When you look at C.S. Valentin‘s resumé you’re not sure if his greatest achievements are in design or fashion. He has worked in both industries, taking on leadership roles in important institutions – he ran the North American Visual Department for the fashion house Miu Miu, and he has been the creative mind behind the rebranding of the Hotel Esencia, in Mexican Mayan Riviera. He’s one of those intensely creative people who can operate in all disciplines, making it look effortless.

Today, we’re looking at one of his few residential projects – a New English colonial house in Long Island – for that exact reason. The beauty of this space lies in that it has visual harmony without looking too “designed”. This room breakdown is all about how to create achieve that effortlessly stylish look:

  1. Work with subtler contrasts: there’s nothing more quintessentially stylish than black and white. But the key to pulling off such a stark contrast is to avoid going with pure blacks and pure whites. Playing with off-whites such as cream and ivory, and pairing them with charcoals and navys creates depth and subtlety to the space. Find materials that have black-adjacent tones instead of a black lacquered piece.
  2. Respect or invest in good millwork: The biggest myth about interior design is that with an incredible savviness for combining decor you’ll end up with a very well-designed space. The reality is that the success of a room depends just as heavily on the canvas (the floors, the windows, ceiling height, floor material). Millwork such as baseboards, moldings, window trim can make a huge difference in transforming a space, bringing in elegance and grace. It’s important to invest in good trim, well-made baseboards and think about how it can accent the architecture of a room – which can also mean restoring what is already there if you’re lucky to have a historic home.
  3. Mix vintage with quality contemporary pieces: we’re all about searching estate sales, flea markets and online resellers of vintage goods, investing in pieces with history and timeless design, however, it’s important to also bring in high-quality functional pieces. Sure, a Børge Mogensen Shell Chair will instantly bring a much-desired dose of Scandinavian Modern, but the Restoration Hardware sofa adds liveability and comfort. A room that is purely vintage may look good but it might not work for a more contemporary lifestyle.

Click through to our slideshow to get the look!