A sophisticated home is a combination of formality and familiarity
There's a charming perfection about little girls who are all dolled up for a special event. Cascading curls, velveteen dresses, and black patent Mary Janes make them appear as pristine little wonders--until they erupt with intoxicating giggles that reveal less serious personalities.
Perhaps Robyn Price and her husband took their aesthetic cues from their three young daughters when they moved into a New York apartment two years ago. Their sophisticated home basks in aptly appointed formalities that also embrace moments of spirited and buoyant decoration, from a warm scheme of apricot, peach, and terra-cotta to oversized patterns and colorful artwork with modern compositions of stylish, exuberant chaos.
Although they weren't actively looking for another home at the time, the couple happened on an apartment that seemed ideal for their needs--able to accommodate both their growing family and their love for entertaining. They decided to make the move.
They hired interior designer Jennifer Flanders, who had decorated their first apartment, to create a beautiful environment with a strong architectural presence and a layout convenient not only for day-to-day living but for welcoming guests.
"A floor plan that separated public from private spaces was a key element when the unit was gutted," says Flanders. "The family's entertaining ventures range from small groups to large cocktail parties, so flow from room to room was important."
In the large, gracious foyer, which serves as an area for guests to spill into during gatherings, pocket doors were installed to close off the hallway to the bedrooms. This allows the children to sleep while guests socialize. The space is dramatic and high- impact, with walls covered in a rich terra-cotta color. The Venetian plaster finish is embellished with a damask motif stenciled in luxurious gold.
The proximity of the living and dining rooms led to a scheme that allows each space to decoratively support the other, as neighbors often do. Pieces from the couple's former residence guided much of the decorating strategy, inspiring Flanders to repurpose many of their things and giving their new quarters a feeling that is entirely different.
The old living room rug has now found a home in the dining room; Flanders pulled different colors from it to establish the rust-and-taupe palette. Furnishings in the dining room, except for the new dining chairs, are also among those from their old home.
The apartment's living room shows an even greater departure from their previous home. The selection of a new Tibetan rug with an oversized medallion pattern in green and peach determined the wall treatment; it features a horizontal strié pattern that evokes the feel of raw silk and is executed in three congruous tones of apricot. "Every wall in the apartment is either papered or decoratively painted," explains Flanders of one of her design hallmarks.
Instead of using the fireplace as the anchor around which the furniture would center, Flanders created two seating arrangements at opposite ends of the room. In a large living room, this placement trick is essential, she explains, so people do not to have to navigate around furnishings. In front of the window, a sofa the couple already owned was re-covered in a more formal fabric for its current iteration. It's now upholstered in a rust-colored linen velvet that makes a comfortable spot for the family when they watch the television, which tucks away in a painted white built-in cabinet. Side tables and matching tufted chairs complete the seating area. A smaller version of the sofa is used in the arrangement at the opposite end of the room. Matching chairs, regally upholstered in green-and-ivory cut velvet with their wooden frames finished in gold leaf, complete the fireside grouping.
One of the primary factors that sold Robyn on the apartment was the kitchen, where the family spends most of its time. Generous in size, the space was left a clean neutral in color and style, with marble countertops in sea-foam green, white, and brown providing the slightest hint of color. "We live in our kitchen, and this space is a joy to work in," says Robyn. "I love to cook, and it's where our family eats meals and the girls do art projects and computer work. It's a great place, a room where we can be together and hang out for family time."
Even though the master bedroom does not physically connect with the public spaces of the apartment, it shares the same decorative comfort. Flanders, who loves a little glitz in every home, used Venetian plaster again, but this time added silver mica powder to give the bedroom walls some sparkle. The peach color provides a soft background for the bed, upholstered in a linen damask fabric. Roman shades fabricated from embroidered silk add a subtle pattern that lets the bold painting above the vanity capture attention.
"Jennifer helped us combine our traditional tastes and color preferences," says Robyn. "It's a combination of formality and familiarity, creating a place we could enjoy whether entertaining or playing with our children. She transformed the apartment into our family home."
Design: Jennifer Flanders, Jennifer Flanders Inc. Interior Design, 1110 Park Ave., New York, NY 10128; 646/368-1404, jenniferflanders.com.
Photography: Steven Randazzo
Sisters Brooke, Emma, and Jordana (from left) lounge on the sofa in the entry foyer.
The spacious living room glows with a warm, serene ambience in its calm palette. Artwork featuring vigor and movement adds striking bursts of color.
Active, oversized patterns and artwork are tempered by the graceful tables, finished in quieter tones.
Light and easy to move, a pair of matching antique benches in front of the fireplace provides extra seating in the living room.
Pocket doors between the foyer and the hallway that leads to the bedrooms can be pulled shut to buffer noise from the public rooms when a party is taking place and children are sleeping.
In the dining room, pocket doors can be closed during an intimate dinner party.
The neutral kitchen comes alive in joyous moments when the girls are completing art projects, tackling homework, or eating snacks after school.
Hanging above the dressing table in the master bedroom is a striking painting by artist Gus Yero. The large artwork injects a bold statement into the room, which otherwise is imbued with a soft, peachy glow.
Designer Flanders, who shies away from rooms that are too juvenile, created a stylish bedroom for Brooke, with oversized dots and stripes and fashion-forward purple and pink.
Robyn Price and her three daughters, from left, Brooke, Jordana, and Emma.
When it comes to finessing an interior with those accessories that exude personality, designer Jennifer Flanders (seen here in her own New York apartment) knows when something is missing--and when enough is enough. "Much of the process is instinctive," she says. "The eye knows when everything is visually complete and balanced." Flanders offers the following tips for a successfully accessorized space.
Divide and conquer Spread objects such as books, vases, and the like on a large table. Make one pile of "must-haves" and another that includes pieces you are willing to eliminate.
Accept change Keep an open mind when it comes to repurposing a piece or positioning it in an alternate room. After pieces are placed, you'll know where you need to fill in.
Take advantage of bookcases Don't limit bookshelves to books only. This is a great place for an ensemble of pieces--books, family photos, and other objects--that aren't special enough to stand on their own.
Create art tension If your interiors lean toward traditional and classic, contemporary artwork keeps the mood fresh and youthful.