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).]


WOW! This is so cool! I love everything! Their book Design Writing Research was like our design school bible.


Talk about ecletic! The atmosphere is vibrate and quirky yet so liveable (is that a word?). I adore the bed’s headboard!


what a great house! What lovely details. Where are the chocolate loveseats from?


Its a fab place, and what a couple, i am inspired by how many ” creative hats” Ellen can wear at the same time… it ‘s amazing


thank you for featuring this couple! i have been a fan/reader of ellen’s for some time. beautiful home!


your home is beautiful and inspiring. i love the rug in the bedroom under the blowup poster. could you tell me where you got it?

many thanks.


Wow! how beautiful! I love the library area and all the rugs, and the seating too. I would love to live there.


love your home! Can I ask what the paint color/brand in your bedroom is?



What a wonderful house! I quite agree about the radiators, btw – if you are lucky enough to have old cast-iron radiators, covering them would be nothing short of sinful.


I love the wall color in the radiator picture! Any chance you could share the color with us? Thanks!


i really like the rug in your living room under your Andrew Mockler, where did you find it?


Love the painted radiator. I am partial to tall headboards and want one in my master bedroom. The frame for the headboard gives me a great idea for a DYI project. Thanks!


Beautiful! I love the darks and lights and hits of bright red. So, I want to steal your bed linens. Any ideas on where I could find something similar? Thank you!


thanks for the info Ellen! Love your place and the white vinyl club chairs are genius.


I love tall headboards! That’s why I made my own.

I love how everything in the space is so quirky and lived in, you really get a sense of their personalities.


Gorgeous! Ellen and Abbott, my husband and I are huge fans of the work you both do…that aside…what is the color of your bedroom walls? :)


ahh!! i’ve always wanted a blow-up poster, but never had a place for the red one in my home. where did you find that amazing hot pink one?


Beautiful. The black armchairs in the bedroom look like the Eames-Saarinen organic chair. If so, wow. Colour me impressed. I have serious chair lust for those. Can I ask, are they new or vintage?


I too would love to know the paint color from the room with the silk screen over the fire place – it’s the perfect blue grey that I’ve been trying to find for our bedroom!


I too would love to know the paint color you used in the room with the silk screened print over the fire place!! It’s the exact shade of blue grey I’ve been trying to find for our bedroom.


How about pics of the garage/backyard? I remember seeing the addition in another magazine and it’s a great contrast to the victorian.


Oh wow! I am a huge fan of Ellen Luptons so this is fantastic! What a gorgeous house! Love the red radiators and that wallpaper made of Helvetica is fabulous.

Jennifer Mitchell

I’m homesick now. I used to live in Bolton Hill. Now I’m sitting in the frozen tundra of Detroit wishing for those blistering hot summers.

Nice apartment, too!


Our very own MICA design stars…gosh I wish I could own a Kara Walker print for my living room! Amazing home for two amazing designers.


A wonderful insight into a space inhabited by a wonderfully talented and inspiring woman. Thank you.


This seems like a house full of individually loved pieces, that all fit together through taste rather than planning – I love it. It’s beautifully design-driven yet very genuine.


i saw the feature the baltimore sun did last february on their home and have always wanted to see more pics, especially of the knoll wallpaper by abbott miller. thanks for sharing!


What a lovely home! Ellen Lupton is brilliant. It’s no surprise that where she lives is as well.

Ellen Lupton

Thanks for all the great comments!

Answers to a couple of source questions: the rugs are all traditional handmade rugs from Iran, Afganistan, India, and Pakistan (mostly purchased from rug merchants here in Baltimore). A handmade rug is like a painting, a work of art full of nuance and change.

The duvet cover is from IKEA. (We love IKEA; you just have to look closely to find the good stuff.) It has a wonderful stitched texture.

The Blow-Up poster was purchased at a poster show. We found it hiding admidst the endless French “cafe” lithographs. A true 60s icon!

Most of the mid-century furniture is current production, although we have a few vintage pieces.

Anna @ D16

If I’m not mistaken, Lutpon & Miller’s home was a Dwell cover story a couple of years ago. It’s funny, though — these photos make it look like a completely different (and MUCH more exciting and interesting) space!

My house is very similar in style and layout, and I always love to see how other people deal with having a fireplace in every room.

Anna @ D16

Oh yes, and: HOLY RADIATORS! I wasn’t planning to cover mine up, but you’ve inspired me to paint them a color other white.


what is the wall color in your living room, room with fireplace?


Ellen, you didn’t reveal the gray wall color in your bedroom. :)

Do you recall the brand/color?

Tara Emelye

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.


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.


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!


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.



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.



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


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!

The Curated Object

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.


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

Joe C

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


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.


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.