Freshen Up

Architecture Shell: arrangement of furniture and objects

A few adjustments were made to the architectural shell. Baseboards, floors, and walls were left as before, but standard-height, raised panel doors were replaced with smooth ones that run all the way to the ceiling. A few soffits and arches were removed to allow the ceiling to run uninterrupted as a modernist, horizontal plane. According to Leonard, “The apartment was really a tight box. We were trying to figure out a way to blow it open without changing the architecture very much. We regarded everything that we did as a little intervention in the space.”

Furniture arrangement is important to make your house great
Furniture arrangement is important to make your house great

These “little interventions” were guided by an interest in reducing clutter, streamlining the arrangement of furniture and objects, and evoking greater space through reflections, scale shifts, color, and other optical adjustments. At the entry, Leonard and Webb added closets along one wall and, in a sort of anteroom beyond, placed beveled mirror panels on two walls to suggest an enlargement of the living room beyond. Past the living room is a master bedroom and bath. To the other side of the foyer, beyond the closets, a windowless media room was refurnished with a lean sectional sofa, leather recliners and fitted with a built-in, mirrored glass bar. The two children’s rooms that open to this space were given sandblasted glass doors to allow for the passage of light while maintaining privacy. Pale blue satin paint was used liberally throughout the apartment to create what the designers call a “calm, ethereal effect.” This light blue was reiterated in other elements, including a monochromatic painting in the entrance foyer and the master bedroom’s curtains.

marble bench, glass table, sectional sofas and recliners are selected to refurnish the living room
marble bench, glass table, sectional sofas and recliners are selected to refurnish the living room

Refurnishing the living room with sectional sofas and leather recliners

The living room furniture, much of it custom-designed, was central to Form’s efforts. In Leonard’s words, “We wanted the pieces to have a presence of their own and establish a dialogue with one another. We were really interested in the relationships of things.” To enlarge the perceived length of the room, Form designed a wool shag carpet that is hand-sheared in wide strips to suggest perspectival distance. Likewise, a 20-ft.-long brass-and-marble bench along one wall gives a sense of depth and spatial unity. The bench further provides a display surface for objects and informal seating when the family entertains.

Form recommended that the clients transfer much of their mid-century furniture to their beach house and explore instead a more sleek, postwar Italian sensibility for the city. In the living room, recliner chairs by Paolo Tomassi and Eco Parisi join a Cassina sofa from the 1970s. Colors were deployed strategically to keep the eye moving through the space, and a number of small, repeated elements unify the various pieces. The brass feet of the whitewashed maple coffee table, for example, reiterate the metal legs of the focal bench. Colorful, vintage Venini sconces and lamps were used throughout the apartment.

Additional pieces were designed by Form, including the anteroom’s sleek “four button bench,” the living room table’s acrylic flower tray, and an armchair made of white walnut, acrylic arms, nickel legs, and blue wool felt upholstery. Form also designed the media room’s red leather sectional sofa, reclining chairs and Leonard created the living room’s prominent abstract painting along with four, smaller “color studies.”

The apartment’s two bathrooms were overhauled with new fixtures and surface materials and a general reduction of bulk in favor of lightness and spatial expanse. Form used long, linear, glass mosaic tiles and terrazzo flooring in the children’s bathroom. The walls of the master bathroom are finished in mirror and Calcutta marble and the ceiling in backpainted glass that appears to extend the room upward. “Within the limitations of the box,” says Leonard, “we were mostly able to work with color, texture, scale and proportion. So that’s what we played with.”


If you still wonder what make a room great, this article should be helpful.

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