How Chloë Sevigny Is Trying to Declutter

Photo: Courtesy of Zara

For Zara Home’s latest campaign, the brand invited director Fabien Baron and Chloë Sevigny to shoot a short film at the famous Casa de Serralves in Porto, Portugal. This was no “indie shmindie” thing, as Sevigny told the Cut. The pink Art Deco mansion, built in the 1930s by the architect José Marques da Silva, is a temple of good taste, and Baron and Sevigny made full use of it. (As did Zara, filling the entire thing with the brand’s new collection, which includes everything from furniture to candles to fragrances).

“That’s what I want my apartment to look like — and I’ve tried, but it doesn’t,” Sevigny said. Below, we spoke about the trials and tribulations of decorating a space, her love of pink, and how her aesthetic has changed over the years, from thrifting to scrutinizing towel swatches, and from apartment to apartment.

I’m happy to be talking to you about this now because I actually just moved into my first solo apartment, and I’m a little bit lost in terms of decorating. When you first moved out on your own, what’s the first real investment that you made in your space?
Well, I’ve always been thrifty. In my first rental apartment, I was using furniture that was my grandmother’s, that my mother hung on to, like wicker pieces. And I would always scour the thrift stores in the city. I lived in Gramercy, so I would go almost every other day, honestly, because I’m a shopaholic. Or at least once a week.

When I bought my first apartment, which was in the East Village on 10th Street, I became very overwhelmed because it was a permanent thing. I’d always lived in tiny studio apartments, and suddenly I needed a lot of furniture. So I get it, as you were saying: You’re overwhelmed. I was like, I don’t even know where to begin. This thrifting thing is not going to work.

There was a store called Cafiero Select on 6th Street that I would always go into, and [the owner, David Cafiero] had really good prices. Now he’s on 2nd and Second. I was buying stuff from him, but I was like, I need help. I was trying to have stuff built while I was away and then I came back and they’d built it wrong. I was like, I’m not going to be able to manage all of this. So I asked him, “Do you ever decorate?” And then he became my decorator, and we’ve done three apartments together.

Is there anything that you’ve learned from working with David Cafiero? How has he informed your thinking at all in terms of decorating a space?
Other than sourcing at odd auctions around the country, I think he’s taught me to think a little bit more outside the box — to go for unexpected textures or fabrics or pieces. Or maybe I was more challenged in that department, and he has helped me approach it in a different way.

What’s most important to you in a room? When you’re having these conversations with your decorator, are you telling him what you value most? Or what you like and dislike?
I’ve always been very inspired by my surroundings. The first apartment we did together was on 10th Street, and it had this kind of Colonial feel. It was dark because it was on the ground floor. I knew I wanted to introduce a lot of color, and I was really into [the interior designer] Billy Baldwin and Schumacher fabric, so I would send [Cafiero] photos of things that I was inspired by. Actually, I think back then, I would tear them from magazines and put Post-its in design books. And then he would source them.

My current apartment has a lot of light. It’s a ’60s building, so the lines are really clean, and I wanted to introduce more earthen materials — like, I have a big marble coffee table and marble lamps. I wanted more wood, more warm and pale tones. There’s just so much happening outside the windows. My view is insane, which is awesome, but there’s so much going on outside we wanted it to be calmer inside.

Now you have two roommates: your husband, Siniša Mačković, and your son, Vanja. Are you having to compromise at all in terms of what you’re buying?
No. [Siniša] works in art, and he knows a lot about furniture, which I don’t. You can show me any piece of clothing — I could recognize the designer 99.9 percent of the time. But with furniture, I don’t really know the designers or anything, and he’s very good at all that and sourcing stuff. He has specific taste, which helps with decision-making. He has some designer couch that everybody has now, which we’re thinking about redoing and incorporating into our house because most of his stuff is still in storage. It’s nice to live with someone whose taste you fully trust. Like right now, we’re, like, looking at towels and I was like, “Should we get brown or purple?” And he’s like, “Let’s get the samples.” And then he does that. I would never think to get the samples. I would just be more instinctual and go for it.

Is there a piece that you bought for your current apartment that was a big investment or a splurge that was really important to you?
Well, the apartment itself was a full gut renovation, so that was the big price tag. We’ve been there for five years, so now we’re slowly starting to think about replacing some of the furniture. And towels.

The only piece of advice that I’ve been given so far in terms of decorating is “Go slow.” Is that something that you are a believer in or no?
I’m not very good at that. I just want everything done — hence not getting the fabric swatches for the towels and just buying them. But yeah, I think that is good advice. Now we’re looking at getting a new dining-room table and chairs, and I’m like, Well, do we get the table first or the chairs? That’s confusing for me.

That’s a good question. Do you have an answer yet?
I have to call Cafiero and get his opinion. We want a big table and six chairs, and getting six used antique chairs is often hard.

Have you had to childproof your apartment at all?
Yeah. All the outlets and some of the cabinets and things like that. The climbing is happening now, which is terrifying. Actually, he knocked out a tooth already falling off the couch and into the bookshelf.

Has it been fun shopping for kid stuff?
Yeah, it has been. I tend to gravitate toward pink for him. We have a pink high chair and a little pink piano and a pink-and-lavender mat that he plays on and that delineates his little area. He gets a lot of pink and a lot of Star Wars stuff. He has an R2-D2 lamp, some Star Wars bedding, and a lot of Baby Yodas.

Let’s talk about this Zara Home film, which you made with Fabien Baron at the pink Casa de Serralves in Portugal. What was it like being there with him?
I mean, that’s what I want my apartment to look like — and I’ve tried, but it doesn’t. That ’20s-meets-’70s-meets-’80s thing — that’s my vibe. I have a lot of mustard and beige-brown walls and a bathroom with black-and-white tile.

I’ve known Fabien for years, and I know his aesthetic from Interview magazine and everything else he’s done. I’ve never had the opportunity in film or television to look like a sophisticated, elegant woman. [Laughs.] I’ve had so few parts where I’ve been like that. So I was like, This is, like, a great opportunity, even to use it to get other jobs. I’m like, I can look like this, you know.

It was a little spooky, too. Did you guys come up with that concept together?
He wrote the script, but I’ve been that actress. I’ve had lines in movies where I’m like, How do I own this language? You say it out loud over and over again, approaching it from all different angles and dissecting it. So that was not so much of a stretch for me. I’ve been there.

From left: Photo: Maxime PoiblancPhoto: Maxime Poiblanc
From top: Photo: Maxime PoiblancPhoto: Maxime Poiblanc
From left: Photo: Maxime PoiblancPhoto: Maxime Poiblanc
From top: Photo: Maxime PoiblancPhoto: Maxime Poiblanc

Were there pieces from the collection that you particularly liked?
I like a lot of the lamps, honestly. They make really nice low lamps. And the ceramics that look like they’re from antiquity or something. There are also some glass plates that come in pink, which is my favorite color, and I was thinking about getting a set of those for the house. I love colored glass. And the wineglasses. I’m always struggling to find the right size wineglasses, and they have a very thin, delicate stem — just a nice shape that’s sort of unusual.

Is the minimalist thing new for you?
Well, it’s because the apartment is newer. But I just feel like my mind needs more space. I don’t even like to have a lot of art on the walls. I just want space around things. I don’t know if I’m just getting older and it’s harder to process or I’m focusing so much brain space on the baby all day, but, like, I used to love bookshelves and now I don’t want to look at spines. All of my bookshelves are very low-lying now, under the windows.

Has this translated at all to the way you dress?
More my space, I think. But I guess I’m trying to streamline the way I dress a little bit. I used to feel like I had to accessorize, or do more, because I wasn’t interesting-looking. That’s why I always overdid it. And now I’m like, Oh, you can be minimal. I never thought that I could pull off that kind of thing. I thought it would be too average-looking.

How Chloë Sevigny Is Trying to Declutter