Interior designer Sam Allen can start his bragging rights by stating that his roots that are sewn into the small town of Weston, Connecticut. With interior design running in his family, it became a natural hobby that soon developed in to his life-long passion. With an eye for luxurious interiors, Sam started small, designing bedrooms for local homes. He soon began catching the eye of Weston's well-to-do.
[Sam Allen and client via]
At just 20 years old, Sam can be found decked out in Lululemon, a diet coke in one hand, and swatches in the other. Sam runs his empire on the idea of abandoning the safe and using more colors and textures to create warm, yet contemporary homes.
Having recently been featured in "Mix & Chic," "Pretty Pink Tulips," and "Design Indulgences," Guest of a Guest got a chance to catch up with Sam, who talked about interning with Jill Zarin, his reality show, and his recent projects. Check it out!
So I know you worked for The Real Housewives of New York’s Jill Zarin. How did that experience help your career?
"As far as my interior designing career, it didn’t. If anything, business-wise, it taught me a lot about dealing with clients, but also about running a business regardless of your the job of you have, whether it’s interior design, fashion, being a TV personality in the spot light. You know, being on top of your game, following up with people, branding, marketing yourself, product development... I got first hand to see all that.
Also publicity, how to do PR, and how to run the publicity part of that. You should have your name out there, regardless of what you do. And that helps your career! By her instilling that in me-the concept of understanding that, coming up with projects and always being on your game, and being ya know, a hustler. I got first hand to see the way reality TV works and how to create a buzz around yourself. I still keep in touch with her."
I know you work with elite clientele, but given the economy, I’m sure you’ve been asked about cost-effective projects and DIYs. What are your thoughts on that?
"Will I go on a budget? Yes. Can I think of inexpensive party decorations? Yes. But do I do DIYs? I can do it, but I don’t prefer it."
I know nothing about interior design, so what are some trends in interior design you love and what are some things in interior design do you hate?
"Right now, I would say, highly textured or lacquered pieces of furniture, ethnic prints, Ikat or Suzani, they’re timeless. They will always be in style, like chic animal prints from Brunswig & Fils, Sisal, or Lucite. Some things I really don’t like are things like Granite counter tops and sectionals."
It sounds like fashion and interior design are interrelated.
"Totally! They are definitely correlated."
So, I know you’re working on a lot of media-related projects, from a show, Rachel Ray to Teen Vogue. Can you talk a bit about them?
"Honestly, I wish I could give more exciting news, but the show is still being worked on. I wish I could say more! But as soon as I can share, you’ll be the first to know! It just takes a lot of time to process. But I’m working on some great media projects--
I was asked for the second time to work with Joss & Main. I spent months picking out items and putting together looks. Sales were so good, that they asked me to do another curated collection. And that is going to go live and be available in the fall, probably Christmas 2012.
And then, I just finished decorating a home on the water in Westport. It was killer and over the top. It was my biggest project thus far.
My mom and I did another feature with Connecticut Cottages & Gardens in our house. And they are doing a story on us-- 'Like Mother Like Son.' [Note: This is where Sam was first published, even before the NY Times].
I have another 7,000 sq ft house that I am currently working on in Westport and it’s with an amazing family and they are really letting me run with it... you know, as I get further along in my career, I’m getting bigger clients and I’m given more freedom than I was first in the beginning."
Right, I know there was some speculation before, because you were so young!
"Right! Then I just did this thing with Teen Vogue. I did a bedroom makeover for a girl in college who went to Barnard, she was a senior. And the apartment was in the city... gorgeous! Every few months they do a make-over and this one is going to be in the September issue. I’m also a contributor in the front of it.
I was also recently on Rachel Ray. They did a whole segment on me where they filmed me doing an instillation on a home; a one-on-one interview and me having a meeting with another client. They brought me on to the show, I spoke with Rachel and I did with easy and inexpensive entertaining ideas." [The episode aired July 25th, at 10 AM. Go HERE for details]
[Sam Allen, Rachel Ray via]
Who’s house or apartment would you want to take a peak into?
"Andy Cohen. Because I think he is such a character. He’s so funny. He has a great fashion sense. How his personality reflects his design choices."
If you could fill your house/ apartment with just a few brands or pieces, what would they be?
"A beautiful piece by Jean Marc Louis, a beautiful set of Pratesi bed linens, great books, a great set of 19-century french vintage leather club chairs, and tons of Diptyque Baies candles."
How do you go about designing a room? Like, do you just pick random pieces? Do you select a color scheme first?
"Yeah! It could be from a piece. First I talk to the client. It could literally come from a fabric swatch, wall paper, an accessory. It all just works around that. It depends on if the client is influential in the decision making process. It can even be a place I’m on vacation--the south of France, Greece, Turkey, etc."
So, what’s some annoying tendencies your clients have?
"[Laughs] I love all my clients! They have no annoying tendencies."
Check out Sam's website for more information!
[Photos courtesy via Hilmar Meyerbosse and Keith Scott Morton]