The names John Rosselli and Furlow Gatewood ring instantly familiar, two shining stars in the world of interior design – John with his now twenty-two-year old home decor emporium, Treillage, in New York, and Furlow basking in the current fanfare surrounding his charming compound of American Southern Gothic cottages in Georgia. But, did you know that just as Mr. Rosselli was opening Treillage in 1992 the home he shared with Furlow Gatewood in Savannah was featured in House & Garden?
I have had this issue of House & Garden since it arrived fresh in the mail back in 1992. And I recall these rooms very clearly. But, I suppose, my sights were on other styles at the time. My awareness of Rosselli was slight, and I wouldn’t learn of Gatewood until years later. I had wondered over the years what Rosselli’s home may have looked like before Bunny Williams, and now I know. Clearly, the two shared more than a home, as inveterate collectors they shared a taste for classic and gracious rooms washed in an aura of romance with a dash of the exotic.
An intentionally spare background of simply painted walls serves as a foil for the pair’s collections. English antiques – a table by William Kent and 19th-century hall chairs – are paired with a French trumeau mirror, blue-and-white export porcelain, and fanciful gilt palm columns in the foyer (above two photos).
Just one glance at the furnishings and collections assembled in the parlor and there is no mistaking the hand of Rosselli and Gatewood. These are just the kinds of treasures you might find at Treillage on any given day. And the thoughtful and cozy seating arrangements, the Continental mix of antiques, and rich layering of art and beautiful objects is pure Gatewood. A French neoclassical painting over a 19th-century English desk separates two sides of the parlor, each anchored by black marble mantels. Do you recognize the hurricanes? A John Rosselli design, as is the trompe l’oeil screen hung with “framed art”. Though beautifully appointed it remains such a cozy and approachable room. Couldn’t you just settle in with those stacks of books in front of the blazing fire? There’s even a bed for Fido.
The dining room is very similar to Gatewood’s current dining room by design. His penchant for classicism, symmetry, round dining tables, English antiques, and layering walls with decorative arts and sconces is telling. A collection of blue-and-white Chinese export porcelain surrounds the William V dining table. The floor is faux marble and the chandelier and consoles were designed by Rosselli.
Savannah’s warm climate inspired the exotic undertones of the breakfast room sitting area. A Mexican primitive painting inspired Rosselli’s design for the folding screen. French, chinoiserie and American Victorian furniture adds to the mix. The walls were painted to imitate limestone.
A peek into the informal dining room features French garden chairs around a Rosselli table, a country pine chest and, I dare say, a baker’s rack. Remember when baker’s racks were all the rage?! I imagine they referred to it as an étagère.
The airy and quietly elegant guest room features a French campaign bed, top photo, and the master dressing room features a 1950’s chest on Billy Baldwin’s antelope rug design of the same year.
An upstairs bedroom and sitting room likely shares the same footprint as the double parlor on the first floor, divided here by pocket doors. Rosselli had the walls painted Arabian red to bring out the exoticism of orientalist paintings. Fun bit: the Bierdermeier chair pulled up to the desk was purchased from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. In the bedroom, an antique bedspread with Chinese figures dresses the four poster bed and a screen by Rosselli features a Hindustani scene.
The humid climate of Savannah creates a damp, mossy exoticism on the rear terrace, which is punctuated by a lead fountain and goldfish pool.
House & Garden, July 1992. Photography by Oberto Gili.