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A sense of harmony

By REBECCA KONYA

November 2015

Fox Point native Timothy Wheaton combines different styles in his home designs.

Renowned interior designer and fine arts expert Timothy Whealon credits his Midwest upbringing with influencing his approach to interior design.

"Growing up in Wisconsin, I developed an appreciation for wide open spaces," says the Fox Point native, who now calls New York City home. Downtown Milwaukee landmarks and nearby Lake Michigan have also had a lasting impact on Whealon’s style.

"Milwaukee has such beautiful architecture," says Whealon, who recalls frequenting estate sales with his mother and regular trips to the former Milwaukee Auction House as a child.

Now, Whealon is set to return to Milwaukee on Nov. 19 to promote his first book, "In Pursuit of Beauty: The Interiors of Timothy Whealon," at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. Published by Rizzoli International Publications, the book features a collection of Whealon’s interiors, including a glass house in South Hampton, a Mediterranean-style villa in Monaco, a London town house and Whealon’s own home in Gramercy Park.

"I wanted to show the core of my work," says Whealon. "Even though they’re very different settings, there’s a common thread in all of my designs."

Growing up near Lake Michigan, Whealon has retained an appreciation for natural scenery and water, in particular. Whenever he starts a new project, the first thing Whealon does is look out the window because he says it’s what lies beyond that ultimately influences his design decisions.

Photography courtesy of Rizzoli

"I’m interested in the view because anything outside the window is going to be more beautiful than what I can create inside," Whealon explains.

Although Whealon studied English literature and art history at Kenyon College in Ohio, he originally moved to New York City to attend a management-trainee program at a large commercial bank at the urging of his parents.

But after two years as a lending officer in the private banking industry, Whealon resigned his position to follow his true passion — art. He applied and was accepted to the Works of Art course at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. The following year, Whealon completed the corporate management training program with Sotheby’s New York. After assisting several acquaintances in renovating and decorating their homes, Whealon officially launched his interior design business in 1994.

Over the past two decades, Whealon has attracted a loyal following — his work has been published in ELLE DÉCOR, House Beautiful, House and Garden, Architectural Digest, VERANDA, Domino Magazine and The New York Times’ Home section.

While his interiors are often referred to as elegant, Whealon prefers terms like fresh, refined and comfortable when describing his design approach.

"I like to think my work has a certain crispness and American sensibility," he explains.

With his extensive knowledge of international art and antiques, Whealon incorporates pieces from different periods and cultures into his room designs. Whether it’s a Park Avenue penthouse or a casual beach cottage, his interiors are often a mix of vintage and contemporary objects — it’s not unusual to find an antique Swedish chair paired with a sleek modern Parsons desk.

"The idea of layering permeates my designs," says Whealon. "I like to mix the old and the new. My style references the past, but yet it’s in the moment."

The end result is a striking space that is traditional yet modern.

With an affinity for mixing the high and the low, Whealon says he’s just as at home shopping neighborhood flea markets as he is upscale antique shops in Paris. Nor is Whealon afraid to mix flea market finds with classic pieces. One example is a private garden he designed as part of a Monaco villa project. True to style, Whealon furnished the exterior space with Restoration Hardware wicker sofas and custom-made metal tables with marble tops.

"I aim for a clean, fresh classicism," says Whealon.

As much as Whealon mixes vintage and modern to make his designs interesting, he also approaches clients’ homes with a Midwesterner’s sense of practicality.

"I want to know how my clients live," explains Whealon. "Do they have kids? Do they have pets? Are they formal or more casual?"

With those preferences in mind, Whealon lends his exquisite taste to create interiors that are unique, yet suited to his clients and their living environment.

"I strive to create rooms that have a sense of harmony and comfort," he says.

 













 


This story ran in the October 2015 issue of: