29 May 2019

The Big Reveal: A Recently Completed Apartment Downtown

Designing a modern Tribeca apartment punctuated by collectible mid-century furniture allowed the pieces to be the stars and the textiles to play a supporting role.

About a year ago, we were asked to embark on the decoration of the rooms in a newly constructed apartment in a historic downtown Art Deco building. While our decorating “comfort zone” lies more typically in rooms with an eclectic mix of 18th and 19th C antiques predominantly from America, England, and the Continent, we saw this as an opportunity to stretch our creativity. Curating a collection a collection of mid-century and art deco period furniture pieces for our gracious clients turned out to be a wonderful experience as we delved into the decorative arts of this period in history.

A custom-made curved sofa upholstered in a luxurious mohair was embellished with tonal colored pillows made from a mix of textiles set the mood for the room.

With a large open living room area and plenty of light, we stuck with our traditional rule of thumb: “Start with the rug.” It always works!

We envisioned a large curved sofa for the room anchored by the walls and corners behind it- all the more reason for the rug to be an artistic, albeit minimalist modern statement, which was very popular during the Art Deco period and before.

We modified and recolored a 1935 carpet attributed to Maurice Dufrene. This became the foundation for the room as we set about collecting beautiful vintage pieces to layer on top of it.

Our search quickly honed in on the work of Carl Malmsten, a seminal figure in the development of Swedish design in the 20th century. His traditional furniture forms were known to incorporate classical themes, and could be found in simpler, more contemporary interiors during his lifetime. We purchased a pair of Jonas Love chairs and a single Classicism armchair designed by Malmsten. Added to the mix are some contemporary pieces like a steel waterfall table and a Maison Jansen glass and brass coffee table.

The walls in the long entrance gallery and main living rooms were painted in a light reflecting polished plaster.
The single "Classicism" armchair is attributed to Carl Malmsten and the cabinet is Paolo Buffa.
The etching on paper above the sofa is by Takesada Matsutani. The windows lent themselves more to roman shades instead of curtains but we still wanted them to feel dressy. We designed two separate shades one in front of the other, one from a sun blocking silk and the other a gauzy linen.
The walls in the living room, entry hall and kitchen were finished with a Venetian Plaster decorative paint, which adds depth to the room, and reflects light differently depending upon the natural light and the time of day.

As the kitchen is open to the large living space,  it was essential to continue to include period lighting and furnishings. We found the Art Deco Swedish chandelier early in the process, and knew that it would be a statement piece. The wall sconces are vintage Orefors and the fine french cherry dining table is an original piece designed by Dominque, a French design firm from the 1920’s. The caned back chairs, also by Peder Moos, were upholstered in soft gray blue leather. We designed the banquette, with a tufted back and square arms and rounded wood back after illustrations and photos we’d seen of banquettes in restaurants in the 1940’s.

The walls are upholstered in a silk grasscloth on the wall behind the dining area, a nice compliment to the polished plaster walls.
The piece above the banquette is by Phylidia Barlow.

The TV/Family room was a blank slate when we got to it. Without any windows or architectural detail, the developer most likely had in mind that owners would turn it into a large closet or home office. We decided to turn this small space into a cozy place for our clients to watch TV. We designed millwork on both sides of the room fabricated out of rift oak. The walls are covered in a beige suede while the custom sectional is upholstered in a yummy chenille from Rogers and Goffigon. A collection of mid-century pottery and sculpture was curated for the shelves, a Rashid Johnson hangs on the millwork.

Millwork is made from rift oak to bring character and substance to this small room.

In the master bedroom, the client understood the depth of color and pattern that a DeGournay wall covering could bring to a room and it just was a matter of choosing the pattern she loved most and deciding on coloration. We designed a modern tufted headboard modeled after an old screen, and included French brass lights with soft white shades on either side for reading at night. The silk curtains were designed to blend in seamlessly with the walls, highlighted by a wonderful embroidery by Holland & Sherry whose embroidery is done by the same artisans as Dior. A pair of special Paolo Buffa bedside tables add just the right amount of richness to the room.

The side tables are Paulo Buffa from the 1940's.

In the young son’s room, we wanted to envelope this little room in comfort and texture and so we chose to cover the walls in a faux bois wallpaper. We designed a small cove with book cases above, lighting and a tailored twin bed to create a cozy sleeping nook and allow for as much open space in the room as possible to play. We think it’s a room he’ll still feel comfortable in 10 or 15 years from now (always our goal when designing children’s rooms!).

A custom bed upholstered in wool with brown leather piping is timeless.
A colorful print by Jonas Wood hangs above a modern leather top desk.

The young daughter’s rooms were meant to continue in a theme of luxury and comfort. The window treatments in this soft pink room were made from a custom silk textile by Raoul. Our client loved the idea of having a canopy bed in this room, and as fellow canopy bed enthusiasts, we had to agree!

The watercolor above the dresser is by Kim McCarthy.
In the other daughter’s bedroom, a small scale Bennison fabric covers the walls and helps set a more traditional tone in this modern space. A French bed, also upholstered in Bennison, gives this little girl’s bedroom the feeling of a Parisian hotel. The Ritz in Paris is one of our client’s favorite hotels so this was fitting.
The walls are upholstered in a Bennison scroll pattern that blankets the room in a soft blue hue.

We hope you enjoyed this tour of one of our most recent projects. It was a joy to create for this wonderful family!

— Lauren & Suzanne
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