If You Love Bright Colors, You’ll Love This NYC Apartment
An Upper East Side duplex that will inspire you to wallpaper your entire home.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 2:31 PM
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It’s rare that a designer gets to work on the same home twice, and for Allison Tick the opportunity to do so was a welcome one. Her clients, Ken and Yael Natori (yes, from the Natori Company) had previously hired her to renovate their fourth floor apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood.
[In the lead image: Room & Board Pratt Dining Tables, $1,129]
Fast forward a few years and two kids later, the couple purchased the downstairs apartment, turned it into a duplex befitting a growing family, and tapped Tick to help with the design on their new “forever home.”
[In this image: West Elm Lacquer Tray in “White”, $51; Design Within Reach Era Round Armchair with Cane Seat, $350; Michelle James Brilliant 9 Globe Fixture]
Working in tandem with Glickman Schlesinger Architects to open up the space and make it more accessible, Tick set about designing a colorful home full of fun touches that the family can grow with and will love for years to come.
Besides navigating the needs of a family with small children, Tick was also conscious of blending two distinctive styles. With one parent favoring a sleek and modern aesthetic and the other preferring more casual, laid-back styles, the challenge was creating a space that felt comfortable for everyone without clashing.
As a result, almost every room is different. From bold tiling in the bathrooms to clean white marble in the kitchen to brightly-colored accent pieces and patterned wallpaper throughout, this apartment is a lesson in how decor can be both eclectic and cohesive.
[In this image: The Animal Print Shop Mottled Cochin Chicken Print, $25-$1,250; Circa Lighting Gaios Table Lamp, $525; Serena and Lily Ryder Denim Rug, $298-$1,798; Rove Concepts Flag Haylard Chair, $1,870]
“What I’m really proud of is the way the rooms open up to each other,” says Tick of the biggest change made to the space. “Everything is very light, open, and airy. Plus, Yael grew up in Oregon with a boho sensibility; Ken grew up in the city with a very urban sensibility. Aesthetically, this was a big exercise in finding balance.”
We spoke to Tick to learn how she found that balance, and how she turned a pretty standard pre-war apartment into a vibrant and fresh family home.
[In this image: Lostine Anna Stool, $438]
What was your inspiration for the space?
My clients! Stylistically, it’s a mix. I love organic modernism and mid-century modern, but I also love a good farm table. The living room is very telling of this, with that big textured rug, the brass chairs, and the wacky vintage armchairs. When you’re blending all these things together, it can be a fiasco, so proportion is key.
Here, you incorporate so many colors and patterns that work well together instead of clashing. Can you share your biggest tip for people who want to start mixing prints and colors like this, but don’t know where to start?
Proportion, proportion, proportion!
You also want to have some consistency, or it’s going to start feeling like a clownhouse. Usually what I do—and it’s kind of an unconscious process for me at this point—is I take the least dominant color and have that be the most consistent shade throughout. It keeps everything cohesive. For example in this home, I [drew on] the green and gold paper in the entry for the bright green Chesterfield sofa in the living room and the green paint in the den. I was very careful to know where that color was and not go overboard.
How would you describe the finished style of the home?
“Eclectic” is an overused word, but it’s definitely eclectic. There are elements of modernism too—it sort of has that modern-boho look.
How did you reconcile Ken’s urban background with Yael’s bohemian style? Did you try to blend them together or keep them separate?
I think you get in trouble when you try to find one piece of furniture that’s both urban and boho. That just doesn’t exist. In the living room, there’s a big walnut beast of a coffee table that’s totally modern, but then there are the vintage bergeres that are super patterned. So I would say to balance linear things with curvilinear things, and patterns with solids.
[In this image: Circa Lighting Charlton Floor Lamp; Restoration Hardware 18th C. Venetian Glass Beveled Mirror, $572-$1,196; Serena and Lily Braided Abaca Rug, $398-$3,398; Room Online Ford Coffee Table, $5,806; Armchairs upholstered with Just Scandinavian fabric in “Hawaii”; Danielle Clough Embroidered Tennis Racquets]
Did you find that challenging?
I found it challenging, but I found it fun; especially having worked with them on the decor of the fourth floor apartment, I sort of already knew what worked. We had been talking about the “forever house” for a while, so it was more fun than anything.
Does your approach to design change when designing kids’ rooms?
I love, love, love designing kids rooms.
First of all, my kids rooms are not particularly kid-y; I would never do pale pink or pale blue, but I might do fuchsia or turquoise. I like creating rooms that, unless something drastic happens, you would never have to change until the kid goes to college.
[In this image: Shark decal by Scarlett Baily]
For example, their son Cruz has a red chair in his room, which is the perfect nursing chair but is also a chair that he can have for his entire life. The fun factor for me is doing something like brighter colors or wackier patterns in bedding or a rug; things that are easy to swap out as they grow.
[In this image: Amazon Globe Mural, $80.09; Dwell Studio Mid-Century White Library Bunk Bed, $1,615.94; Design Within Reach Womb Chair in “Fire Red”, $3,879-$6,469; Danish Design Store BL7 Wall Lamp, $399]
What’s your favorite part of the apartment?
The blue and white star tile in the laundry room is spectacular! We decided with the architect what the placement of the stars would be and what size stars we want. You order the tiles separately and then lay them out the way you want, and I love that even from tile to tile there’s variation.
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