Curious Objects: How to Make a Modern Home (with Antiques), featuring Thomas Jayne

Editorial Staff Curious Objects

Jayne’s study in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District apartment he shares with his husband, Rick Ellis, is a “cabinet of curiosities” that includes a collection of manmade and natural objects. Photograph by Pieter Estersohn.

Time was, many top interior designers sought to conjure a perfectly seamless décor—whether it be all Louis XV furniture, all early American, or all modern. The results could be beautiful—but also somewhat boring, and certainly impersonal. Interior decorator Thomas Jayne suggests another way to put together the spaces we live in: by using creative combinations of striking art and objects from across time to derive a style that’s endlessly evocative, livable, and fresh. In this episode, Ben Miller gets the goods from Jayne on the history of interiors (from the Greeks to the present day); what to budget first; and the spirit of “democratic decoration,” that, historically, has animated American interiors.

An Artist’s Guesthouse, Long Island, New York, decorated by Jayne Design Studio in 2020. Photograph by Don Freeman.
A stately home in Scarsdale, New York, decorated in 1994 by Jayne Design Studio. Estersohn photograph.
Westerly, an estate in Southampton, New York, with 1992 interior decoration by Jayne Design Studio. Photograph by Scott Francis.
Curious Objects host Benjamin Miller (Ieft) and interior decorator Thomas Jayne, in Jayne’s Manhattan studio. Photograph by William Cullum.

Thomas Jayne is an award-winning decorator, historian, and author. For the past thirty years, Jayne has designed rooms that reflect a strong connection to history and place, drawing upon the past for inspiration, seeking details that will deepen and enhance a room’s decoration. His New York–based firm, Jayne Design Studio, is known for tailored, comfortable houses and apartments that are traditionally inspired, but modern in spirit, and meet the present-day needs of its clients, whether they are young families or advanced collectors. In addition to his well-regarded practice, Thomas Jayne is a noted author and has published three, highly acclaimed books with Monacelli Press. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and Luxe Interiors and Design.