Photo: Simon Upton/New York Magazine
A growing trend in Manhattan real estate is for developers to hire A-List interior designers to transform model residences in condo buildings in order to drum up buzz and help sway potential buyers by allowing them to envision what their future home could look like. Such is the case with Manhattan House – a landmark luxury condo development on the Upper East Side which features three beautiful model apartments decorated by Rita Konig, Celerie Kemble and James Huniford which are part of the building’s “Modern Collection” residences. The three sprawling apartments are equally fabulous but it’s Rita Konig’s space that really speaks to my sensibilities so will kick off this house tour trifecta with a look at her space…
The Modern Penthouse by Rita Konig
Photo: Simon Upton/New York Magazine
Rita Konig is the incredibly stylish former domino magazine editor whose quirky and unfussy design style is always a hit with the youthful, domino-loving generation of design devotees. She was given the task of decorating this sunny, 1,151-square foot, one-bedroom 1.5 bath corner penthouse that also has an enviable wraparound terrace with sweeping views of the New York City skyline. The casual sophistication and breezy colors of the space struck me immediately…I could easily move in and feel right at home. The bedroom shown above has subtle ethnic influences with its Moroccan inspired headboard and vintage suzani that really capture’s the eye’s attention. The entry, also above, features a bright green wall color with a large Hugo Guinness floral painting above a modern parsons table.
Photo: Simon Upton/New York Magazine
The living room has such a layered, lived in feel to it which to me evokes a sense of warmth and comfort. Another decorative feature I love are the stacks of books impeccably styled on floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and on the coffee table. An eclectic mix of understated furnishings, arranged for conversation, includes vintage and antique pieces from London and New York, textiles from India and lust-worthy artwork borrowed from the Sears Peyton Gallery. Many of objects seen here and throughout the apartment are Rita’s own, collected from her travels, and the library of books was assembled with help from Lorin Stein of the Paris Review. A few more photos of the living space are below. I also really love the window seat which provides an amazing amount of additional seating for entertaining.
Here in the dining room is a Philippe Hurel table and chairs which belong to Konig and above hangs with a timeless, oversized Noguchi pendant.
I really love the bold black and white floral wallpaper from Studio Four seen here.
Perhaps the apartment’s most coveted feature is this lovely little terrace that wraps around the apartment, decorated with a quaint wooden bench and teracotta planters filled with greenery.
The Moderne9 by James Huniford
Interior designer James Huniford designed an urban oasis for his three-bedroom, three-bath 3,351-square-foot model apartment at Manhattan House which is an homage to famed architect Gordon Bunshaft who designed the building in 1950. The space feels incredible calming with a neutral color palette and modern, tailored furnishings that invoke a sense of refined simplicity.
Much of the furniture in the space was designed by Huniford. I really love the subtle contrasts of textures used here – from bark wall covering, patterned hardwoods and nickel hardware to upholstered pieces covered in linen, distressed leather, horse hair and alpaca. I also love the selection of modern, abstract art which was sourced through Creative Growth - a California based organization and gallery that champions the the work of artists living with disabilities. This airy, serene space is truly a picture of luxury and elegance.
The Modern Manhattan by Celerie Kemble
Glamorous, and a whimsical are two words that define the signature style of designer Celerie Kemble and it’s obvious the Manhattan House model apartment she designed has no shortage of either. The 1,861-square-foot, floor-through residence has three-bedrooms, three-baths.
The space is filled with vintage textiles and eclectic 1960s furniture like these uniquely shaped rattan chairs that were likely a find from Kemble’s hometown of Palm Beach where she shops often. The chairs are the piéce de résistance in this swanky space that features a dramatic black lacquered strié on the walls, floating mirrors and lucite bookcases flanking a wood burning fireplace. The glossy black walls contrast nicely with the color palette of smoky grays, cream and soft blush pinks.
Even the childrens’ room gets a stylish touch with vibrant apple green accents and hand painted done by Alpha Workshops on the upper walls and ceiling. The fun bunk beds, designed by Kemble, fold up to reveal a chalkboard on the underside…fun an chic! When can I move in?!
All photos by Jason Schmidt unless otherwise noted.
The October/November issue of Lonny hit virtual newsstands on Sunday and I am super psyched because yours truly graces its coveted pages! Just after the Celerie Kemble cover story, you’ll find me and my top 10 style picks on page 257 as the magazine’s grand finale “Blogger Style” feature! This issue also marks Lonny’s 1 year anniversary and I have to say, its the magazine’s best issue yet! The Lonny team pulled out all the stops in celebration of its 1st birthday, bringing us inspiring interiors from design stars like cover girl Celerie Kemble, Lulu deKwiatkowski, Ruthie Sommers, Palmer Weiss, John Robshaw, Eddie Ross and more. Congratulations to Michelle, Patrick and the entire Lonny team for an amazing issue and all of your success during your first year! And a huge thanks to Michelle, Ellie, Shawn and Isa for including me in this issue and working to produce such a fabulous story that I am extremely proud of!
Below is a look at some of the gorgeous interiors you’ll see in Lonny’s latest issue. You can read my feature here and click here to visit view the entire magazine!
Interior designer Celerie Kemble’s New York City Apartment (Which has an insanely beautiful and envy inducing view of Central Park!)
A bachelor pad project by LA based designer Ruthie Sommers
The master bedroom in textile designer and artist Lulu deKwiatkowski’s chic LA home
The stylish San Francisco home of designer Palmer Weiss
Textile designer John Robshaw’s eclectic country home in Connecticut
I have fond memories of receiving my first set of personalized stationery. When I was 6 or 7 my mom surprised me with a set of pink, purple and sea green folded note cards, note pads and envelopes with little seashells all over and I thought it was beyond cool that my name was printed on them. I would always find excuses to write notes to people just so I could use it. Nowadays personal correspondence is all about speed and convenience. The prevalence of email has made correspondence quite impersonal and new innovations like text messaging and Twitter make the process of communicating quite thoughtless, reducing our words to a mere 140 characters. Handwritten correspondence is a dying art. It’s easy to send off an email but taking the time to hand write a note conveys a thoughtfulness and a level of sophistication that an email will never be able to capture.
My chic & simple correspondence cards from Neiman Marcus
These days my stationery preference is a flat correspondence card and I can’t resist a colorful tissue-lined envelope. I use my stationery often…for jotting off quick thank you’s, sending notes along with packages or even just a a simple to say hi. My personalized correspondence cards shown above were a relatively inexpensive buy from Neiman Marcus but also I love to splurge on top quality ready-to-write stationery from brands like Smythson of Bond Street and a handful of others. It’s such a treat for myself and I get great pleasure out of using it. If you’re not sure where to go for chic social stationery, below are my top 5 picks. Can you guess which is my favorite? (See my desk above!)
Smythson of Bond Street is one of my favorite sources for social stationery. In 1887 Frank Smythson opened his eponymous shop on New Bond Street and quickly became the preferred stationer of London’s upper crust. The company’s heritage for creating the finest luxury paper goods is still alive more than 120 years later. Smythson’s “Stiletto” and “Skull & Crossbones” correspondence cards are my top picks from the their vast array of bespoke and ready-to-write stationery. Stiletto Correspondence Cards, $84 for 10 and Skull & Crossbones Correpsondence Cards, $50 for 10.
Bernard Maisner, who might just be the most exceptionally skilled calligrapher alive, is also a renowned stationer. In fact, he is a favorite stationer among the fashion set with a client roster that includes Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. Bernard Maisner offers luxe ready-to-write and custom stationery with copperplate engraved designs on 100% cotton archival paper. His hand painted papers, like the butterfly motif cards below, are literally works of art. The butterfly motif is engraved in gold then each card is hand painted and finally the edges are finished off by hand in a shocking pink. Beyond chic. These are a splurge at $100 for 8 cards.
Dempsey & Carroll
This 130-year-old stationer, founded in New York City, is known for their quality stationery made with the highest standards and attention to detail. Their papers are hand engraved using fine inks and cotton papers. Dempsey and Carroll offers a great selection of chic boxed set stationery that includes limited-edition collaborations with the likes of interior designer Celerie Kemble, event planner Bronson Van Wyck and fashion designer Lela Rose. I love Bronson Van Wyck’s Snake Border cards below which feature a richly textured engraved snake border with a hand painted red eye detail. The envelopes are lined in a faux snake print paper. This incredibly chic set is $65 for 10 cards and envelopes.
Luke Pontifell was just a precocious high school student when he founded Thornwillow Press in 1985 after taking a book binding course and falling in love with the art. Nearly 30 years later Thornwillow press is still in the business of binding, printing and publishing exquisite books but is also now one of the foremost purveyors of fine engraved and letterpress stationery. I’m a big fan of their Initial Note Cards, shown below, which are available in three colorways with colored edges and matching tissue lined envelopes. At $45 for 10 cards and envelopes, these are amazing value for the quality. Thornwillow’s Motif cards are available in more than 100 motifs and my top three picks are also pictured below. The Peacock Feather motif is $48 for 10 cards and lined envelopes. The Lightning Bolt and Bicycle motif cards are each $35 for a set of 10 cards.
A newcomer on the social stationery scene, Sugar Paper is an LA based company with a sweet offering of custom and ready-to-write papers. The Sugar Paper collection is youthful and stylish, offering a modern spin on tradition. I’m loving the gold foil printed Crown Noteset shown below which is $36 for 10 cards and envelopes. Also shown below is one of Sugar paper’s custom designs – a super cute scalloped edge note set.
I recently became acquainted with the gorgeous work of Santa Monica based interior designer Kim Alexandriuk and as soon as I saw her portfolio I thought to myself that her style reminded me of Michael S. Smith who also happens to be one of my favorite decorators. I knew there was a reason that I became an instant fan…After reading her bio I learned that she spent six years of her career working for Smith! The similarities between Alexandriuk’s work and Smith’s are uncanny. Both have a very polished look, grounded in traditionalism with lots of ethnic influences woven throughout and a few modern elements thrown in for good measure. Designers often borrow ideas and source inspiration from one another and its inevitable that after working for a well established designer for a number of years, the younger protégé’s work will be heavily influenced by that of her former mentor. I wouldn’t doubt it if Alexandriuk utilizes the same resources and craftsmen that she discovered while working for Smith. In the photo above from Alexandriuk’s portfolio, a chinoiserie screen is used as a backdrop for a chic seating arrangement. Below is photo of another beautiful room designed by Alexandriuk in which she incorporates this same design element.
This is an idea that Smith uses quite often in his designs. Below is a room in Smith’s Bel Air home as featured in the March 2007 issue of Elle Decor.
The room is also featured on the cover of Smith’s newest book, Houses, which I just purchased. (The book, by the way is amazing!)
Here’s another room designed by Smith where he incorporates a chinoiserie screen as a backdrop for a well dressed bed. Smith is such a master at mixing various ethnic elements and this room is no exception. The artful mix of the suzani bedspread, threadbare oriental rug and the chinoiserie screen is perfection.
Here is the living room in Smith’s home. Notice the many layers of patten here in the rug, the sofa upholstery, the throw pillows, etc. There are also many ethnic influences here, especially in the textiles.
The photo below is of an Alexandriuk designed living room which has a very similar look and feel to Smith’s room above. The most striking commonality is the masterful layering of pattern.
After spending time comparing the work of Michael S. Smith and Kim Alexandriuk I thought it might be fun to compare the work of a few more of my favorite designers and their protégés to see how the styles of the younger designers were influenced by their well established counterparts…
Miles Redd & Nick Olsen
Designer Miles Redd is known for making bold statements in design. He has a passion for color, loves to combine disparate textural elements, embraces maximalism and isn’t afraid of the hi-low mix. The photo below is a perfect example of an artfully cluttered yet polished looking Redd designed room.
You may have heard of Redd’s assistant Nick Olsen
who’s fabulous apartment was featured in the November 2006 issue of Domino. Olsen shares Redd’s maximalist design sensibility and polished aesthetic but while Redd’s work is ultra high-end, Olsen is able to achieve his designs on a dime by making over inexpensive flea market finds and tackling his projects the DIY way. Below is a shot of his studio apartment as featured in Domino.
I love when designers aren’t afraid to make dramatic statement and Olsen’s bright green high-golss walls, the stripes on the chairs and window treatments as well as the zebra rug are definitely bold gestures. Note how Olsen incorporates stacks of books into his design and uses them as pedestals exactly as Redd does in the top photo. It’s clear that Olsen embraces a more is more design philosophy. He also exhibits a craftiness that makes me slightly envious. Take the window shades for example. He painted the black stripes onto a simple white roller shade and the result is fabulous.
Here, in his sleeping area, Olsen took a plain beige woven rug from Pier1 and painted on the chic black and white chevron pattern. Another example of how Olsen’s clever ideas and bold statements enable him to transform a space in a dramatic fashion…just like his mentor Miles Redd.
In this shot of Olsen’s living room, his vintage French tufted sofa upholstered in an eye popping blue velvet takes center stage.
Perhaps Redd’s own tufted velvet corer sofa in a deep red hue seen here served as inspiration?
Another idea Olsen seems to have borrowed from Redd is the use of a hand-painted screen to cover the fireplace.
Here’s a similar screen in a gorgeous Redd designed room. On to our next comparison…
Celerie Kemble & Sara Gilbane
I’ve long admired Celerie Kemble and her youthful, modern approach to traditional design. Rather than adopting a “signature style,” Kemble feels its more important to let her clients taste and personality guide her design approach. Creating spaces that are a true reflection of its owner is the premise behind Kemble’s new book, To Your Taste, which is due to hit shelves on November 4. I can’t wait!
This room above is classic Celerie Kemble…grounded in traditionalism with a youthful flair and a touch of whimsy. Kemble’s former assistant, Sara Gilbane
, shares a very similar design style. If you’re not familiar with Gilbane, you should take note because she’s definitely a talent to watch. After working for Kemble Interiors for 5 years, Gilbane recently branched out to launch her own design firm, Sara Gilbane Interiors.
Here’s a living room designed by Gilbane. Similar to her mentor Celerie Kemble, her approach to tradition is free-spirited and her work embodies a youthful energy and eclecticism that sets her apart from the rest of the traditionalists. I find her style personally appealing because like Kemble, her interiors are extremely polished and tailored but still young and fresh at the same time. If you flip through Gilbane’s portfolio, you’ll see quite a few similarities between her work and Kemble’s.
One such similarity is their love of beds framed with curtains and valances. This room, which was published in House Beautiful, was designed by Kemble for a client in Philadelphia. The canopied bed is framed with a full valance and cascading curtains which give the bedroom a regal and more formal look.
Here’s a Kemble designed bedroom done for a showhouse at the 10 West End Avenue condomminiums in Manhattan. This bed also features features a full canopy with valance and curtains.
This photo is one of my favorites from Sara Gilbane. She too loves to frame her beds with curtains but rather than using a full canopy like Kemble, she seems to prefer a smaller valance with curtains cascading just at the head of the bed.
Here’s another Gilbane designed bedroom which also features a curtained valance framing the top of the bed. I love Gilbane’s choice of ethnic inspired fabrics here and in the photo above. Her generous use of ethnic prints and patterns could be one detail that sets Gilbane apart from Kemble, who’s seems to use such prints a bit more sparingly.
Markham Roberts and Ashley Whittaker
Just like Michael Bargo, up-and-coming interior designer Ashley Whittaker was also included on the Domino 10 list in 2007. Whittaker got her training working under renowned designer Markham Roberts and its obvious that he influenced her design style significantly. Robert is a traditionalist at heart. His rooms are classic, well tailored and filled with doses of fresh color. Whittaker shares a similar design sensibility.
This living room was designed by Roberts for the home of a young family in Connecticut.
And here is a living room designed by Whittaker for clients on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
In this charming sunroom, Roberts chose furnished the space with wicker seating.
Similarly, Whittaker also chose wicker furniture to dress up a sunroom in this Southampton home.
Whittaker and Roberts both seem to have an affinity for blue and white in the bedroom. Here is a bedroom that Roberts designed for his Washington summer home. The curtain framed bed looks so romantic and inviting. I’m really starting to love this look.
Here’s another blue and white bedroom by Roberts.
This bedroom was designed by Roberts. It has a very similar look and feel to the Roberts designed bedroom above. Again, I’m really loving the canopied bed with curtains.
Here’s another view of the same bedroom. The blue and white combo looks so clean and fresh.
A design element that I’ve seen repeated in various Markham Roberts’ projects is the use of large blue and white porcelain jars placed on the floor under console tables or in an empty corner.
Whittaker often uses the same design trick. Here, she placed two large ginger jars underneath a stylish Asian console table.
Thomas O’Brien and Michael Bargo
You may remember Michael Bargo from being on the “Domino 10″ list of decorators to watch in 2007. This former assistant to Thomas O’Brien started his own decorating firm at the age of 24 and his work is definitely reflective of his former mentor’s style in many ways. Take his apartment below which was featured in the April ’07 issue of Domino.
Like O’Brien, Bargo is a modernist. Here is Bargo’s sleeping area in his former, 475 square foot studio. Crisp white walls and lots of natural light give it an airy feeling and save for a few accessories, the color palette is fairly neutral. The room also features a simple, angular walnut frame bed. As soon as I first saw Bargo’s apartment, it immediately reminded me of Thomas O’Brien’s which was featured in Elle Décor in July 2006.
This is O’Brien’s bedroom as featured in Elle Décor. Although O’Brien’s apartment has a separate bedroom, he chose to put his bed in the living room, while the bedroom became a dressing room and study. O’Brien’s living/sleeping room has a light, airy quality with its bright white walls and notice the, simple bed frame. Perhaps Bargo looked to O’Brien for inspiration before beginning the design of his own place?
This is Bargo’s office area. Controlled clutter is the theme here.
In O’Brien’s study, clutter is organized in a stylish vintage secretary. A plush chocolate brown sofa provides seating.
Bargo’s living area also contains a plush velvet sofa and here he arranges clutter and stacks of magazines on bookshelves and on the floor. I’d say Bargo took more than a few design cues from Thomas O’Brien!