Jonathan Savage of SAVAGE Interior Design focuses on residential design, ranging from contemporary downtown lofts to sprawling estates. He has experience with space planning and custom furniture, and enjoys consulting with clients regarding color and in selecting fine materials and finishes.
You grew up in Tennessee, studied interior design in England, and worked in New York City before moving to Nashville, where you currently reside. How do the aesthetics of these locations impact your designs, if at all?
Travel plays a very large role in my design and is a key source of my inspiration. Each country or city has its own unique character and style which I love to immerse myself in. Whether it’s colors found at a Turkish bazaar, antiques at a flea market, or the latest fashions hanging in Selfridges, I am always on the prowl for design inspiration. My interiors truly reflect a global perspective.
As an active designer in both the U.S. and England, what are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed around design tastes?
The color palette found in England seems a bit muddy in comparison to America’s color sensibility. In America I use warm crisp colors, whether in fabric or paint. I can pair a strong patterned paper with a bold paint choice. In England, this approach doesn’t seem to fit within their surroundings. I love color, so even in the London flat we did, there are pops in art and lighting.
You initially studied business in college. How did you discover your passion for design?
Being raised by a family of home builders and developers, I was constantly around design. I am so glad I returned to my roots to pursue my passion. In running my firm, it definitely is an asset to have a good business sense as well.
In the London brownstone below, you subtly matched the colors of the vintage Murano chandelier with the Joan Miró art. Can you share a bit about this process? Which piece came first?
I happened upon the chandelier, strolling along a small canal in Murano. It was love at first sight. I went in to tell the shopkeeper I’d take it. I then phoned my client for final approval. After procuring such a masterpiece, I knew the world around it must be simplified. This particular art collection adds interest and color, and doesn’t compete with the chandelier.
Do you have any tips for incorporating hints of color in an otherwise black and white space?
I think all spaces should have a touch of green from a fresh plant. There is something about having a living thing that makes the space come alive. Sometimes the smallest accessories make for the greatest impact and added interest.
You incorporate a lot of vintage case pieces in your designs. Are there reasons why you look to these kinds of pieces for a vintage infusion?
We start our design with the larger pieces first. Vintage case goods add a collected look and make the rooms feels less decorated and less planned, yet in my mind, there is always a plan.
I like that aha moment. Subtle yet surprising.
Can you talk about some unique uses for vintage pieces?
I love nothing more than to have the interior of a vintage cabinet upholstered. It is the unexpected that captures your attention. Another favorite is turning a console into a vanity or finishing a piece for a purpose it was otherwise intended for. It is giving something a fresh perspective that makes it modern and appropriate for today’s lifestyle.
What is your advice for someone looking to buy an investment piece?
Buy the best piece that fits within your budget, and always remember rooms don’t have to be completed on day one. In my opinion, some of the most successful rooms are the ones that are built over time.
What do you think of Sotheby’s Home?
I have been a supporter of Sotheby’s Home from the get-go. Sotheby’s Home is a wonderful resource for designers to find slightly used and sometimes even new furnishings at a reasonable price. The selections are constantly changing, and it is a definite go-to site for my team and myself.