In TZR’s franchise, Interior Motives, celebrities and tastemakers discuss their unique approach to home design and how it reflects their personal aesthetic.
Here’s a little unknown fact about jewelry designer Brent Neale: She’s a total book nerd. “I just love books so much and, growing up, we didn’t have a TV so I’ve always been a big reader and that’s always been a big part of my life,” she explains to TZR. It’s unsurprising, then, that her favorite room to pass the time in is the colorful library in her Long Island weekend home, complete with floor to ceiling bookshelves. “I just love that room. I want my kids to [also] love books and enjoy them like I do.”
And while one might assume that the room’s fuchsia walls, tortoise-shell ceilings, or historical detailing (the home was built in 1668) are a constant source of inspiration for the designer’s whimsical jewelry, it’s actually the book archive that she constantly pulls from. “One of my collections is called Down The Rabbit Hole, based on Alice In Wonderland — I just loved that book as a child. Books, to me, are really an escape and a source of inspiration,” says Neale. This love for escapism is evident in the brand’s signature designs, which include all things fanciful and dreamy: think rainbow rings, mushroom necklaces, and sea foam-inspired pearl earrings all bedecked in the finest cut gem stones.
But back to this iconic library: Neale explains that her excess time in the space — and Long Island abode, in general — over the pandemic motivated her to give it a complete overhaul last year, with the help of her sister, interior designer Ramsey Lyons. “It started out white and I just thought, I got to add some color to this,” she recalls. “I was kind of like, F*ck it. Let’s do what we really want to do, even if it’s a little risky. Because, you know, you just have to live your life, and you can always change things later!”
Ahead, TZR grills Neale on all things decor: her home, library, and the day-to-day things that keep her creativity in full motion.
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Talk me through the decor of your home in Long Island and this library I keep hearing about!
So I live in New York City, this [Long Island home] is our weekend place. The house was built in 1668, so it has a really cool history and neat details. It’s obviously really old and I love the mixture of old and new. For the library, in particular, I just wanted it to feel really cozy and warm. [I want] to sit in there on the weekends and read and have my kids be able to come in and have a comfortable place for them. So we chose this like really bright fuchsia color for the walls that’s like high gloss. And then we did a tortoise wallpaper on the ceilings and the backs of the bookcases. On the floor, we used an antelope rug [by Stark], which just gives a sort of fun country vibe.
There’s so much color incorporated into your home. How do you approach color and pattern from an interior design perspective?
I think everybody has their own aesthetics that they’re drawn to the most. I just like the feelings that colors can create — like a really warm, deep pink that envelops you, and animal print that’s just kind of fun. All the colors of the books are [color coordinated] in a rainbow. So, I think I’m very drawn to color and organization.
I love that you’re such an avid reader! What’s your favorite book of all time?
That’s really hard! I remember I did my a senior [dissertation] on The Catcher In The Rye in high school. I think J.D. Salinger’s stuff in general is just amazing. I don’t think I have a favorite book, though. I really love so many genres — I even like supermarket reads!
Are there any original fixtures or elements of the house that you really love?
All of the floors are like these huge wide wood [panels] —a lot of them are exposed and painted. There’s also a huge fireplace in the kitchen that was an original part of the home.
How does this weekend home compare in design to your place in the city?
You know, our living room [in NYC] is actually like a putty color, which is kind of interesting. There’s a lot less going on, because it’s a smaller space — it’s not a house, it’s an apartment.
Is there a favorite piece of furniture or decor in the room that you gravitate towards?
There are these little glass boxes [from the 19th century] on the table that I collect, and they’re all antiques. My mom started collecting a few for me, and now I scour for them, too. They’re all different colors and some of them are cut glass, plain glass, and made of different gemstones. They’re objects with no purpose to them, but they’re just beautiful and I love the color and texture.
Do you feel like your home aesthetic is an extension of your personal aesthetic?
I do. I love color and pattern and texture and I love it in all areas — in clothing, jewelry, and home.
How would you say your aesthetic has evolved over the years?
I think I’ve always been drawn to color, and that’s probably from my mom. Our house was always very colorful and had like beautiful wallpaper. It’s like osmosis, it just seeps in. But you know, you are your own surroundings.
Where do you draw design inspiration from?
I really love art, like all types of art — ceramics, textiles, paintings. I’m always drawn to artists or creators that use a lot of color. New York is so awesome in that there are so many amazing galleries. That’s been a huge part of my inspiration throughout all of my collections.
Is there an artist or gallery you gravitate toward?
I live really close to The Met, and it’s just beyond a treasure. There’s this amazing Ellsworth Kelly piece in the modern art wing that they have up sometimes. It’s called Spectrum [V] and it’s literally a huge canvas with large rectangular panels and each one is a different color. It’s just so powerful. I don’t even know how long the wall is, but the canvases are, you know, like seven feet or eight feet by like five feet. Every single one is a different single color. I’ve been taking my kids there for years and they know it. It’s just so impactful. And I think that that’s the way color is — so impactful.
What retailers or brands do you shop for home decor?
I love Chairish because there’s kind of a mixture of high and low. It feels like you’re going antiquing online, you know? There’s also a store in the city that I love called KRB, owned by Kate [Rheinstein] Brodsky. She curated this store and it just has amazing antiques as well as new things. She obviously loves color too, cause everything’s really colorful in there.
Is there a specific city or a destination that you always draw inspiration from in regards to home design?
It’s going to sound so cliche, but Paris. Everything is so well thought through and it’s just amazing. You obviously have a very, very old city to begin with that was developed around a certain period of time. So, you have this oldness that New York doesn’t have. New York has other things, but the French are very aware of their surroundings. Every space is more beautiful than the next.
What’s next for your Long Island abode? Any changes or updates on the horizon?
I think the next thing for us is tackling the outside. Our kids are still really young and they’re outside a lot. I think that’s like a whole other world of expertise that I don’t have, but it’s so fun to learn about plants and flowers and certain perennials and annuals and all that. It’s like creating a whole other arm to your home. You can create something amazing with gardens. It’s a massive undertaking, but it’s so cool. I’m really looking forward to that.