Virginia Toledo and Jessica Geller’s approach begins with a deep dive into how each client dreams of living. Getting to know their clients intimately, thoroughly understanding their wish lists and worries, allows Toledo Geller to create a unique, luxury living space that truly reflects who they are—and what they love.
How did you discover your passion for design?
Virginia: At a very young age, I learned that design could transform the way you live and feel about yourself, and I wanted to be the facilitator of that.
Jessica: I grew up in a well-designed home, so part of me never realized that design was even a “thing”—it was just very normal for me to be surrounded by beautiful interiors. When I was working as a social worker and had the opportunity to transform a hospital playroom, I realized that this was a profession that I wanted to explore and could actually make a living by doing it.
What is your favorite decorative object at home?
Virginia: It’s hard to pick just one, but it might have to be my varied collection of blue and white china bowls that make our day-to-day dinners feel so special.
Jessica: I started “collecting” affordable art as birthday and anniversary gifts a few years ago, and they have become special pieces that have a story and memory attached to them. I love that no matter how much my home changes, or even if I move, these pieces will always come with me and take on a new life depending on where they are hung.
Can you pick your five favorite items from Sotheby’s Home and tell a little bit about what makes them special?
They truly never go out of fashion, and we love using them in a pair or as a single chair at the end of the hall. Depending on the interior, we will add a punchy colored cushion, or may leave them bare to show off the strong form.
We love lamps that don’t necessarily look like lamps. This piece doubles as a decorative object and gives off the softest white glow through its ribbed white marble form—what’s not to love?!
Virginia has a thing for screens, and she’s tried unsuccessfully to get one into countless projects. So, if we can’t sell one to a client, at least we can dream about it on this wishlist. And, this whimsical one in her favorite sunny hue is just so darn happy.
A drinks table is one of our favorite additions to any room. Convenient as can be, and a perfect filler.
Is design an art or a science?
Definitely art, because while so much of it does have to do with scale and proportion, proper lighting, etc., at the end of the day, some of the more important aesthetic decisions and all of the editing that go into a finely crafted interior are made from gut instincts that inform us if something is right or wrong. Much of design can be learned, but the difference in exceptional design lies in the balance between what is right (science) and what feels right (art).
Do you have any go-to color or pattern combinations?
We have become known for having a good ol’ time with plaids and stripes.
When do you consider a completed project a success?
A referral from a client might be the biggest indication that we did our job well.
Share your biggest design secret.
Woven shades. They work everywhere.
What is the most common design mistake you see?
Copying what you see everyone else doing. More interiors would feel so much better if the masses weren’t copying and pasting what they see online.
How do you balance style, comfort and functionality?
We tend to mix finishes that have patina, distressing and texture into our interiors, as they tend to be very forgiving when the inevitable scratch or stain happens. We also encourage our clients to invest in their upholstered pieces.
Is there a specific item you typically use as a starting point?
After settling upon our furniture plan, we typically decide on which furniture piece is going to be the “hero” of the room, and begin our search for that piece.
What do you think about Sotheby’s Home?
It’s an invaluable source for finding unique pieces that help you break away from what you will find readily available from the big box stores.