Form Meets Function in a Sophisticated Family Home
New York City interior designer Jenny Vorhoff creates a practical landing pad with style that's meant to last
Every seat needs somewhere to rest a drink,” says interior designer Jenny Vorhoff of New York–based interiors firm Studio Riga, drawing from the genial charm of the gracious mansions in her native New Orleans. “Family, friends, and fun. Those are the key ingredients in planning a home.” With a background in hotel design as well as a proficiency in Southern hospitality, Vorhoff has spent the better part of a decade devising dramatic yet functional residences in New York City, a place where the tight quarters can make achieving both a challenge—albeit one Vorhoff is always happy to accept.
The designer approached a young family home in Tribeca with similar gusto, striking a distinctly American middle ground between the tastes of client Allison O’Neill and her husband, while ensuring each selection made practical sense for the use of their two small daughters. “She’s from Philly, he’s from Michigan, and they have this life together in New York,” Vorhoff says. “When it came down to it, that was our influence throughout the project.” From the subject matter of the living room artwork, which the couple picked up on a SoHo stroll to a preference for shopping American manufacturers, a subtle patriotic bent is seen throughout the space.
Before any aesthetic choices could be decided, however, the traditional loft layout needed some alteration to accommodate a growing household. Fortunately, the 2,000-square-foot apartment had great bones. Architect Damian Zunino and interior designers Britt Zunino and Kate Gray of Studio DB added two windows and a partition on the unit’s western wall, which made possible two light-drenched kids’ rooms with views of the Hudson River, all the while maintaining a master suite across the back of the flat and a living area up front.
With the structural work in place, Vorhoff set out to establish a visual story that was also suitable for long winter days spent indoors with a baby, toddler, and large German Shepherd. Throughout the space, she juxtaposed organic textures and durable fabrics—a nod to her pragmatic past in hotel design—with bright color and modern accents. Designed by Studio DB, a striking dining nook and kitchen feel at once glitzy and industrial thanks to earthy finishes and brass fixtures. The mix is leveled with appropriately scaled furniture so that no one item overwhelms the senses. “You don’t want everything in the room to be airy, otherwise it’ll all float away,” shares Vorhoff. “You need some pieces to ground and some pieces to float. You need some dark finishes and some light finishes. It’s all about the balance.”
While functionality was key, Vorhoff was keen to find a place for luxurious surfaces such as marble. “We tell clients the Italians have been baking pizza on marble for centuries,” she says. “It’s more durable than I think it’s been getting a rap for lately. If you’re reasonable about cleaning up, it will stay nice and clean.” The same holds true for leather’s wearing process. “The more you use it, it deepens and patinas,” she says. “It’s a natural material, so that’s part of the beauty.” The combination of sleek and rustic, sturdy and delicate results in a home that feels comfortable and lived in but also sophisticated, with a distinct point of view.