Precious jewels

Bold jewel colours and an eclectic art collection add a vibrancy to this refurbished New York apartment overlooking Central Park
Spiral oak staircase in entrance. Round table beside architecture, ceiling, home, house, interior design, lobby, stairs, black
Spiral oak staircase in entrance. Round table beside the stairs has a vase with flowers in it. Can see through into a living area.

Space is a luxury when it comes to inner city living many apartments are small and have limited scope for decoration. But, as the New York apartment featured on these pages shows, sometimes there can be a clever solution to the problem.

The owners acquired a second apartment immediately below their unit and chose to link the two with a large stairwell, creating one large home.

Interior designer John Barman says he was given a blank canvas when it came to decorating the interior. As the original layout of the rooms had been changed extensively, there was plenty of opportunity to create a new look.

"The apartment is in a 1920s building that has a distinct Deco style and elements of a French 40s look," says Barman. "I wanted to keep some of that elegant feeling on the interior."

Original windows were replaced with stronger steel windows in the same style. Concealed blinds ensure the views across Central Park are maximised and the windows remain a key design feature.

View of the living room area, a black furniture, home, interior design, living room, lobby, room, black
View of the living room area, a black and white checkered sofa, glass coffee table, flowers, whit and red seats, black ottoman, wooden side table, cream walls, long oblong windows.

Walls in the living areas on the lower level were painted white to provide an unobtrusive background for the furnishings and the art. Rich, jewel colours were specified for the formal living room, where sofas and chairs feature red, green, blue and dark-brown tones.

"The bold blocks of colour add a crisp feel," says Barman. "Black furniture and accessories, such as the grand piano and the mirror above the fireplace, create further contrast for visual impact."

Barman says textures are also varied for added interest. Sofas, armchairs and a chaise lounge feature velvets and boucle fabrics, while ottomans are upholstered in leather. Two long sofas are covered in a chequerboard Clarence House fabric, which has a graphic pattern reminiscent of the window designs. The position of the sofas, at either end of the room, provides visual balance.

To further define the large space, seating is arranged in groups. This still allows people to intermingle easily when the owners entertain, says Barman.

A large, dark-brown rug helps link the respective seating areas. Beige-coloured inserts in the rug provide visual relief and offset the coffee tables either side of the fireplace.

master bedroom where purple tones are a feature. bed, bed frame, bedroom, ceiling, furniture, home, interior design, lighting, room, suite, wall, window, black
master bedroom where purple tones are a feature. Bed with purple headboard, bedside tables and lamps, artwork and shelving with books

Another casual living room on the same floor has a blue sofa and matching glass lamps. On the second level, an intimate media room features a textured grass cloth wallcovering and more muted tones of purple. Velvet furnishings and lamps also add to the ambience.

Barman says the paintings were placed after the furniture their positions partly determined by the colours and style of the various rooms.

"The large painting in the dining room, for example, tones in well with the upholstered dining chairs. The custom-made glass vases on the table also bring out colours in the painting."

Other accessories include period glass pieces, which fit in with the Deco theme, and a collection of lamps that provide subdued, ambiant lighting.

Dec 07, 2004

Credit list

Fire surround
Living room rug from V Soske; media room rug from Angela Adam
Dining room wallcovering
Other upholstery
Custom from John Barman
Fontana Arte
Bed linen
ABC on Broadway
Wood balustrade
Schreuder Hassolac
Chandelier above stairs
Vintage Baraccat
Brown and green chairs
Holly Hunt
Fabric from Clarence House
Media room wallcovering
Grass cloth
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