Andrea Schumacher Wants You to Live Your Best Life in Every Room
In her new book, designer Andrea Monath Schumacher reveals how to truly enjoy every room in your home
Andrea Monath Schumacher knows how to live large … so well, in fact, that the phrase became the subtitle of her first monograph: Vibrant Interiors: Living Large at Home (Gibbs Smith, April 2022). Based out of Denver and Santa Barbara, the itinerant designer travels the world for inspiration and often incorporates international finds into her projects, along with plenty of well-curated art pieces. Her eye for art is practically a family heirloom: Elizabeth Monath, her grandmother, was an understudy of Salvador Dalí in 1930s Paris. “Growing up around her art gave me a sense of color and combining colors and patterns,” says Schumacher. “She taught me all about color theory and being brave.”
We chatted with the designer about everything from her favorite places to shop in Colorado to which countries make her decorator heart go pitter-pat.
Did you know you’d become a decorator even as a child?
My mom says that she always knew. I was always rearranging my room. I remember pulling my bed into my closet and creating this little alcove—just taking the doors off and painting inside it and pulling my bed in there. I had a coral-orange room for a long time. Later, I went to school for fashion merchandising, and I met a person who was doing a design program, and he got me all excited about it. And so, I took a class and fell in love and changed my major.
What’s your favorite place to travel for inspiration?
Probably Japan or Morocco. I love all the lighting and saturated colors in Morocco. And the rugs are amazing. But I also love the way they put things together, too. And then, in Japan, I think it’s the serenity of their interiors and the innovative ways the Japanese design things.
What’s your favorite source in Denver for fun accessories and antiques?
I go to DecorAsian. They have little vignettes of different collectors in Denver. Somebody might shop in Paris and bring stuff back from there, and then they have Scandinavian things. It’s awesome. It was just an Asian store once, and then they changed their concept to letting antique dealers do little vignettes. You need to go. It’s really good.
What are you always on the hunt for?
Antique doors that I can incorporate, or Rajasthani arches or columns. I have the contractor build them into the walls. I love the Indian carved stuff. I think it has the most detail.
How does Colorado influence your interiors when your projects are here?
Any region affects some of your choices, right? I mean, if you’re in Palm Beach, you can go with lighter linens in pinks and greens. Here, we often select warmer textiles and heavier materials, like wool.
But you don’t ever go all Colorado, with big stones and river rocks.
That’s too literal for me.
This is a really tough question: What’s your favorite paint color?
Well, my basic white is Benjamin Moore’s OC-45 Swiss Coffee. It’s chameleon white. So, if you accidentally put something ivory up against it, or cream-colored, it will “chameleon” into looking good with it. You don’t have to worry about getting the tone of your white correct.
Do you have any design pet peeves?
Forgetting the ceiling is one of them. Using gray on gray on gray.
If someone’s nervous to use color, where do they begin?
I would say start in a smaller room that you can manage, like a powder room. You could do just the ceiling in a room a fun color and see how that goes, and then go from there. We often wallpaper ceilings. If you’re in a new build, you could do a coffered ceiling and then wallpaper inside that. That’d be fun. That’s so pretty.
How does travel inspire your interiors?
Oh, it’s just so endlessly inspiring. Not only do you see different products that you don’t see in the U.S., but you also see the way they put things together. I love infusing an ethnic vibe into a room where you’re blending things from all over, so it’s not just, say, a Moroccan-themed space.
Do you have any decorating rules to share?
Obviously, scale is important, and getting it right is really important. But I think it has to do with the room itself. So, it depends on the height of your ceiling, and the size of your sofa would dictate the size of your side tables and your coffee table. Play with scale before you buy, and make sure [your furniture purchases are] scaled correctly in your room because it’s a pet peeve when it’s out of whack.
What are your design trademarks as a designer?
People come to us for interior architectural help, because I have that background, and I think a lot of people know that about me. I get hired a lot when they’re in the beginning stages of building, because I have an eye for making sure that the architect doesn’t forget where the towel bars are going, or where the robe hooks should be. And what walls are blocking your view or straightening something out so it’s more symmetrical.
Nice. That’s important.
And people come to me for pattern play, and color. I know how to use color.
I’ll say! If you. could have dinner with two designers living or dead, who would they be?
Dorothy Draper and Albert Hadley. They’re iconic.
Why is it important that people create a home that lives large?
I think the pandemic showed us that. Life’s too short to live in a bland house.