Designing Life

Chris Madden Tannery 20210129 0542
A mahogany dining table from Chris Madden’s Bassett Furniture collection features rope detailing, rosettes and exquisitely turned legs.


I am standing at the doorstep of celebrity designer Chris Madden’s lovely British West Indies-style Vero Beach home, and though we’ve never met, it feels as if we’re old friends.

We’ve had several in-depth telephone conversations about the home furnishings empire she built from 1977 through 2010 – spanning publishing, television, design and licensing – and her rise to become one of America’s most successful style mavens. She has also opened up about why she and her husband of 46 years traded the fast-paced world of New York for the coastal calm of Vero Beach, and how her life has taken on new meaning and passions. 

Chris’ husband, Kevin, a former Conde Nast and Time Inc. publisher, greets me warmly and welcomes me into the airy foyer as an adorable Havanese named Rocky scampers over to see who has come calling. Chris appears, stunning and effervescent, wearing — of course — a mask that matches her outfit.

As the couple give me a tour of the home they purchased in 2014, it is clear that Chris practices what she preaches: Their home is thoughtfully decorated, but not staged to perfection. It is dressed, as she likes to say, to decompress, rather than to impress — although it does both.

The Maddens’ 5,000 square-foot sanctuary is an eclectic but choreographed collection of antiques and heirlooms, random artwork, pieces from Chris’ own home furnishings designs, and repurposed curbside finds. The result is a perfect reflection of their lives well lived through career pursuits, creative passions, travel and memorable moments with loved ones near and far.

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