Hillary Taylor‘s inviting interiors, which are rooted in classical style and designed with a livable, modern sensibility, are favorites of ours here at Utah Style & Design—her St. George vacation home was the cover story of our summer issue. Taylor just celebrated more good news. She was recently invited by The CEH, a Dallas-based company specializing in bespoke furniture, to create her own capsule collection. The five complementary pieces marry traditional styles with 21st century functionality—and, like Taylor’s interiors, the furniture is both elevated and practical. Utah Style spoke with Taylor about the origins of the collection and the personal details that make each piece so special.
USD: How did your collaboration with The CEH begin?
They’re a company I’ve worked with before to build things for my clients. They reached out to a few different designers in hopes of finding a few more pieces that they could build. I was really excited to do it because I design custom furniture a lot, but never anything meant for retail consumers. These pieces are available to the trade and to the public alike. I wanted to design a grouping that would all work together—not matching, but something that would work in one space. They wanted designers to show it in their own home, so I designed it for my own family room.
USD: What excited you about working with The CEH?
Their finishes and their quality is just bar none. The CEH furniture is made in a way that they won’t need to be replaced. I design homes for families and lifestyles where the furniture takes a beating! I wanted to have pieces that would stand up to that lifestyle, and also last. They age well, almost like antiques. I can stand by their furniture for my clients. It’s not throw-away furniture.
USD: What was the design process for the collection?
I do custom furniture for almost every project I work on. When you’re working with someone locally, you would make a lot of trips to the workshop and you trade horses, per se. This was a similar experience, because The CEH builds the furniture themselves. It’s all handcrafted by one to three carpenters in house—these pieces are made to order for one customer at a time. The process of building this furniture was very similar to me working with the guy down the street, because they’re a small, family-owned business and they keep everything in house. The process was very smooth. The CEH is just a class act in everything. They’re not slow, but they’re not too fast. They’re like Goldilocks: just right.
USD: What were some of your inspirations for these pieces?
It’s very much based in neoclassicism. Every piece does have a reference to some classical piece. The Bow Front is Anglo-American classicism, so it’s inspired early American or English design. The Scalloped Table is post-directoire. It has an Edwardian feel, but the finish is Louis Phillipe, post-empire. So every piece is grounded in some historical reference, and that is something I do in all my work. It all comes from a sense of neoclassical proportion. I don’t believe in period rooms, but what makes it lasting is having some real mathematical grounding in the proportions of a piece. And what makes it fun and fresh and modern is how you treat it, what the finishes are and where you put it.
USD: How does this collection reflect your personal style?
I like to buy really inexpensive antiques for my family, but it’s hard to find stuff that fits perfectly. I had an old, inexpensive cricket table for 15, 16 years that I got from an antiques store. I based the Bow Front table off of that cricket table. It’s fun to design something when you know how you live already, and you’re tailoring it to that lifestyle. I don’t like having a lot of chunky furniture, I don’t like having it all match. I don’t like all the same finishes—I want it to feel collected and layered. And so each piece is meant to be in the same space and talk to one another and without repeating too many things.
USD: How did your experience as an interior designer influence the creation of the collection?
My experience in design comes from getting the function and flow right in a space first. A lot of times, that means the architecture of the room needs to be enhanced to give it a good feeling of warmth. From that flow comes balance and proportion. The pieces in a room can’t be too big and they can’t be too small. And, of course, modern living means that they’re multi-functional. During COVID, every room has to be lifted. I don’t think there’s any piece of furniture that should not be touched. We need to think about using every room—and if we’re not, then we haven’t done a very good job designing.
USD: You have said that you wanted these pieces to be family-friendly and not the trappings of a trophy space. How did you achieve that?
These pieces aren’t “look-at-me” pieces necessarily. It’s more about the touching, the feeling, the storage capacity.
The Bow Front table is kind of tough. He’s got a great finish, he’s got a maple, so it’s one of our hardest woods that we could choose from, and then the finish itself is really forgiving.
The Monceau Console, which is pine, is already dented. It looks so great. It’s kind of like buying an antique that fits your house, because you can customize the size.
The Scalloped Table is dressy and fun. That table also has this amazing finish on it, so even though she’s a little more dressy, she can take some wear and tear. It’s sitting in my family room right now, and it’s already been used for drinks, because we watch basketball and The Simpsons in that room together.
When the CEH said, “We’d like to see it in your space; make it very personal,” I jumped all over that. Family rooms really get lived-in and mine was feeling tired, so the redesign was a really fun project for me. The pieces answer questions that a lot of my clients pose to me: “Where are we going to put the remote? How am I going to protect this finish? How does this work if we have laptops or cleats or mud? How do we clean it?” All of that works into my design.
USD: Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
I can’t pick just one favorite! I will say the Monceau Console is really special to me. And the Mr. B Table is based on a table bought at the Mario Buatta auction. It was in his Upper East Side apartment. When I was a child, I had Mario Buatta chintz in my bedroom, and my mom, who’s a decorator, used pillows with this really beautiful decorator fabric that he designed. Some of that subliminal stuff just stays with you.
USD: What do you hope this collection adds to a person’s home?
Personality. Soul. Authenticity. Interest. Hopefully, it becomes something that they’re using! I want people to be able to use these pieces.