My Favorite Room: Celebrity Stylist Michael O’Connor
The style and jewelry expert, who helps stars like Amy Adams and Eva Longoria achieve their flawless red-carpet looks, takes us inside one of his favorite spaces in his waterfront home.
Fashion expert Michael O’Connor is one of America’s leading voices on style, jewelry and accessories for over 25 years. In addition to his series, MovieStyle with Michael O'Connor on ReelzChannel, he is the “go-to” resource for fashion editors and television producers seeking an informed source for current trends. Throughout the year, O’Connor works with numerous top celebrities and celebrity stylists helping them to style and accessorize for awards shows, appearances and premieres – everyone from Amy Adams and Eva Longoria to Minnie Driver and Cheryl Hines. HGTV FrontDoor.com caught up with O'Connor to talk about his favorite room in one of houses: his library.
What are your favorite features in the room?
From the beginning, this room has
always had great afternoon light and a wonderful view of water. (The house is
located in a yacht and golf club community). The room feels open, as there are
plenty of windows and the ceilings are 12 feet high. It's very relaxing to
spend the late afternoon and early evening in this room with the waning rays of
golden sunset coming in and their reflections of the water. Although I wanted
to maintain the openness on one side, I also wanted the room to have a cozy,
warm and comfortable feel like an old-time "gentleman's club" – a
place to retreat to read a book, watch TV or simply sit and relax.
Bookshelves extend across two walls of the room. The bookshelves are lined with my favorite books on style, fashion, accessories and jewelry, as well as great novels to get lost. Additionally, the room is filled with family photos and things that have been passed down by my grandparents, as well as pieces that I've collected over years of travel. Some of my favorites are the zebra ottoman/coffee table from Africa and an original Vogue print from the early 1900s. A carved ebony elephant that my grandfather brought back from one of his trips to Africa has a prominent spot, as do two porcelain figurines from my great grandparents’ home.
The room also has a "secret" sliding bookcase that leads
to another small hidden room – a place I use for storage.
How does this room make you feel at home?This room always brings me a sense of peace. It's a place where I'm surrounded on one side by favorite things from my past (i.e., books on my favorite subjects, my favorite movies), and on the other side, I can watch the water, boats and nature. The walls of the room are light painted wood, like the bookshelves, up to the top of the door frames. From there to the ceiling, the walls are painted a rich and deep burgundy color that adds warmth. Burgundy is also the main color in the Turkish carpet and helps bring in the color from the upper walls. It's the kind of room that makes me feel warm and comfortable but still open to exploration – if that makes sense!
What are some of your must-have
essentials at your home?
Some essentials for me at home are art and music. I love to
collect paintings, sculpture and artwork (many done by dear friends), but I
also love photos of friends and family that remind me how lucky I am to have
wonderful people in my life. Music is very important to me as I went to The
Royal Conservatory of Music and grew up playing the piano. I have a piano, but
not in this room. Every room in my homes have music. I've had a speaker system installed
throughout the house that allows music to be played anywhere, even outside – much
to the chagrin of my neighbors! Here in my library is the heart of the music
system, and the room has been fitted for surround sound so you don't miss
are some of your favorite colors, fabrics, shapes?
My favorite colors, fabrics and shapes are so widely varied that it might be described as "eccentrically eclectic." To some extent, I think the space and how it will be used almost dictates the types of colors and shapes that should be used in decoration. When I go into a room, I look at the room's light and its angles. I like to think about what time of the day I'll use the room most and how I want to feel when I'm there. I love stronger colors and richer hues, but you have to be careful in how they look when they're on all four walls of a room. I love the richness of deep woods, but I like to mix them with lighter woods or painted wood for contrast. I also like rich fabrics, but they too need contrast.
For example, the furniture here in the library is deep chocolate leather. The blinds are light bamboo and the light paint on the paneling makes the sofa and chair stand out and beckon you to sit. The style of the furniture here is big and cushiony and relaxing. However, other rooms in my home have a much lighter and more modern feel to them. I do love heavier draperies, but in this room I decided to forego them because of the color and size of the furniture, the busy look of the bookshelves and the fact that I wanted the view to be an important feature of the room.
Where do you like to shop for home products?
Everywhere! Like personal style, I think that home products are best done as a balanced mix. I believe strongly in quality pieces and quality fabrics, but I think you can mix them. I often shop at Jonathan Adler, Ethan Allen or the D and D building in New York for great pieces, but you can also find great things at Crate and Barrel and places like CB2.
How do you define your style?
I would define my style as eclectic, and as I said, it's so wide that some may describe it as eccentric. I personally believe that great style is a combination of good taste with a dash of daring. I love the classics but I also love to experiment and bring in a touch of the unusual, whether that's a pop of color or an eye-catching piece of jewelry. One's outward style should be looked upon as your signature. For every person that we pass on the street, everyone who we'll never have the chance to talk to, one's style immediately tells the world about you.
Can you offer us some home decorating tips?
Decorating a home is like choosing a wardrobe. You might love something when you see it on someone else, but it may not be right for you. I believe that you can't decorate a room on a preconceived idea. Often when people buy or rent a home, they choose colors, fabrics and furniture before they even move in. That's like buying a professional work wardrobe when you're 12. You don't really know what will be appropriate or work until you finally get there. I always tell people, "don't rush in." You need to "live" in the space and determine how it will be used. Choose colors that are best for the time of day that you'll use the room and the amount of natural light the room gets. Once you do this, start with a few good quality basics in the furniture, floor covering and window covering. From there, add in the pieces you want to "pop" and give the room its character. Finally, layer on the pieces that create your unique signature – maybe a fun piece of furniture or a bold print fabric or a piece of art for the walls. It's a building process over time.