A Sophisticated New York City Apartment
Designer Daun Curry puts a modern spin on a classic New York City residence, the old-fashioned way.
In this digital age where most everything moves at the speed of light, some people still prefer to take it slow. “It's actually one of the first things I do with my clients,” says designer Daun Curry. “We go on an excursion in New York, and just have this discovery moment.” Big on personal touches and organic textures, spontaneous joy is a crucial part of her process. “I think it’s so important that not everything is contrived, or just pulled into a digital presentation,” she shares. Uncovering personality and establishing interactive collaboration between designer and client are what make projects worthwhile. “You’re actually walking the streets of wherever you are, and you find something and have a laugh about it.”
Curry brought some of her trademark levity to a tony Fifth Avenue residence in a five-bedroom condo conversion of what was once the Stanhope Hotel. The home retains the classic bones and architectural moldings of its earlier days. There, Jennifer Bayer Michaels, husband Howard Michaels, and their two young daughters have inhabited a five-bedroom residence for several years, which the designer has helped them to develop over time. “Their space has changed with the growing of their children,” Curry says. “We've done things more organically.” The homeowners have a pointed interest in collecting art and personalized finishing touches, and that has been thoroughly explored through their unique collaboration.
Traditional features set the stage for elegant furnishings punctuated by bright spots of whimsy. “A lot of the main anchor pieces are pretty neutral, and then the artwork is very colorful,” Curry explains. “We wanted to keep the furniture very neutral but just making sure that it had a lot of texture still.” The home’s foyer acts as a peek into what’s to come in the rest of the home, which is bright color, bold pattern, and thoughtful layers of texture. “They are a young family, and they're fun and vibrant, and it was important that the space reflected that for them,” she says. Throughout the home, pieces of the clients' personality abound, including found treasures from their travels.
In the entry foyer, a purple floral wall covering ties in old and new elements in the space. The dual-purpose living room has separate zones for play and more formal gatherings, and a shimmering dining room can entertain large groups. “I think that you're seeing this story evolve around the home where there are very luxurious and high-end materials and custom things, but in every space you see also see a whimsical, sculptural object.” From the ceramic monkey figurine in the foyer, to the colorful found horns in the living room, and then to the white cherry sculpture in the dining room, the public spaces showcase the lively personalities of the people who enjoy them most.
In the private areas, Curry has designed a peppy girl’s room to grow into, and a master bedroom respite from the city that still fits into its fabric. “I like combining very deep colors with something icy and pastel,” she points out. “It just feels fresh to me.”
In the end, the most important piece of the puzzle for Curry is the understanding she’s been able to establish with her clients.” Any of us designers can create a beautiful space, but it's not a showhouse—it's somebody's home. Finding those details, building a relationship, and letting it progress over time is really important.” With all the online decorating assistance available to homeowners today, Curry has found that “that personal element gets taken out.” For her, understanding how a family lives and what will make them most happy and productive is the priority in any of her projects. “I think that's an important part of the story— the client and their footprint, and my relationship with them,” Curry shares. “It’s not just an interior; there are people behind it, and there's a relationship with the designer.”