Tour Designer Timothy Brown's Sleek Manhattan Aerie



Decorator Timothy Brown's sleek aerie in Kips Bay Plaza.Every few months, designer Timothy Brown positions himself in the entryway of his one-bedroom apartment, looks into the living area, and takes an informal survey of the furnishings. In what is a precisely clean, uncluttered space on the 18th floor of I. M. Pei’s modernist monument, Kips Bay Plaza, he often feels the urge to pare down even more. And Brown never lets sentiment interfere.

“I ask myself, What do I not want to look at anymore, and what can I take away?” says the designer, a native Tennessean who has lived in New York since 2001, when he graduated from the University of Tennessee. Although the collection of ceramics on the kitchen shelves typically remains untouched, Brown changes out major pieces of furniture with abandon, in an effort “to keep design fluid.” Where only last year he used a small round coffee table that served the bright, airy living room well, out it went once he found a massive circa-1970s steel replacement by Joe D’Urso. “I turned over the previous table to a client,” he explains. “If I like a piece of furniture and can live with it, it makes sense that it might work in the home of a client. If I could live with just a chair, a bed, and a TV, I’d be fine. But I do need places for people to sit.”

Brown grew up in “an ordinary ranch house” on a cattle farm south of Nashville, but even as a boy he recalls looking through design magazines, smitten in particular with sparely decorated interiors by such industry talents as Victoria Hagan. “I wrote to her asking for an internship, and she gave it to me,” says the designer, who later worked for Wayne Nathan and Robert Stilin before launching his namesake firm in 2011. Ever since arriving in New York, Brown has imagined occupying the landmark building in which he now lives. “Maybe it’s about coming to this city from somewhere so different, but I always fantasized about living in a modern building more than a traditional, old-world New York apartment. This is a real modern building, one with history. Every morning, I love to lie on my sofa and watch the sun rise and fill the courtyard between the two towers.”

Brown has built his career by being a careful listener and respecting his clients’ aesthetics, although he admits that designing rooms without any back-and-forth or compromise can be a joyous experience. “At home, I’m able to take risks that I can’t with clients,” he says. “I have no problem mixing a Noguchi lamp with a flea market find.” To wit: In the living room, he has positioned two dusty-rose 1970s velvet chairs by Milo Baughman amid a mélange of furnishings, including a vintage Baker sofa, a modernesque bench, and the aforementioned brutalist coffee table. To maintain consistency throughout the apartment, Brown has employed low-pile area rugs and sheer solar shades. “A space feels more minimal when there’s less material and color used,” he says, adding that he applied Venetian plaster to the walls by himself, in order to create a unifying, subtle glow. “The windows are big, and there’s so much natural light that the walls give off some reflection. You can tell right away that there’s something going on with the walls.”

Artwork plays a crucial role and is strategically placed, such as a pair of Dan Jones photographs, depicting crashing waves, hanging above the sofa. “You almost feel like you’re in the ocean, about to drown, but safe,” Brown says. In the bedroom, directly opposite the bed, a framed Ed Ruscha beach blanket references the apartment’s quiet gradations of color. “I feel most comfortable in a space where there’s not a lot of stuff,” the decorator emphasizes. “I call it warm minimalism.”

A version of this article appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: High in the Sky.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
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.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

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

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Haver and Skolnick Architects
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.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Builder Spotlight

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!


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Designer Spotlight

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.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module