Fort Myers News-Press: Designer featured at Miromar Design Center makes everything that's old new again

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• February 25, 2012

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Photos courtesy of Sherrill Canet.

Blending old with new is all the rage in decorating. And even though there are no rules about it, there is some amount of artistic talent required. A trained eye for what looks good together. And what doesn't.

Otherwise it just ends up a pile of "stuff" in a room that does not work. And making it “work” is the challenge.

That is why it is so much fun to meet a designer who has perfected the art of creating traditional interiors that retain elements of youthfulness and surprise. Combining her love of antiques and eclectic pieces with an artist-like eye for the fine details of a room, Sherrill Canet creates stunning rooms that have a gracious comfort and elegance about them.

She takes “old world” things and makes them fresh again. And her designs result in rooms that make you want to come in and stay a while.

And they are timeless. This is every designer's goal. To create rooms that never go out of style.

Canet has designed rooms in homes for high profile clients all over the world. Her designs that mix old with new have been featured in Traditional Home, Better Homes & Gardens and House Beautiful. And this week, she was in Southwest Florida to share the recipe for her creations as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Miromar Design Center in Estero. She also signed her book, A La Carte, The Elements of an Elegant Home.

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A former model who at a young age, was fascinated by the intricacies of fashion design, Canet began to see that interior design eventually followed fashion.  It was while living in London that she began her foray into what was to become a lifelong passion for antiques.In this living room, scale, not color, was used to create drama.

"I would go through the London flea markets and museums and soon it became an obsession. By the time my husband and I moved to New York, I had a huge container of antiques to bring home with us."

By now, Canet had studied design at the Inchbald School of Design in London. And she shopped and studied antiques incessantly. Returning home with a pile of antiques, she did what she had to do: she opened the first of several antique shops in Locust Valley, Long Island. Then two more in New York City. As a side business, she began designing for her customers and before long, was buying exclusively for clients homes that she was decorating. And for each piece of furniture that went to a client, another would find its way into her own home which she calls a "design laboratory."

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A mix of new pieces includes an upholstered settee, chair, floor lamp and antiques."I would look at a beautiful object and try to recreate the authentic atmosphere around it that would make the piece feel fresh and new."

As her clientele expanded, she searched for ways to reinvent the colors, furnishings and textiles of well-coordinated period rooms. And this became the foundation for her classic, elegant style. So, it was goodbye to the antique shops as she began to seek out designs from every period and from the far-flung locales of Italy, England, France, Scandinavia, Russia and Asia.

But these are not your great grandmothers' designs. Canet has a lighthearted and fun approach to decorating and a skill which she credits to the years of experience of arranging furniture and objects in her shops.

They are “contemporary without being too modern and austere.

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They fall someplace between transitional and modern, and people could visualize them in their homes.

The foyer of the designer's own home steps into the 21st century with the 1970's-inspired sculptural Linley console. Designed by Canet, the white crocodile leather piece holds and 18th century statue of Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. The console updates the velvet covered Jacobean sofa and is illuminated by an oversized Italian chandelier that pulls it all together.

She mixes Chippendale dining chairs with an Asian sideboard. A modern table on an antique rug. Asian and with English pieces. Silks on a sisal rug. She conceals a television behind bifold artwork. She mixes linens with leather. Uses custom finishes. Designs her own lines of furniture and accessories. And it all works.

Canet says that it is all in the "art of the mix."

And she has a few tips we can follow to make it work:

Use contrasting finishes. Nothing should match. But they should complement each other.

Mix periods.

Design a room that keeps your interest. Like putting an outfit together.

For high ceilings, use slightly larger pieces of furniture and less of it.

When it comes to color, neutrals are more relaxing.

Use no more than two or three colors in a room.

More is not better. Edit!

It is all about rule-breaking design and not being afraid to use what you love.

As Canet says, "Sometimes nothing makes any sense but you just know that it is pretty to look at."

And that is what it’s all about.

The Sherrill Canet Collection for Stark Carpet includes her line of furniture, carpet, wall coverings and fabric. The line is available to the trade at Webster & Company ( or call 239-498-9074) at Miromar Design Center. Also visit

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips and photos, visit