Tour an Upper East Side Apartment with Striking Color

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Creating the right home for a young family in New York City can be a tricky affair. After a first child is born, another (or more) often follows, along with the inevitable accumulation of stuff. Nearly round the clock, it seems, clothing needs to be hung or folded, sports equipment stored, and housewares put back on shelves or in closets, all in an effort to maintain a semblance of order among the chaos. Which is why an interior decorator is often called on to run interference.

Phillip Thomas, a neatnik designer and born-and-bred New Yorker, understands the challenges a hectic urban lifestyle can pose to a modern family. “I grew up in a very traditional, beautiful house, and my mother and I were always decorating it,” says Thomas, a self-professed “borough brat” who earned a degree from the New York School of Interior Design and trained under decorator Tony Ingrao before launching his own firm in 2011. Who better to devise a safe haven for a couple and their two young children in their brand-new Manhattan home?

The clients rang up Thomas after they bought a three-bedroom, three-bath apartment in a stately brick building on the Upper East Side. In their previous digs, they had been bursting at the seams, and although the new place was not huge, at 2,100 square feet, it came with a workable layout that could accommodate a family of four. “It had a great floor plan,” Thomas recounts, “but I wanted to achieve the right sight lines from room to room.”

A gut job ensued. Function (flow, lots of storage) was key, as was a warm environment. Absolutes included a family room, a powder room, and a home office. “The family has an energy that’s very colorful and enthusiastic,” Thomas says, “and that had to be reflected in the space.” Accordingly, Thomas incorporated bold colors throughout, such as a bright apple green in the living room and a chalky blue in the library, then reined them in with subtler prints and grass cloths.

Call it contemporary-meets-classic. “Even the most modern space is rooted in the past,” says the designer, who commissioned a dazzling custom chandelier that enhances, rather than overpowers, the warm, inviting dining room’s antique table and Lucite cane dining chairs. (“I wanted it to be substantial, but not dominate the space.”) Further statement-makers include an impressive collection of art, though Thomas cautions that “art should be art. It doesn’t necessarily need to match the interiors.” The clients, he adds, were fully involved in the process, “refining things further and creating specific schemes for each room as we went along. It’s so much fun to look at where you start with a client, and then see where you end up.”

A version of this article appeared in the April 2016 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Modern Classic.

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Tour an Upper East Side Apartment with Striking Color

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Christian Rae Studio
Christian Rae Studio, LLC is a multi-disciplinary design firm located in Southport, CT. Since 2010, we have delivered projects representing a broad range of type, scale, and budget considerations. Our combined technical and creative skills enable us to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation. The collaboration between architecture, interiors and lighting design is an approach that results in a holistic and integrated project that is thoughtfully tailored to each site and client.


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Nautilus Architects
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Jason Thomas Architects
Jason Thomas has a commitment to craft and detail, aesthetics with function, with personal service in the office and in the field which allows for the construction of our client's projects to exceed their expectations within the constraints of limited budgets, complex sites, and technological limitations. Jason leans strongly toward innovation in his architecture and implementation of custom design and detailing.

Jason Thomas Architect

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Haver & Skolnick Architects creates award-winning homes of timeless design, providing personal service & impeccable attention to detail. For 22 years, Charles Haver, AIA and Stewart Skolnick, AIA have offered a single source for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, creating seamless environments which are a reflection of their clients’ personalities. The firm has been nationally recognized for comfortable, classic country homes and elegant apartments which reflect history while responding to a contemporary lifestyle.


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Davenport Contracting
The team at Davenport Contracting has over 35 years of experience building and renovating homes. Our business model has always been based on building/renovating for a specific customer. A collaborative environment includes the client, architect, interior designer and Davenport crew. Davenport maneuvers effortlessly between custom homes, smaller renovations and property management. The team’s project management skills transfer seamlessly and the goal is to deliver your vision!


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Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

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