Monday, November 7, 2011

My Decorating Assignment


My friend Katherine Hanson, an artist here in New York, enjoys reading my blog and liked the pictures of our apartment that I posted online so she and her husband, author and NYU professor Jim Fraser, asked me to help them out with their apartment. They have traveled widely so they have a lot of interesting furniture and objects, and she has her wonderful artwork in the apartment but they needed direction in arranging it and making it cohesive. "We moved into this apartment with furniture from three different houses and we didn't know how to put it together," Katherine said. I gladly said yes to the task. And happily, they are pleased with the result. "Now when Jim and I walk in, we look at everything and smile," she recently told me.
The apartment is in a modern building and faces downtown. A great feature is this wonderful view out of the living room.

We started in the living room.
Left side wall before:

Left side wall after:

The living room walls had been a light terracotta color and I picked out a new ochre color to provide a more neutral background for the art and not to distract from the view. As I said the couple has a lot of wonderful possessions, and for me the process throughout the apartment was pulling things together that share something in common and would relate to one another, "talk to" one another. Here, everything came off the wall and I arranged Katherine's bright, colorful art work in pastels and acrylic.
Window wall before:

Window wall after:
Furniture was moved, and aqua color pillows and blanket removed. The ochre walls provide a serene setting.
Every seat needs a table to set down a book or a drink and a light for reading, said Slim Keith, the great style icon. The right side of the couch had a little side table, and for the left side I found this tree-shaped table, which goes well with the Chinese chairs, at Room and Board.

Katherine got these pillows and Bed, Bath and Beyond. She likes their textures, and the colors work with the rug underfoot.

Left wall before:

Left wall after:

This dramatic table from Santa Fe has a gold leaf metal base and a walnut plank top. Over it I hung a golden tulip by Katherine and the framed Brazilian parrot headdress from the Amazon. The iridescent glaze on the large ceramic raku vase and its swirling pattern mimics the feathers, and the dark blue blown glass vase works with the feathers too. The three objects are very different, but they share similiar qualities.

Dining room area before:

Dining room area after:

The dining room chairs are black leather so I gathered black and gold objects together which gives the area a more formal feeling. I found the glossy black light fixture at West Elm.
Over the credenza I hung a black and gold Asian wall hanging which was previously in the living room and found handturned wood vessels throughout the apartment.

Bedroom before:

Bedroom after:

The couple's bedroom was painted a terracotta color, which I toned down with a coffee cream paint color. We rearranged furniture here to fit better in the room. White cotton curtains were found at Pottery Barn and a silver curtain rod. Every chair needs a light for reading, and the floor lamp, below, came from West Elm.

Over the armoire I hung Katherine's pastel landscape which fit into the rectangular space, and in front of it I lined up wooden toys from Jim's childhood.

Front hall before:

Front hall after:

The metal table that was previously in the living room went easily into the front hall. Over it I matched up a big beautiful white peony pastel by Katherine which had been in the bedroom, and on the table I arranged some silver accessories to go with the silver frame. Also at the front door, a rug was removed so as to not distract the eye when you enter into the apartment from the living room and the view beyond.
Kitchen:

The kitchen was painted a pale orange which was inspired by the folk art and pottery hanging on the walls. Now the paint colors in the apartment – ochre, coffee cream, pale orange – flow together as you walk through the rooms. I did some additional work in the office and two bathrooms.
It was a fun project, and the pleasure of it is that after the assignment is done, the client can continue to enjoy it. And these were great clients because they did everything I suggested without question. "It just makes us happy," Katherine said to me. "It feels so put together. Your eye pulled everything together and helped us to move from disparate to something that made sense and reflected who we are. You've made us happy to be here."

6 comments:

Madonna B said...

Your wonderful sense of style
shines here.
it must be a very happy place to live now. great work!

Ella said...

You've done a very good job with their apartment. I think it's a much bigger challenge to use the same furnitures and artworks than to decorate and furnish a house with new things. Now you have just given them new places where they fit much better.
Love the new colors on the walls.

Margaret said...

Stellar NYC views! This apartment is ready to host a holiday cocktail party. My favorite is the calming tones of the master bedroom, with a cozy window niche in which to read. Great job, Bart!

Ann said...

It is so fun to see the spaces of creative people. I think you did a great job using the things that are dear to them yet still making changes with big impact, wonderful!

Gail, northern California said...

I apologize for being so lax about leaving comments. You have provided so many wonderful things lately, it's difficult to know where to begin. This, your latest endeavor, is beyond measure of friendship and I can certainly see why your friends are so delighted with what you've done. Before it was just an apartment; now it's a home. A restful, inviting home with everything toned down a notch. Nevertheless you knew when to add a visual pubch--such as, the white peony over the metal table to greet you as you enter the front hall. Outstanding, Bart.

Gail, northern California said...

Visual "punch"...sorry 'bout that.