An Artistic Couple Updates Their 1970s Apartment

A family on New York City's Upper East Side creates a sophisticated oasis with a toddler in tow.

Above the Knoll sofa hangs one of the Garcias' most cherished pieces of art, a photograph taken by their close friend Hope Atherton.
Above the Knoll sofa hangs one of the Garcias' most cherished pieces of art, a photograph taken by their close friend Hope Atherton.
Original text by Robert Leleux. Photography by Patrick Cline.
Laura and her design partner, Bernard Figueroa. 
Laura and her design partner, Bernard Figueroa. 

In Laura and Diego Garcia's Fifth Avenue apartment, the couple has managed to blend the edgy elegance of Studio 54-era New York with the comforts of a family home. This is, in part, because the Garcias are both avant-garde artists (she designs artisanal light fixtures, while he's an indie rock star) as well as the devoted parents of a toddler. It's also because Laura is, especially by Manhattan standards, particularly well rooted in her Upper East Side address. She grew up in the building where she now resides with her budding family, and her parents keep an apartment there still. "It's wonderful, and in this city quite rare," she says, "for my daughter to live so near her grandparents."

A pair of authentic Mio Baugman chairs, purchased at a bargain price on eBay, helps achieve the apartment's atmosphere of retro elegance. 
A pair of authentic Mio Baugman chairs, purchased at a bargain price on eBay, helps achieve the apartment's atmosphere of retro elegance. 
A view of neighboring apartments outside the Garcias' Upper East Side home. 
A view of neighboring apartments outside the Garcias' Upper East Side home. 
An Artistic Couple Updates Their 1970s Apartment
To create a work area in a narrow sapce, Garcia chose a lustrous Lucite console to double as her desk. A vivid flower painting by Donald Baechler illuminates the dining room's dark walls. Sleek mid-century furnishings help the intiate space feel expansive. 
To create a work area in a narrow sapce, Garcia chose a lustrous Lucite console to double as her desk. A vivid flower painting by Donald Baechler illuminates the dining room's dark walls. Sleek mid-century furnishings help the intiate space feel expansive. 

Despite its obvious advantages, however, the Garcias' two-bedroom apartment did present certain challenges. "This building has an unmistakable 1970s aesthetic," she says. "We couldn't fight that, so we decided to embrace it." So, with the help of her design partner, Bernard Figueroa, Laura turned her home's potential shortcomings to decided advantage. By choosing to cover the apartment in white wall-to-wall carpeting, for instance, Laura solved two problems simultaneously: she obscured the dated flooring, and she created kid-friendly play surfaces.

Laura Garcia with her daughter, Georgiana. 
Laura Garcia with her daughter, Georgiana. 
Alaia, the family's French bulldog, poses for the camera. 
Alaia, the family's French bulldog, poses for the camera. 
Laura's Tips for Creating a Chic Family Home

    

  • When budgeting, prioritize window treatments, floors, and special objects

    to bring your home to life. Once you have that canvas, it will be much easier to fit things in. 

  • Have a theme in mind before you start.

    It can be a color scheme or a furniture style—just find some way to tie everything together.

  • Cover your walls with something interesting:

    paint, paper, and lots of art! Also, don't neglect small walls and corner spaces; they're great opportunities for vignettes, a lone beautiful chair, or an amazing sconce. 

The nursery is as fashion forward as it is kid-friendly. Wall-to-wall carpeting ensures a safe play surface, and vibrant, modern art supplies visual stimulation. 
The nursery is as fashion forward as it is kid-friendly. Wall-to-wall carpeting ensures a safe play surface, and vibrant, modern art supplies visual stimulation. 
Russell Young&squot;s portrait of Elizabeth Taylor adrons one of Georgiana&squot;s walls. "The image is so inappropriate for a kid&squot;s room," says Laura, "but the color was too good to resist."
Russell Young's portrait of Elizabeth Taylor adrons one of Georgiana's walls. "The image is so inappropriate for a kid's room," says Laura, "but the color was too good to resist."

A dramatic yet refined palette provides striking contrast to the building's low-ceilinged walls, and simple linen shades contribute a tailored touch to the architecturally unadorned windows. "I began my career as a fashion designer, so I tend to approach interiors in the way I would an outfit," says Laura. "In fashion, it's important to know when to choose your moments: when to make a statement, and when to keep it simple. In this apartment, our paintings are our statement pieces. It's all about creating a safe home for our daughter, a place where she can live in comfort and style." 

The Garcias' bedroom lacked architectural distinction, so they painted faux molding on the walls. The geometricl ines establish a low-cost design element that recurs in the window shades and the side table, providing a unifying, decidedly modern motif. 
The Garcias' bedroom lacked architectural distinction, so they painted faux molding on the walls. The geometricl ines establish a low-cost design element that recurs in the window shades and the side table, providing a unifying, decidedly modern motif. 
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