A Designer Spin on Small-Space Living

Noted interiors firm Carrier and Company takes on a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment

A mirrored console creates a striking sense of welcome—and doubles as a bar for entertaining.
A mirrored console creates a striking sense of welcome—and doubles as a bar for entertaining.
Designers Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company.
Designers Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company.

Comfortable, sophisticated, youthful, and functional. Those are the words Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller use to describe their vision for one unique residence on New York’s Upper East Side—a project vastly different from the rest of their widely published portfolio. The husband-and-wife team behind Carrier and Company has designed homes for some of the city’s highest-profile names (Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and photographer Annie Leibovitz among them). Given their combined 30 years in the industry, the duo didn’t blink an eye when approached to design a one-bedroom model unit in the stately Carnegie Park condominium building. Needless to say, this isn’t your average model unit.

A velvet sectional was chosen for its comfort and design versatility. Pillows and accents in deep blues and golds easily complement its neutral hue. 
A velvet sectional was chosen for its comfort and design versatility. Pillows and accents in deep blues and golds easily complement its neutral hue. 
A moody, large-scale image above the sectional.
A moody, large-scale image above the sectional.

THE PROJECT

Accustomed to working with highly opinionated homeowners of city apartments, country getaways, and chic offices, Carrier and Miller collaborated with market researchers and developers to settle on an interiors scheme that would entice potential buyers while allowing them to visualize their own possessions in the space. “It’s a fun challenge to work with a developer, rather than an actual homeowner,” says Miller. “The key lies in finding the right vibe that represents the range of buyers they’re hoping to attract.” Just as they would adapt their vision to a client’s personality, taste, and expectations, the couple honed their design toward an ideal equilibrium: not too mass, not too niche, with a clean, uncluttered layout and enough well-chosen pieces to feel like a lived-in home.    

A Designer Spin on Small-Space Living
A Designer Spin on Small-Space Living

THE PROCESS

The kitchen is small yet functional, with counter stools for additional seating. 
The kitchen is small yet functional, with counter stools for additional seating. 

Carrier and Miller began their work when the unit was freshly gutted, with only windows and walls before them. They were given a handful of months to develop the apartment’s aesthetic. The result is a sensibility the two identify as their own interpretation of “Bohemian Glamour”: forgoing the sheepskin-and-Moroccan-pouf route for an interior composed of contemporary and vintage pieces and textural accents, including a brass Sputnik chandelier above the dining table and grasscloth wallpaper in the master bedroom. Eye-catching artworks in the living room, such as photographer Thomas Jackson’s Broken Palette, add an enigmatic element that speaks to a contemporary-minded buyer. But paired with a deep, neutral sectional, the space achieves an elusive balance of edginess and comfort.

Smaller nightstands allow for an expansive desk by the window in the bedroom.
Smaller nightstands allow for an expansive desk by the window in the bedroom.

THE PHILOSOPHY

A few artful possessions convey a more lived-in look.
A few artful possessions convey a more lived-in look.

While still adhering to the aesthetic goals of the other parties involved, Carrier and Miller stayed true to their time-tested design principles: always including one piece of truly comfortable seating, incorporating a variety of textures and materials, and refraining from trends without clear longevity. “We also decided to avoid custom pieces and focus on furnishing the apartment with readily available retail furnishings,” says Miller. “This felt more true to potential buyers—and showed them how beautiful and attainable this lifestyle could be.”

A Designer Spin on Small-Space Living
MAKING A ONE-BEDROOM WORK HARDER

The couple behind Carrier and Company share their tips on smart design for a relatively small space. 

 

  • GO NEUTRAL

    Choosing pale finishes that aren’t visually distracting allow design fingerprints to blend in with one another while still complementing the overall design scheme.

  • OUTSMART THE LAYOUT

    Get creative with a standard apartment floor. Carve out a dining nook within a larger living area, or set up a workspace within a master bedroom.  

  • WORK WITH OVERSIZE ART

    Large pieces draw the eye to the edges of the room, helping to visually expand the space. “I’d rather a first-time buyer invest in artwork than millwork,” says Miller.

  • BRING IN FUNCTIONAL FURNITURE

    Select pieces that serve many purposes, such as the Worlds Away console. Strategically chosen furniture creates more useful space, no matter what the square footage.

 

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