Eleanor Ambos Interiors

by Grace Bonney

Every now and then I’m reminded of just how powerful video can be in the world of interiors. Sometimes stills and words can’t do justice to the moving, breathing story of someone’s incredible life. I felt this so strongly when watching this video about the life and work of Eleanor Ambos on Aeon Video earlier this week.

Originally from Germany, Eleanor Ambos moved to New York from Germany when she was only 20 years old. Now 86, she’s growing her interior design business and managing an impressive collection of buildings she owns, despite losing her eyesight to macular degeneration.

I first watched her video through a link on my friend Becca Kallem‘s Facebook page, and have been digging for more information on Eleanor ever since. Her life and work is the subject of a documentary made by Nomadique but there’s also an excellent extended video about her work and her amazing buildings (you have to see the furniture she restores!) here at Aeon Video. That video isn’t embeddable so please click here to watch it.

The team at Nomadique sums it best on their Vimeo page where they say, “…with no immediate family besides a dog who rarely leaves her side, the fiercely independent Ambos still approaches her life with humor, but also with the nagging knowledge that her body is a structure she’ll never completely restore.” Her story is slightly bittersweet, but still inspires me endlessly to pursue the things I love and to make the most of any situation we come across. If you’ve got a few minutes to watch this video today, please do. Whether you’re excited by the furniture she’s restoring (the 4-poster bed is incredible), her maze of a furniture warehouse building in NYC or just want to know more about her as a person, it’s a video you won’t soon forget. xo, grace

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    • Susan

      There aren’t close ups in the video, but if you watch, you’ll more great shots. I don’t want to post too much from their video and dissuade anyone from watching- those filmmakers worked hard on the film.


  • Ever since SC I’ve been searching for something, anything to lift my creative spirits…I think this might just do it. Thanks for sharing. =)

    • ME TOO! I just searched the internet for it but I’m having a hard time finding it. Does anyone know the name of the song around the 8 minute mark!?

      This video brought a tear to my eye – it’s such an inspiration to see her talent and the way she describes the world. I love it!! I want to live in a french chateau.

  • This was incredible! I had goosebumps while watching it. Bitter sweet, as you said. Thanks much for sharing this…..it was amazing!

  • I absolutely loved watching this video. Beyond the fact the creator allowed the subject be who she is and did not manipulate her, I loved that this video made me feel things on some pure level. Almost like I did as a kid or when I’m very moved by something that in turn allows me to be creative.

  • This is my landlord :) She’s pretty unique and amazing and also gives great relationship advice. All of her buildings are an extension of her style in some way, and I love that in my lease it is explicitly stated that I am not to paint over the faux-marbled wood built-in shelving in the living room…I wouldn’t dare anyways.

  • Speaking also for my 5 brothers, we are THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY that the creators of these videos choose to ignore. Perhaps it makes a more compelling story, but I can tell you that my Aunt Eleanor’s mother – Louise Ambos – would’ve been outraged at the glaring omission of her son (Eleanor’s brother) and his 6 children. Eleanor’s only sibling, my father Karl Friedrich Ambos passed away in 2014. The majority of Eleanor’s family still reside on Long Island. We stay in touch with our aunt. Sorry… I just had to set the record straight. We do love our aunt, as she is the last connection to our father and our beloved Oma.

  • Worked as a cater waiter at “The Building” in the 1990s… Eleanor used to appear late in the evenings at the various functions and wander about observing the activity….reminded me of Vita Sackville West as her slender frame moved about, dressed in a smoking jacket, slacks and boots.