Hillary Clinton Likes to Decorate With Yellow and Mixed Prints

And other fun facts we learned from the design duo of Todd Davis and Rob Brown at Tuesday’s Corcoran lecture.

By: Laura Wainman

From a complete overhaul of a 1920s Mediterranean house in Miami for the CFO of Elizabeth Arden to designing a beautifully traditional English-manor-style home in Columbia, Maryland, Todd Davis and Rob Brown never know what their daily schedule will bring. No two projects resemble one another, as Brown and Davis eschew a signature style in favor of creating bespoke designs. On Tuesday, the duo behind the acclaimed Brown Davis Interiors gave an audience at the Corcoran an inside look at their, as they put it, "schizophrenic lives."

The evening, cosponsored by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the College of Art and Design, and the Washington Design Center, consisted of a 45-minute lecture from the pair, followed by a Q&A session. Brown and Davis, both lifelong Washingtonians, spoke to a captivated audience of about 100, which included Corcoran students and faculty, friends, designers, and decorators.

The team has worked on high-profile projects such as the British Embassy residence and two homes for the Clintons. They discussed their approach to interior design, how expanding to Miami has affected their style, and presented their digital portfolio, including never-before-published photos of their work for the Clintons and a peek into their own gorgeous Miami home, aptly named Villa Nirvana. (We fell in love with the '70s-esque white fur chairs in their dining room, but were told, "If you spill red wine, you aren't invited back!")

Brown and Davis said working with the Clintons after they left the White House was one of their most memorable assignments, as the family was so grateful for their help "since they had been living in public housing for 18 years," said Brown. We're not so sure we feel so bad for those poor Clintons roughing it out in public housing, but we did find it interesting that Hillary has a penchant for sunny yellows and mixing prints. Brown and Davis helped update the room made famous by Hillary's interview with Barbara Walters by adding a Clarence House checkered chair, a floral sofa, and several leather-accented pieces to create a fresh space.

"You walk quite a tightrope when designing [in DC] of what you see and hear but being careful what you say. Clients have to trust you won't reveal what you are privy to in their private space," said Davis.

While Brown and Davis agreed the business side of their operations is similar in Miami and Washington, they said they find the design aesthetic of the two cities varies greatly.

"Both traditional and modern homes are found in either location, but the geography makes the accepted color schemes pretty different," said Brown.

Davis added that though you may hear a request for rich jewel tones in a Washington home, more often the colors desired are, unsurprisingly, neutrals. A neutral color scheme allows the home to transition easily between seasons and allows for color to be added to the palette for holidays or parties.

At the end of the evening, Brown and Davis fielded questions from audience participants ranging from what project they'd like to tackle next (answer: a hotel or restaurant) to whether kitchens bore them ("Only because we never cook"), an inquiry that stemmed from the lack of kitchen spaces in their portfolio.

And in a pre-lecture interview with The Washingtonian, Brown and Davis revealed that one of their upcoming designs will be for an undisclosed female singer in South Beach.

"We're very excited about this one" was all Davis would say.