Decorating Home Tours: This 1920s New York Apartment Combines Bold Colors and Playful Patterns

This 1920s New York Apartment Combines Bold Colors and Playful Patterns
This 1920s New York Apartment Combines Bold Colors and Playful Patterns

When Elizabeth and Adrien Fraise purchased their Manhattan apartment in New York City, they inherited a professionally decorated space that was mostly furnished. However, as their family grew with the addition of two young children, they realized that the existing layout and somewhat traditional interiors were no longer suitable. It wasn’t until a leak from the apartment above prompted them to embark on a renovation journey with interior designer Emily C. Butler.

The living room of the apartment showcases a vibrant color palette, but Butler cleverly balanced it by incorporating neutral tones in the foundational elements such as the walls, carpet, and sofa. The choice of tough gray sisal for the carpet ensures that it can withstand the demands of family life, while also grounding the room. For a subtle touch of color on the ceiling, Butler selected Benjamin Moore Mountain Mist. This addition adds a hint of color without overwhelming the space. To create a lighter and brighter ambiance, the fussy formal drapery was replaced with crisp linen Roman shades. Benjamin Moore Timid White was used to freshen up the walls, built-ins, moldings, and the mantel, creating a unified and refreshed look.

In the living room, every type of seat features a different pattern, including a tweed sofa with a subtle herringbone design. Butler strategically employed bold prints on smaller furnishings and pillows to prevent them from overpowering the room. This approach not only adds visual interest but also serves as a cost-saving strategy by using special fabrics on smaller pieces. Mixing several patterns can be challenging, but Butler’s key tip is to pay attention to scale. Quieter prints are placed next to larger, bolder ones, exemplified by the combination of soft green fabric on the chairs with bright, graphic yellow throw pillows. The couple’s artwork collection further amplifies the color scheme, while new upholstery and fringy trim update the existing sofa.

As you step into the apartment’s elevator vestibule, you are greeted by colorful, playful, and highly functional decor. Baskets, bowls, and a blue-and-white ceramic umbrella stand serve as convenient storage solutions for grab-and-go items.

Butler’s design expertise is evident in the kitchen, where she reconfigured the narrow space to create a classic fridge-range-sink work triangle. By extending the cabinets to the ceiling, storage capacity was maximized. A pantry was cleverly concealed behind a grass-cloth-covered panel next to the stove. Additionally, Butler incorporated lockers into the design to elegantly manage the day-to-day items of family life. Elizabeth particularly appreciates the drawers beneath the lockers, providing convenient shoe storage.

In the dining room, built-ins are not only used to display the couple’s collected pieces but also house a small bar. Butler employed patterned wallpaper to enhance the foreground details and create a sense of specialness around the displayed collections. The built-in bench features a gap that allows the table to be pushed in, serving as a buffet when the couple entertains.

Throughout the apartment, a floral wallpaper served as a touchstone for the overall color palette. Shades of blue and coral are skillfully threaded through each space, appearing in different saturations and proportions. Butler utilized grosgrain ribbon as a border in the entryway, which can be easily replicated as a DIY project. Attention to detail shines through in the meticulously mitered corners around the door frame.

In the bedroom, Elizabeth and Adrien chose to retain the luxuriously upholstered walls left by the previous owner. However, Butler introduced simplified furnishings to lighten the formal look. In the small bathroom, Butler opted for painted paneling on the lower half of the room (Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue) instead of fully wallpapering it, as it would have been overwhelming.

The children’s rooms reflect their individual personalities while maintaining a cohesive design language. In Porter’s room, cardinal red grosgrain ribbon serves as trim beneath the molding, beautifully contrasting with the pale blue walls. The 6-by-11-foot kids’ den is a multifunctional space that incorporates a sleeper sofa for overnight guests or movie nights. High-touch walls are covered in scrubbable vinyl grass cloth, ensuring durability. The built-in bookcase features a pullout desktop, providing a flexible work and play area for the boys.

This New Home Owner Brings Color and Pattern to Her Whimsical 1924 Bungalow | House Tours

This New Home Owner Brings Color and Pattern to Her Whimsical 1924 Bungalow | House Tours
This New Home Owner Brings Color and Pattern to Her Whimsical 1924 Bungalow | House Tours

Elizabeth and Adrien’s 1920s New York apartment is a testament to the power of thoughtful design that caters to the needs of a growing family. By combining bold colors and playful patterns, Emily C. Butler has transformed this space into a vibrant and functional home. The careful attention to detail, clever use of textiles, and incorporation of personal collections have resulted in a unique and inviting living environment.

Published on February 6, 2023

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