Timothy Corrigan—Old World Comfort Designed for Today

With a roster that includes celebrities and royalty, and frequent features in publications like Architectural Digest, Elle Décor and Town & Country (the list goes on and on), designer Timothy Corrigan has no shortage of decorating wisdom to share. Between homes and offices in Los Angeles and France, new product lines with Schumacher, Limoges and Patterson, Flynn & Martyn—and a forthcoming bath collection for THG Paris—on top of all his interior projects, you might think he hasn’t a moment to spare. But true to his friendly and effervescent nature, Tim sat down with Snyder Diamond to share his thoughts on style, the inspiration behind his work, and what you can do to make your kitchen or bath extra special.  

How would you describe your aesthetic? A magazine once described my esthetic as “European elegance infused with California casual” and I really think that it is a good summation of what I try to achieve. I’ve spent much of my life in Europe and really appreciate so much of what it has to offer in terms of style and history. And whilst I love so much of the European design esthetic, there is something very special about the ease of life in America---so, if you can have a blend of the two, you have the best of both worlds! 

How did you get started in the business? While working at a large advertising agency, I was able to develop strong business skills within a very creative environment. By the time I was 27 had become the youngest senior vice president in the history of big Madison Avenue ad agencies. At the age of 30, I moved to Paris to run the international operations of our European network.

In Paris, I found a wonderful large 19th century apartment that needed a lot of furniture. I started exploring Paris’s famed flea markets and Drouot auction house. When it was completed, a friend asked if I would consider having the apartment published in House & Garden magazine.

Friends and advertising clients started asking me if I would help them with their residences and before I knew it, I was doing that. After seven years in Paris I was promoted to president of my company’s international operations. But I found that the world of architecture and design really was the passion that I was meant to pursue.

I moved back to California and became a full-time designer, with the establishment of Timothy Corrigan, Inc. in Los Angeles in 1998. We opened our office in Paris in 2000.

Where do you find creative inspiration? I always look to historical sources for design ideas---because there truly are very few new ideas. All design springs from some historical antecedent. For example people often think that bold use of color is a very recent thing--- while in reality, strong contrasting were both totally Technicolor! If anything, the beige and graying down of the home is a very recent thing.  Thank goodness that the period of “greige” is coming to an end and we are seeing a return of more color to the home.

If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be, and why?  I love the decadence and beauty of Visconti's The Leopard....but not sure how well i would have done in hot Sicily without any air conditioning!

What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary?

Kitchen: One thing I’ve learned over the years is that no one ever minds eating a microwaved entree when it’s served in a beautifully designed kitchen. For the serious cook, starting off with excellent appliances is a must. I find that people prefer to congregate in a kitchen no matter how beautiful or inviting other rooms in a home may be, so I always try to find space for a sitting area. Because food and drink will certainly be enjoyed in this space, it is imperative that user-friendly fabrics be employed, and now there are so many wonderful choices on the market. Every kitchen requires both task and ambient lighting which is also an opportunity to make a bold design statement. Displaying collections of pottery or china on open shelves or in glass cabinets adds color and personality. Finally, don’t underestimate the impact of color on a space, it not only affects our mood, but also can create an unexpected surprise when used on a kitchen island or chairs.

Bath: Something as simple as hanging a painting or other form of real art elevates the bathroom from the utilitarian feeling to a place of indulgence and beauty. If space allows, an elegant freestanding tub conveys the feeling that relaxation is taken seriously. Beautiful plumbing fixtures can add another level of detail.

  

Images courtesy of the designer