In this colorful apartment, the photographer, writer, and editor Tamu McPherson add a vivid zing of uplifting color and the shapely silhouettes of statement furniture to energize a historic Milan apartment.
Tamu McPherson’s journey from Kingston, Jamaica, to the heart of Milan goes to show that you cannot always pin your destination in advance. After leaving the Caribbean as a child for the artistic enclave of Nyack, New York, she eventually moved to the Big Apple to study at Fordham Law, where she fell for an Italian student. Once each had graduated, Milan was the precise place for them to build a home and, in McPherson’s case, a hit lifestyle website.
There the two had a son, and McPherson, with a trove of design at her fingertips, launched the online forum All the Pretty Birds in 2008, capturing the fashion world’s attention. Moreover, even during the pandemic, the style-setter has continued to tell uplifting, bold, and brilliant fashion stories. Her weekly #prettylockdown Instagram posts have juxtaposed inspiring outfits with her elegant and colorful apartment.
The family of three moved into the historic three-bedroom home, distinguished by original wood paneling and mosaic floors. His mother had purchased it nearly two decades prior as a place to reconnect with her two sons after the passing of their father. Its unique U-shape configuration allowed mother and children to have their wings, affording the 20-somethings a degree of independence.
McPherson credits her mother-in-law, an academic and aesthete, with opening many doors. “She introduced me to life in Milan. I would go to the opera with her and her friends, sit in her box at La Scala.” Signora also provided valuable decorating guidance, bequeathing vintage treasures by Le Corbusier and Carlo Scarpa and connecting McPherson with antique dealer and interior decorator Raimondo Garau, whom she enlisted to help furnish her home.
“My mother-in-law has spectacular taste,” McPherson says. “I did not want to do much work to the apartment.” She and Garau started by painting the walls of elegant sage green. Moreover, set about layering antiques he procured with the existing furnishings. “Our previous apartment was all Le Corbusier and everything you see now on Instagram,” says McPherson. “Raimondo told me, ‘You need to introduce a new spirit and make this home your own.’ ”
For McPherson, known for her vibrant collections, there is nothing more personal than color. “My childhood house in Jamaica was green on the outside!” she says with a laugh. “I grew up with color. I have always loved it.” In her living room, a magenta sofa by Florence Knoll and a chocolate-brown one by Luigi Caccia Dominioni now surround a 1970s cocktail table accented with tiered blue-glass discs. Nearby, a pink Ettore Sottsass Shiva vase is displayed atop an antique Chinese lacquered cabinet.
The art on their walls also carries a certain sentimentality. Hanging in the entryway of this colorful apartment, for instance, is a Micaiah Carter photograph that shows a young woman’s braided hair in barrettes, reminding McPherson of “little black girls growing up.”
Furthermore, her biographical journey further reveals itself in the kitchen, where she has mastered Italian staples like risotto. In cooking, as in decorating, color adds personality.
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