Stepping inside Fawn Galli’s home and its saturated hues of hot pink and acid green (to name a few), not to mention its healthy dose of ’70s disco glam, you’d assume she grew up in a buzzing, bright metropolis. In truth, she spent her early years in a Mendocino, CA, home without electricity or plumbing. “It’s a formative, strong way to come into the world,” Fawn says. “I was very much ‘in nature’ and developed a strong appreciation for imagination.” It’s this originality of thinking that infuses every room of the Brooklyn brownstone she shares with her architect husband and two young sons.
The space—bright, glamorous, and worldly—reflects her rich and rewarding design journey, which started in Europe and has resulted in a successful eponymous firm. While living in Paris, she was surrounded by the city’s inspired buildings and shops and soon became a regular at its famed flea markets. “It gave me a real appreciation for vintage and mixing Old World elements with contemporary pieces,” she says. “That is a very French thing.”
From France, she moved to New York and had stints working at an Art Deco gallery and the furniture department at Christie’s auction house. As a self-described “ruse,” Galli applied as an interior designer at Robert A.M. Stern Architects. “I should not have been hired, but I was. And three years later, I was Robert’s personal decorator, designing his homes, including his loft when he was appointed dean at Yale School of Architecture,” Fawn says. It was an invaluable education for her. “Robert has such intuition and a romantic relationship with architecture. It was a great study in how things are built.” After a position with architect/designer Peter Marino (“a master at materials and fabrics”) and a sojourn to Madrid, Galli was ready to return to New York to start her own business.
In all her projects, Galli’s approach is open: “I will do anything. Nothing is off-limits for my spaces.” See how she puts this maxim to use at home.
After 15 years in Manhattan’s West Village, the designer and her family made the move to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. “The houses and gardens here have the same sensibility,” says Fawn. “I love the smaller scale of the area.”
The lamps show Fawn’s high-low approach. “The bases were $50, while the custom shades were pricey.” The metallic Florence Broadhurst wallpaper helps to “bring light into the room.” The Roy Lichtenstein artwork is actually a wallpaper panel that Robert Stern gave Fawn.
“I love mixing Old World fabric with a contemporary designer,” says Fawn. In her living room, a Marcel Wanders chair holds a petite pillow in fabric by Christopher Hyland.
A midcentury chair is covered in a vibrant green velvet. The deer sculpture is a flower-market find that Fawn lacquered in black, which she often uses “to ground a space that has pops of color.” The photograph is by Jonathan Ball.
I am inspired by fantasy, nature, and the world at large. It all comes together to create spaces that are out of the box, even ugly in an interesting, beautiful way.
The dining room/library is a “hub” of the family home. That calls for durable pieces such as a sisal rug and a marble-top Saarinen Tulip table that works for dinnertime, homework, reading, and more. The chartreuse curtains (also in the living room) are from a textile not-for-profit in Southeast Asia.
Ever a fan of juxtaposition, Fawn loves how the contemporary light fixture sprouts “like a flower” from the ceilings’s decorative molding. The custom-built shelving provides much-needed storage in the home, which was built more than a century ago. New York artist and friend Meghan Boody gifted the piece above the mantel.
A set of ’70s Milo Baughman armchairs lend extra seating. “I am a child of the disco era,” says Fawn. “And I really love pink and green even though it’s a traditionally preppy color pairing.”
Don’t limit yourself. There are so many materials that are both beautiful and durable: glass, marble, leather.
Matching wallpaper and drapes can be modern, says Fawn. “I took that classic idea and did it with a cutting-edge pattern, Timorous Beasties’ Iguana.” Using the pattern in multiple colorways makes for a more layered look.
While Fawn appreciates a serene space, it needs to have style and character. This parakeet lamp is the perfect example. For her bedding, she again favors a high-low mix: “Pratesi scallop and floral sheets with a handmade pom-pom blanket.”
Fawn uses wallpaper often in homes: “You can get so much personality and character from it.” This Brunschwig & Fils pattern felt like “an English lady in a teacup” and was the only adornment this pixie space needed, aside from an inexpensive painting picked up at Brimfield.
The distinctive mingles with the practical in the boys’ room. A lacquered Parsons desk and an acrylic chair are clean, modern, and most important, durable. A Swedish print on the curtains and framed Mexican textiles (a score from Fawn’s mother-in-law) feel “young and fun but also timeless.”
I don’t like anything that’s too precious. It has to be functional and durable.
The trophies, artwork, and action figures that adorn the shelving and mantel are the handiwork of Fawn’s 7- and 10-year-old boys. “Remember, kids need space for their own things.”
Fawn’s sons, Gaspar and Laszlo, jump for joy in their shared bedroom. “I always tell my clients, Use timeless things that children love—animal motifs, colorful prints,” she says. “I don’t like spaces that are too ‘kiddy.’”
Fawn used a bit of “smoke and mirrors” to disguise a battered banister. Instead of a lengthy refinishing job, she painted it Benjamin Moore’s Gypsy Pink. “I wanted to distract from a certain unrefinement,” says Fawn.
I love a lot of color: acid yellow, fuchsia pink, strong greens. There are very few colors I don’t use.