This client had been living in the same rental apartment for ten years without redecorating. After the last flat mates moved out several years ago, she had never gotten rid of all the odds and ends and furniture that weren't actually hers. So we began this job by sorting through each and every item in her home– furniture, clothing, knick knacks, anything inside and outside of a drawer!
After the sorting process was over, and we knew what she wanted to keep, we began the design process. My client wanted to incorporate her grandfather's paintings from the 1960's, as well as her wonderful wooden lamps, also from her grandparents. She showed me her grandparents' summer home near Great Jones Beach, and I drew a lot of inspiration from there...we decided to go full on 1960's, with some restraint, of course.
The 1960s' were marked by a "return to nature" and all things "natural." Earth tones became fashionable. The muted peachy-brown we used in the living room was just neutral enough for our modern sensibilities, but is also a color you might see on the set of Mad Men. I found the couch at RePop in Williamsburg. It was a custom made cast off, designed to look like it was from that era, but totally new, and fabricated by a company who uses sustainable lumber, soy cushions and eco-friendly upholstery fabrics on their furniture. The television console is also from RePop and is vintage. I love the white metal knobs. We painted her existing shelving units the color of the sun to match the kitchen cabinets.
Which brings us to the kitchen. It was difficult to get a full shot of the cabinets, because it is such a narrow space, but I am so pleased with the results in this kitchen. We did everything in this kitchen; we replaced the contractor-grade linoleum counter tops with tile, bought a new stove, refinished the floors, put in a new ceiling fixture, and painted everything. I found vintage decorative tiles from the 60's, as well as a spice rack, some wall art and some cute kitschy curtains with mushrooms and flowers. My client used to avoid her kitchen because it was so dreary. Now it is a happy place!
This client loved terrariums among other things reminiscent of the pre-industrial era. Yet he was determined that we incorporate some of his mid-century modern furniture as well. Additionally, his aesthetic had been heavily influenced by his father, who had served in the navy in the 1960's, and who harbored an array of traditionally masculine hobbies such as antique gun collecting.
This room was originally purposed as a living room, accessible not only by the hallway, but also by the two adjoining rooms. It had since been converted to a bedroom, but the two double doors were left in place, creating a mood of impermanence in this man-cave. So I started this project by fabricating sound-proof panels to cover the double doors. I used rigid insulation, the best material in my client’s price range with which to buffer sound, and created three burlap-covered panels of insulation for each doorway. The burlap proved to be a handsome enrichment to our sailor theme, and the rigid foam helped block out sound from the adjoining rooms.
To circumnavigate the lack of natural light, I painted the walls white, left the window naked, and paired down my client's artwork that was cluttering the walls up to the 9.5’ ceilings. I procured two accent lamps and a burlap-covered ceiling fixture that greatly enhanced the lighting, at all hours of the day.
The headboard was constructed using fabric I had custom-printed, depicting a world map drawn in the 1600’s. The mid-century modern couch converts to a day bed. After I found it for my client, I had it upholstered in leather and white wool to compliment my client’s preexisting modernist chrome chair and circle/cube coffee table.
I wanted this kitchen to fit in with the rest of the home's original early 20th century details, but not break the bank or overwhelm with Victorian ornamentation. Furthermore, the color of the cabinets had to be able to take on a lot of grey hues without feeling depressed, as the garden level was constructed about a foot underground, and the light came mostly from the North–it was very cave-like. This kitchen area had been completely gutted, so I had free reign to maximize the light and the counter space. I added a wall to enclose the new bathroom and to house the fridge and stove. I created an L-shaped cut-out in what had been a solid wall, to allow direct passage from the living room, let in more sunlight from the South, and to create a shelf for the owner's extensive antique bottle collection.
My client wanted her bedroom to look like the interiors from the film "Immortality"--which boiled down to using a green-blue slate color paired with warm and rich wood furniture. We chose a color that looked great with barely any light; it wasn't too dark to be depressing for her, but it was grey enough to represent the mood she was after. She also wanted to incorporate some plants that could survive without care and without much light. I ended up making her these wall pieces using dried preserved plants and some antique frames. This project involved a lot of organization, as well as design. We changed the layout to better accommodate her home office and moved a lot of books to the living room so that my client's buddha collection could help her relax in the bedroom. Check out the pretty light patterns from the cut-out arc lamp I found!
Modern UES Apartment
My client wanted a modern utilitarian space with all new furniture, and fast! I managed to put together an entire apartment that was both pleasing to the eye and functional. Our plan also included artwork. The result was a clean and simple palette of whites and natural walnut wood, with splashes of blue. Of particular interest is the moss wall art by Flowerbox, a company who grows their own plants in greenhouses in France and then dries, preserves and frames them. Also, the vinyl Banksy decals made my client pretty happy. I'm now his "designer for life." I'll take it!