You are here

Fresh and Stylish Manhattan Apartment

Manhattan newlyweds say ‘I do’ to design duo Kapito Muller’s airy scheme for their first home.

Written by Mara Boo

The invitation was irresistible to New York designers Alyssa Kapito and Vivian Muller: Create a fresh, clean, modern first home for a pair of newlyweds who possessed almost nothing save a clear aesthetic vision. “He’s in finance and she’s a culinary student,” Kapito says. “They didn’t have much in the way of stuff, but they had a definite idea of how they wanted their apartment to look.”

In the living room, the designers pay homage to an escape from the city with a vibrantly colored photograph depicting a scene in Capri. “It has great colors and makes you feel like you’re on vacation when you’re at home,” designer Vivian Muller says. 

Newly constructed and featuring an abundance of natural light—but a dearth of architectural detail—the apartment was a plain white box. Undeterred, the designers were enthused by the blank slate it presented. “The fact that the spaces were simple allowed us to fill them with a mix of things that make the apartment feel warm and welcoming,” Muller says.  

That mix—a heady blend of now and then—defines the partners’ tailored yet inventive style. Introduced while interning for design doyenne Bunny Williams, the two eventually went their separate ways—Kapito earned a master’s degree in Renaissance art; Muller landed at Women’s Wear Daily. 

Though their backgrounds were disparate, their aesthetic was shared, and eventually, they teamed to form Kapito Muller Interiors. 

Furnishings share open silhouettes. “Nothing is skirted,” designer Alyssa Kapito says. “When you can see furniture frames, a space feels lighter and airier, especially when it’s a small space.”

“Our work is definitely rooted in the traditional sphere,” Muller says, “but we love mixing things up with vintage items, custom pieces, and modern influences for a younger, more contemporary feel.”

The apartment’s primary living area proves her point. A custom milled bookcase contributes classic architectural heft along with a practical bounty of storage and display space. “Sometimes people shy away from placing big things in a small room,” Kapito says, “but this draws you in and provides that ‘wow’ moment every small space needs.”

 A Lucite coffee table, a geometric marble side table, and a sculptural, mohair-upholstered chair “keep things interesting so your eye doesn’t settle on one piece,” she says. Similarly, Biedermeier-style seating jolts the streamlined kitchen.

Cozied by subtly patterned wall-to-wall carpet, a second-bedroom-turned-office displays Kapito Muller’s hip, curated vibe. The sculptural desk from Dering Hall provides the room’s “wow” moment, something the designers feel is important to every space. 

The apartment’s eclectic brew is united by a palette of milky hues stirred with the occasional colorful accessory: a graphic piece of art here, a shapely bowl there. Void of pattern, these are spaces that express themselves through layers of texture. 

A graphic piece of artwork makes a splash against tone-on-tone neutrals. Dining chairs from Serena & Lily surround a Williams-Sonoma table with a nickel base.

“We shy away from pattern,” Muller says. “It is too fleeting. We prefer tone-on-tone neutrals with lots of texture because they have wonderful staying power.” Just like all great marriages—stylistic and otherwise.

Spherical brass table lamps accentuate the master bedroom’s geometric elements, including crisply tailored bed linens outlined with a slate gray border and a subtly patterned rug. “The rug was where we started in this room,” Kapito says, “and then we chose the rest of the decorative story.” The headboard is upholstered in Holland & Sherry wool.

Inject texture into any room with these ideas from interior designers Alyssa Kapito and Vivian Muller.

  • Use your senses. Gravitate toward fabrics with texture you can see and feel, such as mohair, leather, and linen.
  • Mix with abandon. Don’t be afraid to mingle multiple textures such as velvet, silk, ceramic, and stone in the same space. 
  • Throw a curveball. Select one unusual and unexpected element, such as Venetian plaster walls or a Lucite table, to amplify the tactile aspects of your design. 
  • Mix metals. A variety of metals—think nickel, brass, and bronze—adds dimension and a modern look. 

Photography: Nick Johnson and Michael Wiltbank