sneak peek: ellen lupton and abbott miller

today’s sneak peek belongs to two design veterans: ellen lupton and abbott miller. my lovely new intern/writer anne suggested we contact them about the column and to my surprise and delight, they accepted! based in baltimore, ellen and abbott have contributed so much to the design community it’s tough to know where to start. ellen is a writer, curator, and graphic designer who currently servers as the director of the graphic design mfa program at MICA, the director of the center for design thinking, and as a curator or contemporary design at the cooper-hewitt national design museum. she’s written numerous books on the subject of design, including the popular “diy: design it yourself“: one of my favorites on our bookshelf at home. ellen’s husband, abbott miller, is a designer, writer, and partner in the nyc office of the international design firm pentagram. abbott leads a team designing books, magazines, catalogs, identities, exhibitions, and creating editorial projects for pentagram (including a book on the work of matthew barney). together they make for an incredible design duo and their home is a wonderful expression of their love for design. i hope you’ll enjoy this sneak peek into their lovely baltimore home. thank you to anne for finding this sneak peek and thank you to ellen and abbott for sharing their home with us. as always, you can click here to see full-sized (and extra) versions of ellen and abbott’s home.

[Image above: Our dining room is an extension of the front living room, and it is also our library. The painting on the wall is mine, and the plastic ice cubes in the fireplace are props from a photo shoot]

[In our sunny bedroom, the walls are gray and the sheets are white, but we’ve added color with art, rugs, furniture, and pillows. Over the mantel is a huge silkscreened film poster from the 60s for the film Blow Up. The ceiling fixture is by Jasper Morrison, and that’s a hot pink Panton chair in the corner.]

[The headboard is a big wooden frame salvaged from an exhibition design. It’s upholstered with fabric designed by Hella Jongerius for Maharam.]
[The wallpaper was designed by Abbott Miller for Knoll; it is a dense texture made from the typeface Helvetica. The print is by Kara Walker, and the lamp is, of course, by Jasper Morrison.]

[We live in a large townhouse in the Bolton Hill area of Baltimore. The house was built in the 1880s, and it has an intrinsic urban formality. We’ve preserved that character, while furnishing the place with modern pieces and contemporary art. (Our art collection includes work by friends, students at MICA, and our own stuff, and you may notice that some of it moves around in the pictures, as we are always rearranging and these pictures were shot over the course of two years.) The painting here is by Andrew Mockler, an artist in New York. The lamp is by Jasper Morrison. The curtains are from IKEA. We love them so much, we used them in every room in the house; they cast a beautiful shadow.]

[There’s a second parlor at the back of the house. Here, it’s shown furnished with a pair of vinyl club chairs that we bought at a junk shop for $35. They are among the most comfortable chairs on the planet. The photograph is by Corinne Botz, a MICA alum now working in NYC.]

[We’ve had many of the radiators taken out, stripped down, and painted this brilliant ruby red. Rather than hide the heating system inside dorky radiator covers, we prefer to celebrate the radiators as industrial sculpture. The painting is by Dane Nester, a graduate of MICA.]

[The marble floors add an edge of luxe to the bathroom, while the dark gray subway tiles are a subtle twist on standard bathroom surfaces. The wall color is called “dark salmon,” and it’s close to the red used by Le Corbusier. It’s a very intense color, but warm and livable in an intimate space. The poster in the bathroom is by Baltimore artist/designer Nolen Strals (dinos getting it on).]

  1. Tara Emelye says:

    If there is any chance of paint colors for the dining room, bedroom and second parlor, I would be most appreciative. A truly beautiful, inspiring home.

  2. peggy says:

    I love the paintings in this place! Not the blow up posters so much, (and I know I’m admitting I’m not hip – but I don’t really lie that move, except of course for the propeller in the living room).

    I absolutely adore the wall color and the lamps in the fireplaces. Wish I had a better view of the white pieces on the mantel, look very interesting.

    Great post.

  3. Amy says:

    Ellen graduated from Cooper Union two years before I did, and we didn’t know eachother while there, but I remember her distictive style! She ran the Lubalin Type and Desgin Center there-she was, at that time, the first artist I knew of who could work with a computer. I was in awe, and equally impressed by her beautiful home and career!

  4. Derek says:

    What was wrong with my comment yesterday that the house looks more like a showroom more than a home? it does… I thought it was complimentary.
    So much for free speech.

  5. grace says:


    i found the second half of your first comment about children in the house inappropriate.

    if you read the comment disclaimer to the left you’ll see that if we feel comments are inappropriate or personal in nature we will not approve them.


  6. Gianfranco says:

    CREATIVE. PASSIONATE. Great environment, like to work instead of living in a place like this! Best.

  7. Ana says:

    I’m dying to know the color grey you used in the bedroom! I have also been looking for a similar shade for my room. And what about the red paint used for the radiator? Thanks!

  8. This is such an indulgence…rarely do we get to take a peek into the abode of a design guru! I adore the Kara Walker on the Abbott Miller/Knoll paper. Just perfect.

  9. shannon says:

    I love the little tiny yellow chair sandwiched in between the two big white chairs, so absolutely brilliant!

  10. Oen says:

    You have a Kara Walker piece. I’m jealous!!

  11. Joe C says:

    Where can you get Dane Nester paintings from? Does he have a website or contact details?? Love his work

  12. Gina says:

    Wow what an amazing house – I love the bathroom. I’m dying to know where you got your Nolen Stral (Dino’s getting it on) poster from??? I’ve been searching everywhere.

  13. Amy parness says:

    Does anyone know who makes the red/orange sofa? Thanks!

  14. san says:

    Above all this sneak peek proves to me that to make a house into a home doesn’t require a technical education but it’s more about sensibility and self-knowledge. This house’s pics like tell me ‘this could be technically recommended here’. It’s impersonal, lacks warmth and enthusiasm, I don’t like it. Sorry, no offense.

  15. Luxury Silk says:

    It is going to be nice to take my kids to see a movie of the characters that I used to watch on tv.


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