Designers use equestrian motif to decorating accents

Designers use equestrian motif to decorating accents

May 7th, 2011 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

It's always a poignant moment for Marsha Yessick to hear the crowd at Churchill Downs raise their voices in "My Old Kentucky Home" moments before the Run for the Roses.

"My mother was born and raised in Kentucky, therefore she had a natural affection for the state and all it represents. Having spent many summers visiting relatives, I, too, became fond of the state. It is part of my roots," said the owner of Yessick's Design Center.

Yessick said she and her parents often attended the Kentucky Derby.

The designer said it's perhaps this deep-seated love for the Derby that prompted her to choose an equestrian theme for her family room and library.

"First I found the wallpaper," she said. "It creates the personality for the room."

The paper became the backdrop for the timeless appeal of an English Country design, the perfect complement to an equestrian theme and a decor that Yessick is passionate about.

Equestrian elegance is rooted in English countryside and its country homes and clubhouses: substantial dark-wood furnishings, fabrics depicting the hunt, tartans, the influence of riding attire worn to the hunt or polo matches.

"Searching for leather upholstery, rich tapestry fabrics, barley-twist legs on furniture, Windsor chairs and matching accessories resulted in a blend of American and English design," she said.

Her mother gifted her with Scottish plaids, which she used as table coverings and in the window treatments.

The interior designer said she continually


  • Plaids.

  • Equestrian-themed toiles.

  • Leather upholstery with nailhead accent.

  • Lamps with horse motif.

  • Rich colors: hunter green, saddle brown, burgundy.

  • Polo mallets, crossed and mounted to wall.

  • Framed pictures, photos of horses.

  • Display of loving cups, mint julep cups.

  • Horse tack used as accent pieces.

Source: Internet sites

scours antique shops picking up accessories. Brass bugles used as candlesticks, riding boots as bookends, polo mallets crossed and mounted on the wall, loving cups displayed on a wall all add visual interest to the living area.

other tips Toget the look

Want the equestrian look, but you're keeping a tight rein on your budget? Choose the right accent pieces, say local designers, or let fabrics set the mood.

  • Ashley Ford of Ashley Ford Interiors: "Most frequently we see the look in handprinted wallpapers and fabrics, usually by Ralph Lauren. He incorporates leather, equestrian toiles and plaids in furnishings and draperies. Another wonderful way to use it as an accent is to bring in beautiful old prints and lithographs with an equestrian design."

  • Dolores Wolfe, IDS, Wolfe Studio Interiors: "There are lots of pretty fabrics that have a horse motif, and there are nice prints and paintings of former race winners. Use it sparingly. It would be pretty to use a fabric as a soft window treatment across the top over panels in a different fabric."

  • Hank Matheny, ASID, CAPS, LEED Green Associate, Haskell Interiors: "The equestrian look has timeless appeal. The key is not to look like you tried too hard. Classic tartans, wool blankets, velvet fabrics are all part of the horse-riding culture. Think deep greens, rich reds and navy. The look should be classic with a worn, timeless appeal."