Coastal to Cosmo: Bringing city sophistication back to an NYC pad

Change, it’s inevitable. Take this pandemic. No one wanted it, and now so many don’t want to let it go, well perhaps not the pandemic itself, but all that change it pushed on us. The washing of the hands, the working from home, the family time, the need for less, the quieting of the frenzied existence. The irony is that we so often want what we can’t have.

It seems fitting that after many years of living with watery blue gray walls, linen shaded glass lamps, white tree stumped side tables, and a pastel blue sectional anchored by an enormous painting – its field of green meeting the sky, revealing not a hint of its place on this earth, that this coastal setting within the confines of its solid cement pre-war walls, will take its leave. Where will it go? I imagine it will find its way back to a place with fewer skyscrapers, less lists, and more leisure time.

After living on the water for nearly a year, my sister is ready to turn her city dwelling into the picture of sophistication, which got me asking what makes a city apartment feel city? It wouldn’t do at all to have the home not feel homey, for it to be stiff and rigid, as if it were shellacked into the glossy pages of Architectural Digest. No, tassels, and Tudor High Boys, tightly tailored seat cushions on uncomfortable chairs wouldn’t do. A man and his dog need a place to rest their head on a comfortable sofa after a long day in a city that doesn’t sleep, and the lady of the house deserves to have that same space look as good as it feels.

Antique Wrought Iron Horse Sculpture and Havenly Boucle Chair . $499.

What epitomizes New York City design style? This is the question that I was asking myself – weigh in if you have ideas of your own. This concept is not yet cemented. It’s not about the money, though money can go along way toward enhancing the look of the space – so often quality and craftsmanship come at a cost, but you can find oodles of talent on that little island. A gal that can turn a dime store purchase into an elegant backdrop for her five floor walk-up, 325sf studio, separating bed from Bohemian living space, turned cocktail lounge, guests huddled around a small coffee table, perched on pillows, candle lit casting a soft happy glow. No, it’s not about the money. It’s about a story – everybody has a story. Sure some tell it too fast. They build no suspension or intrigue. Some get overly verbose, losing you in a cluttered room of their story, before rushing you down the hallway blurting out an unceremonious ending. No, a good story is balanced, and starts when you open that door. Here’s how I think we’ll get it started.

Sweet Dreams: II

Oly Studio . Diego $6700.

Look number two represents a neutral palette in consideration of the violet painted walls – Benjamin Moore’s Lavender Ice is a soft, feminine hue that is both happy and calming, the perfect combination for a peaceful nights sleep.

Serena and Lily . Blake Raffia Wide Dresser . $3998.

Now if you are a germ-a-phobe, which I am not, you might want to consider a bed frame in hard wood or metal. Mites, and lord forbid, mice, love to snuggle into the fabric and fluff of an upholstered bed. Here is one of my very favorite options which satisfy my desire for the royal treatment. A modern take on a canopy in gold. The price tag matches the dream, but what a delicious dream it is.

OKL . Mike Seratt of the Prized Pig . $399.

Paired with a couple of Made Goods nightstands in raffia, and coordinated with Serena and Lily’s Blake Raffia Wide Dresser and you’ve got the makings of a beautiful bedroom.

Happy Sunday my little fairy dust friends. I hope you enjoy this last day of summer.

The Battle of the Manse

Picking things that are going to appeal to a large audience isn’t as easy as just having the appropriate budget to spend.  The inhabitants, and even casual users, will tell you exactly what they want in the design – even if there time there is going to be brief.  Herein lies the challenge.  You will never please everyone with your design choices.

Left:  Oly Studio – Flowerfall Chandelier $3,000.  Right Top:  Parsons Table – West Elm $400.  Right Bottom:  Pappelina Rug SVEA, Grey.

Offering options in these trying times is likely to be your safest – albeit not the purest route to achieving your overall aesthetic.  I am going to tackle it room by room as I have already encounter much opposition along the way.

Left:  Ro Sham Beaux Chandelier Malibu 18 $1998.  Right Top:  Ballard Designs . Tatum Trestle Table $1099.  Right Bottom:  Ballard Design . Braided Jute . $449.

The bedrooms are easier because people feel ownership or none at all – those you can work with a single end-user to determine the design.  Public rooms require a good deal more diplomacy, and in the busy season, I feel a little less diplomatic than this situation might call for – still – I soldier on, because in the end the input from those that will enjoy the space matters a lot.

Left Top:  Pottery Barn . Francesca Beaded Chandelier, Grey  Left Bottom:  Knoll Saarinen oval table – Inmod $899.  Right:  Turkish Oushak – Nazmiyal Collection $62,000.

I have devised three rough plans for the living room, center around the chandelier, carpet and table.  Which would you choose for a Cape Cod, year round home?

Brass Tacks: The Essentials of Survival

Let’s get right to the point.  For many of us, this was a hard week.  So hard in fact, that I find myself nearly missing the deadline for this post.  The point is, it stung.  Sometimes life draws blood — metaphorically speaking that is.  It might even feel for a time like we won’t survive it all….but we will.  I won’t make light of it as if an ill-conceived decision regarding a sofa can compare.  After all, we can’t return him like I did the Restoration Hardware Sofa that I decided didn’t fit my life view.  So instead I place my faith in a higher power, and turn to something(s) with a sunnier outlook.

philip-jeffries

Phillip Jeffries Wall Covering

oly-studio-nail-head

Oly Studio Bed

Tacks that is, brass ones to be specific.  They are so in fashion  from stools to headboards, tables, and uber chic wall covering – brass tacks are a spot of sunshine in any house – they might even offer a little optimism in the House of Representatives.  Dare to dream.

rh-stool

Restoration Hardware Stool

The polls are saying they are trending toward a win.  I don’t want to steer you wrong, but there is something that is both classic and contemporary about furnishings adorned with these beautifies.  They add a little edge to something that might otherwise be prissy, and a little glamour to something that might otherwise be a bit dull.

With this pick – you’ll hit the nail on the head.

Tone Deaf: neutrals that sing pretty

Neutral isn’t exactly a melodic word.  I’m afraid for many it elicits feelings of the lukewarm, of the refined, of the boring.  However will I scale that steep hill of prejudice and ensure that my new space is happily sophisticated?

bm-neutrals

White, cream, tan, brown, grey, and black are all essential neutrals.  They are not necessarily quiet, as is evidenced by black and white combinations, or dark chocolate and a cool stark white, but they can be.  Warm creams, paired with tan or taupie grays, and whites that incorporate trace amounts of the primary colors – Red, Yellow, and Blue, and your secondaries – Green, Orange, and Purple, create the subtlest undertones.  I know this, and I know which neutrals sing the prettiest tunes to me, so why am I denying myself the sweet sound of gray?  I love it.  I am hypnotized by it.  This is not poetic license to sell a point.  I literally become entranced, and am calmed by gray spaces.  For me it is the perfect cool compress to a heated day.

hb

Amir Khamneipur’s Manhattan Apartment . House Beautiful.            Heaven to me! 

The reason is simple.  When I started this quest, I promised myself that every nest would be different.  Now I suppose I could have sold a book about ten gray, one bedroom condos, but even writing it sounds a little boring to me.  So number four is going to be cream and white in the living area, some variation of sage green or slate blue in the kitchen.  The bedrooms are still to be determined.

hanson-palette

I would be lying if I said this palette didn’t make my chest tighten a bit.  My breathing become a little shallower.  Who would have guessed that something so bland could initiate a panic attack?  Don’t worry, I won’t pass out.  With my new Stephanie Shank Painting as my point of focus, with all its beautiful peaches, and sea foams, sky blues, and purple hues, I can feel the rosiness returning to my cheeks.  I’ll get through this, and I know just how I’ll do it.

Benjamin Moore’s:  Left . Paisley Pink.  Right Top . Tissue Pink . Right Bottom . Wild Aster.

Accent colors will play an important role in this new home.  In keeping with the soft whistle of a tune I am creating, the shades will be pastel.  Pinks, violets, pale blues, and greens are all getting serious consideration at this stage.  To give it a little edgy interest I will throw metals in the mix, perhaps a brass legged coffee table, brass hardware throughout, fabrics of varying textures for those that feel the need to touch everything…like me.  Ah ha, it’s feeling more interesting by the moment.

Left . Oly Studio’s Diego Cocktail Table . Right Top . Schumacher’s Najang . Right Bottom . Knoll’s Boucle Classic Fabric in Cream.