IN THE STUDIO with ND Interiors’ Principal Designer, Nancy Davilman
When not out on a job, Nancy can be found in her beautifully appointed home studio in Westchester County. The workspace sits just a few steps above the main floor of her modernly furnished English Tudor, tucked away such that work can get done amidst a flurry of family living. Her bucolic, leaf-canopied street — Aviemore — aptly takes its name from the centuries-old winter sports resort in the Scottish highlands. Nancy’s chic studio is the picture of serenity, nestled 30 minutes between the design hubs of New York City and Stamford, Connecticut. That’s where the interview excerpted below took place.
Good and happy: One of the most important qualities for a designer to possess is the ability to understand the client’s needs and aesthetic, and then to work together to realize these desires in a tasteful and modern way. For me, design is a collaborative process. I think it’s vital that a home reflects what makes a client feel good and happy.
Sense and sensibility: I can’t say that I’m a bargain designer, but I don’t believe that something has to be expensive to be beautiful. I believe in repurposing what one has, when possible, and then filling in with new items. It’s not like you have to start with a blank slate and throw out everything you own. There are so many ways to incorporate what you already have. It’s all doable.
Ducks in a row: I enjoy projects with a lot of moving pieces and a million details. The scope of the “To Do” list can initially overwhelm a client, and I’m happy to come in and streamline the parts. All the client’s questions come to me. I know exactly what I have to ask of contractors and vendors, what things I can answer myself, what’s important and what’s less so. I’m often way ahead of schedule in terms of selections, which is satisfying to the client and appreciated by architects and contractors.
All about the client: I consider the client’s tastes to be paramount. It’s the client’s life and it’s their home — and what’s a home if it doesn’t reflect its occupant? If a client really likes something, I’ll try very hard to make it work. What makes the client feel good is what matters, as opposed to me putting a specific stamp on every project. It really is all about the client.
Sunrise, Surfside. Your way: My goal is to give my clients what they want, in a way that’s refined and tasteful. Every project is distinct, yet my aim is always to create a calm, welcoming place where people can comfortably live their lives the way they want to. In my own home I’ve used a soft palette of greys, blues, and silvers, with some earth tones — colors that remind me of beautiful places I’ve visited, like Italy and Nantucket.
Artist in residence: I’ve always been involved in the arts, most often from a creative standpoint. I designed and handcrafted fine jewelry, working in 22 karat gold granulation. I worked in ceramics. I made stained glass windows and went on to teach stained glass classes. I’ve always loved the decorative arts, and the practical experience that launched ND Interiors was the total renovation of my 100-year-old home in the Manor. I can’t think of a design area that’s uninteresting to me and I’m always excited by the prospect of solving a problem in a beautiful way.
I hear you: My background is in psychology. And obviously my business is totally client driven, so I think that my listening skills and my ability to understand people — and really hear what they’re saying and what they’re asking for — has helped me quite a bit in developing a diverse and satisfied client base.
Welcome home: I’m fascinated by other cultures and have been fortunate to have traveled extensively. My trips abroad have informed my understanding of design, and I’ve enjoyed enduring romances with some of the most awe-inspiring cities in the world. I was born in New York City, and lived there as a young child and again as an adult. But my formative years were spent in Westchester. I’ve also lived in Atlanta and in San Francisco, where the architecture is wonderfully varied. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to design interiors for homes of all styles. Above all, I always try to make sure each member of the family is comfortable. You have to feel at home in your home. Make it beautiful, but make it home.