A London Restaurant’s Candy-Colored Seating Inspired This NYC Duplex’s Kitchen Banquette
The whimsical home is fit for a textile-loving costume designer.
Published Jan 30, 2023 1:30 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Walking through theater costume designer Melissa Ng’s SoHo apartment is like watching a really good play. The drama starts the moment Ng shuts out the bustle of downtown Manhattan and enters the foyer, where flower-wrapped walls create what she calls “a little envelope where I get to collect myself for a moment.” The sprinkler pipe, standing proudly in pillar-box red, provides an unexpected twist. “By embracing it, it’s as if it’s saying: I belong here,” says Ng’s interior designer, Jennifer Morris, principal of JMorris Design LLC.
While Ng’s creative day job means she has more of an affinity for textures and prints than most, she enlisted the help of Morris to bring her eclectic references to life—namely translating the 2020 film Emma, inspired by Jane Austen’s novel, to the design. “There was a richly patterned wallpaper in an afternoon tea scene,” recalls Morris. “The sense of romance and color combinations were direct cues in creating depth and whimsy, and for being able to tell shifting stories from one space to another.”
The graphic botanical print leads from the entryway up the staircase to the next scene: the living room and office. Morris had the wall space above the panels painted a clean white to serve as a palette cleanser, before one reaches the peachy lounge’s velvet-clad walls. The cocooning space opens to Ng’s office, but a huge steel and glass structure with a door and a layer of ombré-dyed linen curtains can offer privacy when needed. The designer balanced out the cost of custom splurges, such as the curtains (they’re made by artist Carolyn Ray) and the sculpture-like light fixture over the desk, with a jewel-bright, hand-tufted rug from Anthropologie.
Downstairs, Ng had already installed the forest green and bubblegum pink kitchen, but it was Morris’s job to finish the space with a lighting option. It was here she made her coolest new discovery: the Flauti ZigZag chandelier. “It’s like a kaleidoscope you can look at and enjoy all the time,” says Morris. Ng peppered in inspirations from her favorite restaurants around town and abroad. The island dining bench is a replica of those she spotted at Tsukimi in the East Village that were crafted by Fern NYC (Ng asked Fern to build one for her once she realized they were made by the company).
Over in the adjoining dining nook, the scalloped banquette is a direct reference to the tufted cushions at London’s famous Sketch, designed by the revered interior decorator India Mahdavi. “I love the cozy glamour of Sketch and the pink velvet seating [that used to be] there,” says Ng. Morris proposed the purple upholstery. “Lavender is a good friend to pink,” she says in reference to the kitchen backsplash. With not one but two wallpapers adorning the area, it’s the rattan covering that is Ng’s favorite detail in the whole apartment. “I love how it brings a bistro-summer vibe to the place,” she says.
The duplex boasts not one but three balconies, yet the banana yellow finish (chosen by the developer) off the primary bedroom was a touch too much—even for Ng’s vibrant taste. Morris continued the turquoise theme of the en suite bathroom with a fresh coat of paint and a matching enamel pendant lamp. The pipework got a makeover as well: “My thinking was, let’s own this. If you’re gonna be ugly, let’s make you a great color,” says Morris, laughing.