came up not working. Every time I give my Fluffie a snuggle (because he looks so much like your Max) I say a prayer for you and Max in this battle. Praying extra hard right now for you both as he goes through this rough time.

    Hugs

  32. Susan, I really enjoyed watching the video’s. Mr. B really is a hoot and I love his style. I have always been a chintz gal. His style reminds me a little of Betsy Speert. Are you familiar with her work? She is so funny on her blog. If you have not read her stuff I think you would enjoy her. Take care and I am praying for you and Mr. Max.
    Vikki in VA.

  33. Susan, I went looking for this quote by Mario Buatta–“….every night I go to bed and pray that when I wake everyone with money will have taste and everyone with taste will have money.” I found it on the blog by “Miss Fibberertigibbet” here……http://www.missflibbertigibbet.com/2012/03/looking-up.html ….she says it is her favorite quote also–
    I have followed Mr. Buatta’s design and rooms for decades also and he had my heart when I first heard that quote. I have always, and still do, love chintz and toiles–I am a very traditional kinds’ gal too. For the first time in my 60 plus years, I have done my home with lots and lots of yellows and to me, it is “my color” and I never really knew it until a few years ago–Almost any color can be used with it–just by tweaking the hue of the colors! Thanks for sharing–I have the book on hold too–I will need to put the book in an enclosed glass case so the “drool” won’t ruin it!! I am praying for you and precious Max–My Skedaddle is not well either–kidney failure and he, too is my precious, precious boy. Take care and keep up the beautiful things you share with us.

    • Diana, I love that quote! Totally sounds like something he would say and it’s perfect! :) I love yellow, too…keep painting the rooms in my home with that old Duron color, Sugar Cookie which is a soft buttery yellow.
      lol I will need one of those enclosed glass cases, too! :)
      So sorry about your sweet Skedaddle. It’s the hardest thing to see and feel so helpless to help them. Prayers for your furbaby! XO

  34. Susan, I was so thrilled when I saw this post all about my favorite designer. My daughter works for Books a Million in Birmingham so you can bet I’ll be asking her to get me a copy of his new book as soon as it shows up. I have missed chintz and recently I found a Waverly pattern Tulips en Fleur which has that pretty glazed and polished look. Naturally I bought it and it’s now in the guest bedroom of daughter in B’ham. She loves it.

    Today (Saturday) you may want to check out http://www.onekingslane.com They have items with a bee motif that made me think of you. So cute.

    • Connie, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was making a come back. I would love to see that! The Waverly pattern sounds beautiful! I’ll check out the bee items…thanks for the heads up. :)

  35. Susan, I finally found the time to read this entire post and watch the videos. So glad I did! He really gives you the confidence to stick with what you love, even when it’s not popular. I love the pillows on the sofa (2nd video). I can see in your home design that he inspires you. To me, a home is built with special things that bring out emotion due to memories, relationships, things we love, etc. Why go with “the newest thing” when it’s not who we are? Thank you for this awesome post and videos. It all is amazing and special!

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