Tour an Upper East Side Apartment with Striking Color
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.