Home. It's certainly where the majority of us are spending our time these days. Hopefully it's where our hearts are too, because the places we call home are typically more than just a roof over our heads. Although currently places of isolation, they've always been places of sanctuary, protection...they're where we nest. Suddenly, they've also become where we work, teach our children and groom the dog. Facilitating more, perhaps, than we usually expect of them. One thing our living spaces have always helped enable, is the attempt to express ourselves, to showcase our personality, our character, through the things we choose to surround ourselves with. Being understood is a strong human need. " People tend to be happier and more productive when they are able to convince others to see them as they see themselves" Sam Gosling, psychologist. What makes a house a home is possibly when it truly refelcts the inhabitants. Mark Ellis' apartment in Savannah is the kind of home that most visitors to this beautiful Southern town would be dreaming of an invitation to......for afternoon tea... with the likelihood of a Mint Julep chaser. It sits on the top floor of a grand, historic mansion with huge, balustraded balconies overlooking Forsyth Park. Le Courbusier said that "the home should be a treasure chest of living ", and Treasure Chest is exactly how I would describe the Ellis apartment. As well as being the quintessential Hostess City host, Mark is an anique-and-vintage shopper par excellence. Each carefully curated and artfully placed artifact suggests a lifetime of stories. Intriguing vignettes invite welcomed curiosity....the table set for two, with polished silverware and etched stemware, just in case anybody should stop by; the porcelain teacup resting atop an open book; oft-read letters at the writing desk, reminders that one is loved. There seem to be a few main tenets of Southern decorating....that items are collected over time ( family heirlooms and oil paintings are staples ); it can comfortably entertain guests; and it has a sense of playfulness. Mark has every aspect covered, something new is discovered with every glance, and one might need to be convinced that every portrait isn't an Ellis ancestor.
As sunlight streams through the waved-glass windows, and the sound of a trumpet player floats up from the park, you might believe, for a minute, that your host hired the musician just for you.
I asked Mark what this home space means to him:
"This small haven reflects my life’s journey thus far, and I adore layering and combining items that reflect my sensibilities , tastes and personal history. I enjoy dividing the layout into corners of coziness and appointed purpose.
I tend to be a traditionalist and love the feel of stepping into the sensibility and romanticism of gentler times past. I always heighten this with music of the thirties, forties and fifties, which brings joy and harmony to a space.
Color is a mood enhancer, and I’ve always been drawn to dusty cool blues and greens for their serenity and calm. I love creating vignettes and combining clusters of whimsy in displaying my collections. I’ve always loved a gallery wall of art in gilded frames displaying tranquil scenes and objects captured by talents rare.
My present passion is the romanticism of Chinoiserie. It’s the depicted idyllic charms portrayed that I find so appealing.
I don’t tend to fret terribly much about the blending of styles and period. Somehow the elements come pleasingly together but there must be a formative foundation of scale, purpose and function.
Chairs in their design and detailing are a weakness of mine, and I love small ones that can be pulled up for conversation or impromptu groupings.
The space I’m living in now has so many wonderfully defined areas that it feels so much larger than it actually is. The two main rooms are grand in scale, heightened by the tall ceilings and enormous windows. The bedroom is luxurious in its openness and within it there are intimate settings of a chaise lounge cornered into two windows, a regency desk with two facing chairs for games or a lite dinner for two, and a wonderful chinoiserie dressing table that sets a stage of drama and the art of dressing.
Off the bedroom is an incredibly beautiful fifty-foot long terrace, which I’ve arranged into dining and seating areas. The view is one of Savannah’s finest.
There is the charm of my vintage kitchen, stocked with china, platters, paintings high up the walls and cabinets covered with vintage Gourmet Magazine artwork. It even has a pantry stocked with multiple patterns of china, serving pieces and the like in addition to a pull down ironing board that serves as well for additional counter space.
The marble bathroom has the feel of a burlesque queens dressing room and is decadent with indulgence, hence the fringed slipper chair, crystal chandelier, satin dressing gowns and gilded artwork. ....as Gypsy Rose Lee said - ya gotta have a gimmick!
I’ve been blessed to have lived in a number of magical spaces over time. It’s a feeling that comes over me when I first enter that says “ yes, this has it”. It’s from there that I embrace the fun and task of making it mine. "
Mark Ellis creates custom shopping trips to some of his beloved Southern hidden gems @savannah_secret_sources
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