McMillen: Nearing a Century of Style

When the Fricks and America's other bluebloods want to redecorate, they look no further than to the firm that has been refreshing their houses for generations: McMillen, Inc.

Established in the 1920s by Eleanor Stockstrom McMillen Brown, a Parsons graduate, McMillen, Inc. was a pioneer in the profession of interior decorating. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Mrs. Brown ran her practice as a business and didn't consider herself a society lady who "helped" friends with colors and curtains. She allied herself with one of her Parsons teachers, William Odom, whose refined eye and penchant for the neoclassical played no small part in her rooms that were notable for their timeless elegance, as seen below.

Mrs. Brown's Sutton Place Dining Room

Dining Room by Kelly Wearstler

McMillen's decorating services have been in demand through the decades, from the pool house for Standard Oil baron Colonel H.H. Rogers (father of Millicent who also used McMillen) in the 1930s to the private quarters of President Johnson in the 1960s. Mrs. Brown lived a vigorous 100 years, and came into her office everyday until the age of 90.

The latest work of Ann Pyne, a principal of McMillen, makes it clear that there is a lot more to come from the firm. This living room from a Sutton Place residence featured in the February issue of Architectural Digest is certainly traditional, but its restrained use of color and pattern make it "now".

Pyne's own New York residence is filled with an interesting mixture of family hand-me-downs and her collection of Aesthetic movement and Arts and Crafts pieces.

My favorite room is her study, where I could happily while away hours.

Her mother Betty Sherril is the president of McMillen, seen here in her grande dame-style living room.

I got a kick out of her very Hollywood dining room, with its silvered walls and leopard upholstery. The carpeting also has the same leopard print - meow!

Credits: Top and second photo from The World of McMillen by Erica Brown; #3; #4 by Durston Saylor for Architectural Digest; #5-#8