Tour the Modern Life Show House, one of two Manhattan apartments presenting new décor ideas.
Ten young “Designers to Watch,” chosen by Elle Décor, have decorated rooms in the magazine’s first Modern Life Show House. Two apartments joined by an expansive terrace on the tenth floor of a new condominium in Manhattan’s trendy Chelsea neighborhood provided the blank canvases for the concept rooms. In a bold move characteristic of the magazine’s continued emphasis on quality and innovation, the work of emerging designers — each paired with name-brand home furnishing sources — is presented.
The elegantly minimalistic apartments, on the 10th floor of the building, have wide-plank floors, window walls, and economies of space that are well served by leading edge design. As a result we saw dark rooms, embellished walls, natural woods for both furniture and floors, exuberant ideas, heaps of texture and accessories galore. Our tour is divided in two parts. Proceeds from the show house benefit Housing Works, a charity that deals with homelessness and AIDS.
Living Room – Beth Martin & Callegaris Furniture
With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a terrace and the Manhattan skyline, one challenge for a designer is to pull you into the open plan living-dining room space. Using metallic colors and an overscale mirror with a rustic wood frame as an eye-grabbing focal point, Elizabeth Martin draws visitors to a seating area anchored by the two solid walls [top]. The elemental grouping is set on a shaggy white carpet to cozy up the space and features furniture from Callegaris, including a sleek gray sofa and coffee table plus a comfortable leather chair that could be turned to watch the flat screen set on a low cabinet.
To set the living room apart from the dining area and create a visual entry (there is no vestibule) an ingenious double-sided partition – set like a giant place card in a dark wood base – sits between the living room and dining-kitchen area without closing off either one or blocking the view. On the entry side the partition is mirrored, with a metal-base console table and umbrella stand placed in front.
Kitchen-Dining Room – Grant K. Gibson & Bosch Appliances
It’s no surprise that the bio for Grant Gibson says he can be found in the kitchen when he’s not working. “Salty” and “Slurp” is food-loving word art cleverly displayed against black felt on the flip side of the glass partition.
The designer also used a sensational budget solution to create the backsplash: Chinese restaurant menus cover and enliven the whole area, even behind the range and the sink.
A Blanco silgranit sink is paired with the Graff bridge faucet.
An oval marble and mid-century-style chairs with rush seats help preserve the dual purpose of the kitchen space.
In addition to Bosch appliances, the kitchen has a whimsical blackboard surface on the narrow closet door.
The kitchen’s window-wall is screened by a natural fiber shade with a handsome chest used for additional storage. Beyond the kitchen, the hallway wall leading to the bedroom and study is embellished with blue-gray Venetian plaster gold-painted with faux panels to break up the straight lines.
Master Bedroom – Aurelién Gallet & flou Beds
Fabric-on-fabric sets an edgy tone for an eclectic master bedroom, with chocolate brown crushed-velvet and brocade walls as a backdrop for a beige-upholstered Notturno bed from flou.
Not surprising for French-born designer Aurelién Gallet, who worked for the venerable Paris auction house Tajan, there is an emphasis on stunning but slightly gritty vintage pieces including a mid-century wood dresser inlaid with metal stars and this architectural side chair.
Study – Sara Story & The New Traditionalists furniture
We are huge fans of Sara Story, a designer whose colorful ceilings and other work we’ve long admired. So we rightly feel she may have stolen the show — no small feat in this apartment. While each room has its memorable features, the tour-de-force Venetian plaster with gold, hand-painted paneling designed by Story to articulate the hall becomes screaming exuberance in this OMG! study. Born in Japan, Story travels extensively in Asia, her bio notes, so it’s logical that the room feels Thai or Indonesian. The Asian pavilion aura includes red-print daybed (No. Sixty Two) with a pair of black-iron French tables in front.
When it’s open, the study door — hand-painted with a peacock motif reminiscent of an Asian textile — becomes part of the of movie-set Venetian plaster wall mural.
We didn’t ask whether the closet doors are not yet installed or they’ve been removed so designers could use the insides of the closets as alcoves. Either way, Story paints hers lacquer red and installs a portrait of herself along with a ladylike vanity/desk (No. Two Eleven) from the New Traditionalists who also supplied the striped gray and white chest with tassel handles we admired elsewhere just a week ago. Small world.
A clear globe chandelier accents the ceiling which manages to look Asian, or mid-century but thoroughly fresh and modern as well.
The Modern Life Show House, 540 West 28th St., 10th Floor. Elle Décor.
See the second apartment in the show house to complete the tour.
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