This New York City Home Is A Madcap, Maximalist Jewel Box

Published on 12 April 2024 at 18:57

Before you even set foot inside this home in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, you are engulfed in pattern. In a landing, just outside the front door, you are surrounded by a fantasia of flowers, courtesy of a madcap Gucci wallpaper. It’s just a small hint of what’s beyond: life-size white herons in the gallery hallway; cherry-red lips in a powder room; an all-over floral inspired by Diana Vreeland’s “Garden in Hell” in the primary bedroom.

“My mother was a colourful person, and my coming of age was in the 1970s,” says the homeowner, a native New Yorker and the director for access, programs, and initiatives at a New York City art museum. “I think I’ve always been a maximalist.”

Ethan Herrington

A riotous pink wallpaper by Gucci envelops the entrance gallery. The designers covered the floors in a leopard-print rug by Tai Ping and accessorised a vintage console table with a Murano table lamp from Stair Galleries. The vintage faux-bamboo side chair cushion is in a fabric by Helena Blanche via Temple Studio.


Until last year, however, her apartment was largely brown. Though she and her family have lived in this three-bedroom in a landmarked 1929 building for more than 20 years, the birth of their third child and the imminent departure of their college-bound son prompted a renovation that had been a long time coming. For one thing, the homeowners needed to reconfigure their bedrooms and bathrooms, and the opportunity to simultaneously upgrade the HVAC system, insulate the original steel windows, and rework the kitchen as the heart of the home was too appealing to pass up.

At the recommendation of neighbours, they contacted Daniel Frisch Architecture in 2021 to overhaul the space, down to its studs. They then commissioned design firm Alton Bechara—a partnership born in 2019 between Spencer Alton and Alex Bechara, formerly designers at Billy Cotton’s studio—to make its interiors reflect the pattern-loving personality of its arty occupants.

“In any good prewar building, there are not enough closets, the bathrooms are too small, and the kitchens are closed off,” explains architect Kate Jiranek of the Daniel Frisch team, which has renovated several other units in the storied building. “The family wanted to open up the flow of the apartment but maintain its historic character, to make it feel like it could have been an original layout.” Plain-sawn white-oak herringbone floors, plaster moldings, and unlacquered brass hardware throughout add period detailing.

Ethan Herrington

In the primary bedroom, the designers selected an allover floral wallpaper by Artemis inspired by Diana Vreeland’s “Garden in Hell” apartment. The custom bed sits atop a pink rug from the Rug Company. The chest and bedside lamp are vintage.

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Contrary to their original thoughts, the family decided not to convert their formal living room into a fourth bedroom, as it had been used since the baby’s birth. Their son had flown the nest, and they wanted to prioritize casual places to gather when he came to visit. Bechara had designed the family’s Sagaponack, New York, beach house a few years prior and was familiar with their comfort-first way of living. For this apartment, the homeowner had just one initial request: “I told them that I really like pink.”

But it had to be the right one. Three design iterations later, there was enough of the hue to satisfy her. “We didn’t settle for anything that I think is less than spectacular,” she says, noting the myriad wallpaper samples she reviewed with her decorators in the process.

Ethan Herrington

Mint green treillage climbs the walls of this cozy loggia. The lattice wall is painted in Folly Green by Farrow & Ball, while the wall color is Cucumber by Benjamin Moore.

One of the few rooms that didn’t get doused in pink is an intimate corner loggia, where one can take in views of an adjacent church and a tree-lined stretch of Fifth Avenue. Now, mint green treillage climbs its walls, and the small breakfast table with a built-in bench and mismatched chairs is a favorite spot for frequent family Rummikub games.

“The homeowner spoke about furniture pieces her mom had very lovingly and with nostalgia,” Alton says. “We wanted to make a space for her children to feel the same way in 30 years: warm and sentimental.”

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