On March 9th, the New York School of Interior Design toasted my friend decorator Mario Buatta at a gala dinner and honored him by renaming the school’s library and student work space the Mario Buatta Materials Atelier. Mario, you know, is the great decorator who famously Americanized the English country house style and became known as the Prince of Chintz. He has created aeries for a slew of high profile clients including Barbara Walters, Mariah Carey and Billy Joel, and, along with Mark Hampton, redecorated the 119-room Blair House, the official White House Guest House in Washington, D.C.
Mario loves color, comfort, flowers, and light. His decorated rooms have a glow – nothing seems to stick out, and everything works together. He achieves this by adding and subtracting hues, fabrics, textures, furniture and accessories – combining and removing, until the whole has a painterly effect, like an Impressionist painting.
Combine his creative talent with a wicked sense of humor and you have a New York original. Readers already know about his cockroach gag. Years ago he arrived at a party in our apartment and casually handed me a carefully wrapped gift box which slipped out of my fingers and fell to the floor with the crash of its smashed contents. My heart stopped. “It was a family heirloom!” cried Mario, before he smiled.
It wasn’t an heirloom, it was a trick.
Mario recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and still works tirelessly creating his signature beauty, these days aided by a cane after a summer of medical challenges. A loyal, generous and kind friend, he recently agreed to a video blog interview.
We met not in his apartment but in a sprawling “pied-à-terre” which he decorated for a client in the Sherry-Netherland. The apartment, which has been published in Architectural Digest and stretches along both Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, gleamed with Mario’s signature blend of elegance and ease.
Mario made some business calls before our appointment.
We sat down in this luxuriously comfortable perch and had a chat…
Bart Boehlert is a style writer who has written for numerous magazines including Elle, Elle Decor, and InStyle, and was a contributing writer at Out magazine for five years. He has been a copywriter for retailers including Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, and now writes a popular blog, Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things, which is a style diary of life in New York City. More of Mr. Boehlert’s writing may be found on his blog: http://bartboehlert.blogspot.com/
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