“Our client was formerly in the fashion business,” explains designer Courtney Cox, who recently founded the interior design firm 2 Ivy Lane with partner Alex Deringer. Their client, Amelia Ruzzo, and her husband had just bought a home in McLean, Virginia, and tapped the duo for help with its interiors. “Amelia called us sight-unseen from Manhattan, where she was living at the time,” Cox recalls, “and asked us if we’d seen Sex and the City!”
It didn’t take long for Cox and Deringer, a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, to realize what that question meant: Ruzzo was looking for an au courant design team to imbue her home with fashion-forward glamour and dazzling, dramatic interiors. Cox once owned a women’s boutique in Old Town Alexandria, so the fashion world was familiar to her. She and Deringer were happy to oblige.
However, the Ruzzos’ spacious townhouse was traditional in architectural style and overall layout. “Our challenge was to stay true to the architecture, but give the space fresh life,” says Deringer, adding, “Amelia’s husband had more conservative taste, so we needed to bridge the gap between his natural inclination and her eclectic nature.”
When the partners met Amelia Ruzzo, they were pleasantly surprised to find she had put together a mood board, complete with images of favorite art works and catwalk fashion models dressed in gowns that she loved.
“To this she’d also tacked a huge piece of tin foil,” recalls Cox. “It was all very telling. Fashion sense is very helpful in knowing the direction [a client] will want to go in when it comes to their interiors.” In this case, the décor was clearly going to be about pushing the style envelope using fashionable color, sassy shine and tantalizing texture.
Color served as the jumping-off point. They established that the main floor’s walls would be painted Benjamin Moore’s Chelsea Gray, which Ruzzo coveted. Cox and Deringer added a slick, lacquered finish to the hue that would reflect light into the somewhat dark home and deliver an edgier flair.
“The next time we met our client,” Deringer says, “we had a fashion show of our own, bringing a variety of interesting fabrics to see what she liked.” The Chinoiserie-inspired Camberwell Vase Print wallpaper by Schumacher caught Ruzzo’s eye. The citrine colorway offered a balance between being on trend and promising longevity. The color quickly became part of the palette, along with a cool silver-blue on the ground floor and a warm plum gray on the second story. The Schumacher fabric was used for curtain panels in the parlor and library, which face one another.
Once a color scheme was established, Deringer and Cox set about selecting furnishings. The goal was to find—or design—pieces in a transitional style that were polished, sculptural and luxe. “We didn’t want to overrun the rooms with furniture,” says Deringer. “We wanted each piece to make its own impactful statement, for someone to walk in and say ‘wow.’”
For example, ebony-stained Barbara Barry chairs in the parlor are upholstered in an eye-catching textured canary-yellow silk that accents their hollow, sculpted backs. In the master bedroom, the king-sized bed designed by 2 Ivy Lane is upholstered in plush tufted velvet. “Amelia loves sparkle and shine,” Cox observes. “That’s why we introduced sheen everywhere.”
The shine in the home is either literal—as in the solid metal lamps and the heirloom tables in the parlor that were refinished in silver by Avery Studios—or has been integrated into the materials used, like the metallic woven Phillip Jeffries wallpaper in the library or Crescent Carpet’s striae silk-and-wool rug in the master bedroom.
Texture is also central to the design. The designers sourced materials with a tactile quality, such as the twin cut-velvet armchairs upstairs, or the glazed-linen sofa and skin-pleather cubes downstairs. Patterns throughout include both masculine geometrics and feminine florals.
Once the principal spaces were completed, they turned their attention to Ruzzo’s closet, which was originally a sitting area in the master bedroom. Cox and Deringer created a layout designed to meet Ruzzo’s storage needs—and the result is a fashionista’s dream, with exquisite custom cabinetry, antique-mirrored upper cupboards for out-of-season items, deep drawers for jewelry, full-length mirrors and a personalized shoe unit.
“Amelia is ecstatic in her new home,” says Deringer, adding, “She challenged us as a design team. This is a fairly conservative city and you don’t find a lot of clients who are looking to break out of the box.”
INTERIOR DESIGN: COURTNEY COX and ALEX DERINGER, 2 Ivy Lane, Alexandria, Virginia.